When the Signal Mountain School Viability Committee (SMSVC) members presented their study to the public on Oct. 18, no questions were permitted. Now, in a series of meetings, the community is being allowed to question the committee about its findings and, when those meetings have concluded, others will be held with the city council for additional discussion and questioning. Two meetings have been scheduled with the SMSVC and a third will be held if questions remain.
The second will take place Tuesday in the municipal gym at 7 p.m. Questions can be sent to the committee by email prior to the meeting and there will also be an open microphone available for questions.
In addition to the official meetings sanctioned by the town, two groups unrelated to the government are holding forums to discuss the possibility of Signal Mountain forming its own school system. On Nov. 28, the group known as “Stay with the Hamilton County Department of Education” has planned a meeting with the public that will be moderated by David Carroll from WRCB Channel 3 at 6:30 p.m. Vice Mayor Dick Gee and Councilman Dan Landrum will represent the council. The ad hoc group that originated the idea of breaking away from the HCDE will hold another meeting on Dec. 4. Superintendents from the schools that broke away from the Memphis school district have been invited to that meeting, as well as the lawyer who represented them during the split. Notifications and additional details of these meetings will be available at the town’s website.
Mayor Chris Howley said that he encourages all groups to attend the various meetings and that the more discussion, the better. He said that the council will hold as many meetings for the citizens as is needed. The committee did the research that determined that an independent school system is viable, but there are things that remain unknown for which the council is searching for the answers. Some unknowns that remain include how the entire Signal Mountain community can be included and ownership of the buildings, among other things. “We want to have the answers before we engage the public,” he said.
The state of Tennessee has changed the way that municipally owned libraries are to be operated and Signal Mountain is making changes in order to conform to the new laws. The library board will now become operational and the number of board members will increase from seven to nine. Councilman Landrum was appointed to be the council’s representative on the board for the length of his current term in office. Two vacancies remain. Another change is taking money from the general fund to set up a library fund. The board members are considered employees of the town and will be in control of the library. However, the council is in charge of the board and will have the authority to sign checks for library expenses.
Spending $23,970 for the demolition of an old log building that is on property owned by the town at 611 Timberlinks Dr. was approved. The building was once used by Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church but has long been abandoned and is in extremely bad condition, said Town Manager Boyd Veal. After being demolished and removed, the site will be graded and stabilized, and may become the location for a new playground. Vice Mayor Gee suggested finding a use for the salvaged logs in the town’s centennial celebration, since the building is considered an historic structure.
Signal Mountain is working on several water system improvements, some dating back to 2014. When it began, the estimated cost was $600,000. Over time, the scope of the work has increased and with it, the cost has increased to just over $1 million. At the council meeting an amount not to exceed $50,000 was approved for additional engineering and inspection services from CTI Engineers. The work itself seems to be coming in under budget, which should offset some of the added engineering expense, said Mr. Veal.
The council amended the public records policy to include updated contact information for public records requests which is the Special Projects and Compliance Manager at (423) 498-1341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday night a resolution was passed which honored town employees who are veterans of the U.S. armed forces. Jane Phipps, Mike Williams and Alex Tedrick of the police department, Claude Clemons, Lewis Thatcher and Stacy Seals of the fire department and Mickey Boles and Derick Nash from the public works department were recognized.
The Signal Mountain High School girls golf team was also recognized with a resolution and honored for winning the 2017 TSSAA division I - small division state championship. This win repeated its 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 victories. The council commended the team for its extraordinary performance in 2017.