PINSON — Joe Cochran heard all the comments and wisecracks last Christmas. And he was determined he would not hear them again this year.
“We apologize for the Charlie Brown Christmas tree from last year,” the Pinson city councilman said in Thursday night's regular session.
The council voted unanimously to turn over the holiday decorating tasks to an outside firm this year and next. Lights of Christmas will charge about $6,900 for 2013, most of which will go toward the purchase of new decorations, and $2,700 for 2014.
Last year's tree was simply a pole with light strings running from the top to the ground, installed in Triangle Park, Cochran said. To say that it didn't go over well with residents is a bit of an understatement.
“I had people all over fussing about the tree. I even had people calling me on the radio to fuss about that Charlie Brown tree,” Cochran said. (The councilman was a frequent gust on a radio show hosted by Cathy Leslie, who published the since-closed newspaper The Pinson-Clay News.)
The tree didn't even last until Christmas Day; it was removed after a week.
The new company will use a large tree already standing in the park, and will also install lights on City Hall. They will maintain and store the lights during the rest of the year.
The council also set the dates for this year's tree-lighting ceremony and Christmas parade. The lighting ceremony will be held Friday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m., and the parade the next morning at 10 a.m. The date is changed to avoid a conflict with the administration of the ACT test at Pinson Valley High School.
In other business, the council:
Heard from council member Robbie Roberts that the Pinson Library is having issues with too much humidity causing pages in many books to curl, a problem which would eventually destroy the books if left unchecked, and asked the council to consider the installation of a larger dehumidifier
Approved a grant of $1,500 to Rudd Middle School to help the volleyball team purchase new bench seats (which will also be used for basketball games), volleyball nets and out-of-bounds antennae markers
Heard from Cochran about ongoing problems with construction of new dugouts for the high school's softball field, which may require financial assistance from the city depending on how much the Jefferson County School can provide for the project. The dugouts were torn out and new construction begun earlier this year, but had to be restarted for various reasons.