Strict Security Measures Put In Place At Lookout Mountain Elementary; Final Approval Given For 130-Foot Cell Tower At City Hall

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - by Gail Perry
Jimmy Stewart with "Watcher"
Jimmy Stewart with "Watcher"
- photo by Gail Perry

Commissioner of Schools Don Stinnett introduced a group of teachers from Lookout Mountain Elementary who came to the commission meeting Tuesday night. The group brought a petition signed by a large group of teachers to show appreciation for what the police department has done for the school. In the past two years safety training and practice drills have been performed at the school in order to prepare the children, faculty, staff and parents for potential active shooters or other harmful situations. Police presence at the school has also been increased with random patrols and walk-throughs. The petition asks for these activities to be continued.

The teachers and students now know what to do in the case of emergencies, but they need to practice on a regular basis, like a fire drill, said one of the representatives from the school.

It was also noted that the children are not afraid of the police because they know and are used to seeing them.

 Chief Randy Bowden responded that, because the commissioners will be changing after the recent election, does not mean the specialized security training and patrols will be forgotten. He said training would take place monthly or bi-monthly. Another safety measure in place is that all but the front door is kept locked at the school. To increase security, Principal Ruth White is working to get funding for a buzzer system that would allow that door to be locked as well. Commissioner Stinnett said he would also like to get security cameras.

 This year there is one new teacher and two new teaching assistants, said Commissioner Stinnett. He said Aug. 26 is the first PTA meeting, Aug. 28 is the start of Boosterthon, and the coupon books go on sale in September.

 An update was given on the security cameras that have been installed at every entry point into Lookout Mountain. Tn. and Ga. as well as at Caldwell Corner. The tag readers are now fully functional day and night. There are still problems with night vision in the overhead cameras but more sophisticated infrared lighting is being installed to improve the images. The system is working now and has already found two cars by using the cameras. Enough people have been trained and given access for reading the equipment that there is always a person present that can access the information and immediately respond to a 911 call. Mayor Carol Mutter said, “We won’t be satisfied until it is working the best that it can.”

On second and final reading a conditional zoning permit was approved for Wireless Properties for a cell phone tower. Josh Ligon, representative from the company, told the commissioners that in his professional opinion, this new 130-foot tower will add cell phone coverage and capacity to the mountain and will help in the capacity of other devices. Due to the topography of the mountain, the number of residences is restricted, he said. This makes capacity the biggest concern with various devices trying to connect to the network. He expects this tower to supply capacity for the next five-six years. It will provide coverage for the center of the mountain but gaps will remain on the front. He suggested small cell technology to fill in the gaps. During negotiations, the exact location on municipal property will be determined either in front or in back of city hall.

Two sculptures have been donated to the town by the family of Margaret Sexton. The commissioners are asking for donations to pay the installation cost of $2,500 for both pieces. Landscape Architect Jimmy Stewart has found appropriate places for the art in two of the town’s parks. “The Watcher” will be seated on a boulder at Temple Park and a granite and marble abstract sculpture by Wayne Trapp will be placed on a rock outcrop in Jane Davenport’s Park on West Brow Road.  

“Living on Lookout,” the new Lookout Mountain community website, is being managed by Merrill McGinness. Now into its second month, she came to the meeting to update the commissioners. There are around 150 views per day coming from around the world. She said that two stories about local events are added weekly, and asks the public for story ideas. She works directly with dispatchers in both Lookout Mountain, Tn. and Ga. to know road conditions, and said the site will be useful for residents in the winter. It will also be used to make special announcements. Mayor Mutter added that residents can still call city hall for current road conditions.

Erick Wood, owner of Talus restaurant, was given a special permit to serve alcohol outdoors on the night of Sept. 13. The restaurant will host a block party with live music, food and drinks from 6-10 p.m. to benefit both Lookout Mountain Elementary and Fairyland Elementary.

Commissioner of Police and Fire Ernie Minges gave the department statistics for the month of July. Police answered 82 calls, patrolled 4,990 miles and answered 17 burglar alarms that were all false. There were 12 assist citizen calls and 13 “911” calls. Eight non-domestic animal calls included ones about a bear, snakes and coyotes. There was one auto accident with only minor injuries, 15 traffic stops, no thefts, burglaries or arrests. Response was made to 14 medical calls and three fire alarms that were all false.

Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham supplied a contact from the county highway department for consultation concerning drivers that speed along East Brow Road near the “cowpath.” This consultant along with Chief Bowden decided to mark crosswalks at East Brow on the north end of the path and on Whiteside on the south end in addition to another crossing to the grassy area that leads to the kindergarten. Trees have been trimmed before the curves on East Brow near the path and the county will mark the areas with signs. Flashing speed signs are being priced and will be added for additional warning.

Commissioner Joe Hailey gave a report concerning the ongoing work of replacing the tennis courts. The fire department helped recently by spraying the courts to make sure they are draining properly. Work to install the fencing has started and soon the basketball goals will be put up. The surface needs around 20 more days to cure before putting on the final surface.

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