Archive: April 2008
Megasite property could be acquired
County Mayor Franklin Smith told county commissioners the state’s budget might provide money to begin acquiring property for the megasite. Smith made the statement during the May 19 county commission meeting.
Smith says land options require the 3000-plus acres be purchased for $10,600 per acre. The total is about $32 million. Landowners, for the most part, have agreed to extend options until September.
While this year’s state budget may not allow full payment, Smith says he hopes landowners will be offered a “deferred” payment program that pays the entire balance over three years.
The megasite is located near Exit 42 on I-40 and is designed to provide a location for an automobile manufacturing plant.
School board could increase from five members to 10
Only two county commissioners voted against County Commissioner Allen King’s proposal to begin examination of enlarging the school board from five to 10 members. King says he thinks the size of the school system requires more representation.
The current school board system was created in 1993 when the county commission approved a plan reducing the school board from seven members to five and converted the school board from a county commission-appointed to a popularly-elected body.
Under the present plan, school board members represent two county commission districts. Under King’s proposal, one school board member would represent each county commissioner district.
The action passed Monday night requires County Mayor Franklin Smith to explore the change and present a report.
If eventually approved, county commissioners would, next year, ask the state legislature to introduce a private act, officially creating the system. No actual changes would be possible until the 2010 election.
Sanitation rates will go up in October
Rural residents, businesses and Stanton’s government will see higher sanitation rates in October. The action will make the county’s sanitation budget solvent for the first time.
The county commission approved raising rural residents’ rates from $10 to $15 per month. Those on “tax relief” will see their rates increased from $6 to $9. Commercial customers now paying $22 will be raised to $40. The county is also picking up Stanton’s garbage at a load charge of $200. Stanton will be required to pay $300 per load.
Mayor Franklin Smith says the move will provide a sanitation budget that goes from an annual deficit to, “in a perfect world” a small surplus. Smith says there is also ongoing discussion about eliminating the system of green boxes – or dumpsters – and adding house-to-house pick up.
History of sanitation fees:
- 1995: Residents began paying $6 monthly
- 1999: Raised to $10
- 2008: Raised to $15
Two appointed to board of equalization
Rick Bowden and Pat Cummins are new members of the board of equalization. Bowden and Cummins replace Ronnie Richards and Betty Barden. Their appointments were confirmed this week by the county commission. The Equalization Board handles residents’ complaints or questions about property assessment.
Recycling center may move
The county is considering moving its recycling operation – currently located at Parks and Recreation’s offices on Boyd – to a building in the industrial park. Manufacturer EZ Soil formerly occupied the location under consideration. Mayor Smith is negotiating a deal to use the building.
Package beer sales headed for legalization
Brownsville aldermen deadlocked on the beer vote when they met in regular session on May 13. Mayor Webb Banks broke the 2-to-2 tie, allowing passage of the first reading. The action paves the way for legalized package beer sales in Brownsville.
Aldermen John Simmons and Leon King voted no. A public hearing and final passage is required for package sales to be legalized. The mayor expects to hold the public hearing at the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on June 10.
Mayor Banks told aldermen during an April called meeting he would present language amending the city’s present liquor laws that, if passed, will permit package beer sales in the city limits. The mayor wrote two paragraphs describing how beer may be sold. Retailers who want to sell beer must conform to certain restrictions, including “maintaining at all times an inventory at wholesale of $10,000 and yearly retail sales of $300,000. The inventory and sales must consist of food items for consumption by humans. Sales of beer, petroleum fuel products, cigarettes and lottery tickets can not be included in the totals.”
Mayor Banks said, “This would eliminate little package stores from popping up.” The mayor said he wrote the rules so that beer can be sold in “major” stores in the city limits. He predicts beer sales could lead to new tax revenue of $380,000 annually.
Two rezoning recommendations approved
The city will rezone to general commercial a tract located just south of the Pictsweet warehouse on Highway 76 South. The request comes from property owner David Hunt who owns 23.5 acres and plans to build a Hampton Inn on the site. At their meeting on May 13, city officials said Hunt is also considering building a restaurant on the tract.
And a new barbeque restaurant may be headed for the corner of Windrow Road and the bypass. Property owner Sam Brown won approval to rezone his property to commercial. Brown told city leaders he wants to open a BBQ eatery in a house located at the corner.
