Before the business meeting began Thursday night at the Soddy Daisy commission meeting, the town dedicated two new government buildings. A new 911 communications building filled with all new equipment was dedicated to the first four women ever hired as dispatchers by the city, Jean Wilson, Sylvia Lovelady, Flora Brynum and Jewel Brown. The ladies were honored by ex-Chattanooga Police Chief Mark Rawlston, who started his career as a dispatcher in Soddy Daisy.
The new Police Services Building was also dedicated.
Chief of Police, Phil Hamrick said it replaces a five-office building that housed 35 people, and allows the police department now to have a place for private interrogations and an area to secure evidence. Most of the funds for the building came from drug funds. County Mayor Jim Coppinger was present to extend his congratulations to the city.
The mayor and council members presented awards to three Soddy Daisy High School athletic teams for outstanding performance and for bringing recognition to the city. Mayor Jim Adams told the crowd that he was pleased to recognize some outstanding students from the high school. He addressed the coaches saying that their programs built national recognition. He thanked them for the legacy they are leaving. He said that not only had they built athletic programs, but also molded minds and hearts as students leave and go out into the world.
Presentations were made to the 40 boys who participated in the 2011-2012 wrestling team that qualified for the state tournament in all 14 weight classes, the girl’s softball team that was the AAA state champion and the skeet team that won the junior division at the Tennessee Skeet Shooting Championship.
Chief Hamrick gave the crime statistics for the first four months of 2012 compared to the same four months of 2011. He told the commissioners that crime was down 28 percent even though phone calls answered had increased. Drug and narcotics arrests were up over five percent for the same time period.
John Bridger, executive director of the Regional Planning Agency, came before the commissioners to ask for their monetary support for the services provided to the city. This organization will help the city in zoning and major and minor subdivision planning. Mayor Adams said now that there is technical growth in the area, he does not think Soddy Daisy can go forward without some plan. The city agreed to participate and pay $6,393 yearly for three years when the price may be adjusted depending on the caseload.
The commissioners then addressed the issue left pending from the last meeting concerning the contract for garbage. City attorney Sam Elliott, who had not been at that meeting, later advised the mayor against a proposed private meeting with Waste Management who had given the city the lowest bid, and the attorney, city manager and recorder. There had been no conversation with that company and city officials since the previous commission meeting.
Thursday night, attorney Trey Harris came to the commission meeting, representing Priority Waste a local company that had also delivered a bid for garbage service. He told the commissioners that he was concerned there had been an attempt to modify the bid and influence the commissioners before their final decision and requested that his client be reconsidered and the bids be re-opened, so that there would be no appearance of impropriety. This elicited a heated response from City Manager Hardie Stulce and Commissioners Shane Harmon and Gene Shipley. All three responded that they resented being accused of impropriety when they said they had followed the law in the manner the job was bid and publicly presented. They each voiced the fact that they based their decisions on what was best for the city and were responsible to the taxpayers.
Vice Mayor Janice Cagle asked for the difference in bids from the two companies involved and heard that it was a $40,000 for the first year alone. She responded that perhaps they could make it work, to give the business to a local company, if the difference was just a few thousand dollars but not for $40,000. The award of waste services was given to the low bidding company Waste Management which is based in Cleveland, Tn.
The city commissioners voted to support the submission of an application for a grant from Tennessee Department of Conservation, to do work on the Holly Circle Park. The wish is to create a mile and a half walking trail, a one and a half mile hiking trail and five miles of a blue-way for kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized watercraft. They will be working with a planner to help in writing the grant.
The planner told commission members that in order to be eligible to receive state funds in the form of grants, you have to create a 10-year master plan. This plan would not be locked in, but would be flexible and could change and evolve. Mayor Adams said there are many natural resources in Soddy Daisy and recommended that a comprehensive plan would be the best way to develop them according to what the residents need. The motion was unanimously approved.
In the city managers’ report, Mr. Stulce discussed a bridge plan for the police and fire department. This plan allows police officers to pay a higher rate into the state's pension fund as opposed to receiving a raise now. The result is an earlier retirement age. Chief Hamrick told the commissioners that it would save the city money since the plan would eventually create a younger, less experienced workforce that would require smaller salaries. He said that 27 of his 30 officers have agreed to this plan which will cost the city nothing to implement. The plan was voted on and the motion to accept it was passed.
Mayor Adams ended the meeting by announcing that Monday night, July 2, will be “Soddy Daisy night” at the Lookouts game. Some anonymous donors in the city have purchased 400 tickets to give to each child who is playing Little League baseball this summer. Mayor Adams said he is looking for a big crowd.
The commission voted to cancel the meeting planned for July 5.