New in blue

During a meeting of the Heflin City Council Tuesday night Mayor Rudy Rooks (right) swore in two new Heflin police officers. On the left is officer Josh Nail and right is officer John Butler.  

HEFLIN — Due to numerous complaints about aggressive and loose dogs, the Heflin City Council has drafted an amendment to the current animal code which would stiffen penalties for negligent dog owners. If the ordinance passes at the next council meeting, penalties for its violation going to bite deeper into the wallets of neglectful owners.

Tuesday night, during a joint work session and regular meeting, Heflin city clerk Shane Smith told the council of some of the increases in fines.

“We went up on the cruelty to animals from $100 first offense $500. There’s a lot of issues that are beginning to happen now with people locking animals in cars and people tying animals,” Smith said.

Smith said warnings will be issued before a ticket is issued.

Smith said that the penalty for failure to confine a dog in heat will increase from $35 to $100 for the first offense. Smith said cats are not included.

“We do not handle cats in our animal control ... cats are free-roaming by the state code of Alabama,” Smith said.

The fine for harboring vicious or dangerous dogs would increase from $50 to $500.

“We’ve had a few bites in the past couple of months happen,” Smith said.

The fine for allowing an animal known to be or presumed to be vicious at large would increase from $100 to $500 for the first offense.

“We felt that the safety of our citizens is important and if you’ve got an animal around biting people you should be held responsible,” Smith said.

Smith said the city uses the animal shelter in Randolph County.

Mayor Rudy Rooks updated the council on the progress of the Campbell Street bridge which spans Cahulga Creek. The bridge had been slated for replacement but troubled waters at the Alabama Department of Transportation have all but sunk the project.

Rooks said the city had a set amount of money for the bridge at the beginning of the project. That amount got cut by $74,000 by ALDOT because of another bridge project experienced cost overruns.

Rooks said that ALDOT never told the city that money from ATRIP, the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, had been pulled from the Campbell Bridge project and the city had to make up the difference.

Rooks said the city originally wanted to install a box culvert type bridge but ALDOT would not approve it and insisted that a more expensive 120-foot span bridge be constructed.

Rooks said the total cost of the bridge was $827,000 and the city’s share of the project had ballooned to $325,000.

“It came as a surprise to us, we didn’t know that is was going to run that much, they had not been making contact with us, keeping us informed,” Rooks said.

Rooks said the city is still committed to the project for the sake of the residents that live over the bridge.

“We are not going to walk away from this project. We’re still committed to get them a safer crossing. The bridge is still good and it’s still holding up. We were thinking that we were going to get a bridge funded by ALDOT but it just didn’t work out that way,” Rooks said.

Rooks said the options available for the bridge include repairing it or installing a box culvert type bridge.

Rooks said the city has already spent $100,000 on engineering fees and soil tests and other things outside of what ALDOT had agreed to pay.

Later, during the council’s regular meeting, Rooks swore in two new police officers, Joshua Nail and John Butler.

Economic developer Tanya Maloney introduced Randall Brooks with Pioneer Broadband Networks who is offering high-speed internet using a microwave wireless link.

“People are desperate in this community and the whole county for better internet. We did a survey and 87 percent of people that responded said they would be willing to purchase high-speed internet,” Maloney said.

Maloney said the service provided by Brooks’ company at city hall is “fantastic.”

Brooks said the speeds available on the wireless network are up to 380 megabytes per second and the speed is limitless on the fiber optic line.

The next council meeting will be on July 24 at 5:30 p.m.

​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.