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published on 10/12/2004

Signal Mountain Town Council Meets

By staff writer

Mayor Jim Althaus and grandson Wes
An unusual high number of citizens were present at the Signal Mountain Town Council meeting held Monday, October 11, 2004, at the Signal Mountain Town Hall. Also present were Mayor Jim Althaus, Vice-mayor Bill Leonard, and Councilmembers Steve Ruffin and Robert White. Town recorder, Diana Campbell called roll and the mayor pointed out that Councilmember Rachel Bryant was going to be late as she was on the road from being out of town. She did arrive later in the meeting. The town manager, Hershel Dick, town attorney Phil Noblett, and Police Captain Bo Veale were also present.

Vice-mayor Bill Leonard introduced Boy Scout Wes Althaus, the mayor’s grandson, and invited Wes and his grandfather, both members of Troop 116, to lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the U.S.A. in honor of this being the last official meeting in which Mayor Althaus would preside over the Town Council.

Two ordinances passed on first readings. The first one pertained to amending the speed limits for Town streets. Recently, the town manager became aware of a problem with the laws concerning the official speed limits of the Town of Signal Mountain. Although approved at a meeting several years ago, the law was never officially made into an ordinance. The law was not changed only made official by passing this ordinance. The second ordinance pertained amending and restating the current Zoning Ordinance.

Before discussing this ordinance, Mayor Althaus introduced members of the Planning Commission, most of whom were present at the meeting. Secretary, Lou Oliphant reported that after four years the Planning Commission was finally ready to present the new Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Noblett explained that the original zoning ordinance was a separate document, originated from an out-dated computer and did not conform to the town codes established by the Tennessee Municipal League (TML). The new ordinance, a revised document, which includes all revisions and amendments of the previous ordinance, is capable of being viewed on the Town web site as well as at the Town Hall in a bound edition. Language is consistent with other Town ordinances. A black line version of the changes is also available at the Town Hall. Citizens will have an opportunity to address these two ordinances at the called meeting on October 25, 2004, when the Town Council will vote on the second reading. Mayor Althaus thanked the Planning Commission and especially Mr. Brendon Olin for his hard work and dedication in completing this project.

There were two resolutions presented at the meeting. Both passed. The first authorized the town manager to purchase an asphalt crack sealer. Doing so will bridge the life of roads (sixty miles total) within the Town of Signal Mountain in between resurfacing. The second resolution authorized the town manager to purchase a street sweeper. No time-table or schedule has been established but, according to the town manager, the sweeper will not sit idle. Because of state mandated regulations concerning stormwater, the town engineer recommended the purchase of the sweeper. Funds for both of these items are in the budget and will require no additional staff.

During citizen’s opportunity to address the Council, many members of the audience expressed concern over two projects the Town is involved. The mayor asked that each be addressed separately. The first was the parking lot on Ohio Avenue at the entrance to Rainbow Lake. The town manager responded to concerns saying that the Town is still waiting on the free dirt from Alexian Village. He asked that he be allowed to wait until the end of the month for the dirt and if not available then purchase dirt to finish the project. He also noted that the window of time to complete the project was about closed as winter months and rain would force pouring the concrete in the spring.

The second issue brought up at the meeting concerned the rehabilitation of the trail down to Rainbow Lake. At the September Town Council meeting, Councilmembers approved a contract with Parker Construction to rehabilitate the trail with funds received from grant money. Chairman of the Parks Board, Sam Powell was present at the meeting to respond to the citizen’s concerns. Although it was reported in the Signal Mountain Mirror as well as the Signal Mountain Community web site, residents were not aware of the trail rehabilitation until work began. According to Mr. Powell, the trail is being rehabilitated to accommodate emergency and police personnel in route to Rainbow Lake, a park owned by the Town of Signal Mountain. Mr. Powell said that although it looks very different now, once it’s complete, the finished product will be something people will be proud of not unlike the trails at Shacklefordridge Park. Members of the Town Council, especially Mr. Ruffin, who has a degree in forestry, questioned decisions being made and called for a chance to have some input into the process. Vice-mayor Leonard suggested all concerned citizens meet with Mr. Powell for a walk-thru down the trail to hear and see for themselves what is in store for the trail. Mr. Powell agreed and Saturday, October 16 at 11:00 am residents will meet at the top of the trail.

Each of the Councilmembers had an opportunity to address the Council under new business. Councilmember White expressed concern over the campaign of candidate Joe Dumas expressed to Mr. White from citizens within the Town. He asked that the town attorney look into allegations of not conforming to the town charter of a non-partisan campaign. Dr. Dumas, present at the meeting offered to respond to the allegations, but the mayor refused as it was an inappropriate time. Mr. White extended “thank yous” to both Councilmember Bryant and Mayor Althaus for their service to the Town.

Councilmember Rachel White thanked everyone and said she enjoyed serving on the Town Council. Her reasons for not running for re-election have to do with spending more time with her family and as she said, “ I didn’t want to wear out my welcome.”

Councilmember Ruffin also thanked everyone and said that he hoped he would be re-elected to continue serving on the Town Council. He praised both Mrs. Bryant and Mayor Althaus for their service and gave the mayor a standing ovation.

Vice-mayor Leonard noted that speaking third always meant he ran the risk of repeating what had already been said, but that he too thanked the members of the Council, Rachel Bryant and Jim Althaus, both of whom are not returning, for their service and noted that a reception in their honor will be held after the next official meeting.

Mayor Althaus gave his final remarks as mayor of the Town of Signal Mountain. Sadly the majority of citizens had left the meeting and as usual it was the remaining few that regularly attend the meeting that heard his remarks. Most proud of the people who run the Town including all the department heads, Mayor Althaus expressed his pride in the Town of Signal Mountain considering it, “The best town to live in!” Proud to have served twelve years, the mayor expressed his love for the community.

After each of the Councilmembers addressed the Council, the town manager recommended that two committees be abolished – the Playground Committee and the Curfew and Sign Committee. Both served their purpose, according to Mr. Dick, and should be thanked with a letter of appreciation to which the Council approved.

The meeting adjourned at 9:10 PM.
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