Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Storm prompts campaign to make Holt a city

Storm prompts campaign to make Holt a city
Shannon Auvil

A parade of 50 people marched through Holt last month in favor of making the community something it’s never been before: a city.

Residents and supporters held up signs and chanted, “What do we want? Holt incorporated! When do we want it? Right now!” The town has about 4,000 residents and was one of the areas hit hardest by the tornado one year ago.

Holt sits no more than two miles away from the Tuscaloosa city limits, though it is often ignored at city council meetings. A voice is what Holt is looking for, and becoming a city is how they can have their voices heard.

Discussions began last July, when FEMA officials spoke with residents. Supporters and residents of Holt formed a group called Holt Forging Ahead. Each time they do work, they are called Holt in Action. The group has worked with Jerry Tingle, a Republican candidate for the Tuscaloosa County Commission.

Tingle has posted signs around the area saying “Make Holt a City.” He looks to fill a seat vacated by former commissioner Gary Youngblood.

Tingle said one of the main reasons Holt should move toward becoming a city is to have more financial assistance opportunities.

“Holt doesn’t have a voice right now,” he said. “The only way to get things done is becoming a city. A positive [of becoming a city] would be Holt would fall in the category to apply for grants. It can’t do that right now.”

If Holt were to become a city, it would be eligible for more grants from entities such as FEMA that would assist with rebuilding and other projects.

Some residents disagree with the change, mostly out of fear that the change would increase taxes. However, Holt in Action said it is unknown if taxes would increase or not.

Cindy Dixon, a teacher at Holt High School, said the benefits of becoming a city include the financial possibilities that derive from present taxes. Holt residents currently pay taxes on cell phones and landline telephones.

The taxes associated with these go to Tuscaloosa, not necessarily Holt. This also goes for property taxes, business license fees and other fees.

“All of that money would be based on the population of the residents of Holt, and it would stay in Holt for Holt to use,” Dixon said.

Dixon has gotten one of her former students, UA freshman Alvin Lockett, involved with the initiative as well.

“Even if we had to pay more taxes, it would still be great for Holt to become a city simply because many of the resources would come back towards Holt itself that would benefit us,” Lockett, a lifelong Holt resident, said. “Having a voice is the main thing. Many of the taxes we do pay don’t really come back to benefit us. Our school and different things like that are in need of some type of funds.”

Neither Dixon nor Lockett suffered property damage in the tornado, but they said they still feel the sadness and emotions of such a tragedy and loss.

Some residents are open to the idea of Holt becoming a city because of the possible opportunities that can be afforded to everyone.

“I say ‘Yes’ for making the town a city if it means more funding for the community in areas like education,” said LaToya Jones, a 14-year resident. “Perks like surveys [to express our opinions] and county officials coming into town to speak with us would be helpful, too.”

Many areas in the community look the same way they did a year ago. Houses are still vacated and heavily damaged without repair. Uprooted trees lie in open spaces in the community as if the tornado traveled through the town yesterday.

“I absolutely deplore that [Holt] is being left in the state that it’s in,” Dixon said. “One of the things that we have asked for is please light the area up. It’s distressing and depressing for the residents to live in such darkness.”

Former residents are trying to find their way back to the place they call home. Carol Roddy, leasing agent at C.W. Development, has had an office in Holt for the past four years.

“People are wanting to move back from Northport back this way,” Roddy said. “People are fighting over places. Holt as a city makes it easier and is more convenient. I think it’s a wonderful idea, and I feel like eventually it will be a city.”

Some places are being rebuilt with the help of Project Team-Up and Habitat for Humanity and some residents who have gotten insurance assistance to help rebuild. A park is a priority in the Holt rebuilding plan.

“Another thing as part of our long term disaster relief is that we want to put in a park,” Dixon said. “We would have the ability to that [as a city]. There’s a push to create a historic park district.”

Tingle said making Holt a city begins with deciding which parts of the community would be zoned into the city. Next, residents would have to start a petition and enough of the population would have to sign it in order to have a strong case before the probate judge. There would then be a vote, and the probate judge would the decision to respect the vote or turn it over.

“[Officials] have to be careful because within two years you’re going to be responsible for maintaining the area and you need income to do that,” Tingle said. “Residents would like to see Holt become a city because they know they don’t have a voice right now. They’ve suffered a great deal of devastation from the storms and had little impact on what’s being planned for Holt.”

Holt attempted to become a city the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Tingle said. The ruling was passed in the Alabama Supreme Court, but progress stopped and did not go forward. Tingle said talks about making Holt a city took root again after the tornado.

These plans are not likely to move forward until after the election in November. Residents say it will be helpful if officials came into the town to express their knowledge on issues and plans involving Holt.

“The people who might be a little concerned they just need to come ask questions, and we’ll do our best to supply those answers,” Dixon said. “But they’ll have a voice. If more people say no, we don’t want then so be it. But, at least they would have had a chance of what they wanted.”

Lockett stressed the importance of the community’s involvement in the plans.

“It’s just so many types of positives that could benefit the whole community from us becoming a city that it just outweighs not being able to become a city,” Lockett said. “The word needs to get out so that people will know. I think more people coming to the meetings and more people getting to know about Holt becoming a city will answer so many questions that aren’t answered right now.”


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