Numerous Safety Improvements Set For Ochs Highway

Wednesday, October 9, 2019 - by Gail Perry
Assistant Chief Dale Taylor, Chief Chuck Wells, Lieutenant Danny Wright, Fire and Police Commissioner Jim Bentley and Mayor Walker Jones
Assistant Chief Dale Taylor, Chief Chuck Wells, Lieutenant Danny Wright, Fire and Police Commissioner Jim Bentley and Mayor Walker Jones
- photo by Gail Perry

Repaving Ochs Highway from the state line to St. Elmo is scheduled to begin Oct. 11. Mayor Walker Jones said that both the city of Chattanooga and TDOT were responsive to concerns from citizens about the road’s safety. Some of the work that will be done to help will include cleaning the right-of-way and trees to increase visibility around curves and adding the same reflectors that are on Scenic Highway. After the asphalt has cured, speed testing will be done for curves, slopes and wet conditions which will identify areas that need a non-skid coating.

That will be added next spring. Weather permitting, repaving should take four or five days. During that time the road will be blocked at Fleetwood Drive and drivers who go around the barricade will be given a citation.

 

This work on Ochs will not include the upper portion that ends at Fleetwood, so public works employees from Lookout Mountain, Tn. took it upon themselves to spend a day clearing ditches and the road sides and striped it to help make it safer until Chattanooga, which is responsible for the road, repaves it. “They did a good job on Chattanooga’s road,” said the mayor.

 

During September, the police department had 340 calls. Officers patrolled 4,879 miles, answered 12 false burglar alarms, 28 calls to 911 and gave assistance to two citizens. There were 179 traffic stops made, two auto accidents without injuries and 30 parking citations were issued. Five individuals were arrested during the traffic stops for other offenses. One arrest was for possession of four pounds of marijuana and a weapon, and one was for narcotics trafficking of ketamine and heroin as well as an illegal weapon. Another was for an outstanding warrant and two were traffic related. No arrests involved residents of the mountain. Police checked 12 suspicious persons/vehicles/activities during the month. They responded to 13 medical calls - 11 in Tennessee and two in Georgia - and two false fire alarms.

 

Commissioner of Schools Don Stinnett recently attended a Hamilton County school board meeting. He said that the release of a report on recommendations for efficiency in county schools has been delayed until April 2020. He gave assurances that work continues on ensuring Lookout Mountain Elementary School is secure. On Oct. 1 another successful school carnival took place, he said. He also encouraged people to participate in refurbishing the auditorium by buying a plaque for a new seat that can be engraved with a name.

 

The gym is closed and keys cannot be checked out until Oct. 11 because the floor is being recoated to increase traction, said Commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds Brooke Pippenger. Flag football continues until mid-November and basketball sign ups are open now until Nov. 15. Some games will be played before Christmas this year. She said there is a new schedule for sports on the mountain that can be seen on bluesombrero.com. that will better accommodate sports during the year.

 

The public works department is gearing up for leaf season, said Frank Schriner, commissioner of the department. The two leaf machines are ready to go as brush pick-up is almost finished. Reflectors have been ordered to replace the ones that are damaged or missing on the streets.

 

Assistant Treasurer and Court Clerk Samantha VanAlstyne told the commissioners that the yearly audit has partially been paid in the amount of $8,500. The initial draft shows the town in compliance with all conditions. Other expenditures include a new AC unit that was installed at city hall in September and Dwight Montague installed a new internet network in the building. New digital Motorola radios were bought for the fire and police department, a new Tahoe was painted and equipped during the month and $6,200 was spent from the State Street Aid fund for roadwork. Property tax notices will go out the third week of October.

 

A new excavation ordinance was passed on first reading that will make sure road cuts are repaired properly and that they will be inspected. The ordinance gives detailed instructions of how it will be done.  Permits will be required from utilities before the work so the utility that makes them will be held accountable. Several town employees will be trained to make inspections.

 

An amendment was approved to the building ordinance permits creating 180-day increments for building permits. After one expires the holder must reapply for another one at no additional cost. This will ensure that work is continuing on a project.

 

Approval was also given to a resolution that details how surplus property is sold, including guns which must be sold through a licensed dealer. The town will also join in a class action lawsuit dealing with opioid manufacturing. Any proceeds would be divided between participating municipalities.

 

Mayor Jones would like to warn residents that many big trucks from WWTA and EPB are currently working on the mountain and that cars should slow down because they cannot see what is around the curves in the roads.

 

Two promotions have been made in the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Police and Fire Departments. Sgt. Danny Wright started his career with the Highway 58 fire department when he was 15 and he now has 36 years of experience. He has been promoted to the rank of lieutenant for fire and police. His career with the town started in 2004 and he has since achieved certifications including Advanced EMT, State Commissioned Fire Instructor and State Extrication Instructor. He has been awarded Rookie of the Year, Firefighter of the Year, the Presidential Award and Life Saving Award. Presently, he serves the community as a police officer, firefighter, AEMT and fire training coordinator.

 

Lieutenant Duane Schermerhorn has been promoted to the rank of Captain for the Lookout Mountain Police and Fire Department. His career began in 1992 with the Tri County Volunteer Fire Department and in 1994 he moved to Hamilton County Emergency Services. In 1998 he was hired by Memorial Hospital EMS and became a paramedic, where he still is active and now serves Memorial as the operations manager.  In 2004 he was selected and hired by the Lookout Mountain Police Department where he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant/Fire Engineer in 2008. Captain Schermerhorn will now serve as Red Shift Commander, a crisis intervention team member, SWAT, law enforcement instructor, training coordinator and instructor in multiple areas of the medical field.

 

The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commission will be Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 5 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

Assistant Chief Dale Taylor, Chief Chuck Wells, Captain Duane Schermerhorn, Fire and Police Commissioner Jim Bentley and Mayor Walker Jones
Assistant Chief Dale Taylor, Chief Chuck Wells, Captain Duane Schermerhorn, Fire and Police Commissioner Jim Bentley and Mayor Walker Jones

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