Three citizens addressed the council concerning the situation. First to bring up the topic was Misty Cagle, a Kingston resident whose neighborhood has been plagued by roaming dogs. On separate occasions, Cagle and a neighbor both had to call law enforcement for assistance after being trapped in their vehicles by aggressive dogs.
"I've come tonight to ask the city council to take whatever means you deem necessary to reduce the population of stray dogs in particular in the city of Kingston," Cagle said. "We have some dangerous dogs, some very large dogs. There have been six instances in the neighborhood that I know of where people have been chased back in their homes by the dogs and none of us can let our children play outside."
Another resident addressed the council and mayor telling of an instance in which they were walking through the city park and were chased atop a picnic table to seek shelter from a stray dog.
Mayor Dexter Jones said that a contract had been in place some years before with Bartow County Animal Control to cover the city but had at some time in the past been canceled. The item of contracting with Bartow County Animal Control was placed on the agenda for vote next week.
Another issue drawing concern from an audience member was the proposed removal of the city's skateboard ramp. The skate ramp, located behind city hall near the baseball field and basketball court, has fallen into disrepair. The mayor cites safety concerns and liability for his desire to see it torn down, while resident Ricky Black argued against removing recreational opportunities for area youth.
"I've got two kids out here myself, 10 and 6 years old, and as they get older I'd like them to have recreational activities around Kingston and not have to go up to Cassville and places like that," Jones said. "Unfortunately there are things we have to consider. We can't just put a group of unsupervised kids under the domain of the city of Kingston."
Black said he was aware of the needed repairs and volunteered his services in helping to maintain equipment as well as re-establishing a recreation department within the city. There are inherent risks in recreational activities, Black said, and asked that policies from other cities be reviewed and considered for use in Kingston to reduce liability.
"Closing everything down, I don't think that's the answer. Summer's not that far away. Are we going to put a barbed wire fence around the park, keep kids out? You can't do that because they're not going to stay out," Black said.
Also on the agenda were several proposed purchases. As discussed last year, the city wood chipper is in need of extensive repair or replacement. Jones suggested the purchase of a new chipper using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds at an estimated cost of $39,000.
For improvement of water meter reading, Jones proposed the addition of a handheld electronic device and software to help eliminate mistakes in billing and modernize the process. Cost for the system ranged from $5,000 to $7,000,
The last purchase item on the agenda was brought forth by Police Chief Walter Harrell. As he had suggested at an earlier meeting, software is needed for the proper management of city evidence. Software prices range from $4,000 to $5,000 with higher models incorporating city property management abilities. Harrell also asked for replacement of the city's police vehicles. The two patrol cars currently in use have been deemed unsafe and at one time the condition of the vehicles prevented Harrell from assisting Georgia State Patrol on Highway 411 when requested.
The last item on next week's agenda will be the condition that all beginning salaries for new employees and pay raises for existing employees be approved by the city council before taking effect.
The Kingston City Council will meet again Monday, 7 p.m. at city hall.