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Ft. Deposit to get communications upgrade

By Eason Franklin
The Lowndes Signal

The Ft. Deposit Police Department has been approved for a grant to allow for upgrades to the town’s communications system.

The ADECA grant was for $25,000 and will potentially lower the monthly maintenance fee from $97 to $74, or $223 per quarter.

Citizens who currently contact the police department are forwarded to an officer’s cell phone, which may not always work, according to Ft. Deposit Police Chief Chris West.

West said that the officers’ cell phones are likely to lose service in certain areas of the town when people call.

An alternative to avoid this problem until the upgrade is to train the citizens of Ft. Deposit to use the E911 system.

“We want to train our citizens to use the 911 service,” said West. “We pay for it, but we don’t utilize it.”

Through the grant, the police officers will also receive upgrades to their police cruisers, such as digital video cameras.

Other items discussed in the July 12 Ft. Deposit town meeting agenda:

– West gave a summary of the incident and offense reports received throughout the month of June and the first part of July.

Officers received five calls concerning harassments, four domestic violence calls, 14 burglaries, two assaults, one disorderly conduct and two calls about criminal mischief.

“When economic woes manifest themselves, theft of property crimes present themselves,” said West.

West explained the town is experiencing an “evolution” and that the police department are working to get the issues resolved.

– West asked approval from the town council to hire a new, female police officer to replace Ben Turner.

– The police department just finished writing their USDA grant for $116,000 which will provide four additional cruisers, lights and sirens for existing vehicles and equipment for the police department.

“The money will take the police department a little further than everyone else in the county…even the Sheriff’s Department,” said West.

The town will have to pay 25-percent of the grant total to match the 75-percent granted from the USDA if approved.

The council unanimously approved the entire police report.

– Mr. Reed came before the council to request a business license for a new café he is working to open near the interstate.

The café would be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., six days per week and will not be serving alcohol.

The council decided to meet with Reed at a later date to work with him on different aspects that may help the business succeed, prior to granting the license.

– The council requested all Budget Department heads to turn in their 2010-2011 budgets so the council may review them for approval.

– The council unanimously decided to move forward with the retirement of debt by settling their loan at the First Citizens Bank.

– It was decided Bruce McCarty will finish out the term for former library head Dan Therrien and that Geraldine Fountain and Ms. Means’ terms with the library will be renewed.

– The council is preparing for an upcoming audit and asked that all committee reports be ready by next month.

Mayor Fletcher Fountain requested any bank statements needed by the town of Ft. Deposit be turned in as soon as possible.