/Council approves new historical markers for African American Heritage Trail 
Graphic by Makayla Montgomery.

Council approves new historical markers for African American Heritage Trail 

By Cady Inabinett, Editor in chief 

The Montevallo City Council expanded the city’s African American Heritage Trail at their Sept. 11 meeting, approving the addition of two new historical markers at two local churches. 

The two markers will be placed at Ward Chapel AME Church, located on West Street, and Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, located on Selma Road. 

The Montevallo African American Heritage Trail is a project approved by the city in August 2022 under the Montevallo Historic Preservation Commission. The trail seeks to commemorate sites relevant to Black history and culture in Montevallo through signage and markers.  

The council approved the two markers unanimously. 

City council members also discussed plans to renovate the historic Mahler House located at Shoal Creek Park.  

Currently, there are plans to renovate the house into a welcome center. This would include renovating the interior of the house to include a welcome area, gift shop area, office space and ADA compliant restroom on the first floor. Additionally, there are plans to renovate the second floor into a small apartment for a caretaker for the house and Shoal Creek Park as a whole to live in.  

Discussion at the council meeting was centered around accepting a proposal from architect Rob Walker for mechanical and electrical plans for the house, as well as construction oversight services.  

City clerk Steve Gilbert outlined Walker’s plans for overseeing construction work, saying that Walker plans to pay weekly visits to the site while construction work is underway. He added that Walker also plans to make additional visits to inspect the site every time construction contractors ask to draw from project funds.  

The council voted to accept Walker’s service offer unanimously. 

Also discussed at this meeting was the city’s budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The proposed budget plans for nearly $8.3 million in revenue and nearly $7 million in expenditures.  

The budget was developed after meeting with department heads to assess their needs and develop individual department budgets, according to Gilbert. 

Two noticeable increases in expenditures within this year’s budget come from plans to increase city employee salaries and increases in the cost of property insurance. Gilbert said the budget includes a 6% increase in wages for city employees—to account for higher costs of living, according to Mayor Rusty Nix—as well as a 3.5% increase in the cost of city employee insurance. Additionally, the cost of property insurance for city property is set to increase by 20%. 

The council did not vote on the budget at this meeting, but will vote on it at their next meeting on Sept. 25. 

The council also voted on and approved three new board appointments. Two of these appointments were for the Parks and Recreation Board—appointing Andrea Eckelman, a political science professor at the University of Montevallo, and reappointing Christopher Smith to the board until September 2026. The other appointment placed Kevin Hughes on the Design Review Committee until September 2026 as well. 

The council approved these appointments as a slate, with only council member Martha Eisenberg opposing all three. 

The next city council meeting will be held Monday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at City Hall and livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page. 

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Cady Inabinett is the editor in chief of The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies, caring for houseplants and generally just being pretentious in her free time.