Renovations to the Mountain Arts Community Center under the care of Signal Mountain Elementary Preservation Fund, which is designated as a 501c3 charitable organization, are continuing to move forward thanks to the town of Signal Mountain and volunteers. Much of the money to restore the old building that originally was an elementary school has been funded by the town. Residents who are involved with the SMEPF and programs at the facility have also provided money, time and labor to renew the building.
At the first council meeting of 2020, an agreement was approved which will allow for another improvement project - installation of new windows in the auditorium/theater.
The same procedure was successfully used to replace the HVAC system last year. The council members unanimously voted to advance the SMEPF, $40,000 to replace the windows with new ones that are energy efficient and custom built to match those being replaced. The council members expressed confidence that the organization would be able to raise that amount and repay the town, since it raised $70,000 and repaid Signal Mountain for the new HVAC in around a year's time.
Spurred by an incident several months ago when an unconfined dog attacked and killed a puppy being walked on a leash, a revision to the town’s vicious dog ordinance has been under development. Town Manager Boyd Veal has provided a draft of the ordinance pertaining to vicious dogs to the council for discussion prior to the vote on it that will be held at the next council meeting. Some conditions in the law as proposed will include the requirement that once a dog has been deemed vicious, the dog must be registered, the owner must have liability insurance, the dog must be confined and warning signs must be posted around the property. Mr. Veal said there is no requirement that the animal be spayed or neutered and there is nothing breed-specific in the ordinance. A dog will also be considered property and the owner will be compensated in the event of loss. Residents need to be aware that the town of Signal Mountain has no off-leash parks.
Residents of Signal Mountain have recently experienced car thefts and items taken from unlocked vehicles. One resident who spoke to the council believes that more people need to be made aware of the criminal activity. She said Police Chief Mike Williams had done an excellent job of providing information on Facebook but some people do not read it, she said. She suggested posting the information also on Signal Mountain Nextdoor and through email blasts. The more people who are aware of the situation and are vigilant, the more likely there will be an alert resident who would see suspicious activity and tip off the police, she said.
Community volunteer Anne Hagood updated the council on the fight against the hemlock wooly adelgid that has been killing hemlock trees in recent years. She said the conservation task force continues to be active, and has just treated 58 trees in the Rainbow Lake area. The treatments last for five or six years and she said the trees that have previously been treated are doing pretty well. Two years ago, beetles that are predators of the hemlock wooly adelgid were released. She said those have not been seen this year but the infestations are small, possibly due to the beetles. The Signal Mountain task force cannot treat trees on private property but they can provide advice or the name of a licensed arborist, she said.
Reed Hampton, a sixth-grade student at the middle school, asked the council to put a street light at the school bus stop where Mountain Brook Circle and Ridgerock Drive intersect. He said it is dark at 6:30 a.m. when students must cross the road at the stop sign that cars routinely run. Council member Susannah Murdock said she had received calls from people who live near the bus stop and are concerned about light from a street light shining in their windows. She suggested moving the bus stop, or shielding the light. People would still have to cross the street, answered the sixth grader. The town manager said he would try to find a solution that could solve the issue while reducing the impact on residents.
At the Jan. 27 council meeting, half-way through the fiscal year, a “state of the city” presentation will be given by Mayor Dan Landrum.