CH officials to restrict access to Blue Gym keys


CARBON HILL - City officials indicate they are planning to change the locks on the Blue Gym and restrict key copying to prevent multiple keys from being used to get into the facility.

District 3 Councilwoman April Kennedy Herron, who is a liaison with the Carbon Hill Women's Club, said that the club is having a fundraiser this week, noting that the club has taken over operation of the gym until renovations are completed. 

"When we go to working on the plumbing and electrical in the gym, we may have to close it off to rentals" after basketball season, she said. Dates for when rentals will be temporarily halted have not been determined.

Mayor Mark Chambers said, "The guy that puts on wrestling matches in there has been contacting me all week. I think he has a show this coming Saturday." He said the man has already advertised for the show and has been asking if it would be alright to continue.

He asked Herron to get him with club officials to see "how this is going to continue, where we can get this guy headed in the right direction. He's spending a lot of money here. He pays every month. 

"I hate to knock him out of using it. But I understand if we are under construction he may have to go somewhere else for a period of time." 

Herron said the closure and construction is only temporary but has to be done. 

"We've got to get the sewer system, the water, the electrical, the lights - all that stuff needs work and attention. If we have guys in there working and digging up or pulling out, we don't need anybody in there. I'll get you some dates." 

The mayor noted the promoter stores some items in the gym, but Herron said that should not affect that. 

"Mainly it is the electrical and plumbing right now. (The club is) starting to work in the front and work its way back," she said.

Chambers said he appreciates the club doing the work and that many of the projects have already been approved, such as for the ceiling tile and the heating and air condition. He said he thinks the heating and cooling inside the lobby will cost $8,000, with the mayor and Street Superintendent Alan May putting it in if the city would buy it. 

Scott Baker, president of the Little League, suggested changing the lock on the Blue Gym. Herron said that is the first thing that is going to be done. 

"There is so many people in town that has got (a key)," he said. One can try to clean up in the gym, but one cannot pinpoint who has done what at the gym because of all the keys in use. 

Herron said, "That is what the ladies discussed last Monday night at the (Carbon Hill Women's Club) meeting, is that immediately after basketball season is over, change all the locks, and then once we get the bid in and get started, it will be closed off, because we don't want little kids in there if there is construction and wiring and such."

She said the club is "fired up" to begin working on it and is trying to get started as quickly as possible. At the same time, she said only "certain people" should have a key.

Chambers said the situation usually starts with the mayor and City Hall having the only keys, and then others making copies of those keys. "The next thing I know, everyone in town has one," he said. The same thing goes on with a combination lock, where everyone in town knows the combination. 

The key should be taken up to unlock the building and it should be taken back, Herron said. But the mayor said eventually you tell them to take the key and bring it back, and someone then makes a new key while bringing it back. 

Chambers said most of the keys are being copied at Roberson Hardware and Supply and officials need to tell the business not to make copies for others. He said one can get a key that says not to stamp or duplicate it. "That's what we're going to have to do," he said. 

In the end, he said it is as much his fault as it is anyone's letting the keys get out because he wants the children to have a place to play. He said many of the youth he coached 10 years ago, but he said many of them will also make themselves a key so they can get in easily without asking. 

Herron said that is understandable, but officials need to make sure to take care of what the city has. Chambers said, "It's is the most valuable building this city owns." 

She noted that she is attending the 2020 Walker County Nonprofit Training Academy on Feb. 21 at Bevill State Community College in Jasper as a means to learn more about grant writing. She said while the city is working currently with the Alabama Department of Transportation on a grant, that doesn't mean the city can't be working on getting other grants. 

"It's basically to teach me where to find these grants and how to write them myself," she said, noting a grant writer would not be needed on small grants that could be used for various needs in the city. 

She said after the meeting that some of those grants could be used for the Blue Gym.