Aldermen look to clarify shelter role: Attorney voices concern over responsibilities, liabilities

Published 10:10 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

As a new group works to improve what was formerly called the city pound, Brookhaven officials are trying to figure out what the city’s role in the project is.

At Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, Alderwoman Shirley Estes requested that trees be planted at the city shelter as requested by the group, but City Attorney Joe Fernald said trees couldn’t be planted there.

“I talked to the mayor, and met with one of the people that are out at the landfill,” Fernald said. “I’m a bit confused about just exactly what it is we’re doing out there.”

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Fernald said he was getting mixed signals about whether the group was asking to renovate the facility for the city or to run it themselves.

“I suggested to the mayor that what we do, as we have done in the past, is put together a committee of about three board members, and I would like to be on it, because the questions that are coming up are not really that — the trees for example, I knew you can’t really do anything out there except dump garbage,” he said. “There are some other things that came up that — there’s not necessarily any problem, it’s just that they’re asking for authority to do things that in essence we’re supposed to do.”

Fernald suggested that the board should draw up a formal agreement defining who would be responsible for what to prevent what he called “an overly broad delegation of administrative authority by the city.” Fernald stressed that it would be important to discuss liability, and also safety.

“Are we going to give them a key to the landfill? Because I don’t think we can,” Fernald said. The animal shelter is located at the landfill. “I don’t think we can allow a layperson to just go into the landfill and do whatever they want to do, unless we find some authority that says we can. My biggest concern is that they understand that there are rules in that landfill, like you don’t smoke and pitch a match, because if you set the landfill on fire we’re all in trouble. It will burn. It can catch fire. It’s not just a barren wilderness out there where people go out there to put their dogs. I think it’s a good thing they’re helping us — I’m all for it, but we need to set it up to where we know who’s responsible.”

The group’s adviser and coordinator, Lu Becker, said the organization did intend to have volunteers onsite running the facility, something nobody had been doing previously, and that a contract proposal was in the works.

“Before now, there hasn’t been a place for anybody to be on site, even animal control, because there’s been no office there,” Becker said. “Remember this is a brand new organization with a brand new mission, and we do have a mission statement. Here’s what we’re working on right now: We’re working on our standard operating procedures. We’re working on getting incorporated and getting our 501(c)(3) status. We’re working on a contract between Friends (of the City Animal Shelter) and the city so that line is clear, and we have a vision of the county joining us and it becoming Friends of the Lincoln Animal Shelter.

Healthcare kiosk

King’s Daughters Medical Clinic Chief of Nursing Cheri Walker announced plans to place kiosks around the city that can educate the community about medical issues. The decision came after two consecutive community health needs assessments in 2012 and 2015 showed little change.

“We talk to teachers, we talk to people at the senior center, we talk to church members,” Walker said. “We go everywhere we can think of and ask questions about what our community thinks are the primary health needs in our community that need help. We heard a lot about obesity, lack of physical activity and chronic diseased like hypertension and diabetes.”

Walker said KDMC hopes to have six or seven of them installed within the next year, and to place the first one in the Brookhaven government building. The kiosks would contain information and videos made by KDMC and third parties.

“We do — and haven’t totally resolved yet — have concerns about [whether they are] going to want to push that button and listen to it out loud in the middle of a place where other people can hear what they’re listening to,” Walker said. “We are looking at our options related to earbuds or headphones or how we’re going to address that, and I don’t have an answer for that yet. We do have our first station on order, and I’m working with several folks to fill it up with information. I want to make this help our community know that we want to be there for them. We want to help make our lives better for all of us.”

In other business:

• The city approved to pay Officer Barlough for his work as DUI enforcer as part of the DUI program.

• The city approved re-zoning 417 S. Railroad Avenue from R2 to C2 to allow for a wedding reception business.

• The city approved IHOP’s request to allow them to put up a 100-foot sign, as an exception to the 35-foot ordinance.

• The city approved to put $864.64 in donations and grants for the fire department in the equipment budget.

• The city approved $11,220 to fix a trench on Becker Street.

• The city approved to reimburse meals only for Robert Jorner and Steve Moreton to attend an MDEQ class on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3.

• The city received a state sales tax check for $452,248.80

• The city approved James Case’s off-road diesel bid of $1,599.

• The city received the October 2015 Privilege License Report showing revenue of $4,631.25.

• The city received the October 2015 Municipal Court Report showing revenue of $40,273.90 — $16,505.77 of that goes to the state.

• The city approved the claims dockets totaling at $2,766,600.69.

• The city approved payment to Oddee Smith Construction on the Airport Improvement project for $41,459.40.

• The city approved a bid from Mid-South Uniform for police and firemen uniforms. This was the only bid received.

• The city approved a bid from Central Pipe Supply for Badger Radio Read Water Meters. This was the only bid received.

• The city approved a bid from Harcros Chemicals for water chemicals. This was the only bid received.