Greyhound to return

Local buses are shown in 2014 at the Anniston Multimodal Transportation Center. The Anniston City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement that will have Greyhound Bus services move into the city’s Multimodal Transportation Center.

The Anniston City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement that will have Greyhound Bus services move into the city’s Multimodal Transportation Center.

The center, on West Fourth Street, already houses an Amtrak station and a stop on the Areawide Community Transit System, which offers fixed routes in Anniston, Oxford, Hobson City and Weaver.

Stephen Gaines, an area customer service manager for Greyhound, said the service had been gone from Anniston for several years, and the company was happy to be back. The station on Alabama 202 near Noble Street was closed in 2011.

The Greyhound bus stop in Oxford closed down several weeks ago after the city of Oxford passed an ordinance requiring bus services and similar businesses to load and unload passengers in an enclosed terminal. Greyhound’s bus stop at 202 Grace Street in Oxford had no enclosed space.

But Gaines said the Anniston facility will be a major improvement.

“We’re better off for it, and I think the community will be better off for it,” he said.

Gaines said he was impressed with how quickly the city worked to get the agreement in place.

Gaines added that Greyhound hopes to start the services in Anniston on Thursday, with seven bus routes running each day.

The mayor and each council member welcomed Greyhound back home.

The council also tabled a proposal to hire a consultant firm for retail development of western and southern Anniston. The firm is headed by Shelia Smoot, a former broadcaster who served on the Jefferson County Commission from 2002 to 2010.

The proposed resolution for the agreement stated the contract would not exceed $120,000 and would last for no more than three years.

According to Smoot’s resumé, she helped develop hotel sites with the Atlanta-based National Ventures Group. She also worked as a real estate agent in Mountain Brook.

Smoot added that as a commissioner she helped establish several senior housing communities as well as a 247-acre technology park in Lakeshore.

Mayor Jack Draper and Councilwoman Millie Harris said they wanted to hold off on a vote so they could speak with some of her former clients.

Councilman Ben Little, who proposed hiring Smoot’s firm, said the council should move forward with the measure so Smoot could get to work as soon as possible.

“You're asking to vote on something and then do the due diligence on that vote,” Draper said.

“It wouldn't be the first time,” Little responded.  

Little said the council is quick to offer money for projects like bike trails, but dollars for western and southern Anniston come slower, if at all.

“It’s time for west Anniston and south Anniston to get some help,” Little said.

The mayor’s motion to table the resolution passed 3-2, with Little and Councilman David Reddick voting no.

In other business, the council:

- Approved a lease agreement with owners of land at the end of Charles A. Daugherty Drive. The city needs the land to maintain and operate a wood and brush incinerator used by the Public Works Department. The city will pay $1,100 a month until September 2020.

- Passed an ordinance updating city code concerning ambulance services. City Manager Jay Johnson said the new ordinance defines ambulance services as well as the requirements for ambulance companies that want to operate in the city. He said the new code provides hearings for any failure to meet those requirements. Johnson added that the new ordinance defines the differences between an emergency and non-emergency call.

- Passed an ordinance concerning the makeup of the city’s Main Street board. Before Tuesday, the mayor and city manager each appointed a member to the board. Those two members joined seven members appointed by the Planning Commission, the Spirit of Anniston, the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Council on Arts and Humanities, the Youth Council and the Downtown Development Authority.

The council on Tuesday was set to vote on a change that would have had each council member appoint a board member along with the mayor and city manager. Those six members would join three members appointed by the Planning Commission, the Historical Preservation Commission and the Council of Arts and Humanities. The proposed change came after Little and Reddick asked for more representation from wards 2 and 3.

But Councilman Jay Jenkins proposed an amendment that simply added appointments from wards 2 and 3 to the original nine-member board called for in longstanding city code.

The council ultimately passed Jenkins’ amendment unanimously.  

Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter: @DGaddy_Star.

 

Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter @DGaddy_Star.

I'm the assistant metro editor for The Anniston Star. I edit, post online stories and write the occasional story.