Meeting focuses on crime, schools

Alabaster resident Bobby Lee Harris speaks during a Jan. 24 Alabaster Action Committee community meeting at Mt. Olive Baptist church in the Simmsville community. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

An Alabaster Police detective said he was able to solve a recent string of burglaries in the city’s Ironwood subdivision because of tips from several neighborhood residents, and said the department has not responded to any calls in the area since the arrest was made.

During an Alabaster Action Committee Meeting, which was held at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Alabaster’s Simmsville community on Jan. 24, detective Tommy Stewart said the department made an arrest in December 2011 after the neighborhood was struck by six burglaries over the course of several months.

“We’ve charged a young man with two of those burglaries. I am a firm believer that this young man is responsible for the other ones, too,” Stewart told the about 40 people in attendance.

“We have not had one call for service in Ironwood since that arrest was made,” said Stewart, who did not release the suspect’s name but said the suspect had been released on bond.

Stewart and Alabaster police Lt. Mike Jones encouraged those at the meeting to be watchful, and to always report suspicious people or situations to the police.

“You know who is supposed to be in your neighborhood,” Jones said. “Y’all should know anyone who is supposed to be there better than I do.”

Ward 1 Councilwoman Sophie Martin urged those at the meeting to form neighborhood watch programs and provided sign-up forms after the meeting.

Stewart said most of the city’s residential burglaries happen during the daytime hours, and most commercial burglaries happen at night.

During the meeting, city officials also gave an update on Alabaster’s upcoming school board, and said members of the Alabaster City Council Education Committee will interview school board candidates during several public sessions at the Alabaster Senior Center over the next few weeks.

Once seated, the five-member Alabaster school board will hire a schools superintendent, and will help form the city’s first municipal school district.

Alabaster resident Bobby Lee Harris, who worked to organize the Jan. 24 community meeting, accused past principals in Alabaster schools of acting inappropriately.

“At one time in Alabaster, we had a principal to certify a redneck spirit day,” Harris said. “At one time, we had a principal who put a noose around his neck and walked down the halls and let kids know never to drink and drive during prom time.

“We don’t want these people in the school system,” Harris added. “If you don’t do a full-scope review of their backgrounds, you will appoint the wrong people.”

Martin said all applicants would go through a “very thorough” background check, and said the city is planning to appoint a “wide range” of board members.

“We know we have to put the right people in this position, because if we don’t it will fail,” Martin said.