ALPENA — The Alpena City Council on Monday authorized Mayor Theron McCammond to check into the legality of removing flashing lights on crosswalk signs in the city, which would be much cheaper than trying to repair them.
McCammond said he has been told the lights never worked properly from the time they were installed. Alderman Ottis Morse agreed.
The problem is the flashing lights work on one side of the signs, but not on the other. Thus, traffic in one direction is notified to stop, but not the other.
But the mayor said he had gotten a quote on getting them repaired. He had been authorized to spend up to $550 to have a repairman inspect the lights and see what could be done.
The inspection was $550. But to replace all the equipment necessary to make the lights function properly was a total of $5,490. He had also talked to the manufacturer, but they wanted $1,800 just to go to the city for an inspection.
McCammond said there was about $3,000 in the repair fund in the street department as of August. The council had earlier in the meeting talked about work that needed to be done on Porter Road, but the mayor said he would rather spend repair money on the crosswalks to make crossing U.S. Highway 412 safer.
Alderman A.J. Womack suggested the flashing lights could just be removed while simply making them crosswalks without lights. Alderman Ronnie “Cotton” Bailey said that would be safer than having malfunctioning lights.
Alderman Chris Massengale said the city needs to check with the Arkansas Department of Transportation regarding what is required for crosswalks.
McCammond said he would look into the legality of removing those flashing lights.
In other business, the council talked about a police car that was supposed to be retrofitted with equipment that had been removed earlier this year.
The city purchased a 2013 Dodge Charger for the police department, but the money came from the street fund. The city was then informed that was improper and the money would have to be reimbursed.
The council had adopted a resolution that took the Charger out of service until it could be sold, but McCammond vetoed that resolution because it left the department without any operational patrol unit.
The city does have a 2009 Crown Victoria cruiser, but the equipment had been stripped out of it in anticipation of being sold. However, McCammond told the council in August that that car was part of an Attorney General’s Office investigation and couldn’t be sold.
The AG’s office confirmed there had been an investigation, but it was turned over to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office the day after the council met in August.
The council allowed the mayor’s veto of the resolution to stand until the other car was fixed.
The city had gotten a bid from Davey’s Auto Body, which the sheriff’s office uses for repairs, to reinstall the lights and radio equipment in the Crown Vic.
However, the company declined to do that installation due to the condition of the wiring in the vehicle after it was stripped. The mayor said 309 inmates from the Boone County Jail were used to remove the equipment. In addition, the equipment had been stored in the trunk of the vehicle and it leaked during heavy rains, leaving the equipment under water. The equipment was still in working order, McCammond said, but there was a mildew smell coming from the trunk and the wiring is unsafe.
Massengale asked if the street fund had been reimbursed. City financial adviser Lora Carter said money from the sale of surplus cars and from the sale of the Charger would be more than enough for the reimbursement.
Council members and the mayor went to the garage at City Hall where the Crown Vic is stored to inspect it.
They then asked McCammond to get another bid and assessment for repairing the Crown Vic and report back with results.
The council also discussed operation of the police department. In Thursday’s edition, we take a look at that conversation.