Snead council removes police chief, re-bids fire truck

The new Snead Town Council chose not to reappoint its police chief during a regular council session Monday night. The council also decided to rewrite bid specifications for a new front-line fire truck after the only bid was withdrawn.

Police matters

The decision on police chief Chuck McBrayer came near the meeting’s end and followed an earlier effort by the chief to retain his post. In his regular report, McBrayer reviewed perceived accomplishments of his eight months in office. He claimed to have done “an extremely decent job at a minimum.”

Councilors had tabled a decision on McBrayer at their first regular meeting of the month. At that time, members had reappointed all other town officers. Trudy Campbell and Charles Sanders, first-term councilors, both moved and seconded the motion not to reappoint. Mayor and former police chief Tim Kent and policecoordinating councilman Phillip McHan abstained on the vote.

Town clerk Rae Ware asked if the council wished to advertise the chief’s position. Kent said that with the upcoming holidays, he felt the council should delay that action. [In its pre-meeting workshop, a councilor had asked Kent of a potential officer. Kent had said that candidate was in consideration for a position in the Town of Cleveland and wished to await word there, before acting on any other job.] To McBrayer’s question of when the council’s action would take effect, Kent responded, “Immediately.”

McBrayer had begun his report with an apology to resident Toby Lee. Referring to a Nov. 25 incident, McBrayer said an officer, in reporting on the pursuit of a suspect, had claimed the suspect fled from “a known drug dealer’s” house. Lee had taken offense at that statement, concluding that the officer’s statement had referred to his house. McBrayer said neither he nor the town of Snead believed Lee was a drug dealer.

Lee, who was on the agenda to speak, had delayed any comments until the meeting’s end. In his very brief remarks, which followed McBrayer’s removal, Lee said the chief had not offended him. He did say, however, that “Mr. Weaver (officer Phillip Weaver) has” and that he felt he would have to pursue that further.

In McBrayer’s report, he again sought permission from the council to allow officers to drive vehicles home, if they live within 15 miles of the town. The council tabled that request.

Members did approve purchasing new tires for the chief’s cruiser. After some discussion, councilors agreed to name Dan Godwin, associate pastor of Mt. Zion Church of God, as police chaplain. The discussion came on McBrayer’s suggestion that Godwin be named a police reserve and chaplain. Ware explained that the reserve program had been discontinued under former Mayor Jim Klein. To name Godwin as a reserve would require re-instating that program and entail adding reserves to various town insurance and other coverage. With that information, councilors altered the motion, naming Godwin chaplain.

In a matter which began with the police department, councilors considered employee uniform allowances. In the past meeting, members had objected to some new police officers receiving $800 in uniform allowances within months of their employment. Councilors agreed that new hires would receive a regular annual $400 check with employment and not receive a second until the one-year anniversary of their hiring.

Fire truck

Facing the necessity of replacing an aging fire engine, councilors had previously sought bids for a new truck. In the work session, fire chief Lee Netherton advised members he had received only one bid. Ware questioned if the bid specifications had been too specific, indicating some had gone so far as to list model numbers.

Tim Tingle, the lone bidder and owner of Tuscaloosa Fire Equipment, attended the meeting. He warned that his bid was only good until Dec. 31, and that engine prices would increase several thousand dollars with the new year.

Councilors debated whether or not they should open the bid. By the time the regular meeting finally got underway, Tingle had left and withdrawn his bid. With Tingle’s withdrawal, the council decided to alter the specifications to encourage other bidders. They agreed to set a Feb. 9 due date for bids.

No one could definitively answer the question of how long the Insurance Service Organization (ISO) would allow the town to replace its 1989 truck. ISO reportedly requires that front-line trucks be less than 20 years old. Netherton says he believes ISO will accept good-faith attempts at replacement as meeting the requirement.

Other actions

Councilors approved the town’s participation in the proposed Blount County Ground Water Festival. They voted to provide $1000 to that program.

Members approved continued participation under Municipal Workers Compensation for its employees. They did not second councilman Jack Freeman’s motion to rescind the Dec. 8 decision to pave the area behind the new senior citizens building.

The council approved a recommended resolution establishing an Emergency Water Conservation Plan. Utilities head Jeff Whited said that officials with ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) had found his department’s policy on emergency water-use requirements insufficient. Whited reported he had consulted with town engineer Robert Nelson, who checked with other departments and who developed the proposed resolution. Whited said that ADEM and the plan emphasizes service to emergency providers and residents above that of businesses and poultry houses.

Almost immediately after beginning the Dec. 22 meeting, the council recessed into executive session with Donald Scott, Jr., and town attorney Alex Smith. Scott has worked with the town in the lawsuit Kent filed for alleged overtime compensation when he served as police chief. Kent and the over three dozen participants waited outside the building for that 50-minute discussion.

All council members attended the session. The council holds its regular meetings the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 7 p.m. in the senior citizens building.