Monday, November 26, 2007

Minutes from November 5, 2007

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association met on Monday November 5, 2007 at the home of Elvira Kidd.

Elvira spoke briefly about the situation involving pastor Donald Moulton at Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church. She let us now that there may be a new direction for the church, more to come.

She reinforced that the BNA is separate from Broken Vessel, and that even though we have previously met there, we are not affiliated with the Church in any way.

Elvira discussed the possibility of holding meetings with the city, where the BNA would meet and the mayor or a representative would be there to inform the citizens of their plans and agenda. A twice monthly meeting schedule and an assurance that the meetings would be held in each district at least once a year were considered but it was agreed that probably one BNA meeting a month with just us, and the other with the city officials would be best.

Sam reported a meeting with Forrest Davis who said there was not grant money left. He spoke with Regions and with Buffalo Rock and got a positive response, but both entities want prices and proposed statistics for reducing crime before making a commitment.

Sam sent letter to State Senator E. B. McClain and Attorney General Troy King regarding dog laws. He also found that there is a vicious dog law and that Bessemer is not enforcing the law.

31 Center Street is an area of crime, next to Cynthia’s Barber Shop. Some increase in police presence was reported, but not decrease in crime has been noticed.

Elvira reported that at the upcoming council meeting, noise, smoke and water bond were on the agenda. Also she reported the $72,000 fee requested by Atty. Harris in relation to the water bond. This is an increase from $20,000, but no one knows why. In fact, no one even knows why the original $20,000 is being charged. Also, the proposed water bond is requesting $1.5 million more than they need. What is that money for?

Lodging tax increase. Elvira wants it to be used for retiree’s increase in benefits.

The school system is suffering. Elvira questioned whether our organization should be focused on education as well as our usual business. Elvira proposed we get with the PTSO and city council and all work together to improve the school system.

Our next meeting will be November 26, 2007 at Food World Community Room at 7:00.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Meeting Scheduled

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association will meet Monday October 8, 2007 at 7:00 at Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church. Topics will include Water Bond, Downtown, Violence.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Special Meeting

Monday Night, September 17, at Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church, 1829 Dartmouth Avenue, Bessemer. 7:00 PM. More information, and we need more support.

Action Planned over Water Bond Issue

In order to bring attention to more residents about the possible rate increase for water if the Bessemer City Council does not pass the 4.8% bond issue, the BNA is supporting the following actions.

Meet at Snitz-Snider stadium between 6:15 and 6:30 tonight to pass out flyers.

Pass out flyers in the neighborhoods of Albert Soles, Jesse Matthews, Dorothy Davidson and Sarah Belcher.

Protest with us in the neighborhoods and at City Hall.

Here are the two most important things to do:

1. Call the council members and have others call to tell them it is not right to favor one individual over 30,000 citizens, and they should vote putting the interests of the citizens of Bessemer first. Tell them you understand the water rates may double (or more) and many people can not afford it.

These cell phones were issued by the city, and this is an issue of great importance to the city, so feel free to call. These are the council members who voted against the bond.

Albert Soles 369-0784
Dorothy Davidson 229-3475
Sarah Belcher 229-3474
Jesse Matthews 229-4314

2. Be at City Hall for the Council meeting on Tuesday. The planning meeting is at 9:00, and the Council meeting is at 10:00. It's good to get there for the planning meeting, so they can see that a bunch of irate citizens are there trying to cram into that little room. They don't like a crowd, and they get nervous. Then stay for the council meeting. They are supposed to allow citizen participation, but they do not always allow it. Whether they allow citizen participation or not, they will know why you are there. The water bond issue may or may not be brought up again.

Check back here over the weekend to see if events are scheduled.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Press Release

Bessemer Neighborhood Association

Mission: to improve the quality of life throughout Bessemer and its surrounding communities.

September 12, 2007

To: (Sent to all the TV stations and Bham News and Bessemer Newspapers)

From: Elvira Kidd, President of BNA
Joe Openshaw, Secretary of BNA

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association will be addressing the urgent issue of the Water Line bond at a special meeting on Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 7:00

Our concern is that city officials are looking to do what is best for themselves, rather than the water customers, in choosing a company to fund the water line to the city of Alabaster. Choosing the wrong company will result in increased water rates. Estimated rate increases range from 108% to 300%. The City Council had a chance Tuesday to remedy this by re-addressing the issue, but chose to adjourn the session instead.

