Leaves And Brush Piling Up On Lookout; $88,000 In Donations Received Toward Mountain Security System

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - by Gail Perry

Lookout Mountain, Tn. Public Works Commissioner Walker Jones on Tuesday reported on the leaf and brush piles that have accumulated. “It has been a perfect storm,” he said. "This year the site where leaves are taken is on Nickajack Road, a 45-minute round trip which is much farther than where they were taken in previous years. This has slowed the work of clearing them. Also during the leaf season, the vacuum equipment has broken twice, and there has been a lot of rain and freezing weather so the machinery does not work. The pick-up route is 22 miles and takes four-six weeks to complete one round."

Commissioner Jones asked for residents to be patient and said it will get done. Brush and Christmas trees, which are taken to a different location, are also being picked up now.

Commissioner Jones announced that the sidewalk to the state line along Scenic Highway has finally been completed on the Tennessee side with help from County Commissioner Joe Graham who provided money from his discretionary fund to supplement the work. The public works department also bought two new white Dodge Ram pickup trucks in December that were in the 2013 budget. Paving is planned for the loop around Point Park, the alley between Hermitage and East Brow roads and for Lincoln Street. The start will depend on the weather, he said. The town also had 50 additional tons of salt delivered so there will be plenty to use on icy streets during the remainder of the winter.

On Saturday, Feb., 1, a dumpster at the public works building will be available for residents.

Mayor Carol Mutter updated the commissioners on the security camera project that is being installed in conjunction with Lookout Mountain, Ga.  Both large and small donations totaling $88,000 have been received. If money is left over it, will be put into a restricted fund for maintenance or upgrading the equipment in the future. The system should be in place and working around mid-February.

In new business, the mayor addressed the town’s new cell tower ordinance. Proposals have been received to build towers from Wireless Properties and from AT&T. The ordinance requires that the town hold a public hearing on the matter. It has been scheduled for Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Lookout Elementary School auditorium for discussion and questions from residents.

In his report, Commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds Joe Hailey said that bids for the tennis courts all came in above the amount budgeted for the project. Originally, the two lower courts were planned for replacement at a cost of $200,000 with half of that coming from a grant. An engineering study revealed that the condition of the upper courts was causing problems with the lower ones and they, too, needed to be replaced. The city added another $100,000 for that work. The lowest bid came in at around $329,000. The town is now attempting to find a way to reduce the cost in order to move the project forward.

The fire and police department reports given by Commissioner Ernie Minges from statistics compiled by Chief Randy Bowden showed that police responded to 95 calls during the month of December. They patrolled 4,177 miles, answered 25 burglar alarms that were all false, answered 16 assist citizen calls, 10 911 calls and 11 medical calls. There was one auto accident during the month, 15 traffic stops, two thefts and no burglaries. Five fire alarms were responded to - four were false and one was a structure fire. Commissioner Minges thanked the Lookout Mountain, Ga. Fire Department for its assistance.

Passed on first reading was an OSHA policy revision that is required every six years and which assures that monthly safety checks are made by the town. The commissioners also approved a second month’s extended pay for long time town employee Police Sergeant Tim Guinn while recovering from an extended medical condition. Commissioner Minges asked for an employee policy amendment that would change the probation period for a new hire in the police and fire department from 90 days to one year. These employees live together for shifts of 48 hours and it is important that they get along with one another, he said. A person’s personality will be sure to show through in a year, said Mr. Minges. Approval for the amended policy was unanimous.

The commissioner wanted to remind residents again to have headlights on in rain and foggy conditions, to obey speed limits, for drivers and walkers to be mindful of each other, and for mountain stickers to be removed before selling a car. He also encouraged residents to put their house on “home watch” by calling the police department while out of town, and reminded everyone that the town has a leash law.

The spelling bee at Lookout Mountain Elementary School is Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m. The book fair will be from Jan. 27-31, the next PTA meeting is Jan. 28, and Night Out for Lookout, a fundraiser and auction at the Fairyland Club, will be held Feb. 28. Principal Ruth White told the commissioners that writing continues to be a huge focus at the school, and that writing assessments will be taken next month. This year the assessments will be done on computers, and thanks to County Commissioner Graham’s gift, new desk top computers have been purchased for the school, and will be available for the testing. Ms. White also acknowledged support for the school from the commissioners and thanked Chief Bowden for responding when asked for help in keeping the school safe. She said the kids are comfortable with the Lookout Mountain police presence.

Town Consultant Dwight Montague gave the financial report, saying that “December is our happiest month because it is the month we have the most revenue and least expenses.” This is because the majority of property taxes are paid in December. July is traditionally another good month for the town since that is when the Hall Tax is received. Mr. Montague cautioned the commissioners and citizens to be prepared for property tax increases since the Hall tax is slowly being reduced and is likely to be eliminated. In order to maintain city services, he anticipates the need to increase property taxes in small increments.

In a letter to the mayor and commissioners, Ansley Moses, the town’s representative to the WWTA, encouraged all residents to grant the WWTA easements for the permanent ownership and maintenance for all service lines. These lines are only on the exterior from the house to the sewer system. The town deeded the entire sewer system to the Hamilton County WWTA in 2006, and the agency is under federal and state mandates to reduce the infiltration of rainwater into the sewer, which is substantial on the mountain where the system was constructed over 40 years ago without using modern piping. The old pipes allow a large influx of water into the lines. 

Once the WWTA is granted the easement, if any problem to the exterior service lines occurs, the WWTA will fix it at no cost to the customer. The $8 monthly fee paid to WWTA covers the cost of repairs.

Over 300 people that received a letter requesting easements have not yet responded in Lookout Mountain, Tn.  Mr. Moses said a second request will be sent to those who have not responded in the near future. He, the mayor and commissioners urge everyone to comply and promptly return the easement forms. These forms must be notarized. The town will provide notaries from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily beginning Jan. 14, at Town Hall. An appointment can be made for notary service at the residence of any resident that is disabled, by calling for an appointment.

The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commission will be Feb. 11 at 5 p.m. 

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