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Pedestrian Crosswalk, Panhandling, Vandalism: City Discusses Ongoing Issues and Projects

News Editor

The City of Trenton Commission Meeting on March 13 reviewed several new topics, as well as many previously discussed items. New topics included a pedestrian crosswalk near Dade Elementary School; establishing a panhandling ordinance; information about a nine-month old case and its potential ties to the recently discovered human remains; and vandalism in Jenkins Park.

Regarding the crosswalk, John Smith (director of facilities/transportation with the Dade County School System) recently approached the city about adding a crosswalk at West Crabtree because DES families sometimes park at the justice building and cross the street to the school. All commissioners were in favor of moving forward with this and looking into additional safety near the school.

Mike Norris (police commissioner) brought his concerns about panhandling before the commission. He said, “We’ve done a little research on it. Panhandling is people standing on the side of the road asking for money. There are still about 25 places in Chattanooga where they’re allowed to.”

Norris noted that some panhandlers work for groups who collect the money, saying, “We had one [group start] here in the city of Trenton back when I was still working…Long story short, I ran into the same guy about four times and chased him into his new Cadillac.” Norris explained that this man dropped off panhandlers who Norris then watched collect $300 in half an hour. He noted that Trenton is filled with good-hearted, generous people.

He reported that approximately 150 people have formed a homeless camp in St. Elmo near the Old Wauhatchie Pike, St. Elmo Avenue, and Broad Street triangle. He continued, “That was getting started in the city park here. I wanted to bring this up to the commission. How can we stop these folks?”

Norris and Mayor Alex Case said this problem is not easy to address.

Norris then noted that a nine-month old case has been closed, saying, “The police department…put a stop to a case that happened nine months ago. The gentleman that did the crime over at the Ingles was found deceased in the woods. As far as I’ve been told, it was our guy from the Ingles, so that case was solved. Unfortunately, he took his own life.”

After the meeting, the Sentinel spoke with Norris. Norris reported that about nine months ago, a man assaulted and attempted to kidnap a woman in the Trenton Ingles. He explained that this man then committed suicide in the woods by Town Creek. He did not know the name of the suspect.

The Sentinel spoke with Detective Dylon Floyd with the Trenton Police Department regarding this case and the human remains discovered on Feb. 22. Floyd reported, “We do not have an identification on the remains yet. We are looking into the Ingles case and several other missing person cases. There’s no estimated time on when we’ll get a report back from the state lab.”

Tying into the issue of homelessness and panhandling, Terry Powell (Parks & Animal Control Commissioner) brought up the issues of vandalism in Jenkins Park, specifically noting graffiti in the bathrooms and citing young people as instigators. Case noted that the county has also had vandalism issues at the sports complex, specifically people performing donuts on the soccer field.

The commission noted that issues of vandalism and homelessness in the park have been ongoing.

Previously discussed issues included the transition to an online meeting agendas system which is anticipated to be completed by next month; approval of SPLOST funds to update Trenton PD body cameras and vehicle cameras; and approval of purchasing a new accounting software.

Continuing projects include the transition of the Railway Lane property to the county for the new elections building; consideration of installing a baby box in Trenton; and reinstating a Downtown Development Authority. Case noted that next month’s meeting will have more information about the DDA.

The Sentinel plans to run a full story about baby boxes and why several residents are in favor of installing one in Trenton in an upcoming edition.

Mindy Haworth noted that the youth education coordinator position at the library is open, and Sandy White reported that the Alliance for Dade is still searching for a welcome center manager. Interested residents are encouraged to apply to these positions.

The Trenton PD answered 271 calls in February and completed 1,738 business checks. The department worked 12 traffic incidents and made 86 traffic stops, resulting in 48 citations.

Case gave the fire report in place of Lucretia Houts (fire and utility commissioner). The Trenton Fire Department received 86 calls in February, 7 of which were fire related and 37 which were canceled en route.

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