Concerned citizens’ group formed in Baldwin
Budget, code enforcement among concerns aired to council
BY SHARON HOGAN
A citizens’ group has formed in Baldwin and their concerns include the budget and code enforcement.
Several members of the group, named Concerned Citizens of Baldwin, attended the council meeting on Tuesday night, May 27, to offer their services in addressing these issues.
“I am here to let you know that a group of concerned citizens have gotten together at a meeting at my house and we want to offer you our services,” said Andrea Harper, who lives on Willingham Avenue. “We are concerned about certain issues, such as code enforcement and budgets…We are here to help you and support you. We don’t have any issues with ya’ll individually. We’re just concerned about Baldwin and want to make it a great Baldwin.”
Another member of the group, Elsie Sumner, of Crooked Pine Trail, said, “I want to echo what Andrea said. I think our concerned citizens’ meeting was to share ideas. We want to work with you and support you. I personally have faith in each and every one of you and I believe all of us do.”
Sumner said the citizens’ job is to attend city meetings and city workshops and learn from the council.
Sumner also said one request she has is to have a minister come to the council meetings to give the invocation. Sumner said this would help to involve churches and perhaps church members.
“There is just no better people to get to work than people who are involved in church,” she said.
An invocation is already given during each council meeting by someone in attendance. At Monday’s meeting, acting Mayor Ray Holcomb gave the invocation. Holcomb said he had already started to work on this.
“I have already started implementing this,” he said. “Pastor Craig Lee, Fellowship Church, was invited tonight, but was a little late getting here.”
Holcomb asked Lee to lead a second invocation during the meeting.
Sumner also asked the council about the possibility of the citizens’ group being able to hold their meetings in the courtroom at the police department.
“Just consider it and if you have to vote on this, OK,” Sumner said. “Would it be a good thing to incorporate concerned citizens’ meetings with council work session meetings?”
Holcomb told Sumner that work sessions and council meetings are both open to the public.
“It’s a very good idea to get the citizens involved and we’d like to see more of it,” Holcomb said.
City attorney David Syfan said the council would like to accommodate the citizens’ group because they are 95 percent of the citizens. He added that it is “the five percent that ruins it for others.”
“If you start allowing public facilities to be used for public speech and we don’t charge you, anybody with cause can request to use the same facilities,” Syfan said.
Syfan said the city might be able to work it out but would have to put some regulations in place to help with the five percent that may cause problems.
Pastor Lee said, “We allow the use of our church facility. All you have to do is call and request it.”
Council member Robert Bohannon asked Syfan if the citizens’ group was considered a “planning committee” whether that give them the opportunity to use the facilities.
“If it’s about a board, then yes, but you’d have to create the board,” he said.