Berlin Town Council opts into American Rescue Plan, expands hours for farmers market

W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune

BERLIN, Ala. — The Berlin Town Council on Monday evening worked through a full agenda, including votes to accept federal COVID-19 relief funds, offer expanded opportunities to area farmers and improve Town Hall. 

The council voted to accept a projected $85-95,000 grant from the American Rescue Plan in two installments over the next two years. The federally funded program provides funding for a variety of COVID-19-related needs like vaccine access, reimbursement of lost revenue, food programs for families in need and provide communities with sanitation and safety materials. According to Mayor Patrick Bates, the federal guidelines for acceptable expenditures are somewhat vague, so the town will put the money in the bank for the time being, in case — in a worst-case scenario — the funds must be repaid. 

Farmers market and Town Hall changes 

Town Clerk Keirsten Montgomery, who manages Berlin’s farmers market next door to Town Hall, told the council that growers are not bringing produce Monday and Wednesday afternoons, so the council voted to change the dedicated open hours. The market will remain open from 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays but will now allow growers to come at any time during the week when they are available and have produce to sell. The manager will only be on duty during the Saturday hours. 

The council also accepted a $5,600 bid from D1 Electric to install 14 electrical circuits at the farmers market. The total exceeded another bid but offered more items with a lower per-item price. 

With the removal of the late Monday and Wednesday hours, the council also reset Town Hall business hours. The facility will be open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, and 8 a.m.-noon Saturday, starting in July. 

The council approved the installation of a 25-foot flagpole at Town Hall at a cost of $955.84. Smaller U.S. and Alabama flags, along with seven-foot staffs, will be purchased for interior use in the building. 

Citing a need to communicate quickly and save on printing costs on large documents, the council approved the purchase of an Apple iPad for each council member at a cost of $358 per item plus $30 each for cases. 

The Berlin Town Council meets at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month. It has met at the Berlin Community Center, but will begin meeting at Town Hall, near the community center, in July. 

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W.C. Mann