Our meeting is:

Thursday, September 13, 2007 @ 7:00 P.M.
Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church
1829 Dartmouth Avenue
Bessemer, AL 35020

Minutes for August 27 Meeting

Review of August 27 meeting

The meeting was called to order by Elvira Kidd

The previous meetings minutes were read and approved.

Important issues discussed.

We were told the Jones Carpet Building would come down soon, probably that week.

Elvira said she has spoken with Camilo Fuller the mayor’s assistant, and is still working toward improvements in Animal Control.

We discussed beautification projects, including landscaping the islands along Dartmouth Avenue. Want to talk with Forrest Davis about this, and also about soliciting donations of materials from corporations such as Lowe’s, Walmart, Target and others. But we will wait until we talk with the city, or Mr. Davis. Joe will write letters to these companies when the time comes. I mentioned that the Foundry had a program called adopt a block at one time where they went out on weekends with community members to help disabled or elderly people clean up their yards or paint their porch and other small jobs in the community.

We talked about lighting, and members were asked to name streets that needed better lighting. Somewhere I have the list of streets that were named. The light on 19th street that lights up this church was mentioned and we hoped it would be back on by now, but it is not.

Joe brought up the Youth Violence Conference at UAB in October, and several members indicated they would go. Earl Cochran agreed to pay for 4 people to go. Brenda Williams, Elvira Kidd, Laurie Leslie and Joe Openshaw will go.

We were reminded that we came together initially to address violence and the effects it has on the community. We also realized that beautification helps drive crime out, so those efforts go hand in hand with crime prevention.

We mentioned the importance of getting our non-profit status, and Earl suggested we might can work under his non-profit until we get that done.

the meeting was closed and adjourned.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Minutes for August 6, 2007 meeting

Minutes for the meeting of Monday, August 6, 2007

  • Call to order: Elvira Kidd
  • Introduction of Guest: Elvira Kidd
  • Review of minutes of last meeting (July 23, 2007): Joe Openshaw. Minutes approved

Sergeant Carmichael of the BPD spoke and fielded questions. He brought us up to date on equipment the city is purchasing for each police car, decibel meters to measure sound, so that noise ordinance infractions can be prosecuted.

This area is beat 204.

He mentioned that houses that are called in as suspicious and requested to be watched that patrol officers keep a log of their visits.

He told us that police calls to 425-2411 are not recorded as to caller ID. Calls to 911 are, for obvious reasons. You do not have to give your name when calling the police, no matter how much the dispatcher tries to persuade you.

Patricia Hilliard gave examples of no police follow-up following 4 auto b&e’s on her block, and on another occasion her husband was shot at in his vehicle, police were there and let the shooters go, they never heard back.

Elvira Kidd posed a question regarding response time, Sgt. Carmichael defended the department.

The monthly meetings sponsored by the BPD were mentioned, usually on the first Monday of the month. They are open to the public, and discussions like this are common. This month the meeting will be at Beulah Baptist on the north side on August 20.

Other problems:

Mrs. Williams (I think) mentioned that on Shades Street there is shooting all day and night at times.

On Berkley the problem is noise.

On Dartmouth poor lighting and motorcycles and racing and noise.

Ray Street to Black Avenue is like a raceway.

Sgt. Carmichael said they are trying to get substations in all areas, but could not really say why the first one was put in at the low crime area of Watermark.

He said Red Rock is constantly under surveillance. Elvira Kidd said we should demand that the owner either clean it out or go out of business. Sgt. told us to call it in when we see loitering.

The issue of street lighting came up. Elvira requested names of streets that needed lighting, and practically every street represented was named. We realized this is a street department issue.

Sgt. Carmichael said he would address these issues to the chief and will get back to me with the lists for beat 204 and Burstall patrol officers.

He said if someone has a suspicion that an officer is crooked they should call Internal Affairs at 424-4060.

Mrs. Webb suggested we get the names of dispatchers and officers so if we have to complain we have a record. Should get officers name and badge number and a card with case number on it.

The sergeant left after receiving a round of applause for coming.

