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Salaam addresses V.G. Council

The Selma-Times Journal

State Representative, District 67, Yusuf Salaam addressed the Valley Grande City Council Monday night concerning the progress on Highway 22 East.

According to Valley Grande Mayor Tom Lee, he asked Salaam to help the city

obtain a faster pace on the construction of the highway.

Lee said he had mentioned to the council several weeks ago about how they were seeing no progress on the highway expansion and that there were a lot of reasons why the city needs that highway.

“As I told you several weeks ago, the state of Alabama doesn’t know Tom Lee,” Lee said. “And if they did, they probably couldn’t care less but I did turn to somebody that I thought would have a lot of impact, and it was Rep. Yusef Salaam.”

Lee said that Salaam “graciously” agreed to go with him to the Director’s office in Montgomery to discuss the highway. The group had an hour long discussion about the ramifications of the highway and its importance to the community.

Lee admitted that the meeting was a success and that progress on the highway is now visible.

“I got a call even today from the people that are handling the condemnation proceedings for the entire highway,” Lee said. “They were asking specifics about the highway, such as abstracts and things.

So there’s no question that there was significant success and we appreciate your help Salaam.”

Lee said that Salaam had called this week to see if progress had been made on the road and the floor was then given over to Salaam.

“One of the things that came out of that meeting was determination,” said Salaam, who is seeking re-election this term. “We need to have a special committee coming out of Valley Grand to be able to access whatever appropriate resources come from the state but not only the state, the federal government as well. If you have your state reps working along with your congressional and senatorial delegation in Washington, as well as Montgomery, there’s going to be a need for a new community to have resources somewhere.”

Salaam said the city may as well come up with a committee whose job is to target those needs and plan ways to meet them.

“We want to see Valley Grand successful,” Salaam said. “As representative of this county, I see it as a natural developmental process.

It would be wonderful for Dallas County and even the city of Selma to have all these divisions to understand and see that. I’m here to give my full support to Valley Grande.”

Salaam said that if he is re-elected he pledges to attend at least one Valley Grande Council meeting a month because he believes it is important to maintain communication.

Chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party Col. Brock Wells stood up and spoke on behalf of Salaam and Valley Grande after discussion of the highway.

“I’ve known this man for four years,” said Wells, who is also the only Republican candidate seeking the office of Probate Judge this term. “I’ve always backed him. Salaam has done a lot for Dallas County and we can count on his support. We need to make sure that he gets back into the office because the progress of Valley Grand depends on him.”

Lee reported that the city is currently going through the first phase of right-a-way requirements for Highway 22. The final phase will include the actual construction of the road. A period of six to 12 months is expected for the progress of the right-a-way and Lee said the full construction of the road could take as long as 18 months to get under way.

In other business, American Red Cross Director Jakki Caldwell Phillips addressed the council concerning disaster training participation.

“I’m asking for encouragement, support and participation from the community in getting people prepared for hurricanes this season,” Phillips said. ” I’m sure that most of you have already been informed that this season is probably going to be worse than last hurricane season. They are projecting that we are going to have anywhere from 17 to 19 hurricanes, nine of them major. We really want to be prepared for the unthinkable.”

“Phillips said that she has been disappointed in the lack of interest in the community when it comes to getting prepared for this.

“I’m here tonight asking you to open doors for me in the community that I cannot open,” Phillips said.

Lee asked about requirements for a shelter and Phillips replied that the basics of every shelter includes, minimal glass windows, liability insurance on the property, handicap accessibility, sprinklers and fire alarms, as well as, possible cooking units. However, Phillips said that volunteers for the shelters basically have to come from the community.

Next, AlaTax Regional Acount Manager Yolanda Thomas addressed the council regarding the renewal of their AlaTax contract for tax collections. The contract, which was scheduled to expire at the end of this month, was adopted for renewal by the city council.

In other business, Council member Patsy Moore mentioned that the city had been promised a grant from Vaughan Community Health Services and is ready to start clearing the land for the Walking Trail.

“Our first phase is to remove some trees,” Moore said. “The logger is supposed to start on Thursday. He’s been delayed from starting sooner because of the weather.”

Moore read the report from Vaughan Service and noted that the committee had asked for a supplement of $20,000 needed to accomplish the construction of the trail, that the grant will not cover. Moore submitted the ordinance and the council decided to put it on first reading in order to review.

Councilman Donald Chandler spoke next about the progress of a neighborhood watch program in the Quail Ridge community. He said he sent out letters, detailing the benefits of the program to all the members of the community and had received no response. Therefore, Chandler noted that he will be moving on to his next community on the list, Roundtree Drive.

The council also approved a donation of $10,000 to the Potter’s Station Volunteer Fire Department, which was within the budget.

A mid-year budget report was read and approved by the council as the last item on the list for the night.

At the last council meeting May 1, members voted 4-2 to approve a contract between the city and Tri-County Construction for phase one of the public safety building. Councilmembers Donald Chandler and Julie Drinkard voted against the approval. Chandler advised Lee that the contract should be approved in the form of a resolution to alleviate future problems, citing a six year statute of limitations.