Since last July, the community has been anxious about the future of Lookout Mountain Elementary School due to a study commissioned by the Hamilton County Board of Education, intended to create facility efficiency in the system. Since the plan was first announced, a series of community meetings have been held. During the meetings it has become apparent to school officials that all communities value their neighborhood schools and want them to be left alone.
At the February meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commission meeting, Don Stinnett, commissioner of schools, said that now it appears there is a great option for the school, yet to be announced. If this plan is implemented, the future of LMS, where there are small classes and teachers and parents know each other, is bright, he said.
Night out for Lookout, the big community fundraiser to benefit Lookout Mountain Elementary School, will be Friday, Feb. 28, at the Fairyland Club. The cocktail party will include an online auction and a live auction that night.
Changes to two ordinances were discussed at the meeting. A new fence ordinance passed on first reading. Construction of fences will now be more regulated and will require prior approval from Chief Chuck Wells or Assistant Chief Dale Taylor before a permit is issued. Any variance will need approval from the commissioners. A fence must be set back from the finished edge of the road by 48 inches. The style of fences must be wood, masonry or wrought iron in appearance and no chain link or wire fencing is allowed along roadways.
The town’s sign ordinance is also being updated. It will primarily be aimed at all commercial and directional signs. Commissioner of Fire and Police Jim Bentley will work with Town Attorney Brian Smith to determine specifications for signs throughout the town. The new requirements will be combined with existing sign regulations that will be brought up to date.
Statistics from the fire and police departments in January show police answered 285 calls, responded to six false burglar alarms, assisted four citizens and answered 26 calls to 911. Officers made 154 traffic stops and gave six parking citations during the month and there were four auto accidents with no injuries. Six arrests were made - two for traffic violations, one for narcotics, two for outstanding warrants and one for theft over $20,000 which was for jewelry stolen by a caregiver who has been caught and the jewelry has been recovered. In January, 24 suspicious persons / vehicles or activities were investigated. There were four medical calls in Tennessee and four in Georgia. There were two false fire alarms and two false fire calls.
The town is now accepting resumes to fill an open position as a police officer/firefighter. There are some required certifications and medical training is preferred, said Commissioner Bentley. The person hired will be required to attend a state academy. Interested persons should send a resume to Assistant Chief Taylor.
Drivers and walkers are reminded to turn on lights during foggy, rainy, snowy and dark conditions for visibility. Reflective vests can be purchased at city hall.
Commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds Brooke Pippenger said basketball season is coming to an end with the tournament for fourth and fifth grade boys. Registration for baseball should be finished soon so teams can be put together, she said. During bad weather that presents dangerous conditions the gym cannot be used, but with the school closures due to heavy rain Scott Shell has the flexibility to use the gym or hold games. His decision will be announced through on the town website.
When the fields are saturated, people are asked to stay off of them because it ruins the grass for soccer and baseball season, said the commissioner. Mayor Walker Jones suggested putting signs at entry points to the fields that announce closures. The gym can always be used, said Commissioner Pippenger, if the key is available. There are a limited number of keys because the building is shared by the town and Hamilton County Schools and copies cannot be made. She said it is important to return the key when it is checked out.
With the abundance of rain and the recent snow, it has been an interesting couple of weeks, said Commissioner of Public Works Frank Schriner. The public works employees plowed snow from the roads the morning it accumulated but the temperature rose enough to melt it before they were finished, he said. The department is caught up with removing brush and is now in the ongoing process of cleaning out stopped up drains. The dumpster will be available for an extra day in both April and May for spring cleaning.
Samantha VanAlstyne, assistant treasurer, gave the financial report. She said $213,000 in property taxes were received in January. The last day to pay property taxes is Feb. 29. Income from cell phone antennae fees is $11,091 year-to-date, $10,800 in cable TV fees have been received, and $137,000 has been collected from the parking meters. Expenses for the month include the quarterly payment to the Small Cities Coalition, a payment for audit services and an annual payment for managing the town’s website. Bullet proof vests for police were replaced at the cost of $3,500.
Mayor Walker Jones was reappointed as the town’s representative to the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA). He said that the WWTA is continuing work on the mountain to rehabilitate the sewer system. The work is expected to continue another 30 days or longer. Drivers need to be aware of all the activity in the streets, he said. This includes trucks cutting trees in the EPB easement. The mayor said census forms will be out soon and he asks for participation from town residents.
The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commission will be Tuesday, March 10, at 5 p.m.