County Administrator Derek Reeves and engineer Draper McMillan appeared at the Council meeting Tuesday night to request a zoning variance be approved for the new courthouse annex building (probate office). The project has been approved by the Bibb County Commission and is due to get underway, but being within Centreville city limits, city rules must be followed.
City Attorney Mitch Kemmer explained, with supporting comments from Draper McMillan, that in order to avoid moving a city water main, the new construction would need to be placed four feet farther back that originally planned. In doing so, the building would encroach that four feet into the fifteen foot “setback,” or the buffer area that’s intended to keep buildings from being too close to the edge of property lines.
This, according to McMillan, would be a necessary modification to plans or a city water main and sewer line would both have to be moved, at significant expense.
After a few questions, including clarification by Kemmer that this would be a permanent variance for as long as the new building exists, the Council approved the request unanimously.
Appearing before the Centreville Council as he did West Blocton Council last week, Matt Hartzell continued his quest to ask council members to encourage their constituents to fill out the census forms when the time comes in a few months. He said that a big concern would be in trying to reach “low access” parts of the population, or people who may have no internet or phone, or for whatever reason may be hard to locate for filling out the form.
Hartzell cited again the estimate of 4,000 people in Bibb that census takers missed in 2010. This figure multiplied out by $160 per person that the federal government estimates in funding each year, and that equates to an estimated $6.4 million over the previous 10 years that were lost for the county as a whole.
Mayor Terry Morton commented that any money from the feds would be beneficial. He added that the city has been using social media and other means to help push awareness of and promote the census, including posting in City Hall the flyer for available jobs as “census enumerators” that are being hired as well. These are the people who go out to try to find people who did not respond to the census forms by mail or online.
Police Action Training
Police Chief Rodney Smith delivered his monthly report to the Council, including information on multiple upcoming training events. On February 18, one CPD officer will go to Tuscaloosa for Secret Service training on threat analysis as it relates to schools. This is a free class.
Officers will participate in a loss prevention class in April. This skid-car class helps to keep liability insurance costs for the League of Municipalities lower. Officers from CPD attend every year for $40 per person, but the city then saves about three times that in insurance expenses, according to the Chief.
A part-time officer starts work on the 17th of this month. He will work night shifts.
Centreville Police will be training with simulation guns (“simunition”) that actually shoot non-lethal paint rounds at each other in scenario training. All departments in the county will be involved, and certified firearms instructors will lead the classes. Each department will buy their own ammo at a cost of $478 for 500 rounds. The Sheriff’s Department already owns the special training guns that all departments will use. These training weapons are exact replicas of the officers’ issue sidearms, but cannot fire real ammunition, only the special paint rounds.
“If you see us out there shooting at each other, at least you’ll know why,” Smith joked.
This action response scenario training will give officers CEU credits.
An Alabama Police Chiefs conference will be held in Montgomery on the 17th through 21st of this month. Smith said he will commute to save money instead of staying in a hotel. This conference will give the Chief required CEU credits as well.
Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is having a convention in Huntsville, Alabama, in March. The conference will focus on information and training on human trafficking and related issues. It is a week long class. Chief Smith was asked to attend by the local DHR, which will reimburse the City expenses to send an officer for this special training, along with one DHR employee and a liason from the CAC.
The Alabama League of Municipalities is having a convention in Tuscaloosa in May. This is an option for Counselors to go or not, if they want. Several city council members from around the county normally attend, according to Councilman Don Mack. No one confirmed yet if they will be attending or not.
Resident Walt Williams spoke with the council about an experiment he wants to try with filling potholes. According to Williams, a naturally occurring rock asphalt that is mined out of state is said to work better as a patch and fill material than currently used manufactured materials. Williams has arranged to have a limited quantity brought in to try out on Centreville City streets. Mayor Morton and others seemed hopeful this might help the roads situation.
Councilman Calvin Elliot was absent for medical reasons.