The #FreeUAB movement just got more support.
The Gardendale City Council took the unusual step of taking an official stand on a matter that’s well outside of the city limits. But as supporters said several times in Monday night’s meeting, the University of Alabama-Birmingham has a far reaching effect throughout the metro area, with many local residents either studying at or working for the school.
The council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the immediate reinstatement of the Blazers football program, which was shut down two weeks ago by UAB President Dr. Ray Watts amidst a firestorm of protests, both on campus and off.
The resolution was later amended to also call for the reinstatement of the rifle and bowling teams, both of which were also cut.
If council members had to be sold on backing the Blazers — they didn’t — Tim Alexander would have done the job easily.
The one-time tight end who played for Erwin (now Center Point) High School, Alexander was paralyzed in a crash in 2006 that occurred not far from Gardendale. He saved a 2-year-old child by throwing her out the window as the vehicle went over a cliff. He’s been in a wheelchair ever since, though he has regained some feeling from the waist down.
UAB added Alexander to their roster and let him practice with the team, though the practice was largely a continuation of therapy that he was getting before insurance money ran out.
Alexander became well known as a motivational speaker during that time, and since the announcement of the football team’s shutdown, he has become the public face of the grass-roots movement to bring it back. He’s also been involved in the effort to have UAB be governed by its own trustee board, instead of the one which oversees the Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville campuses combined.
Alexander believes the program can be restored in time to compete again next season.
“UAH had their hockey team shut down, and they [put pressure on] and got it back,” he said. “This is a passion I have for my school. I’ve always had passion when I went to Erwin, and this [UAB] is a school I’ve spent five years at, and I’m going to continue to fight. It’s not a show, it’s not entertainment — I really love UAB.”
The council voted to amend an existing ordinance that prohibited commercial sweeping equipment from operating in business parking lots after 10 p.m.
“We’re doing this to accommodate the new Publix, because they don’t close until 10 p.m., so they need more time to get their parking lot nice and tidy for the next day’s shoppers,” Council President Stan Hogeland said.
Sweepers will now be able to work anytime except from midnight until 5 a.m.
In other business, the council:
• Promoted Paul Tidwell to assistant director of public works, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of Mike Wallace
• Hired Joshua Thomas as a police officer, as well as Riley Tolbert and William Samuels as full-time laborers
• Gave first reading to proposed ordinances that would annex parcels at 1759 Magnolia Street, 4350 Shady Grove Road and 4409 Shady Grove Road; the latter two would initially be zoned for industrial use, but would be changed to allow for an estate home and for agricultural use after annexation.