Police Chief Robert Jones reported the arrest of a member of the Columbus, Ohio, street gang for spray-painting graffiti on several vehicles in Adairsville.
“The gangs call it ‘tagging,’ and it’s similar to an animal marking its territory,” Jones said. “About three weeks ago, we began getting complaints about graffiti being sprayed on cars. Our patrolmen began working the territory and the information they uncovered led us to a group of seven or eight juveniles. The had all the elements of a criminal gang. Initiation required being ‘beaten in,’ meaning they were attacked by several other gang members and beaten severely to determine if he was tough enough to be a member. We questioned the juveniles, and they eventually identified the gang member who had recruited them.”
Jones said the gang member and the juveniles were arrested face multiple charges.
“This gang was in the recruiting process to engage in racketeering later on,” Jones said. “They use juveniles to do their criminal dirty work because they know juveniles get much more lenient punishment than adults. But this gang was so fledgling that we were able to stop it before it ever reached the point of engaging in criminal acts.”
City Manager Pat Cook reported that all departments were operating on budget despite the Jan. 30 tornado, although they should expect a dip in revenues in February. She also told the council that the 2 million-gallon water tank atop Collins Mountain that was heavily damaged in the storm required expedited repair or replacement. She noted that the city can’t continue to operate effectively without the tank.
The Rev. Jimmy O’Tinger, pastor of Poplar Springs United Methodist Church, and Randy Shadix, a church deacon, voiced concern about a proposal to remodel and enlarge the adjacent McDonald’s. The current facility, they said, was allowing restaurant grease, food and litter to overflow into the church property from a drainage ditch running between the properties and they feared even more runoff if the restaurant was enlarged.
The church had sold the property to the restaurant chain with a “gentlemen’s agreement” that McDonald’s help with maintaining the drainage ditch.
“That agreement has been ignored by McDonald’s,” Shadix said. “We recently filled up five 24-gallon garbage bags with grease, litter and old food, including meat. It stinks in the summertime and makes the grass impossible to cut.”
Community Development director Ben Skipper told the council that he had visited the site and concurred with Shadix’s account.
Teresa Curry, an engineer with T.Y. Lin International, an Atlanta engineering firm, replied that the runoff was probably coming from other businesses in the same area, including a Hardee’s restaurant.
“We reached out to the church and assured them that our remodel would not increase the amount of runoff,” she said. “This McDonald’s grease flows through a grease trap then into a sanitary sewer, not the storm drains. If there is grease in the storm drain, then that is an Environmental Protection Division issue.”
Curry said the owner of the McDonald’s would send his staff onto church property on a regular basis to pick up any litter.
Council took no action on McDonald’s request to remodel and enlarge.
In other business, the council:
• heard a request from the Bartow County Boys and Girls Club to hold a 5K fun run on April 20 beginning at the depot and following a course through the city.
• heard a request from the Friends of the Library for a status report on adoption of Saturday hours.
• heard a progress report on the state of the cleanup following the Jan. 30 tornado.
• heard a request for the purchase of three patrol cars using 2014 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
The Adairsville City Council will meet again Thursday at 7 p.m.