By Cady Inabinett
The Montevallo City Council began its Feb. 14 meeting by proclaiming Feb. 22 as Walt Czeskleba Day in the city to recognize 50 years of Czeskleba TV Service being in business.
Czeskleba, a Montevallo High School alumnus, opened Czeskleba TV Service in Montevallo on Feb. 22, 1972. It’s moved locations several times, opening in its present Main St. location in 1975.
Several candidates running for office in Shelby Country addressed the council during the meeting. First was Matt Casey who is running for Shelby County District Attorney. Casey said he has worked as a district attorney in Jefferson County for fourteen years and has lived in Shelby County during that time, calling Shelby County his home.
Casey also spoke on his campaign opponent, saying, “I’m looking forward to this opportunity. I believe I have one opponent. Never met the young man, I’m sure he’s a fine young man. I want to point out, just because I think it’s relevant ladies and gentlemen, he’s had his law license since November of 2019. And that was right before COVID hit. Just wanted to point out. This is a serious position.”
He went on to say, “We need someone with experience. Someone who’s done it. Someone who knows how to come in there and run the office.”
Casey also pointed out that current Shelby County district attorney Jill Lee has endorsed him as well.
Phillip A. Hackle, who is running for the position of juvenile court judge, also addressed the council.
Hackle spoke on his experience, saying, “I’m the only candidate out of the five that’s running that has been practicing law for 41 years,” before going on to say, “I know I seem old, but I’m still young at heart.”
Hackle also emphasized his work ethic, saying, “If you honor me and elected me, I can go to work the next day and start working.”
“If I’m honored to be elected as the judge in Shelby County,” he said, “I plan on coming to Columbiana and working seven days a week until I can catch up the backlog. It may take me two or three years, but I’d do that.”
Finally, Donna Beaulieu who is running for Shelby County Circuit Judge Place 1 also addressed the council.
Beaulieu has been working as an attorney for 24 years, and said she opened her first office in Montevallo. Beaulieu also described herself as a “staunch defender of the Constitution,” pointing to her role as a plaintiff in a 2004 political speech federal court case against the city of Alabaster.
“I’m a strict constitutionalist. I’m a conservative and I’m also a patriot,” Beaulieu went on to say before urging people to vote in the primary election.
Another prominent discussion at the meeting centered around vacation time for city employees. The council voted unanimously to remove the Dec. 31 expiration deadline for employees to have used all acquired vacation time after several city employees spoke against it.
One such advocate was Montevallo Police Chief Jeremy Littleton who said, “I’ve been here over 19 years with the city. I have a lot of time on the books. There’s no possible way that I can get down before the end of the year.”
“It’s putting the police department in a major bind,” Littleton said, “I have a sergeant that’s pretty much not here because he’s been taking off trying to burn his time”
Additionally, the council approved $12,000 of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds to be allotted to Shelby Emergency Assistance, Montevallo Arts Council, the American Village, Clas-Tran, Montevallo Art Walk, Shelby County Arts Council and the Neighborhood Bridges Program.
City clerk Steve Gilbert pointed out, “Most of these entities get their funding from either an event— like the Arts Council, the American Village, you know they were all shut down during COVID so they suffered an economic impact by not being able to conduct fundraising events. The other, like ClasTran provides, of course, public transportation, you know, and that has been hard hit,” and that this places all these entities under the economic relief category for ARPA funding.
The council also voted unanimously to purchase and install timers and magnetic door locks for the restrooms at Orr, Shoal Creek and Dailey Parks. The bid for installation came from C&C Electrical and totaled $5,238. There were no competing bids.
Mayor Rusty Nix spoke on how the lock system could deter vandals, saying, “The bid is, like I said, a little over $5,000, but, if it saves vandals from tearing the restroom up, you know, two times, then it’s paid for itself. And it’s a shame that we have to do this, but it’s something that’s gotta be done because, you know, they do hit the restrooms and tear them up and it’s an expensive fix.”
He also pointed out that there would be an override button accessible inside the restrooms, to prevent people from being accidentally locked inside the restroom.
“No one is going to get trapped inside the restroom,” Nix said.
Additionally, the council approved the placement of a bench honoring Dr. Earl Cunningham in Dailey Park. The city will not be paying for the bench, however. Montevallo resident Joyce Lewis will be raising funds to pay for the bench.
Lewis spoke on the influence Cunningham, who passed away in 2017, saying that he was a mentor to her and helped her while she was coping with the loss of her son.
The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page. Citizens may also attend the meeting in person at City Hall.