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Power outage planned for Luverne, Rutledge on Sunday

Luverne and Rutledge residents should be prepared for a complete power outage on Sunday, March 6, from the hours of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

The city will experience a total blackout, engineer Morris Tate told the city council on Monday night. The blackout is necessary because the Luverne Electric Department needs to work on transformers that was damaged when Hurricane Ivan battered South Alabama last September.

Tate said Luverne Police Chief Paul Allen has hand-delivered notices to community businesses, including Crenshaw Community Hospital and places which house the elderly, to insure they are aware of the blackout and precautions can be taken for the safety of patients and residents.

The planned power outage is strictly weather permitting.

"If it's raining we'll be unable to do it and will have to reschedule it for another time," said Tate.

Those with questions or concerns about the power outage may call city hall at 335-3741 or Martin West, Superintendent of the Electric Department at 335-5308.

Tate also discussed the city's upcoming downtown revitalization project with members of the council. Originally planned on a larger scale, the project will focus on 'hitting the high spots' in the downtown area, said Tate, including main street and several side accesses.

"The sidewalks will be removed and redone," said Tate. "We'll have places at each intersection to plant shrubbery and the ends of each sidewalk will meet requirements for handicap access."

Tate said railing will be employed at intervals along the sidewalks and new parking space will be created around the general downtown area. The project was originally priced at $1.6 million dollars, but was scaled back to a cost of just over $600,000.

"We want to beautify the downtown area and make it more accessible," said Tate.

A second public hearing for the project will be held today at 5:30 p.m. at Luverne City Hall for all downtown merchants and business owners. Those businesses affected by the revitalization project will have a chance to voice their concerns to the council.

"There have been some opposition due to the removal of the awnings over the businesses," said Mayor Joe Rex Sport.

Additionally, the council approved the hiring of two litter management specialists for the month of March. These two employees are part-time and will work 20 hours a week to control litter along the major highways into the city, said Sport.

The council also approved a bid from JD Smyth Distributor, Inc., to provide gas and diesel service to the city.