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China Grove citizens question police force suspension
Monsoor Mohandessi stands before the China Grove City Council Jan. 9 to tell members he agrees to inform businesses leasing his property that they need to obtain a city permit.
About two dozen citizens nearly filled the China Grove City Hall for the Jan. 9 monthly council meeting. However, those who wanted information or answers regarding the council’s Dec. 9 suspension of the city’s police department were to be disappointed.
Most people speaking in the citizens to be heard segment of the meeting brought up the police department, but the city council and the city attorney would not comment on the subject.
Glen McCarty said New Year’s Eve fireworks were louder and longer than in previous years.
“Some people did take advantage, since we don’t have a police force,” he said. “They popped from 7 in the evening to 1 in the morning.”
Larry Keller said his intent in addressing the council was to raise concerns shared with him by other city residents.
“Citizens feel they should have been given an explanation of what has taken place,” he said, adding that if the police force’s suspension was for the purpose of establishing new policies and procedures, the council should “solicit information from the people who were in it.”
Anita Michalec, who called herself the oldest citizen of China Grove, said she observed Mayor Gene Ripps and other council members at City Hall on Dec. 21, beginning at 12:55 p.m. and staying there about 40 minutes. She asked what this meeting was about.
“I can’t comment,” the mayor said.
Alice Hunt expressed her disappointment, going as far as to say the mayor was “unprofessional.”
She said the city had been left without police protection as holiday crime was at a peak.
The council soon moved onto other business, quickly voting to approve an ordinance regulating the size and amount of time portable storage containers, such as PODS, may be used within the city’s residential and commercial zones. The containers would be limited to 8 feet by 8-1/2 feet by 16 feet for 30 days.
The focus then changed to property owned by Mansoor Mohandessi at 7575 U.S. 87 E. Councilmen John McRae and Doug Pruski led in questioning Mohandessi to ensure each of the parties he leased to has their own restrooms and to inform them that they needed to obtain the appropriate permits to do business in China Grove.
Kenny Kincannon of GL Hunt Co. and his attorney, Joe Hinojosa, also addressed the council. The company had leased a portion of Mohandessi’s property and went into full operation without obtaining a permit.
“I understand what we did was wrong,” Kincannon said. “Now I want to know what it is to get a permit.”
Hinojosa explained that Kincannon had approached the council at its December meeting but was not given “consideration.” Kincannon said at the earlier meeting that it would take six months to move his operation back out of China Grove.
McRae said the company was in violation of two ordinances.
After further discussion, the council approved issuing a “90-day permit until we establish code provision for GL Hunt,” per a motion by Pruski.
Councilman John Massengale then officially presented his letter of resignation from the council, which was approved by the remaining council members.
Massengale said he is leaving the council to accept a position on the board of the East Central Independent School District. He explained that, according to an opinion by the state attorney general, he could not hold both positions.
“I enjoyed working with this city council,” Massengale said. “I think you have done a wonderful job, no matter what some people say.”
Mayor Ripps announced that citizens interested in serving the rest of Massengale’s unexpired term should leave their names, addresses, and telephone numbers with City Secretary Linda Gill. She is at City Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays. No deadline was announced.
In attendance: Mayor Gene Ripps and councilmen John Massengale, John McRae, Doug Pruski, Mike Trainor, and Cathy Ripps; City Attorney William “Cody” Faulk.
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