First meeting of Anniston’s new City Council draws expectant crowd
by Laura Camper
Star staff writer
Nov 14, 2012 | 4663 views |  0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Vaughn Stewart and Anniston City Council members ended their first regular meeting Tuesday night by ceremoniously touching oars to symbolize their role as a team. (Anniston Star photo by Laura Camper)
Mayor Vaughn Stewart and Anniston City Council members ended their first regular meeting Tuesday night by ceremoniously touching oars to symbolize their role as a team. (Anniston Star photo by Laura Camper)
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The first regular meeting of the newly installed Anniston City Council packed the council chambers as community residents showed up out of curiosity and in support of the new members. The council members had promised voters courteous and efficient meetings and the residents who commented afterwards weren’t disappointed.

“lt’s more than I ever hoped for,” said Bettie Gunnells, a regular council meeting attendee. “I’m expecting big things from this council and from what I’ve seen tonight I won’t be disappointed.”

David Schneider, who resigned as chairman of the Anniston Historical Preservation Commission after tussles with some of the former council members, was also impressed.

“I just think the attitude and the approach is so much more positive that I think great things are coming,” Schneider said.

Alicia Dunaway, who worked with Mayor Vaughn Stewart’s election campaign, attended her first City Council meeting with her two children for a real-life civics lesson, she said.

“They helped with the campaign as well, so you know, just kind of seeing the finished process,” Dunaway said. “I think it’s important for them to understand the process and not just sit in a civics class, but kind of get a feel for what it’s really like.”

The council members’ first meeting went smoothly and quickly. They unanimously approved every item on the agenda with little discussion. They then closed the meeting with a ceremonial touching of the oars to symbolize their role as a team. Stewart told the audience that the oars were a gift received from one of the speakers at the council members’ retreat before they were sworn in to office.

“It’s symbolic that we all will be paddling in the same direction as a team,” Stewart said. “This may be a little corny to some of you — I apologize — but it means a lot to us.”

Councilman Jay Jenkins took the symbolism one step further and asked the members to touch oars in a whitewater rafting tradition.

“It’s tradition when you exit a big set of rapids for everybody to raise their paddles and touch them together,” Jenkins said. “We’ve exited a rapid, it’s time to touch.”

In their first regular meeting, the city council members approved:

• An ordinance establishing the meeting procedures for their term, such as when work sessions will be held and how many agenda items can be voted on at a time.

• Allowing the city manager to apply for federal and state funding from the Alabama Department of Transportation for improvements to the Anniston Regional Airport.

• A liquor license for Lil Dixie’s Cue and Grill on Noble Street.

• A liquor license for a catering operation for Classic Too on Noble Street.

• The election of Councilman Seyram Selase as vice mayor.

• A bid from Complete Construction Services, L.L.C. for $18,225 to re-roof Norwood Hodges Community Center.

• A bid from Vulcan Heating and Air Conditioning Service for $6,650 a month to maintain the heating and air conditioning units in the city’s facilities.

Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.

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