Hanceville bids farewell to councilman Justin Pruett; City’s Jeff Gregory passes away

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Hanceville Councilman Justin Pruett, left, accepts a plaque from Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail at  Thursday night's Hanceville City Council meeting, Pruett's last meeting with the council. He has resigned his seat on the council due to travel requirements for his full-time job. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – The Hanceville City Council on Thursday night said good-bye to Councilman Justin Pruett, who has resigned his seat on the council due to travel requirements for his full-time job.

Mayor Kenneth Nail presented Pruett with a plaque in appreciation of his service to the City of Hanceville since 2016, saying, “He wasn’t afraid to throw his opinion out there and I appreciate that.”

Pruett addressed those at the meeting, sharing, “It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with all of you. I’ve really enjoyed it. Also, police and fire, you all do an outstanding job.”

Pruett will be moving from Hanceville, but he is staying in Cullman County.

He said, “With my job, I’m going to be doing a lot of traveling. I can’t make the commitment that I’d be here when they needed.”

Pruett is a member of his employer R.E. Garrison Trucking’s organization, Garrison Gives Hope, which raises money for the Stephen K. Griffith Memorial Fund. The fund, established in memory of Cullman attorney and community leader Stephen K. Griffith through the Cullman Area Mental Health Foundation, supports the increased availability of mental health services in Cullman County. 

Explained Pruett, “We are busy raising money and planning fundraisers. We have a 5K coming up and a gun giveaway. All the money we raise benefits mental health locally.”

City employee passes away

Nail asked those in Hanceville to keep the family of the Hanceville Water and Sewer Board’s Jeff Gregory in their prayers. Gregory passed away unexpectedly Wednesday night.

Councilman Charles Wilson said of the sudden loss, “He worked for water and sewer and was just 20 days from his retirement. He had been with the City since ‘98 or ‘99, longer than anyone else. He was a good employee. A GOOD employee. He was our encyclopedia is what he was.”

Funeral services for Gregory, 62, will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday March 3 at Hanceville Funeral Home Chapel.  Visitation will be at 1 p.m. at the funeral home. Gregory will be laid to rest at the Bethlehem East Cemetery.

In other business

The council voted to terminate the local emergency order put in place prior to last week’s rain and storms. The council thanked everyone who came out to help fill sandbags and perform other tasks ahead of the storms. 

The FY 2019 budget was amended due to the repairs of the pavilion at Veterans Park. Repairs to the pavilion are near completion. The pavilion collapsed when its brackets failed during a thunderstorm in 2018. The pavilion was rebuilt without the use of brackets. 

The council held first readings for several ordinances. Two ordinances regarding rezoning will be voted on following public hearings scheduled for March 28 at 6 p.m. at city hall. The first ordinance (623) will set zoning for newly annexed property. 

Ordinance 624 would rezone property on Boyd and Hopewell Roads. The rezoning would be to R4 to allow garden homes. 

Ordinance 625 addresses salaries for the mayor and council.

Nail explained, “The state requires this council set the salaries for the next mayor and council during this term.”

The Hanceville mayor and council have seen no pay increase in at least 12 years. Pruett recommended the pay be increased to $400 per month for council members, $500 per month for the mayor pro tem and $47,000 per year for the mayor.

Pruett said, “In my opinion, the next mayor’s pay should be comparable to police chief and fire chief’s pay. There’s a big gap there now- a really big gap. You can’t have a full-time job and make a living making $31,000 a year.”

Wilson asked for time to research pay of other area mayors and councils of cities comparable in size.  The council will vote on the ordinance at the scheduled meeting on March 14, 2019.

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