Valley Grande in limbo

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 27, 2003

Valley Grande residents will have to hold their breath a few days longer.

A hearing before Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Marvin Wiggins that would undo Valley Grande’s incorporation was rescheduled Thursday afternoon to 1 p.m. Monday. After meeting with Wiggins and opposing counsel, Susan Copeland &045;&045; attorney representing Valley Grande residents supporting incorporation &045;&045; said Wiggins had too many cases on his docket and not enough time Thursday for the hearing.

Collins Pettaway &045;&045; attorney representing Valley Grande residents opposing incorporation &045;&045; said Wiggins needed to hear the evidence and see that the petition for incorporation was incorrect.

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According to Pettaway, the petition’s problems include a description of the incorporated area’s metes and bounds. &uot;We say it must be an accurate plat, and it’s not,&uot; Pettaway said.

Pettaway also noted that some petition signers didn’t actually sign the petition themselves, but instead had others sign for them. In addition, some petition signers weren’t registered voters at the time they signed, Pettaway claims.

Copeland said Pettaway’s method of challenging Valley Grande’s incorporation &045;&045; a writ of mandamus &045;&045; wasn’t proper. Instead, Pettaway should have appealed the incorporation order of Dallas County Probate Judge Johnny Jones.

According to Copeland, the question is moot because the writ asks Jones not to enter the order of incorporation; however, Copeland said, Jones already has.

The writ asks Jones to vacate a Dec. 16, 2002, order creating the election for incorporation. Copeland said on Jan. 30, 2003, Jones overruled Pettaway’s objections to the incorporation and on Feb. 3 Jones ordered the town’s incorporation.

Copeland said that if the ruling was unfavorable, she would appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court. If a favorable ruling occurs, her job would be complete.

Pettaway said he could appeal if he received an unfavorable ruling, but hadn’t made the decision yet.

Valley Grande Mayor Herb Story said he was confident the writ would be dismissed; Story added that if the community didn’t think it would be successful, it wouldn’t have started the incorporation process.