Improvements Underway At Lookout Mountain Commons, Info Sought On Origin Of Historic Bell

  • Wednesday, July 10, 2024
  • Gail Perry
Historic bell
Historic bell

This summer, the Lookout Mountain, Tn. Commons is being spruced up. Commissioner of Parks and Playgrounds Joe Hailey told the town commissioners that new sod has been put down on Johnson Field. New grass was needed because of overplay The same thing is happening on Carter and Fairyland’s fields. Ideally, they should be shut down one or two days a week he said, but that is a problem because they are used so much. Several hard freezes, other extreme weather events and people playing on them when they are muddy also have contributed to the condition of the fields.

The plan is that people will be kept off Johnson Field for at least a month to help the grass get established. The next organized sport will be soccer in late August or early September.

The press box on Johnson Field is also being remodeled. The seating area at the top is being eliminated and the interior is being turned into a concession stand. A TV has been bought for the children at Commons Camp to use when they are resting or when the temperature gets too hot or the weather becomes too bad to play outside. The TV will also be used for events at The Commons during football season. Mud that washed across the tennis courts is being addressed by diverting water runoff to a catch basin. A roof being built over the batting cage is also in progress.

With the work being done all around The Commons, a large bell that has been mounted on the roof at Navarre Pavilion since it was built 60 years ago was taken down to be refurbished. Paint is being removed revealing it is solid brass along with the date it was made and the bell caster who did it. The bell has been taken apart and the moving parts are being repaired.

The bell was made in 1822 by John Wilbank in Philadelphia, the same craftsman who made the Liberty Bell replacement for Independence Hall in 1828 that replaced the original one that was cracked. Commissioner Hailey said the mystery is how the bell ended up on Lookout Mountain. In the search for information, people he has talked to who grew up on Lookout Mountain remember it always being on the pavilion, but so far nobody knows where it came from. Once it is completely restored, the bell will be put in a prominent position on the mountain. Anyone with knowledge about the historic bell is asked to contact Commissioner Hailey.

Several months ago the Lookout Mountain Commissioners approved buying new License Plate Readers. Three of the cameras are now up and running and have already been successful in recovering a stolen car and identifying a person who was in the town from Mississippi with an outstanding warrant for his arrest, said Chief Dale Taylor. If a license tag number is entered into the system that is now being used country-wide, the LPRs will notify the local police if that wanted car enters the municipality. Commissioner Jim Bentley received approval from the commissioners to buy two additional LPRs for the cost of around $6,500, to be able to fully cover the town. Money from the technology fund derived from the municipal court will be used to pay for the additional cameras.

Town Consultant Brooke Pippenger suggested and received approval to split the money collected from court fines and court costs equally to pay for the judge and the court clerk and for technology that benefits the police department.

Ms. Pippenger said that the town is in good financial shape with $4,283,168 in the bank. The State Street Aid fund that comes from the state of Tennessee each month is at $321,890 through the end of June. This money will be used for paving in the future.

Brush is front and center right now, said William Valadez, commissioner of the public works department. Garbage pick-up was delayed in early July while the town’s garbage truck was being repaired. Commissioner Valadez would like to thank the town of Lookout Mountain, Ga., for loaning their truck during that time. Fixing potholes and other street repairs have been put off until late August because of the lack of available asphalt. The commissioner said that a state contract has all available asphalt reserved. The work on Lookout Mountain will get done but later than had been planned.

Lookout Mountain School is now fully staffed and ready for the next school year, reported Karen Leavengood, commissioner of education. Registration for 2024-2025 is Monday, Aug. 5. The summer library has been a success, she said and thanked the PTA for keeping it open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. July 18 is the last day of the summer hours and all books are due then.

The commissioner said that the town and school have a unique partnership involving the PTA and school board. She thanked Kaki Jenkins for leading the PTA this past year. May Burke will take over that job next year. The school and students have a bright future, said Commissioner Leavengood, thanks to school board members Karen Welborn, Julie Fisher and James Willliams in addition to Principal Emily Haney and Vice Principal Missy McKenna.

A variance was granted to owners of 711 East Brow Road on the first reading. Many houses on that part of the mountain were built before there were set-back requirements, said Mayor Walker Jones, and many structures sit close to or on property lines. The house built in 1920, and repaired in the 1930’s, is already a foot over a property line at one corner. A variance will allow the driveway to be moved away from a stone wall on the line but is still closer than today’s set-backs. But the new location will not prevent fire trucks from accessing the structure, said Chief Taylor. There is no opposition from neighbors and granting this variance will not set a precedent, said Town Attorney Brian Smith.

The mayor thanked Michelle Workman and the local chapter of the DAR for organizing another successful Fourth of July parade. Mayor Jones has agreed to continue being Lookout Mountain, Tn.’s representative on the Hamilton County Water Quality Management Committee. Brooke Pippenger is the alternate.

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

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