The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 11, 2014

City Council approves Remington incentives; one citizen against

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— Athens City Council members approved a $250,000 incentive payment for Remington Outdoor Co., but over the complaint of one man who didn’t think a gun factory was a safe investment or a good example for children.

Before council members voted on a $250,000 incentive for Remington, which plans to expand the former Continental Automotive Systems plant (the old Chrysler building) near Huntsville International Airport and create some 2,000 jobs over the next decade, a resident spoke during the public comment period.

Wilbert Woodruff of Athens said, “I know we need the jobs, but I seriously don’t think this is the kind of industry for our area. We know what all the gun violence and crime is doing to our country and our local communities. For the city of Athens to endorse this does not seem to be the right thing to do. We need to look for better ways to build out power … to get our community employed when it is more than likely going to cost some lives.”

Council President Harold Wales and Councilman Jimmy Gill strongly disagreed.

Wales said the opportunity of bringing thousands of jobs to the area with a company like Remington is a rare opportunity.

Gill, who worked for General Motors, said he believes guns are no more responsible for killing people than are cars. People kill people, he said.

Under the agreement, Athens will pay the money to Remington during a three-year period if the company meets hiring goals.

Other biz

In other action Monday, council members took the following action:

• Agreed to pay the city of Oneonta $40,000 for a used tractor for the Public Works Department to cut back tree canopies. Public Works Director James Rich said the city would use one its current tractors, which has about 5,000 hours as a backup and use the newer tractor, which has only 2,000 hours;

• Agreed to pay $77,167 for a Kenworth trash truck and $57,835 for a bulk trash grappler, which are needed for the Public Works Department for sanitation;

• Agreed to hire a third party to demolish a dilapidated house across from the Athens Senior Center on Pryor Street. Councilman Wayne Harper said, “This is gonna be a good-riddance … it’s an eyesore.” Rich said the home is scheduled to be demolished in the next two weeks;

• Approved a resolution to comply with the requirements of the trust indenture between the city of Athens and AmSouth Bank;

• Adopted an ordinance allowing the city to refinance its 2005 electric revenue warrants, saving the city $605,000. By refinancing at a lower interest rate, the city could either lower its debt payments or simply continue paying its initial debt payments and shorten the life of the loan.