Archive: November 2013

Archive: November 2013

Archive: November 2013

Draft of charter due Monday
November 29, 2013

   The Metro Charter Commission will almost certainly take up their work again Monday ó and Mondayís meeting could be one of the most important.
Commissioners have stood down for the last two weeks, waiting on their attorney, Michael Banks, to craft the words that deliver a draft document of their thinking so far. Banks has said most of the work is done, but writing the transition ó how the governments would move from the current operation to the new modeló has taken extra time. If voters approve the consolidated government, it wonít go in to business until 2018, according to the most recent straw poll commissioners participated in, and crafting the right words of transitioning has been time consuming, according to Banks.
Mondayís meeting will be the 17th session of the charter commission.
Chairman Christy Smith said once commissioners agree on the wording, the next step will be a series of public meeting at which citizens may comment and question the work. After the public meetings the commission will reconvene and consider the final work.
The charter commission is scheduled to meet Monday at 5.


Haywood County Democratic Part wants primary election
November 26, 2013

   If Haywood County’s election calendar wasn’t busy enough already, along comes yet another opportunity to go to the polls next year. In an e-mail sent late yesterday, Election Registrar Andrea Smothers said the Haywood County Election Commission received “notice from the local Democratic Party that they are calling a county primary for the district-wide offices.”
The primary will all voters to select democratic contenders for the offices of circuit court judge, chancellor, district attorney general and public defender, according to Smothers. Haywood County is in the 28th Judicial District. Candidates for these offices also face voters in Crockett and Gibson Counties.
The election commission set Tuesday, May 6 as the date for the primary. The offices targeted in the primary will be ultimately decided in the general election scheduled August 7. The deadline to qualify for the primary is noon Thursday, February 20, 2014.
With the addition of the primary, the Haywood County Election Commission has scheduled six elections for next year.
They are:

        • Democratic Primary for district offices, May 6
        • City of Brownsville, June 17
        • County General and Statewide Primary, August 7
        • General Election and Stanton General, November 4


           A seventh visit to the polls is likely and could be set on a date separate from all the others; the yes or no decision for metro government.


Next metro meeting delayed another week
November 25, 2013

    Though the Brownsville Haywood County Charter Commission has given specific instructions to their lawyer about the features of the proposed charter, writing the first complete draft it has taken longer than thought. The charter commission wonít meet today as planned because thereís still not enough reading available.
The commission last met November 11 when they decided to give lawyer Michael Banks until today to finish the draft. In an e-mail memo to charter commissioners this weekend Chairman Christy Smith said that though Banks had made some progress, it would be best to put the next meeting off until December 2.


Main Street Brownsville Elects Board Members, Gets Rolling
November 22, 2013 – By Joe Sills (@joesills)

   The Main Street Brownsville committee elected a board of directors and adopted bylaws on Thursday night in the Haywood County Courthouse.
According to Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne, approval of the bylaws also approves the Main Street Brownsville program area which extends roughly from Grand Avenue on West Main past Anderson Avenue on East Main.
The Main Street Brownsville committee has until January 1, 2014 to file itsí application to Main Street Tennesseeóa coordinating partner of the National Main Street Center which provides admitted communities funding for revitalization of their downtown areas, as well as enhanced marketing opportunities for Main Street areas.
Currently, only Collierville, Dyersburg, Ripley and Union City represent West Tennessee in the Main Street Tennessee program, which boasted an economic impact of $82 million last year.
Thatís high cottonóand newly elected Main Street Brownsville President Sandra Silverstein says Brownsville has every reason to compete with those towns, ìIím very excited about everything thatís happening. You know timing is everything and I see so many events that are going on in this community right now. When they all come together weíre going to be the hottest spot not only in Tennessee but in the South.î
Other elected officials include Jim McAdams, Vice President; Brandon Williams, Secretary; and Betsy Reid, Treasurer.
Main Street Brownsville hopes to kick off their first fundraiser in several weeks. Theyíll be selling copies of the Thomason & Associates Historic Brownsville Survey, which was presented at the Brownsville Business Association meeting earlier this week. The group hopes to raise significant operating expenses by selling the in-depth, 450 building survey of Brownsville.
Brownsville hopes to combine a successful Main Street program with the creation of new National Historic Districts to revitalize the small West Tennessee townís economy and generate tourism.


