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Golfers don't like school proposal

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER Managing editor
Area residents expressing concern that a proposal to locate a new Brewton Middle School on Dogwood Hills property would negatively impact the municipal golf course packed the Brewton City Council chamber almost to capacity Tuesday night.
Council meetings are not public hearings, rather a session for citizens to watch the council members conduct work. But Mayor Ted Jennings made an exception Tuesday night and allowed several members of the audience to provide public comments.
Jennings addressed members of the audience with a brief overview of what the council members had discussed, along with members of a joint planning commission from the council and the City Board of Education.
The committee, whose members were appointed by Jennings and Superintendent Lynn Smith, included Jennings, Smith, Council members Frank Cotton and Carey Barton; school board members Terrill Neal and Ola Ball; Mae Downing, who chairs the City of Brewton Planning Committee; and Roger Chapman, the chair of the city of Brewton Park and Recreation Board. They were appointed late last summer.
According to an informational report that was presented to the council Tuesday night, no decision has been made concerning the location of the new middle school, but the committee recommended that property including and joining Dogwood Hills be given first consideration.
Jennings said there are three definite factors the council needs to consider before a decision is made. The factors included an agreement on price, a positive environmental assessment and permit from the Corp of Engineers and an architectural drawing, which would be drawn up by John Chambliss, an architect who has worked on numerous projects within the city. He is currently working in Montgomery with the downtown revitalization.
Moreover, Jennings said that possible "deal stoppers" included whether the city could continue to have a viable golf course, whether members could agree on a price, if the school asks for too much land, and if the city is unable to obtain permits and the environmental study provides a negative impact.
Some residents were looking beyond the three factors, and instead looking into the future of the golf course and the function it plays in maintaining the area as a retirement community.
Former Councilman Mervin Huff, a former councilman said he didn't think the city seem sinterested in the older people.
Jennings, who didn't like the way Huff addressed the council members, reminded Huff that "this is the administration who bought this golf course."
Huff later apologized to council members for getting out of hand.
Bernie Wall, who was the city clerk from 1992 until 1999, said that if the golf course was no longer available to the community, it would negatively affect the economic growth.
Alton Sheffield, a resident of Evergreen, plays the course at least once a week with his twin brother who travels from Mobile and his first cousin who travels from Pensacola.
Jud Shell, who has also played on many courses, added that there were very few small communities like Brewton who "have as fine a golf course as Dogwood Hills."
While no action was taken at the council meeting, Jennings recommended that the city donate up to $10,000 to go forward to conduct an environmental study and acquire information on application process for obtaining permits from the Corp of Engineers.