City looks to honor Horry

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Andalusia native and Los Angeles Laker forward Robert Horry has definitely put his hometown on the map as he recently captured his third National Basketball Association world championship ring with the Lakers after having previously garnered two rings with the Houston Rockets.

Now the City of Andalusia would like to pay a special tribute to arguably Andalusia's most famed product.

During the Tuesday session of the Andalusia City Council, the council discussed the city possibly holding a Robert Horry Day celebration in honor of the former Andalusia High School and University of Alabama hoops standout.

"(Horry) made some incredibly exciting contributions (during the Lakers' recent run to the NBA crown) in the playoffs and in the championship (series)," said Mayor Earl Johnson. "He has had a very successful, stellar professional career and he has been a great role model, and great ambassador for Andalusia. I think it would be fitting and proper for us to have a special day to recognize Robert, maybe with some type of reception."

Johnson said he has asked Councilmen Bridges Anderson and Michael Jones to work with him, and anybody who might wish to help, in trying to plan such a reception.

He said the event will likely be either July 30 or July 31 and said those details will be finalized and publicized hopefully in the near future.

"We are real proud of the contribution (Horry) has brought to professional basketball and proud of the way he has conducted himself," said Johnson.

In other business discussed at Tuesday's session, the Andalusia City Council:

Approved moving forward on improvements to the Coleman Recreation Center. Johnson said he, Anderson and other staff had recently discussed the needs for the center. He said the needs are real as the center gets much use, especially during the summertime. He said the most pressing need is the rehabilitation of the swimming pool. Johnson said he hopes to see a grant, which the city has been approved for move forward. There is also a need for more space at the center, Johnson said, and said a suggestion he has received is possibly building a pavilion similar to the one at Lake Armstrong. He said the pavilion would be good for getting kids out of the heat while also serving as a good place for family reunions and other such events. Johnson said the playground equipment also needs to be replaced, and said he would like to see equipment there similar to the equipment at the Andalusia Elementary School. He added that he would like to see a walking trail constructed on the north side of the property in a wooded area along 8th Avenue. Johnson said the project will likely be one that lasts two years or longer.

Heard an update on Dunson Street resurfacing from Johnson. He said bids had been received on the project about $43,000 under what the initial grant was. He said the city is now trying to determine if there are any other projects the town can do so the town will not have to turn any of the grant money back in. He noted that on the west side of Snowden Drive, Dunson is narrower than it is on the east side of Snowden. Johnson said he would like to see the streets match. He said he also thinks there should be a turn lane on the West Bypass where there is an extremely busy intersection.

Approved adopting a resolution committing matching funds for a project to provide more recreational facilities at Johnson Park. The funds will be used for a skate park, both for skateboarding and for in-line skating. The estimated cost of the project is $62,000.

Approved appropriating $19,125 in funds from contingency to pay for the architectural services on a building on East Three Notch Street which will be the next location for the town's city hall. The money will be placed into the general fund.

Johnson said demolition work is progressing well on that building.

Approved a request from the Andalusia Housing Authority on a building to be used as its new preschool building. The Housing Authority has recently received a grant and private funding to build a new facility. Housing Authority Director Martha Carter, Willie Locke and other members of the board of directors were present at the council's work session. The architectural drawings have been received for the facility, and Johnson reported there is a need for the city to remove a building it owns, and the property had previously been donated to city by the Ralph Adams family. The Housing Authority has requested that the house be moved so that many of the trees on that property can be maintained. Johnson said a new location has been found for the building near the entrance of Lake Armstrong. An ordinance was approved transferring the title of the real estate as surplus and transferring it to the Housing Authority, with the Housing Authority to pay for the moving of the building.

Heard from Johnson about the possibility of the city out-sourcing utility billing. He said he had read a story in a recent League of Municipalities magazine about the City of Auburn out-sourcing its bills, while also sending out a newsletter to its residents. "The prospects of us (out-sourcing the bills) is very good," said Johnson. "We can out-source the billing and produce a very nice newsletter for 15 cents more than it is costing us to do the billing now. This would be a great way to communicate with our citizens on a monthly basis about actions that the city council is working on, and other departments."

