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From left, AEDC boardmember Rip Drumgoole, KAB President Bill Jones and Councilwoman Carol Barton enjoy the refreshments at a party held Monday to celebrate the city’s retirement community certification.

Athens City Council started off its regular council meeting with a prayer, as usual, but Monday that prayer included Mayor Randy Daniel.

“We lift him up to you Lord,” prayed Councilwoman Elaine Jenkins.

Daniel spent the weekend at the hospital for tests on his heart, which city officials reported he’d passed. Daniel was waiting for his doctor’s approval to be released on Monday.

Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Gould presided over Monday’s meeting, in Daniel’s absence.

Council members unanimously approved the Human Resource Department’s recommendations for employee insurance.

“This was a difficult year,” Human Resources Director Haven Cox said. “Woody (Ensign) and his staff spent many hours negotiating for the best policies and rates for the city.”

Ensign, with Creative Benefits, is the city’s agent of record.

Council members approved Unicare for the employees’ medical insurance at a rate of $383.57 a month — higher than the current rate of $310.44, from United Healthcare.

“We recommended to go with Unicare because the renewal rate bid from United was $400.04,” Cox said. “We used Unicare a few years ago and they did a good job then.”

Council members also approved Met Life for employees’ dental insurance.

“But we’re still within budget?” Gould asked.

Cox assured Gould that even with the increase, the city was still well within what had been budgeted for employee insurance.

In other business, council members approved accepting the dedication of a sewer lift station, force main, fire lines, fire hydrants and associated easements for the Holiday Inn Express, subject to receiving the final paperwork.

“They’re just about finished up out there,” Director of Utilities Don Herriage said. “And they’re looking to get the last bit that’s concerning these dedications done in the next week to 10 days.”

Council members also unanimously approved — amid some joking — canceling the next regular December meeting, which would fall on Dec. 25.

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