The steady hum and click of a tape recorder filled room at the Roachdale Town Council meeting Tuesday -- a reaction from a volatile December meeting that led to shouting and accusations that the town had denied citizens access to public records.
"I want to let the board know I will be recording all of these proceedings," said Roachdale resident Dennis Gentry, shortly before the meeting was called to order. "I don't know if the town does it, but it should."
After the abrupt announcement and a brief acknowledgement from town council president Bill Long, the meeting progressed as planned, but tension lingered and the board acknowledged community input.
"I appreciate everyone who has come here to voice their opinion," said Long. "In the past they've talked out in the street but they haven't come here."
Town business was subdued Tuesday. In the first meeting of the year, the board voted to renew Long's position as president of the town council for another year and passed a motion to have the town's water rate evaluated by accountant Pat Callahan.
According to the board, results of the study may lead to a water rate increase that is far over due, as the last time a Roachdale water rate study was conducted may have been 1980. Currently the town says it is not making enough money from water bills to pay for necessary repairs to waterlines.
Roachdale Town Marshall Mike Mahoy issued a reminder to town residents regarding the town's dog ordinance. All dogs in Roachdale must have dog tags, Mahoy said, and reminded residents tags can be purchased for only $5 through February, but that cost increases to $10 after March 1.
The board also addressed a request to have gravel placed in the alley at 203 N. East St., but that request was denied. Long explained that the town does take the responsibility to maintain certain alleys in Roachdale, mostly confined to the business district, but private citizens maintain the remaining alleys in town.
He suggested that confusion over this matter may have arisen when the town placed gravel in an alley near the Post Office, but he said they regularly maintain that alley and were repairing damage done when a gas line was replaced.
Finally the board announced that it would be taking steps to address street repairs, announcing they would meet to do an onsite inspection to select areas for repairs. The board members will then contact companies for price estimates, but no contracts will be signed until they presented the matter at the February board meeting. It was determined that their on site inspection would not fall under the definition of an executive session.
Finally, Town Marshall Mike Mahoy made several requests for updating technology for the town police force. He requested two new laptops for the town's police vehicles so they can be up to date in time for the new 911 dispatch center scheduled to open in the summer of 2008.
Mahoy also requested a new computer for his office that would allow him to process digital photographs that officers need when appearing in court. Board members tabled his requests until the next meeting where he has been asked to present the town with price estimates for purchasing the new equipment.