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Residents turn out for town hall meeting

A joint town hall meeting hosted by McDonough city officials covered a variety of topics, from preparing for severe weather, to animal restrictions during parades.

Mayor Billy Copeland and District II Councilmember Sandra Vincent held the city's District II Town Hall meeting, the third in a series of such meetings. The officials answered questions Tuesday, at Alexandria Hall, on Jonesboro Road in McDonough.

More than 40 people were on hand, and Vincent stressed the importance of good communication between residents and city officials. "It's important, as representatives, that we represent you," said Vincent. "In order to represent you, we have to know what your concerns are, and what your issues are, and what you'd like to see different."

Tangela Tate, a resident of the Wesley Lakes subdivision in McDonough, said she attended because she read a flyer, and received an e-mail publicizing the meeting. Organizing the periodic meetings is an effective way of communicating, she added.

"I think it's an excellent idea. I truly do, because I believe if even more people would have [shown] up, [they'd] be more informed," said Tate. "When people are more informed, they're not apt to misjudge things that are going on."

Other city officials, McDonough City Administrator Billy Beckett, Public Works Director Lee Hearn, and McDonough Police Chief Preston Dorsey, were also in attendance.

The police chief talked about the city's early warning system for tornadoes. He said the city has an emergency siren system in place, and sirens are tested weekly.

The city manager urged residents to protect themselves in case of emergencies, by purchasing a weather radio to hear emergency broadcasts. For some, he said, weather radios are a good back-up to the traditional emergency warning system. "You may be hard of hearing [and] you may not hear the sirens," Beckett said.

"We have some of the technology that's usable for having a reverse 911 system, where you get an automatic broadcast," said Vincent. "We're really proud of the work that our fire and ... police departments do. I think we've got one of the most awesome departments in the entire state of Georgia."

Ola resident, Mary Green, asked city officials about a revised ordinance posted on the city's web site, regulating animals in the Christmas parade. The revision states that any animal in the parade smaller than a goat must be accompanied by someone walking behind, with a "pooper scooper" and a bag. Any animal larger than a goat must be fitted with a bag or diaper, to keep the street clean, according to the revision.

Beckett responded by explaining that the revision was made to keep animal waste off the streets. Green said, after the meeting, although she does not live in District II, the revision compelled her to attend the town hall meeting to question it. Green said her 14-year-old daughter, Ciara, rides horses, and is a member of a local 4H Club. She said she initially did not believe the requirement for large animals in the parade was actually being put into place.

"We thought it was a joke, but we looked it up on the city's web site, and it said that they either have to be diapered or bagged," added Green.