Colony residents express frustration as town council talks on opening gym, annual budget stall without action

Eric Carwell (far right) talks to fellow council members about the town budget Tuesday evening. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune) 

COLONY, Ala. – The Colony Town Council on Tuesday evening argued over everything from the town’s annual budget to the contents of a previous meeting’s minutes, leading Councilman Eric Carwell to threaten resignation and local residents in attendance to shouting matches with council members. One resident’s comment, offered during the public comment portion of the meeting, seemed to sum up the opinion of many: “It’s the end of March and we have not accomplished a thing.” 

 At the outset of the meeting, Councilwoman Ethel Alexander protested that her return of $150 given to the tutoring program she runs was not included in the minutes for the Feb. 23, 2021 meeting. Mayor Curtis Johnson told her that, since she returned the funds during the public comment portion of the meeting, the act was not recorded, despite a section entitled “Public Comments” included in the minutes. A motion to amend the minutes to include the return of funds died after the vote split evenly: Alexander, Eric Carwell and Sam Ashford for and Johnson, Mary Parker and Jasmine Cole against. The minutes of the Mar. 9 meeting were accepted unanimously. 

 When the council took up the town’s annual budget, Finance Committee chairman Carwell pointed out that a budget document sent out to council members and available to others at the meeting did not come from him or the committee. He told the council that, as of the first of the year, the town only had around $6,000, adding that he is not receiving copies of receipts from town expenditures, so he does not know how much the town actually has. When Alexander asked who had created the circulated budget document, Johnson replied that he, Parker and “some ladies” had drawn it up.  

 Carwell said that the document was similar to the budget he was working on, and that he would use it to fill in gaps in the information he had. The council voted to table the budget until its next meeting. 

 A high point of contention came after Councilwoman Cole told the council that leaks in the gym have been sealed and that the gym should be ready to reopen. When she made a motion to reopen the gym on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings starting next week-in time for the county school system’s spring break-Alexander asked who would be supervising the gym while kids were there and what the rules would be. Cole and Johnson both attested that the rules would be the same as they have been in previous years, and Cole said that she would supervise the gym. 

 Alexander and Ashford voted against the motion, while Carwell asked more questions about the rules. By the end of the following discussion, which became angry at points, the motion was deemed to have died. Alexander made an alternate motion to table the matter until the next meeting. She, Carwell and Ashford voted in favor of the motion, while Johnson and Parker voted against. Cole abstained from the vote, giving a majority to those supporting tabling of the measure, meaning that the gym cannot officially be opened until after the next meeting in early April. 

 Residents in attendance lashed out in response, saying that the town’s children have nothing to do and need to leave to find activities, arguing that the council’s infighting was hurting the kids. They demanded that council members find some way to work together. 

 The Colony Town Council meets for work session at 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at Colony Town Hall, with regular meeting following immediately after. The public is invited to attend. 

Copyright 2021 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


W.C. Mann