Still Waiting

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 16, 2003

Valley Grande election still not final

By Alan Riquelmy / Selma

Times – Journal

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Valley Grande’s incorporation process has hinged on the eleventh hour since last Thursday’s election.

And after a hearing on Wednesday, it looks like it won’t click to 12 for another two weeks.

Wednesday afternoon Probate Judge Johnny Jones heard from both Collins Pettaway, attorney representing Valley Grande residents against incorporation, and J. Doyle Fuller, attorney representing those residents who want to incorporate.

Wednesday’s hearing was scheduled by Jones so that he could hear about the matters in Pettaway’s two petitions filed on the eve of Valley Grande’s election.

Pettaway’s petitions concerned both the metes and bounds description in Valley Grande’s petition to incorporate and the matter of absentee ballots.

In addition to the petitions filed on Jan. 8 by Pettaway, another three were filed 10 minutes before yesterday’s hearing.

The additional petitions were filed on behalf of David Hodo of Summerfield, Benjamin Allen of Selma and Horace Brown.

According to Hodo in his petition, he is worried about Summerfield being annexed if Valley Grande incorporates.

Allen said that he was denied the right to vote in Valley Grande’s election even though he had signed the petition to incorporate.

Brown said that some people who signed the petition to incorporate weren’t even registered to vote in the Valley Grande area at the time.

However, Jones said at the hearing that he would only listen to matters that were discussed in Pettaway’s first two petitions.

In his arguments, Pettaway said that it’s clear Jones must have an accurate metes and bounds description included with the petition to incorporate.

He added that the information Fuller used for the metes and bounds description, governmental subsections, isn’t proper because it doesn’t show the Selma city limits.

Pettaway also said that the corporate limits of Selma can’t be determined based on Fuller’s information.

Fuller, however, said that case law states a legal description of the area and a map of that area, if they match, are adequate and meet the petition’s requirements to incorporate.

He then gestured to a map of the area proposed to be incorporated while talking to Jones.

Fuller said that if Pettaway looked at the map and said he couldn’t tell where the city of Selma’s limits were then he wasn’t being candid with Jones.

Pettaway also brought Rita M. Lett before Jones to testify about the problems she had with absentee ballots.

According to Lett, she tried to get in touch with two of the three election inspectors, Betty Ross and Roland Griffin, to ask about getting an absentee ballot. Lett said she left messages on one of their machines a couple of times, but never received a response.

Under Fuller’s questioning, however, Lett said that she never tried to get in touch with the third inspector, Judy Harris, even though she had worked with Harris before.

Fuller also read from the Code of Alabama to Lett. The portion he read said that a voter could furnish his or her own ballot in the election.

However, as Lett said, she didn’t know about the law nor did she try to find out about it.

After hearing both sides, Jones said that he would review the testimony that had been given. Jones also said he wanted the cases that were cited in Pettaway and Fuller’s arguments presented to him for review.

Jones later said that a decision on certifying Valley Grande’s election would occur in the next two weeks.