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Brundidge Council looks at securing city hall

Brundidge city officials woke up Friday morning to learn that the world had come to their Mayberry community.

A burglary at the city hall Thursday night was a wakeup call for city officials and a stark reminder that the world has changed and their town has not been spared, said Britt Thomas, city manager.

"We now have to accept that the world has changed," he said. "It's a sad situation and what it does is cause us to further secure things that we do around here."

Thomas said he has been told that Brundidge has one of the nicest city halls anywhere around.

"But, it was built in 1906 when there was little need for security," he said. "Not only do we handle a lot of money here, but we have computers, records and other important documents and furniture that need to be protected. Since the burglary, we have changed some of our policies and procedures to limit our exposure. And, we'll continue to tighten up our organization. That also means looking at ways to secure the building."

Thomas said to limit the exposure to records and files, it might be necessary to find a secondary location in which to store those important documents.

"That also means the taxpayers are going to have to pay to limit our exposure," he said.

There has been a 100 percent reconciliation with customers whose checks were taken in the burglary, Thomas said.

Two juveniles have been charged with second degree burglary in connection with the incident. One is in a detention center in Dothan. The other, who was shot in the arm while attempting to flee the scene, was released into the custody of his parents on an electronic device.

Officer Charles Beasley, the officer who fired the shot, is not allowed to work until a full investigation of the incident by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation is completed.

Thomas reported on the progress of the acquisition of the Will Lee building by the city for use as a municipal annex.

Thomas said once the purchase is completed in about three weeks, the city will begin work on the building.

"City workers will do the work that we are capable of doing, much like at the police station," Thomas said. "Everything else will be subcontracted.

Mayor Jimmy Ramage said the idea is to renovate the building in a way that it no longer looks like a convenience store.

"We want it to look like a municipal building," he said. "The facility is going to be a great asset for our citizens."

Jane Thrash, director of the Pike County Unit of the American Red Cross, attended the meeting and expressed appreciation to the city council for taking the steps necessary to purchase the building and make it available to agencies such as the Red Cross.

"When you open, we want to be here," she said. "Larry Davis (Emergency Management director) and I talked about it this morning. He is interested in having an office here and we both appreciate the opportunity."

Thrash also discussed the possibility of the city taking advantage of funds available through EMA for the construction of public storm shelters.

Thrash said that, through the program, the city would only be responsible for 20 percent of the cost.

Ramage said the council is interested in the program.

"We have some property that could be used as our 20 percent match," he said. "We would like to have storm shelters on both ends of town to accommodate those who live in mobile homes and others in emergency situations, such as evacuations during hurricanes."

Ramage said the shelter could be used for other purposes, including meetings, workshops and training sessions.

In other business:

 The mayor expressed appreciation to Boy Scout Troop 41 of Troy for leading an impressive Flag Retirement Ceremony in Brundidge on Flag Day.

 Thomas reported that rain has delay work on the access road to Southern Classic Foods.

 Thomas reported that the city is installing bathroom and limited kitchen facilities at the "We Piddle Around Theater."

 The council passed a resolution amending the project budget for Carter Brothers and Southern Classic Food Group.

 Approved a $350,000 six-month, temporary line of credit at First National Bank, the low bidder.

 Passed a proclamation, presented by the Rev. Steve Rascoe, pastor of Park Memorial United Methodist Church, in support of the Scott Dawson evangelistic crusade at Troy State University June 26-29.