/Council discusses markers and design board   
Graphic by Laryssa Molina-Becerra, Graphic designer.

Council discusses markers and design board   

By Wesley Walter, Managing editor 

The Montevallo City Council discussed a proposed historic marker for Epsibeth Missionary Baptist Church during their March 11 meeting.  

The marker was proposed as part of Montevallo’s African American Heritage Trail, a project run by the Montevallo Historic Commission, seeking to highlight locations important to the history of Montevallo’s Black population.  

“I think it’s the second oldest church—Black church—in this area. It is well over 150 years old, and Rev. Lorenzo Mitchell is the pastor currently there now,” council member Kenneth Dukes said about the church, adding, “It’s only had, I think, less than seven pastors in its entire existence. He’s been there a long time. Matter of fact, I was baptized by him when I was small enough for somebody to let me down and not drown you.” 

“It is a very historic church and—and so, it’s being recognized as one of the historical markers. It’s still the original parts of the original church that was originally constructed. So, we get the opportunity to add it to our African American Heritage Trail with a marker that will be placed there,” Dukes said.  

The council voted unanimously to approve the marker.  

Montevallo Mayor Rusty Nix read an award proclamation honoring the late Derrick A. Lilly. Lilly, was born in Alabaster in 1975, and served 21 years in the United States Marine Corps. Lilly then worked at Montevallo’s post office from 2001 until he passed away on Feb. 20.  

“For the last 22 years Lilly became a familiar face in the community, who was liked and respected among his coworkers, friends and those frequently in the post office,” Nix said. 

“To share the awareness of Derrick A. Lilly’s contributions to Montevallo and our country; I, Mayor Rusty Nix, do hereby proclaim, recognize and celebrate his service,” Nix said. 

Members of Lilly’s family were in attendance and received recognition from the council as well.  

Executive Director of the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce Adele Nelson said, “I want to thank the mayor and council for honoring Derrick, and this is a proclamation that will go down in Montevallo recorded history.” 

UM’s SGA Director of Social Services Caleb Jernigan addressed the council and meeting attendees with information regarding The Big Event. The Big Event is SGA’s annual community service event set to be held on April 6.  

Jernigan said, “The Big Event is an opportunity for the student body of the University of Montevallo to give back to the people of Montevallo. Basically, organizations from campus—lacrosse teams, fraternities, sororities—will come down and help clean up businesses, houses, things like that—anything that doesn’t require a power tool, pretty much.”  

“I encourage all of you to sign up. These students want to work. It is completely free. You do not have to pay a dime. This is free labor,” Jernigan said. 

Jernigan offered sign-up sheets for meeting attendees looking to have work done on their properties. 

The council was scheduled to vote on the reappointment of Courtney Bennett to the Design Review Committee, but council member David King motioned to postpone the appointment, as well as the next Design Review Committee meeting set to be held March 12, until after the council’s next meeting. 

“I had a constituent approach me today about some concerns about the board appointments in the Design Review Committees,” King said. 

“I would like to make a motion to postpone this reappointment until such time as we can take a look at ensuring that the appropriate number of people are on the Design Review Committee. I know that we are currently reviewing some items that are controversial and I think it would be prudent if this council would hold off for just a minute,” King said, continuing, “Now I want to make a comment, I have no issue whatsoever with Courtney Bennett, or anyone else on that board.” 

Nix said to King that the board was meant to have five members and currently has four.  

King responded, “I had something brought up to me because they are reviewing a particular item that, as I know, is a hot topic item.” 

“All I’m saying is for prudence, so that somebody doesn’t invalidate a decision that’s made by the Design Review Committee, we need to delay that meeting for a couple weeks. We need to delay this appointment until we can push this appointment—not push—until we can vote on this appointment after legal counsel verifies that that committee is indeed where it’s supposed to be,” said King. 

The council voted 5-1 to postpone the vote and next Design Review Committee meeting, with Nix abstaining.  

Montevallo Police Chief Jeremy Littleton thanked members of the Montevallo Middle School Leaders of Tomorrow for attending the council meeting. Littleton also announced that the group held a mock council meeting of their own earlier in the day, in addition to touring the Montevallo Fire and Police Departments and UM.  

The program’s advisor, Matthew Williams, explained its purpose, saying, “It’s a group that we start in 6th grade, and we look for students who show leadership in the schools and in the classroom and our goal is to hone in on those skills and help develop leaders as we go throughout—throughout their middle school years.” 

“So, we take them on different field trips. We go to the Civil Rights Institute. We go all around Montevallo. We’ve been on Main Street and just interact with different leaders in the community to hone in on those skills, and, if you can see, it’s working well because you have someone on the MJCC that was in LOT last year. And you got a lot of good candidates back there coming up that can be in MJCC coming up as well,” Williams said. 

The next city council meeting will be held Monday, March 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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Wesley Walter is managing editor for The Alabamian. He is a junior English major and mass communications minor. Wesley boasts a 750 credit score, boyish good looks and soulful eyes that contain a deep indescribable sadness. In his free time, he enjoys travelling, visiting gas stations and thinking about getting into surfing.