Commissioners Glad That Lookout Mountain Elementary Will Remain Open; Hearing Set On Busing Students Up The Mountain

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 - by Gail Perry

Lookout Mountain Elementary School is no longer on the list of Hamilton County school closures, said Commissioner of Schools Don Stinnett at the monthly meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn., Commission.


Another change is being proposed, however, which is to bus students from the St. Elmo/Alton Park area to Lookout Mountain School. School officials in the town heard about that proposition with little or no notice prior to the public announcement, he said, and it was not talked about at the School Board meeting on Monday.

A public meeting will be held next Tuesday at the Bethlehem Center, 200 W. 38th St., to discuss this proposal. A survey will be sent out after that date. No decisions will be made at that time, said the commissioner.


Ruth White, principal of Lookout Mountain School, announced that Joy Kaeser has been hired to teach fifth grade English language arts to replace a teacher who has moved out of town. A spelling bee organized by Madeline Weeks was held on Tuesday. Winners were Hayes Naggar for second grade, Reiter McVie for third grade, J.P. Blackstone for fourth grade and Olivia Youngblood for fifth grade. Ms. White gave special thanks to the fire and police department, who enforce traffic around the school. She invites the community to come see the refurbished auditorium. Seats with dedication markers are still available to buy.


The town of Lookout Mountain, Tn., has had no residential or commercial burglaries for the past two years. At the first commission meeting of the year, Jim Bentley, commissioner of fire and police, credited that mostly to efforts of the police department. The yearly statistics show that in 2019, 64,628 miles were patrolled. This visibility creates police presence throughout the town and shows its effectiveness, he said. Citizens are also aiding the police by making calls when suspicious activity is observed. During the last year, 188 calls from vigilant residents about suspicious activity were investigated, leading to arrests. Cameras that have been positioned at each entrance to both Lookout Mountain Tn. and Ga. are another contributing factor to safety on the mountain, it was stated.


Other statistics from the police and fire departments in 2019 show police had a total of 3,295 calls, responded to 149 burglar alarms, had 324 calls to 911 and 56 assist citizen calls. There were 1,626 traffic stops made, 238 parking citations given, and 26 auto accidents. There were 32 arrests in 2019.  Response was made to 112 medical calls in Tennessee and to 41 in Georgia. There were 31 fire alarms during the year and eight fire calls - all but one was minor.


The police commissioner warned that in the last several weeks areas all around Chattanooga have been hit with cars being stolen and broken into. Although the activity has not taken place in Lookout Mountain, Tn., all residents are urged to lock the doors of parked cars and to remove valuables, especially guns.


Commissioner Bentley also asks for people who walk or jog in the fog or at night to wear visible and reflective clothing. Reflective vests can be bought at city hall for $10.


Town Attorney Brian Smith has been asked to draft a new ordinance pertaining to fences and walls. Because large fire trucks and emergency vehicles need room to maneuver and visibility can be blocked when fences are placed too close to a road, a set-back of at least 48 inches from the edge of the asphalt was established. Citizens can request a variance before the commissioners on a case by case basis. Fences can be no more than three feet high along roads and no chain link fences are allowed along streets and roadways.


Commissioner of Parks and Recreation Brooke Pippenger said that basketball season is now underway. Baseball and softball registration have opened online. Practice will begin in early March and games will begin in April. A decision on whether to offer wrestling as a rec sport this year will be made soon, based on interest. The commissioner asks for anyone wanting to participate in the sport to call Scott Shell at (423) 821-6212.


The playground at The Commons is split, said Commissioner Pippenger. Signs on posts specify age appropriate equipment. Some is suitable for young children ages 2-5 and some is intended for older children ages 5-12. For safety, she said that adults should supervise the children to make sure the young ones stay off of the larger equipment. Another reminder is for people who want to use Navarre Pavilion or the skating rink for parties to call Scott Shell ahead and make a reservation.  Otherwise, both facilities are open to the public.


Assistant Treasurer Samantha Van Alstyne gave the financial report for December 2019. She said $1.1 million in property taxes was received along with $5.000 in back taxes. Property taxes are due by the last day in February. The sale of an Explorer from the police department was made for $21,500. Other income included cell tower and antennae fees from July 1 until Dec. 31 of $9,954. A suggestion was made to renegotiate a different contract for the cell tower which could produce additional income for the town.   


Expenses for the month included some needed furnishings for the fire and police living quarters, a light package for the new police car and a new contract for the elevator at town hall.


The public works employees have been pleased with the mild winter weather, so far, said Commissioner of Public Works Frank Schriner. It has given them time to remove leaf piles and catch up with brush pick-up. He said that last year the dumpster was available at the public works department an extra day in April and May and that is being considered again this year.


A variance request to build an open carport was made by a resident living on Park Road. The new structure would be one foot from the property line and just eight feet from the house next door. The town requires a 15-foot set-back to prevent fires from jumping. Chief Chuck Wells and all the commissioners agreed that eight feet would be too close to the neighboring home and the request was denied.


The tennis courts at The Commons were named for Marilyn Voges Brown, a long-time tennis teacher on the mountain. Mayor Walker Jones acknowledged her recent death. He said that she will be remembered for the many great tennis players she taught.


Tree cutting by EPB has started throughout the town. At the same time WWTA is also working to refurbish the sewer system. Chief Wells said with all the work being done near or on the streets, residents should expect some road closures. Although it might be inconvenient, he said that will keep both workers and drivers safe.


The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn., Commission will be Feb. 11 at 5 p.m.  

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