CHIPLEY — The books are open until 4 p.m. Thursday for residents interested in running for the three open city council seats or the job of mayor, City Clerk Dian Hendrix told the Vernon City Council on Monday.
“We’ve only had one person come by so far,” Hendrix said.
The election will be held March 12 and two of the council seats will be for a two year term while the third is for one year, which will be to complete the late Oscar Ward’s unexpired seat.
Qualifying for the election began Monday and candidates will be confirmed at the regular city council meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 11.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and voting will take place at the Vernon City Hall.
Mayor Michelle Cook told the council that Steve Keator from Arbor Lane Nursery in Vernon had donated 24 Crepe Myrtle trees to Shady Grove Park.
The mayor, Garden Club President Pam Cates and council member Gwen March were on hand for the planting, and Cook said she would also like to thank the Department of Corrections for the work crew that helped plant the trees.
The council also heard the first reading of an ordinance for the recovery of costs for damages to utilities, but the ordinance was tabled for further discussion at the next city workshop and so City Attorney Kerry Adkison could rework the ordinance.
City Public Works Director Gerald Ward said the ordinance should state that the damage be repaired by the party that causes the damage.
“We don’t have the man power to run out and fix things, we only have three people,” Ward said. “If you get a 8-inch pipe bust like we had the other day, we lose hundreds of thousands of gallons.” Ward said in a recent such leak, the city lost 300,000 gallons of water.
The ordinance would require the party who did the damage to repay the city for expenses, but Ward said he would like the city to consider also required the damaging party to repair the damage immediately.
“I know what Gerald is saying,” Adkison said, “but do we think they will really do the repairs?”
“Gerald is saying at least that way we’ll have it in the ordinance that we can call them in to fix it,” Chairwoman Tina Sloan said.
Councilman Byron Biddle moved that the ordinance be tabled for further study and to give Adkison time to rework the ordinance.
The council also voted to temporarily close Highway 79 on Feb. 14 for the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Vernon Bridge. The event is scheduled for 11 a.m.