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published on 11/01/2000

November 2000 Signal Mountain Town Council Meeting

By staff writer

The Town Council of Signal Mountain met Monday, November 13th at 7:00 P.M. Councilmembers Jim Althaus, Bob Steel, Jr., Billy Steele, Jr., and newly elected councilmembers Steve Ruffin, and Rachel Bryant were present. Also present: Joe Wagner, town attorney, Hershel Dick, town manager, and Diana Campbell, town recorder. There were over seventy-five people in the audience. Among those were former mayor Ann Nolan; Hamilton County Commissioner Richard Cassavant; Lou Oliphant, of the town Planning Commission; Sam Powell, chairman of the town Parks Board; Pat St. Charles, vice-chairman of the town Design Review Committee; Chris Clem, newly elected Tennessee State Representative; and other long-time residents of the Town of Signal Mountain. Three local television stations were also present.

After a prayer and roll call, the meeting began with the election of Mayor and Vice-Mayor. Many in the audience were supporters of Steve Ruffin. According to the town charter, election of the Mayor and Vice-Mayor is held among the members of the council. Before the town had a charter, the person who received the most votes got to be Mayor. That changed ten years ago. Many in the audience were unaware of that change and were unhappy that they could not force Steve Ruffin into the position of Mayor or Vice-Mayor. For over forty-five minutes, residents expressed their unhappiness with the old town council. Several members of the council also were also not able to keep from showing their frustration with each other. The end result was that Jim Althaus was reelected Mayor and Bob Steel, Jr. was reelected Vice-Mayor. After the Mayor allowed the majority of people to address the Council, the meeting continued. If you would like to voice your opinion about the election of the Mayor and Vice- Mayor, you may vote in the poll or state your position on the bulletin board.

The first order of business was to approve the first reading of the ordinance approving the Town of Signal Mountain Land Use and Transportation Plan. This subject also created a disturbance from the audience as it was noted that several members of the community had tried to get copies of the plan and were turned away by the Town for various reasons. Several questions were asked and no one was prepared to answer the questions. Councilmember Rachel Bryant suggested an informational meeting to be held at the convienence of former councilmember Brendan Olin, who serves on the town Planning Commission. The Mayor suggested the Public Hearing on the Plan continue with the information meeting. In the meantime, he suggested that residents who wish to receive a copy of the Plan, which he noted had been worked and reworked for many years, could check off their name on the sign-in sheet and a copy would be sent to them. Notice of the extended hearing will be posted around town.

Reports were heard from the Planning Commission and Design Review Committee. Vice-chairman Pat St. Charles of the DRC asked that the council make some recommendation about off-sight directional signs. At his suggestion the Mayor asked the town Recorder to put that on the agenda for the next council meeting.

Brian Wright gave the audit report. Of special interest here was the report that, as of June 30, 2000, over $97,000 has been generated towards the new high school from sales taxes received by the Town of Signal Mountain. This does not include any amounts received by the Town of Walden. The Mayor stated that this is currently increasing at the rate of approximately $11,000 a month.

The meeting ended with the members of the Town Council committing to being one town council not an “old” or “new” council. After the meeting was adjourned, the television stations began interviewing some of the councilmembers and members of the audience for the 11:00 P.M. news.
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