Council meets new officer, reviews ordinances
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Officer Brent Penny joined the Rockford Police Department earlier this month as a part-time officer. He brings 8-plus years experience with him to the force. Photo submitted
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
As reported last week, the Rockford Town Council approved the business license fee established for the Rockford Utilities Board, but there was much more business addressed, including meeting a new police officer and reviewing old ordinances.
During last Tuesday evening’s meeting, Police Chief Jamie Hammond introduced new Police Officer Brent Penny to the council and attendees. Penny is a part-time officer, with his official hire date being September 15.
As previously reported, Hammond accepted a new job elsewhere, but will remain on as Rockford’s chief in a part-time capacity. The council previously approved hiring two additional part-time officers to bring the total on the police force to three officers.
Hammond explained that Penny will primarily cover daytime shifts while he is working evening shifts. This allows them to have more of a presence in town throughout the week.
Penny introduced himself to the council and said he has been a certified law enforcement officer for eight years.
Hammond also reported that the second part-time officer, Derrick Coley, will be starting within the next few weeks.
Mayor Scott White told the council that Hammond will be responsible for both officers and their scheduling, as well as responding to calls himself. As such, he asked the council to consider Hammond being able to continue taking the patrol car home even though he was switched to part time.
Hammond explained that both police cars are set up and ready to patrol, so one care would still be in town if he took one home.
During brief discussion, Councilmember Robert Smith asked what would happen if one of the cars was to break down. Hammond said that he would get the other car back into town for use until the other car could be fixed.
White added that they are doing more maintenance on the vehicles and that the town is working on grants to possibly be able to get new police cars next year.
After discussion, the council agreed for Hammond to continue taking one of the patrol cars home for convenience.
Additionally, White brought two older town ordinances up for discussion and review. Those were ordinances 27 and 545, which are ordinances to “prohibit the streets and sidewalks of Rockford from private uses and gaming thereon” and “control clean up of vacant lots and grown up property in the Town of Rockford,” respectively.
Town Clerk Jennifer Tindall typed both amended ordinances and presented them to the council to read and approve.
Updates to Ordinance 27, which was from 1923 and had not been updated since, included changing the fee from “not over $50 nor less than $1” to $125 and changing the term “callaboose” to “jail.”
Aside from minor corrections, no other changes were noted to further update amended ordinance 27. After review, the council unanimously approved the amended ordinance with those minor corrections to be made.
Regarding Ordinance 545 relating to overgrown property, Councilmember Karen Hammond asked if Tindall can add that a copy of the nuisance notice will be mailed to the owner of the property and to change the term “laborers” to “employees.”
White also asked Tindall to add that an administration fee of $25 will be added for any nuisance notices administered after the first notice has been given.
With those changes noted, the council unanimously approved amended Ordinance 545 pending those changes being made.
In other business, White said that numerous questions have arisen regarding sidewalks in town and who maintains those. As an example, he said that the courthouse asked if the town would fix the sidewalk in front of its building, but White said he did not want to fix sidewalks that he is not allowed to govern and maintain.
White said he would like to figure out who has the responsibility for maintaining that sidewalk. Additionally, he said that he would like to get a survey done of the sidewalks and alleyway by the courthouse to see who owns the rights to those.
He mentioned that Chief Hammond had found paperwork citing alley issues dating as far back as the 1980s. With it being a longtime and ongoing issue, he asked that the council consider the land survey to help settle the matter.
The survey would entail the front of the courthouse running down to the newspaper office for the sidewalks, as well as the alleyway next to the courthouse.
In further discussion, Council members Hammond and Smith said that the town needs to survey behind the courthouse and strip of buildings, as well, including the gravel parking lot.
After discussion, the council unanimously approved getting prices on a land survey for the front of Main Street and the west side of town, approximately between the Post Office and U.S. Highway 231.
The council also briefly discussed the town’s website, and after reviewing other prices and options, the council unanimously approved keeping the town’s current website and paying $144 per year to maintain it.
During the meeting White also explained that the printer’s scanner had gone out and was going to be expensive to fix. Since it was an outdated model, the town had ABS deliver a new printer rather than fix the previous one.
The Utilities Board had opted out of buying a new printer, so the town bought out the board’s contract with Canon in order to be able to purchase the new printer. Therefore, for the next 18 months the board will continue to pay its $63 per month directly to the town, which will offset the new payment.
The payment will be $123.34 for 60 months, but for the next 18 months the payment will be just $60.34 per month because of the offset from the board’s payment. After discussion, the council unanimously approved the purchase of the new Canon printer.
Also in technical matters, when reviewing the financial report, Tindall gave kudos to Scott Mangan with Coosa County Computers in Hanover for being able to fix a technical issue for them in just 5 minutes. She said he was great and “very educational,” expressing her gratitude for him being able to come and fix the problem so quickly.
In other business, White mentioned COVID-19 relief fund money and said that the town was awarded $104,000, with half of the funds being received so far. He explained that there is only a handful of things the money can be spent on, as the state is rather specific about for what the funds are used.
He mentioned that one way municipalities are using the funds is to give a bonus to employees who worked through the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked the council to read over provided handouts and do their own research on the matter and how the funds may be used.
The council unanimously approved tabling the matter until next month’s meeting to allow the members time to research it.
The council also unanimously approved pledging a $150 donation to the Central Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization for its “Adopt a Classroom” fundraiser.
Regarding the old home economics building, White said that an ad would run in the newspaper, which appeared in last week’s edition, asking anyone interested in restoring the building to contact Town Hall. This will help the town determine how to proceed with the building.
Utilities Board Superintendent Wade Brown also addressed the council regarding damage to the sewer line at the old school. The matter was discussion only, with no action taken, and White said that he would be looking into those issues.
In other business, Councilmember Hammond submitted a letter to the town stating that because of her recent divorce she no longer lives within the town limits. She went on to explain that she is currently looking for a residence within the town limits, but has not found anything yet.
She stated in the letter that she would like to continue serving on the council until the issue is resolved. White explained that according to the Alabama League of Municipalities, Hammond is allowed to serve on the council while living outside the town limits for 6 months from the date of the announcement, with that cut-off date being March 21, 2022.
The council unanimously approved allowing her to continue serving as a Town Council member while she looks for a new residence within the town limits.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Rockford Town Council will be held at 6 p.m. October 19.