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RB councilman resigns from water, gas board

At their regular meeting Nov. 3, the Red Bay City Council voted to accept Councilman Jason Vinson’s letter of resignation from the Red Bay Water and Gas Board.

Mayor Charlene Fancher read the letter aloud. In part, it said, “I am writing to inform you that I am resigning from the Red Bay City Water and Gas Board. I appreciate your confidence in me. I feel at this time it would be better suited to get this board back to its full five-member operating board.

“Since I was voted to be on this board in 2020, there has been an ongoing legal battle between the Red Bay Water and Gas and the City Council that has cost the taxpayers too much money.  I am not conceding that a City Council member cannot serve on this board, which is the content of the legal matter, but wish to resign so that our great city can move forward.

“I am hoping the judge will make a ruling on this matter so that in the future you will not be hindered by legal proceedings again over this.”

The council authorized city attorney Roger Bedford to request a final ruling on the Red Bay Water and Gas vs. Jason Vinson vase.

In addition, the Council approved posting of the vacancy left by Vinson’s resignation, with a decision as to how to fill the position to be decided at the next council meeting, Nov. 17.

Community member Rosalyn Fabianke addressed the council to speak in support of the reappointment of Judy Bullen to the Red Bay Water and Gas Board.

“I’m here because numerous people have voiced their concerns for an appointment to the water and gas board,” said Fabianke, “and they stated their desire for the appointment of someone with appropriate qualities and qualifications, someone with significant experience and genuine concern for the appropriate function of the water and gas board and its effective service in the community, and Judy Bullen is that person.

“She has served 18 years on the water and gas board and been supportive of so many in this community in return. Because of the intricacies and demands of service, it’s imperative that a person with knowledge and experience serve in this capacity – one not concerned with self but with service for others. We know Red Bay has a reputation of being a united community.”

Bullen’s position expires Nov. 6. The council voted in favor of appointing Keith Kennedy to the position, and the expiration date for his term will be Nov. 6, 2027.

Councilman Brad Bolton commented that the council shares Fabianke’s desire for a unified community, and “I can only speak for myself that I’ve been disappointed.”

“From my vantage point, the Red Bay Water and Gas Board was no longer unified with the City of Red Bay,” Bolton said. “Under its present standing, the water and gas board has not been willing to sit down with us and meet on issues. We strive to have unity from our boards, for all of us to work in the same capacity together. We want to protect the taxpayers of the city and do things that are a good use of taxpayer money, and I don’t believe filing a lawsuit against the city government is a good use of taxpayer money.”

In other business, the council also approved an abatement of the non-education portion of the property sales and use tax to help with the Sunshine Homes expansion.

“They’re going to add 15,000-plus square feet to their existing building,” said Sherye Price, executive director of the Franklin County Development Authority, “and this will be a $2 million capital investment, which will generate jobs for 140 new employees within the first three years.”

Fancher noted she traveled to Montgomery Oct. 26 to meet with officials and Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Director Kenneth Boswell on behalf of Sunshine Homes.

“We had a very good delegation there in support of Sunshine Homes,” said Fancher. “We were there to pursue a state floating loan, and we were successful in our endeavors. I believe Sunshine Homes was overwhelmed to see such an outpouring of support at that meeting. I’m personally very proud of their endeavors to increase jobs.”

Fancher noted others in attendance included Judge Moore, Rep. Jamie Kiel and representatives from the North Alabama Council of Local Governments.

Fancher said the exact amount of the loan has not yet been determined, but that it’s in the vicinity of $2-2.5 million dollars at a 1 percent rate with the state.

“This will help Sunshine Homes get this construction project completed and get more people working in Red Bay, and we’re really appreciative of that and glad to help support them in this endeavor.”

The city will hold a public hearing Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. at city hall to discuss the city’s submission of a float loan application to ADECA.

The council also:

  • Announced open positions on the tree commission, Little League board and Parks and Rec board.
  • Approved the appointments of Cody Wooten, Jessica Harris, Melissa Humphres and Roman Lynch to the soccer board.
  • Voted to approve a $1,500 donation to Red Bay School from the education fund for the the 2021 Veterans Day program, with the recommendation for any leftover funds to be saved for future Veterans Day programs. The 2021 program is scheduled for Nov. 10.

The next Red Bay City Council meeting will be held Nov. 17, with the work session beginning at 3 p.m. and the Council meeting beginning at 3:30 p.m.

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