North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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November 7, 2012

City councils, mayors are sworn in

The Aug. 28 municipal elections — and Oct. 9 runoffs — were made official on Monday.

Mayors and city council members took their oaths of office all across north Jefferson County, being sworn in by judges and city clerks.

In Gardendale, the new city council will take on a different organizational form, thanks to an increase in population.

Since the city has more than 12,000 residents — 13,893 according to the 2010 census — it was required by law to adopt the new form of government.

The biggest change is that the mayor no longer presides over meetings or casts votes. Mayor Othell Phillips’ role remains the same in day-to-day matters, however.

Now, the council has a president who presides over meetings. The council elected Stan Hogeland as council president and Alvin Currington as president pro tempore. Hogeland took over the meeting on Monday from city clerk Keith Mosley as soon as the council officially made Hogeland president.

Jefferson County Family Court Judge Brian Huff then swore in Phillips and the city council members, and the council appointed or reappointed individuals to fill several offices.

The ceremony took place at the Gardendale Civic Center, but future council meetings will be held at the Public Safety Center on Decatur Highway.

Also on Monday, the mayors and city council members of other north Jefferson County municipalities were sworn in, including Fultondale, Warrior, Kimberly, Morris, Brookside and Trafford.

In Fultondale, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Michael F. Bolin administered the oath of office to Mayor Jim Lowery and the city council members.

The council also named individuals to various positions, including the surprise appointment of a new fire chief.

Bryan Powell, formerly a captain for the fire department, is now the city’s fire chief.

Former Fire Chief Larry Holcomb had served in the position for four years. He said he plans to remain active with the fire department.

Lowery said the switch was made because it was recommended by councilman Josh Bryant, who chairs the public safety committee and is also a lieutenant on the fire department.

“We usually defer to (department chairmen) on that,” Lowery said.

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Tom King administered the oath of office to Warrior officials, followed by a short meeting where the council took care of routine business.

Warrior has a new mayor, Johnny Ragland, after former Mayor Rena Hudson did not run for re-election.

Kimberly eschewed a formal swearing-in ceremony for its new city council, electing instead to have city clerk Sandy Waid administer the oath of office to council members at the beginning of a regular meeting Monday night.

The only change on the council is Lance Shivers, who replaces Lowell Holland.

Brian Pharris was selected as the new mayor pro tem. Pharris fills the spot vacated by Bob Ellerbrock, who moved up to become mayor when Craig Harris resigned.

The council rearranged its assignments to standing committees. Donna Cude will head the finance committee; John Richardson will head communications, marketing and special events; Shivers will be in charge of planning and zoning; Brian Pharris will head the police/fire and rescue committee; and Brad Stark will be in charge of public works, parks and recreation.

Shivers and Stark were also selected to be the mayor’s appointments to the Planning and Zoning Board, and Ellerbrock was voted to represent the city on the Cullman Jefferson Gas Board.

New Morris Mayor Joe Pylant and council members were sworn in by the city’s municipal judge, Milton Barker.

The council also appointed Rachel McCombs as court clerk for the city.

— Robert Carter contributed to this report.

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