PIEDMONT – During its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday evening, the Piedmont City Council heard from Alabama Pinhoti Trail board member Adam Dasinger on the plans of making Piedmont an APTA Trail Town.
Dasinger was introduced by former council member and avid outdoorsman Matt Rogers. He went into detail about what his organization has already done for the cities of Heflin and Sylacauga, and what they would like to do for Piedmont.
“You’ve got a treasure (with the Chief Ladiga Trail), and the idea of the ATPA is to make this like the Appalachian Trail Town. That’s how this is modeled,” Dasinger said. “Unlike the Appalachian Trail, there’s not one organization that is over it. There are several. Ours is the one that’s able to buy property. Our organization is one that has the cash flow, so to speak. It’s not with the forest service. It’s not with the state or anything. We’re able to do a lot of different things. There are some parcels we’re looking at buying close by. It’s a group dedicated to the Pinhoti Trail.”
During his presentation to the council, Dasinger said in his hometown of Heflin, there were on average around 75 hikers who came into that city before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. On average, those hikers spent around $125.00 to restock their supplies, stay the night, and eat at local restaurants.
“We’ve taken advantage of that and we want Piedmont to take advantage of that,” Dasinger said. “This is a partnership the APTA wants to have with Piedmont. We want to contribute. We want to help you. We don’t ask for anything other than there’s a certain amount of the trail that has to be maintained, and we want some type of activity, at least one activity, throughout the year that promotes the actual trail. That’s all we ask for. It’s a win-win for the hikers. It’s a win-win for Piedmont, Sylacauga and Heflin.”
In its work session, the council heard a progress update from Commercial Development Authority Board Chairman Lane Weatherbee on several new business projects developing in and around the city.
In his closing remarks, Weatherbee requested former council member Millie Bramblett replace Lin Latta on the commercial development board. Latta’s term expired at the end of September.
During the regular meeting, the council approved Bramblett to fill Latta’s vacancy on the board.
Also in the regular meeting, minutes from the previous meeting and bills for payment were approved. The bills for payment, including four weeks of payroll and the city’s recent paving project, totaled $1,215,304.46.
The council voted to reappoint Richard Couch as public defender and Ron Allen as city attorney. The council also approved two abatement resolutions concerning grass cuttings (Hughes Street and 136 Haslam Street).
Piedmont Police Chief Freddie Norton gave reports on his department, abatement, and animal control for the month of October.
In October, the police department had a total of 41 arrests with 52 charges for the month. Eleven of those were felony arrests. There were 34 traffic citations and five traffic accidents were worked.
Dispatch had 326 calls for service, with 98 resulting in reports being filed. The dispatch office received a total of 2,566 calls, with 723 rescue calls (48 were fire calls). Court collections for the month totaled $16,487.99.
For the month of October on abatement, there were 22 total cases, including eight new yard cases. Seven cases are being processed. Ten cases were completed or in compliance for the month. There were seven court cases and three verbal contracts.
In animal control for October, there were 13 calls for service with one investigation and 22 animals picked up. Seven of those animals were taken to the shelter and 15 were reclaimed by the owner.
In his closing remarks, Mayor Bill Baker updated those in attendance on a couple of items: the dedication of veteran markers at Veterans Park and two new businesses getting set to open soon in Piedmont, Dollar General on Memorial Drive and Burger King on Highway 278.
“I spoke with Rick Freeman shortly before this council meeting. I know we had a delay with the dedication last Saturday dealing with the veterans markers at Veterans Park. I was told today (Tuesday) we will definitely have this dedication this coming Saturday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m.,” Baker said. “I think he has some speakers lined up and we will get an opportunity to see what’s been happening at the park with these veteran markers. I know I bought one on behalf of my dad. He was retired navy. It’s out there lying flat on the ground in place. It looks real nice.”
Baker also commented on the progress of Burger King and Dollar General.
“I’m so thankful to see equipment moved in last Thursday and Friday (for Burger King), and I’m so thankful seeing ground being moved Monday,” Baker said. “We got delayed with COVID-19. It’s just one of those things that happened. We had no control over that. We’ve been told it will be 90 days when it will be up and running. That’s exciting news for Piedmont. Any time we can increase the chances for employment opportunities for our citizens and get an increase in sales tax and utility usage, that’s a plus for the city.
“If you’ve driven on Memorial Drive, you see Dollar General going up. It’s just about done. I know the electrical department was over there today (Tuesday) putting the final touches on the electrical piece. They are totally finished now. The sod has been put down. I’m pretty sure all that’s lacking is stocking the inside of the store. I’m sure we’ll have a ribbon cutting for both Burger King and Dollar General soon. I’m just excited about the progress the city is making at this point. We’ve got some businesses coming in. I think things are going well. We have some other things in the works we’re looking at. Hopefully we can have some more business opportunities coming in.”