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Town Council votes to finish projects at additional cost of $475,000 to $510,000

By: Bonnie Davis Guy
Tomahawk Writer

A special session of Mountain City’s town council was held February 16, 2016 with Mayor Lawrence Keeble, Vice Mayor Bud Crosswhite, and all aldermen in attendance, as well as city recorder, Sheila Shaw. The primary purpose of this special session was a discussion and vote on the funding needed by the city to complete several capital projects. These included the three bridges currently under construction, a proposed sidewalk along Highway 67 to the health department and finally the completion of the Goose Creek Trail.
Currently the initial phase of the trail runs along Goose Creek in Ralph Stout Park. The next phase would be to take the trail under Highway 67 and along the creek bank all the way to the Johnson County Welcome Center located on Highway 421.  Plans to make the trail accessible from the proposed sidewalk on Highway 67 is also in the works. Both projects are primarily funded by grants with the city being responsible for only a portion of the overall cost.
The issue with the Goose Creek Trail project which has been several years in the making is the original grant no longer covers its full portion of the construction cost.  This results in a larger cost share for the city. Construction costs have increased on an average of two percent each year since the original grant was received, leaving a 10 percent overall increase in construction cost.
Mayor Keeble addressed the council by once again thanking everyone for agreeing to attend this special session.
“I hope we can use this time to come to a sound decision,” said Keeble.
He went on to express that no one thought at the onset of all these projects that they would be completed at the same time.
“I can’t imagine throwing monies we have already spent down a hole if we choose to abandon these projects,” said Keeble.
According to Keeble, he believes Goose Creek Trail will be of benefit to the town as well as the entire county. He added that Mountain City is making slow but steady progress toward being a tourist based town. In that scenario, the trail will be a drawing point to the area.
”No matter what decision we make, I will always respect and abide by the decisions made by this council,” Keeble said.
Keeble then asked the aldermen to express their concerns or opinions regarding the projects.
“Is there any chance the trail could be re-bid in hopes of coming in at a lower price?” Alderman Morrison asked.
According to Keeble, he too had asked that question and had been assured that the bids received were inline with today’s prices and were good bids.

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