by Larry Little
For many years Veteran's day has been an observed holiday for Alto city employees, but city administrator Billy Clemons changed the tradition, hoping to save the city some money. "In the case of holidays, our holidays in the city were 14 plus 3 personal days, 10 vacation days and 12 sick days and we felt like reducing a couple of those holidays were in order. We picked Veteran's day because it fell on Saturday this year. We didn't think it would matter, we are closed any way," says Billy Clemmons.
The idea of not observing the holiday doesn't sit well with veteran Jack Hambrick. "I think it is pretty sorry myself. It just goes to show they don't think very much of the people protecting freedom of religion and everything else," says Hambrick.
Some veterans believe this is simply a case of small town politics, and they are staying out of it. "I'm just going to stay on this side of the fence and stay out of trouble, I'm neutral," says Ralph Walker.
Friday night the Alto city council met to put an end to the controversy by reinstating the observed holiday.
Clemons says he never meant to offend anyone. He was just looking at ways to reduce the city's budget. "It's a misunderstanding. We were not disrespecting veterans. I'm a veteran myself and I'm not interested in disrespecting veterans. It was a cost saving matter and the tax payers in Alto would agree once they heard the facts. We need to cut spending in the city," says Clemons.
Clemons says he would much rather cut holidays than city jobs.