Sascha Franklin speaks during the May 24 REB meeting.

REB approves commentator rules, Jam donation

The Russellville Electric Board met May 24 and, among its business items, renewed a line of credit, approved funding toward Jam on Sloss Lake and discussed additional funding for retirees, as well as set new guidelines for visiting commentators at meetings.

Separately from the primary business, manager Charles Canida reported on the response of the municipal court of Russellville regarding the City of Russellville as plaintiff versus Dwight Jackson as defendant, dated May 2, 2022, with reference number MC 22-076.

He said Jackson is facing criminal trespass, third degree, related to trespass at Russellville Utilities. Canida and Russellville Police Capt. Jake Tompkins testified in the matter.

According to the court document, “the defendant represented himself and conducted cross examination of the city’s witnesses, as well as offered some testimonials on his own behalf. The issue of whether or not this was a valid and properly executed trespass order against the defendant was not the issue before the court. The defendant admitted that he could have mailed his payment or had someone else send it or deliver it for him, but he decided he would do it himself.

“And it was his own personal decision as such on the charge of criminal trespass, third degree, the court finds the defendant, Dwight Jackson, guilty as charged. The defendant is ordered to pay a fine of $250 along with the court cost, including the bail bond fees of $412 for a total of $662 done this 20th day of May, 2022, signed Roger H. Bedford, junior municipal judge.”

Canida said the cover letter stated that Jackson had fourteen days to appeal, adding, “That was just for your information with that. That’s all I have.”

In regular business, the board voted to:

  • Renew a $1 million line of credit, for emergencies, with CB&S Bank.
  • Approve a $10,000 donation to the July 4 Jam on Sloss Lake, as per request in a letter from the mayor.
  • Approve a lump sum to retirees and beneficiaries of deceased retirees. The move was based on a notice from RSA that the Alabama legislature passed an act to provide opportunity for the lump sum. According to the Board, beneficiaries will receive the additional money in October as an additional check, separate from their normal check.

Sascha Franklin, who also spoke during the April meeting, was on the agenda and spoke during the May 24 meeting. “I appreciate another opportunity. Looks like I won’t get another one for three months,” Franklin said – referencing a resolution the board passed earlier in the meeting to specify the time limit and frequency of those wishing to appear before the Board and speak during its meetings.

Canida read the resolution, Resolution 2022-001, aloud before the vote.

It stipulates the following:

Individuals wishing “to make oral presentations/speak” to the REB will be required to contact the office by noon a minimum of three business days prior to the meeting and request to be on the business agenda of the meeting.

Any individual on the agenda to speak will be limited to five minutes.

Individuals will be limited to “one appearance per quarter/one appearance every three months” for the purpose of speaking during a board meeting, and “during the time an individual is making their oral presentation/speaking to the members of the Russellville Electric Board, said individual shall maintain decorum and respect.”

The resolution went into effect the same day.

Franklin questioned alleged REB expenses in June and July “upwards of $20-plus thousand dollars” on trips and food.

“I’ve been thinking about a lot of things to say about this. The more I think about stuff, the more it bothers me,” Franklin said.

He said many community members have to make a choice whether to take medicine or pay bills, adding he has “a family that has to make those decisions.”

“Just remember that,” Franklin said. “You know, spending all this money on these trips and everything – I understand there’s things you have to go to, continued education and things, but some of these are used just for vacations for families and stuff.

“And again, there’s a lot of these people that love to take their families on vacations, and they can’t afford it,” he added. “When you lay down at night, you just think about these things, and if none of this bothers you, then I just pray God has mercy on you, but there’s a lot of people that struggle with their bills.”

Franklin said despite inflation, “these excessive expenditures and stuff, if they weren’t happening, then some of these rate increases wouldn’t have to happen.”

“Some of the people are on fixed incomes and stuff and can’t make these (electric bills),” Franklin said, “and they are the ones that are having to make tough decisions, whether to, like I said, pay for the medicine or eat this day and things like that.

“A few weeks ago in our Sunday school class, we had a discussion on how it’s our obligation to look out and help one another, and I’d just like for you to think about all the excessive spending and things. Are you fulfilling your obligation to help these people? I just truly wish you would think about other people in the community and not just yourselves.”

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