Candidates discuss issues
By By MICHELE GERLACH Publisher
Sewerage, quality of life and the city's economic future are the issues voters had on their minds when the Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce held a coffee with the candidates forum downtown Tuesday morning.
Moderator Danny D'Andrea gave each candidate in the City of Brewton's upcoming municipal election three minutes to present his platform before taking questions from the audience of approximately 41 people.
Asked to address the biggest challenge facing the City of Brewton, candidates gave varying answers.
District 5 incumbent Mervin Huff said, "The greatest challenge we have is the sewage problem. We've got to come face to face with this and work it out so that it's fair to everybody."
Former city councilman and District 3 challenger Homer Hamilton said the city should consider a bond issue with which to address sewerage problems.
District 1 challenger Ann Marie Sasser agreed that sewerage is a huge issue.
District 1 incumbent Dennis Dunaway said sewerage is the city's top issue.
Former council member and District 5 challenger Henry E. Uptagraft said one of the city's problems is with speeding, another is abandoned property.
District 4 challenger Lawrence Jolly said he wants to "look toward making Brewton a better place" and "give young people something to come back home to."
The candidates also were asked what they could do to help improve Brewton's downtown area.
Sasser said efforts to beautify the downtown area and attract tourists are positive, but there also needs to be a focus on shopping at home.
Her opponent, Dunaway, agreed.
Huff said that the city's exploration of a levee project has the potential to help the downtown area. Uptagraft said he would like to see recreational opportunities such as a bowling alley to keep young people, and subsequently their parents, from spending money on recreation out of town.
When the questions turned to the city's role in Dogwood Hills, the public golf course, the answered varied from "promote it" to "sell the property."
Hamilton said he was a member of the city council when it purchased Dogwood Hills, which was at the time the Brewton Country Club.
Hamilton said he's not against city ownership of Dogwood Hills, but he would not favor increasing the size of the golf course or building Little League parks on the adjacent property.
Huff said he supports ownership of Dogwood Hills because it gives people an otherwise might not be able to afford it the opportunity to enjoy golf.
Uptagraft said the city should consider selling part of the Dogwood Hills property to a developer.
Dunaway said he believes the city should keep Dogwood Hills and consider adding more to it to make it more useful for city residents.
Sasser said, "I understand Dogwood Hills is not making money, but it's not losing a lot of money, according to the budget."
She added that the facility can make Brewton more attractive for economic development, as well.
Mayor Ted Jennings and District 2 Councilman Frank Cotton, both of whom were unopposed, attended the event. Candidates who did not participate included District 3 incumbent Cary Barton, District 4 incumbent Walter "Jake" Lewis, and District 5 challenger Fred Barton.
The event was co-sponsored by The Book and Bean, First Progressive Bank, BankTrust, the Bank of Brewton, and Regions Bank along with the Chamber.