Joe Openshaw reminded us that our first priority project was a success, the demolition of the building on 19th street between Dartmouth and Clarendon. A brick was brought in as evidence. Earl Cochran was thanked for his role.

Patricia Hilliard brought up houses next to her next to her. One a gray house at 16th and Arlington, and another at 15th and Arlington, where one side of the house is burned and an older person lives in the other side. DHR should be notified and should be able to get her to a better place.

Ms. Hinkle mentioned the Jones Carpet building in Jonesboro as being a building that is a danger to children and should be torn down.

Doug McKnight raised the issue of a 20 year delay on tearing down abandoned houses in Alabama because of certain ownership laws that allow people to hold on. We need to question or state representative Priscilla Dunn about this.

Ms. Hilliard mentioned downtown revitalization with restaurants and shops and Joe Openshaw reminded us that the TVA Strategic Initiatives a few years ago ended with this as one of their top recommendations, but the city has ignored it.

Joe Openshaw spoke of the Animal Abuse Committees meeting and read their recommendation, which is “that the City of Bessemer hire an outside consultant, preferably Kim Staton, to assess and make recommendations for the Animal Control facility and for Animal Control policy and personnel. He also spoke of his appearance before the city council, being invited by Council person Earl Cochran to speak, and being interrupted by the mayor and not allowed to continue or to read this recommendation.

National Night Out is Tuesday August 7, 2007. In this district the event will be at Roosevelt Park.

The Membership Committee of Patricia Hilliard and Wanda Thomas will report next meeting.

Arlington School, one of the proposed topics for this week, will be put off till next meeting due to time.

Our priorities are:

  • The woman in the burned out house on Arlington
  • Research lighting on residential streets.
  • Jones Carpet Building in Jonesboro

We adopted a new meeting schedule, the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month, so as not to conflict with the police meetings.

The meeting was adjourned with a prayer.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Minutes for Monday July 23, 2007

 Call to Order: Elvira Kidd

 Introduction of Citizen’s Present (22 citizens present)

 Review of Last Month’s Minutes: Joe Openshaw

 Minutes Approved

The Noise and Dilapidated Buildings Issues were postponed in hopes that Councilor Earl Cochran would make it to the meeting and share with us any developments.

The Pressing Issues of Animal Abuse and Dog Fighting were introduced with Clark Gaines, local veterinarian, distributing photos of abused animals that have gone through the Bessemer Animal Control Office and on to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society to be euthanized. Jacque Meyers, Executive Director of the GBHS spoke with us on the issue of dog fighting and animal abuse in Bessemer. She stated that drugs, prostitution, domestic violence and theft are all societal problems that can, more often than not, be found among those who participate in animal abuse. She shared with us that she had been in contact with both Reverend Eades of the Street and Sanitation Department, and head of Bessemer Animal control and Mayor May regarding the problems that exist within our animal control department and that they have been unwilling to address the problem. She stated that there was a report of an animal abuse situation in Bessemer today at 618- 8th Avenue.

Elvira Kidd asked the citizens present for suggestions. One of the suggestions was additional police substations. Elvira asked for a show of hands from the audience to determine if they agreed there was a problem with dog fighting and animal abuse in our area. Most every citizen raised their hand.

Councilor Earl Cochran and Camilo Fuller, the Mayor’s assistant arrived. The issue of the dilapidated apartment building on 19th street was brought up and Mr. Fuller stated that the owners of the building filed suit against the city when they began to tear it down and the city go caught up in a legal battle. He stated that this was why the building had not been torn down yet. Councilor Earl Cochran indicated that his is still working on getting this building torn down. He indicated that he had spoken with Chief Rutledge about the noise issue and that he was working on getting more equipment so that the police cars will be able to site those who are violating the noise ordinances.

A citizen brought up the issue of the RED ROCK and the drug deals that she has witnessed there. Roger Bressler, a local reporter, stated that the owner of the Sweet House which is located across the street from the RED ROCK had offered the police his property to set up a camera so that they could catch those who are making the alleged drug deals but that the owner never heard back from the police.

It was suggested that Chief Rutledge be invited to the next meeting so that we could speak with him about these issues. Another citizen suggested that we make sure we contact each Councilor and invite them to our NA meetings and perhaps we could rotate our meetings from one area to another. It was also suggested that we post our meeting at City Hall and even ask City Hall to host a BNA meeting there.

