JeffCo Commissioner Wants Stadium Update, Questions Lack of Civil Rights Info in Bicentennial Video

Helen Hays, county’s director of public information, showed county commissioners videos about the county’s history made for the bicentennial. (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Commissioner Lashunda Scales today asked for an update on Protective Stadium, which is being built near the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Jefferson County invested $30 million in the project.

Scales said she had been told by someone on the stadium design committee that VIP seats are being added that would lower the total number of seats in the venue.

The commissioner also noted recent flooding in the area near the Uptown entertainment district.

“Is that a major issue? Or it may not be an issue,” she said. “Let us know that for the record.”

Commissioners saw a presentation from Helen Hays, the county’s director of public information, concerning efforts to promote the 200th anniversary of Jefferson County. The presentation included a pair of videos she said will be broadcast in coming weeks on different platforms.

While the presentation appeared to be well received from most in the board room, Scales was less than satisfied, saying that the county’s story was not being fully told. She cited a Sloss Furnaces event on Monday that memorialized two men who were lynched in the 1890s.

“Why was that a story that we didn’t tell?” she asked. “Why is it that the county, we’re in our ninth month (of the bicentennial year), is just engaging Birmingham Civil Rights Institute? We haven’t made an intentional effort to make sure that people know our story. If we are evolving, it’s up to us to create the narrative.”

Commission President Jimmie Stephens expressed satisfaction with the presentation. “What I saw was a very tasteful and lowkey presentation of 200 years of the history of Jefferson County,” he said.

Representatives of Agency 54 told commissioners they had not received all the money they say they were due from their work on the 200th anniversary project.

In December 2018, commissioners unanimously agreed to a contract of more than $200,000 with Big Marketing and Communications to rebrand the county and promote the bicentennial. Commissioners were told of an oral agreement between Big and Agency 54, a minority-owned company.

“I trust Big Communications, and we have agreed to do half of the work and we get half of the money,” Agency 54 owner Jesse Lewis said in December.

A spreadsheet from Big Communications laid out the workload and expected pay for each company.

“What I did see on the spreadsheet that was given out was a very equitable distribution of the funding for that particular project,” Stephens said today. “I understand from the presentation and from talking to the people at Agency 54 that they haven’t been paid, or they haven’t been paid to the extent they were expecting to be.”

The commission president said he is sure county manager Tony Petelos “will put whatever moral persuasion that is needed and necessary to make sure they receive their monies. I understand the work has been very equitably done. I think the work has been very tastefully done, and I want to commend both ad agencies for the good work that they’ve done.”

In another matter, Stephens presented a resolution to allot $3,000 for the Bessemer Airport Authority. Part of that money is to help with Hangar Fest, an upcoming event at the airport.

“It’s part of selling that particular asset,” Stephens said. “That is truly one of our diamonds in the rough as far as our assets in Jefferson County. It really needs to be polished a little bit and I think this will do it.”