Helena welcomes new mayor and new method of government


Cities all across Alabama tonight welcomed in new council members and mayors{}but a swearing in ceremony tonight in Helena was historic.The Helena City Council Chamber was packed Monday night - it was standing room only. Not only did it swear in a new mayor and council members, but they're changing the way they run the city."We had a wonderful turnout," Cris Nelson, Council President said. "This was a historical event for the city because we were changing our form of government {}to a Mayor-Council form of government. The mayors have always sat on the council before and with our population change with the census that went out, it changed. This was a big ordeal for us."The city of Helena now has a council with more authority giving it the same format as their larger surrounding cities."It will be a more transparent form of government for us," Mark Hall, new Helena Mayor said. "The Council will approve more things and they will be more involved in the day to day operations as far as expenditures."{}Tonight, the city welcomed a new mayor ousting Sonny Penhale {}- who served Helena for over 40 years."Oh it's tremendous," Mayor Hall said. "The community is behind us. This is the kind of community where they will support whoever is in office when they are in office."{}"It's been Sonny Penhale for a long time, we've all loved Sonny," Judy Ellington, Helena Resident said. "But now we'll welcome Mark and work with Mark."Mayor Hall has a plan of change including infrastructure, better access to highways, adding new businesses, and updating city parks.{}"I thought it was great that the people of Helena are embracing change, but we have to wait and see what happens," Ellington said. "We've been under the regime for a long time, so the wait and see is a good thing, I think!""Change is hard but we all have to make change," Hall said. "If we're going to prosper and evolve, we have to be willing to take those steps. This change is a positive for the city of Helena and I think we will do well."