Local News

Story published: 02-13-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Downtown activities during business hours limited to Sunflower Festival

By Jonathan Pleasant

With the full city council in attendance, the board of mayor and aldermen for the Town of Mountain City made a decision concerning the use of downtown for events and activities at this month’s meeting. With a growing number of organizations such as the Relay for Life hoping to boost attendance and support by locating their annual activities downtown city officials were forced to institute a new policy before the repeat closures could potentially cause harm to businesses along Main Street.

Having discussed the topic for the past few months, the board reached a consensus that the only festival or activity that would be allowed during business hours before 5 p.m. would be the Sunflower Festival which has been held on Main Street largely since its inception. Other events that have used Main Street in the past including holiday parades, the annual Joe Barlow Car show, the Relay for Life, and the Pumpkin Festival would be grandfathered in, but would be primarily limited to after hours, past 5 p.m. At least eight events were mentioned and added into Alderman Bob Morrison’s motion to institute the policy, with the understanding that any request to hold an event would still need to come before the board for approval.

Another change discussed by the board involved the city’s use of fluoride in its water. With the announcement that the state will no longer be paying for regular fluoride testing, water plants manager Andy Garland noted that the cost of adding fluoride to the city water supply would now be almost $11,000 a year. The cost of testing itself is only $100 but as Garland pointed out, this is only the most recent expense as the state has steadily reduced funding for the teeth-strengthening mineral. Because of its acidic nature, fluoride regularly requires the purchase of new pumps, another element the state formerly paid for. Further, the amounts of fluoride added to the water have been decreased by the state substantially weakening its potential benefits.

With all of these factors considered, as well as the fact that the mineral negatively affects the taste of the water, Garland voiced his recommendation to simply take fluoride out of the city’s system. Discussion was held amongst the board, with some like Mayor Keeble voicing his support for keeping fluoride, while others seemed to be against.

However, before taking a vote on the issue, Alderman Bob Morrison noted that it might be a good idea to table the item until next month, giving citizens and proponents time to voice their concerns. Agreeing unanimously, the board determined to ask City Recorder Sheila Shaw to run announcements about the decision in the local media, encouraging anyone who felt strongly about about the decision to come to the next meeting and voice their opinions.

C.L. Overman with Cumberland Securities made the trip to Mountain City, to discuss the refinancing of some of the town’s debt. With interest rates at historic lows, Overman informed the council that Mountain City had the potential to save hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of paying off some of these loans. Three in particular, from 1991, 1999, and 2004 respectively could be refinanced at a lower fixed interest rate.

After discussing the issue at length, Overman informed the council that the process would require a good faith agreement to be drawn up along with a draft refunding resolution from a bond council. The city has been dealing with Overman and his company for several years, and full confidence that the change would save Mountain City money in the long run, Alderman Morrison made a motion to allow Mayor Keeble to sign the necessary agreements to move forward. With no opposition, the motion passed unanimously.

Keeble made several announcements during his turn speaking to the council, beginning with several updates on recent meetings he had attended. Starting with Representative Timothy Hill’s town hall meeting last week, Keeble detailed some of the items that would be affecting the town, including the paving of Highway 418 this spring, and the mayor’s request that the stoplight at the intersection of 421 and 167 be made to operate more safely.

For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.