Council votes to close alley in effort to prevent crime
by By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Jun 06, 2012 | 889 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Jasper City Council agreed to close an alley on Third Avenue on Tuesday after Police Chief Connie Rowe expressed concern that it is facilitating criminal activities.

Rowe said a break-in occured recently at one of the homes that adjoin the alley, which is located between 14th Street and Marion Avenue.

Following an investigation, Rowe learned that the homeowners are working with a local attorney to follow the appropriate steps to have the alley vacated.

Rowe asked the city to consider closing the alley temporarily to allow the residents to proceed with the somewhat lengthy vacation process.

“There’s not a good reason for us to have traffic back there. There are some beer cans along the alley way that suggest it’s just a place for thugs to slip off and hide downtown and do things they shouldn’t be doing right in these folks’ backyard,” Rowe said.

After the motion passed unanimously, Rowe said that barricades would be placed in the alley to block access to it until another solution can be found.

In other action from the meeting, the council

•Approved a budget amendment concerning sick leave.

City clerk Kathy Chambless said the council had included $150,000 for sick leave but the city had already paid $177,000 this year. Chambless estimated that sick leave entitlement would reach $200,000 by the end of the fiscal year.

Chambless said sales tax is coming in higher than expected and should offset the expense of the budget amendment.

“We will exceed our 2008 sales tax levels, which is something that I think is a milestone for us,” Chambless added.

•Approved a change order in the amount of $9,940 for additional work on the existing asphalt on Whitehouse Road during a recent widening project.

“We encountered some bad places in Whitehouse Road that had to be repaired,” said Terry Acuff of Community Consultants Inc.

•Agreed to pursue a Community Development Block Grant for water system improvements in the industrial park.

Acuff said members of the Jasper Waterworks and Sewer Board made the request of the council because the local utility board is not eligible to apply for the funds.

“The board is going to provide the $200,000 in matching funds. This will allow them to upgrade the water line and at the same time they’re applying for funding to build a water tank in the park,” Acuff said.

•Gave Mayor Sonny Posey permission to sign a contract with Goodwin, Mills and Cawood for a paving project on Walston Bridge Road that is expected to begin either in the fall or early spring of 2013.

•Accepted a bid for $49,990 from Integrity Air Conditioning Services for a gas heating and air unit at Swann Gymnasium.

•Approved paying an insurance deductible of $2,500 for replacing the sign at Trotter Field that was knocked down during a traffic accident.

•Heard an introduction of a request from the county commission to pay $6,327.50 for half the cost of repairing a heat pump at Jasper Public Library.

•Adopted a nuisance abatement resolution for a residence in the Woodland Hills subdivision.

Council member Gary Cowen said he had received several calls from residents complaining about the homeowner storing old cars in the yard.