Unlocked Car Stolen On Lookout Mountain Found In Downtown Chattanooga; Chimney Fires Increase

  • Thursday, January 11, 2024
  • Gail Perry

Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commissioner of Fire and Police Jim Bentley said an unlocked vehicle that was stolen in the town on Dec. 12, was recovered by Dec. 24 in downtown Chattanooga and involved four juveniles. For the sixth months in a row, he reminds residents to lock their car doors.

This year there has been a huge uptick in chimney fires. In the last month there have been six and two of those caused structural damage. Commissioner Bentley and Chief Schermerhorn are telling homeowners to have a licensed contractor inspect and clean your fireplaces and check to make sure it is constructed correctly every year before using it. Even heat from gas logs can get into the structure and start a fire, said Chief Schermerhorn.

The December financial report for the town is right on target for the year, said CPA Jennifer Waycaster. At 48 percent of the way through the fiscal year, 48 percent of the budgeted revenue has been received. She said 42 percent of property taxes were collected by the end of 2023 and, since the first week of January, the taxes have been coming in at a rapid pace. The cash balance is now at $3.9 million.

The commissioners will have to decide whether to continue to offer retirees an option to keep their insurance through the town. They would pay 100 percent of the cost if they chose to keep it, but it still shows up on the town’s books for the audit report. Chief Duane Schermerhorn told the commissioners that the ability to keep insurance after retirement has been used as a recruiting tool. It is very good insurance, he said, but it is not cheap. The commissioners have until the end of March to decide, but expect to make a decision at the February commission meeting.

When school started back at Lookout Mountain School after the Christmas break, faculty and staff began the new year with two in-service days. Just before the holidays, the state of Tennessee released their state report cards and Lookout Mountain Elementary School received an A. Commissioner Karen Leavengood said that Principal Emily Haney had developed a new schedule aimed at helping meet students’ needs that began when students returned after Christmas. The school is looking forward to welcoming grandparents for Grandparents Day. It will resume this year after COVID caused the special day to be put on hold. The commissioner thanks everyone who supported the LMS Annual Fund with year-end giving. Another opportunity to help the school will be Night Out for Lookout that is scheduled for Friday, March 1. This year it will have a Mardi Gras theme.

Joe Hailey, commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds has put out bids to three companies for installing new lights at Senter Field. Bids are due on Jan. 23. And the commissioner has been working on getting a roof system for the batting cages that were built by the rec board. Lookout Mountain, Tn. will be responsible for the roof and lighting that will be added later. Basketball season has started. Commissioner Hailey said the teams were chosen the first week of January and Recreation Director Scott Shell is in the process of scheduling practices now.

The Public Works department had the streets cleared quickly after Monday night when strong storms caused four trees to fall on the town’s roads and EPB responded quickly to the power outages, said Public Works Commissioner William Valadez. More storms have been predicted for next week and Public Works employees are getting ready. A salt truck is waiting to start salting roadways on Sunday. Picking up leaves has mostly been completed so now there will be more brush runs, he said. Finding a contractor and an estimate to repair or replace a stopped-up drain pipe on Fairy Trail continues. Mayor Walker Jones added that road striping should be done soon. Plans are to use a reflective paint for the road markings followed by adding reflectors. It is hoped that this can be done before the worst of the foggy season begins on the mountain.

Chief Schermerhorn told the commissioners that the town’s electrical inspector has resigned. The Lookout Mountain, Tn. building inspector, Tim Thornbury, is also certified as an electrical inspector and the commissioners voted to accept the recommendation from Chief Schermerhorn to appoint Mr. Thornbury to the position.

The chief has identified an operating issue and suggested a solution. He said he has been seeing multiple failures of building permit inspections. The building inspector is paid by the general contractor for making the first inspection. The town has been failing to charge the contractors, and that has now been corrected, he said.

But the chief said he has been seeing multiple failures of the exact same things. All the re-inspections have been taking a lot of town employees’ time, and the contractors have not had to pay for each repeated inspection that is needed. The solution that he recommended is to charge the initial inspection fee of $60, and another fee of $60 when a second inspection is needed. He said the contractor needs to take responsibility for their work so going forward, after the second failed inspection, the contractor will be charged $100 for each reinspection that is needed for the same thing.

Updated building codes have been revised on a regular basis, said Town Attorney Brian Smith. The town of Lookout Mountain, Tn., has updated its codes this year on the recommendation of the building inspector. The International Residential Building Code was adopted Tuesday night. The updated Energy Conservation Code was also adopted.

In the mayor’s report, Walker Jones told the commissioners that Town Consultant Brooke Pippenger has completed the training to become a Certified Municipal Financial Officer. She is now the town’s CMFO, filling the position formerly held by CPA Jennifer Wacaster. Ms. Pippenger has also updated the entire Lookout Mountain municipal code book and now will continue to do that on a yearly basis. The codebook is available through a link on the town’s website.

Mayor Jones also thanked the public works employees for putting up the Christmas decorations throughout the town, including the new locations for lights this year at Temple Park and Jane’s Garden.

After having operated the Mountain Munchery concession stand for a season, the owners are asking the town officials for clarification about issues encountered the first year. Mayor Jones told them that he has heard a lot of people complaining about the trailer being parked at The Commons during the off-season. The owners agreed to have it moved off site during the months it is not being used. The town was asked not to charge for water and electricity, which is minimal, however the commissioners would not commit to anything until they have more data. The town will also provide more trash cans this year and parents will be asked to clean up litter at The Commons after games. When sports start back up, hamburgers and hot dogs may be added to the menu, if a safe location for a grille can be sectioned off.

The next meeting of the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commission will be Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 5 p.m.

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