Officials agreed to participate with the Alabama Forestry Commission in a wildfire protection plan. In the program, forestry officials would provide residents with information on how to prevent or lessen the impact of wildfires, such as keeping brush cut and rain gutters clean, said Fire Chief Charlie O’Barr. In return, Oak Grove would be certified as a Fire Wise Community, which could result in a lower Insurance Services Office rating and, in turn, lower homeowners insurance rates.
Council members also agreed to acquire nine new radios for fire officials. The town will buy four 400 mHz radios for $1,760, and will attain five 800 mHz digital radios through the Talladega County Emergency Management Agency.
O’Barr said those radios will remain property of the EMA, and the town will pay a one-time programming fee of $202.50 for all five and a monthly user fee of $22.50 each, for a total of $1,350 a year.
O’Barr and Mayor Tony White said the radios will vastly improve the fire department’s communication capabilities.
Council members also approved spending less than $2,000 to repair a town-owned bus and a private vehicle damaged while fire hoses were being tested. When a coupler blew off the end of one hose, the flailing hose slapped the car and bus, causing damage of about $825 to the bus and almost $1,000 to the car.
In other business, the council:
Heard from District Attorney Steve Giddens, who sought continuing support for the Talladega County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force. Oak Grove provided $9,500 last year, and Giddens seeks the same amount this year. White said he would notify Giddens when the council decides about the appropriation.
Approved smaller appropriations to various agencies for next fiscal year totaling $5,250.
Adopted a resolution terminating the lease for property owned by the Ziegler family that has been used in recent years as a community garden. The land is being sold, and the garden was not planted this year. White said the plan is to discontinue having the community garden.
Gave its approval to the transfer of an off-premises beer and wine license from Redzone Express to Wayne Market II, a convenience store on Alabama 511.
Heard from resident Wes Laughridge, who said he has lived in an apartment inside an auto shop in the town for two years. He said officials have told him he cannot live there, but he believes the city’s ordinances don’t prohibit it. He said he built the apartment and moved there after some of his property was stolen, and admitted that he did not get a building permit to wall off the apartment inside the shop. White said he would turn the information over to the town’s attorney.
The council meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.