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published on 09/13/2005

A High School on Signal Mountain Becomes a Reality

By staff writer

“What happened tonight is probably one of the most historic things that has ever happened in my lifetime in Signal Mountain.” ---- Glenn Baird

The Signal Mountain Town Council which includes Mayor Bill Leonard, Vice-mayor Steve Ruffin and Councilmembers Robert White, Lizetta Paturalski, and Bob Linehart, all were present, at the meeting on Monday, September 12th, to witness to and vote on the resolution authorizing an interlocal agreement with Hamilton County, Hamilton County School Board and the Town of Walden to build a high school/middle school in the Town of Signal Mountain.

Special guests at the meeting: Dr. Richard Casavant, Hamilton County Commissioner; Mr. Chip Baker, Chairman of the Hamilton County School Board and his wife Karlette; Glenn Baird and Treena Smith, co-chairmen of the Friends of Signal Mountain High School (FOSMHS); and Mr. Tom Caldwell, attorney and member of the FOSMHS.

The next step, according to the Town attorney, Phil Noblett, is to determine how the Town of Signal Mountain will fund the 7.7 million dollars, and raise the taxes accordingly. Proceeds from the 1999 sales tax and/or other revenues presently collected by both Towns may supplement any bonded indebtedness. Once it is paid off, the tax increase ends.

Other guests present: former mayor Jim Althaus; former town manager Hershel Dick; Sam Powell, chairman of the Parks Board; and Lou Oliphant, secretary of the Planning Commission. In addition, Stan Crewe and Glenn Showalter creators of the “Santa Train” were present to ask the Town’s blessing for this year’s exhibit. Bringing with them one of the new additions, an elf in a rocking chair reading “The Night Before Christmas.” The exhibit opens November 11th at James Park.

In other business, the Council appointed Caroline Woerner to the Park Board; Councilmember Bob Linehart to the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (HCWWTA); authorized a contract for the annual paving of roads within the Town; and authorized a change in the contract for the repairs at the baseball fields as well as approved the annual donation to the Mountain Recreation, Inc. to provide maintenance at Shackleford Ridge Park.

Eight important ordinances were approved at the meeting. Three were on second readings: one to amend the YD 2005-06 Budget to amend the rate of taxation; second to amend the Signal Mountain town code to adopt the 2003 International Building codes; and third to create a new board called the Construction Board of Adjustments and Appeals thus doing away with the current Board of Appeals.

The last five ordinances approved on first readings pertained to changes in the electrical, mechanical, plumbing, gas and fire codes within the Town of Signal Mountain. All changes included the code adopted, inspection or permit fees, penalties for compliance, and means of appeal where applicable.

Citizens were given an opportunity to address the Council. Doing so first was Bill Gallagher who thanked former town manager, Hershel Dick for approving the project to cement the dugouts at the baseball fields at Althaus Park. Adding to that thank you was Red Bank High School student Lindsay Wright who along with other students from Mrs. Skate’s civic class were present at the meeting. Resident, Joy Adams came to the meeting with counsel representative to address stormwater issues concerning her property. Polly Ragan spoke for support of senior citizens; Jeff Holland asked for clarification on future taxing for high school/middle school; and Diane Gallagher spoke in support of the Sunday Stoll on Shoal Creek.

Mayor Bill Leonard and Mr. Jim Cawthorne, interim town engineer, both spoke to current road construction within the Town, Cauthen Way and the widening of Taft Highway creating walk/bike paths from the Town Hall to the shopping center on both sides of the road. The mayor also spoke in praise of Governor Bredesen and the response Tennessee showed to the evacuees of Hurricane Katrina.

It was clear that the current Town Council was humbled by the enormity and importance of their decision to approve the interlocal agreement at the meeting. In addition, Councilmember Steve Ruffin who opened the meeting with prayer reminded us that he is from Louisiana and still has friends unaccounted for. Noting the pain he is going through, Councilmember White gave the vice-mayor an official purple and gold Dixie League Tiger’s uniform, No. 11, with RUFFIN on the back, to cheer him up.

On a sad note, Signal Mountain lost one of its most valued police officers, Dennis Nave, commander of the night watch, who lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday, September 6, 2005. We also learned at this meeting that long-time building inspector, Bill Wagner retired on September 2nd.

Councilmember Bob Linehart said it all when he quoted former presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, saying Signal Mountain is, “A shining city on a hill,” and all the residents who make things happen in Signal Mountain are, “A thousand points of light.”
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