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First city council following Walker’s passing is solemn

Following the sudden and shocking death of alderman Willis Walker, this month’s meeting of the Town of Mountain City Council was especially solemn and emotionally charged. Having been postponed from last week due to a medical emergency for Vice-Mayor Kenny Icenhour, the meeting began with an invocation lead by Jerry Horne and the pledge to the flag by former city employee and veteran Scott Johnson. A special photograph was placed in alderman Walker’s seat in memorial.
The first business of the night was a presentation by Tamara McNaughton, who helped organize a report on community food security in the county. McNaughton began by thanking and recognizing those who helped with the project, which took more than a year to complete and included many interviews, surveys, focus groups, and community meetings. The study assessed how people in the county get their food as well as the county’s overall food security. Following her presentation of the document, McNaughton requested that the city show support for the local farmer’s market in addition to supporting state exclusions for small farmers.
Tennessee is one of the strictest states on agriculture and recent laws will not allow individuals to produce canned goods and baked goods to sell at market. City Mayor Kevin Parsons stated his interest in the project and suggested using a small space on the city water bills for advertising of the farmer’s market. A motion was made to support the project, which passed unanimously.
A new business is soon to make its presence in town, when Paul Smith, owner of Coolsprings Nursery occupies the old Burley Tobacco Warehouse
adjacent to the former Builders Supply. The building will be used for
the production and shipping of wreaths and ropes. Smith came before
the council to request assistance on the placement of several tile
behind the warehouse, which occasionally floods. Smith will purchase
the tile but will receive help in their proper installation.
Additionally, Smith also requested to have a new 2” water tap placed
on the property to replace the current 1 ½.” The larger pipe would
help to better fire proof the building. Smith will have to pay the
cost of the tap plus cost of materials. Further discussion on the
meter change will be held at next month’s meeting.
Perry Ann Stanley from the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, came
before the board to request the city to participate in a leadership
program which is required to maintain the state’s three star
certification. The cost to sponsor a participant in the program is
$250. Having lost several sponsors for this year’s program, Stanley
cited that the 3 star certification had gained the city access to
several grant funds in numerous areas. Alderman Bob Morrison made the
motion to accept the sponsorship, which was seconded by Mayor Parsons
and voted on unanimously.
During his report, Mayor Parsons informed the council that this was
the five-year anniversary of the opening of Heritage Hall, which has
since seen many shows and a very strong turnout. Parson’s also
discussed a request he received concerning the placement of additional
security lighting in Ralph Stout Park. Public Works director Bob Eller
stated that he would get a cost estimate to purchase the lights.
Parsons also made the presentation of a proclamation by the city
council honoring Willis Walker. Received by Walker’s family and read
by Alderman Bob Morrison, the proclamation noted Walker’s past
achievements and his service to the city. Concluding the presentation
the Board of Mayor and Alderman officially proclaimed September 14th
2010 as Alderman Willis R. Walker Memorial Day.The council will now
nominate an individual to finish Walker’s term. Mayor Parsons stated
that, “although we will find someone to fill his seat, no one can ever
replace him.”
Vice Mayor Kenny Icenhour presented newly appointed Economic
Coordinator Carla Prudholm to the council. Prudholm came before the
council to give them an update on her progress stating that she had
attended an economic development class at UNC Chapel Hill and will be
attending an upcoming grant writing class as well. Prudholm, who owns
Mountain City Antiques has a background in marketing and finance and
has already secured funds to renovate the county’s website and update
the chamber of commerce’s.
Alderman Bob Morrison voiced his concern about the sale of city
property near the wastewater plant, stating that there may come a time
when the plant needs to be expanded. Discussion on the sale of the
property will be held at a later date. Alderman Keeble wanted to voice
his appreciation of city Animal Control Officer Gary Phillips, who has
done a phenomenal job recently.
City recorder Terry Reece began his report by reminding the council
that discussion will need to be held on the purchase of a new garbage
truck to replace the currently used outdated trucks. Reece also
brought a request for a property tax refund by the Eastern Eight
apartment complex, which successfully filed for a tax exemption. The
refund was approved unanimously. Continuing with his items, Reece
suggested that the council move Halloween activities this year to
Saturday October 30th, rather than on Sunday night. This move was
approved unanimously.
During the department reports, collection-distribution superintendent
Jerry Horne informed everyone that a sewer lining crew will be working
around town this week, after dark. Horne also advised the council that
a recently purchased backhoe has been having transmission problems
that have yet to be fixed by the equipment company. The warranty on
the machine is soon to run out and the company has offered an extended
warranty on the transmission to avoid replacing the backhoe. However
the council made a motion to have the company replace the backhoe if
possible.
There was also continued discussion on the placement of speed humps
near the high school. Alderman Keeble was opposed to their placement
but was open to the idea of investigating the placement of rumble
strips instead. Public Works Director Bob Eller will look into the
cost and feasibility of the strips, which would not affect general
traffic flow or snowplowing in the winter.
The last business of the night was a discussion of the popular
Scarecrows on Main competition in October. A $20 fee will be required
to enter a scarecrow in the competition. The display will be placed
near a light pole in town and will be voted on by a panel of judges.
First prize receives $100, 2nd $50, and 3rd $25. An additional prize
of $50 will go to the people’s choice scarecrow. Those interested in
entering the competition can pick up a form at the city hall, which
will have to be returned with the entry fee. For questions about the
competition please contact Mayor Parson’s office at 727-2940. The
city will provide the fodder and pumpkins for the pole, but will leave
the completion of the display up to the contestant. Alderman Keeble
made the motion to adjourn.