Argo City Council discusses APPLE grant for road projects
By Nathan Prewett
For the Tribune
ARGO — A grant proposal for various road projects was discussed at a meeting of the Argo City Council on Tuesday night. Tonight’s meeting had been rescheduled from the regular Monday night schedule due to members of the council being at a Community Foundation meeting in Birmingham.
Argo Mayor Betty Bradley reported that she and Councilor Tony Aldredge met with members of the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham as the city enters what she said were the “final stages” of an application for a grant from APPLE, a program by the commission that assists cities with funding community construction projects.
The areas for the projects will cover Interstate Exit 148 and Highway 11 on to Argo Margret Road. The overall cost will be $6,546,600. Bradley said that payments can be split different ways over a period of seven to eight years. Federal government will pay $4,485,600, ALDOT will pay $1,500,700, St. Clair County will pay $280,150 and Argo will pay $280,150.
A vote was not made on how to fund the projects as Bradley requested that members of the council consider bringing suggestions to the next meeting.
The council heard reports from the police and fire departments, starting with Captain Glenn Wells from the Argo Police Department, who said that there were 22 misdemeanor and felony reports. He reported that there were 26 alarms from residential and business establishments.
Wells asked the council to consider an ordinance that would address false alarms. He said that other cities have ordinances in which citations can be issued to those who report more than three false alarms per year. The fine for each false alarm going beyond three would increase with each new report.
Wells then said that there were a total of 989 calls for the month of April. There were 11 domestic calls, 68 911 calls, 31 fire department assist calls, 510 patrol requests, five animal calls, and 53 interstate calls. 141 citations were issued, along with 64 warning tickets, four drug-related cases and five DUI’s.
Afterwards, Fire Chief Heath Smith gave a report, saying that ten burn permits were issued. There were 32 medical calls, three woods fire, seven assist lifting, two police assists, one gas leak, two power lines down, three trees in roadways. He said that the department is working with the “Let’s Get Alarmed Alabama” program and has been provided with 100 smoke detectors, several of which have been given out.
Free smoke detectors are still being installed in citizens’ homes and Smith said that when the 100 are depleted, more can be ordered until there are no more requests. Citizens who want a smoke detector can schedule an appointment with the fire department during their normal business hours. Smith encouraged people to change their alarms every ten years.
Smith also brought up a burn ordinance that was considered by the council. He said that the burn ordinance would, “bring us up to the state minimum requirements for open burning. In times past we were a little bit lax on that. Some of the state requirements have been changed and we’ve got to come on board with them and at least maintain the state minimum.”
He said that the requirements in the burn ordinance come from the state ordinance. The council voted to table the matter and discuss it at the next meeting.
Fees for burn permits were brought up again during the meeting. Smith said that fees would not be for revenue.
“I’ve heard a lot of negative feedback about the fees,” he said. “And please understand before this is even voted on, I want to go on record and say I could honestly care less one way or another whether it’s adopted or not. That doesn’t impact me in my overall operations one way or the other.”
He said that the reason goes back to the state ordinance and the requirements that have to be met.
Smith cited a past option where citizens could obtain burn permits online They could only have three options to check on materials to be legally burned, such as natural wood. He said that if a citizen were to start a fire that damages a neighbor’s property, the citizen could cite their permit obtained online to get away from potential repercussions, something that he said can be problematic if a fireman doesn’t validate what is being burned.
With a change in how permits are issued, fireman can go to the site where a citizen wants to burn and write a permit there, he said. This could be a better option than the state organization, ADEM, which can issue fines of a minimum of $10,000 for burn violations, especially those of certain man-made materials. The council also decided to table this for the next meeting.
Councilor Gordon (Corky) Massey said that he spoke with an engineer from Trussville on replacing water lines on Venable Road and John Owens Road. He reported that the city did not see a record of where Argo had a right of way there.
Massey said that Argo and St. Clair County has maintained that area for some time and that he was told that it was a prescriptive right of way because the city has maintained it for over 25 years. He said that the city can give Trussville an easement and permit to replace the water line and pave it.
In other business the council:
- Appropriated $300 to Smith for a two-week class at the National Fire Academy in June (fuel costs will be reimbursed);
- Rescheduled the next city council meeting to May 29 from the original May 28 as city hall will be closed for Memorial Day;
- Tabled again discussion on the ongoing effort to update the sign ordinance;
- Tabled a discussion on a list of roads to be paved that is being overseen by Massey; and
- Tabled a discussion on the Fiscal 2016-2017 Audit.
The next Argo City Council meeting will be held on May 29 at 6 p.m. Argo City Hall is located at 100 Blackjack Rd.