Elvira Kidd suggested that we organize an Animal Abuse Committee to follow up with Ms. Meyer’s suggestions as well as to make sure that something is done soon to remedy the problem of our animals being abused and engaged in fighting. The following individuals volunteered to serve on the Animal Abuse Committee: Laurie Leslie, Joe Openshaw, Rose Kelly, Earl Cochran and Betsy Rogers. Bill Hines from “The Foundry” and Don Kendrick from the Alabama Animal Control Association also volunteered to help the city with this problem. A Committee Meeting was scheduled for Thursday, July 26, 207 at 1901 Dartmouth Avenue.

Camilo Fuller agreed to take our issues regarding animal abuse to the mayor, and to meet with the animal abuse committee.

Citizens were reminded that the next BNA meeting would be Monday, August 6 at 7:00 at Broken Vessel Church.

Ms. Elvira Kidd closed the meeting in prayer.

Joe Openshaw, Secretary, with the help of Susan Lehman

Minutes from July 10, 2007

BNA Minutes from Meeting of July 10, 2007

Opening remarks and welcome Elvira Kidd

Elvira Kidd was elected interim president

Joe Openshaw was elected secretary.

We adopted a mission statement: The Mission of the Bessemer Neighborhood Association is to improve the quality of life throughout Bessemer and its surrounding communities.

Herman Lehman will look into beautification projects, and into organizing as a non-profit and fund raising.

Herman began reading from a list of goals and objectives, and discussions about the various suggestions took place.

The demolition of the building on 19th Street between Clarendon and Dartmouth Avenues was targeted as our number one priority project. Council person Earl Cochran said he would alert the council of our strong desire and we decided that if it was not torn down before the next council meeting we would attend in mass.

We asserted that we are working for all of Bessemer as a community, but that there are smaller communities or neighborhoods within the larger community that we will focus on from time to time.

The animal abuse/dog fighting issue was introduced, and copies of The Western Tribune (2 issues) were distributed that had articles and editorials about the problem. It was noted that this issue is related to other criminal activity and should be addressed.

The next meeting will be Monday July 23, 2007.

Meeting was adjorned.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Success II

Here is a video of the bulldozing. My first youtube video, so bear with me. A little too long and a little too loud.

Bessemer Neighborhood Association Success

Friday, July 27, 2007


Our number one priority and first objective has been reached! The dangerous building on 19th Street has come down. Soon I will have a link to a video so you can actually see it falling.

For now, be happy with these pictures.

Just a pile of rubbish...soon to be cleaned up, we hope.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Special Announcement

The Meeting of the BNA on Monday July 23 will focus on two issues we are already addressing, noise and dilapidated buildings, but our main focus will be on the dog issue that was brought up at the last meeting. We do not have an animal problem, we have a people problem.

The officers believe that the issue of animal abuse is very important. Nobel Peace Prize recipient and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer said “Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives."

Think about what that says for our city.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

BNA Goals and Objectives

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association meets regularly to pursue our mission of improving the quality of life in Bessemer. Our goals and objectives are constantly being revised.

Our current goals include:

  • Increase our active membership.

  • Fight urban blight and work to beautify our community.

  • Develop programs and activities which give our youth alternatives to life in the streets.

  • Work in conjunction with elected officials and law enforcement to reduce crime throughout our community.

  • Improve educational opportunities for all ages.

We are in the process of developing specific objectives to help meet these goals. One specific objective we have discussed is identifying dilapidated structures within our community and working with the city to tear down those structures which are beyond repair and rehab those which can be saved and made an asset to the community.

Carrying this objective one step further, we are targeting the old apartment building on 19th Street South between Clarendon and Dartmouth Avenue. This building has for years been an eyesore, and recently has become a danger and has been declared a public health threat. Removing this building will lift the spirits of the people of the south side of Bessemer, as they will not be looking at that piece of residential blight any longer.

This old building has become a symbol of "old Bessemer" to the people of the community. This is what visitors see as they drive along 19th street, one of the busiest streets in the neighborhood. The Bessemer Neighborhood Association says there is a "renewed" Bessemer coming, and this building is not going to be a part of it.