The Bessemer Neighborhood Association met Monday evening, and we chatted with a Bessemer police officer and discussed directions we want to head as far as priorities.
We recieved tips on what to do when it seems the police response time is too slow (call and talk to the sergeant, if you are not satisfied, call and talk to the lieutenant, and so on up the chain of command). Also we will get a list of the officers that patrol our neighborhoods so we will be familiar with them when we talk with them. He provided us updates on new equipment they are getting to enable enforcement of noise ordinances and more.
With animal abuse still a priority, we also will be looking in to better lighting in residential areas, and also into finding out about a house on near 15th street and Arlington that is half burned with an elderly person still living in it. And we want to find out why the old Jones Carpet building in Jonesboro has not been torn down. It's a danger to children passing by going to and from school.
We are not giving up on Arlington School (needs restoring) or Red Rock convenience store across the street (needs bulldozing...its a place where drugs are sold in the parking lot quite frequently).
We decided our meetings will be the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month.
Here is my column from today's Western Tribune, more or less:
Seven thousand dollars is not a lot of money. Not when the entire budget of Bessemer is looked at. But here is what $7000 could do for our city.
In January the Foundry asked for about $7000 to pay for plastic garbage bags and gasoline so they could continue their practice of picking up trash along the city’s roadways. They had done this in 2006 when twice a week they sent about 100 men and women out armed with safety vests, cotton gloves and garbage bags to comb the streets. I went with them a few times, and if the crews I walked with were representative of the entire group, an average of two to three bags of trash per person was removed from our streets. They did this twice weekly, so that would be about 500 bags of trash a week removed from our streets.
Not only was this a benefit for our city, but it helped the men and women of the Foundry in their efforts to improve their lives as they were doing something positive for the community and learning what it is like to have their efforts appreciated.
But the city ignored this request. The men and women of the Foundry are no longer helping to keep our city clean in this manner, and the streets and highways are once again littered with hamburger wrappers, beer bottles and things I won’t mention here.
A couple of months before that the Greater Birmingham Humane Society addressed the city council and mayor with a letter outlining deficiencies in our Animal Control facility, with a plan to correct things that would begin with an assessment and recommendations from a noted consultant who is an expert in the field. The assessment would cost about $7000. And this $7000 was readily available, because the Humane Society had discounted services it had performed in the amount of $7395. The Humane Society even suggested in the letter that the money be used to fund the needed assessment.
But this letter and those recommendations were ignored as well.
But as I said, $7000 must be easy to come by for the officials in Bessemer, because this week they are funding National Night Out activities in almost every district, and each council person was allowed more than that amount to provide for the festivities.
I am all for neighbors getting to know one another, and having neighborhood street parties and such. But if the city had lowered their contribution to just $5000 for each of the seven districts, that would leave $7000 for the Foundry’s trash bags and $7000 for the Animal Control assessment.
But the priorities are not about having a clean city, or about treating animals humanely. Or about following the law, as it regards animal treatment. But things will change. They must.