Wetumpka council votes to equip new police cars

Staff / The Herald

The Wetumpka Police Department lost five vehicles in the Jan. 19 tornado and replacements will soon be on the streets after the city council voted Monday to equip them.

Wetumpka will have five new police vehicles on patrol in the near future after the city council approved spending $38,946.25 to equip them with lights, sirens and markings.

The money was approved during Monday’s council meeting. Mayor Jerry Willis said five of the city’s police vehicles were destroyed by the EF2 tornado that struck the city and destroyed the police station Jan. 19.

Five new police vehicles had been purchased but they have been idle while waiting for the council to spend the extra money to equip them.

The issue was brought before the city council in its previous meeting but it couldn’t be acted on because the council voted against suspending the rules for immediate consideration.

“We had five new police cars sitting down there that we could not get the rules suspended in the last meeting,” Willis said. “We had to wait another two weeks, so that meant the cars sat there for two weeks and that puts us behind another month or so in getting them on the street.”

District 2 councilmember Lewis E. Washington said he was pleased with the council’s decision to finally equip the five new police vehicles and get them on the streets.

“That’s a magnificent thing to have our police cars equipped with the best for the great city of Wetumpka,” he said. “That’s very much needed so it helps the citizens so they can identify them as a police car.”

The council did not reach a decision Monday on a proposal to spend $9,350 for a traffic study in the West Bridge Street area. Major traffic jams occurred after the tornado when the Bibb Graves Bridge was temporarily closed.

“I think it’s imperative that we look at having a study done that will determine how we handle the traffic situations here because there is just too much congestion,” Willis said.

Skipper Consulting has been chosen to conduct the traffic study and Willis said he believes a motion to hire the consulting group will pass at the next council meeting.

“They are an organization that is assigned to us by the state,” Willis said. “Anything that happens in Wetumpka on a state road, these are the guys we have to deal with. They are very competent in what they do.”

Washington said he isn’t sure it’s a good idea to spend $9,350 on a traffic study.

“That’s lots and lots of money for the city to be paying just to satisfy a certain group and the state,” he said. “That’s their job. They’ve already fixed the traffic light where it’s delayed so you can turn right or you can go straight. That has been done in the last couple of weeks and I was very proud of that.”

The $9,350 would come from the city’s general fund, Willis said.

Also on Monday, the council approved a nonprofit, tax-exempt license for Main Street Wetumpka to host the 2019 Coosapalooza Brewfest on April 13.

“Coosapalooza has to have a license anytime it involves alcohol,” Willis said. “You have to get permitted by the ABC board and the City of Wetumpka can either allow you to go pursue that or stop you from doing that.”

The Wetumpka City Council will next meet at 6 p.m. on April 15 at city hall.