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Equipment purchases necessary for city

By Jonathan Pleasant
Mountain City’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen was forced to consider necessary expenditures at last Tuesday’s monthly city council meeting, the largest of which involved acquiring a new medium sized track hoe for the city water department to be able to come within OSHA safety compliance. Working to install a new meter along Highway 421, Collection Distribution Superintendent Jerry Horne informed the council that a call was made to the federal agency to file a complaint concerning employee safety.
At that location the water lines were very deep and one of the major conclusions of the complaint was a lack of proper equipment. To help remedy the situation, OSHA officials were assured that the city would secure a larger track hoe to work on similar jobs in the future. Although official bidding will still need to be done, Horne did some preliminary estimates and indicated to the council that the cost would likely be well over the $100,000, including several new manhole boxes that would also have to be purchased. There was some hesitation and discussion from the council, who questioned whether the new machine was actually a necessity beyond this single job. However, Horne explained that there are numerous other projects where the track hoe will certainly be utilized, including a large eight-inch line break that is causing serious concern for the department right now.
With this in mind, Alderman Bob Morrison made the motion to proceed with purchase, setting spending guidelines based on Horne’s estimate. The motion passed unanimously. Wastewater plant manager Danny Sims was also on hand at the meeting to make a somewhat similar request, although on a smaller scale. With one of the plant’s trucks becoming a hazard to drive, Sims requested that the council consider purchasing a new utility vehicle. Agreeing that the cost of repairs would outweigh the usefulness of the old truck, the council agreed to look into the issue and directed Sims to come up with specifications for bidding hopefully this spring.
In an effort to preserve the city’s newer police cruisers in the advent of another storm such as the one that hit back in July, Alderman Kenny Icenhour has been looking into the possibility of purchasing side-by-side carports to store them in off duty. Consulting with Public Works Director Bob Eller, Icenhour estimated that the project would cost roughly $3,500 including installation and could house two and up to four cars each if necessary. The rest of the council seemed to be in agreement with Icenhour but also wanted to get more specific details on the number of units and cost. As a result the item was tabled until next month.
Speaking of the storm damage from over the summer, Alderman Morrison pointed out that he had received complaints about a specific property owner who has yet to clean up the debris. Citing the city’s property maintenance ordinance, Morrison explained that concerned neighbors have even suggested a petition for the council to take action. Mayor Lawrence Keeble stated that he had heard similar complaints and that the city would be looking into the situation farther.
The council once again gave Animal Control Officer Gary Phillips permission to pursue an education program in the various county schools over the next few weeks. A partnership with the USDA, the program touches on rabies prevention as well as animal control.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.