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Lone statewide CA on November ballot pertains to 3 counties

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A constitutional amendment that would allow a northwest Alabama school system to sell some vacant land is on the statewide ballot in November.

Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville, sponsored the amendment legislation  this year and told Alabama Daily News Tuesday it needed to be on the statewide ballot, rather than in one county, because it touches multiple Alabama counties. If Alabamians vote for the amendment, the property owned by the Franklin County School District could be sold. It’s in both Fayette and Walker counties along Interstate-22.

The property is known as “16th Section Land,” property granted to school systems for their benefit by Congress more than a century ago.

All proceeds from the sale of the land or timber or anything else on it would go to the school system. Kiel hopes the property will be turned into a truck stop or hotel to produce tax revenue for the area. 

“Hopefully it would be a tax producing business that would be established there,” Kiel told ADN. “If you look at other intersections on I-22, they have hotels, they have large truck stops.”

 Kiel said he does not know why the land is so far away from Franklin County, but guessed it had to do with federally controlled land surrounding the county.

If it is sold, Kiel said it would be an economic booster for surrounding counties. 

“The land cannot be used by anybody except for Franklin County Schools currently. And it’s just sitting there dormant and is growing trees currently,” he said. “And you know, it’d be a real economic boom for the communities around that.”

Kiel’s bill passed both the Alabama House and Senate unanimously earlier this year.

Kiel said the Franklin board of education will be advocating for the amendment and educating their peers at a conference soon. He hopes nobody will vote against the amendment in November because it does not affect the entire state.

“It does not affect any other counties besides our county which is selling it and two counties where it will be sold,” he said. “And it should be a positive outcome for everybody.”

Recently approved ballot language in November will say, “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 2022, to grant certain sixteenth section and indemnity school lands that are owned in fee simple by the Franklin County School System, are located in Fayette County and Walker County, and are for the exclusive use of schools in the Franklin County School System to the Franklin County Board of Education; and to provide for the distribution of any proceeds and interest generated by this land.”

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