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published on 06/14/2005

Town of Signal Mountain Expresses Appreciation to Marines

By staff writer

Today is June 14, 2005, and it is Flag Day. A day citizens honor the American Flag. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “In 1777, the first United States flag had 13 stars and 13 stripes-one for each state. In 1795, two more stars and stripes were added. As the nation grew, the design became cumbersome. In 1818, Congress decided to continue to add a star for each new state, but to revert to the original 13 stripes.” Today there are 50 stars, with the last being added in 1960 when Hawaii became a state.

When we pledge allegiance to the Flag, we are pledging loyalty to our country. The citizens of the Town of Signal Mountain who were present at the regularly scheduled Town Council meeting, Monday, June 13, 2005, were privileged to honor true heroes among us, soldiers serving in the armed forces. Mayor Bill Leonard read the proclamation to three of those soldiers present at the meeting. Afterwards, Lt. Col. Eric Merkle responded with gracious words saying that it was the other two young men present, Sgt. Christopher Akridge, and Lance Corporal Ben Wildman, that deserved all the honor as they were in the trenches while serving in Iraq. As the three men stood at ease, there was barely a dry eye in the room filled with over 20 citizens. These men honored at the meeting are truly showing honor to the flag with their loyalty of service to their country. Also honor and Included in the entire proclamation but not present were: Staff Sgt. Garrard S. Ramsey, Lance Corporal Matthew Camp, and Lance Corporal Steven Ramsey.

In other business the Town Council approved minutes of three meetings, the May regularly scheduled meeting and two budget work sessions. A resolution approving the purchase of a new water pump to replace one that is over 50 years old was approved. And the ordinance containing the 2 Budget was approved on the first reading. According to the press release provided by the town recorder, Diana Campbell:

As completed and submitted for its first reading, the fiscal year 2 budget is highlighted by the following components:

• A total budget of approximately $6,800,000. Of this amount, $3,800,000 is the operating budget for which general funds are expended. Approximately $3,000,000 is in funds for self-supporting items such as the Water and Stormwater Funds and in special revenue funds such as the State Street Aid and Solid Waste Fund.

• The Town has reserve funds for Governmental Operations of approximately $1,900,000 and cash reserves for Utility Operations of approximately $820,000.

• After reductions and adjustments of approximately $125,000, the $79,000 originally needed to be used from the General Fund reserves are projected to be a surplus of approximately $46,000. This surplus will be added to the General Fund reserves

• The budget includes debt service payments on Water Fund bonds of approximately $88,000 and debt service payments on General Fund bonds of approximately $160,000 for a total debt service payment of approximately $250,000.

• The total outstanding debt at fiscal year end 2006 will be approximately $254,000 in Water Fund notes and bonds and approximately $735,000 in General Fund notes for a total bond and note debt of approximately $989,000. This amount of indebtedness is considered low for the size and complexity of a town such as Signal Mountain.

• The budget includes a 3% increase for employees and does not provide for a net increase in the number of town employees.

There will be no property tax increase or increase in water or storm water rates.

Under citizen’s opportunity to address the Council, resident Anne Leonard asked for the Council’s blessing for a contest, sponsored by the Signal Mountain Garden Club’s Beautification Committee, to landscape Althaus Park. As chairman of the Althaus Park Landscape Project, Anne reported that the contest is open to anyone and welcomes submissions from professional as well as amateur gardeners. Details are available at Town Hall and on the Signal Mountain Community web site Other residents had questions and concerns or comments including former mayor Jim Althaus.

Mayor Bill Leonard and Councilmember Robert White praised Councilmembers Bob Linehart and Lizetta Paturalski for their part in preparing the proposed budget noting that both have a background in finance, which means they brought to the table a wealth of resources when preparing the budget. Mayor Leonard commented on the ceremony at the Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery where Scouts around the county placed thousands of Flags on the graves noting that one of the honored guests at tonight’s meeting, Lt. Col. Merkle was a guest speaker at the ceremony and also an Eagle Scout.

On a final note, town manager, Hershel Dick announced that he is retiring in July. Mayor Leonard, Councilmember White and former Mayor Althaus all responded with praises and gratitude to Mr. Dick for his 40 years of service to the Town of Signal Mountain, the last five as town manager.

Also present at the meeting was town attorney Phil Noblett. Councilmember Steve Ruffin was absent. The meeting was adjourned at 8:00 PM.
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