As Signal Mountain approaches its centennial year, town officials have worked to provide quality city services, meet the needs of their growing community, and provide important cultural landmarks for both residents and visitors. In recognition of the work of town officials to provide top-notch police, fire, public works, financial, and cultural services, the Tennessee Municipal League presents Signal Mountain with an award for Small Town Progress, said officials.
In the past two years, Signal Mountain has excelled in its audit findings while maintaining at least a 35 percent fund balance and balanced budget, said officials. Awarded and maintaining an Aa3 bond rating from Moody’s, Signal Mountain was still able to undertake several major projects during this same time period.
The Signal Mountain Police Department was awarded the full state accreditation status from the Tennessee Law Enforcement Accreditation Program and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, making them the second smallest police department in the state to be fully accredited. The police department has also gone almost completely paperless thanks to a new technology initiative that connects officers’ computer tablets to patrol cars, NCIC, Hamilton County 9-1-1 for Computer Aided Dispatch capabilities, and other law enforcement agencies.
Their digital records management system is up and running and the officers can now complete their reports from their patrol vehicles and send them wirelessly to the RMS system which allows them to be out in the field more and not have to come to the police department to complete their reports.
Signal Mountain also has the first law enforcement agency in Tennessee to implement the federal FirstNet wireless communications system which is a nationwide First Responder Network that is supported by AT&T. The town was featured at a conference in Atlanta regarding their application of that program.
Signal Mountain also constructed a $3 million second fire station that has improved response times, increased coverage, and added additional resources for training. The facility is both large enough to house a second engine company and provide space for reserve apparatus. This station will serve the community for generations to come, without the need for expansions or renovations.
The fire department was also awarded a SAFER Grant from the federal government worth more than $900,000, which enabled them to hire the nine additional firefighters required to staff the new station.
In addition to all this, SMFD has developed a strategic plan for the next five years to help them continue the momentum they have.
Signal Mountain’s Public Works Department also moved into a $2 million, 7,000-square-foot facility that features a three-bay garage, new administrative offices, and a truck wash. They purchased two hook-lift system trucks with dump beds, a brine tank, and automated leaf machines that are single-man operated and therefore more efficient.
The town has also garnered numerous grants totaling more than $3.5 million to facilitate infrastructure improvements, including a bridge replacement, reconstruction of a historic roadway, sidewalk replacement and expansion and creation of bike/pedestrian facilities.
The town also completed and adopted its first Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
Additionally, Signal Mountain invested just under $900,000 to complete four infrastructure water system projects that greatly improved fire flow and replaced aging water mains in problem areas of the system.
To improve the quality of life for citizens, the town has also worked to provide facilities for a wide range of youth sports activities, including earning an LPRF grant to assist in an $880,000 project to completely rebuild two softball fields and significantly improving the surrounding support area.
One of the focal points of cultural life in Signal Mountain has become The Mountain Arts Community Center. The former Signal Mountain Elementary School, a historical and cultural landmark, was transformed into an arts and cultural center. The town invested $500,000 in upgrades to bring the building up to modern fire and safety codes, which in turn will allow the facility to provide significantly more music concerts and theatrical productions to the community, as well as art exhibits and other community events. It will also enhance their appeal to businesses for conferences or other events. At any given time, there are about 350 students registered for classes.
Each year the Tennessee Municipal League honors cities throughout the state for overall excellence, improvement, specific outstanding programs, or department accomplishments. Other award winners for 2019 include the town of Collierville, for Excellence in Stormwater Management; the city of Johnson City, for Excellence in Fire Services; the town of Livingston, for Excellence in Intergovernmental Relations; the city of Memphis, for Excellence in Green Leadership; the city of Memphis, for Excellence in Progressive Leadership; the city of Morristown, for Excellence in Governance; the city of Shelbyville, for Excellence in Police Services; and the city of Winchester, for Excellence in Economic Revitalization.