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published on 03/15/2005

Signal Mountain Declares April 3rd "Don Malarkey Day"

By staff writer

Mr. Malarkey surrounded by Councilmembers
Over thirty people filled the Signal Mountain Town Hall for the monthly meeting of the Town Council on Monday, March 14, 2005. All members of the Town Council were present as were the town manager, town recorder, and town attorney. As it sometimes happens, the Agenda for the meeting, which was inside the Councilmember’s packets on the Friday before the meeting, was a little different from the Agenda for this night’s meeting.

In addition to one Ordinance and three Resolutions, it was that time of year when the Town Council hears two reports. One from Brian Wright reporting on the Town audit and the other from John Clark, chairman of the Mountain Recreation League giving an update and making a request.

Every year the Town is required to renew its insurance. Currently the Town is required to secure bonds to insure its employees and although the current insurance provider, Tennessee Municipal League (TML), does provide such coverage, the cost for the Town would be higher than securing insurance. This Ordinance would make this change. However, town attorney, Phil Noblett requested the decision be put off until another date so that he can make sure that making this change will not conflict with the Town charter.

Three of the four resolutions pertained to renewing Workers Compensation, Liability, and Property Insurance to the Town. All three of these Resolutions passed.

The highlight of the evening came when the first Resolution recognized and commended the years of service and achievements of Mr. Don Malarkey on his 100th birthday and proclaiming April 3, 2005, to be “Don Malarkey Day” in the Town of Signal Mountain. Councilmember Bob Linehart read a list of Mr. Malarkey’s golfing achievements. Mr. Malarkey, who was present at the meeting, said, “This is the greatest honor in my golf career,” to which the members of the Town Council and audience gave him a standing ovation.

The bulk of the meeting came during citizens and other’s opportunity to address the Council. First up was Mr. Brian Wright giving the annual audit of the Town of Signal Mountain. Mr. Wright was addressing the members of the Town Council, and only they had a copy of what he was talking about. He skimmed over the audit hitting on certain numbers and in the end, he pointed out several things: one being that the high school fund has now reached $675,000 and the fire hall fund is up to $450,000; the audit was considered a clean audit; and finally that the town recorder, Diana Campbell, saved the Town over $3,000 by compiling the report for the audit instead of the auditing firm compiling it.

Second to address the Council was Mr. John Clark, head of the Mountain Recreation League. He gave an update on the Shackleford Ridge Park noting that the fields are some of the best if not finest in this part of the country. A grant to complete one of the planned ball fields, a softball field has been secured and with matching funds lacks around $50,000 to complete as desired. Mr. Clark came with a recommendation supported by the entire Mountain Recreation League, the Boys Baseball League, and the Signal Mountain Recreation Department. He recommended the Town divert funds designated for Hedges Field to this new field. After a lengthy discussion members of the Council agreed to consider the request but needed more time before making a decision.

Mr. Henry Moss and Mr. Mike Howard from Hamilton County Wastewater and Treatment Authority (HCWWTA) came before the Council to give them an update on the sewers within the Town of Signal Mountain. With over 22 miles of sewer running through the Town, HCWWTA plans to continue its daily routine maintenance and improving of the system with special projects rotated from year to year among the other municipalities within their focus. Currently they are in the process of looking for leaks and are using smoke. They are making every effort to get the message out. This process could take several months. They warned that if you see smoke in your house, it is not toxic but it does mean that you have a sewer leak inside your house they need to know it.

The Emanuel Broadcasting Company requested that a 15-pound translator be installed on the tower inside the Town and that the Town Council waive the structural analysis, which is required before installing. Although members of the Council supported the idea of a translator for this station, they felt that it was necessary that they follow the same procedures as all other people requesting the use of the tower and therefore agreed to not waive the structural analysis.

Finally the majority of members of the audience were residents concerned about the actions of the Signal Mountain Parks Board. Between rumors and emails word got out that the Parks Board had a grant and part of that grant was to build a handicap trail and so the trail running through “Wildflower Park” or “Dogwood Park” complete with handicap parking was in the plan. These concerned citizens, whose speaker was Mr. David Conner, wanted to see the designs, know the budget, see the bids, and know the time frame for the project. They didn’t want a repeat of the Rainbow Trail fiasco that the Town created last year. A major concern addressed by another resident, Lisa Hawkins, is the lack of a pro-active communication plan from the Town Council. She feels there needs to be a better process for planning and developing parks within the Town. Another resident questioned again why a citizen of the Town is required to present a plan to the Planning Commission and Design and Review Committee, but the Town is not required to do so. Town attorney Phil Noblett noted later in the meeting that the Council has in place appointed representatives in the Planning Commission who can make the decisions necessary to approve projects by the Town before work begins therefore eliminating these problems that keep coming to the council.

Mayor Bill Leonard closed the discussion by suggesting that Hershel Dick, town manager, get with Mr. Sam Powell, head of the Parks Board, and call a special meeting, inviting the concerned citizens and others to meet and discuss the project to which Mr. Dick agreed.

Councilmember Lizetta Paturalski reported that the annual financial audit of the Hamilton County Department of Education had been completed and that it was found to be a clean audit.

And so the three-hour meeting closed at 9:50 PM with the pound of a new Town gavel presented to Mayor Bill Leonard by the other Councilmembers.
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