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Kids and cars top city board concerns

What to do with the city’s youngsters and derelict vehicles topped the discussion Tuesday at the meeting of the Brookhaven Board of Aldermen Tuesday.

Police Chief Kenneth Collins has been meeting with Chancery Judge Joseph Durr, NAACP President Bernetta Character and others interested in making a positive impact on students in the Brookhaven School District.

“We’re trying to get a mentoring group together,” he said.

The group wants to work with Superintendent Ray Carlock and Deputy Chief Rod Henderson to bring positive role models into the schools to talk to students, starting with Brookhaven Elementary School. The speakers so far are first responders — fire, police and ambulance — who interact with the students as they share information about topics like fire safety or bullying.

“We try to make a difference,” Collins said. “I’m trying to get the different first responders to go in and start taking up time with the kids, go to a different school every month, get different business leaders, get the preachers together, and work with the schools and start going in and talking to them.”

Collins said the goal is to reach children when they’re young, before they make unhealthy decisions that can lead them to a destructive path.

“We’re starting at Brookhaven Elementary and see if we can make a difference before they get to the alternative school,” he said. “We’re trying to show them a different way and mentor them. If you can save one, maybe it might be worth it.”

A problem with cars

Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan told the board she was concerned about a house on Minnesota Street that seemed to be surrounded by vehicles.

“There are five or six cars crammed into the front yard,” she said. “They can’t possibly mow.”

Collins said he’s seen other cars “jacked up on blocks” on South First Street for an extended period of time.

Sullivan asked if there is anything that can be done according to the city’s policy.

Board attorney Joe Fernald said the cars can be impounded if improperly parked, based on the city’s policy. The owners are then fined.

“You haul (the cars) out of the yard, you fine them and they come before the board and decide what they’re going to do about it,” Fernald said.

A police officer can have the cars towed, he said.

That may be a responsibility the city isn’t prepared for, Mayor Joe Cox said.

“They’re in our care, custody and control at that point?” he asked.

Fernald said a problem comes with a lack of location to store any cars impounded.

“You’ve got to put them somewhere. Where are you going to park them?” he asked.

Collins said the city will be responsible for the vehicles and he fears the owners could claim their property was damaged.

“They’ll act like they’re tore up when they’re already tore up,” he said.

The board made no decisions to enforce the policy but plans to study it further.