E-911, liquor license and contract issues come before Commission

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Crenshaw County Commission continued contract discussions with E-911, declined a liquor license for a Helicon establishment, and came to a contract agreement with County Engineer Benjie Sanders.

Several citizens showed up during the work session to discuss a liquor license that was applied for by Billy Cafe and Lounge Inc. in Helicon.

The Rev. Fred Lowery presented the Commission with a petition containing over 75 signatures from residents who were opposed to the establishment.

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“When we open an establishment like this, it allows people to come from other areas and give us a bad name,” he said. “It’s nothing personal.”

Lowery also requested an increased police presence in Helicon.

Jeremy Jones, an officer with the Alabama Beverage Control Board, was also on hand to discuss the ABC Board’s findings.

Jones said that John Jones, the owner of the establishment who applied for the license, disclosed that he had been arrested on the charge of selling alcohol without a license.

However, Officer Jones also said that a background check by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation also turned up a charge of strong-arming and assaulting a police officer in Michigan, which Jones failed to disclose during the application.

Jones denied the charge, and said he would have to check into getting that cleared up.

Officer Jones said there had been another incident during the background check that returned an outstanding warrant for Jones for possession of marijuana in Gadsden.

Office Jones said that Jones had gone to Gadsden to take care of the charge, but it turned out to be a different John Jones and there were no charges against him.

The Commission denied the request for a liquor license until the outstanding charge against Jones is resolved.

The Commission also continued discussion about entering into a contract with E-911 to handle non-emergency dispatches.

Over the past several months, E-911 has been working to get into compliance with state law by contracting with each entity in the county to handle non-emergency calls and dispatches, such as when an officer goes on or off duty.

Emergency calls are paid for by a charge on phone bills, but law doesn’t allow E-911 to use that money for non-emergency calls.

The E-911 board presented the Commission with a proposal of around $53,000 several months ago, but the Commission wanted to reduce that number by deducting rent and utilities since E-911 uses office space in the county-owned EMA building.

County attorney Levi Nichols said that the county will have to have separate documents — a lease between the county and E-911 for the building showing the amount of rent per month and a contract for the dispatch services.

Nichols also advised against factoring in utilities, since the county is reimbursed by the state for utilities through EMA.

“You run the risk of double-dipping on utilities, and that’s bad for everyone,” he said.

The two sides discussed what could be done to reduce call volume, and they also discussed numbers.

“I think what we came with was a reasonable number in line with what had been done in previous years,” said E-911 director Scott Stricklin.

The Commission discussed a figure of $42,000 — $30,000 funding and $12,000 deducted for $1,000 per month rent on the building.

The Commission asked Stricklin and E-911 board member Neil Hughes, who was at the meeting, to talk to the E-911 board as a whole.

The Commission also discussed having a representative at the E-911 board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m.

In other business, representatives from Glenwood came to the Commission last month to request that the speed limit be raised on County Roads 6 and 57, and County Engineer Benjie Sanders said that a speed study had just been finished.

The Commission voted to raise the speed limits on those roads to 55 miles per hour, but Sanders warned that the speed limit won’t actually change until the appropriate signs are in place.

The Commission has also been in discussion with Sanders for several months about his contract, which is due to expire in March.

The Commission approved his contract by a vote of 3-2, with commissioners Michelle Stephens and Chris West dissenting, pending the change of several details such as putting the contract on a two-year term and changing the raise structure.

A motion was also made by Stephens to name Commissioner Charlie Sankey the County Commission’s new chairman, but that motion failed to pass.