Local News

Story published: 10-10-2012 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Adjustments made to recently set rules and regulations for city parks

By Jonathan Pleasant

City officials took a second look at new rules for Mountain City’s parks at this month’s council meeting. After passing a policy last month that will impose a series of new regulations concerning both Ralph Stout and Cunningham parks, Mayor Lawrence Keeble asked the council to look at a few suggestions to make the policy more precise and less excessive. Keeble noted that he had been working with City Recorder Sheila Shaw to improve the list of rules, marking off a few that were not necessary for the general public, including the rule to shut down the lights at Ralph Stout Park at 11 p.m. That rule will be solely enforced by city officials through the police department.

Other measures included simplifying the list to simple regulations such as ‘No Fishing’ and ‘No Littering.’ A question arose as to supervision of children in the park. After discussing the issue, the council determined to follow the same policy as the city pool, requiring children under 10 to be accompanied by an adult. Rules such as these will be posted directly on the fencing near the playground, while signs will be made to post the remaining regulations. Alderman Bob Morrison made the motion to accept the changes to the policy, superseding the action taken last month. The motion passed with unanimous consent.

Mayor Keeble also gave an update on a recent decision to limit the local volunteer fire department’s usage of Mountain City’s fire hydrants for non-emergency purposes. The departments primarily use the hydrant access to provide a water source for training purposes, including their live fire training at the Neva training center. The closest hydrant is at Roan Creek Elementary School, but city officials are concerned about the strain that using that hydrant could place on the water system.

The line to the school was an agreement with the Johnson County School system and actually crosses through Brownlow Utility District. A tap to serve Brownlow customers on Mining Town Road and the school itself are the only access points on the line, which directly receives its pressure from the town. Since the city limited the fire departments to a hydrant on Dotson Lane, seven miles away, as well as one in the county’s industrial park, the departments have declared that they will no longer be able to have the live fire training.

Mayor Keeble and the city’s engineers looked into the issue and determined that any hydrant on Dotson Lane and an additional hydrant on North Church Street at the high school would be suitable for non-emergency use, but Collection Distribution Superintendent Jerry Horne reiterated that the Roan Creek School hydrant could prove disastrous, not only breaking the city’s agreement with the county’s school system, but also potentially damaging the main water line.

Mayor Keeble noted that although the city would like to help the fire departments the council also had a responsibility to maintain good practices for the city’s water system. Vice-Mayor Jerry Jordan went on to say that he felt the city had been very willing to work with the departments and was hoping the departments would cooperate as well, suggesting that the city might even have to consider a small usage fee in the future.

Alderman Kenny Icenhour, a longtime associate of both the Fireman’s Association and the Johnson County EMS, was the only one to vote against the city’s policy limiting the use of the hydrants and excluding the one at Neva. Aside from saving the expense of paying for training all the way near Murfreesboro, the Live Fire Training at Neva also generated a small amount of funding to help the county’s departments purchase equipment and offset budget shortfalls. Addressing the issue, Mayor Keeble suggested that the departments take extra water from Dotson Lane before beginning the training. The motion to limit the fire departments to the hydrant on Church Street, the Industrial Park, and Dotson Lane passed four to one.

Dan Lipford with the Johnson County Knights addressed the council to make several requests about upcoming events. Lipford began by noting the success of the Sutton-Barlow Scholarship fundraiser held recently, adding that it brought in more than $4000. Continuing what is becoming an annual tradition, Lipford requested permission to hold the event again next August, along with their Friday Night Bike display, Knights on Main, beginning each week in April and leading up to the big car show.

Lipford went on to ask permission to hold a new fundraiser as well, honoring Deputy Allen Lipford who died in the line of duty. The fundraiser will be a chili cook-off competition open to the general public and held at the lower end of town running from Court Street to US 421. The event will be held Saturday December 8th from 10 until 5. Granting the group’s requests, many of city officials, including Alderman Bob Morrison made remarks about the excellent experience the town has had dealing with the Johnson County Knights in the past, and brought attention to the positive affect these events have on the downtown area.