Brownsville Historic Zoning Commission Approves Application Process for New National Historic Districts
November 22, 2013 – By Joe Sills (@joesills)

   The Brownsville Historic Zoning Commission unanimously approved to move forward with applications for three new National Historic Districts and the expansion of the townís only current district on Thursday night.
The application process is extensive, and will likely require a grant from a state organization such as the Tennessee Historical Commission.

The motion to move forward with the application process was raised after review of an extensive 450 building survey of Brownsville’s historic buildings, conducted this summer by Thomason & Associates of Nashville, Tennessee. The decision sets in motion the surveyís recommendation to expand the current College Hill Historic District along Key Corner and West Main Streets. In addition, it begins the process of creating new districts along North Washington Avenue and East College Streets, the Southeast corner of the Square, andóperhaps most notablyóa Civil Rights Historic District along Jefferson Avenue.
National Historic Districts are approved through the National Park Service, and while they provide tax credits for improvements and possible tourism benefits, the designation does not provide any protection for properties located within their boundaries.
Historic District protection can only come through the creation of local zoning overlays, which place restrictions on the types of signage, usage and construction of buildings within their borders.
“Whenever you set up (national) districts and setup local, you establish value of around 6-8% higher value than properties directly adjacent to them,” said Dan Brown, a local government coordinator from the Tennessee Historical Commission, who has been assisting the Historic Zoning Commission this year. Brown added, “Those properties also stabilize quicker than others around them when there is economic pressure.”
Currently, the Historic Zoning Commission is in the preliminary stages of reviewing new local zoning regulations that would protect the proposed districtsóa process that could take several months.
“In all cities the National Register districts are where you begin and then the community outlines what they see is important to protect locally,” stated Brown.
The Historic Zoning Commission wants to be careful when finding the right mixture of local zoning regulations to work beside the new National Historic Districts. “We want to look at putting these things on the National Register then form some strategy for forming the overlays,” added commission member Joe Barden.
Brownsville’s current zoning regulations were a source of criticism in the Thomason & Associates report on Monday night, with particular attention being paid to commercial zoning along the proposed Main Street Brownsville corridor. However, much of that falls outside of the proposed new National Historic Districts.
For Brownsville, the goal here is to triple the area of businesses and residences which are eligible for federal tax credits to improve their structures. Currently, any contributing building within a National Historic District that generates income is eligible for a 20% federal tax credit towards rehabilitation. That sort of historic rehabilitation creates jobs in the local construction industry enhances civic pride and creates a destination for affluent heritage tourists.


Historic planners meet today
November 21, 2013

   Brownsville’s Historic Zoning Commission meets today. Among the agenda items is consideration of next steps for evaluating and implementing the report delivered by Thomason and Associates Tuesday.
The report suggests adding three new historic districts and expanding the existing historic district.
Commissioners will also continue to work on development of Historic District Design Guidelines for the commercial district.
The commission meets at City Hall at 4pm.


Survey in Brownsville Recommends Three New National Historic Districts
November 20, 2013 – by Joe Sills (@joesills)

