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published on 12/09/2003

Thrasher Gym Still Needs Our Support

By staff writer

On Monday, December 8, 2003, the Signal Mountain Town Council met at 7:00 PM in the Town Hall Meeting Room. Citizens arrived to see the grounds of the Town Hall covered in sparkling lights decorated for the holiday season. Inside the meeting was light and sometimes merry.

Mayor Jim Althaus welcomed everyone including around fifteen people in the audience, town manager Hershel Dick, town recorder Diana Campbell, and town attorney Phil Noblett. Also present were Vice-mayor and Councilmember Bill Leonard and Councilmember Robert White. Councilmember Bryant was absent and Councilmember Ruffin arrived later in the meeting. Once again, around 16 students from Red Bank High School were present to observe the meeting. Councilmember Leonard opened the meeting with prayer.

After roll call and approval of the November 10th regularly scheduled meeting minutes were approved, two Resolutions were presented. The first was the reappointment of Bobby Pickerell to the Board of Zoning Appeals, a three-year term. The second Resolution was one authorizing the town manager to implement a 2004 fee schedule for sports, recreation, leisure, and other town services for the Town. The new non-resident fees are available at the Town Hall. Some fees increased and others decreased and two, the Library and Mountain Arts Community Center have exceptions to the rule. The town recorder noted that the fees will be reviewed every four years, but Councilmember White reminded her that the Council decided at the least meeting that it would be every two or three years. Both Resolutions were approved unanimously.

Brian Wright from Johnson, Murphy and Wright, PC, presented the annual Audit Report dated 6/30/2003. Although revenues are down and expenses are up, Mr. Wright said the Town is in “very good fiscal shape.” He reported that the designated fund reserved for the high school is currently at $551, 512 and the other designated fund set aside for the public safety building on Shackleford Ridge Road is now at $400,000.

The Thrasher Gym committee received news that the lowest bid came in $93,000 over the estimated cost. Now searching for ways to eliminate some of the costs, Principal Jean Trohanis asked the Town of Signal Mountain to do two things. One was to build a fire hydrant and lay the water line, including seed and strawing (instead of having the work done from an outside source), and the other was to waive the building permit fees. According to the town manager, the Town could do these two things with Council approval with money in the “tanks and fire hydrant” funds. Doing these things would save the committee close to $13,000. The Council agreed but asked that word get out that more money is needed to help get a gym for Thrasher.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of certificates by Mayor Althaus to residents Stan Crew and Glenn Showalter, recognizing them for being outstanding citizens for their gift to the Town – the SC Train. Vice-mayor Leonard presented the two men, who built the train, engineer caps as a token of the Town’s appreciation. Located at James Park, on the left, just before the light, children of all ages see the SC Train as a delightful addition to the Town’s holiday decorations.

Lou Oliphant, Secretary of the Planning Commission presented her report. One item worth reporting is the change in the rule on front fence heights. Once 2 ½ feet, now they can be 3 feet high. All fences built prior to this rule are “grandfathered” in.

Under new business Councilmember White reported that the strategic planning sessions have set goals and are beginning to write strategies and tactics. On schedule, he said all is going well. He also noted that the Town’s flag football league, now in its tenth year, had a very successful season with almost all the boys playing scoring a touchdown! At least 117 boys in first through fifth grades participated.

Councilmember Ruffin, basking in the winning season of LSU, his Alma Mata, reminded everyone of what a wonderful community the Town of Signal Mountain is. Vice-mayor Leonard agreed and thanked the students from Red Bank for attending the meeting. He also expressed pride in the attendance of over 300 children who participated in the Lighting of the Christmas Tree, sponsored by the Newcomers, held at the Mountain Arts Community Center. On a sad note he reminded everyone to keep vandalism out of our Town; to be good citizens; and encouraged all residents to take a serious stand against it.

Mayor Althaus reported that he was convening the curfew/signs committee led by Mike St. Charles to review the use of signs including the sign board at the top of the mountain. Councilmember White asked that a list of the members of this committee be made available since it was formed in November 2001, over two years ago. Some members may not be willing to serve and therefore new ones may have to be appointed.

The town manager reported on “in house” business concerning bids on cutting down trees; a traffic hazard at the Town Library exit; and the official letter from the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) indicating the 29 homes affected by the address change in Carriage Hill.

There are at least seven (7) open items pending: painting of the fire station; fitness study of the Safety Department; sidewalks on James Boulevard; Tabb property; vandalism campaign; use of sign board; and speed signs on Green Gorge Road.

The meeting ended around 8:15 PM.
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