LANETT — Mayor Jamie Heard had some good news to report at Wednesday’s meeting of the Lanett City Council. The meeting was scheduled for Monday but was postponed to Wednesday due to lack of quorum.
The good news is that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved four grant applications. Two new police vehicles are wanted, a street sweeper for the public works department, three Ford F150 4×4 trucks for the cemetery and grounds and a new John Deere tractor with a front loader and 15 wing cable feet for maintenance at the airport.
The retail price of these items is over $560,000, but with significant grant assistance, the city can acquire this much-needed equipment for $227,168.
“That’s a saving for the city of $334,014 for something we really need,” said Mayor Heard. “The road sweeper is already in operation. The tractor has been delivered to the airport, where it will keep the cut grass. Patrol cars are being fitted with police equipment and trucks are being delivered.
The new vehicles, the mayor said, will replace some aging service vehicles.
“Several months ago, I met with department heads to discuss their most pressing needs,” Heard said. “They identified what was needed most and since then we have actively sought federal and state grants to help meet those needs. We will do what we need to do to help our departments.
The mayor thanked Police Chief Johnny Wood for the work he did writing the grant applications.
The board approved a resolution to use just over $100,000 of US Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to purchase 14 self-contained breathing apparatus and four sets of partaking equipment for the fire and emergency department by Lanett. Chef Johnny Allen explained why the new equipment was needed.
“We’re at the point where we need new equipment,” he said. “Some of this equipment is over 20 years old and the most recent is 12 years old. We have fragmented this equipment to keep it together. Some of the participation equipment has been torn over time. It’s not to the point of endangering our men, but we need new ones. New items are custom fitted. What we have is not.
The items purchased meet all the criteria for personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPE.
Respirators cost just under $6,500 each. Response equipment costs just over $2,500 each. This new equipment will provide maximum safety to firefighters entering buildings where the air is not breathable.
It is recommended that breathing units be replaced after ten years of use.
“The newest unit we have is 12 years old,” Chief Allen said. “Since 2016, a certified company has carried out inspections and repairs for us every year. During the last inspection they told us they couldn’t fix them and they had to be replaced.
New units will cost just over $90,000. The city has these ARP funds, which can be used for this purpose since they cover the cost of lifesaving equipment.
Response equipment will cost just over $10,000.
“One of the biggest pushes for US bailout funds has always been for PPE,” Allen said.
In another action, council approved a resolution requesting a grant to purchase two high-rise transit vans, one for the Lanett Senior Center and one for the Lanett Recreation Department.
The buses currently in use are old and need to be replaced.
The city agreed to pay part of the cost of the two new buses.
Mayor Heard and members of council expressed considerable dissatisfaction with the work done by solid waste contractor AmWaste.
Mayor Heard said he and Clerk/Treasurer Deborah Gilbert recently met with AmWaste officials Michael Cosman and Chris Toney to ask what could be done to address the ongoing issues complained of by townspeople.
“They told us they were working really hard to fix this,” Heard said. “As we all know, finding people to work is a problem now. Lack of help and having to get some of their trucks repaired left them behind, but they showed some improvement.
The mayor said anyone having trouble with their garbage collection can report it to City Hall.
Council member Angelia Thomas said she has heard many complaints from the Kroger bloc and the mill villages she represents. Some of the complaints are about late pickups and cans being left on the street after being emptied.
“We need to have a contingency plan for our garbage service,” said board member Tifton Dobbs. “We have to make sure everything is done right.”
City Inspector Teddy Morris said he followed the AmWaste truck on some of its pickup details to see how the job was being done.
“They have an arm on the truck that picks up the can, empties it into the truck and puts it back on the ground,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not level when they put it back up and it can fall down the street. They used to have guys in the back of the truck emptying the trash and making sure the can was put back the right way.
Morris suggested writing an order requiring the contractor to replace empty cans so they don’t spill onto the street.
Councilman Dobbs said residents need to be conscientious about getting their cans out to pick them up and then rolling them around their backyards.
“They don’t need to be on the street 24/7,” he said.
Dobbs also asked the mayor if anything could be done to clean up the section of Tanyard Creek that runs from North Lanier Avenue to Highway 29.
“It’s grown so much that you can’t see from one end to the other,” he said.
Heard said he had discussed it with the right people and something would be done soon.
Johnny Allen briefed the council on what was happening at the airport.
“A lot happened there,” he said, “a lot more than a lot of people realize. There is an erosion problem at the south end of the runway. It’s supported. The aviation fuel tank over there is being cleaned out to be ready to store new fuel. It should be ready to go when we start buying fuel.
Selling fuel and leasing hangar space are ways for the city to generate revenue from the rebuilt airport.
Allen said it would be a good idea to paint the existing shed. It’s a way to make a good first impression on people landing and taking off.
“The new tractor that was purchased for use at the airport is top of the line equipment,” he said. “Chief Wood saved us thousands of dollars when it was purchased by writing a grant for it. We will soon be mowing the grass there. About 45 acres around the airport will need to be cleared. We want what has been built to make the best possible impression.This new airport is a tremendous asset not only for the city, but for the whole region.