Sign ordinance adopted
Long-discussed new rules were ratified May 13 when the city board passed the final reading of an ordinance setting regulations for business signs. The rules describe the size of signs and also regulate the use of portable signs and flashing signs.
Door-to-door selling permitted here
Brownsville’s old laws just said “no” to door-to-door peddling, but the new law, adopted May 13, sets rules allowing the practice. City board members made it clear they didn’t want to make the changes, but a challenge by a magazine publisher claiming the old rules were unconstitutional forced the issue. City hired lawyers agreed and advised leaders to make changes.
The new rules are pretty restrictive. They require peddlers to buy permits and complete documents that clearly state who they are and what they do. City residents may also have their addresses placed on a “do not solicit” list that is provided to those soliciting. When residents register to be on this list, they will receive a small sign to place on their residence that will let people know they do not welcome solicitation.
Good news for Dynametal
Local manufacturer Dynametal asked local governments to buy its building to help fund cash flow problems. Both governments rejected the request, but Mayor Webb Banks said May 13 that a Jackson real estate investor is considering buying the building. Flint Cox, who has developed industrial property in Brownsville, has told city leaders he may buy the building and lease it back to Dynametal.
Good news from the railroad
CSX Railroad officials earlier this year placed community leaders on notice that they could serve no more customers here because the railroad’s infrastructure – specifically their switching capacity – was inadequate.
Mayor Webb Banks said May 13 he came away from a recent meeting with the railroad with a proposal that may solve the problem. According to Banks, local governments will provide the property for the new switchyard and will apply for a grant that could fund much of the work. Railroad officials say they will pay the difference between the grant and the actual cost. The switching station will be located in the existing industrial park on Morgan Street.
Regional industrial efforts ongoing
A coalition of governments and utilities is ready to interview finalists for a position with the new regional industrial recruiting operation, and the coalition has been strengthened by the addition of new members.
The Southwest Tennessee Community Development Authority, organized by Tipton, Haywood, Covington and Brownsville governments plus utilities from both areas, has been joined by Lauderdale County and Ripley’s government and utilities in the recruiting effort. The total annual budget is $365,000 and will fund a director and office worker. Banks said there are four finalists vying for the $125,000 a year job.
To see new city ordinances in their entirety, go to www.haywoodcountybrownsville.com and click on City of Brownsville, then on Ordinances.
National Guard’s 1175th Returns
May 13, 2008. Buses transporting soldiers from the National Guard’s 1175th travels around the Brownsville square. The transportation company has been serving in the Iraq for the past year. It’s the 1175th second tour of duty in the Middle East.
Unemployment up slightly in March
According to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the unemployment rate in Haywood County rose slightly in March to 8.2 percent, up from 8.0 percent in February.
Several neighboring counties also saw an increase in rates in March, with Lauderdale reporting the highest – 9.6 percent unemployment, up from 8.8 in February. Madison county’s rate was up from 6.2 to 6.3 percent; Shelby County’s rate went from 5.9 to 6.2 percent, and Tipton County’s unemployment rate went from 6.7 in February to 7.3 in March. Crockett County’s rate went down from 8.6 in February to 8.4 percent in March. Likewise, Fayette and Hardeman counties saw decreases reporting 7.3 and 8.6 percent, respectively, unemployment in March.
Both the nation and the state also saw increases during March. The national rate is currently 5.1 percent, up from 4.8 percent in February, and Tennessee’s unemployment rate went from 5.3 percent in February to 5.6 percent in March. Also in the state, the rate increased in 50 counties, decreased in 27 counties and remained the same in 18 counties.
Legislative Breakfast draws crowd
On April 11 a large crowd of area citizens attended the Brownsville-Haywood County Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Breakfast with local legislators Senator John Wilder and State Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh. Both spoke about state issues, and Mayors Webb Banks and Franklin Smith presented a special Certificate of Appreciation to Senator John Wilder, who is retiring at the end of this term. Pictured are (from left) Chamber Director Joe Ing, Mayor Banks, Senator Wilder, Speaker Naifeh and Mayor Franklin Smith.
