Resident asks council to address dog problems
by Briana Webster
May 15, 2014 | 2103 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARBON HILL — The Carbon Hill City Council had a lengthly agenda Tuesday night, but one of its main concerns was nothing to “bark” at.

Carbon Hill resident JoAnn Garrison approached the mayor and council about a horrible dog problem the city is having.

“We’ve had numerous dog bites, numerous dog attacks. We live in the city limits; there should be an ordinance to protect the citizens of Carbon Hill, because we don’t live on a farm, we live in a city,” Garrison said. “... I think the police officers should knock on the door and tell them, ‘Now this dog is hazardous, dangerous, and you’re responsible for putting the dog up.’ We have a leash law, so my thing is why can’t we enforce it?” 

Garrison continued to give many examples of dog bites and attacks that have occurred throughout the city, including one attack that happened to a well-known resident who has severe cerebral palsy and is only able to get around town on a motorized scooter.

Mayor James “Pee Wee” Richardson explained to Garrison that the city did have an ordinance but that nothing can be done immediately because the Walker County Commission has yet to build a new animal shelter.

“In order to take that ordinance and use it, you got to have a dog pound and the whole nine yards, and this city just can’t afford it,” Richardson said. “ ... As soon as they get this built, where we will have a place to put them, we’ll try to get a contract with the county to come up here and pick these dogs up.”

Richardson said if there are any future problems with the dogs to call the police and if there is an officer available, he would have them go out and check on the situation.

“We need protected. I don’t want bit by a dog, don’t want my children bit, and I don’t want to have to run from the neighbor’s dog,” Garrison said. “... We pay city tax, we live in the city for protection, mayor, and I know that we can do something about the dogs running the cars on the streets.”

After the meeting District 2 council member Jack Dunn agreed that there is a serious dog problem in the city and that it has affected his family personally.

“Something really needs to be done, seriously. The stray dogs have gone rampant in this little town, and people do need to keep their dogs chained up, penned up or put up, especially if they’re vicious,” he said.

In other business, the council: 

• heard from police chief Jason Richardson who informed the council that the department established a firearms policy and a full-time police officer car policy.

He requested the hiring of part-time officer Antoine Cobb, updated the council on the ADECA grant and requested the approval of body cameras for officers.

He also requested the council to approve sending him to the chief’s conference in June and July and sending officers to classes where they will obtain their hours for training.

Chief Richardson also informed council members on the department’s statistics in arrests and tickets for the month. The council approved of each item with the mayor abstaining from the votes.

• heard from street department head Alan May who told the council about a few machines that had broken down over the weekend and a report on a resident’s broken window supposedly caused by the department’s bush hog. May also updated the council on work being done to 12th Avenue and about the city’s swimming pool.

• heard different options from the city’s attorney Steven Thomas regarding the recent redistricting lawsuit. Thomas said, “There have been two people who have filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that after the 2010 census the city should have redistricted prior to the 2012 election, and the court order is asking the city to redistrict to be in compliance with what they say is the appropriate numbers and to hold an election for all city council seats.”

Options given the council were to immediately redistrict, to not redistrict, to redistrict for the election in 2016 or to do nothing and continue to defend the city against the suit and see what develops.

Bray motioned not to approve the redistricting of the city and to table it until a later date. All council members voted, and the motion passed unanimously.

• hired Magan Baker to assist Arabella LaBarber at the city’s senior citizens center.

• heard from utilities board member Bill Hurst who proposed to raise the percentage of the garbage collection fee from 1.5 percent to 5 percent for collecting the garbage, along with residents’ water, gas and sewer bills. Hurst said the fee needs to be raised because currently there’s not enough money coming in to cover costs. Richardson told Hurst they would discuss it at the next utilities board meeting, scheduled at 4 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month.

• heard an announcement made by American Legion Senior Vice Commander Karl M. Johnson about a Memorial Day ceremony which will be held Monday, May 26, starting at 10 a.m. with the ceremony to follow at 11. Refreshments will be served and will include performances by the First Baptist Church choir and different exhibits on display. Johnson invited all to attend and to bring old family photos or photos of friends who have served in any branch of the military.

• hired Christy Parr as the city’s swimming pool director. May said Parr has done a great job with the pool over the past few summers.

• accepted District 3 Terry Mason’s resignation that was given during the last meeting. The District 3 seat is now available, which means the city will begin taking applications and appoint a candidate at the next meeting.

• held two executive sessions during Tuesday night’s meeting: the first session discussed allegations brought against the city and the second session was held to interview and hire lifeguards for the swimming pool. Eight lifeguards were chosen for this summer’s pool season.