Mayor Bill Ham started the meeting by honoring Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson as Employee of the Month for June 2012. He presented Dawson with a pin and plaque to honor his 25 years of service to Auburn.
Ham said he had heard from many residents about their pride in the way the tragedy was handled by police, and specifically mentioned a letter by public safety director Bill James nominating Dawson for the award. In the letter James mentioned the police department’s response to the shooting at University Heights as part of his recommendation for the honor.
Dawson was clearly touched by the award and said, “It’s hard not to get emotional when I see all of these police officers here,” Dawson said, acknowledging the dozens of officers on hand for the presentation. He said their hard work is why the department is as respected as it is. “You don’t know what it means to me for you to be here tonight.”
Dawson was joined by city employees Robert Franklin, Bradley Taylor, Christopher Graff, Sharon Tolbert, Clay Carson and Joseph Lovvorn who were also recognized for their many years of service to Auburn. The city also honored George Holmes and Eddie Ogletree who are retiring city employees, and commended Leslie Woodham for earning a master’s degree in accounting from Auburn University.
On the topic of the University Heights murders, Councilman Arthur Dowdell said he thinks a gun problem exists in the community and that any gun violence affects all sides of a given dispute. “We have mothers losing sons to both the grave and prison,” he said.
Dowdell said he hopes further details about the University Heights gathering that ended with the triple homicide are found and released by Auburn police. He said that many rumors about the motives of Desmonte Leonard, the alleged June 9 shooter, are out in the public. Dawson, in the immediate aftermath of the killings, said that the victims were doing nothing wrong.
In other matters of business, the council approved CAM Builders, a Hatchechubbee-based construction company, to build a new Auburn senior center located on the Frank Brown Recreation Center campus, on Opelika Road between Gay and Ross streets. The group was the lowest of three bidders for the contract, with a bid of $2.3 million. Auburn voters approved the center in a referendum in January.
City Manager Charlie Duggan said construction on the roughly 8500-square-foot center is expected to begin in August and finish by the spring of 2013. Duggan said the bid by CAM Builders involves work on the new senior center, while also including upgrades to the parking lot and entrances of the Frank Brown center.
Moores Mill Road will be seeing improvements after the council approved an agreement with the state department of transportation (ALDOT) for replacement of the creek bridge on Moores Mill Road as well as a resurfacing project on the road between Dean Road and Samford Avenue. The resurfacing work and the bridge replacement will be funded by about $1.25 million in combined state grant money and local funds.
Moores Mill Road was not on the schedule to be receiving any improvements this year despite one section near Forestdale Road being rated functionally obsolete by ALDOT.
Duggan, who called the grant a fortunate windfall for the city, said of the poor rating, “This is not dangerous in any way,” and said the renovations were only needed to handle increasing traffic. The city has finished plans for the new bridge and the repaving and bids may be released by the next meeting.
The council also:
- Approved a restaurant retail liquor license for Island Wings, to be located in the 200 block of West Glenn Avenue;
- Amended the definition of “Development” in Chapter 7, Article II, of the city code relating to drainage and flood control;
- Approved a bid of $144,197 for a 2013 Kenworth chassis and propane asphalt pothole patcher;
- Approved a bid of $29,883 for seven patrol car video cameras and related equipment from Digital Ally Inc.;
- Approved a bid of $20,449 for a 2012 Ford F-150 pickup truck from Stivers Ford Lincoln of Montgomery;
- Approved agreements with Auburn University and area law enforcement to provide security and emergency services at university sporting events from August through July 2013;
- Accepted drainage and utility easements along Shug Jordan Parkway and right of way along Mrs. James Road;
- Appointed Charles Pick to the Planning Commission;
- Appointed Cynthia Brooks, Thomas Daniel and Jay Connor to the Board of Directors of the West Pace Village Improvement District.