Annexation area street concerns aired by officials

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen Tuesday discussed street androad maintenance problems in the annexation areas, especially thosein what has become Ward One.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron brought to the attention of theboard that some Lincoln County supervisors, knowing certain areaswere about to be annexed, backed off the spending in order to leaveit to the city.

“Some are helping, but some have backed off and laid low,” saidCameron. “There are streets that need overlaying, and comments havebeen made by supervisors, ‘Why should I do it? It’s about to be inthe city.'”

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City Attorney Joe Fernald said while there was no legal way tocompel the county to assist with repairs in the annexation areas,that cooperation would be appreciated.

“That area is still in the county, and still inside theirdistrict,” he said. “They can do that, but that’s not a standardline.”

Cameron said of the two supervisors with areas in his ward, he feltthat one had been helpful and the other one had not been asaccommodating.

Mayor Bob Massengill said city officials would express theirconcerns to the board of supervisors and Bob Allen, the countyattorney.

Ward Six Alderman Buddy Allen and Ward Four Alderwoman ShirleyEstes said they had received help from supervisors in their wards.Other aldermen agreed that, to date, help had not been withheldfrom most of the supervisors.

But conversation returned to District Two Supervisor Bobby Wattsand his alleged disregard for the streets in the Brignall area.

Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates said he had met with Watts at onepoint and they had discussed the amount needed to pave the streets.Bates had indicated repaving the streets in the Brignall area wouldhelp with votes in the recent election.

“He’s in there now,” said Bates. “And now he’s saying, ‘Go to thecity.’ Those houses have been there 40-something years and thosestreets have only been overlaid once.”

When contacted Wednesday morning, Watts said he has done his bestto work with the city, and that is an effort he wants tocontinue.

“I still furnish culverts and always will,” he said. “Bobby will dohis part. I certainly want to get along with them, because I thinkthe world of the mayor and (Street Department Superintendent) JimmyGriffin.”

Watts went on to list other city departments he had worked with inthe past.

“I cherish them very much,” he said of all the city departments.”And I was keeping up with this grass in my district until theycould get the new equipment.”

Watts also said he had experienced negative feedback from hisconstituents regarding work in the annexation area.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Alderman at large Les Bumgarnerexpounded on the idea that city residents are paying county taxesand voting in the county elections.

“It doesn’t seem fair to take our county taxes and use themexclusively outside the city,” he said.

Massengill said he felt the board of supervisors would be willingto listen to their concerns, especially after losing the financialobligation of the annexation area.

“Thirteen less acres would have to be a windfall for them,” hesaid. “We have cooperated in a number of areas and will continuecooperating. We’d hope they’d do the same for us.”

Cameron said the streets in Brignall are an issue he plans topursue.

“I’m going to stay on it, because that’s my ward,” he said.

In a related matter, the issue of the proposed ward redistrictingcame up. Massengill told the board that the time is nearing that afinal resolution be made.

“We need to resolve this so we can have a public hearing,” saidMassengill, adding that after the city officials finalize theirplans, the Justice Department has to have the final say.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell said he is not yet ready to OK theplan. Massengill said the board would table the discussion for twomore weeks and discuss it at the first meeting in September.

The board also heard from Ken Barlow and Anne Mollere, whorepresent the DelKen Group. The human resource specialists arehelping the city by looking over employee pay, benefits and jobdescriptions and providing consultation.

Barlow and Mollere told the board they are proud to be assistingBrookhaven with their budget needs and that they will do their bestto provide “solid human resource solutions that are legallydefensible.”

Bumgarner also reminded the public to watch out for their neighborsin the scorching heat.

“We need to remember to check on our neighbors with this heat wavegoing on,” he said. “It’s deadly hot, especially if you live byyourself and nobody’s taking care of you.”

He urged citizens to check in on their elderly neighbors from timeto time to insure their well-being in the weather.