Archive: May-June 2008
Haywood County to honor volunteers
According to Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith, nominations for the First Annual Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards are now being accepted in Haywood County. The awards will celebrate the efforts of volunteers who strive to improve their communities through service.
One youth and one adult volunteer will be selected in Haywood County to receive this prestigious award. Nominees will be judged based on the community’s need of the volunteer service performed, initiatives taken to perform the service, creativity used to solve a community problem and impact of the volunteer service on the community.
Nomination forms may be picked up at the courthouse in the Haywood County Mayor’s office. Applications must be returned to the office by July 31, 2008.
Recipients of the Volunteer Awards will be honored at the Governor’s Volunteer Stars Ceremony in Nashville in October. They will also be honored at the local Chamber of Commerce Banquet and during the Hatchie Fall Fest in October.
For more information about nominations, call 772-1432 and ask for Gloria Hayes, your Volunteer Star’s County Coordinator.
City election: Simmons retains seat, voters look forward
It’s status-quo at city hall in Brownsville. John Simmons was reelected to his Ward 3 seat on the city board in the city election on June 17. Simmons received 478 votes; challenger Walter Battle received 96. Aldermen Leon King and Carolyn Flagg were reelected. Neither had challengers.
The Haywood County General Election and State Primary will be will August 7. Early voting for this election will be held from July 18 through August 2.
There’s only one countywide office on the ballot. Assessor of Property Dare Simpson is running for reelection, and former County Commissioner James Morgan is challenging her.
There are two important school board races. Neither longtime chairman Patricia Gruenewald nor Joe Barden IV are running for reelection.
In Districts 2 and 6 the school board race is between Daniel Thornton, Freddie Burnette and Bruce Steele. In School Board Districts 4 and 10, Allen Currie and Maggie Stewart are on the ballot.
There are three Republicans looking for the nomination for the senate seat being vacated by the retiring John Wilder. Republicans Dolores Gresham, Tim Linder and Bob Shutt’s names will appear on the ballot. Randy Camp is the apparent Democratic nominee as he is running unopposed.
County Commission discusses routine agenda
The county’s budget committee has begun regular sessions to discuss county government’s new budget, but the new budget wasn’t discussed when the county commission met on June 16.
The meeting, which lasted less than an hour, focused on routine business, including the appointment of a tax attorney and the adoption of Three Star Community resolutions.
Commissioners adopted an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the governor’s Three Star Program. The lengthy essay outlines economic and livability goals for Haywood County that the Chamber of Commerce, governments and involved citizens, developed. Among the highlights of the program are plans to develop more infrastructure at I-40 exits, increased technical training for prospective members of the workforce, development of the downtown area and support for the hospital.
County Commissioners passed a resolution authorizing the issuance of Industrial Capital Outlay Notes. The resolution allows the county to properly fund the purchase of the tract planned as the new industrial park at Windrow Road and the bypass. County Mayor Franklin Smith says the property has already been purchased and paid for, but the funding must be in compliance with various state laws. He says though commissioners authorized the issuance of bonds, it is more likely the county will borrow the money from its own savings account.
County Commissioners reappointed Pat Mann as the county’s tax attorney. Mann will serve for two years.
The county commission will meet again June 30 to tend to year-end budget matters. Commissioners agreed to extend the current budget until they can act on 2008/2009 budget recommendations that they expect the budget committee to make in July.
Schedule of Upcoming County Committee Meetings
(All at the Haywood County Courthouse)
Monday, June 23, 5 p.m., Budget Committee
Monday, June 30, 5 p.m., Budget Committee
Monday, June 30, 7 p.m., County Commission Meeting
Monday, July 7, 5 p.m., Budget Committee
Tuesday, July 8, 5 p.m., Budget Committee
Wednesday, July 9, 5 p.m., Budget Committee
City Board votes in package beer sales
It is rare when the city board disagrees on an issue, but whether to legalize package beer sales in Brownsville was a split decision with Brownsville’s four city aldermen – leaving the tie-breaking vote up to Brownsville Mayor Webb Banks.
Tuesday night, June 10, Mayor Banks broke that tie making the sale of package beer legal. Aldermen John Simmons and Leon King opposed it on both readings. Aldermen Carolyn Flagg and Joe Taylor voted for it.
Nine people spoke during the public hearing; seven spoke against — two in favor. Those opposed were concerned about increased crime and drunk driving. They also disputed the predicted economic impact. Those for worried that the little guy was shut out of selling beer and said making beer more available won’t increase consumption.
