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published on 02/10/2004

New Playground Put on Hold Once Again

By staff writer

In appreciation of 12 years of loyal and dedicated service to the Town of Signal Mountain, a Certificate of Appreciation was presented to “Wolf” at the February 9, 2004 meeting of the Signal Mountain Town Council. Bringing tears to all in the audience, the fourteen-year-old, “Wolf” slowly walked to the front of the room with his partner, Officer Greg Hill and accepted the award presented by Mayor Jim Althuas. As the only K-9 officer within the Town, Officer Hill was also presented a Certificate of Appreciation for his 12 years of loyal and dedicated service. Officer Hill responded to the standing ovation with tears in his eyes and “Wolf” responded with a resounding bark. Wolf’s retirement means that he will be missed by many of the children who have participated in Officer Hill’s D.A.R.E. program throughout the years. Melissa Cawthorne presented “Wolf” with a basket of doggie treats.

Mayor Jim Althaus called the meeting to order and randomly called on one of the many Boy Scouts from Troop 116 present in the audience to lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. As it turned out, he had called on Tom Jackson, Senior Patrol Leader. Councilmember Robert White offered prayer. Diana Campbell, town recorder, called roll. In addition to the town manager, Hershel Dick and town attorney, Phil Noblett, Vice-mayor and Councilmember Bill Leonard and Councilmembers Steve Ruffin and Rachel Bryant were present.

The minutes of the January 12, 2004 Town Council meeting were approved as corrected, by Councilmember Robert White. Two Resolutions were presented one renewing the contract with Waste Services of TN for disposal of Town waste and the other for Fire Department equipment, recommended by Public Safety Director, Larry Eddings, present at the meeting. Chief Eddings reported that the Town had received a grant to upgrade equipment but that 10% of the cost of the equipment would come out of budgeted funds. Both these resolutions were approved. An ordinance presented which amends the Town Code pertaining to auditors was approved on the first reading. Doing so eliminates requiring auditors be rotated after so many years and eliminates the requirement that they be residents of the Town of Signal Mountain.

During citizens’ opportunity to address the Council, I spoke as a resident of the Town and staff writer for the Signal Mountain Community web site Speaking for myself, my husband Mark Shartle, and friend Bill Newsome, both of whom were in the audience, I asked for access via email to the agenda and official minutes to the meetings of the Town Council. Mayor Althaus agreed hold-heartedly noting that the agenda is not always available in advance and that the minutes are available only after being approved. I understood completely and thanked them for sharing the information. Another resident asked that a drainage ditch in front of his house be cleaned out and a third resident, Mr. Frank O’Leary brought to the Council’s attention a map noting that the land the Town recently purchased from Oliver Benton, site of the future Fire Sub-station, may not be correct as his map shows the Town’s new land crosses over his land. The town attorney said he would look into it.

Lou Oliphant, secretary of the Planning Commission, reported that among other things, the commission approved the plans for the CVS property at the corner of Palisades and Ridgeway Drives. The town manager added that he thought work was expected to begin sometime in April.

Councilmember Rachel Bryant thanked the Playground Committee, most of who were present at the meeting, including Scott Cook, Recreation Director, for service the past 18 months, dedicated to getting the new playground built behind the Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club on James Boulevard. She reported that bids for two playgrounds had been received and that though one was lower, it was not the best and recommended the Town go with the higher of two bids. However, according to Councilmember Bryant, the town manager had raised concerns over this recommendation, which the mayor and town attorney addressed. After a lengthy discussion, Vice-mayor Leonard suggested the entire committee, town manager, and town attorney meet to address the concerns. The town manager wanted a playground engineer to be consulted and Councilmember Bryant asked him why he was just now suggesting that and why it had not been offered at the beginning to which he had no answer. She then suggested they meet immediately after the Council meeting. Mayor Althaus said a meeting would be called, to vote on a recommendation, if necessary to keep the activity on the playground moving.

Councilmember White spoke on the positive things happening within our community including the diligence of the Playground Committee, the contract signing of the Thrasher Gym, the potential for a high school if the ˝˘ tax increase passes, and the success of the “got mtn. vision?” strategic planning sessions, now complete. He asked to make a 15-minute presentation at the March 8th Town Council meeting. Councilmember Bryant reported on the bids of the tennis courts at the new playground and addressed issues she had received from concerned citizens about stray dogs and street flooding. Vice-mayor Leonard thanked Councilmember White for his outstanding effort in the “got mtn. vision?” process. Finally, the mayor expressed his personal opinions concerning the financial status of the Town, the ˝˘ tax increase, the plans of the Friends of Signal Mountain High School and a petition to raise taxes for the high school, and the animal shelter at Portland Park.

The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.
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