Fourteen graduate from Leadership Haywood County
Fourteen members of Leadership Haywood County classes received certificates at graduation ceremonies on Thursday, April 10, at the First South Community Room. Members, guests and Leadership alumni enjoyed dinner and a presentation of the 2008 class project and photographic memories from the sessions members attended. Nick Nichols received the “Thinking Outside the Box Award,” and Rita Hathcock was chosen to serve on the Leadership Board. Graduating were (front, from left) Rita Hathcock, Mae Bufford, Becky Overton, Janice Reed and Steve McCool; (second row, from left) Bob Scifres, Natalie Lane, Kathleen Walker, Diane Hooper, Nick Nichols, Chad Ross, Bob Nolan and (not pictured) Katherine Horn and Harrell Nation, Jr. The Leadership program is sponsored by the Brownsville-Haywood County Chamber of Commerce.
City board meets with full agenda
When the city board met in regular session on Tuesday, April 8, they had a full agenda, and discussed rail access, the soliciting and sign ordinances, a change at Brownsville Utilities, among other things.
The city and county may have invested about $2 million in a new industrial park on Windrow Road, but does that mean we can really attract new industry? Mayor Webb Banks told aldermen Tuesday night that CSX Railroad has told local governments that they don’t have the switching capacity to serve any more customers in Haywood County. Mayor Banks told aldermen that the railroad is accepting no more customers here, and that’s already eliminated at least one industrial prospect that would have employed about 120 people. Mayor Banks says he and County Mayor Franklin Smith have told the railroad they’ll provide property sufficient for a switchyard, but Banks fears the railroad may hold out for even more – requiring local taxpayers to pay for the infrastructure, too.
Banks says he has a meeting with the railroad to discuss the situation.
Today the city has very restrictive rules regarding door-to-door soliciting. City Attorney Michael Banks says the law is unconstitutional, and it one company that recognizes the deficiency is challenging it. Tuesday night the city board passed on first reading revisions to the ordinance that makes changes necessary to conform. The highlights of the new ordinance require that those wishing to solicit must purchase a permit. It also requires that soliciting be done only during daylight hours.
The Brownsville Utility Department is about to become the Brownsville Energy Authority. Aldermen are considering a measure making the utility independent of Brownville government. Mayor Webb Banks say the new arrangement will make the utility less susceptible to local politics. “It will take the politics out,” Banks said. The Brownsville Energy Authority will also eliminate liabilities city government might have to lawsuits and other financial liabilities of the utility.
Utility manager Reggie Castellaw says nothing much will change. “Day to day, there will be no changes from the way we operate now.”
The city is working with a troubled local manufacturer to help keep them in business.
Mayor Webb Banks said, “We’re going to try and save” Dynametal. The Dupree Street manufacturer “needs some money” according to the mayor who says he is developing a “creative” way to help the company find a needed $1.2 million. The mayor did not give a lot of details at the meeting, but Banks said he will report back to the city board on the work that will include help in securing the cash needed to float the company. In an outline presented to the board, the mayor suggested the city secure indebtedness for the employer and also agree to purchase the factory should they default. No action was taken.
The city is going to try and rent the old Sonic building and maybe later – buy it. Alderman John Simmons won approval last night to rent the building for “no more” than $1,200 per month for six months. The city wants to use the facility as a farmer’s market. If all goes well, the former East Main Street eatery will become a farmer’s market by June 1.
The city board reluctantly agreed to refund almost $10,000 in property taxes. The refund is a result of appeals granted by the state board of equalization. Property owners receiving the refund include the owners of the old Wal-Mart property, Crestview Nursing Home, and owners of apartments located on Tamm, North Washington and Jefferson Streets.
The city board adopted on first reading new language placing a few more restrictions on the use of business signs in an effort to write a new sign ordinance. Among other things, Mayor Webb Banks said that the new ordinance limits the number of signs, does away with blinking lights on signs and makes the use of portable signs as permanent signs, illegal.
In other business, we learned that the local arm of the Madison Developmental Center – the Ben-Rich Center, which provides service and work for developmentally challenged adults, has come under the state government’s budget cutting. Tuesday night aldermen agreed to donate $2,500 to the center. Officials of the center will ask county government for a like amount.
The city board meets the second Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. each month.
