Red Bay meeting ends abruptly
Melissa Dozier-Cason FCT Staff Writer
RED BAY – Monday night's Red Bay City Council Meeting adjourned abruptly when the mayor and two council members left during the meeting.
Discussion over a Visa bill erupted into arguments during the meeting. Police Chief Pat Creel supplied council members a copy of the Visa bill and minutes from the meeting in July where the council members voted to approve Creel's trip to the conference in Florence. However, council member Bobby Nelson contended that Creel could have driven home each night since Florence is within an hour's drive.
The Northwest Alabama Chiefs Association, in which Creel holds the Vice President office, hosted the training event at the Marriott. Creel stated that since their association was hosting there was a lot of work that had to be done outside of the conference, which explained why he did not simply drive back and forth from the conference.
"If we had not been hosting the conference, I probably would have driven home a night or two, but we had a lot of work that had to be done," Creel said.
Council member Rayford Seahorn said that regardless of whether Creel had duties outside the training is irrelevant because it is common practice for employees to stay overnight if the destination is over 45 miles.
During the meeting, the council when into executive session behind closed doors. After the council returned from executive session, Seahorn left.
"I left because I want to take care of business at hand, not dwell on the past," Seahorn said. "I will return when they [the other council members] are ready to take care of business."
After the regular meeting reconvened, Mayor Jeff Reid played a video from Oct 2005 where the council voted to send another city employee to the Marriott in Florence on city business.
The video showed that it was appropriate to send another employee to the same Marriott a year ago, but suddenly Chief Creel's stay is not appropriate, Reid said.
After the video, Reid brought up another trip, taken by City Council Member Ann Wilkins in May. Wilkins attended the annual convention for mayors, city council members, and city clerks held in Mobile. According to receipts, Wilkins' trip cost the city approximately $1500.
Another council member requested to see the expense bills since January, which is why the trip in May was brought to the council's attention, Reid said.
"I paid for the trip out of my own money, and if they did not want to pay me for something, they should not have paid me," Wilkins said.
After discussing the trip, Mayor Reid left the meeting. Council Member Pat Hammock adjourned the meeting because, with only three members, a quorum was not present.
"I think that was the most unprofessional meeting, and it is not the way to conduct business," Wilkins said.
Mayor Reid said that he left the meeting because they were discussing items that were already voted on and that he wanted to move the city forward. Reid claims that he spends countless hours researching old business instead of moving on to new business.
"We have too much to get done to keep looking at old stuff that's been voted on," Reid said.
After the meeting adjourned, Wilkins stated that she only attended one function this year, and that there were others who attended events or training more often on the taxpayers' dollar.
In response to the statements made at the meeting, Creel said that he attends three conferences annually for the Northwest Alabama Chiefs Association, and that each police officer is required to complete a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education per year.
Creel also said that two officers are apart of the Franklin County Special Response Team, which also includes the Russellville Police Department, Sheriff's Department, and the District Attorney's office, and they are required to participate in various training exercises.
"The more training our officers get, the better they will be able to respond to various situations," Creel said.