Council discusses car thefts, audit, stop sign confusion

Dawson Springs City Council member Kenny Mitchell (far right) describes the dilemma of multiple stop signs plaguing motorists on Locust Street as (from left) Mayor Chris Smiley and fellow council member Dusty Vinson listen.

The latest meeting of the Dawson Springs City Council, which was held on Tuesday, began with an audit report from Berry, Kington & Utley, PSC. Shellie Utley offered City Clerk Janet Dunbar and the City a congratulatory “Excellent job,” due to a total increase of $92,329. According to Dunbar, the increase was a summation from “all accounts,” which includes the “general fund, road aid, ABC, etc.”

In his department’s recount of 2019, Dawson Springs Police Chief Mike Opalek had one major concern: “It’s disturbing to me--meaning I don’t like it at all--within the city limits of Dawson Springs in 2019, we had 11 vehicle thefts.”

“Every one of those--when the vehicle was stolen--the car was unlocked and the keys were in it,” said Opalek. “In a small town like Dawson Springs, we should not have 11 vehicle thefts.”

“Our citizens trust our police department,” said Mayor Chris Smiley.

After returning from closed session due to pending litigation in which no announcement was made or action taken, council member Kenny Mitchell brought a concern before the council regarding the confusion of multiple stop signs located on Locust Street.

“The road behind Miss Becky’s (restaurant)--that one way--going towards the Whiteway Motel, there is a stop sign there,” said Mitchell. “There is also a stop sign at the Whiteway Motel, and there is a stop sign at (highway) 109.”

“I’ve had a number of people talk to me about the stop sign on the one way,” Mitchell continued. “There are cars coming down from the Clarkdale Court direction, with cars almost hitting them because motorists are not stopping.”

“What you are saying is there are three stop signs--two on Locust Street,” asked Dunbar.

“Maybe we should take one of them out,” suggested Smiley.

“I think it’s worth looking into, because people think they have the right-of-way when they don’t,” said Mitchell.

Council member Mark McGregor suggested removing the stop sign located on Locust Street behind the motel (formerly the Whiteway, most recently known as the Spring Inn).

“That way--anyone coming from Flower Street--they have to stop,” said Smiley. “That stop sign is actually on the wrong side of the road.”

“No wonder motorists aren’t stopping,” said Dunbar.

“What do we have to do to remove it?” asked McGregor.

“By ordinance,” said Dawson Springs City Attorney Ben Leonard. “I have a form I’ll send you to initiate the process.”

In other news, the council:

• listened to a report presented by Code Enforcement Officer Fred Rawley. “In 2019, we were successful in closing 65 files,” said Rawley. “We currently have 16 active files, have contacted 11 of those, and have issued 5 citations out of that group.”

• announced that the city’s offices will be closed on February 17 to observe Presidents’ Day, with garbage collection delayed one day during that week.

• reported that tickets are still available for the “Preserve Darby House Dinner” scheduled for February 8 at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 each, or $40 per couple, and can be purchased at City Hall.

• In his mayor’s supplement, Smiley asked citizens to participate in the 2020 Census. “Help our community count and fill out your Census online or on paper,” said Smiley. “These numbers determine the amount of aid and grant monies we get from state and federal funding, including roads, economic development, housing projects, etc.”