Clanton Council updated on closed Head Start center (updated)

Published 9:12 pm Monday, March 10, 2014

Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver on Monday updated the city’s Council on the status of the closed E.M. Henry Head Start Center.

The facility, which houses a preschool program for children, has been closed since Jan. 21, when fire code violations were discovered.

Driver told the council he is unsure when the center could open again. He said the last word he had from the state fire marshal’s office was that an architectural drawing was needed, but the mayor said he isn’t sure what purpose the drawing would serve or what it would entail.

“I can’t get anyone to tell me, including the fire marshal, what we’re lacking to get it open,” Driver said.

Each council member expressed frustration with the situation, especially the seeming lack of communication from the fire marshal’s office.

“I’m really perplexed,” councilman Greg DeJarnett said.

DeJarnett, who works in Montgomery, Police Chief Brian Stilwell and Fire Chief David Driver suggested that they meet with a representative from the fire marshal’s office in Montgomery on behalf of the city, and council members seemed to think that would be a good course of action.

Councilman Bobby Cook asked if the city had done all that was asked of it to have the building cleared, and councilwoman Mary Mell Smith asked if there was an appeals process for the city, but there seemed to be far more questions about the situation than answers.

“We’d be the first to tell you we didn’t want anything out there dangerous, but what do they see that’s dangerous?” Billy Joe Driver asked.

In other business, the council:

•Approved changing sites for a planned storm shelter in the West End community. The original site was on land between 14th Street and Coosa Street, near E.M. Henry Park. The new location is just across 14th Street, on a lot that borders the park. The council voted to allow Mayor Driver to purchase the lot for $3,500.

•Heard DeJarnett talk about how he’d like to see the improvement of the West End community made a priority, by enforcing city ordinances banning immobilized vehicles and derelict properties.

•Heard from Tommy Glasscock, director of the LeCroy Career Technical Center, who thanked city officials for donating a surplus police car to the center’s Public Service Academy.