Silverhill welcomes new council member, mayor pro tem

Jared Lyles, with wife Christie, is sworn in May 20 as Silverhill mayor by Municipal Court Judge Ken Raines.
Jared Lyles, with wife Christie, is sworn in May 20 as Silverhill mayor by Municipal Court Judge Ken Raines.

SILVERHILL, Alabama — Jared Lyles was sworn in as mayor for the town of Silverhill at its meeting Monday, May 20, while Steve Brooks was appointed as mayor pro tem and local restaurateur Gerald Ardoin was appointed to fill the vacant council seat.

Joshua Myrick with Stankoski Myrick LLC, the law firm that represents the town in legal matters, said according to state statutes, the appointment of a new council member needed to follow the same procedure as the appointment of mayor, which was done at the council’s May 6 meeting.

The appointment was made through a nomination process by the council, with each council member then vocally expressing their vote for the position.

Tonie Norden nominated Ardoin for the council position, which passed by unanimous vote with Wayne Gruenloh abstaining.

A native of Opelousas, Louisiana, Ardoin and his wife Christina moved to Silverhill 15 years ago and opened the Café Acadiana restaurant in September 2013.

“I am very appreciative of this opportunity to serve the citizens of Silverhill,” Ardoin said following the May 20 meeting. “We chose this to be our home 15 years ago and couldn’t be happier. I will do my utmost to make informed decisions to do what’s best for the town.”

Myrick said since the mayor pro tem position was appointed from someone already on the council, it could be done by a “yes” or “no” roll-call vote.

Gruenloh nominated Brooks for the position, which passed unanimously with Norden abstaining.

Brooks, who retired in 2017 as the superintendent of consumer services at Riviera Utilities in Foley, is serving his sixth full term on the town council.

He was appointed to serve on the council in 1991 and served five full terms before choosing not to run for re-election in 2012. He defeated local educator Rebel Hill for his sixth full term of office, running for the Place 5 seat which was vacated by Shirley Stevens, who was narrowly defeated by incumbent mayor Tim Wilson in the 2016 election.

Wilson was in the middle of his third full term as mayor when he resigned after the conclusion of scheduled business at the council’s April 15 meeting.

Lyles, a local attorney, was appointed as mayor pro tem when Wilson was appointed mayor in 2007. He will fill the mayor’s seat through the current term, which ends in November 2020.

In other business May 20, Lyles asked council members to review and adopt an application process for hiring police officers, patterned after the application for hiring of police officers in Foley.

The application process includes the agreement to submit to a polygraph test. Lyles said the agreement could be modified to say that a polygraph test could be administered only if the town deemed it necessary.

Norden, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, expressed some concerns about the application, which includes several pages of questions.

“In my years of law enforcement, I have never seen some of these questions,” she said. “I just think some of these questions are very unusual.”

Lyles said the administration of the application could be modified to meet the town’s needs.

Sgt. John Branscomb was appointed as interim chief following the resignation of Michael Taylor on March 4.

Branscomb is currently the town’s only certified School Resource Officer and the town has been advertising for that position over the last few months. Branscomb said May 6 that he had two applications for the SRO position and was considering one of them.

Lyles said at the May 20 meeting that the town had received three applications for the chief’s position after the council voted to advertise the position at its May 6 meeting.

The town currently has four full-time officers and four-part-time officers.

Sgt. Daniel Boutwell also performs duties as an SRO for the town, but has not yet received certification. Training for the SRO program in Baldwin County is only conducted during the summer and Boutwell is expected to complete his training by the time school starts in August.

In other business May 20, the council voted to approve the purchase of an ad in the Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Flavors of the South program and is considering a table sponsorship for the event; and purchased five new commodes which will be placed in the restrooms at Oscar Johnson Park, the Silverhill Kids Park and Havel Park.