Residents concerned about safety

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 21, 2005

DEMOPOLIS – Gunshots and garbage caused four Demopolis citizens to address the council with their concerns Thursday night. Gunshots in the Strawberry Street area have left residents asking questions about the welfare of their families.

Robert Wood, who lives in the area, said he just wanted to see the problem resolved.

“The other night I heard shots go off,” Wood said. “I have six year old twins. I am probably one of the only ones around there that has small children. I just want to know what needs to be done and how it needs to be handled.”

Wood said the shots scared his young children and he did not want to go through that again.

“The gunshot really scared us,” Wood said. “It scared the children to death and we want to know what we need to do about it.”

Dana McCants, who also heard the shots, said he wanted to see more aggressive action.

“I heard the gunshots just like Robert did,” McCants said. “I went down there to file a report and I went there the next day to get a report and they told me they do not write up gunfire in the city limits. It happened right there between the Methodist Church and the Baptist Church and to have gunfire and nobody writing it up just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Demopolis Police Chief Jeff Manuel explained there was not a report, but the police did keep tabs on the calls and had the incident on record for reference.

“Traditionally we don’t keep them on record,” Manuel said. “When you say a report we are talking about an incident offense report. There is a documented report of the call and all calls. We keep a log on everything that comes in. Every call that we respond to there is a report. It may not be an incident report, but there is a report.”

In the same regard Henry Baxley of Cedar Street said he was tired of late night fireworks and the trash they left behind in his yard.

“I am not sure about ordinances on fireworks, but it concerns me,” Baxley said. “Sometimes I find bottle rockets under my car in the garage and it concerns me greatly.”

Manuel said the time for fireworks had passed and any that were finding their way to Baxley’s yard were shot illegally.

“There are only certain times of the year you can shoot them,” Manuel said. “Around the Christmas holidays and the fourth of July. There is a cutoff for sales at around 10 or 11 p.m. and you can’t shoot them after midnight. Any other time not in that holiday period it is unlawful to shoot them.”

Eyesores on city streets and highways also concerned citizens. McCants said there were places in town that were blanketed with garbage. McCants, said trash has built up on Jefferson Road and Bell Grayson Road.

“This has been an ongoing deal,” McCants said. “I have asked several times if there is some procedure to pick it up. Whatever it is it needs to be addressed because it looks real bad. All you have to do is ride down through there and look.”

McCants said the problem has continued to build and residents of the area are getting tired of it. The problem likely stems from garbage blowing out of the back of garbage pick up trucks. McCants said they were not concerned with how it got there. They just wanted it cleaned up.

“It needs to be picked up,” McCants said. “We just want to know who is going to pick it up. If the city can’t pick it up maybe we need to come up with a work committee. Whatever it takes we will do.”

Christopher Scott, who operates Larkin Scott funeral home on East Jefferson Street, also reported poor conditions at the former Clem building.

“I have a problem right across from me,” Scott said. “It is an eyesore. I have spoken with them on numerous occasions to see if they would clean it up. It has not happened.”

Scott said if the trash is not going to be cleaned up its view should be cut off from the rest of the community.

“If he is not going to clean it up he needs of put up an eight foot privacy fence,” Scott said. “That way when people come in from out of town that is not the first thing they notice. You shouldn’t have a junkyard in front of your business.”

Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson said this is not the first she has heard of these concerns. Williamson said she has been looking at forming a committee to take care of these and other problems.

“You are not the first person to bring it up,” Williamson said. “We have had several people go out there and look at it. This is one of the things we need to do and we are looking at forming a concerned citizens committee. It will be a committee to help us clean up Demopolis.”

Williamson said the city would do its best to solve the problems and get the committee up and running.