Judge W. Bradley Weeks told Lookout Mountain, Tn., commissioners on Tuesday he is stepping down from the bench after serving the city for 10 years. Judge Weeks was recently ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal Church and said the added duties from that job and the stress from his role as judge is the reason he chose to step down.
Mayor Greg Brown thanked Judge Weeks for his years of service and said the commissioners would pass a resolution in March commending him for his excellent service to the city. Judge Weeks said his goal as judge was always to give a little back to the community that has meant so much to him over his lifetime.
Mayor Brown asked for a nomination for Judge Weeks’ replacement. The name of John M. Higgason Jr. was placed into nomination and seconded. By unanimous vote, the commissioners welcomed the city’s new judge. Judge Weeks then led Mr. Higgason through the oath of office.
Judge Higgason is an attorney in the law firm of Burnett, Dobson and Pinchak in Chattanooga. He graduated from law school in 1976. Judge Higgason’s wife, Connie, daughter Katherine, and son-in-law, Jason Lentz, were present for the ceremony. Judge Higgason told the commissioners he promises to be fair and impartial. “That’s all a judge can promise,” he said.
Fire and Police Commissioner Carol Mutter reported there have been several break-ins of unlocked cars at a local church. Thieves are stealing checks from within the center of checkbooks and taking the driver’s licenses. She advises all residents to lock their doors and take all valuables inside whenever parking their car.
Commissioner Mutter noted that three people were recently arrested for breaking into cars on East Brow Road. However, the evidence obtained from their vehicle was not from the mountain. As far as police know, these arrests are unrelated to the stolen checks from the other break-ins.
Mayor Brown commended the Fire Department and all responders from the Tri-State Mutual Aid for their excellent work fighting the recent home fire in the town. The situation would have been a lot worse, Commissioner Mutter added, if not for the city’s new aerial pumper truck. This was the first time the new truck had been used in service.
Parks and Playgrounds Commissioner Will Moses said in accordance with the requirements of a local parks and recreation funds grant to the town, there will be a public meeting held at the Town Hall at 6:00 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23. The supplier, GameTime, will present final plans for the playground equipment replacing the Mountain Maze.
Demolition of the current Mountain Maze is to start soon, possibly next week, he said. Pieces of the current playground will be used at Chattanooga Christian School, in the Natural Bridge area, and near the soccer fields on the Georgia side.
Education commissioner Billy Mitchell said the Lookout Mountain School will be having a musical program on two dates, Feb. 26 and 27, at 8:30 a.m. Spring break dates are March 16-20. There will be no school on President’s Day next Monday.
In the mayor’s report, Mayor Brown told commissioners the state of the economy will be impacting the city by next fiscal year. The Tennessee Hall tax is currently 27% of the city’s revenue. That revenue source will be significantly lower when the next budget is presented in July, he said, because it will be based on 2008 income. He wanted the citizens to know that the commissioners are aware of the situation and are on top of it.
Mayor Brown said he has heard from many people who have received new property appraisals from Hamilton County government. Increases from 15% to 30% are being reported. Hamilton County’s answer to why such increases, has been that this is a four-year assessment, not a one-year assessment. Lookout Mountain, Tn., government has no control over the assessments, he said.
Three Eagle Scouts have selected the Natural Bridge area as a community service project, Mayor Brown said. Each Scout is required to put in 100 hours of work. Their first project was to prepare a master plan, which they have done and submitted to him.
The next commission meeting will be March 10 at 5:30 p.m.