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Councilman questions hiring

practices

By Kevin Pearcey

Following Monday night's meeting of the Brantley Town Council, a councilman said the town administration is still living under laws from its segregated past.

"Brantley is still under Jim Crow laws," said Councilman Lorey Bogen. "It seems like the only jobs with the city they say are good enough for blacks is digging ditches."

Bogen said his accusation stems from the recent hiring of a new clerk/librarian for the town. The job was given to a dispatcher, already employed by the Town of Brantley, but Bogen said qualified candidates - including two blacks with college degrees - were overlooked in the hiring process. He also said the city clerk's hours were changed in order to accommodate the new hire, who is white.

"The hours were 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but they were changed to 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. so that the new clerk could also work at another job before coming to work here," said Bogen. He said other applicants were willing to work the originally scheduled time, but weren't given due consideration. He alleged the administration 'went out of its way' to give the job to a white person.

Brantley Town Administrator Larry Morgan didn't refer to the hiring as a 'new hire,' but said the clerk/librarian was instead promoted from within the city's own workforce. He also said all applications were thoroughly reviewed and those from black candidates were given equal weight.

Councilman Darryl Elliot, also black, said he had no problem with the town hiring from within, but did say he had spoken to Morgan about hiring a black person to fill future administrative positions.

"I just think it would be nice if the next person you hire would be black," Elliot told Morgan during the council meeting. "I just think it would make for a less intimidating presence for black people coming into town hall."

In other business, the council voted to table a proposed banning of on-premise liquor sale at restaurants until all members of the council had a chance to review the current town ordinance. As such, a liquor license application by Steve Penny was also tabled.

George Stringer and sister Elizabeth Sigers addressed the council about a new community center they would be located on Mills St. The new center, Eagle Eye's Community Center

would be open Monday through Thursday, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and tutor and assist Brantley School students in reading, mathematics, and writing.

"We want it to serve the youth of Brantley and perhaps expand in the future to include other areas of Crenshaw County," said Stringer, who is a teacher in Troy. His sister, Sigers, has been a teacher at Goshen Elementary for 26 years.

"We welcome it and want to be a part of it," Brantley Mayor Bernie Sullivan told Stringer.

The council also accepted a bid of $90,000 for the purchase of a new ambulance. Funding for the new vehicle is from a $51,000 USDA Rural Development Grant and $62,000 in matching funds from the town's rescue squad.