With the holiday season closing in, the members of Mountain Citys Board of Mayor and Alderman all expressed their appreciation for the citys employees and wished everyone a Merry Christmas at their December monthly meeting. During his comments to the board, Vice Mayor Jerry Jordan noted that the recent Christmas Parade had been a big success and that he had received several positive comments, a fact that he attributed to the hard work of the police, fire, and other departments that helped to ensure the event went smoothly.
Jordan, along with the other members of the board, also expressed his support and appreciation for the recently installed road signs around town. A part of a $15,000 downtown revitalization grant that the city received, Johnson County/Mountain City economic coordinator Karla Prudhomme was instrumental in securing the rustic signs that direct visitors to popular county attractions such as Backbone Rock or the Snake. Located on major intersections, the signs were supported across the board, with aldermen like Kenny Icenhour noting the signs aesthetic value. Icenhour went on to state that he sincerely hoped the signs could become a lasting part of the city landscape and wouldnt become the victims of vandalism in the future.
The biggest issue of the night was a request from Temple Reece with Johnson Countys Relay for Life. Cutting back on their annual event, Reece spoke with City Recorder Sheila Shaw in the hope of holding the Relay downtown this year rather than in Ralph Stout Park as usual. Moving the date back from mid July, as it has been in the past, to May 17th this year, the organization will host a survivor dinner at the Johnson County Crewette building, and participants will walk from there up to Main Street which would be closed between Farmers State Bank and Johnson County Bank. Luminaries would be placed along the street and the annual list of names would be called out at the end of the evening. As the vent is scheduled from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Shaw noted that the time of day wouldnt likely cause any problems. However, because of the growing number of requests to close Main Street for events and especially those during the day, Shaw did suggest that the council might need to look into a policy concerning the closures.
While acknowledging that the numbers of street closure requests have increased, Mayor Lawrence Keeble did note that there have been several annual events, such as the Sunflower Festival, where a precedent has already been made. Keeble went on to say that the time of day is also critical to a decision for a request to close the street and suggested that the issue may need a closer look before action was taken. Agreeing, Alderman Bob Morrison made the motion to go ahead and approve the Relay for Lifes request, but also included the need to look at the issue more broadly at the next months meeting. Morrisons motion passed unanimously.
Johnson County EMA Director, Jason Blevins made a presentation to the council requesting the adoption of a newly revised hazard mitigation plan. Identifying and developing preventative strategies for the various weather emergencies that can affect the area, the more than 300-page plan works as a foundation for the city and county to build off of once funding becomes available. Initially adopted in 2005, Blevins has been working diligently on updating the plan in the hopes that the city and county will be better prepared in the case of future events such as the tornado that struck the county nearly two years ago.
While it is not currently financially feasible to implement many portions of the plan, Blevins noted that having it in place would make funding available from agencies such as TEMA and FEMA in the event of a severe weather emergency. Supporting the plan, Mayor Keeble asked for a motion to accept the resolution, which was made by Alderman Morrison, and seconded by Alderman Icenhour.
The council also approved two budget amendments, with the first in the amount of $4,550 as an updated amendment carried over from last year. Set aside to repair a major water line that crosses the creek near Village Apartments, the project was recently completed but not in time to utilize the funding from last years budget. As a result, the council had to re-approve the funding for this year, which passed unanimously following a motion from Alderman Icenhour.
The second amendment involved the final approval of a light pole replacement project at the intersection of Routes 421 and 67. Having been damaged after being struck by a vehicle in an accident last year, insurance payments covered $8,500 of the $10,865 amendment, leaving the remaining $2,300 to be covered by the city. A motion to approve the funds was made by Vice-Mayor Jerry Jordan. Public Works Director Bob Eller was able to get the work done later in the week. In addition to fixing the pole, LED bulbs were also installed in the lights, fulfilling one of the new requirements set by the federal government.
Eller also gave an update on another ongoing issue the city has been facing with one of its vehicles. At last months meeting Eller explained that he had a city truck, which despite having low miles and little actual service time, was having an issue with its wiring that is causing it to malfunction once it has been warmed up and running. Because the truck is in good shape, the council left the decision to have the problem fixed up to Eller.
This month the public works director announced that the truck had been put in the shop but even after hours of searching, the mechanics had not yet identified the problem. However, Eller did assure that it would eventually be found even if it means going wire by wire. The ultimate solution may come from installing a new wire harness that is very expensive. As a result, Eller wanted to find the actual problem to be sure the harness would fix it before spending the money.
To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.