SYLACAUGA – The Sylacauga City Council will discuss whether to approve a tax abatement for Blue Bell Creameries for a $5.3 million expansion.

In a work session Tuesday evening, the council discussed a request from Blue Bell, which plans to build a new production area, truck shop, warehouse and up to 17 additional jobs at the ice cream factory.

“That’s kind of a standard thing,” mayor Doug Murphree said. “We do that for any industry who expands or comes in and hires people, so yes, it’ll be well worth the abatement, for the addition and the hiring of the new employees.”

The council will also discuss refunding an escrow balance of $4,458.82 to AT&T. The company was putting up a new cell tower, but was unable to meet its initial time frame and put the plans on hold. The company does not plan to install the tower until 2016, at which point it will have to reapply.

Lucille Anderson, a member of the retiree and tourism committee, also made a formal request for the city to match the Sylacauga Beautification Council’s $2,500 raised for the construction of a new gateway sign for the city.

Anderson said the city could make great use of the sign, which will be made of bricks and local marble, and will feature the city’s emblem.

Murphree said it should not be a problem for the city to match the council’s $2,500, even if it wasn’t budgeted in the general fund.

“We’re OK,” Murphree said. “We’ve got some left in the budget from last year. Some of it was employees we didn’t hire, things like that. It’s in there.”

Capt. Kelley Johnson, assistant chief of police for the Sylacauga Police Department, also made request for the training of several officers over the next few months. Of his five requests, three had no registration fee: an instructor development course in Montgomery in early October, an interviewing techniques class and a “Cooks are Getting Smarter 2014” class.

The other two courses cost $525 and $495, respectively. The $525 course is for 15 police officers to attend skid car training in Attalla on Oct. 7 and 9. The $495 class will be for school resource officer Doug Kemp to attend training for his new position in Madison Oct. 5 through Oct. 10.

Murphree said he believes the classes will be a great benefit for the police department.

“It helps them a lot, and keeps them on their toes, driving, and I think all the training we do for them is good,” Murphree said. “It’s beneficial. The training pays off in the long run.”

Contact Zac Al-Khateeb at

Staff Writer Zac Al-Khateeb: 256-235-3554. On Twitter @zalkhateeb_Star.