Luverne council seat vacated

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The next time the City of Luverne's council meets there will be an empty seat.

Veteran Councilman Merrill Sport resigned last week after serving 16 years after being hired as the city's fulltime Parks and Recreation Department Director by the Parks Board.

"We needed one, it was time," Mayor Sport said. "Merrill decided he was interested in it and submitted his application and they voted to give it to him."

Councilman Sport said he's been eyeing the position for some time.

"I've always been interested in the position," he said. "I'm always interested in the children and their summer recreation and high school sports. That's one of the main reasons I ran for city council 16 years ago was to help develop the Parks and Recreation. For 15 of those 16 years, I served as the chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board. That was my department. I am pleased to get the opportunity."

Sport said he has several plans in store for the Parks and Recreation Department including a website, which will include contacts, schedules, registration dates and other park information. He also plans to begin holding various youth clinics in conjunction with the county's high school coaches, to begin adult education courses, implement adult winter recreation sports, to reinstate the county's youth basketball program, and to begin an adult summer softball league.

Although Sport will no longer be a member of the city council, he doesn't believe it will take long for him to adapt to his role as Parks and Recreation Director.

"It's not going to be a lot different to me because I'm going to be a lot closer to the department I've been associated with for those 16 years I was on the council. I'll still be receiving a check from the city, but I'll be able to be more hands on."

The Parks and Recreation Director's salary was set at $32,500 per year.

Mayor Sport said the council will have to take the necessary measures to fill the vacant seat at its next meeting, which will be held at 5 p.m. on Jan. 10.

"First, the council will have to meet and declare a vacancy," Mayor Sport said. "That will be probably during our first meeting in January. Then during any meeting following that, they can appoint a new council member. You can't appoint a new member that night; you have to wait until a later meeting. We'll have a month or two to decide."

Mayor Sport doesn't believe it will be difficult to find someone to appoint as the new councilman for District 3.

"Generally, people are interested in it and they let it be known they are interested," Mayor Sport said. "They'll weigh the people that may be interested in it and determine who they believe will be best to fill the vacancy. We'll try to talk to some of the people in that district and see who their preference is."

In other business, the council:

n Voted 3-3 against the vacation of a portion of Woodford Ave., which was requested by Hick's, Inc.

"We didn't think it was feasible at this time," Mayor Sport said.

n Awarded Harold McKee the bid of $6,002 for the Electric Board's old bucket truck. McKee's bid was the only one received.

n Announced that the State of Alabama Department of Transportation approved the installation of a flashing light at the intersection of Hwy. 331 and Roy Bell Dr. near Crenshaw Christian Academy. The city agreed to pay for powering the new sign.

n Agreed to advertise for the city's police chief position. Qualifications include, investigative training; training in burglary, homicide and white-collar crime; search warrant training; at least 15 years of law enforcement experience; computer knowledge and a minimum of eight years of supervising experience.

n Announced that the city will hold a public hearing to discuss the incentives offered to SMART Alabama LLC

n Announced that the public safety committee will begin working with interim police chief Paul Allen on areas in town that are having speeding problems.