The council met Thursday night and asked Dewayne Dobbins, who is a city firefighter and member of the industrial board, if the board had met recently. When Dobbins replied no, Mayor Pro Tem James “Jimbo” Bray Jr. said, “They still haven’t met. We’re going to have to do something about that.”
At a council meeting held in early December, members briefly discussed issues concerning the industrial board. After the meeting Thursday night, District 3 council member Terry Mason said the president of the board is Ronnie O’Rear, who Mason said either calls meetings and doesn’t show or doesn’t call meetings at all.
“They haven’t met in a year. ... We’re fixing to disband it,” Mason said. “The industrial board is set up to establish an industrial park and bring in business. They haven’t done anything, so we’re going to check with our lawyer about disbanding it completely.”
A member of the industrial board approached Mason and Bray afterward and was curious about his position asking, “What do y’all expect out of the industrial board? What are we supposed to be doing? He keeps saying we’re going to have a meeting, but we never get a meeting.”
Mason said, “At the beginning of the year, I established them to meet the second Tuesday, and we got that out to all the members and we showed up here and nobody showed up. The next month we showed up again and nobody showed up.”
Council members will discuss these problems with the city’s attorney to see what can be done legally with the industrial board.
In other business, the council:
• heard from police, fire and street department heads and representatives. Sgt. Jason Richardson mentioned that police officers have made several drug busts over the past few weeks, which pleased the council and members of the audience. After an executive session, the council approved hiring Danny Alexander and Keffer Gutherie as two full-time officers. Bray also mentioned that they will be moving Richardson to lieutenant and officer Tim Walter to sargeant so that a ranking officer will be available to work on each shift. There will be no increase in pay, however.
• agreed to allow the city’s attorney to look over a Charter Franchise agreement before making any further decisions on the matter.
• approved a motion for longevity pay to be given as a Christmas bonus to city employees. The amount of the bonus will be determined by council members, who will make a decision on the issue at a later time. City Clerk Janice Pendley suggested looking at how much the city can afford before making snap decisions.
District 4 council member Mark Chambers added, “I think Phillip Howard said that you could set it at a certain amount, but if you couldn’t pay that when it came time, then you can give them what you could. I’d rather set it at a higher amount to where if we could afford it, maybe the boys could get something. I think they’re underpaid. The least we could do is give them a good Christmas bonus.”
• heard from Mason who praised the efforts of those who made Christmas in the Hills a success. The auction held after the parade cleared more than $1,300 which will be spent on additional gifts and expenses.
“Toys for Tots was an overwhelming success. ... We had a dinner for the families; we fed them and then gave toys away. But, all in all, it was a big success,” Mason said. “But we were sorely lacking in volunteers. It’s a worthwhile venture, seeing that a child has Christmas. More people need to get involved to make it an even bigger success. No child should ever have to wake up Christmas morning with nothing.”