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Dozier Council members a no-show, again

For the fourth consecutive meeting, Dozier Town Council members Linda Hutto and Bob Morrison have failed to show, causing the Mayor and Town Council to have to cancel the meetings due to a lack of a quorum. Without a quorum, the council cannot take any legal actions on any matters present on the council’s agenda.

“I’m not responsible for the actions of these others; they were all served with letters of notice about the meetings,” Dozier Mayor Karen Davis said Monday night at the Jan Cook Community Center. “I apologize to all of you who keep coming to the meetings and then we’re not able to have them—ultimately, this is not about me, it’s not about them, it’s about the community, and this is hurting our community.”

The last meeting held by the Dozier Town Council was on Jan. 12, when Mayor Pro-Tem Karen Davis was sworn in as the new mayor on a 3-2 vote. There are still two empty seats—one in District One and one in District Two. The District One seat became open after the January resignation of Jane Ellison. The District Two seat became available after Davis was voted in as mayor.

A regular council meeting was called on Feb. 9, but neither Hutto nor Morrison attended. The meeting was rescheduled for Feb. 10 at the same time, but neither attended that meeting either. Davis then scheduled the next meeting for Monday, Feb. 16, but the same scenario took place. The only council members who have regularly attended each of these meetings have been Mayor Davis, and Council members Abbie Langston and Jannie Bush.

On Monday night, Davis had called for the fourth consecutive town council meeting at 6 p.m. By 6:30 p.m., neither Hutto nor Morrison had appeared, thus causing Davis to cancel the meeting. Levi Nichols, who has been representing the town during these last four cancelled meetings, was obviously frustrated, as were the townspeople who were present.

“There is only one way to proceed,” Nichols explained. “I have contacted the League of Municipalities, and they have never seen a situation like this before…We need a quorum present because the town has several important issues that need to be taken care of.”

“This is definitely a major disservice to the community,” Nichols said.

Nichols explained that after 60 days from the last council meeting (Jan. 12), the other council members and mayor could submit two names to Gov. Bob Riley’s office for recommendations to fill those seats. If for some reason the Governor does not fill those two empty seats, a special election must be held for the town after a total of 90 days has passed.

“After those 90 days pass, it forces the town to have an election, which is a very costly and unnecessary thing for Dozier,” Nichols said.

Davis agreed with Nichols about the cost of elections.

“We’re talking about thousands of dollars for an election, not hundreds of dollars, and that’s money that we need for the town,” Davis said.

If the situation comes to the Town of Dozier holding a special election, Nichols said the earliest it would take place would be in April.

Nichols added that since the town had not been able to conduct business in two months, this might step things up with the Governor’s office making the needed appointments.

“The town is not standing still, though,” Davis said. “Our town clerk, Diane Wicks, has been working hard, I’ve been working with a lot of people, and our police chief Terry Mears has been working with a lot of people, too. But there is business to be done here.”

The next Dozier Town Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 9, at 6 p.m. at the Jan Cook Community Center. The meeting is open to the public.