A project that will establish a training center at the old U.S. Motors Co. building to teach diesel mechanics through East Central Community College took a big step toward reality last Tuesday.

The Philadelphia Mayor and Board of Aldermen named a contractor to do the work.

Singleton Architect, which is designing the project, recommended Matt Boatner Construction as providing the lowest and best bid. Alderman voted 5-0 to accept the bid. The amount was $418,234.

East Central plans to start teaching diesel mechanics in the building this fall. The instructional program will provide students with competencies required to maintain a variety of industrial diesel equipment, including agricultural tractors, commercial trucks, and construction equipment.  It will include instruction in inspections, repair, maintenance of engines, power trains, hydraulic systems and other components.     

Leaders in industry, economic development and government have seen a need for such a vocational training program. Work has been going on for more than a year to develop it and to get it accredited.

In another matter, Aldermen cleared the way for this week’s Ham Jam Arts Festival by approving several street closures for Friday and Saturday.

Streets that will be closed in the downtown area for Ham Jam will be Main Street from Lewis Avenue to Pecan Avenue; Byrd Avenue from Main Street to Myrtle Street and from Walnut Street to Main Street; Center Avenue from Beech Street to Myrtle Street; Church Avenue from Main Street to Beacon Street; and Myrtle Street, from Church Avenue to Byrd Avenue.          

In other matters, alderman:
• Approved the minutes of previous meetings as amended along with  the claims docket;

• Approved a payment to Waggoner Engineering for $4,695 for paving work;

• Approved the setting of a hearing date on May 7  concerning the rezoning of the Bates property on the corner of East Myrtle and Evergreen;

• Approved sending the police chief and assistant chief to attend summer conference in Biloxi on June 24-28. The city will pay for conference registration and hotel/travel expenses;
• Accepted the resignation of Ken Shackelford from the police department, effective March 29;
• Approved the hiring of Zachary Horne for the police department; and,

• Approved a motion to authorize the city attorney to do a lien search on Eddie Willis property next to Jerusalem Temple.

Aldermen received a presentation from B.J. Morrow, seeking financial support for the Diamond Dreams Field.