By TESA GLASS email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — The City Council has committed itself to develop alternative ways to dispose of leaf and landscape waste.
During its meeting Monday, the council approved a resolution to develop a plan for consideration and potential implementation by April 30, 2014.
"We talked two years ago about looking into this," said Councilman David Wood. "Each year when the leaves start to be burnt there are numerous problems. ... All the resolution does is ask that we look into the issue."
Wood said the April 30 date was presented in the resolution as it will be prior to the new budget year and at a time when the waste disposal contract will be up for renegotiated.
According to the resolution, a large number of residents burn leaves and landscape waste and create a large amount of smoke, which can be detrimental to the the health and welfare of citizens.
"Whereas the mayor and city council of the City of Mt. Vernon desires to eliminate the health and safety threats posed to its citizens by the burning of leaves and landscape waste, and whereas the improper disposal of leaves and landscape waste blocks storm water drain systems causing damage to property and increase cost to the city ... we shall support, investigate and develop alternative methods of leaf and landscape waste disposal to the benefit of the citizens of Mt. Vernon for consideration and potential implementation by April 30, 2014."
Safety of citizens was also on the mind of resident Keisha Johnson, who voiced her concerns over recent shootings reported in the city. Most recently, a church in the 1300 block of South Ninth Street reported to police of damage caused to the building related to the discharge of weapons and at 1:13 a.m. Sunday morning, numerous callers to police reported hearing gunshots in the area of the 1000 block of South 25th Street.
"There has been a rash of gun violence, shots fired continuously," Johnson said. "Not to discredit or imply the Mt. Vernon Police are not doing their jobs — I believe they are. ... But the reports are getting closer to the junior high school and Andy Hall school and there are children there. Is there more to be done and is there something we, as citizens, can do?"
Mt. Vernon Police Chief Chris Mendenall said the gun violence is "unacceptable for us as well."
"People involved have been identified," Mendenall said. "We have added patrols in marked and unmarked vehicles. An arrest was made last night (Sunday). It's a priority for us."
According to police records, James Lomax, 22, of the 600 block of South 18th Street at 8:31 p.m. Sunday on a charge of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
Mendenall said citizens need to be courageous enough to come forward when they have information about gun violence.
"I know people are sometimes afraid to get involved, and fear retribution," Mendenall said. "If they want to report, they can call Crimestoppers ... and remain anonymous."
Mendenall said he knows another arrest was made in Dix after someone fired a shot at a business there over the weekend, and that incident is also being investigated.
"I think the police are doing an awesome job," Johnson said. "One reason for coming here is to let you know that I care, that those with me tonight care, that we care. We want you to know there are people who care."