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published on 01/23/2007

Susan Robertson Elected to Town Council

By staff writer

The Signal Mountain Town Council held a special meeting on Monday, January 22, 2007, at the Town Hall. Present at this meeting were Mayor Paul Hendricks, Vice-mayor Hershel Dick, and Councilmembers Annette Allen and Bill Lusk. Also present were the town attorney, Phil Noblett, town recorder Sherry Morrison, town manager Diana Campbell, Fire Chief John Vlasis, and the town engineer Loretta Hopper.

After calling the meeting to order and roll call, Mayor Hendricks welcomed everyone and made a statement clarifying some misunderstandings. He wanted all to understand that no decision and no vote had been taken concerning the sales tax collected in the Town of Signal Mountain. Any comments he made concerning the condition of MACC and possibly using some tax money to fund the repairs came from his “passionate enthusiasm to solve the problem” and that he just “got ahead of myself,” he said. He added that without speaking for the others on the Council but would “go out on a limb” and say that they all supported the high school. He closed his statement by saying that he is committed to solving the heating problem at MACC and supporting the high school at the same time.

Next on the agenda was the election of a new town council member. Mayor Hendricks invited each candidate to speak. Beginning with former Mayor Jim Althaus; next was Frank Chandler; then Joe Dumas; Courtney Hoss went next; followed by Sandi McCrea; with Susan Robertson speaking last. Mayor Hendricks asked if anyone on the council wanted ask the candidates a question and being none the mayor opened the floor to the council to discuss the candidates. Councilmember Lusk began by speaking on behalf of Susan Robertson. Councilmember Allen concurred as did the vice mayor. Mayor Hendricks then said that since the majority had cast their vote to Susan that he too would make it unanimous. The council then had an official vote and Susan Robertson was elected to fill the term of the seat vacated by Lizetta Paturlaski.

A resolution appointing the town manager, Diana Campbell, to represent the town on the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority Board was approved. Former Councilmember Bob Linehart had served on the WWTA Board when Hershel Dick vacated the position of town manger. Later Chuck Gearhiser, town inspector, was appointed to replace Mr. Linehart. At the meeting tonight, Vice-mayor Dick said that he served on the Board while town manager and felt that Diana should do the same so asked her and she agreed. The resolution was approved.

A second resolution approved at the meeting was one asking the TN Department of Transportation to consider restricting commercial trucks, not making deliveries on the mountain, from driving up and down the mountain from either direction of the Town. Once TDOT makes the restriction, an ordinance forbidding commercial vehicles will be presented and voted upon at a Town meeting. After it passes the SM police will be responsible for enforcing the law. Once the highway is off the list of “usable” roads, electronic GPS systems or mapquest directions, according to Councilmember Lusk, will not direct truckers to it. He and Mayor Hendricks met with State Representative Richard Floyd and TDOT officials to discuss the state of the road coming up the mountain. Prohibiting commercial trucks came out of this discussion.

There were two ordinances presented at the meeting. The first, which passed on second reading, was a proposed code of ethics for the Town of SM personnel, which is required by state law. Designed by the TN State Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS), the Council modified the section on acceptance of gratuities, at the request of Vice-mayor Dick, so that the annual Christmas gifts from the S.M. Robertson Police and Fire Christmas Fund and the Town Employee’s Christmas Fund are permitted.

The second ordinance made at the request of the town manager was one to amend the FY 2 Budget. There were five items for consideration in the request including adding enough money to the budget to cover health and dental insurance for the rest of the year; add money to convert a part-time position to a full time position and then add money to cover the benefits for that position; add money for a professional pay plan study; and finally, transfer money from the Library Board for new windows and siding. According to the town manager, in adding these additional expenditures, “We will not be using any fund balance or reserve from a prior year. We will still have a balanced budget with more revenue coming in than expenditures going out.” Passing on first reading, the ordinance will be voted upon a second time at the next regular meeting.

Mayor Hendricks then invited citizens to address the Council. First to speak was former Mayor Jim Althaus who complimented Councilmember Lusk and the mayor for going to TDOT and seeking a solution to the problems with the road coming up the mountain. He then went on to give a brief history of the Town’s relationship with TDOT and explained some of the misunderstandings in recent articles in the local papers.

Annie Hall spoke next to the Council reminding the Town Council that the people voted not once but twice to support the new high school. Saying, “The past twelve months have been terrible for the Town of Signal Mountain” and it is now time to heal the divisiveness. She closed with asking the Council to not forget the Founders’ Fund.

Next up was Lisa Shander, co-chairmen of the Founders’ Fund. Lisa congratulated Susan Robertson on being elected and thanked the members of the Town Council for taking the time to read the recent emails sent to them requesting that the monies received from the sales tax be spent on the new school and not go toward lowering the bond debt to pay for the new school. She said that there is a way the Town can donate the funds without going directly into the Founders’ Fund and still be going to the new middle/high school.

Lou Oliphant, secretary of the Planning Commission, spoke in support of former Mayor Althaus’ comments about the Town’s relationship with TDOT over the construction of the new road up the mountain years ago. Reminding all that it was not the road at the bottom of the mountain but the proposed road with a 9% slope and no truck ramps that TDOT planned to build that was the problem.

Joe Dumas congratulated Susan Robertson and thanked the five others who applied for the vacancy on the Town Council.

Barbara Smith said, “We The People deserve the support of the Town Council when you are willing to communicate with us.” She then went on to offer prayers for the Council if they should need them. She closed with a plea to move forward with communication reminding them that not everyone as access to the Internet.

A meeting to set the agenda for the next regular meeting was set one week prior to that meeting. This being something new, Mayor Hendricks said that if it didn’t work after doing it for a couple of months, they would go back to setting the agenda the Friday before the meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m. The next regular meeting is Monday, February 12, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. at the Town Hall.
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