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FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, 2006
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Moulton seems poised to buy old Star Theater
Council members resentful of mayor's secret negotiations

By Clyde L. Stancil
DAILY Staff Writer

cstancil@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — Mayor Ray "Red" Alexander might get his majority vote, and a group of Moulton businessmen could get the seed money they need to begin refurbishing the old Star Theater, but three council members will not have the peace of mind they have sought for more than a year.

The council members, Farrell Saint, Joyce Sanford and Lee M. Taylor, said they want Alexander to be more forthcoming with them. The five-member council learned details of Alexander's plan to purchase the theater at a Thursday afternoon work session.

When Alexander called Sanford on Wednesday night, it was the first time the three had heard about the plan since a year ago, when Alexander expressed an interest in the theater. Since then, he has negotiated with a Realtor to bring the price down from $80,000 to $12,500. If the council agrees to the purchase at its Monday meeting, the renovations would be the job of a group of businessmen who want to pattern the theater after one they visited in Winfield.

The businessmen want to show movies, have local theater groups put on plays, and host activities such as concerts and gospel singings. Luke Slaton, a member of the group, said an engineer checked the building and said it is structurally sound.

"This is one of those things where you have to start somewhere," Slaton said.

Alexander said U.S. legislators have secured $200,000 for similar projects. He said it's a good investment for the city.

"What we decided when I came here was we wanted to clean up Moulton, and this is part of it," Alexander said.

Taylor doesn't think it is a good buy.

"We're going to have a lot of (empty) buildings around town. Are we going to buy all of them?" he said

"If it's in the best interest of the city, we are," Alexander said. "We are the governing body of this city, and we have to look at more than one facet. It might mean buying and selling."

Sanford and Councilmen Brent White and Keith Gilley said they like the idea. Taylor said he would like to know about issues in the city ahead of time so he can be better prepared to discuss them with interested constituents.

"I think if the mayor has a proposal that he wants to pursue, I think we ought to talk about it and give him permission," Taylor said. "I think we should discuss it and then go from there."

"We are feeling a little left out," Saint said. "We went from Barbara (former Mayor Coffey) telling us everything to knowing almost nothing."

Earlier in the meeting, Alexander responded to Sanford's request for financial information by telling her that she and the rest of the council are welcome to come to City Hall and review it. He extended the invitation again after the discussion about how he negotiated the theater deal without council knowledge or approval.

"Tell me what I've done wrong in this situation?" Alexander said.

"When did this start?" Sanford said.

"About a year ago," Alexander said.

"I thought it was a dead issue," Sanford said.

"When an issue comes up, I'm going to pursue it until something comes out of it," Alexander said "What you all are telling me is (you don't want me) to pursue an issue unless I come to you all first."

"The main thing I'm trying to say is we're being left out," Sanford, said.

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