New officer

At the Heflin City Council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Rudy Rooks (right) swears in the newest member of Heflin's police force, Donnie Grant Jr.

HEFLIN — The city is in good shape financially, Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith told members of the Heflin City Council during a work session preceding a council meeting Tuesday night.

That evaluation came from Smith’s quarterly budget report which he delivered to the council. He said he appreciated the efforts of the city administration.

“Overall we’re doing really well this year, I applaud the department heads for making sure they’re watching the budget and making sure we’re not overspending in certain areas,” Smith said.

Smith said there is an increase in sales tax revenue over last year and the city’s total income is up by a margin of 12.92 percent.

Smith said expenses for most of the city’s departments are down.

Smith also reported that Alabama Power has reduced the amount the company will charge the city for LED streetlights. Previously, the lights would have added over $1000 per month to the city’s electric bill, but that cost has been reduced to $184 per month according to Smith.

Smith said hopes the entire city can have the newer and brighter streetlights.

The city clark said that the city currently has $150,000 in the coffers for street paving but he expects that figure to rise, so he asked each council member to come up with a list of roads in their districts which need new asphalt.

Smith named off the Coleman and Willoughby Streets as likely candidate for repaving since they will see an increase in traffic when a new assisted living facility is open.

The council discussed the Campbell Street bridge project which Mayor Rudy Rooks said will be a “four-barrel culvert” bridge to span Cahulga Creek. Rooks hopes the bridge can be replaced during the summer when school is out of session.  

A detour for residents who live across the creek will be provided during the four months Rooks estimated the project would require.

Heflin economic developer Tanya Maloney said that 200 Cleburne County teachers toured area industries last Friday.  The field trip was to better familiarize the educators with what kind of jobs local industries have and what they are looking for.

Maloney said that three new businesses opened their doors in Heflin during December including a restaurant, automotive repair shop and a fabric/quilting store.

Maloney said that Southern Immediate Care, a clinic for quick medical care, will open on Jan. 16 in Heflin and will have an open house from 2-4 p.m.

Maloney said that preparations are ongoing for the Strides of March 5K and St. Paddy’s on Main which will be on March 16 in downtown Heflin.

The annual Irish-themed festival includes food, music, entertainment, pet parade and a 5K.

The council voted unanimously to buy security systems which will include cameras for the police station and the arts center.

The funding will come from a $7,000 grant from the Alabama Trust Fund.

The council also voted unanimously to declare the month of January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month as requested by the Alabama League of Municipalities.

Rooks read the proclamation which stated that anywhere from 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. The proclamation stated,”We ask all resident of this community to join us in raising the visibility of this crime whose victims are all too often invisible.”

Rudy Payne, director of the beautification department, reported that a higher-than-usual number of fire ant mounds have been seen at Cahulga Creek Park.

“This is a big year for fire ants because we have such a mild wet winter,” Payne said.

Rooks said he uses a product called Special 38 which is a liquid that is applied to the mound.

“You do it early in the morning and you come back and there will be dead ants,” Rooks said.

Donnie Grant Jr. was sworn in as Heflin’s newest police officer. Heflin police Chief A.J. Benefield said Grant has 20 years of law enforcement experience.

“We really look forward to having him on our team,” Benefield said.

Grant said he worked at the Sheriff’s Office in Randolph County and in Clay County.   

The next council meeting will be Jan. 22 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.