Fighting for You: Paint Rock Town Council Postpones ‘Clothing Room’ Closure

PAINT ROCK, Ala. (WHNT) – Town council members in Tennessee Valley community are re-thinking their decision to close a place known for offering help to the community. The council’s about-face comes as hundreds in the Paint Rock community make their opinion known on paper.

WHNT NEWS 19 reported last month the council’s decision to close the Clothing Room. This is a ‘Fighting for You’ update.

The Clothing Room stayed open longer than expected. The Paint Rock Town Council voted to close the store, but never told the facility’s director. The director found out two days later she had to close the store on a Friday. She had only a two-day notice. The notice did not come from Paint Rock’s mayor or council.

The Paint Rock Town Council addressed the pending closure at its meeting on October 8, 2012.

The Paint Rock community has used the clothing room for 40 years. Rhonda Atchley, the store’s director, heard from 335 people wanting to keep it open. Each signed a petition underlining their demand.

“We are supposed to clothe the needy. That is God’s word. So, what are we going to do about this,” asked Atchley.

Atchley and some of the petition-signers were at the council meeting.

“All right, who else has something on that came from down there,” said to the meeting’s attendees.

“I got something on from down there. I have worn this a year. I really appreciate it,” replied one resident.

The council voted in September to close the store. The council wanted to give the space to the town’s police department. It believes the move would give town’s only officer enough privacy to handle confidential information.

One council member made a motion to repeal the council’s vote.

“There are people who would never go to anyone to get anything. For me, they could go up here and not feel guilty or like they were imposing on anybody. That grieves me. It did,” said the council member.

The council member sees the store’s benefit. Paint Rock Mayor Michael Counts saw the store’s benefit as a child. His mom, a current council member, used to shop there.

“There’s no doubt that it is a good thing. We just have to weigh out all of the options to see what’s best for the entire community,” said Mayor Counts.

The council decided to take a step back, look at things again and make another decision in November about closing the store.

“It gave me a little more hope because I did not have any hope at all before because it sounded to me like it was a final decision. I did not think I had a chance,” added Atchley.

The council has a challenge figuring out what to do. It runs a small town with a limited income and no tax base. The town does almost everything through volunteers and fundraising.

WHNT NEWS 19 will keep following the story. We will report what happens when the council makes its decision.