Today’s the Day

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Valley Grande Al. ?

By Alan Riquelmy / Selma Times – Journal

Valley Grande’s election took place last Thursday, but the official results of that election won’t be known until today.

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That’s because of two petitions filed by attorney Collins Pettaway of Chestnut, Sanders, Sanders and Pettaway, on behalf of two Valley Grande residents the day before the election. Pettaway requested that Probate Judge Johnny Jones call off the Jan. 9 election due to alleged problems with Valley Grande’s petition to incorporate.

In Jones’ written response Jan. 8, he stated that the election would proceed as scheduled, but that it wouldn’t be certified until he addressed the matters in Pettaway’s petitions at a hearing.

That hearing will occur today at 4 p.m.

Jones added that he has read the cases cited in the petitions and is ready to hear the arguments that were stated in the petitions filed on the eve of the election.

One of the petitions, filed by Pettaway on behalf of Valley Grande resident Tamara Duncan Smith, states that &uot;an accurate description and map of the territory&uot; included with Valley Grande’s petition to incorporate contained faulty information. This is because, Pettaway explained, the map had only a listing of governmental subsections. Some of the subsections have no description of Selma’s boundaries, and in some cases it’s impossible to determine where Selma’s city limits are based on Valley Grande’s information.

J. Doyle Fuller, attorney representing Valley Grande residents who want to incorporate, said in his response that knowledge from governmental subsections used in an incorporation petition is acceptable.

Mike Henderson, a representative of Fuller’s office, added that signed affidavits from attorneys that deal with nothing but land and real estate issues would most likely be presented at the hearing.

Those affidavits, Henderson said, would state that Valley Grande’s metes and bounds description was proper.

The second petition, filed on behalf of Rita M. Lett, states that both she and her children attempted to reach election inspectors about absentee voting. However, Lett said in the petition, they received no response and were denied their right to vote.

Fuller responded by saying Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor’s opinion on the matter of absentee ballots was nothing more than an opinion so it had no effect on the law. Fuller also said the opinions deal with annexations, not incorporations, and aren’t even relevant.

If the election is certified, according to the Code of Alabama, it will be recorded in the probate office and then sent to the Alabama Secretary of State.

Once the secretary of state receives the certification, it’s official.

Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman Jr., said that since the election on Thursday several materials from that election have been locked up in the sheriff’s office. Some of those materials include both used and unused ballots.

The ballots are in cardboard boxes, Huffman said, and sealed with election tape. They have also been signed by polling officials signifying that the boxes were sealed, he added.

Huffman said that the materials will stay in the sheriff’s office for close to two years, as is required under law.

After that time, the materials will be burned.