Mayor Banks believes beer tax will provide city coffers with between $250,000 and $300,000 in new income annually.
The new ordinance is restrictive, allowing beer in only the largest food selling stores in Brownsville and making exterior signage illegal. The ordinance also provides that no beer retailer may be within 300 feet of a school or church.
The ordinance makes the city board the beer board and the mayor the chairman. But aldermen passed the first reading of a revision that will create an independent three-person beer board.
Alcohol in Brownsville is not new. Last August voters overwhelmingly passed liquor by the drink ordinance, although package liquor stores are still not legal here.
City Clerk Jerry Taylor has researched the records, but can’t find the date when package beer sales were made illegal in Brownsville, but most think it was probably by act of the city board sometime in the early 1950s. Taylor found evidence of an earlier legalization of beer by the city board in 1933.
City finances tight
Aldermen and the mayor have scheduled two work sessions to discuss the city’s finances. The fiscal year ends June 30, and in the words of City Clerk Jerry Taylor, government is “in a bind.”
Taylor blames lower income and increased costs – especially the expense of fuel. He told aldermen and the mayor that he is doubling the budget for fuel. Taylor also said he is predicting revenue filtered down from state government will be lower, and he thinks property tax income will increase less than $5,000.
Mayor Webb Banks has instituted a city-hiring freeze. He says the freeze means the police department is two officers short; the fire department will be down by one fireman and five positions will remain open at public works. Banks has also reached an agreement with the county school system that means schools will fund the salaries of two police officers assigned to schools.
For the first time Mayor Banks and Clerk Taylor hinted that the budget might not be balanced without a tax increase. “Every option I’ve looked at I haven’t liked,” Banks said. The mayor said the budget is presently “$750,000 to $800,000 out of balance.”
Several new ordinances pass city board
When the city board met June 10, aldermen breezed through unanimous final passage of four ordinances.
- Property at the corner of Windrow Road and the bypass was rezoned to general commercial. The tract, owned by Sam Brown, will be used, according to city officials, for a new barbeque restaurant.
- Property located on Tennessee 76 South, south of the Pictsweet warehouses and just north of Curtis Lowery Road, was rezoned to general commercial. Developer David Hunt plans to build a Hampton Inn on the property. Mayor Webb Banks says Hunt also hopes to lure two restaurants onto his property.
- A measure changing the term limits of Historic Zoning Commissioners passed. The resolution extends the term from four to five years.
- A change was made to the Municipal Zoning Ordinance that lowers the elevation requirements for buildings in certain flood zones.
City police to be armed with tasers
Brownsville police will soon carry tasers, in addition to their other weapons. Mayor Webb Banks says 10 tasers have been purchased and police officers are being trained in their use. Banks hopes the tasers will help stop some of the “scuffles” that have recently resulted in the injury of officers. The tasers cost $1,250 each and are equipped with a camera.
City awaits final word from governor about “BEA”
Though a public hearing was held at the city board’s regular board meeting June 10, no one had comments on the formation of the Brownsville Energy Authority.
The city board previously passed a measure asking the state legislature to pass a private act that will, mostly, divorce the Brownsville Utility Department from the city government. The measure has passed the legislature and Governor Phil Bredesen is expected to sign it.
The utility will no longer be owned by the city, but city government will still wield some power. Though the mayor will no longer appoint board members, the city board must approve BEA’s board. The city board can also protest rate moves by the utility.
Mayor Webb Banks said that the Brownsville Utility Department and city government have worked well together, but “it doesn’t always work that way in other towns.”
The new organization also includes new legal benefits for the city, including elimination of utility department financial and legal liabilities that could find their way to taxpayers.
Unemployment down in April
The unemployment rate for Haywood County is down this month, falling from 8.2 percent in March to 7.4 percent in April. Neighboring counties followed suit with a decline in the unemployment rate across the board.
In April, Crockett County’s rate dropped to 7.3 percent from 8.4; Fayette County went from 7.3 to 6.1 percent; Lauderdale’s rate was 9.2 percent, down from 9.6 percent in March; and Madison County saw a decrease in April from 6.2 to 5.3 percent. Shelby County’s rate went from 6.2 percent in March to 5.5 percent in April, and Tipton County’s rate dropped from 7.3 to 6.5 percent in April.
Tennessee’s unemployment rate at 5.0 percent is below the national rate of 5.4 percent. All but two counties across the state saw a decrease in the unemployment rate.