PONCE de LEON — Mayor Sheena Hougland and Town Council members John Harrison, Charlotte Montgomery and Denise Serigne were sworn in at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Ponce de Leon Town Council on Thursday, Jan. 3.
Hougland won the election to be reelected as mayor after running unopposed and Serigne and Harrison returned to their seats as members.
Montgomery was welcomed as the newest member after council member Judy Reynolds announced that she would not be returning to her seat during their meeting on Thursday, Dec. 7.
Ponce de Leon Town Attorney Lyndia Spears updated the council with their latest endeavors to contact Oshkosh’s attorney.
Ponce de Leon received a new fire truck using grant money, however the town has recently receiving letters stating that the town owes money on the truck.
“I’ve faxed him a copy of the contract and he even called today,” said Spears. “At first he said he didn’t remember me ever sending anything so I showed him the e-mail that I sent, faxed the contract to him and explained it again.”
She said he asked about the $15,000 trade in for one of the town’s older fire trucks and she said that they had told the town they didn’t want the truck, but if they were still interested they can come pick it up.
She said then there was an issue with extra equipment on the truck.
“I’ve heard of this type of bait and switch before,” said Spears. “They’ll add all kinds of extra stuff and wait until later and charge you more. What’s worse is that even if they do take back that equipment they can tell you they sold it for less then it was worth and charge you the difference.”
Spears advised that the company is in direct violation of their contract in sending the bill and threatening to repossess and that the town should consider suing the company to let them know the town was serious about resolving the matter.
Town Council Administrator Beth Peterson addressed the council with the upcoming raises and advised that the council to put the raises on hold until October because of the financial restraints facing the town.
“By my calculations, with these raises the expenses will be raised by $39.29 a week,” said Peterson. “It wouldn’t be so bad if we hadn’t lost the income coming from renting out the old shirt factory.”
The old shirt factory is a 22,000 square-foot warehouse owned and rented out by the town which is located near the Ponce de Leon water tower.
“It’s been over a year since Blue Rhino left and we still haven’t rented it back out,” said Peterson. “They were paying $1,800 a month, but we should consider renegotiating. Also it would be a good idea to put out a banner saying it’s for rent.”
Spears suggested that they needed a more aggressive person to help rent it out and Hougland suggested bringing the matter before the Holmes County Development Commission for help advertising the building.
The council approved of readdressing the possibility of raises in October in the hopes that the building would be rented out by then.
Serigne told the council that she had been approached by a resident inquiring about the possibility of recycle bins being placed in town.
The town agreed to contact Holmes County Recycling about putting out bins and possibly picking up the contents on a regular basis.
“I just wanted to say that we’ve had recycling bens before,” said Peterson. “The problem was that people were also dropping off large trash items like mattresses.”
Resident Wendy Varner approached the council saying she and several others wanted to put together town events for the local people and children.
“We need something for the children,” said Varner. “We want to get local artists together for art shows, bring athletes to talk to schools, hold bake sales, have an ‘American Idol,’ hold a Gospel Sing.”
She said they wanted to do volunteer events to “bring attention to our town and to be our town’s folk together.”
“We’re interested in getting our children and our community involved,” said Varner. “I pass people in the street and no one is smiling. We’re loosing our society; we need to be a family and there’s a too many talented people here to let it go to waste.”
She said she could put out a monthly calendar of all the events to be done and the events should start in February.
“If you’re willing to put in the work we’re willing to support you,” said Hougland and the council approved.
Resident Danny Ricko approached the council about putting on a wrestling tournament with a small concert during intermission ever month at the town’s gym.
“I finance my own group and team up with a group from out of Alabama,” said Ricko. “It’s a family-friendly event.”
He said the first would be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26 and if that went well then the next would be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Spears advised that they confirm that he had proof of insurance on the event before proceeding.
The council approved of the wrestling events for up to six months pending on the verification of proof of insurance and after the six months was up they would discuss if they should raise the rate of $50 per month.
The next regularly scheduled Ponce de Leon Town Council meeting is set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7.