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Williamson council discusses church acquisition

By Dwain W. Penn Several members of the Williamson Christian Church attended the April 7 meeting of city council to discuss the future of the historic fellowship. Councilman Howard Busby, along with mayor Steve Fry, accepted an invitation to the church’s monthly dinner in March to discuss some type of mutually beneficial agreement. ’At the dinner, members of Williamson Christian Church presented ideas that would protect the building,’ said Busby. ‘They are open to some type of agreement for the city to acquire the church and adjacent restaurant in exchange for use of the church for weekly services and the city can use the church as a community center.’ Church member and spokesman Jesse Malone brought recent utility bills for the church and Fry assessed them to be no higher than residential bills. The problem the church is having, according to Malone, is with a modest membership and low attendance, there is not much money coming in to keep the church going. He is hopeful the city can draft a contract, after negotiation, to allow church services to continue in the facility. Busby proposed two separate contracts: one with the church for use of the building and another for use of the church by the public. Since the building was built in 1918 and dedicated as a church, Malone hopes the public contract will deny the serving of alcohol at events such as weddings. Busby has agreed to be the liaison during negotiations. City attorney Rob Morton will draft the documents which will include specific protocols for such a unique alliance. Both parties are confident that an agreement can be reached to sustain the integrity of the church while providing a center for public use in Williamson. COUNCIL ALSO: ’¢ Approved a modest raise for library employee Pam Bailes following a positive three months performance evaluation. ’¢ Approved the disbursement of $600 for the inaugural city picnic at the library slated for June 4 with a June 11 rain date. Hamburgers and hotdogs will be served and an inflatable will be provided for the children. ’¢ Heard the library report for March: 162 patrons, $160.20 income and 83 books were donated. ’¢ Learned there is a special criterion for the city to receive impact fee funds from the county for use in park improvements: an agreement tying the county to the park. The maximum amount currently available to the city for the park is $6,000. ’¢ Received an update on blighted city property that documents are ready awaiting means to enforce action against violations. ’¢ Announced the winners of the ‘I Love Williamson’ photo contest. First Place ($20) ‘“ ‘Sunset’ by Sandy Lynch; Runner-up ($10) ‘“ Tie between ‘City of Williamson’ and ‘Rock Quarry’ by Bunny Scoggins; Honorable mention ‘“ ‘Gates’ by Anna York. Certificates of achievement were also given for all place categories. Entries will be framed and used to decorate city hall. ’¢ Heard the recent EPD inspection of the water system was satisfactory. ’¢ Tabled a decision on a request for a Saturday market to sell local eggs and produce pending further investigation.

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