Lanett wraps up district meetings

Published 10:00 am Saturday, June 15, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

LANETT — In recent weeks, Mayor Jamie Heard and council members have played host to meetings with citizens from each of the city’s five council districts. The meetings have taken place in the Jane Farrar Event Center in downtown Lanett. Meetings for districts one, two and three took place earlier this spring. The two final meetings were held this week, District 4 on Tuesday and District 5 on Thursday. The district’s council representative was present at each meeting to answer questions along with the mayor.

Tony Malone represents District One, Tamalita Autry District Two, Ronnie Tucker District Three, Angelia Thomas District Four and Tifton Dobbs District Five.

At this week’s two meetings, approximately a dozen residents of the two districts were present to quiz their mayor and council representative on anything that was on their mind about the part of town they lived in.

Email newsletter signup

The questions asked were very similar at both meetings – what could be done about the litter on the streets, abandoned housing that needs to be upgraded or removed, overgrown yards where the grass needs to be cut, cars racing up and down the streets playing loud music at all hours of the day and people walking up and down the streets late at night.

“At some of these meetings we have had big turnouts,  as many as 30 or 40 people,” Heard said. “We have had at least 10 to 15 residents at every one of these meetings. I want to hear your concerns. I want to know what’s on your mind. Anyone in Lanett can call me at any time. If I am tied up with something at the time I will get back to you.”

Police Chief Denise McCain and Code Enforcement Officer Johnny Wood were at each meeting to offer input.

“I am concerned about dogs running loose,” said one resident, “and I am concerned about housing. Some houses that are not in good condition are being rented out to people with needed improvements not being made.”

Heard said this was shameful and needed to stop. He said the city was working on getting grants that would allow low to moderate-income residents to get help with home improvements such as insulation, windows and doors. Such improvements can help them save on heating bills in the winter and cooling bills in the summer.

One resident complained about people parking their cars on city sidewalks. Wood told her there was an ordinance against this and anyone doing it can be fined. Chief McCain said she will be sure the LPD officers are aware of this.

“Anyone in my district can contact me at any time,” Thomas said. “I am aware of the problems you have been talking about. I am concerned about it, too, and we’re trying to do something about it. I don’t like to have dogs running loose, dilapidated houses and overgrown yards.”

Mayor Heard commended Wood for the job he has done in enforcing weed liens in the city. This allows the city crews to cut grass on private property when the owner isn’t doing it. The lien lets them get back the city’s cost of having this done.

“We have got to get people to clean up their yards,” Thomas said.

Wood said the city does have property maintenance codes that can be enforced but at this time of year, the city crews have their hands full with cutting the grass along the city’s major routes.

At its next council meeting, the city will vote on imposing weed liens on approximately 30 properties in the city.

A minister who was present at one of this week’s meetings told the council that he had lived in four different states and that Lanett was the most littered place he’d resided in. “I don’t know why that is,” he said. “Lanett is a nice place with a lot of good people but is the most littered place I have lived in,” he said.

One person present made the case that the city shouldn’t be overly aggressive in tearing down housing. “You don’t want to do it to the extent you will make some people homeless,” he said. “Let’s try to fix them up if it’s possible.”

“If a landlord is being paid rent,” said another person in the room, “they should make their houses livable.”

“To get good people to move here, you will have to improve the quality of the housing that’s available,” another person said.

The option of putting speed bumps on city streets to slow down traffic was also discussed.

Mayor Heard said this was a touchy subject. “If you do this, half of the people will love it and the other half will hate it,” he said.

“When I moved here 27 years ago the mill village was a beautiful place,” Thomas said. “A lot of homes that looked nice then haven’t been kept up and don’t look so good today. We need to address this. To make the needed improvements, it’s the kind of situation where we need to start small and keep working on it.” 

The abandoned store buildings in the city’s Little Italy section also came up for discussion. At some point, these abandoned buildings may need to be removed.

Questions were asked about the historic Fraternal Hall and Stores Building in downtown Lanett. The building is owned by Carmen Davis, who lives in the Atlanta area and works for the Pentagon. The two-story brick building presently does not have water. It does have a new roof but some interior improvements need to be made.

Mayor Heard said the city is considering putting cameras at key locations in the city. This would help deter crime and put a stop to illegal dumping.

Chief McCain said that video images caught by cameras were playing a role in helping solve criminal cases. Within the past couple of years, video has helped solve two murders and six armed robberies in Lanett.

“I want to thank all of you for coming out today,” Mayor Heard told the Lanett residents at Thursday’s final district meeting. “We will keep having these meetings. You are also welcome to attend any of our work sessions. They usually start at 5 p.m., or an hour before our regular council meeting takes place.”

Lanett’s council meetings take place at 6 p.m. ET on the first and third Mondays of the month.

To speak at a council meeting, a resident needs to be placed on the agenda prior to the meeting. They can ask questions in a work session without being on an agenda.