Edwards has served as the temporary fire chief since the new council was seated in early November. At the council’s first meeting of January, the council voted to retain him for another temporary appointment of 90 day, but Stephens said he received an advisory report in writing from the League of Municipalities, saying he had the authority to appoint the fire chief.
Tracy Roberts, assistant general counsel for the Alabama League of Municipalities, which oversees the operations of municipalities in the state, reaffirmed to the Daily Mountain Eagle that, unless the city had a previous ordinance in place to address who has appointing power, state law defaults to the mayor as the appointing power in a municipality.
Members of the council voiced disapproval at the timing, as well as the way it was handled following the recent temporary reappointment. The council also failed to set an amount for the chief’s salary. Two votes — one that would have set it at $100 a month and another that would have set it at $500 a month — were both voted down. The salary for the previous fire chief was approximately $400 a month. The council adjourned without reaching an agreement on the salary.
Roberts said that many municipalities set the salary for fire chiefs via ordinance when they create the position, thus removing the debate when each new chief is appointed.
The council did agree unanimously on another funding issue, voting to approve a $2,500 appropriation to the Walker County Child Advocacy Center. Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair, along with two members of his staff, appeared at the meeting to implore the council to consider the donation.
The Child Advocacy Center has been a top priority for Adair since taking office. The center would be a specialized place to conduct forensic interviews with children who have been traumatized by physical or sexual abuse or witnessed violent crimes. The videos are admissable in court and Adair and many county judges have touted their importance. The county currently uses the Prescott House in Jefferson County, at great expense to the county and often wait times at the center delay arrests and prosecutions.
Adair said the county averages five children a week that need the services of a place like the Prescott House. He also said that after the Walker County Sheriff’s Office and Jasper Police Department, Dora has the highest rate of child interviews conducted.
“On behalf of my people, thank you,” Adair said. “Y’all have stepped up to the plate tonight for your children, for your community and I think it speaks volumes for both the mayor and the council and for the people of this town.”
Adair recognized Dora City Council member Richard Lovelady for his donation through his company, Red Star Security, for all the audio visual equipment needed for the center. Adair also said that the center has received a generous monetary donation from a source that preferred to remain anonymous, that will hopefully enable the center to secure a location for the center in the next 90 days.
Earlier in the day, Adair had asked the Walker County Commission for $10,000 toward funding the center and said he will be traveling to other municipalities in the county to ask for donations. The coalition that oversees these centers has informed Adair that there will not be any funding available from the state for at least two years.
In other business:
•The fire department recognized their rookie of the year, David Blackstock, and fireman of the year, Trevor Edwards. The awards are voted on by the department in December of each year. Each volunteer was presented with a plaque honoring their achievement.
•The council voted to purchase a new computer for the police department out of the municipal court fund.
•The council voted to pay for the supplies to repair Walker Circle, which was badly damaged by recent rains and has been closed for more than a week. The County Commission will supply the labor for the repairs and will make the project a priority.
•The council voted to have David Ross repair the police car that was damaged by a suspect on Dec. 26. The price was based on the numbers given to the city by the insurance adjuster.
•The council created an advisory committee for the park and recreation department. This informal committee will help oversee the operations of the park and assist in finding a new park director. The council will consist of Stephens, council members Hezikiah Walker and Clyde Nix and outgoing park director Anthony Dill.
•Stephens read a proclamation from the city on behalf of the Dora High School Senior Class Officers recognizing Feb. 4-8, 2013, as Random Acts of Kindness Week.