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Russellville council vote makes way for new Dollar General

In its regular work session and meeting Nov. 2, the Russellville City Council held a public hearing to solicit citizen input on a potential property rezoning.

The council heard public comments regarding the rezoning of the north portion of property located at North Russellville Baptist Church on Waterloo Road. The rezoning will purportedly make way for a Dollar General to be located on the site.

Terry Bolton, a member of the zoning board, spoke against rezoning the property.

“I’m not against the church selling their property, but I don’t think we need another Dollar General,” said Bolton. “I’ve seen the drawings on it, and it’s a safety hazard to have 18-wheelers turning left going on a two-lane. They’ll use our city utility department to do all their changes on the highway, the electric, gas and water, right? Then, they’ll dig and pour concrete – well, they’ll probably buy the concrete from people here in town, but when they get it poured, they’ll haul in the building on 18-wheelers, and the concrete will be the only thing they buy here.

“They’ll bring in their own team,” Bolton added. “They won’t be hiring local people. Has a Dollar General ever given anything back to the city? All their profit goes to Indiana.”

Bolton also pointed to the location being across the street from Northside Grocery – a long-time Russellville small gas station and grocery store – as being another downside to the project.

Bolton said the area already has several dollar stores and a Walmart, and adding another big chain dollar store is not in support of buying locally.

“Everybody in here fusses about us buying things from China,” said Bolton. “Where do you think all their stuff comes from? Everyone says buy local and support your local merchants, and Dollar General is not local, and it’s not going to help us.”

Following Bolton’s comments, Mayor David Grissom asked if anyone else wished to speak for or against, and nobody came forward.

The council then voted in favor of an ordinance to rezone the north portion of the property located at North Russellville Baptist Church from multi-family to neighborhood business.

Earlier in the meeting, Bolton asked the council to consider tabling the issue until all city council members were present.

“I talked to Councilman Woodruff this morning concerning this issue,” said Grissom, “and it’s in his district. He’s out of town, and he said he was for it. We have advertised the public hearing, and our plans are to move forward.”

Council Member David Palmer was also not present at the meeting.

In other business, the Council approved an American Rescue Plan Resolution to authorize premium pay for a specified time period for city employees who qualify.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Grissom. “We first learned about this possibility several months ago, and the resolution has gone through a number of drafts.”

City attorney Danny McDowell explained more about what this means for city employees.

“The funds are federal, and they outline what you can and cannot do with the money,” McDowell said. “One of the things they allow for is providing premium pay, particularly for those employees who were employed during the height of the pandemic, and that’s the reason for the time period mentioned in the resolution – March 13, 2020, to March 13, 2021.”

It was announced this should benefit 51 full-time employees and nine part-time workers.

McDowell explained the funds are not a bonus but instead are premium pay for full and part-time employees who were employed during the time specified, if they are still employed at the time the funds come through.

The money will be available in two parts: the first half right away and the second half coming sometime next year.

For permanent full-time employees, this means $6,000 total. Part-time employees will receive half that amount.

“The Alabama Constitution forbids bonuses for those employed by the city for a job they did,” said McDowell. “What this is instead is a one-time pay raise – a premium payment. That’s the reason you have to be a current city employee when the second payment comes in.”

The mayor said city employees can expect the first half of the premium payment “as soon as we can get it handled.” Total funding is $333,000, and ordinary deductions will come out. The city’s FICA match is $25,474.50.

The council also accepted a grant awarded from the Alabama Council of Emergency Medical Services. Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said the grant will allow for the purchase of an emergency pick-up truck to be used by Russellville fire marshal Justin Green, who is also a paramedic.

“It’s a 75/25 grant,” explained Mansell. “The city’s going to wind up being out $8,000 on this pick-up truck, but we’re going to get $24,000 towards the truck, and we’ve got a Franklin County Community grant that we’ll get soon, which will be $5,000. Then, we’ll sell the old air compressor as soon as the new one comes in.

“We’ve talked to a few people and basically are looking at about $7,000. So, we’ll have the truck and about $2,000 left over, and we have a $12,000 grant to equip the truck, so the city will basically be out nothing. Also on this grant, we were able to buy a Lifepak – 12-lead monitors, which amounts to $45,000.”

The truck will be equipped with monitoring equipment to help Green in responding to emergencies. Authorization includes purchase of a 2022 Ford F150 Crew Cab 4×4 pickup for this purpose.

In other business, the council also:

  • Voted to advertise for solicitation of sealed bids for the purchase of a new security system for Russellville Police Department.
  • Accepted a letter of resignation from patrol officer Michael Collin James in the Russellville Police Department and declared the vacancy.
  • Hired Logan Thompson, Trenton McCulloch and Marvin McKinney in the Russellville Street Department.
  • Hired Kaitlyn Kelley as dispatcher in the Russellville Police Department.

The next regular work session and meeting of the Russellville City Council is scheduled for Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

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