West Point council hears plans for food pantry

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WEST POINT – At its Monday night meeting, the West Point Town Council heard plans from a local church’s representative about building a community food pantry, similar to the one in Cullman near the Mary Carter Store (Cullman’s Little Free Pantry). The pantry would be a small, self-service site where residents can either drop off or pick up donated non-perishable food items.

Guest Greg Aldridge said that most of the churches in the area agreed that this would be something the community needs. “I’ve seen little kids hugging jars of peanut butter because that’s all they have in their house,” he recalled. “If this pantry fed just one family it would be worth all the effort.”

The council discussed the best places to put the pantry so it would be easily visible, and the most likely location (not yet officially chosen) would be on the corner wall of the Masonic Lodge. The pantry would look similar to the one in Cullman, where anyone can take or leave items, though there was some debate as to whether the foundation would be dug into the ground or if there would be a sturdy above-ground base that could be moved if necessary. Also discussed was the matter of lighting for people who might rather visit at night; ideas that were thrown around involved battery-powered lights with someone coming to check the batteries every so often, solar-powered lights with panels that could be stuck to the outside of the building, or even connecting it to a power grid and paying the bill on it.

Aldridge did have some other concerns: abuse of the pantry, canned foods going bad during temperature changes, and making sure that people know the structure is only for food and not other donations like clothing. It was determined that the last concern can be addressed by putting up appropriate signs, but council members did state that people will leave other things anyway if they want to get rid of them. As for the possibility of the pantry being abused, Aldridge said he felt confident that the lack of damage to the Cullman and Hartselle pantries would extend to this one, and also stated, “If anyone abuses this, takes advantage of it, well that’s between them and God.” There wasn’t much talk about how to handle the temperature changes.

Other business:

– The council passed a motion to enter an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to perform maintenance on two 24-inch storm drains

– The council discussed the relocation of a light pole by West Point High School. Initial digging for the pole struck a storm drain, which caused the pole to be pushed out of the ground when it rained. The council discussed the possibility of adding an additional light to the back of the new pole to light the school parking lot as well as the road, saying it was needed by the school. However, the council said they had been told the Cullman Electric Cooperative wouldn't pay the electric bill on that second light if they (the Co-op) installed it, and council members felt the Town shouldn't have to foot the bill for something that someone else installed.

– The council passed a motion to purchase lights for the park after an estimate of $700 was given.

– The council discussed a possible community billboard at County Roads 1141 and 1242.

The West Point Town Council meets on the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at West Point Town Hall. The public is welcome to attend.

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