   An in-depth survey of Brownsville has uncovered enough historically significant architecture to warrant the creation of three new National Historic Districts and the expansion of the townís existing College Hill National Historic District, which could bring tax credits and tourism to the “Heart of the Tennessee Delta.”
At least, that’s what a Nashville-based survey group presented to the Brownsville Business Association on Tuesday night.
According to Phil ThomasonóPrincipal of Thomason & Associates, a firm who specialize in historic surveysóa total of 450 individual buildings were examined during a five-month period from May to August of this year. The survey covered every street in the 9.1 square-mile town, focusing on buildings built prior to 1960.
“I found the results encouraging and astonishing and so full of hope with what we can do with this community,” Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne told the crowd gathered at the townís Backyard Barbecue. “We sell ourselves short so much of the time and we donít need to do that.”
The results yielded some uplifting information to many locals, and outlined areas for three new historic districts to compliment the College Hill Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. They are: a North Washington/East College Historic District, a Downtown Commercial Historic District located around the South and East of Brownsvilleís Square, and a Civil Rights Historic District surrounding the old Carver High School.
The group also recommends expansion of the 30-year old boundaries of the College Hill Historic District and the inclusion of a handful of individual properties. “A lot can happen in 30 years,” said Thomason, “so we like to go in a re-inventory everything.”
The findings may have shocked some local business owners in attendance, whose eyes grew wider as Thomason and historical researcher Rebecca Hightower presented an analysis of the West Tennessee cotton town’s wide variety of important buildings, including Victorian, Colonial, Greek, and Tudor Revival, as well as Art Deco and Craftsman style homesómany of which are not currently protected. Recommendations were also made for aesthetic improvements along some of the asphalt-lined gateways into the proposed districts, such as some current commercial areas along Main Street.
The survey was funded by the City of Brownsville and a grant from the Tennessee Historical Commission, and represents just a portion of government funding that may help Brownsville rehabilitate its historic buildings in an attempt to draw tourism to compete with recently revitalized towns like Covington, Bolivar and Ripley.
But to get to that funding, Brownsville will still need to actually form the historic districts, which involves the creation of zoning regulations from the Brownsville Historic Zoning Commission and an application process with the National Parks Service.
Still, the process may be worth itóespecially for business owners. Properties located within a National Historic District are automatically eligible for a 20% federal tax credit on property improvements. In addition, property values within National Historic Districts tend to rise more quickly than those located outside of them.
And the historic rehabilitation business is booming. From 1976-2010, historic rehabilitation generated over $100Bn in economic impact, from job creation to tourism. It’s an established market that Brownsville business owners may want to tap into.
Thomason says Brownsville has a lot to gain from focusing on preservation, “Heritage tourists are more affluent. They spend more, they stay longer and they make return trips. Those of us in the historic community have always been impressed with the architecture that youíve had here. Brownsville was always known as one of the true gems in West Tennessee.”
What to do with the results of the survey is now in the hands of the City of Brownsville and the Brownsville Historic Zoning Commission. Be sure to check back with Point Five Digital on the radio, Facebook or Twitter for further updates.


County commission mulling changes to county judiciary
November 19, 2013 – By Martha Lyle Ford

Two judges?
Haywood County’s Charter would have to be changed if Haywood County Commissioners follow through with action on an idea discussed Monday night. The charter amendment would move juvenile court responsibilities from the General Sessions judge to a to-be-established Juvenile Court judge. The General Sessions judge’s pay would be reduced by 25% which would help pay for the new Juvenile Court judge position.
The county commission met Monday night. Mayor Franklin Smith launched the discussion about the judgeship.
Commissioner Bob Hooper said the idea for the change had come from him and from conversations he had had with County and City attorney Michael Banks and current General Sessions judge Roland Reid.
Judge Reid, who was in attendance Monday night, reported that after considering Hooper’s idea he is “neutral.” He said, “I’ve considered the pros and the cons of it. I’m not against it, but I’m not going to carry the flag for it either.”
Mr. Hooper reported that at least 17 other counties in Tennessee have separate Juvenile Court Judges and General Sessions Judges. Lauderdale County has a similar set-up.
Reid has been Haywood County General Sessions judge since 1993, when he made a commitment to the Commission that he would not practice law while also serving as judge. Previous judges had continued to practice law while also sitting on the bench. The General Sessions judge position was changed from part-time to full-time in 2002.
Reid said last night he hopes to serve another 8-year term and will run for reelection next year.
“If the Commission determines that making the change is a good idea and is good for the community, I’m okay with it,” Reid commented. When asked if he has enough time to get all of the work done that needs to be done, he replied, “Yes.”
The Commission took no action Monday but is expected to take the matter up at its January meeting.
City’s request to expand planning region withdrawn
Brownsville has withdrawn a request that county government expand its planning region.
At the October meeting of the county commission, legislators considered a request from the City Hall to expand Brownsville’s planning region to match its urban growth boundaries.
At the earlier meeting Brownsville officials and County Planner Tom Skeehan explained that approval of the request would give zoning and permitting authority to the city planners for property south to the Hatchie River. After extensive discussion in October, the Commission unanimously voted to postpone action on the measure until last night. Mayor Smith reported that he’d received correspondence from city officials asking the county commission to disregard.
Part of Wyatt Road de-listed
The Commission unanimously approved a recommendation by the Haywood County Highway Commission to remove a portion of Wyatt Road from the County’s Uniform Road list. Two-tenths of a mile of the dead-end gravel road was affected. The request to take the road portion out of county maintenance was made by a farmer who wants to install an irrigation system through the road.
Inadequate bridge hinders farmer’s progress
Commissioner Larry Stanley brought up another road concern – a bridge on Estanalua Road, which is too small for farm machinery to cross. Stanley reported that the inadequate bridge requires farmers to drive an extra 10 miles to reach their fields. Mayor Smith promised to request that the highway commission renovate the bridge.


