Lanett discusses recent West Shawmut Day

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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LANETT — Members of the Lanett City Council had an extensive discussion Monday evening about a recent West Shawmut community day. Mayor Kyle McCoy and members of the council were pleased that a beefed-up police presence in the neighborhood was better for crowd control than what had taken place at the 2019 West Shawmut Day.

At the previous event, there were complaints about vehicles racing up and down streets, traffic congestion and the presence of unknown people congregating around people’s homes. The event had been planned as a neighborhood block party with grilling out nd local people enjoying the day.

Per reports, a much larger gathering than what was expected showed up and many complained afterward. Some businesses along Highway 50 were upset about vehicles being parked outside their businesses and a lot of litter being left there.

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Council Member Angelia Thomas thanked District 2 Council Member Jamie Heard for the job he has done in representing his district on the council and the Lanett Police Department for the job the officers did in keeping everyone safe on the weekend of July 24 when this year’s West Shawmut Day took place. She said she had gotten lots of calls about the events of that weekend and didn’t agree with a police helicopter being used.

“Some people didn’t agree with what was done, and I was discouraged with having a helicopter hovering overhead. Was that needed? It seemed like we were in Baghdad. Some people wondered why this was being done.”

Thomas said she thought the officers on the ground had done good work that weekend. In the future, though, she would like to see some advanced planning ahead of West Shawmut Day.

“I am like Mr. Heard in that I wouldn’t want people I didn’t know gathering near my home,” she said.

Council Member Tifton Dobbs thanked the Lanett Police Department and surrounding agencies for the work they did that weekend.

“Being a former police chief, I understand that it’s better to have more than you need than not enough,” he said. “But you don’t need to block Magnolia Road. It’s not safe to do that, and people need to get home.”

Passing cars were stopped at certain locations for license checks and to check for possible instances of drunken driving.

The problem with the previous West Shawmut Day is that it started out well intentioned as a big neighborhood barbecue but morphed into a larger street party with people racing ATVs through the neighborhood.

“I appreciate the Lanett Police Department keeping the area safe this year,” Dobbs said. “We need to have a way for people to have a good time without violations.”

“What happened in 2019 caught us off guard,” said Mayor Kyle McCoy. “We were not prepared to handle that big of a crowd.”

McCoy said the majority of the calls he received were more about keeping a weekend like that from happening again. Most of those calls, he said, were from West Shawmut homeowners who had been there for a long time. He also got lots of calls from business owners along Highway 50.

“No one was denied an opportunity to cook out this past weekend,” McCoy said, “but they were not allowed to race up and down the streets. With the police presence there that weekend, West Shawmut was probably the safest place in town. I think the vast majority of residents appreciated what was done. A majority of the calls I got were very complimentary of the Lanett Police Department.”

Heard said littering had been a problem in 2019 but was much better this year.