Approved a request from the Andalusia Police Department to purchase a used van, to be used primarily for Drug Task Force work. "We have accumulated, mostly through grants, a sizable amount of safety equipment that has to be transported to and from various (crime-related) sites," said Johnson. "We really don't have any way to transport (that equipment) or to keep it safely when we are not using it." He said a used van was found for $12,500, and the city approved paying $8,500 of that. Jones and Johnson both credited the Drug Task Force. "The Drug Task Force has done an incredible job, and it is recognized not just by the state but by our nation. A promise (the city) made to them when (the Drug Task Force) started was that if they did a good, professional job, that we would back them 100 percent and I hope (the van) is a sign of that," said Jones.

"This Drug Task Force is doing a phenomenal job in this county," added Johnson. "I know it seems you read a lot in the newspaper about methamphetamine labs being found and put out of business, and it seems to be more in Covington County than anywhere else in the state. I don't think that is because we have more (methamphetamine problems), but I think it is just because we are finding them."

Approved a request from the city's electric company to rehabilitate certain work vehicles, including a 1984 bucket truck, a 1989 digger truck and a regular service bucket truck.

Approved the architectural drawings for a new Adult Activity Center and the seeking of bids for the work. Johnson said the drawings had been approved by the licensing and planning staff. The project is being financed through a community enhancement grant and also private donations.

Approved waiving a license for the South Alabama Gun Club for the annual Gun and Knife Show. The council recently tabled approval of the waiver as City Attorney Tom Albritton had questioned the legality of doing so. Johnson said classes on firearm safety had been a part of past Gun and Knife shows, which might constitute the event serving a public purpose, which allow waiver of the license.

The move to waive the license was approved pending the assurance that firearm safety will once again be a part of the event. Johnson said he would like to see the ordinance for the event modified, so the issue of waiving the license will not have to be dealt with every year.

Approved a revision to job descriptions for the Evans Barnes Golf Course, which the city recently voted to take over the operation of. The council recently approved job descriptions of golf course superintendent and golf operations manager. Leisure Services Director Dwight Mikel since has recommended that the two positions be combined.

Approved contributing $3,000 to answer a request from a group putting together a Heritage Room at Andalusia High School. The group is the school's Class of 1948. The treasurer for the group is Benny Barrow.

Approved a request for a new lift station pump. Johnson said there has been an existing pump at the Riverside plant lift station and several problems have been experienced with it in recent months. The pump has recently gone out again and the cost to fix the nearly 50-year-old pump has been estimated at $12,431. Johnson recommended that the pump be replaced with a new one with explosive proof seal leakage detectors at a cost of $21,000.

Approved a resolution to declare surplus on three vehicles, including a 1984 Ford F-350, a 1979 Chevrolet three-ton truck and a 1989 Ford F-350.

Approved resolutions on nuisance abatements on two properties on Three Notch Street, and approved referring another property on North Cotton Street to the city attorney. Building inspector Ronnie Pate also presented a list of homeowners who wanted dangerous structures destroyed by the fire department.

Was informed that Councilman Harry Hinson received a certification as a certified municipal official by the Alabama League of Municipalities and that Councilman Andy Alexander had received an advanced certification from the League of Municipalities.

Heard from Johnson that he will be re-appointing Mike Best to his position on the city's planning commission. The appointment will be for a six-year term.

Heard from Johnson that the city is participating in a tennis school, with John Vick having raised the money for the city to participate.

Approved a resolution concerning the city's participation in the Pedestrian Sidewalk Safety Program.

Heard from Johnson that there will be a bid opening on the Westside CDBG Sewer project on July 10 at 10 a.m. There will also be a bid opening on the Andalusia Western Gateway project on July 19 at 10 a.m. Both will be in the council chambers. There will also be an open meeting to discuss the proposed skating facility on July 8 at 2

p.m. That meeting will also take place in the council chambers.

Heard from Johnson that a Town Meeting will be held July 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Andalusia Elementary School. This will involve the city's strategic plan.

Heard from Johnson that there will be a meeting

Approved the minutes from the June 18 meeting.