The Houston County Commission On Traffic Lights Versus Sheriff Patrol CarsRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Jul 15 2012 10:57 PM
HOUSTON COUNTY: On Thursday members of the Houston County Commission will consider a request from the Town of Cowarts for financial assistance for traffic signal lights on Highway 84 East and Forrester Road.
The cost from the State of Alabama is $ 183,000.00 for the installation of the traffic lights. The State will pay ½ of the cost, $ 90,000.00, and the Town of Cowarts is responsible for the other ½ cost of $ 90,000.00.
The Town of Cowarts is asking the Houston County Commission to split the $ 90,000.00, with each community paying $ 45,000.00 each.
This is a measure the Houston County Commission should reject, and here is why.
Reasons For The Town of Cowarts To Pay The Full $ 90,000.00
Houston County has the following municipalities – Kinsey, Webb, Columbia, Gordon, Ashford, Cottonwood, Avon, Dothan, Madrid, Rehobeth, Taylor, Dothan and Cowarts. All municipalities are incorporated and have their own governments.
Out of these 13 municipalities, only 4 do not have their own police departments. The three are Cowarts, Madrid, Avon and Rehobeth. Of those 4, Cowarts is the largest. They have a good business base and their own water system. In other words, they have money coming into their town to operate on. The other three Houston County municipalities, Avon, Madrid and Rehobeth, do not have the tax base and water system to operate on like Cowarts has.
The Houston County Sheriff has jurisdiction county wide. The Sheriff of the county is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the county. The Sheriff Department can conduct investigations in any municipality regardless of the municipality having a police department.
However the Sheriff Department is responsible for all of the law enforcement in the Town of Cowarts. A municipality which has close to one million dollars ( $ 1,000,000.00 ) in the bank.
The Houston County Commissioners have budget hearings underway. The County Commissioners have ordered the county departments to submit budgets with a 3% reduction from their current budgets.
The Houston County Sheriff Department needs new patrol cars. The Sheriff Department needs some additional deputies. The department has gone several years not replacing some worn out patrol units. Some of the cars deputies place their lives in each day to protect the people of Houston County have over 200,000 miles on them.
With the ordered 3% budget cut requests the Sheriff Department might not get any cars this year. Most certainly they will not see any new deputies. Fuel costs have risen and it costs more for the deputies to be on patrol.
Since the Town of Cowarts has opted not to have their own law enforcement, and based on their size and revenue, based on their geographical proximity to Dothan, the calls for service from the Sheriff Department generates a lot of activity for the department. The $ 45,000.00 from the county is needed more to upgrade the fleet of the department for continued law enforcement efforts rather than assistance in the traffic light installation.
With close to one million dollars ( $ 1,000,000.00 ) in the bank, and no support from the Town of Cowarts to the Sheriff Department in manpower or equipment, now is not the time for the County Commissioners to assist. The Town of Cowarts appears to have enough money to support this request on their own.
Law Enforcement In Cowarts
Under the Sheriff Lamar “Birddog” Hadden administration the Town of Cowarts had some major problems. The problems were with some gangs and other issues. The town requested Sheriff Hadden place additional deputies in the town to curb the problem.
During that time I ( Rickey Stokes ) was a Houston County Constable. Sheriff Hadden went before the Town Council for Cowarts and suggested they work out an agreement with me to handle their law enforcement. We did work out an agreement and I worked in the Town of Cowarts for several months.
As Constable I had my own personal patrol vehicle. After several months I realized that Cowarts was happy with my services and the costs associated and had no intentions to begin a police department. Finally I told the Mayor that I could no longer assist. I thought my services were the bandaid until they could start a police department. The Mayor said he did not want to start a department and they were happy with the services I was performing. However I stopped after several months.
Since that time the Mayor of the town passed away. Sheriff Hadden retired, Sheriff Lamar Glover served 12 years as Sheriff of Houston County and now Sheriff Andy Hughes has served 6 years as Sheriff of Houston County. Still to date no Cowarts Law Enforcement.
That is fine and well, but the Houston County Sheriff Department is under budget restraints. The costs of doing business has increased and the funds needed for manpower and vehicles has not. Houston County has to be responsible for the law enforcement and they simply can not afford to spend the money for traffic lights when patrol units and manpower is needed.
I like the Town of Cowarts. This article is not written with any intent to be critical of their needs. However their pocket book and responsibilities are lighter than that of Houston County.
Speak with Alabama State Representative Paul Lee. He is close to the Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard – which is the man who runs the State of Alabama. And when I say Lee is close to Hubbard, I mean he is close.
Representative Lee, if anyone can, is in a position to get Speaker Hubbard to have the State of Alabama foot the entire bill of $ 183,000.00 for the traffic lights.
If Paul can not get it done with Speaker Hubbard, it can’t be done.
The 5 pictures are of the intersection of Highway 84 East and Cowarts Road. The intersection the Town of Cowarts asked the State of Alabama to look at for traffic light signal installation.