Local politics 2008 City Election
In the June 17 city election, three aldermanic positions will be on the ballot. That’s one more than usual because Carolyn Flagg was appointed to her position in Ward 2 by Brownsville Mayor Webb Banks to replace Mark Davis when he left the position on November 14, 2006. So she has to run for the position this year, and in 2010 when this term expires.
Leon King is running unopposed for re-election to his Ward 1 position. Carolyn Flagg is running unopposed for her Ward 2 position, but long-time alderman John Simmons, who is running for re-election in Ward 3, is being challenged by Walter Battle.
Early voting starts May 28 for the June 17 city election.
The Haywood County General Election and the State Primary will be held August 7. Early voting for this election will be from July 18 through August 2.
Running for the School Board Districts 2 and 6 seat held now by Patricia Gruenewald, who is not running for reelection, are Daniel Thornton, Freddie Burnette, and Bruce Steele. In School Board Districts 4 and 10, running for the position now held by Joe Barden IV are Allen Currie and Maggie Stewart. Barden is not running for reelection.
Two candidates will be vying for the Property Assessor position. James Morgan is challenging incumbent Dare Simpson.
In the Haywood County Road Commissioner race, three incumbents are running unopposed. Milton Booth serves Districts 2 and 6, Morris English serves Districts 1 and 5, and Jack Brummett serves Districts 4 and 10.
Also on the November ballot, all elected official seats in Stanton will be on the ballot. It is an at-large election for the aldermen – the top voters win.
For the State Senate Seat in the 26th District, now held by John Wilder, three are vying to be the Republican candidate: Bob Shutt of Hardin County, Dolores Gresham of Fayette County, and Tim Linder from McNairy County. Randy Camp of Crockett County is running in the primary as the Democrat candidate.
State Speaker of the House of Representatives Jimmy Naifeh is being challenged in the race for the House seat for District 81. Rory Bricco, a Republican from Tipton County is the challenger.
John Tanner, who holds the seat in the U. S. House of Representatives for the 8th Congressional District, is running unopposed in the August primary. In the national Senate race, Republican Lamar Alexander is the incumbent, and he has six Democrat opponents vying for his seat in the August primary. One Democrat and one Republican will be elected to face off in the November election. However, six independent candidates, who have also qualified, will be on the ballot in November for the general election.
Brownsville and Haywood County honored with Rebuild Tennessee Award
Brownsville Mayor Webb Banks (right) and Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith (center) received a Rebuild Tennessee Award on March 26 at a ceremony in Nashville. Pictured with them is Mayor Buck Chambers of Piperton, Tennessee.
Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith and City of Brownsville Mayor Webb Banks were honored on March 26 at the Tennessee Development District Association conference in Nashville, Tennessee, with a Rebuild Tennessee Award for the College Hill Museum ADA Elevator project. The project was financed in part by local Parks and Recreation grant funds.
This award is presented by the Rebuild Tennessee Coalition, which was established in 1992 as a chapter of the National Rebuild America Coalition.
It is a coalition of public and private organizations and individuals with a unified and singular commitment in a process that supports and builds Tennessee’s economy and quality of life. It is committed to educating the public, media, and legislators about the declining investment in infrastructure in Tennessee and the nation.
The coalition’s strategy has a four-fold approach to build public awareness, encourage government action, promote innovative financing and foster joint cooperation.
Anne Banks receives state appointment
State Representative and Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh recently appointed Anne Banks, City Director of Community Development and the assistant to the Mayor, to the Tennessee Judicial Selection Commission.
She will serve a six-year term on the commission that considers all candidates for state judicial appointments to state criminal courts of appeal as well as trial and appellate courts. The commission narrows the list to three final candidates that are presented to the governor who then makes the appointment from the list of three candidates.
Banks has been working for the city since May 30, 1978. She is very active in numerous community service projects such as the state advisory committee for Three Star, Delta Leadership Network Committee, Board of Trustees for the West Star program, advisor for the Jackson Chapter of the American Red Cross, and Deputy Director of the Scott Street Center. She also serves as chairperson of the Survivors’ Luncheon for Relay for Life.
Banks has received much recognition for her role in community service including the E Award for the Governors Council on Women.
Rep. Naifeh thanked Banks for her dedication to the State of Tennessee and said, “I am confident you will serve this commission with the utmost honesty and integrity.”