The Talladega City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve a contract not to exceed $140,000 with Telegraph Creative to produce Christmas On the Square, 2018. This will be the third annual event, with Telegraph producing the previous two as well.
This year’s event will be Dec. 7-9, and will include a tree-lighting ceremony, free movies at the Ritz Theater, a meet-and-greet with Santa, a vendor village and Santa’s workshop, Thomas the Tank Train, an ice skating rink, a food truck alley, carolers, choirs, a DJ and a decoration contest, among other things.
Interim City Manager Beth Cheeks showed the council a video of highlights from last year’s event prior to the vote. Council President Dr. Horace Patterson characterized the presentation as “great, great, I like it, I love it.”
Cheeks said private sponsorships for the event already total about $40,000, and that she had verbal commitments for a great deal more.
According to a memo that Cheeks presented to the council, “Shortly after the 2017 Christmas on the Square celebration, the city council decided to commit $100,000 to the production of the same celebration for 2018. In June of this year, I started negotiations with Telegraph Creative, the firm that handled the 2017 event. Telegraph Creative’s initial quote was $175,000. After discussion with city staff, it was suggested that the most popular sections of the event be included and expanded, and the high-priced item with less participation be eliminated.” This last item refers to a concert by American Idol champion Taylor Hicks.
Telegraph’s contract will include both event management and advertising management, including all social media platforms, print, merchandising and buys with local TV and radio stations. The advertising category also includes a recap video similar to the one shown Monday, as well as additional photography and videography.
Monday night’s vote stands in contrast to the initial vote by the same council last year. Councilmen Jarvis Elston, Ricky Simpson and Gerald Cooper all voted no on the proposal submitted by then-city manager Patrick Bryant, essentially killing the event. Patterson and then-Council President David Street voted in favor of the proposal.
It was only after a called meeting at the former Hal Henderson Elementary School a few days later that Simpson and Cooper changed their minds based on strong public support for the event. Elston was not present for the called meeting.
Also Monday, the council gave final approval to a revised set of job descriptions and pay scales, including the job description for the city manager.
The changes were first presented to the council at its regular meeting three weeks ago. Street, who pointed out that the city had just paid for a study to completely overhaul the job descriptions and salary matrices toward the end of Bryant’s tenure, voted against immediate consideration, which essentially tabled the changes.
When the revisions came back up Monday night, Simpson, who was absent for the previous meeting, asked Cheeks if she was recommending the revisions as presented. Simpson said that he had read through about half of the revisions prior to the meeting.
Cheeks said the revisions had been approved by the Civil Service Board and the Employee Committee, which is made up of the city’s department heads or their designees. According to Water and Sewer Director Cathy Fuller, the vote on the employee committee was unanimous.
In casting his dissent, Street emphasized that he was happy with the previously recommended changes.
Now that the revised description for city manager has been approved, Patterson asked for, and got, permission to begin advertising for a permanent appointment to that position for at least two more weeks. The council had previously advertised the old job description for four weeks, and received 20 applications, although it remained unclear how many of those 20 were qualified, or even if the other applications had been opened.
Also Monday, the council:
O Approved weed abatements on 21 properties.
O Awarded a $7,000 façade grant for the back of the Hall of Heroes.
O Tabled consideration of vacancies to the TOP Trails Board and the Board of Adjustments and Appeals.
O Approved alcohol licenses for Station 21 and Red Bowl.
O Waived business license fees for vendors at an upcoming memorial event.
O Approved an agreement with Melissa’s Rainbow Car Wash on Battle Street to provide unlimited washings of 35 city vehicles for $7,000 per year, as well as free year-round washing for any emergency vehicles.
O Approved a $46,200 contract with Davis Builders for Public Works restrooms.
O Approved two agreements with Talladega College for $1,500 each for use of the Ben Bruner Sports Complex and the pool at the Spring Street Recreation Center.
O Approved the purchase of two properties owned by Talladega First for $27,500 as part of the East Street Parking Lot Project.
O Approved the purchase of a property from an individual for $7,000 for the Coosa Street Bridge Project.
O Authorized Cheeks to accept a piece of property being donated to the city for the North Street parking lot project.
O Approved the amended budget for the last fiscal year.
O Approved a $230,000 contract with Waites Construction to demolish the Nikki Lu Wastewater Treatment Plant.
O Approved an $80,000 contract with Waites to pave the Water and Sewer Service Center parking lot.
O Approved a $46,000 contract with Byrd Construction of Montevallo to relocate a sewer main under the bridge abutment on Coosa Street.
O Heard Cheeks announce several ongoing projects, including progress on making the Square compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, improved restrooms at Duncan-Pinkston and Edythe Sims parks, bridge construction on Isbell Circle, Coosa Street and West Street, and work at the Big Springs Monument, which she said is almost complete. Brignoli Street is now open for traffic again, although work on the surrounding sidewalks is not finished yet.
O Heard Mayor Jerry Cooper voice appreciation of Cheeks.
O Heard Mayor Cooper say he was proud of the city schools, particularly the Talladega High School football team. He also announced that he would be honoring a player of the week through the season and would be working to make improvements to the locker rooms.
O Heard Councilman Cooper announce that the new Dollar General location near Bemiston was open and looking for people to help cut the grass.
O Heard Street ask that the speed limit be reposted on Brignoli and that the police provide extra patrols.
O Heard Elston announce that he would be having another community meeting somewhere in Ward 2, with details to be announced.
O Agreed to hold a second budget hearing at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 24, before the next council meeting.