Watertown removes pitbull ordinance

Oct. 21—The Watertown City Council voted to remove the city's dangerous dog ordinance, also known as the pit bull ordinance, and adopted the vicious animal ordinance in its place.

The vote to remove the dangerous dog ordinance during the council's Tuesday night meeting was unanimous.

Two councilors were absent for the vote.

During the August city council meeting, the existing vicious animal ordinance was amended to incorporate Tennessee's leash law. The law states that if a dog goes uncontrolled in a public place, such as a highway, road or "any other place open to the public generally," would result in a class C misdemeanor.

"It'll actually take the place of what we just did away with in our municipal code book, so it's much more thorough and much more particular as to what triggers it," Watertown Mayor Mike Jennings said.

By removing the dangerous dog ordinance, there is no longer a restriction prohibiting residents from owning a pit bull within the city limits. Prior to the change, possessing a pit bull within Watertown was classified as a misdemeanor, and the city court had the authority to order for the removal of the animal.

The dangerous dog ordinance had previously been in place since 1998.

Increasing police community involvement

The Watertown Police Department is launching several initiatives to foster community involvement.

"One of them (is) Coffee with a Cop," Watertown Police Assistant Chief Michael Henderlight said. "We're going to do that on Nov. 14."

Watertown has invited law enforcement agencies across Wilson County, including Alexandria's police department. The event will take place from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m.

Henderlight is also working on an initiative that he calls Prayer with Police. He hopes to facilitate the event every month in the Watertown community center.

"(We'd) invite all the pastors — anybody that'd want to come — and just have 30-40 minutes (together) one day," Henderlight said.

In previous meetings, it was mentioned that efforts were being made to increase the presence of Watertown Police officers in the schools around the city. City councilor Steve Casey asked Henderlight for an update regarding the department's increased presence.

"Last night — we just have one officer on duty — but I sent him up to the middle school as a meet-and-greet," Henderlight said. "Basically, Officer (Kevin) Hopkins from the sheriff's department called me, and I was like, 'You don't even have to say anything. I'll have my guy there.' He spent about an hour and a half last night there, making a lot of contacts and talking to the principal."

Project updates

Watertown is getting ready to move forward with its sewer project.

"Our engineer responded to me today," Jennings said. "He said, 'I expect the rehab plans to be approved within a week ... that's from the state. Once we have the approved plans back, then we can advertise the project for bid if you have the funding in place.' "

Jennings said that while he's uncertain of how much funding the sewer project will require, he believes that the city has the funding in place to match a grant or a loan.