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published on 09/14/2004

Do you know what the speed limit is within the limits of the Town of Signal Mountain?

By staff writer

Probably the majority of residents in the Town of Signal Mountain cannot answer that question correctly. The answer is 25 mph. There are a few streets with posted speed limits that vary from this such as Taft Highway, James Boulevard, and Timberlinks Drive. If you don’t see a posted speed limit, then assume it is 25 mph. That was the message residents received at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Town Council on Monday, September 13th at the Signal Mountain Town Hall.

After being led in the Pledge of Allegiance by Alec Elsea, from Boy Scout Troop 116, Councilmembers Robert White and Steve Ruffin, Vice-mayor Bill Leonard, and Mayor Jim Althaus proceeded with the meeting. Councilmember Rachel Bryant was absent due to the conflict with SMMS’ PTA Meeting/Open House. Also present at the meeting were the town recorder, Diana Campbell, town attorney, Phil Noblett, and town manager, Hershel Dick.

Before hearing from concerned citizens, the Council took care of business including approving the minutes of the previous regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 9, as well as a special called meeting on Aug. 31. At the special called meeting, Councilmembers approved on the first reading an ordinance to amend the FY 2 Budget. At the second reading at this meeting the ordinance was also approved.

Amending the budget came at the request of Diana Campbell, town recorder and keeper of the financial books for the Town of Signal Mountain. Most were “in house” adjustments due to funds from the previous budget carrying over to the current budget. They included grant money for the Rainbow Falls project, additional business taxes, costs for scheduled election, a safety grant, closing of land purchased for new fire station, and completion of street paving. The net of all the amendments, $8,300, would not “roll over” from last year’s budget and so be an increase in the current budget. Details to this ordinance are available at the Town Hall.

There were four Resolutions passed at the meeting. The first authorized the town manager to purchase a new Ford Expedition for a police car. The second was to award a contract with Parker Construction for Rainbow Lake trail rehabilitation. The third resolution awarded Volunteer Highway for street striping. And the fourth authorized the town manager to abandon water and sewer line easements for three homes on Signal Mountain Boulevard as their sewer lines no longer run to the rear of property, therefore, the Town felt they should be able to use that property free of any easement.

Shannon Defriese, a resident of Hampton Road, and Craig Haney, a resident of Ault Road both addressed the Town Council with concerns of speeders on their respective roads. After addressing the Council, Mayor Althaus asked the town manager to respond who in turn invited Caption Boyd Veal, present at the meeting to make a statement.

Caption Veal reported that he had been in contact with Hamilton County officials about making some significant changes on some of the roads within the town. These include additional flashing lights on Hampton and Ault Roads to signify school zones; more 25 mph and school zone (15 mph) signage; and additional crosswalks around schools. The recent accident on Ault Road, where a student darted between two cars and was struck by a passing car, prompted parents to address the Council. Captain Veal promised that he and his staff are committed to addressing the situation and doing whatever it takes to slow residents down therefore keeping citizens safe.

In other business, Stan Crew went before the Council to announce the return of the Christmas Train with added features. Asking for the Town’s approval, he and co-designer, Glenn Showalter, will begin mantling the display at the James Monument soon after Thanksgiving. Mike St. Charles, reported the results of the Signage Committee. Although called to look into the use of the sign board at the top of the mountain, temporary signs throughout the mountain, and yard sale signs, the only issue the committee felt they were capable of addressing was the yard sale signs. They came to the conclusion that there was no abuse here and that the town inspector was doing a fine job keeping up with delinquent or improper signs. The committee, however, did come up with a list of ideas to help with the sign problems one of which is to put a sticker on the sign showing the person who placed it that it is in violation of the Town ordinance. (This is already being done.)

A discussion followed concerning the community signboard to which the Council directed the town attorney to come up with some wording that allows organizations, special events, and persons requesting the sign, permission to do so thus eliminating the town manager from making the decision without guidance. Time limits and advanced requests will still be implemented as well as limiting it to three signs, not allowing the fourth to stand on the ground.

Councilmembers spent a portion of their time to reflect on the work of citizens, other Councilmembers, and activities and events happening on our mountaintop. Councilmember White noted the Thrasher Gym is debt free thanks to the SM Golf and Country Club, local businesses, and citizens who volunteered to make it a success. Councilmember Ruffin thanked Lou Oliphant, Secretary of the Planning Commission and Mike St. Charles for serving on committees. Vice-mayor Leonard praised Mayor Althaus and announced the name of the new park, Althaus Park in honor of the mayor. He also thanked Councilmember Bryant for her work on the playground committee. He pointed out the new Haz-mat collection at the Recycle Center, commended the fire and police departments, and announced that the got mtn. Vision? process is to start up again in October so residents can see what action has been taken thus far. He also reminded residents of the mountain that some time in the next few weeks TDOT will begin work on the road going down the mountain. Prepare for delays and be glad of it since the bed under the road is collapsing. Mayor Althaus responded to the praise given him at the meeting.

Signal Mountain residents and students of Mrs. Skate’s government class at Red Bank High School, Lauren Rix, Melinda Sloan, Jennifer Morrison, and Alaina Schnitkey were present at the meeting. There were in the audience another 15 people. The meeting ended around 8:45 PM.
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