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City Council discusses budget amendments

April’s city council meeting began with an invocation led by former and fire chief Danny Cullop, followed by the pledge to the flag, conducted by US Army veteran Donald Eller. The first order of business was a discussion about the Mountain City Sunflower Festival.
Director Barbara Coyne was present and announced that this year’s festival would be on July 24th from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Main Street. A chili cook off will be held that is open to any resident of the county. Coyne encouraged business owners to support the event and participate in the taste testing, as well as sponsoring those who might not be able to afford entering the competition.
In his report Mayor Kevin Parsons presented the council with photos of the former Silverlake Grist Mill that the city currently owns. Parsons made a motion that an effort be made to place the more than a century old building on the state and national registry of historical places. Built in the late 1800s, the building still contains most of the original equipment and its water wheel. Volunteers have already shown a desire to begin the restoration of the building, including work on the foundation after years of settling.
Mayor Parsons also reported that the former Bizzies restaurant in town will now become the new home of State Farm Insurance. Additionally Parsons also announced that he would not be running for reelection in the city as he is pursuing the position of County Mayor.
Alderman Willis Walker made a point to mention two plaques that were placed on the Veterans’ clock in town last August. In that short amount of time the faint etching of the plaques has weathered and has become very difficult to read. Walker made a motion to purchase new plaques with better etching that will stand the harsh conditions. Mayor Parsons also reminded the council that an official ceremony for the plaques was never held and that the replacement of the plaques would provide the perfect opportunity for the ceremony to occur. The council voted unanimously for their replacement.
Alderman Bob Morrison made a point to honor and remember local businessman John Stout, who passed away recently. Stout owned the City Shoe Store, one of the last businesses in the region to sell as well as repair shoes. Stout was a beloved member of the community and a valuable asset to the city. Morrison made the point to take the time to honor his memory.
City recorder Terry Reece had several points to make, most dealing with forthcoming highway projects. The first point dealt with the stop light at the intersection near the Pioneer Village Shopping Center and US Highway 421. The light’s sensors are having difficulty detecting the vehicles, an ongoing problem of the last few years. Stop light technician Ben Chambers reported that the problem was found within the light’s controls and this would be a prime opportunity for an update, including a switch to led bulbs. Additionally the new light would be able to contain a turning light pending the approval of the State Department of Transportation.
Reece also informed the council that several budget amendments would have to be made for upcoming bridge repair projects. A $6,200 amendment was passed for a bridge on Highway 67 in Doe Valley and another for $3,500 was secured for engineering work on the bridge on Highway 67 near the Rite Aid pharmacy. This bridge will become a major rehabilitation project that poses several traffic problems for city residents. Because of its location near the intersection of State Highway 67 and US Highway 421 and the presence of nearby businesses, this project may become a traffic nightmare. During construction the bridge will become one lane and the project could take more than nine months. Work is expected to begin at the end of August. City Council members were hoping to see the bridge become a 4-lane structure, but because the original piers are going to be used, this is not a possibility. However, a three-lane bridge is not out of the question.
The city is also experiencing other costly necessities, as wastewater plant manager Danny Sims announced that a large duplex compressor has recently begun to malfunction. The cost of replacing both compressors in the unit is $9,900. Additionally at the facility a small trackhoe is expected to be purchased to clean the bar screen, a task that otherwise calls for intense physical labor that has already resulted in minor injuries.
Mayor Parsons opened a discussion about the possibility of increasing the water bill paying periods from two dates to four. Currently most water bills are paid at the beginning of the month, which causes a great deal of congestion at city hall. Parsons is proposing increasing the number to four days, one for each billing area to relieve the long lines. One of the determining factors for this move might also be the new Social Security procedures that have come into effect which pays out checks on the date the individual signed up rather than the former fixed date on the third of every month. If this switch to four billing dates was implemented it would mean that customers would have to pay a one time alignment bill to restart the billing period. Parsons recommended billing on the 3rd, 12th, 20th, and 28th. Further discussion will be held on the subject.
Discussion was held about the status of the town’s annual Pumpkin Festival. Because of the difficult economic situation, this year’s festival will be limited to the very popular Scarecrows on Main event and the Taste of the Mountains dinner.
Closing the meeting was the reappointment of City Recorder Terry Reece, Public Works Director Bob Eller, and Chief of Police Denver Church. Each was nominated to their positions respectively and all were approved unanimously. Upon their reappointment Mayor Parsons swore in each department head.