The Trenton City Commission entertained a special guest at its regular August meeting Monday night—one that was more than normally wiggly but not a bit vicious, thank you very much.
Meredith the pitbull (left) became the poster dog for this year's successful push to change the city's antiquated vicious dog ordinance when a rescue group denied Trenton residents Kevin and Emilee Winskey (foreground, with dog) permission to adopt her because of that ordinance. The ordinance characterized certain breeds as inherently vicious and imposed such draconian restrictions on them – double fencing, muzzles, a no-travel rule–that the rescue group judged it would be cruel to allow placement of the dog in Trenton.
The Winskeys petitioned city commissioners to change the ordinance and that they did at the end of May, altering it to conform with Georgia statewide standards. The more arcane restrictions, such as requiring dog fences to have a ceiling, were removed, and so was the condemnation of certain breeds as vicious in and of themselves. And if there were any lingering doubts that pitbulls could be gentle, the appearance of Meredith in all her waggle-tailed friendliness at the Aug. 8 meeting dispelled them.
Meredith posed cheerfully for photo and patting opps during the commission's work session but evinced little interest in the rest of the agenda and wiggled off before the regular meeting was called to order.
In regular business, Mayor Alex Case told the commissioners that certain figures still missing from the Dade County Tax Commissioner's office were needed before Trenton could finish setting its millage rate for property taxes. Last year's rate was 4.5 mills. The mayor set a tentative special called meeting for 7 p.m. on Aug. 15 to adopt the rate, to be finalized when figures are certain.
"We do know our current digest is down about $5 million," he said. That's going to mean, he said, about $6500 less in projected tax revenues. "We're already in a little bit of a hole," said Case.
From left, Mayor Alex Case, Police Commissioner Sandra Gray, City Clerk Lucretia Houts, Streets Commissioner Monda Wooten, and Fire and Utility Commissioner Jerry Henegar.
Case also sought and obtained approval from the commission to apply for a $256,000 grant to help the Dade Industrial Development Authority (IDA) finish paving Vanguard Drive. The city is responsible for half of that—$128,000—in local matching funds, but Case said some of it could be made in in-kind payments such as labor by city workers and use of city equipment.
IDA brought the new Vanguard Trailer manufacturing plant to Trenton triumphantly, heralding 400 promised jobs. But building the infrastructure promised to the manufacturer proved costlier than expected and IDA hit the city up for $100,000 in March and $65,220 in July.
The city commission voted to designate as surplus and send to auction online a lengthy list of equipment and vehicles Commissioner Monda Wooten submitted from the Trenton Streets Department. Mayor Case asked her to remove from the list a city paver he said might be of use by IDA in the aforementioned Vanguard project.
Commissioner Wooten said her department was looking for a seasonal worker to replace one who had gotten a permanent job at Vanguard, "Somebody with a good strong back," she said. Interested parties may apply at City Hall. She also said the Streets Department has added cleanup to its regular routine. "We want to keep the city looking good," she said.
Police Commissioner Sandra Gray, who at a previous meeting defended funds for a radar gun as an income generator for the city, had more evidence this month: July police fees collected of $14,934.46, contributing to a year-to-date figure of $109.073.24.
Mayor Case discussed lighting, striping and roadwork under consideration by the Georgia Department of Transportation but had nothing immediate to announce. "It may be after the first of the year before we see some dates," he said.
One big discussion item was this weekend's grand reopening of the playground at Jenkins Park. The playground has been closed all summer while $240,000' worth of new play equipment was installed, and the city plans to reopen it on Saturday with a bang. Parks and Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell was away on personal business, but Mayor Case threatened in his absence to make him give a speech on Saturday.
Festivities begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday and lunch will be served beginning at 11 a.m. City Clerk Lucretia Houts said local grocers Ingle's, Food City and Food Outlet had all donated generously so there will be plenty of free hot dogs and beverages, and Trenton Ministry Center has chipped in equipment to cook and serve them. "I don't know how anybody could live in a better town than what we do," said Ms. Houts.
Mayor Case did not know if the city pool across the street could be kept open for the gala – all Trenton's lifeguards have gone back to college, he said. But we'll see, he added. He pointed out that one girl's and one's boy's bike were available in the lobby of City Hall for viewing. They will be given away in a drawing at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Eloise Gass of Trenton Tree City promised to have the Jenkins Park flowerbeds weeded by the great day.
Dr. James Cantrell of the Dade Chamber of Commerce presented the Chamber's new executive director, Johnny Gray (pictured in The Planet's story on the Dade County Commission meeting of Aug. 4).
Dade Public Library Marshana Sharp reminded all that the library's Ready to Read program for preschoolers begins Aug. 18, and she encouraged interested parties to turn in their 5x7 pictures of national parks for the library's National Parks Month photo contest.
A citizen stood up to complain about a dog barking nuisance in his Trenton neighborhood. Mayor Case explained that the city did have a noise ordinance and that the city's police department did enforce it, whether it be a matter of dogs, gunshot or music. Complaints should be made to City Hall (706) 657-4167 during business hours and to the police otherwise. Then a procedure is followed, with the offender made aware of the complaint and given a chance to remedy it. "We've got to have reports on it," said Case.
And in response to a question about the city's progress on its eyesore ordinance, the mayor said a similar process had been started for two properties, with letters sent to the homeowners and the city currently giving them a prescribed time to respond.
The Trenton City Commission meets the second Monday of every month at 6 p.m. at City Hall.