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Businesses want court collection company moved

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The owner of a company that is collecting municipal court fines for Hartselle said he wants to be a good neighbor and will reach out to business owners in the central business district.

Some downtown business owners, however, say his business is not appropriate for a historic district and they want him to move.

"We looked long and hard for office space in Hartselle, and we selected this location because of the public parking lot," said Kevin Egan, president of Judicial Correction Services.

The company, which is on Main Street, has a one-year contract with the city to collect court fines for Hartselle. Court fines previously were collected at City Hall, a block off Main Street.

City Attorney Larry Madison said the company is complying with every city ordinance and has all the legal licenses to operate in Hartselle.

Jeanette Grover, who owns a building in downtown, said the company is bringing "unsavory" characters to the business district.

"They are bringing a criminal element downtown and this is bad for Hartselle," she said.

Egan said most of the people who have come to his business since it opened in March are people charged with misdemeanor traffic violations. His company does not deal with any people with felony convictions.

"I don't mean to diminish their concerns," Egan said. "We want to be a good neighbor first and foremost. I will reach out to the business owners."

Susie Burgess put a sign on the door of the financial company she works for that reads: "The probation office is two blocks west."

"I felt uncomfortable," she said.

Jack Creel owns an antique business downtown. He said the company is "bringing an element downtown that may be looking for an opportunity" to commit another crime.

"I've had a few to drift in my store that were not customers," he said.

Egan said he has a sign ready to put over his business, but has not received an OK from the Central Business District Review Board.

City Hall officials confirmed that he has submitted an application that apparently got lost in paperwork.

"I'm aware that businesses were tired of people knocking on their doors looking for us," Egan said. "If this is a nuisance, that is something we will rectify as soon as possible."

Ann Tucker's frame shop is next to Judicial Correction Services. She said people have come in asking about the company's location.

"I don't want to sound judgmental because I hate to judge people," Tucker said. "But, I do have some concerns."

Egan's company signed a contract with the City Council on Feb. 14.

The company makes its money by adding $35 to each fine that is not paid off in seven days.

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