Lipford was not the only person to address the council. Kathy Terrill, of Shoun Street, made a presentation to the council concerning a problem with a drain on her street. Even after the city raised the sidewalk on this section of road, problems with a blocked drain have caused a considerable amount of water to cross Terrill’s yard and pour into her basement. Although there is not much issue during light showers, the excessive rainfall this season has left Terrill to deal with several inches of mud and problems with mold and dampness. Public Works Director Bob Eller agreed that the drain did need fixing, but brought up that his department did not currently have access to their backhoe. As a result the council directed Superintendent Horne to assist Eller by sending an employee out with that department’s equipment to work on the drain.

Eller noted that the big problem was the size of the sewer line, which is simply unable to handle the excessive amounts of water. This has been a critical issue elsewhere in the city, and has forced the town to take on expensive rehabilitation projects. Most recently the city faced a series of complaints from businesses and residents on the eastern end of town. With sewer lines backing up, employees of Nightline were actually forced to leave work after a particularly heavy downpour. According to Superintendent Jerry Horne, the city was faced with more than two inches of water from that single shower. As a result officials met with members of TDEC and city engineer Brian Fredrick to identify a possible solution. Any changes to the sewer system are very expensive, but the engineer did determine a way to re-route the trunk line in this area of the town to take care of the problem. This project would likely cost near $100,000, but most of the money could come from left over funding from a recently completed sewer rehabilitation project. Even with a solution to this problem, Mayor Keeble went on to say that over the next two or three years the city would be faced with some very expensive changes in the sewer system and may be forced to look at raising sewer rates.

The board also brought up several schedule changes at the meeting, most notably a vote brought up by Alderman Bud Crosswhite to hold Halloween festivities in the city on Tuesday October 30th, rather than Wednesdsy the 31st in order to prevent conflicts with church that night. Vice Mayor Jordan also made a request for a date change, asking that the November meeting be moved from the 6th to the 13th relating that several of the aldermen will be out of town that week. Both changes passed unanimously.

Several members of the council voiced their condolences for the family of Howard Elvidge, a longtime member of the planning commission who recently passed away. Elvidge received a plaque just last month commemorating his many years of service. Mayor Keeble announced that Tom Neaves was willing to fill in the vacancy on the commission, and was consequently approved by the rest of the board.

Public Works Director Bob Eller brought an upcoming project to the council’s attention. Following many requests to have a roof put over the bleachers near the stage in Ralph Stout Park, Eller requested Bob Tillman to draw up some potential plans. The result was an estimated $4,900 project to place a freestanding steel framed roof with an open front over the bleachers. Although not as elegant as other potential structures made out of wood, Mayor Keeble did point out that this project would be considerably cheaper than other options that could range as much as $15,000 to $30,000.

Tillman has built similar structures in other areas, and as a result many members of the board requested pictures of other such examples before making a decision. As a result the issue will be addressed again next month, and in the meantime estimates will be gathered for other options as well. In addition to keeping the seating dry, the council also noted many complaints about the heat of the bleachers in the summer.

City Recorder Sheila Shaw announced to the council that she would be in court this week to address the recent accident at Ralph Stout Park, which damaged the Veterans Memorial Wall. Repairs for the damage will ultimately cost the city a $1000 premium along with $29,826 from the insurance company.

Shaw went on to announce that city police officer Jason Panganiban was selected to represent the city in the Johnson County Leadership Program hosted each year by the Chamber of Commerce. The program is a key element that allows the county to be certified in the Tennessee Three Star program each year.

Mayor Keeble addressed the council to inform that collection distribution superintendent Jerry Horne had selected a new employee to fill a recently vacant position. After looking at all the candidates Horne chose Chad Stout of Doeville for the job. Following Horne’s suggestion, Keeble made a motion to hire Stout, which was approved unanimously.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.