West Point council back to business after recent controversy


The West Point Town council met Monday, Feb. 19. / W.C. Mann

WEST POINT – After confusion over the wording of an online report about the town’s reception of a community development grant led to angry exchanges between Mayor Kenneth Kilgo and a few local residents, and after the cancellation of January’s meeting due to the lack of a quorum, the West Point Town Council was ready to get back down to business Monday evening.  

The grant at the center of the controversy was received for infrastructure development, to construct a deceleration/turn lane and access road on Alabama Highway 157 that would aid in the development of retail properties around the town’s main highway intersection, but unclear wording led to the assumption that the private retail properties themselves would be developed with the government grant and matching local funds.

As he prepared to give an update on the deceleration lane, Kilgo took a moment to apologize for his part in the controversy.

“As y’all know,” said the mayor, “we’ve been doing this a long time, now.  We’ve been working on this turn lane for two years.  Got overwhelming response: positive emails, text messages, Facebook messages, phone calls.  

“It’s like any other thing, and I’ve been down this road before and should have known better.  It’s my mistake.  We had some naysayers, some people who made some allegations that basically I had done something crooked to make this happen; which in the interim would mean that we all done something crooked, because we’ve been in this together.  I was out of character, out of context; made a couple of comments making some allegations that folks wasn’t either too bright or something else, and I was wrong; and I want to apologize to you.”

Shane Burns, who was one of the residents on the other side of the controversy, was present at the meeting.  He offered his own apology for his part and assured the council that his presence at this meeting did not mean a continuation of the controversy.  

“My reason for being here,” said Burns, “ain’t to start no trouble at all, but if I’m going to live in a community, then I do need to be informed.”

Kilgo welcomed Burns to the meeting, and the two shared a cordial exchange before getting down to business.

Kilgo then updated the council on the deceleration/turn lane project, noting that notification of the grant was just the beginning of a process, and that the money would not be received immediately.  The Town has recently completed its registration in the necessary grant management systems and is awaiting approvals from the State Historical Commission and Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) on its environmental studies plan.  The Town hopes to send the project out to bid shortly after the paperwork is completed.

In other business, the mayor shared that the Town hopes to take ownership of the West Point High School tennis courts soon.  If the Cullman County School Board deeds the property to West Point, according to Kilgo, the school will remain the primary user of the courts.  Town ownership will make available certain grants available to municipalities but not to schools, that can improve the existing facility and expand the current four courts to six.  With the two extra courts, the resulting facility will be able to host Alabama High School Athletic Association tennis tournaments, which the mayor pointed out could bring substantial money into the town and its businesses.

The mayor also announced town plans to annex property belonging to Enoch Morris on County Road 1246.  The measure had already been approved, and the forms just needed the property owner’s signature.  The council also discussed the possibility of annexing properties on County Road 1123, since certain property owners in that area have expressed an interest in coming into the town.

Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman, Councilman Darion Daniel announced that he had located an infield grooming machine available for $2,800.  The council found the price agreeable and voted to purchase the item.

While on the topic of parks and recreation, the council also approved a measure to require background checks on all assistant coaches.  The Town already runs checks on senior team coaches.  To a question about the number of assistant coaches and possible expense, Councilman Frankie Jones said, “You can’t put a price on the safety of a child.”

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

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