Afternoon of Praise

A scene from a previous edition of the Afternoon of Praise. The 2019 version is set for Sunday at The Ritz Theatre in Talladega. Performances are planned for 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. 

TALLADEGA -- Talladega’s long and occasionally contentious City Council meeting Monday night began with a high note: a performance by this year’s Afternoon of Praise Community Choir, featuring a solo by Dr. Erminel Love-Trescott.

This year’s Afternoon of Praise, the seventh annual, will be Sunday, Aug. 18, at The Ritz Theatre. 

There will be two performances, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Tickets for both performances are still available, at $20 each. Proceeds go to benefit the Red Door Kitchen, Samaritan House and Fresh Start Ministries.

According to Susannah Herring, one of the featured performers and event organizers, this year’s program will involve 55 voices representing numerous local congregations, backed by 15 professional musicians. 

The members of the council all spoke highly of the event and of the organizations that it benefits. Afternoon of Praise has benefitted the Red Door Kitchen and Samaritan House since its inception, but the addition of Fresh Start Ministries is more recent.

Based in Lincoln, Fresh Start Recovery Ministries is a faith-based program for men dealing with addiction and poor life choices. Last year, FSRM was responsible for building the stage risers the singers stood on.

Tickets can be purchased online at Eventbrite, from a participant and at The Ritz.

Trescott and the choir that sang for the council Monday (which represents about half the voices that will be heard at The Ritz on Sunday), gave an inspiring performance of “When I Think About the Lord.”

Christmas on the Square

During the same meeting, the council voted 4-1, with Councilman David Street dissenting, to approve a three-year contract with Christmas Décor for decorations for this year’s Christmas on the Square for a total yearly cost of $50,618.96.

This cost includes a 20-foot artificial Christmas tree with more than 20,000 lights, synced to play in time with 15 different holiday standards. Also included are a decorate base for the tree and a starburst topper.

The contract covers installation, storage and maintenance of all decorations, including the tree and decorations for poles, the courthouse roof, garlands and wreaths.

According to a memo by City Manager Beth Cheeks, “In the past, Telegraph Branding of Birmingham provided professional services for the Christmas on the Square event, which included installation, removal and storage of decorations for the Courthouse Square, Water Department and The Ritz Theatre.”

This arrangement is significantly cheaper, she said, costing the city about $27,000 per year, not counting the tree. Street said he voted against the contract because a great deal of what Telegraph had provided to the city was advertising for the event, which helped draw visitors from other parts of the state and even from neighboring states.

As in past years, the city’s costs will be offset by donations, although Cheeks did not say how much had been pledged so far.

Also Monday, the council:

  • Heard several complaints regarding code enforcement, traffic control and community appearance by a resident of Ward 1;

  • Approved partial closings of Sloane Avenue and Pearl Street for a West Gate Reunion next year;

  • Approved the transfer of an alcohol license;

  • Approved an Airport Board project to expand a hangar for an existing tenant that is hoping to add 50 jobs. The name of the tenant was not mentioned pending a final agreement;

  • Approved weed abatements for eight different properties;

  • Approved a junked car abatement for a property on Jemison Street;

  • Renewed the Senior Nutrition Program through the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission;

  • Approved the donation of a surplussed fire truck to the Munford Volunteer Fire Department;

  • Approved the list of poll workers for the upcoming election;

  • Extended 13 contracts between the city and various private contractors and vendors. Councilman Ricky Simpson abstained from voting on three of these because he has done work with the contractors related to his private business. The other votes were unanimous;

  • Approved 15 annual contracts, with Simpson abstaining from one of them;

  • Changed the start time of Municipal Court to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, at the request of Judge Mark Nelson. Simpson raised concerns about people having to miss work to attend court, and Council President Dr. Horace Patterson said the issue could be revisited if need be. The first afternoon court will be Dec. 5;

  • Approved matching funds totaling $15,000 for a grant with the Alabama Historical Commission to repair a basement wall;

  • Approved a $301,000 contract with Civil Contractors LLC to replace the sewer system at City Hall;

  • Approved a $293,500 contract with Schmidt Environmental Construction for four filters at the water filter plant; and

  • Approving a contract with REV Construction Inc. for a $798,210 sewer system improvement project on Howard Street. Of that amount, $650,000 will be paid for with grant funds.