PIEDMONT – Two promotions highlighted a lengthy meeting by the Piedmont City Council on Tuesday.
Nathan Johnson was promoted as police chief, while city project manager Carl Hinton was approved as interim city clerk. Both promotions take effect immediately.
Johnson, who has been in law enforcement for over 15 years, took over as interim police chief for Freddie Norton following Norton’s abrupt retirement in June.
Johnson has served Piedmont as supervisor of the Piedmont Police Department the past 10 years. Norton had served the city for over 26 years, with the last 6 ½ as police chief.
Baker and several other council members congratulated him on his promotion.
“Nathan has done a great job,” Piedmont Mayor Bill Baker said. “He’s very good about keeping myself and (outgoing city clerk) Michelle (Franklin) informed. We see him every day. If he’s out of the office, he’s texting us, letting us know what’s going on, and I appreciate that. I know he’s going to do a great job. I’m glad we were able to move on (his hire).”
Hinton will serve as Franklin’s replacement. Franklin announced her retirement after 30 years of service at the last council meeting on July 20. Her final day working with the city is Sept. 17.
Baker suggested Hinton’s interim city clerk position be for three months.
“I want to congratulate Carl. I think he’s going to do a good job as interim,” Baker said. “We’ll see how he does and if this works out. If it doesn’t, then we’ll move in a different direction. I appreciate the council taking that step.”
To help lighten Hinton’s load, Baker suggested taking the utility duties off and split those between Water, Gas and Sewer Manager Byrian Watts and Electrical Supervisor Corey Horton.
In other business, the council approved the purchase of two new dispatcher consoles at a total cost of $140,000, with $70,000 coming from American Rescue Plan money. The other half will come from the fire tax fund.
Speaking of the fire department, the council approved $16,000 for material costs out of the fire tax for the new Piedmont Fire Training facility, located near the sports complex.
The purchase of a new John Deere lawn mower for $10,000 from AgPro in Piedmont for the Water, Gas and Sewer Department was also approved.
Five resolutions were adopted, including four abatements (all four were for grass cuttings). The other resolution involved a public transportation program from the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission.
Johnson approached the council about a solution to a problem with parking at the Wee Kare Day Care on Sterling Street. The staff at the day care does not have enough property to provide parking for the staff, and per Department of Human Resources regulations, they have to have a loop for the business.
Johnson’s suggestion was to make a resolution to provide the day care with two designated parking spots on each side of the loop to allow employees to park during business hours. He also recommended the city place a school sign on each end of the block on Sterling Street where the business is located.
Baker suggested the resolution be brought back up for a vote in two weeks.
Among the visitors’ comments, the council heard from local resident Misty Shell about the next step in capturing a feral dog that has been roaming around the city for some time. The animal killed Shell’s own pet dog.
Shell said the dog was in her yard Monday evening.
“He has outwitted our ACO (animal control), and Calhoun County ACO,” Johnson said.” They come up weekly, sometimes multiple times in the week. This dog knows who we are. He knows we’re still trying to get him.”
Johnson said a tranquilizer gun has been ordered and the animal control department has one out on loan to help in the feral dog’s capture.
“It’s just fast and elusive. It won’t go into a trap,” Johnson said. “I know I have counted up to four or five animal control officers, who don’t work here in Piedmont, to be up here with our animal control. They’re setting perimeters trying to get this dog into an area to try and contain it and trap it or tranquilize it, whichever we can get.”
Baker promised Shell the efforts to capture the dog will continue.
“I wish I could tell you we’re going to catch it tomorrow, we’re going to catch it next week. We’re just going to have to make it happen somehow,” Baker said. “I think what needs to be done is being done. We want to catch this dog. We want to make it happen. All I can do is tell you these guys are doing the best they can. I understand your frustration. We want this dog captured. We don’t want any other animal or person being hurt. We’ve got to be able to catch it and tranquilize it the proper way. We’ve got to be in the right spot at the right time. We’re going to keep trying.”
The council elected to hold its budget committee meeting Aug. 26 at 5 p.m. The special meeting will be held to discuss pay raises for city employees and approve next year’s city budget.
It was also announced the Piedmont Arts and Entertainment committee will be having a fall festival on Oct. 30.
Minutes from the last council meeting approved, as were bills for payment totaling $830,637.35, which included four weeks of payroll.