Hanceville leaders appoint Kenneth Cornelius to fill vacant council seat

Feb. 9—HANCEVILLE — The Hanceville City Council is back to its full strength as a six-member body (including recently appointed Mayor Jimmy Sawyer), after councilmembers agreed this week to set local resident Kenneth Cornelius in the empty chair left vacant when Sawyer, a former longtime councilmember, accepted his mayor's role.

Cornelius was appointed at the close of the council's Feb. 8 meeting, following a brief executive session in which council members privately discussed matters of good name and character before reconvening and announcing their decision. Cornelius will fill Sawyer's former Place 5 seat, a position that's remained empty since Sawyer took his mayor's oath on Jan. 11, when Sawyer replaced former Mayor Kenneth Nail after Nail resigned from office.

A Hanceville High School graduate born and raised in the city, Cornelius brings 32 years' worth of perspective as a local business owner to his public service role. In addition to his new city council appointment, Cornelius also serves in other public capacities, including his current seat on the Cullman E-911 board of directors, as well as his ongoing participation as an officer in the Cullman County Republican Party — a group he also chaired in the early 2010s.

In a related measure of necessary housekeeping, the council also appointed longtime and current councilmember Kim Brown to serve as the city's mayor pro-tem, a role that tasks her with presiding over council meetings and serving in the mayor's stead in the event of Sawyer's absence or unavailability.

The council unanimously approved Brown's new pro-tem appointment, though Brown herself abstained from the roll-call vote on the matter. A local educator, Brown is the principal of Vinemont Elementary School and is currently serving her third Hanceville City Council term.

Cornelius' council appointment came late in the Feb. 8 meeting after many attendees already had left, and the council did not conduct a swearing-in ceremony after naming him to the Place 5 seat. He will instead be sworn in at the start of the council's next regular meeting, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, at Hanceville City Hall.

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.