County discusses ways to address animal cruelty cases (updated)

Published 9:14 pm Monday, October 28, 2013

Chilton County commissioners discussed who should have the authority to enforce the law against animal cruelty on Monday.

Commissioners heard from Chilton County Humane Society Director Jessica Terry who asked the commission for advice regarding recent issues with animal cruelty cases in the county.

Terry explained she lacks the authority to uphold the law against daily animal cruelty calls she receives at the shelter.

“We get at least one animal cruelty call a day at the shelter from people asking us to go out and do something,” Terry said. “We do not have the authority to enforce the law and it is against the law to harm an animal.”

Terry said local municipalities who have animal control officers often go out and take reports within their city limits but the county lacks an animal control officer resulting in many of the calls going to the shelter.

“We tell the people calling from the county to give the sheriff’s department a call,” Terry said. “We then get a call back saying the sheriff’s department told them to call us because they don’t handle those calls. I need guidance as to what we should do.”

Chilton County Commission chairman Allen Caton said he would like to see something done where everyone could work together.

Commissioner Bobby Agee asked if there was some way the county could work together through a contract with the city of Clanton.

Commissioner Shannon Welch said he would like to see the county have some form of an animal control officer.

Caton told the commission he would be at the Chilton County Courthouse on Thursday and would set up a meeting to talk with Terry, Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis and Agee to discuss possible options for what to do about the animal cruelty cases in the county.

Commissioners heard a report from Caton who said he attended a poultry show at the fairgrounds roughly two weeks ago with individuals from seven different states in attendance.

“There were people who had come from all different places to see 800 chickens with about 50 different varieties and 40 different colors,” Caton said. “It was something really neat and different.”

Caton said the individuals were asked to fill out information cards to show what hotels and restaurants were used in the county and would help indicate how much money was spent in the county.

Caton said some of the individuals were concerned about losing the exhibition hall at the fairgrounds.

“I would like for us to look into some county land for us to possibly move that building,” Caton said. “Some of the people were saying it would be nice to see an enclosed structure with heating and cooling so they could bring three different shows per year. I just think if we could come up with something small, it would benefit the county.”

Caton also brought up the county being billed for the SouthernLINC Wireless radio network used by the sheriff’s department.

Caton explained the Chilton County E-911 board approved switching to the SouthernLINC Wireless radio network for its primary dispatch system for law enforcement agencies throughout the county a few months ago.

Although the Clanton Police Department previously operated on a SouthernLINC system for two years, all the other law enforcement agencies in the county were not on the same system as CPD.

The switch would ensure all agencies would be on the same system.

Caton told the commission when the E-911 board approved the switch, each law enforcement agency was responsible to pay E-911 for the system.

“It was the sheriff’s responsibility to come before the commission and get this approved for the county, but it was never done and now the county is being billed for the radios,” Caton said. “We are not paying the bill because it was never approved.”

Caton said he needed direction from the commission due to the sheriff’s department using the radios but the bill was going unpaid.

“The sheriff was supposed to come and talk to us about this, but now we are getting bills for the radios and we never approved them,” Caton said. “Until this board approves it, the bill will not get paid.”

If approved, the county portion of the radio system would cost roughly $14,000 for 36 months, making the overall cost around $36,000.

Caton said he would ask Davis to come and talk to the commission about the situation.

In other news, the commission:

•Met in executive session for the discussion of good name and character.

Commissioners met behind closed doors for more than 45 minutes.

•Voted to allow county engineer Tony Wearren to purchase two pickup trucks and have three trucks declared surplus to give to the jail to sell on

•Passed a resolution to reappoint Samuel Reed, Sherrill White and Judson Messer to the Chilton County Hospital Board. Commissioners unanimously voted. Commissioner Tim Mims was absent from Monday’s meeting.

•Passed a resolution to appoint both Allen Payton and Brian Paschal to the Industrial Development Board of Directors. Both Payton and Paschal were nominated for the position Oct. 14 and commissioners decided on Monday to elect both of them to the board.

•Scheduled a work session for Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. to discuss a plan of action in hiring a new Chilton County EMA Director. Currently, Bill Collum serves as the director but has plans to retire.

•Approved a request from Chilton County Tax Assessor Rex Cleckler regarding a classification change and raise for an individual in the Tax Assessor’s office.