Council discusses dog attacks, dilapidated properties

The Demopolis City Council spent much of its Thursday meeting discussing the destruction of two dilapidated houses. The council voted in April to accept a bid from Eaves Construction for the demolition of both properties but found itself forced to reconsider Thursday after it became known that asbestos is present in the house at 1814 A Street.

The council ultimately voted in favor of accepting a H&M Construction bid to oversee the removal of the asbestos. As part of the vote, the council also voted again to accept the Eaves Construction bid.

The vote did not come without significant discussion as multiple councilmen voiced their hesitation in spending a great deal of money on the project.

“How serious are we about getting rid of some of this dilapidated property and cleaning up neighborhoods,” Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson rhetorically asked.

District I Councilman Charles Jones stated his dedication to carrying out the project but offered up his concern over the shortage of funding available to the council to carry out the endeavor.

“We’ve committed as a council to spend $3,900 to tear down the house and now we’re looking at double that amount,” Jones said. “I’m just trying to find a way to recoup some of that cost because we’re already looking at a budget shortfall for next year.”

In view of potentially recouping at least a portion of its investment, the council also voted to put a lien on both properties in question.

“I just don’t want to lose the property. I don’t have a problem with, 10 years from now, we donate it to Habitat. But I just don’t want to lose all of our investment,” Jones said.

“My suggestion is that we proceed with this and instruct Mr. Poole to put a lien on the property,” Grayson suggested. “I’d also like to emphasize that we’re not interested in taking folks’ property. But I also question how interested folks are to let it get to this point anyway.”

The other property set to be destroyed is at 801 Second Avenue.

The council also voted favorably on four separate budget adjustments for the horticulture department, each of which accounted for checks presented to the department as either reimbursements for expenses or as contributions to the America in Bloom campaign.

County Commissioner and Demopolis resident Dan England approached the council to address an issue regarding the city’s leash laws.

“I’d like to make a few statements about the animal control situation. I was basically attacked two or three nights ago. I have some concerns about the leash law,” England said. On weekends I see dogs out that are never out during the week. I see dogs that are turned loose about three or four in the afternoon. I don’t know what that Demopolis City issue is as far as after hours, but I hope that we have a policy that is in place because I see dogs everywhere.”

Also addressing the council was Broughton Rogers, who was attacked by a pit bull on Front Street approximately two weeks ago.

“I’m not an extremist on leashing every dog and putting every dog up. But I think every pit bull should be kept in a cage,” Rogers said.

Rogers explained that the animal that attacked him had been tied off at the time and broke free of the chain restraining it prior to the attack.

“We can take this as a normal citizen complaint, but I think we need to put a little more time on this,” England said. “I am just asking you as a city to enforce the leash law.”

“I can tell you that it will be. We will take it under consideration,” Grayson responded.

Demopolis Police Department Chief Tommie Reese issued a public warning that dogs roaming free will now be picked up by the animal control officer.