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published on 10/10/2006

Final Meeting for Mayor and Vice-mayor

By staff writer

The Signal Mountain Town Council met Monday, October 9, 2006, in the Town Hall. With over forty-five people in the audience, Mayor Leonard asked the vice mayor, Steve Ruffin to lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and then open with prayer. The town recorder, Sherry Morrison called roll; both Councilmembers Lizetta Paturalski and Robert White were absent due to “fall break” and previous plans, according to Mayor Leonard.

Although there were only three members of the Council present, it was enough for a quorum so the meeting proceeded. First up was the approval of three sets of minutes from meetings on September 11th, September 25th, and October 2nd.

Stan Crewe and Glen Showalter came to the Council for the fourth year in a row to ask permission to place the Santa Claus Train at James Park, across the street from the CVS Pharmacy. They were asking not only for permission but also for police protection and citizen’s support in keeping the display safe. The train will be going up November 17th, the Friday before Thanksgiving, earlier than years past due to requests from parents who needed more time for pictures. Unveiling one of three new sections, Stan and Glen presented a darling snowman who got cheers from the audience.

Four resolutions were presented for approval. The first commended Scott Cook, “for the many years of valuable service and dedication as a public servant as the Recreation Director for the Town of Signal Mountain.” The town recorder read the entire resolution making it an official recognition written into the minutes. Although Scott could not be present, Mayor Leonard offered his praise and admiration to Scott’s twenty-seven years service to the Town noting that, “it’s people like Scott, going about doing their job day in and day out that make this Town what it is.”

At the August Town Council meeting, the Council asked the Planning Commission to reconsider the study on the proposed plans for services to both Fox Run and Windtree subdivisions. The Planning Commission is required by state law to respond in ninety days, according to the town attorney, Phil Noblett. Therefore two resolutions presented tonight were from the Planning Commission asking for an extension to respond to the Town’s request. Both these resolutions passed.

Another resolution presented to the Town Council concerned a request of annexation of property adjacent to property in St. Ives. The owner is asking the town to annex this property, therefore the town council is required to send the request to the Planning Commission to study and issue a written report on the proposed plan of services who in turn will send back to the Town Council their recommendation. Councilmember Linehart requested the neighborhood association of St. Ives be notified of meeting dates so they can have input in the process. The town manager, Diana Campbell agreed to contact them.

The final resolution approved at the meeting was one giving the Hamilton County Wastewater and Treatment Authority (WWTA) permission from the town manager to execute an easement to extend the sewer line across Town property to benefit citizens who desire to connect to the sewer line on N. Palisades. Before approving this request, the town manager noted that a letter from the WWTA assuring the Council that only the people requesting the line will have to pay for it and no one else will be affected by this new line had been received. The owners, making the request will bare all costs of the connection.

An ordinance to amend the budget was presented for approval on first reading. It included many different components involving monies coming in and money going out which required adjusting the budget to keep it balanced.

Included in the amendment were additional funds from the state Hall Tax in the amount of $138,823 to bring to the total Hall Income Tax revenue to $427,823.00.

And thanks to the diligence of the Library Board and commitment of the Town Council, $10,000 was transferred to a newly created Library Foundation Fund. Also funds were transferred to pay for a new compressor at the library.

Funds were transferred to purchase a truck for picking up brush and heavy appliances. Acting head of public works, Loretta Hopper responded to Mayor Leonard’s question as to the need for this purchase saying, “It will greatly improve our services.” This truck will have a mechanical arm, or boom apparatus, that reaches down and picks up the brush or appliance, therefore saving time and allowing the public works department to place personnel where they are more needed and not out on the street picking up branches by hand.

Funds designated for police expenditures were transferred back into the general budget as they are no longer needed. This is because the Signal Mountain Police Department was notified that they had been awarded two grants from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. The first was a non-competitive grant in the amount of $5,000 to be used for traffic enforcement. The other, a competitive grant in the amount of $142,321.00 was awarded to the Police Department due to the hard work of one particular police officer, Officer David Smith, who attended grant school and then did the “lion’s share” of the work, according to Chief Veal. This grant will provide personnel and equipment for the purpose of improving the traffic services/enforcement capabilities of the Signal Mountain Police Department. Mayor Leonard praised our department for winning this award.

Lou Oliphant, secretary of the Planning Commission reported on their last meeting. Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dan Saieed did not have anything to add when Mayor Leonard called on him.

During citizens opportunity to address the Council Joanne Zeiser thanked the Council for their service to the Town especially Bill Leonard for his outstanding leadership.

Theresa Hon representing the Save Signal Mountain group addressed the Council. She said she was glad the rumor about the Library was cleared up and wanted to make it known that they didn’t start the rumor. She extended condolences to Mayor Leonard on the loss of his father and said that the group is made up of concerned citizens looking out for what is best for the mountain and that there is nothing personal in their attempt to recall the four Councilmembers. Councilmember Linehart responded that it would be hard for him to believe it wasn’t personal when he heard Mrs. Hon on live talk radio accuse the Council, the Mayor, and the Town Manager of being under the financial influence of developers and accusing him taking a bribe from a developer when in fact it was a $240 campaign contribution. He said, "That was an attack on our integrity." He said healing would happen, but it would take time.

Vice-mayor Ruffin at the town meeting in September said good-bye in a most serious manner. At this meeting, he said good-bye in a more light-hearted manner telling stories about the previous town attorney. He praised Bill Leonard and Bob Linehart for their dedication and service to the Town, and on the one hand said how much he was going to miss being up there (in the council seats) and on the other how he hoped, “I never have to attend another town council meeting again the rest of my life.”

Diana Campbell, the town manager had one more piece of business to bring to the Council, which concerned the high school financing rate by setting the terms to pay for the principle and interest of the loan secured to pay for the high school. They agreed to a 25-year loan guaranteeing a variable interest rate to not exceed 6% for 20 years.

Finally Mayor Bill Leonard concluded the meeting with several remarks. First was to extend condolences to Jean Dolan on the loss of her husband Don noting that Jean has been a long-time fixture at town meetings and has probably hiked over the entire mountaintop. He also invited citizens to attend the two candidate forums to be held before election one Tuesday, October 10th at the Town Hall of Alexian Village and the other on October 19th at the Mountain Arts Community Center. Both are at 7:00 PM.

And then like the true statesmen he is instead of spending time talking about his service to the town he took the opportunity to congratulate his fellow councilmember, Steve Ruffin by reading a letter from the mayor of the city of Gulf Port, MS, sent to Mr. Ruffin along with a plaque commemorating him for his volunteer service to that community after Katrina.

Mayor Leonard then closed the meeting with, “It has been an honor and privilege to serve this community.”
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