City approves permit for group to stage demonstrations outside Grady EMC

The Cairo City Council has agreed to let two different groups hold very different demonstrations in upcoming weeks, one to picket and one to pray. At their regular meeting Monday, the council approved the two applications for special event permits.
Gordon Clyatt, on behalf of the “Take Back Our Grady EMC” group, was granted a permit good for September through October of this year, 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. each day. The permit will allow him and up to 20 total people to picket in front of the local utility cooperative as long as he abides by guidelines suggested by Cairo Police Chief Keith Sandefur.
Those rules state the demonstrators may not: encroach upon property owned by Grady EMC; block or hinder the entering or exiting of Grady EMC property; block free passage of anyone using the sidewalk where the protest is occurring; exhibit behavior that places any citizen or EMC employee in fear of his or her safety, such behavior may include screaming, shouting or causing a disturbance.
Before the council voted on the permit, Grady EMC attorney Claire Chason said while her client does feel that everybody has a right to be heard, there is a safety concern since the sidewalk where demonstrators plan to stand includes the driveway entrance to the office building. Chason requested police presence any time the demonstrators are on hand.
Clyatt, who is a member of the Grady EMC board of directors, said the safety concern had not been brought before the board. To which Chason replied, “neither had the permit.”  
After stating he would abide by the police chief’s suggestions and alert the chief ahead of any planned demonstrations, the application was approved unanimously.
The second permit application was from the Grady County Baptist Association to hold a WMU Ladies Prayer Walk on Friday, Sept. 7 from noon until 12:30 p.m.
Speaking on behalf of the association, Alice McCorkle said the group would meet behind the Grady County Courthouse and walk down the east side of Broad Street and back to the courthouse.
“We’ll be praying for businesses and people coming down the street,” McCorkle said. “As you can see, prayer changes things and we need some prayer.”
On the permit application, the association states the purpose of the walk is to “Glorify God through prayer walking.”
Chief Sandefur recommended the approval of the event provided participants agree to walk on sidewalks and marked cross walks. The permit was approved unanimously.
In other business, the council:
– approved the proposed 2018 ad valorem millage tax rate of 7.7, which Cairo city manager Chris Addleton told the council in a memo, “reflects the rollback rate based on the new tax digest with no tax increase. As calculated, this millage rate is expected to generate $1,425,242.20 in revenue with a projected shortfall of $172,757.80 to the FY 2019 budget.”
Cairo City Councilman Jerry Cox said he thought with the proper management, the shortfall could be handled.
Cairo City Councilman James H. “Jimmy” Douglas, said they would need to keep a close watch on the income generated by the tax to make sure it is adequate.
The council voted unanimously to establish the proposed 7.7 millage rate and authorized advertising the five-year history.
– approved the purchase of a new bucket truck for the city’s electric department. It will replace a 1990 truck that has more than 109,000 city miles showing on the odometer, according to Rod Prince, energy services director for the City of Cairo.
At a cost of $229,717, the truck will have a 2018 Peterbilt chassis and Altec AA-60-E boom and bucket attachment with 60-foot height capability. Once the order is placed, it is expected to take approximately 10 months before it can be delivered. Since $240,000 was included in this year’s budget, Prince said time is a concern to make sure the truck was delivered within this budget year.
Cairo City Councilman Lannis Thornton made a motion to approve the purchase, and Cairo City Councilman Demario J. Byrden seconded the motion.
Councilman Cox asked why a bid process was not followed for such a large purchase. “I would be a lot more comfortable knowing that we’re not just automatically going to the same vendor without having some competitive bids,” Cox said.
Cairo Mayor Booker T. Gainor asked whether getting additional bids would require advertising and therefore more delay.
Councilman Thornton asked, “Could you rebid it and get it in time?”
Prince stated, “I can explore that. Y’all tell me what you want me to do.”
With a motion already made, the council voted 4-1 to approve the purchase with Councilman Cox voting against it.
Cox said of his vote, “I support the need to buy the truck, I just want more information about how we arrived at the price.”
The city currently owns five regular-sized bucket trucks and one small version, according to Prince. Crews use the trucks daily and during weather outages to reach power lines. “Any time we need to get off the ground we use the bucket truck. We’re maintaining lines everyday,” Prince said later. In addition to changing wires, crews use the trucks to change poles or cross arms.
With a height capability of 60 feet, the new bucket truck will have the longest reach of any of the city’s trucks.
Cairo city manager Chris Addleton was not present at Monday’s meeting. In attendance were Mayor Gainor, Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Gwaltney, and councilmen Byrden, Cox, Douglas and Thornton.

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