Town hires new police officer

Published 5:35 pm Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Maplesville Town Council approved several personnel items for the police department Monday, including the emergency hiring of a new officer and a pay raise for another officer that has completed a year with the department.

Maplesville Police Chief Todd Ingram introduced Officer Frank Jones, who replaced Keith Avery about a week ago after Avery accepted a position with the Jemison Police Department.

Ingram said he needed to hire Jones immediately because Avery’s departure came at the same time another full-time officer was away for National Guard duty.

“We were down to three officers,” Ingram said.

The council voted to accept Jones as a full-time officer with pay starting at $15 an hour and a one-year probationary period during which he could receive a 25-cent raise each quarter.

“Welcome aboard,” Maplesville Mayor W.C. Hayes said. “We’re glad to have you and glad to have someone from around here.”

The council also approved a 25-cent pay raise for Officer Bridgette Ellis, as she has been a full-time officer with the department for a year.

Council members Hal Harrison, Sheila Hall, Hilda Atchison and Richard Davis voted in favor of Ellis’ pay raise, and Crocker abstained from the vote due to her family ties to Ellis.

During his report for the street and garbage department, Superintendent Kenny Barrett provided an update on animal control.

Barrett is the town’s animal control officer and said from May 2013 to present, he has picked up 40 dogs and nine cats and transported them to the Chilton County Humane Society.

From January to present, Barrett has picked up 15 dogs and six cats to take to the shelter and has seized 10, seven of which were in conjunction with the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office for a pit bull fighting ring (six were alive, one was dead), and three were from Parnell Street for neglect.

The council heard from Bernard Laister, a Maplesville Utility Board member, who recommended two current board members, Michael Morrow and Johnny Higginbotham, for reappointment.

The board has five members, each of whom serve six-year terms that are staggered to allow the board to always have at least one or two members who are familiar with how the utilities board operates.

Upon members’ completion of their six-year terms, the council may either approve the board’s recommendations—in this case, to reappoint the two current members to another six-year term—or appoint new members.

Anyone interested in being appointed to the board would need to tell the board, and the board would tell the council.

Laister said he thought Morrow and Higginbotham should be reappointed because they are familiar with how the board operates and would not have to be trained as new members would.

“These guys know the system,” Laister said of Morrow and Higginbotham.

Council members discussed the matter and decided to table their decision regarding whom to approve for the new positions to review all candidates.

“I need to know the process before I reappoint anybody,” councilwoman Sheila Hall said.

In other business, Hayes told the council he received a letter from District Manager Kenneth Couch with the Alabama Department of Transportation’s Fifth Division (District 4 – Bibb and Chilton counties) regarding a proposed agreement for the cooperative maintenance of State Route 22 in the vicinity of Maplesville.

If approved, the agreement would permit the town to perform mowing and litter pick-up within the limits established by the permit.

In the letter, Couch said he enclosed the proposed agreement and completed the form based on a past mowing agreement.

Hayes and Sheila Haigler, former town clerk, said they didn’t remember the town having such an agreement with the state in previous years.

The council decided to table a decision about signing the agreement and to request a copy of the old contract Couch referenced in the letter.

In other business Monday, the council:

•Approved new Maplesville Volunteer Fire Department members Joshua Franklin, Nicole Franklin and Sheila Haigler.

•Approved Court Clerk Cindy Brown’s warrant report for April, which listed 839 outstanding warrants at the beginning of the month, 832 at the end of the month, 12 issued warrants, nine recalled warrants and 10 served warrants.

Brown said the town collected $100 through the Safe Streets Act, bringing the year-to-date total to $475.

•Approved a report from Hayes that Mike Reynolds graded and repaired Mitchell Hill Road for $350.

•Approved placing a lien for $445.17 on a nuisance property on Maple Drive. Earlier this year, the town received complaints concerning the property’s upkeep and notified the owner multiple times that the property violated the town’s ordinance prohibiting nuisance properties.

The owner failed to clean the property in compliance with the ordinance, and town employees devoted time and labor to cleaning it themselves.

The owner was given an opportunity to appear before the council to discuss the matter but did not do so.

•Approved the placement of a birding trail sign from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System across from Maplesville Community Park on Shanks Drive. The birding trail is located behind the park’s walking trail.

•Heard from Hayes about a Recreational Trail Grant the town is in the process of applying for. The grant would be about $70,000. It is a 20-percent matching grant, and the town would pay $10,000 and Maplesville PeeWee Athletics would pay $10,000.

•Heard from visitor Louise Pitts, who is running for Chilton County Schools Superintendent of Education in the June 3 Primary Election.

Pitts told the council she has worked in the public school system for 38 years, 10 of which have been at Jemison Elementary School as principal.

“I’m passionate about education,” Pitts said. “I believe in equality of schools, students and teachers. I will be visible in your community.”

•Heard from visitor Suzelle Josey, who is running for Alabama Senate District 30.

Josey, an Autauga County resident, told the council she would be the only Republican woman in the state Senate if elected.

“I’m not saying it’s a better voice, I’m saying it’s a missing voice,” Josey said.

•Approved purchasing a graduation advertisement in The Clanton Advertiser for $585.

•Approved the minutes from the April council meeting, the financial report and to pay monthly bills.