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published on 04/15/2003

Thrasher Gym Gets Vote of Confidence

By staff writer

The Signal Mountain Town Council met at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday, April 14th at 7:00 PM at the Town Hall. Mayor Althaus called the meeting to order and welcomed back Signal Mountain resident John Houstrup, a regular member of the audience back from living in Texas for six-months. Councilmember Robert White offered prayer then town recorder, Diana Campbell called roll with all members of the Council present. Also present were town attorney Phil Noblett and town manager, Hershel Dick.

Minutes from the last regular meeting, March 10th and the called special meeting on March 24th were approved as corrected.

There were three resolutions presented at the meeting. The first one authorized the town manager to enter contract for life insurance. The decision was made to drop the Blue Cross/Blue Shield group insurance to Mutual of Omaha, as the rates would be significantly lower saving the Town several thousand dollars. The second resolution authorized the town manager to enter a contract with Vulcan Materials for paving. According to town manager Hershel Dick, three bids were submitted with Vulcan Material being the lowest. Three miles of town roads are projected to be repaved each year with ten roads listed to be done by the end of the year. The third resolution opposed cuts in State-shared revenue. The resolution among other things urged the Tennessee governor and members of the general assembly to propose, support, and remain open to options and alternatives to leave intact our system of revenue sharing. Mayor Althaus went into detail the amount of cuts Signal Mountain would suffer with $125,000 being the least and over $500,000 the maximum if the Hall Tax is taken away. The Council approved all these resolutions.

Resident, Lisa Hawkins, representing Thrasher PTA as the Thrasher Gym Committee Chairman made a wonderful presentation on the future of a gym at Thrasher Elementary School. She began with a brief over-view stating three reasons why Thrasher needs a gym. The first being a lack of space. Currently children are limited to a classroom size area to exercise in which is not only inadequate but a safely issue. The second reason it would assist in before and after school activities, which would allow children an outlet for excess energy and not be forced to participate in sedentary activities as they are presently doing. The third reason is that there is currently a shortage of physical education space on the mountain and opening the gym up to the recreation leagues and making it accessible in the evenings would lesson the burden on the other schools and town gym which are already maxed out. Already the PTA has raised over $254,000 with the support of parents, corporate sponsors, and the children. The purpose of tonightís presentation was to receive two things from the Town of Signal Mountain. One was a request that the Town of Signal Mountain be the guarantor for the PTA who will assume the $150,000 loan on the remaining cost of the building. The other was to ask the Town to make an annual contribution of approximately $15,000 a year towards the gym. Official motion went as: The Mayor moved that "the Town of Signal Mountain has seen and heard the presentation from the Thrasher Gymnasium Committee at its regular meeting of April 14, 2003, and it is the sense of this Council at this time that we want to express a vote of confidence to the Thrasher PTA and its organizing committee and to pursue further the important efforts of building a gymnasium at Thrasher School". Phil Noblett requested that it should be added to the motion "that the Town Attorney is instructed to meet with the bond counsel for Hamilton County and begin legal drafting of any necessary agreement for loan repayment guaranty by the Town of Signal Mountain or any other necessary agreements with the Thrasher PTA or its designated non-profit entity to accomplish this gymnasium construction process". The motion as amended was seconded by Councilmember Ruffin and passed unanimously. As far as the donation is concerned, the town will begin working on the 2004 budget and will look for ways to incorporate the donation in the budget. All members of the Town Council were supportive and excited and proud of the chance to make this happen. Councilmember Robert White spoke well of our community doing something like this. Principal Jean Trohanis and other members of the PTA were present in the audience who gave a standing ovation to the Town Council for their vote of confidence.

In other business, Secretary of the Planning Commission, Lou Oliphant presented her report noting that the property issue concerning Mr. Thelen in St. Ives had been solved and that he requested moving an unopened road on the property, which the commission approved.

Councilmember Robert White noted that he is proud to see what the PTA had done and he appreciated how well the Town Council is working together. On the other hand, Councilmember Rachel Bryant said she agreed we had a great Town Council but felt that it was not fair that some of the Councilmembers attend the Monday morning department head meetings when both she and Councilmember Steve Ruffin canít attend. She said she feels left out. She also complained to town manager Hershel Dick about the 30-minute adult swim each day at the Signal Mountain pool. She has tried to speak to Recreation Director Scott Cook about this but hasnít gotten anywhere with him. She would like it stopped and an additional lap lane opened up. If they get complaints then go back next year, but she feels certain they will get praised for making this decision. Hershel Dick said he would look into it and talk with Scott Cook. Councilmember Steve Ruffin said he didnít want to open a can of worms but suggested the Town consider offering free services of the Signal Mountain Library to all children on the mountain high school age and younger. Councilmember and Vice-mayor Bill Leonard responded to Councilmember Bryantís concern about feeling left out of the department head meetings by assuring her that it was an informational meeting only and that no decisions are made. He invited her to attend during the summer when she is not working to see for herself noting that seeing how each department works has greatly influenced him and impressed him. He and Councilmember White said that there was no intention of leaving her out. Mayor Althaus spoke to the press in the audience especially the Signal Mountain Post and Times Free Press both who printed recent stories that were either inaccurate or slighted the whole story by leaving pertinent information out. The reporter from the Signal Mountain Post offered to print a correction.

Town Attorney Phil Noblett had two additional resolutions that needed approval, both concerning term expirations of board members. Board member, Willis J. Murdock of the Health, Education and Housing Facility Board was reappointed to a six-year term. And three members of the Board of Zoning Appeals, Wallis Davies, Bo Hixson, and Steve Bullard terms had either expired or were about to expire so the second resolution approved the reappointment of each of these board members. Mr. Noblett pointed out that the Town Council needs to have a better handle on when these terms expire and should not have to be making such appointments on such short notice; that some sort of flag system should be put into place where prior notification is made to give the Council some heads up when a term is about to expire.

The meeting adjourned at 8:45 PM.

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