CARBON HILL - Fire Chief and Safety Coordinator Buddy Smith told the Carbon Hill City Council Tuesday night that the radio communications system is still not up in the wake of going out of service with the Easter Sunday tornado last year.
District 3 Councilman David Phillips, who presided over the meeting as pro tem as Mayor April Kennedy Herron has tested positive for COVID-19, said the company hired by the city has put off work. Brittany Chambers, the dispatching supervisor, said officials have tried to call the company several times about the delay, but have been told repeatedly the ordered equipment has not come in yet from the West Coast.
District 1 Councilwoman Cindy Killingsworth raised the possibility of contact City Attorney Steve Thomas to handle the matter.
Police Chief Ray Goggans, a former Jasper police officer who was hired that night, said he understands the contract is with Bobby Jackson. He said he had worked with him in Jasper and offered to call him about the situation.
"I don't know my phone call will do more than anybody else, but I'll get him to tell me specifically what is our hold up, what are we waiting on," Goggans said. He said he would then report to the council on what Jackson said.
"To be honest with you, it has got to be fixed," he said. "It's a safety hazard for us at the police department. The only means of communication we have are these links. If we are out there somewhere doing something and someone gets hurt or somebody needs assistance, the only person they are able to contact with these links are dispatchers. We have no way to communicate with other agencies or other departments, to tell them where we are at. This is not a matter of convenience. This is really a safety issue."
He said if there is a problem on Jackson's end, it might be possible to recommend another contractor.
In other action Tuesday night, the council:
• Held an executive session on good name and character of an individual.
• Heard from Smith that the city jail has had no back up battery lights, meaning the jail and dispatch have no lights in an outage. "We still have an issue with the generator," he said, saying he is getting quotes for repairs or a replacement. He also suggested getting battery back up lights.
• Heard that cameras for the jail have been obtained. A meeting with Smith and Street Superintendent Alan May will be held to plan out their use.
• Heard May a sturdy metal gate has been obtained for Marlin Jordan Road to prevent illegal dumping in the area, and poles were set that day. He anticipates having the gate up with a week. He also noted the brush truck would be run the next day, and repairs were made to the garbage truck. At the urging of Phillips, he said he would put some gravel up at the Blue Gym to deal with road problems there, as May said the weather was too cold to use cold mix.
• Approved participating in the 2021 Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday on Feb. 26-28, and for each year thereafter.
• Voted for opening an account at First National Bank of Hamilton - Carbon Hill Branch to hold grant funds for the U.S. Interstate 22, Exit 46 interchange lighting project.
• Heard from Phillips that the appointment of the District 6 council member has been postponed indefinitely, a COVID-19 has made it difficult to meet with people about the possibility of taking the position. "It's hard to go out and ask. You're not supposed to be going door to door," Phillips said.
• Agreed to pass a one-time lump sum pay increase for city employees. Phillips said after the meeting the increase equals one pay period for the employee.
• Heard that the financial workshop scheduled for that night has been scheduled for 5 p.m. on Jan. 26 in the council chambers. The regular council meeting will take place at 6 p.m. that night.
• Discussed a beaver dam that is causing flooding issues near Mava's and the ditch in front of it. Chambers agreed to call fish and game officials to see what can be done. Another resident talked about her road and ditch problems in the Forest Ridge Apartments area, and Phillips said he would get the address and pass it along to the Street Department to make a recommendation.
• Discussed the need for more lighting at the Dollar General area. "There's no lighting whatsoever there," District 2 Councilwoman Oranetta Kirk said. District 1 Councilwoman Cindy Killingsworth said the lack of lighting leaves a dangerous situation there.
• Heard Killingsworth suggest a petition to deal with the city's closed railroad crossing, noting she has heard more complaints. She said a railroad spokesman told her the closing could last until the end of March or later. "I got a call in to an attorney about getting a petition together," she said. She said one or two residents who live at the crossing do not want to see the crossing opened up to traffic, "which is blowing my mind, because I really can't conceive that. It really needs to be opened." She said two crossings need to be open so that one can be available at all times, especially if an emergency arose. She said the cross is at Third Street SW and First Avenue, which Smith called the Oak Street crossing.
• Discussed the old City Barn, which city officials say has not been cleaned up as called for in a bid. District 4 Councilwoman Judy Hurst said the contract called for 120 days, "but their time is up. They are up at Nauvoo School taking that down now." Killingsworth said the City Barn site is now "an eyesore."