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Clean Up Alabama planning “surprise” during key Autauga, Prattville government meetings

According to APR’s source, leaders have not shared their plans for Sept. 5 even with their supporters, to preserve the “surprise element.”

A Prattville citizen speaks before the Autauga-Prattville Library Board in the first-ever public comment session due to recent book challenges. Jacob Holmes/APR
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On Tuesday, the Autauga County Commission and Prattville City Council will both meet in Downtown Prattville with funding for the Autauga-Prattville Public Library on the line.

APR has learned from a source that a “surprise” has been planned for the key date for weeks, although the secret has not been shared outside the group’s leaders, who the source said have shut out even people “on our side” in order to keep the “surprise element.”

The Autauga County Commission has not brought forward a funding proposition for the library yet, while the Prattville City Council raised the ire of Clean Up Alabama two weeks ago with a budget proposal that included level-funding the library.

However, APR learned Friday that the city and council have drafted a contract for services with the library that would require the library to make changes to meet some of the group’s demands, and would also take away the library’s autonomy.

That contract for services is on the agenda for Tuesday evening, with the council considering whether to authorize Mayor Bill Gillespie to sign the contract for services with the library board. It is presumed that the commission will be doing the same, with the library board’s final meeting of the fiscal year to follow on Thursday.

Gillespie told APR Sunday that the contract will likely “be worked on right up until the council meeting.”

“The top three things that need to be done are communicate, communicate, communicate,” Gillespie said. “That’s one thing I felt like I have done. I let everyone know that I was communicating with everybody. I’ve communicated with county commissioners, Angie (Hayden of Read Freely Prattville/Alabama) and Chuk (Shirley of Clean Up Prattville/Alabama). We’re trying to grasp the whole scenario here. These are some very challenging and unique times. We wanted to make sure we gather as much information as possible.”

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While officials have been referring to the contract for services as a compromise between the library and Clean Up Alabama, representatives of the library and library board have said that the contract as they have seen it is unacceptable and that board members will not sign it; instead, it is very likely they may resign en masse.

Meanwhile, officials are still trying to find ways to resolve what they see as an issue, after they have been under constant pressure from the Clean Up group of citizens on this issue for months. Gillespie said there’s “no silver bullet,” but hopes there is at least a “silver lining.”

“Whether we all agree or disagree, I think it has opened a lot of eyes,” Gillespie said. “It’s educated a lot of folks. I hope that is going to be a silver lining coming out of this. There is no silver bullet.”

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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