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City of Adrian leaders approve raises for full-time employees at latest meeting

Adrian City Council had a lengthy agenda heading into last Monday night’s meeting. By the time the hour and 20-minute convention ended, city employees were granted pay increases and can likely expect a retirement program to follow.

By way of unanimous vote, council entered executive session early in the meeting. Shortly after returning to open session, Mayor Wynola Smith called for a motion to approve the discussion from executive session, specifically increases for $0.50 per hour across the board for the city’s four full-time employees, Wardale Lovett, Daniel Mincey, Felicia Owen, and Johnny Weathersbee. The motion would also approve a $1 increase for Adrian Police Department’s chief, Kyle Strickland. After brief talk regarding a pay cap for Strickland discussed at a previous meeting, Suzanne Hutchinson provided the motion to approve the raises as discussed. Julie Griffin seconded, and the vote was unanimous. According to deputy clerk Felicia Owen, these raises were immediately effective as of the meeting.

Similarly, council discussed another benefit for city employees: the creation of a retirement program. The City of Adrian currently does not have one. Attorney Paul Calhoun advised council to hold on voting until the proposed plan could be formally written and drafted, which he promised to work on at once. Once the document is prepared and if council stays the course discussed during the January meeting, the city will donate $20 per week for vested, full-time employees. Those same employees can match up to $20 a week if they would like.

Council also approved the new budget for the year. (A more in-depth report about the budget’s approval begins on the front page and is continued elsewhere inside this edition of The Chronicle.) Hutchinson made the motion, Jesse Yawn seconded, and the vote fell 4-1 with Ed Brown opposing.

In other news:

• Council voted to slightly amend its meeting schedule. The new way of operation will begin with a workshop session at 5:30 p.m. prior to the meeting itself at 6. As always, workshop sessions are available to the public. Council will continue to meet the second Monday of each month at the Adrian Community Center. Yawn made the motion to enact the aforementioned change, Michelle Love provided the second, and all council members voted in favor.

• With another unanimous vote, Yawn will serve as the mayor pro tem for the next year.

• Smith assigned department heads for the year. In these roles, council members will serve as liaisons between each department’s respective leader and the city government. Assignments were as follows: Hutchinson, Fire Department; Brown, Maintenance Department; Yawn, Police Department; Love and Griffin, Recreation Department; and Love and Hutchinson, Safety Department.

• Council voted to approve up to $500 for a diagnosis on a broken street sweeper. The repair cost of the suspected issues ranges from $800 to $3,000, which the action did not address at this time because the culprit of the mechanical failure had not yet been identified. Strickland, who has been involved in the repair process of the sweeper, promised to respond to council with the source of the problem and a cost as soon as possible. Hutchinson motioned to grant the $500 for diagnostic work, Yawn seconded, and all of council voted in agreement.

• Although early in the year for mosquito problems, in an effort to act when the appropriate time rolls around, council briefly explored the possibility of having the city sprayed for mosquitoes. This service will be further explored in the future, namely at the next meeting, at which point council hopes to have a price to discuss.

• In regard to newly elected council training, Smith informed Griffin about the educational requirements she must now complete and gave council’s newest member details about when, where, and how training would take place. During this discussion, Love inquired about re-attending the training because she felt she could learn more this go around and be more knowledgeable about what questions to ask with experience now under her belt.

• Smith informed council that an attorney was looking over the city’s policies and procedures. According to the mayor, these, in addition to changes to the city’s ordinances to get the charter updated, would be tweaked and submitted back to council for further review and necessary revisions.

• Smith mentioned to Yawn, who also serves as the fire chief, that a form needs to be created and used after each fire. This form, she said, should be signed off by both the chief and another firefighter on a per-response basis and filed at the end of the year. Yawn agreed to handle this matter.

Information shared during committee reports was as follows:

• Yawn, on behalf of the Fire Department, shared that Adrian Fire responded to 108 calls last year. He indicated the fire department had good participation from its members, despite COVID. He further requested 10 new radio batteries to replace aging ones. The approximate $750 is already budgeted as a line item and would be taken from the Fire Department budget.

• Yawn also commented on the state of the Street/Water Department, noting that everything was going well. The city’s new sign has been completed, a meter has been replaced, the tennis courts have been cleaned, and city workers who help with the water operation recently completed a class the previous Friday.

• Strickland, on behalf of the Police Department, gave an overlook of 2020. The numbers he gave and specified in the sentences that follow reflect the last seven months only. Adrian Police Department has written 254 citations to date, ranging from DUIs to safety belts to speeding to driving while license suspended to driving while unlicensed. The total in fines and fees for 2020 amounts to $47,775. This is $3,000 less than what was brought in during 2018 and 2019 combined, Strickland said. At least 99 percent of the collected fines have been taken from out-of-town violators. Very few of those fines have been collected from citizens of Adrian.

“We’re getting there. We’re building. Already this month, we’re at $3,800 for this year. We’re doing a good job, moving forward. We’re going to continue moving forward. We’ve had quite a busy month already with multiple arrests, multiple juvenile complaints, and one juvenile arrest,” he commented.

He further mentioned a New Year’s Eve gathering for local law enforcement agencies. The well-attended event was organized and paid for by Strickland himself, and it is an event he hopes to make an annual occurrence.

In closing, Strickland brought council up to speed on the cost of the new police truck and the work being done to make it a serviceable law enforcement vehicle. He also mentioned he would be out of the area for a chiefs’ conference this week. Sergeant William Claxton, the chief said, would be filling in for the duration of his absence.

• Owen, acting over the Safety Department, mentioned a recently obtained grant. These $3,000 have been split evenly between the fire, maintenance, and police departments.

• Love, on behalf of the Recreation Department, noted the donation of a new concession stand. She hopes to eventually update the entire recreation department.

When the floor opened for council members’ individual comments, the following was shared:

• Griffin expressed her excitement to be on council and brought up a short discussion about the city’s work equipment.

• Hutchinson noted the community center now had a phone line (478-668-3375).

• Yawn and Love both declined comment.

• Brown stressed the importance of maintaining city-owned properties, referring to a discussion that took place at a previous council meeting about a specific lot. In response to Brown’s comment, Yawn advised the city had been waiting on paperwork to proceed. Said paperwork had since been completed, and city workers would be on site there soon.

Lastly, one citizen, Jason Bennet joined council and voiced his opinion about outdated city park equipment. Sumner, as the representative for the Recreation Department, responded to Bennet, saying the city had already been exploring grants and fundraisers to revamp the park in its entirety.

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