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Jacksonville council appoints Sandra Sudduth new president


JACKSONVILLE The City Council gained a new leader Monday, at least until November.

The council appointed member Sandra Sudduth as its president Monday. It also officially accepted the resignation of former president Mark Jones, who announced earlier in the year that he was leaving to take a job in Montgomery.

The council made its appointment during its regular Monday meeting.

As president, Sudduth will be responsible for directing the council agenda and heading the council’s meetings.

Sudduth thanked her fellow council members for their vote of confidence in her.

“I hope I’m able to carry this out as well as Mark did,” Sudduth said.

Sudduth will hold her position at least until November, when the newly elected council takes control and votes for new officers. Sudduth is running unopposed. The election is set for Aug. 23.

The resignation of Jones leaves an empty spot on the council until November. Jarrod Simmons, city administrator, said he and the council have had some discussions on how an appointment would be made to finish out Jones’ term.

“If there’s someone who gets elected without a runoff and is new, then the council could appoint him, so we could have an appointment as early as Aug. 30,” Simmons said. “But barring that, we have 60 days from today to appoint someone … so, we’ll just wait and see what happens on Aug. 23.”

Jones’ attended his last meeting July 25 and bid his farewell to the council. Jones announced in June that he would resign on July 25 to take a job as assistant director of officials for the Alabama High School Athletic Association in Montgomery. Jones previously worked 32 years as director of recreational sports at Jacksonville State University.

Also during the meeting, the council agreed to accept a $313,125 federal grant for the Jacksonville Fire Department to hire three new firefighters for the next two years. Assistant Fire Chief Randy Childs, who attended the meeting, said his department obtained the grant to help it expand manpower once the city’s public safety complex. Expected to open later this year, the $12.5 million complex will house Jacksonville police and firefighters.

Childs said the Fire Department plans to keep its current station active after the complex opens.

“We’ll be in both stations, so we need to boost manpower,” Childs said.

The Fire Department currently has 25 full-time and 12 part-time firefighters.

Simmons said the city would need to take over the cost of the three firefighters once the grant ends. Simmons said he didn't think the city would have to lay off any firefighters if there wasn't enough money to keep the new hires once the grant expires.

“I think we could just reduce the number of firefighters through attrition,” Simmons said.

Also during the meeting the council:

• agreed to spend $5,092 in fire tax money to update the fire department’s phone system.

• moved the next council meeting to Aug. 30.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.