Courtland Mayor Linda Peebles was sworn into office and picked up city business in a council meeting following the ceremony at The McCarley Center historic train depot Monday night.
Peebles was elected after former Mayor Clarence Logston announced he would not be running for another term in the Aug. 25 election.
“I’m looking forward to serving for the next four years,” Peebles said. “I appreciate everyone’s support for this group of government officials and those new coming into office in Courtland. We will do our best to continue the progress in moving our town forward.”
Peebles took an oath of office along with returning council members, Billy Mason in Pace 1, Stacy Hughes in Place 3, and Farrell Hutto in Place 5.
Place 2 Council member Tim Watts and Place 4 Council member Lee Hitt also took oaths of office on Monday after the two newcomers were elected when former Place 2 Council member Jeff Coffey and former Place 4 member Shennell Hughes did not seek re-election.
The new Courtland Council appointed Hutto as mayor pro-tem in the event that Peebles is unable to perform her duties.
The council also appointed Peebles as Courtland’s superintendent of utilities, a position that is historically held by the mayor. The council reappointed City Clerk Vickie Jackson, Courtland Police Chief Steven Terry, Fire Chief Brandon “Scott” Norwood, Municipal Judge Callie Waldrep, and City Attorney Richard Thompson III.
Peebles and the new council resumed city business and made motions for the improvement of two 100-year-old bridges in Courtland.
In a regular meeting following the swearing-in ceremony on Monday, council members approved 5-0 a $1.19 million loan, insurance, and bond agreement with Bank Independent, Piper & Jeffreys financial firm of Birmingham, and Butler & Snow Firm, to pay for bridge replacements on Jefferson Street.
City Clerk Vickie Jackson said the projects, which were let last month by the Alabama Department of Transportation, are projected to cost $2.8 million. She said Courtland received a $1.34 million ATRP federal grant and a $335,471 RAMP state grant to pay for the project.
As of the end of October, a $67,000 fund has also been set aside to help pay for the $1.19 project loan, Jackson said. The fund consists of monies collected from a $10 utility fee the town implemented earlier this year and funds received from the Rebuild Alabama gas tax.
Jackson said the city should collect about $4,200 a month from the $10 utility fee to go towards the new loan payment, expected to cost the town about $7,000 each month for the next 10 years.
“When the loan is paid off, the $10 will come off the utility bill automatically,” Jackson said in Monday’s meeting.
She said Courtland is expected to pay about $84,000 a year for the 10-year loan.
Peebles said the two bridge replacements, one crossing Big Nance Creek on Jefferson Street and the other a relief bridge on the same route, were built in the 1920s.
“We cannot let those bridges go,” Peebles said. “We’ve got to penny-pinch and watch every dollar that is spent through Town Hall. Even if it’s just $20, it will need to be approved by the council.”
Hitt, who also serves as Courtland’s Assistant Fire Chief, said fire response for residents in the area could triple, adding at least 15 to 20 minutes in drive time for first responders, if the bridges are condemned.
The council also approved a contract with E & I Contractor for construction on the project, which is expected to begin before January.
City Attorney Richard Thompson said the project has a three-year deadline according to the loan agreement but expects the replacement projects to conclude within two years.