Rocky Hollow residents want to reclaim neighborhood
by Cameron Steele
csteele@annistonstar.com
Aug 17, 2012 | 5539 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anniston resident Carol Malet keeps two loaded guns in her house in the Rocky Hollow area east of Quintard Avenue. Her grandchildren won’t visit her, she said, because the area is so unsafe now. People sell drugs out of cars on the neighborhood streets, she and neighbors Teresa Reed and Gina Armstrong complained, and shoot guns as they drive by.

“But I’m not moving,” Malet told about 50 other residents who live in her neighborhood and met Thursday with city leaders to discuss crime and safety issues.

Councilmen Jay Jenkins and Herbert Palmore — whose two wards each contain portions of the Rocky Hollow area — hosted the 6 p.m. forum alongside Tana Bryant, the code enforcement officer for the city and Anniston police.

Jenkins said they decided to hold the meeting after hearing repeated grievances from Rocky Hollow residents about the neighborhood’s declining safety.

“You have a wonderful neighborhood,” Jenkins said. “You just have some rogue elements.”

Residents at the meeting discussed many of those “rogue elements” Thursday: Some cited the same type of drug activity and gunfire that Malet did. Others focused on speeding cars, vandalism and rampant theft. One woman voiced distress over unsupervised children who tortured a neighborhood kitten to death. All of the residents were unified in their determination to address the Rocky Hollow problems with city leaders.

“We’re not moving, either,” said Pat Bennett, speaking for herself and her husband. “We would like to see the place cleaned up.”

Exactly how to do that proved a complex topic with many opinions. Ideas ranged from setting up security cameras along Rocky Hollow Road and Woodland Avenue to hosting neighborhood cleanups and organizing a neighborhood crime watch.

Some residents wondered about police presence — whether it could be increased and why officer response time takes so long.

Anniston police Capt. Shane Denham assured people that officers were aware of many of the crime issues in the Rocky Hollow area, noting that police had to prioritize calls and manage staffing issues.

Capt. Chris Roberson, leader of the Calhoun-Cleburne Drug & Violent Crimes Task Force, gave out contact information to residents and urged them to call with tips about drug activity.

Councilman Palmore also told meeting attendees they could ask him to call in tips if they felt too scared to do it themselves.

Rocky Hollow resident Kraig Mize said he’s lived in the area for four years. Even in that short amount of time, he said, he’s seen crime increase and the overall quality of the neighborhood go downhill.

“I’m glad to see everybody come out,” he said of the forum’s attendance. “Let’s try to take back what we can.”

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