GCDA appointments made, questions addressed by Gadsden Council

·4 min read

Two rather than four current members of the Gadsden City Council, two were appointed to the city's commercial development authority, after the council amended ae resolution offered last week.

Council members Ben Reed and Johnny Cannon on Tuesday were appointed to replace GCDA members Harry McLendon and Eric Wright, respectively, for terms that will expire Nov. 7, 2022.

McLendon and Wright's terms on the authority expired at the end of last year.

The ordinance presented at last week's pre-council meeting would have removed four current members, including recently named President Juarus Rawls and member Stephen Wood.

It would have added council President Cynthia Toles and council member Deverick Williams to the authority. Along with GCDA member Jason Wilson, the 13-member authority would have had five council members serving, had the original measure passed.

Toles said because of other involvements, she and Williams had removed their names as potential appointees.

Wilson clarified that under bylaws of the authority, terms for the council members appointed would have to end at the end of their terms of office.

Cannon said he was glad to be appointed to the board. "Now maybe something will happen in Alabama City," he said, citing only the CVS, a gun shop and two grocery stores as having come to the area in recent years.

"Alabama City folks are just as good as East Gadsden folks or anybody in any other part of the city," he said.

Reed said he'd agreed to serve on the authority for eight months, "and that's it."

The council also fielded some questions from Joseph Cole about whether city employees would get a Juneteenth holiday, the status of the East Gadsden Community Center project and about an unnamed master electrician who said he's been on the city's bid list for 30 years and has never received information or gotten an opportunity to bid on city projects.

Toles said the council has not discussed whether employees would get a day off for Juneteenth, now a national holiday. "Bids are not our department, not our concern," Toles said. "We're not even going to discuss that."

Wilson did choose to discuss it, saying there are public notices given for bids. City Engineer Heath Williamson said if contractors ask to be on the bid list, they receive notices unless they repeatedly don't respond. He said the city wants to receive as many bids as possible, and invited anyone to contact him to receive information.

Williams said for minority or female contractors, the city looks at a state list and other avenues to bring in bids. There are a lot of steps to follow, he said.

Toles said the person Cole referred to has been on the city's electrical affairs committee for some 20 years, and should have an automatic track to information about city projects.

Toles expressed concern that Gadsden residents are calling on Cole, a former Gadsden resident who now lives in Atlanta, to ask questions of the council. She said they didn't have the "nerve or the guts" to come to the council with those questions themselves.

She said Williamson had given the council an update on the long-awaited East Gadsden Community Center last week, and that the public has been updated about the project.

Williamson did address the time frame for opening of the community center. It hasn't been set yet, but it should be soon. Final inspections are underway, he said, and after that there will be some time for staff training.

He said the new center is a "smart building," and it will take some training to prepare employees to operate equipment there and the maintenance staff for upkeep there.

Williamson said the staff is "extremely excited" about the center, and that the contractor is ready to finish the job. He said at this point, it's costing the contractor money to be working there.

The first contractor on the project defaulted, which cost lost time on the project. Additional delays and supply chain issues have been a factor as well, Williamson said.

Still, he said, the work is nearing completion. An opening date should be announced in the coming weeks.

Contact Gadsden Times reporter Donna Thornton at 256-393-3284 or donna.thornton@gadsdentimes.com.

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Two Gadsden council members appointed to commercial development board

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