Now unable to provide 24-hour protection, the police force was a topic of interest at Monday's combined work session and regular meeting.
"This is one of the key things that we need to stay focused in on, is the safety of our community," said Councilman Chuck Wise.
"I think we ought to have more police protection -- someway or another at least have two shifts if we can't have 24 hours," said Councilman Louise Howell.
On the agenda was discussion regarding the matter of hiring a full-time police chief currently being filled by interim Police Chief Jared Smith. Mayor Dexter Jones has reviewed the applicants for the position and announced that he has produced a list of finalists. Councilmen, however, expressed interest in seeing applications for themselves to review all of the candidates. Review of the position will continue as Jones hopes to schedule interviews this week.
After adjournment of the work session about 6:30 p.m., the mayor and the council called to order the regular meeting before the advertised time of 7 p.m.
The regular meeting was conducted and concluded before 7 p.m., prompting concern among residents arriving for the scheduled meeting.
One citizen did voice his opinion that the infraction could be taken as an illegal action. The law in reference is that of the Open Meetings Act mandating the practices of government authorities.
"Whenever any meeting required to be open to the public is to be held at a time or place other than at the time and place prescribed for regular meetings, the agency shall give due notice thereof," states Official Code of Georgia Annotated.
However, the mayor and council, seeing no need to wait due to the assigned agenda items and with the presence of the legal organ, altered the scheduled meeting time.
"When special circumstances occur and are so declared by an agency, that agency may hold a meeting with less than 24 hours' notice upon giving such notice of the meeting and subjects expected to be considered at the meeting as is reasonable under the circumstances, including notice to said county legal organ," according to O.C.G.A 50-14-1.
When reached by telephone relating to the concerns of residents arriving for the regular meeting at 7 p.m., Jones noted that as far as he and the council were aware nothing was being brought before the council at Monday night's meeting. He added that if anyone was inconvenienced, efforts would be made to correct any mistake.
"I think that from the view of everybody on the council tonight there wasn't anything pertinent that had to be discussed," Jones said. "Nobody had notified us about wanting to make any kind of public comments or anything like that, and if they do so, we'll be glad to hold a special meeting to address any kind of concerns they may have had.
"I will personally address any kind of informational needs that they may have or anything that they were concerned that they missed."
The one item voted on during Monday's regular meeting was for a policy concerning smoking on city hall grounds. City Clerk Michele Jones addressed the council with complaints from residents about smoking in front of city hall.
The policy was approved to designate an area away from the public entering and exiting the building.
"There's just been several complaints made by customers just saying that they shouldn't have to inhale smoke when they come in to pay their water bills. You know, because nobody should be smoking on the front porch or in or around the building," Michele Jones said.
Other items discussed at Monday's meetings were updates of continuing issues. An update was given of the replacement of trees cut down at the railroad "Y." After maintenance crews cut down trees donated and planted in the city of Kingston, a committee is being formed to organize and plan the replanting of trees.
Lastly was an update on the process for hiring a deputy city clerk. Applications have been compiled and will be reviewed by the mayor and council.