Valley Grande residents:

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 22, 2006

‘We want equal representation’

By Deborah Goodwin

The Selma Times-Journal

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VALLEY GRANDE – Residents addressed the Valley Grande Council on Monday.

They were concerned with representation – or lack of it.

Valley Grande resident Ken Melton stood before the council, notebook in hand, and let his point of view – as well as others of the town, he said – be known about the council seats.

“Those who live in Ocmulgee 219 area, they have no neighborhood representation.

Likewise Lazy Acres, they have none.

The Pardue area, Deep Woods, people on Persimmon Tree Road, North Persimmon Tree Road, essentially, have no neighborhood representation.”

Melton expressed that only one area of Valley Grande was being represented by the council – the Martin Middle School area.

“I guess it could be said that essentially, there is only one neighborhood that has representation, and that neighborhood essentially holds all the seats on the council,” said Melton.

Melton proposed that making the next elected council be comprised of residents from future established wards the council’s number-one priority and the next council be made up of six seats – presently five – with the mayor’s seat being the only one elected at large.

“I believe that since we’ve come as far as we have, and accomplished as much as we have in a short length of time, it’s now only appropriate that this be the next step for Valley Grande,” said Martin.

Mayor Tom Lee responded to Martin saying, “I don’t disagree with you completely, but I think there are two ways to accomplish that.

One would be for us all to try to get more people in your area involved in the reelection process.

The other would be we’ve got exactly two years to look at exactly what you’re talking about and identify what the problems are.”

The meeting was adjourned just shy of 13 minutes, but the discussion continued for roughly 50 more minutes.

Councilwoman Julie Drinkard addressed Martin saying, “You should fell free to call me – everyone of us in here any time you want to.

We represent you and we try to do that to the best of our ability.”

Resident Cecil Dunkley addressed the council saying, “It’s people over on (Ocmulgee) 219 don’t even know who’s a council member because they didn’t vote and they won’t come over here and vote for the simple reason, just what he (Martin) say’s, there’s no one to represent them.”

“They don’t know who you are,” said Dunkley.

Councilwoman Libby Ezelle addressed the residents saying, “You’re not required to have wards with our population.

Martin responded saying, “You’re not required to, but you can opt to.”

“All the areas in Valley Grande had the same opportunity I had to run,” said Councilwoman Patsy Moore.

“I paid $50 and I signed up to run.”

Alabama state law states, “The aldermen (governing persons) in such cities or towns shall be elected by the city or town at large at the first general election held on the fourth Tuesday in August, 1984, and quadrennially thereafter, or from wards as the said councils may determine, not less than six months before an election, and shall receive such salary as the council may prescribe, which must be fixed by the council not less than six months prior to each general municipal election.” (

In other business:

Councilwoman Patsy Moore reported that the kudzu on the walking trail has been sprayed twice and will need to be bush hogged every two weeks.

The second phase of the land clearing to remove additional trees will cost $1,600.

Councilman Donald Chandler reported that he is working on the neighborhood watch project.

The council unanimously voted to put the discussion of a new public safety building on first reading.