East Ridge Names 10-Member Charter Study Commission

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A new Charter Study Commission has been named by the East Ridge City Council.

The panel is set to begin meeting soon and make recommendations to the council for changes in the city charter. The council has the final say-so on what goes on the ballot for East Ridge voters to either approve or vote down.

One item likely on the agenda will be a requirement that the city manager have a bachlor's degree in public administration. Officials said city managers more likely have master's degrees in public administration.

Here are the appointees:

Councilman Denny Manning - Mimi Lowrey and Bill Breneman

Vice Mayor Jim Bethune - County Commissioner Tim Boyd and Donna Reed

Councilman Larry Sewell - Robert Bedwell and former Councilman Darwin Branum

Councilman Marc Gravitt - Robert Stahl and former state Rep. Ken Meyer

Mayor Brent Lambert - Attorney Estes Cocke and Election Commission member Ruth Braly

Commission members will choose their own leader from among the group.

In other action, the council agreed to purchase additional fencing and gates so that the ball field area of Camp Jordan will be fenced off. Recreation Director Stump Martin said that will boost security and also cut from four to two the number of required ticket takers at events. The fencing will be less than $10,000, interim City Manager Eddie Phillips said.

The council is drafting a new animal control ordinance that is slated to include a requirement for those with seven or more dogs and cats to get a multiple-pet license.

Jonathan Cooper, who oversees the city's animal shelter, said he knows of several people in the city with over 20 pets.

On the pet issue, Mayor Lambert again called for the establishment of a dog park. He said the one at Heritage Park in East Brainerd is a hit and is filled with dogs and their owners. He said, "With the number of people in East Ridge who are pet owners, I think this is a need."

A group from Jones Memorial Methodist Church has volunteered to help at the animal shelter with cleanup and donations.

Officials said $1,305,000 has been collected thus far on the garbage fee that went out with property tax bills. The goal was $1.4 million to cover costs of the program.

East Ridge will take over the collection effort on the 1,155 who have not yet paid - with the possibility of late fees or turning it over to a collection agency.

The city has decided not to go forward with a study of multi-use paths in the Spring Creek area, though the city had a $165,000 state grant. Freida Wheeler, director of city services, said the city would have had to contribute a minimum $33,000. She said the ongoing costs, including acquisition of land and easements, would have been "huge."

She and interim city attorney Hal North also said they had issues with a contract that had been forwarded by the selected engineering company, Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon.

The Libertyfest will be held on Saturday, June 29, at Camp Jordan starting at 4 p.m.

The Optimist Club was approved as the new sponsor of the annual fishing derby in place of the Tennessee Aquarium, which dropped out.

A community meeting is set for April 13 at 9 a.m. at the Community Center by City Hall with the main topic future use of the old McBrien School property near City Hall.  

Mayor Lambert said the next agenda session on April 11 will start at 5 p.m. instead of 5:15 p.m. because the sessions have been going past the time for the start of the 6:30 p.m. regular session. 

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