Photo | Lagniappe

Retiring State Rep. James Buskey was honored by the Mobile City Council for his four decades in state politics this week.

It was a very happy birthday for State Rep. James Buskey (D-Mobile) on Tuesday, April 10.

To honor his 42 years of service as a member of the Alabama House of Representatives, councilors and Mayor Sandy Stimpson honored him with a proclamation naming Tuesday “State Representative James Buskey Day.” They and several members of the local legislative delegation sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

“Thank you,” Buskey said. “This is probably the most surprising thing … that has ever happened to me.”

Councilman Fred Richardson, who represents the district in which Buskey resides, gave the 10-term politician the key to the city, but acknowledged it was just for show.

“This key will not let you open any doors in the city,” he said. “This key is to the heart of every citizen … We want you to know we love you.”

Stimpson gave Buskey a mayoral pin in case the 81-year-old ever decides to run for mayor.

In addition to being co-chair of the delegation for many years, Buskey recently helped set up the downtown entertainment district and legalized 10 a.m. Sunday alcohol sales, among many other things.

“I have a tearing problem … ,” Buskey said to those in attendance, as he dabbed at his eyes with a napkin. “I’m overwhelmed with emotion as well.”

Councilman John Williams said he and Buskey keep tabs on each other. He joked that he knew there was good food at a local or statewide event if the District 99 representative was in attendance.

Buskey is serving his final term in the House. There are currently eight Democrats who have qualified to run for his seat in the June 3 primary. Former Mayor Sam Jones, former Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas, local attorney Greg Harris II, Henry Haseeb, Burton LeFlore, Franklin McMillion, Gregory Parker and Rico Washington have all qualified for the race.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face the lone Republican, Charles W. Talbert, in November.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to enter into a $314,000 contract with S.C. Stagner Contracting for the first phase of structural improvements at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

According to the project’s scope of work, the repair will include new guardrails, repair of existing guardrails, painting, and repairs to existing railing and concrete areas. The project also includes temporary erosion and sediment controls.

Levon Manzie, who represents the area including the stadium, said this further proves the city’s commitment to the 70-year-old stadium.

“We’re committed to the upkeep of the stadium,” he said. “It’s an old facility. It will always need improvements.”

As for what to do when the University of South Alabama opens an on-campus stadium and no longer uses the city-owned facility, Manzie said they would have to find other uses for it. Ladd-Peebles is also used as the home stadium for some high school football teams as well.

While the council approved the funding for the Ladd-Peebles improvements, the future of another city-owned stadium remains unclear.

City spokesman George Talbot said the city had gotten offers from at least two independent minor league baseball teams to use Hank Aaron Stadium once the Southern League’s Mobile BayBears are finished with it when the team moves to Madison in 2020.

Talbot also said there could be interest in using it for something other than baseball in the future, but didn’t elaborate.

A professional softball league, the American Softball Association, is coming to Mobile this summer. The league’s four teams will play at the city’s Texas Street park, Talbot said.