WARNER ROBINS — Before the city’s council meeting began Monday night, Pastor Kent Jordan of Fellowship Baptist Church opened with a prayer asking for guidance to get elected officials to “grow up” and go about the business of the city.
“We don’t need people to laugh at this city, father,” said Jordan, who also works in the city’s public works department, eliciting shouts of “Yes, Lord,” and moans of approval from several in the crowd of about 75 inside council chambers.
Less than an hour before, verbal jousting took place between the mayor and several council members during a pre-council session regarding a pretrial intervention service focusing on recidivism in the city’s criminal justice system. Harry Bowden, of the Atlanta firm Alternative Choices, talked about a 24-hour monitoring system for those who go through the program. The faith-based group boasts an 85-percent completion rate, with a 98-percent success rate of keeping participants from re-entering the criminal justice system for two years after a conviction.
The city’s pre-council session became tense surrounding a motion by Councilman Daron Lee for the city to go forward with finding a fit for the program in the city. Mayor Chuck Shaheen asked the board to table the subject until everyone had a chance to go through and answer any questions they may have. Lee said all had been informed of the program the previous week.
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“I didn’t receive any information about this program,” Shaheen said.
“Yes, you did,” Lee fired back. “I sent this to the Council last week.”
Warner Robins Police Chief Brett Evans said there were city statutes that require that approval by the council was necessary for the program to properly function.
Councilmen Tom Simms Jr. and John Williams also discussed holding off on a decision for the program so everyone on the board could have a chance to do some homework on the venture. Nothing immediate was done on the matter during the council meeting.
City officials also approved a new life insurance plan with a new company and changes to its current health insurance plan, which also takes into account changes made due to national health care reform.
The Council also voted to acquire ownership of properties with land needed for the planned widening of Corder Road and to uphold a decision by an administrative law judge on a personnel matter involving employee Abdur Miller, both of which were discussed in a closed session held before the meeting.
The group also approved an appointment for Susan McNally as assistant prosecutor for the Municipal Court.