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published on 11/12/2002

Town Council Elects Mayor and Vice-mayor

By staff writer

Town Attorney Phil Noblett opened the regular meeting of the Town Council Meeting for the Town of Signal Mountain. According to the Town Charter, the Mayor and Vice-mayor positions are elected every two years by the five members of the Town Council at the first meeting after each election.

Jim Althaus was re-elected as the Town Mayor and Bill Leonard was elected Vice-mayor. Robert White nominated Mayor Althaus and Steve Ruffin nominated Rachel Bryant. Robert also nominated Bill Leonard and Rachel Bryant nominated Steve Ruffin for Vice-mayor. Both the Mayor and Bill Leonard won, 3 to 2, by written ballots.

Phil Noblett opened the meeting with prayer and after the election turned the meeting over to Mayor Althaus who asked town recorder, Diana Campbell to call roll. Town manager Hershel Dick was also present as well as several department heads including Karen Shropshire and Sam Powell as well as Lou Oliphant representing the Planning Commission. There were many others in the audience including former candidates, relatives of the newly elected candidates, former councilmembers, members of the press, other committee and board members, and concerned citizens.

The Mayor began the meeting by reminding everyone that it was Veteran’s Day and asked everyone to keep the victims of the recent storms in our thoughts and prayers. He thanked the residents of Signal Mountain for their support noting that there “are no losers in this town – everyone is a winner.”

Councilmember Bill Leonard added his appreciation, as did Councilmember Robert White. Both men expressed their anticipation and desire to serve with others on the Town Council.

There were two resolutions presented for approval at the meeting. The first was the appointment of the Personnel Committee to evaluate the performance, job description, and salaries of the town employees. Appointed to this committee were Ron Eytchison, Bob Steel, Bill Leonard, Hershel Dick, Mayor Althaus, and Diana Campbell. Councilmember Rachel Bryant questioned why the Town didn’t use an outside source. The Mayor responded by assuring her that this is a better process; adding the fact that Bill Leonard’s background is in this field so his part on the committee will be of great value. The resolution passed on a 4 to 1 vote, with Councilmember Steve Ruffin opposing it.

The second resolution presented was the appointments to the Mountain Arts Community Center Board. Town manager, Hershel Dick read out the list of members and the year their term expires, many of whom were in the audience. This resolution also passed.

During the opportunity for citizens to address the Council, resident Joe Dumas congratulated the winners of the recent election to the Town Council as well as those members who continue to serve on the Town Council. He reiterated his commitment to serve the Town and offered his services anywhere the Council felt he could serve. Joe’s gracious and humble speech was met with applause from the audience. Bill Leonard responded by thanking Joe for his desire to serve.

Resident, Nino Piccolo, asked why the Town of Signal Mountain does not elect a mayor like other municipalities and the Mayor responded by explaining that the way we do it now is written in our Town Charter. Mr. Piccolo asked how the charter can be changed and town attorney, Phil Noblett, responded by saying by referendum and then by vote.

Brian Wright, from Johnson, Murphy and Wright, PC, gave the presentation of the 2002 Audit noting that there was an excess in revenues over expenditures. He also noted that the balance sheet showed $468,000 set aside for the Signal Mountain High School. In another note, $350,000 is undesignated but reserved for the new fire station at Shackleford Ridge Road. Someone in the audience questioned what type of audit this was and Mr. Wright assured everyone that it was a strict detailed audit. In conclusion, the audit found the books to be in order.

Lou Oliphant, secretary of the Planning Commission passed out the report to the Town Council. She noted several new state requirements for the Planning Commission including four hours of continuing education and keeping attendance records.

Town recorder, Diana Campbell reported on two bids that were recently accepted; one for painting the gym and Guild Room at the Town Hall and the other for the new office furniture at the Town Hall.

Under new business, Councilmember Robert White expressed his appreciation to Diana Campbell, Hershel Dick, and Phil Noblett. Councilmember Bill Leonard seconded those expressions of appreciation.

Councilmembers Rachel Bryant and Steve Ruffin had no report.

Mayor Althaus reported on three subjects. The first was an upcoming employee fitness study. Although a touchy subject, he noted that this is a problem with many municipalities – keeping the fire department and police officers physically fit, something they need to be to meet the needs of the Town. A second subject the Mayor discussed is the necessity of a recreation study. The current director, Scott Cook, works full-time as a teaching coach at Red Bank High School and therefore can only devote a part of his time to his job as the Town’s recreation director. Because recreation is important to the communities on the mountain, options need to be discussed to expand the department in land use and full-time director. The final item the Mayor discussed was the current list of committees, commissions, and boards within the Town of Signal Mountain. He feels the citizens need to know who’s serving on what. (Editor’s note: We are expecting a complete updated list from the Town Hall soon and will post them on the web site as soon as possible. PNS)

Attorney Phil Noblett reminded the new members of the Council that a lawsuit is pending and that he would need to schedule a meeting with them to bring them up to date on the case. A member of the audience asked what the status was and background on this case to which the Mayor responded with a brief synopsis of the lawsuit.

The meeting ended with cheers and applause from the audience as resident and a member of the MACC Board, Glenn Showalter announced that MACC director Karen Shropshire secured a recent grant from the Benwood Foundation for $30,000 to repair the roof and bathrooms at the Mountain Arts Community Center.

The meeting adjourned around 8:15 PM.
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