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City Council July business

Alderman Bob Morrison kicked off last week’s Mountain City Town Council meeting with a proposal to purchase a new repeater on Stone Mountain to increase the city fire department’s radio capabilities. With new requirements that have forced all communications to be switched to narrowband frequencies, Morrison felt that there would never be a better time to make the purchase and also pointed out that the new repeater would benefit the police department as well. Currently information cannot be sent digitally through the old repeater because it is not capable of handling both voice and data, however, with the new technology the city’s patrolmen would be able to send and receive information directly to their vehicles. The estimated cost of the new repeater is $3,300, and because both departments would be directly affected with the purchase, Morrison suggested that the funding be split between their two budgets. Following a discussion of the issue, Morrison made a motion to proceed with the purchase, which was seconded by Alderman Kenny Icenhour and carried unanimously.
During his report to the council, Icenhour stated that he had been approached about the possibility of starting a neighborhood watch within the city, particularly in a few troubled areas. As a result, Icenhour went on to say that he had made a request for Police Chief Denver Church to look into the specifics and requirements of starting a watch and would be reporting back to the council at a later date.
Mayor Keeble announced that he was forced to approve an emergency purchase for the city when the high dive at the city pool became seriously damaged recently. Most high dives across the state have already been removed, but because the city’s was grandfathered in under the new restrictions, the city can keep it in use as long as it is in working order and is not altered from its original specifications. As such, town officials had to move quickly to purchase a new board to replace the old one and bring the high dive back into working order before it might be removed for good. At $2,700 the repair was costly, but preserved one of the most popular attractions at the pool. Addressing the issue Mayor Keeble asked that the council officially approve the purchase which gained support across the board. In charge of the day-to-day operation of the pool, Earl Gambill came before the council to personally thank the board as well as the city employees for repairing the high dive. Giving an update on the pool, Gambill went on to say that his lifeguards had saved six children and one adult so far this year, some of whom would have certainly drowned if not for the lifeguard’s presence.
Speaking about the city parks and recreation, the council also discussed the town’s policy concerning closing parks for private use. Although the city can allow specific functions and events within the parks, Alderman Bob Morrison advised that he felt it would not be legal to make those events exclusive. Agreeing, City Attorney Steve McEwen advised that the parks cannot be closed to the general public. The review of the town’s policy concerning park usage was a result of a request last month to close Cunningham Park for the private use of a local organization which had to be denied.
City Recorder Sheila Shaw presented a request from the Johnson County Health Council for $100 to help purchase t-shirts for a free upcoming health screening. Conducted through East Tennessee State University, the screenings will be held on August 23rd and will provide a number of free services to the people of Johnson County. Mayor Keeble made the motion to accept the request and was seconded by vice-mayor Jerry Jordan. The motion passed unanimously.
Shaw also stated to the council that she had been approached by Brenda Church, owner of Shay Brey located on Main Street, about the potential of placing two-sided lighted wreathes on the city light poles this Christmas. Church made the same request last year but was denied because of budget issues. At a cost of approximately $2000 to make and place the wreathes on each pole downtown, the council discussed in depth what action they should take. Because the city already has holiday themed banners they place on the poles, and because of the cost to the town, a decision was made to place the wreathes on every other pole, cutting the cost in half.
Public Works director Bob Eller advised the board that repairs to the stoplight on the corner of US 421 and Highway 67 could begin soon. Looking ahead to new requirements in 2013, Eller advised that it would be an opportune time to switch the light over to the new LED bulbs, but also advised that action should be taken quickly because the bulbs could take several weeks for delivery. Because the cost of the bulbs continues to go up and because of the time requirements with the issue, Alderman Bob Morrison made the successful motion to approve the purchase of the new bulbs.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.