Tuesday Night’s Vinemont Town Hall Meeting Set to Be a Showdown

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Dustin Isom
Cary Montgomery and the Scouts built that house, not (Mayor) J.D. Marcum or any member of the town council.”
John Roy, spokesman for Girl Scout Troop 10288

 

VINEMONTSince January’s South Vinemont town hall meeting, tension and emotions have been on a slow boil, with town leaders and community members, particularly Scout leaders, disagreeing over the future of Vinemont’s Scout building, located at 88 Ridgeway St. At issue is ordinance 2016-01-01, which names the building as the new home of South Vinemont Town Hall and the site of all municipal business and meetings. The ordinance will go to a final vote at this month’s town hall meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.

The town has presented both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts with new lease documents; however, they are not yet available to the public. When asked to provide copies, South Vinemont Town Hall responded, “Any proposed lease would be available if discussed at the meeting after the meeting (next day – reasonable time to enter into the public record first).”

The Town of South Vinemont has some points to remember for anyone who plans to attend Tuesday’s meeting:

 

  • Regarding how many people will be allowed in town hall for the meeting: “The fire marshal capacity is 35, which includes council and staff, which allows 26 visitors.”
  • Regarding community members who wish to address the town council: “The procedure for addressing the council is to be placed on the agenda.  The presiding officer sets the agenda.  A request does not have to be granted to get on the agenda.  A person may also raise their hand and if given the floor by the presiding officer or a majority of a vote by the town council, may address the body for the specified period given (usually three minutes).  A request in this manner, again, does not have to be granted.  Any person addressing the body may not use or include any personal or other comments addressed at any member of the council, mayor or town employee.  There shall be no debate with the council.  Any person not conforming to the order of the meeting shall be, if necessary, removed from the meeting to preserve order to conduct the business of the town.  THE COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC BUT ARE NOT PUBLIC FORUMS.”
  • Regarding what the public should know about town hall meetings: “The meetings are for the council to conduct business of the town.  Unless a person other than the council is given the floor, they must remain silent.  Visitors may not participate in the meeting, only observe.  The use of recording, video, tripods may be limited if it takes up space for other visitors or is disruptive to the meeting.  The presiding officer may require all such equipment to be limited to a particular space such as the backside of the room or removed altogether. Once the meeting is commenced, the person who does the video recording of the proceedings may leave the room, but no one after the meeting starts may enter and begin recording (recording must be set up before the meeting and in an area approved by the presiding officer).”

 

The town has already removed one wall to enlarge the only room that South Vinemont Mayor J.D. Marcum said will be off limits to the Scouts and locked. They have also taken one-half of the storage space in the building and removed a number of Boy Scout signs and markings. Scout leaders contend that the town is kicking them out of the building that was built solely for their use. Marcum says that the Scouts are free to use any of the rooms in the building, outside of the one locked room.

“We had to remove everything off the walls Scout-related. We even had to cut the emblems off the inside doors,” said one Boy Scout leader.

A Girl Scout leader said, “The Girl Scout room was torn down two days after we were told about this. Any pictures or posters or anything with the Scout logo has been removed. No history whatsoever has been preserved.”

The “Scout House,” as it’s been known in the community for more than 20 years, has up until very recently been home to Boy Scout Troop 227, Cub Scout Pack 227 and Girl Scout Troop 10288. It is a large, log cabin-type structure that was built by Scout volunteers with purchased and donated materials on property belonging to the Town of South Vinemont. Its official name is the Cary C. Montgomery Scout Community Center. It is named in honor of long-time Troop 227 former Scoutmaster and current Committee Chair Cary Montgomery.

Montgomery and Jim Oden, Troop 227’s current Scoutmaster, have declined to comment.

Marcum said that the reasons behind the move are that the Scout House will provide more room and is handicap-accessible, where the current town hall is not. He said, “I don’t see why we can’t share it. The town paid for the building to be built. The boys use it four times per month and the girls two times per month. Rather than building a new building and putting the city in debt…I think it will be better for them (the Scouts). We are trying to make the best decisions we can based on the facts we have. That’s how we operate.”

Marcum said the town plans to lease the current town hall after the move, in an effort to bring in money. He says that the town pays for all of the maintenance at the Scout House, from cleaning up after Scout activities to taking care of the grounds, which are approximately 2 acres. He stated that the town also pays for all of the utilities.

“We are trying to avoid raising taxes,” said Marcum. “This will save the town money. I’d love to meet with them, the (Scout) leaders, and walk through this building. We’d also like to use the building for senior citizen meetings sometime in the future.”

“Last night (Jan. 12) in the town meeting, we were told that the Boy Scouts would be allowed to continue to meet there and that no one was “kicking” them out. The Girl Scouts had a spokesperson, and he presented a request to the council to continue to meet there, but nothing was approved or even discussed among the council about the status of the Girl Scouts in that facility,” said concerned resident Katie Loyd.

Loyd continued, “My son did use the Vinemont Scout Center from about 5 or 6 years old until he was 18. He began as a Tiger Cub Scout and went on to obtain Eagle. I have not ever seen the original documents, but I was told that (former Mayor) Mr. Elton A. Hall, that assisted with getting this built, had a contract that stated the Scouts could use the building for 99 years for $1 a year. Now, the Town of South Vinemont cannot find the documents and are wanting to move the Town Hall into the Scout building. The girls have already been made to vacate their room.”

CullmanSense obtained the original lease on file at Vinemont Town Hall, a notarized document that was signed on April 11, 1991 by then-Mayor Elton A. Hall and Troop 227 Scoutmaster Gary N. Powell. This document states:

This lease is for a period of ten years commencing on March 1, 1991, with the first yearly payment of $10.00 and other valuable considerations, due on or before March 1, 1991, and nine consecutive yearly payments thereafter beginning March 1, 1992, in the amount of $10.00 and other valuable considerations, with the final payment due on March 1, 2000.

“I am not angry at the mayor or the town council, but more than anything I am ashamed of them and their attorney (Roy Williams) for how the decision was made, legal or not,” said John Roy, who was appointed to speak to the media by Girl Scout Troop 10288 on its behalf. “Cary Montgomery and the Scouts built that house, not (Mayor) J.D. Marcum or any member of the town council.  I will end with this: I have never had a Scout lie to me. It used to be that a Scout’s honor was all they needed. A politician, on the other hand, always has an agenda. The Scout House is just that. The name says it all. The town should be investing in the future of these young citizens rather than pushing them away, but I suppose you learn far more from poor leadership than you do good leadership, for it is then that you see exactly how not to lead people.”

The Town of South Vinemont was the charter organization for the Scouts up until Nov. 10, 2015, when, after 22 years, the council passed Resolution No. 2015-11-10-01, severing ties with both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, effective Dec. 31, 2015. Oden’s Glass is the new charter organization.

For a full background of this story, visit http://qrne.ws/scouts.