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City Council tables Farmers’ Market request for move to Ralph Stout Park

By Bonnie Davis Guy

The Mountain City, March Council Meeting came to session with Mayor Kevin Parsons and all aldermen in attendance. The town hall was packed to capacity with many there to show support for a presentation to the council from the Farmers Market manager and board.
First up was a request for permission to use the city’s ball fields for the 2017 little league season. Additionally, if the council approves there will be an opening day parade with the tentative date of April 1. The league president also mentioned they had installed a new score board at Cunningham Park and would like to move the old score board to the t-ball field. They would also like to work with the city to get all the score boards in operating order. The request was passed. “We want to help you in anyway,” said Mayor Parsons. “We take pride in our leagues. The Johnson County Little League is doing a great job.”
Next was an all yes roll call vote of the consent calendar including last month’s minutes and the second and final reading of budget amendment ordinances number 1531- number 1538.
Council member comments are next on the agenda beginning with Alderman Bob Morrison who said “Thank you to all the city employees, we appreciate you all.” He further added he had seen an increase in folks using the Goose Creek Trail and is feeling good about the project. The other aldermen reiterated thanks to the city employees but had no other business.
Mayor Parsons stated free dental care will possibly be coming to Mountain City for a two-day period later this year. Details are being worked out but hopefully this service will be helpful to many people in need. Parsons also stated that the use of to list surplus city property was going well and he encouraged all department heads to get all surplus items together and place them on the board.
Mayor Parsons then presented the aldermen with a resolution that stated Mountain City would not support a voucher based education program. The Johnson County School Board had approached Mayor Parsons about possible support for such a resolution and once discussed it was unanimously approved by the council.
City Recorder Sheila Shaw recently received an email from the art teacher at Johnson County High School seeking approval for her students to paint a mural in the Ralph Stout Park tunnel. Although the alderman expressed concern that the students’ work would be vandalized, they welcomed the opportunity to have the mural. Shaw informed the council the bid date for the Fairground Lane Bridge had been pushed forward to June 23. The mayor and all aldermen were concerned over this delay interfering with the traffic flow at the start of the 2017 school year but due to TDOT regulation, the project must move forward.
City Police Chief Denver Church presented a list of city structure and property ordinance violations to the council. A letter of warning will be issued and followed up on. Mayor Parsons thanked Chief Denver Church and his department for compiling the list and said in his research he found that Kingsport utilizes their fire chief in determining structural safety violations and going forward Chief Stout would be helping with the process.  Church also discussed the possibility of a city K-9 unit being put in place. City Officer T.J .Brown and his canine would be spear heading this effort and presented the facts to the council. Brown stated if the city were to start from scratch in obtaining a K-9 and all equipment plus training it would cost around $1,700 however, Brown is offering to donate his K-9 and equipment to the city. The city would be responsible for training in Chattanooga and some various other small items. Officer Brown explained that in the past year alone the department seizures from drugs had nearly doubled. Many times, officers could not search because probable cause was not clear. However, if the K-9 alerted, that constituted probable cause and could give the city an advantage they didn’t currently have in their efforts to fight the drug epidemic facing the area. An all yes roll call vote was given.
Chris Hook was next to speak and he told the council that there was yet another bridge that could possibly be affected by the TDOT water line/ right of way issue. He asked permission to draw down on the city’s engineer before moving forward. Approval was given.
Gary Phillips was once again approached regarding the lease of city property for grazing horses. The individual interested is not only willing to pay, sign a lease but also a hold harmless agreement. Per Mayor Parsons, city attorney McEwen will look into the situation and a decision will be based on his findings. Phillips also reports that the city pool pump is in good working order but the pool will need new tiles and skimmers. The pool also needs to be replumbed before opening for the season.
New business was next on the agenda starting with a discussion from Adam Williams of Brushy Fork Environmental concerning a cost share agreement to address the drainage issues on Adams Road and Collins Drive. The grant would be a 50/50 split with the city cost being no more than $75,000. However, with the installation of the grades, French drains and other improvements both the residents of the area and the overall creek quality would improve. After tabling the vote to the end of the meeting to give members time to consider the plan, an all yes roll call vote was ultimately taken.
Most the crowd at the meeting consisted of supporters of the request to allow the farmers market to relocate and operate in Ralph Stout Park. Jana Jones, market manager, submitted a proposal for the council to consider including the building of a multipurpose facility at the park. Jones also introduced the new president and director of special projects and explained their roles in the proposed project. Jones went on to issue a blanket apology for any offenses caused by the market toward the council and community in the past. Jones stated any property they consider must contain five major elements, parking, visibility, accessibility, bathrooms and growth potential.
Upon completion of her presentation Jones answered questions from the council members. For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk on sale now.