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Brookhaven to be ‘City of Character’

From a City of Character resolution to a Habitat for Humanityrequest, city official addressed a number of quality of life issuesat Tuesday’s meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen.

Aldermen approved a resolution for Brookhaven to become anofficial “City of Character.”

“I’m all for it,” said Ward 4 Alderman John Roberts about thecharacter city initiative.

At the June 20 board meeting, Jack Rutland, who has been workingon the “City of Character” proposal with Mayor Bill Godbold, saidthe concept works to foster and encourage good character and moralsin citizens, families and various community organizations.

With help from materials from the International Association ofCharacter Cities, Rutland said a positive character trait ishighlighted each month.

“It’s emphasized all over the community,” Rutland said, addingthat the goal is to build better communities by positivelyimpacting families.

After last night’s meeting, Godbold said he learned about theprogram several years ago at a conference in Philadelphia. Afterspeaking with law enforcement and other local officials, the mayorsaid he thought it would be good for Brookhaven.

“I was tremendously impressed by what it can do for the youngpeople,” Godbold said.

The mayor said he hoped to involve churches and schools in thecharacter city efforts.

HABITAT HELP

In other business, a Habitat of Humanity of Lincoln Countyrequest for a sewer connection to a piece of Grenn Street propertymet with support from aldermen, but end-of-year budget constraintskept them from approving the request.

Fred Calcote Jr., Habitat vice president, said theorganization’s offer to purchase the property is contingent uponcity sewer services being extended to the site. He said theorganization is looking at being able to build either three or fourhouses on the property.

Lanny Dickey, water department superintendent, said the citywould either have to run a sewer line down the middle of the streetor get an easement from a property owner in Chicago to extendservices. The materials costs for the work is $2,322, Dickeysaid.

“It’s going to be some time involved in laying the sewer,”Dickey said.

Aldermen were supportive, but they said it is close to the endof the city’s budget year and money was tight. Roberts said thecity should look closely and try to squeeze it into budget.

Calcote said there was no deadline for a decision, but theproperty purchase was contingent on city action. He said theorganization was looking at late fall for starting construction onits next house.

Godbold said it was not a matter of whether the city wouldextend service, but of trying to fit it in with the budget and workschedule.

“I know this board is more than willing to go along with it,”the mayor said.

BUDGET MATTERS

With budget preparation time at hand, Alderman-at-large HenryNewman made a pitch for higher salaries for the city’s policeofficers. Over the last two years, Newman and Police Chief FredMcKee said the department has lost 11 officers who acceptedhigher-paying jobs with other law enforcement agencies.

“We’re going to end up ruining our police officers because theycan’t make a living,” Newman said.

City Clerk Iris Rudman said budget preparations are under way,and she would like to have recommendations by the next boardmeeting. McKee said Brookhaven is comparable to McComb and hasinformation on that department’s pay scale.

“I’d like for you to look at that,” McKee said.

Fire department personnel pay was also mentioned, but Ward 3Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson said he supported Newman’srequest. He mentioned city support of other agencies and money thatgoes elsewhere.

“We ought to take care of our own first,” Wilson said.

FIRE RESPONSE

In other matters, Ward 2 Alderman Terry Bates questioned FireChief Paul Cartwright about the city’s response to fires andaccidents outside the city limits. Bates said he had received somecalls following a recent fire that destroyed a home in the Brignallcommunity north of the city.

Cartwright said his department responds to an area bordering thecity limits where there is access to city fire plugs and elsewherewhen requested by a volunteer fire department. He also explainedfire protection districts in the city and county.

“That’s not in our district. It’s not in our area,” Cartwrightsaid about Brignall, adding that his department never received acall for assistance during the recent fire.

Cartwright complimented volunteer firefighters. Like otherpeople, he said they have jobs and they must leave those to gofight fires during the day.

OTHER MATTERS

While construction work is going on around the high school, EastCongress Street will be made a one-way street, said Jimmy Furlow,city traffic coordinator. East Congress Street will be one-way westfrom High School to North Second Street from 7 a.m.- 4 p.m., Furlowsaid.

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, city officials went intoexecutive session for three personnel matters.

Two of the stated reasons involved a water department employeeand a fire department matter. However, Wilson refused to state hisreason for seeking a personnel-related executive session.

Upon returning from the approximately 30-minute closed meeting,aldermen voted to terminate a water department employee and actedto seek notification from another terminated water departmentemployee that she will not pursue legal action against thecity.

City Attorney Joe Fernald said the fire department matter wasnot a personnel matter and was not discussed during the closedmeeting. He said it involved a fire hydrant that had been tamperedwith, and the city would be investigating that matter.