Historic report to be unveiled today
November 19, 2013

    Phil Thomason and Rebecca Hightower will present an historic assessment of Brownsville today. The two are with a Nashville firm hired by City Hall to review the city’s historic assets. Last week city officials said the report contains a “treasure trove” of historic wealth.
Conducted over the last several months the task included research of some 450 commercial and residential structures. This afternoon’s meeting will include photographic examples of various architectural styles and periods through the 1960s. The effort includes recommendations for heritage preservation, asset-based economic benefits and expansion ideas for tourism.
The public is invited. The meeting starts at 5:30 and will be conducted at the Delta Room of Back Yard BBQ.


Brownsville’s historic assets to be shown off next Tuesday
November 15, 2013

   A just completed survey reports that Brownsville has a ìtreasure troveî of historic assets. The results of the work, commissioned by City Hall, will be unveiled next Thursday during an event at Back Yard Barbecueís Delta Room.
Phil Thomason and Rebecca Hightower will present the appraisal performed by Thomason & Associates, a Nashville based firm. The study was funded through a grant from the Tennessee Historical Commission
Conducted over the last several months the tasks included research of some 450 commercial and residential structures. Next Thursdayís meeting will include photographic examples of various architectural styles and periods through the 1960s. The effort includes recommendations for heritage preservation, asset-based economic benefits and expansion ideas for tourism.
The public is invited. The meeting starts at 5:30.


Second safe space approved for Haywood Schools
November 14, 2013

    With the first of two tornado safe spaces completed, the Haywood County Board of Education has approved a construction plan for the second.
The shelter at Haywood Elementary is finished and, now, ground is not far from being broken on the Haywood Middle School Safe Space, which will feature six classrooms.
Taxpayers spent $1,550,000 on the elementary school structure. The middle school shelter will require $1,575,000. The school board accepted bids this week. The structure will likely be complete sometime near the start of the 2014/2015 school year.


School workers to get bonus this week
November 14, 2013

   During the 2013/2014 budget process the school board elected to give school workers a $400 bonus. School officials said this week the checks will be distributed November 15.


Students saluted by school board
November 14, 2013

   Superintendent of Schools Teresa Russell recognized two HHS students for outstanding achievement this week.
ï Will Clinton earned membership into the prestigious 30+ Club for making at least 30 on the ACT.
ï Deonte Brown was recognized for competing on the state level in the cross-country race. He placed 39th out of 188 in a 5K.


Brownsville expected to officially become a Main Street town early next year
November 14, 2013

   At this weekís Brownsville City Board meeting aldermen and the mayor took action that moves Brownsville closer to becoming a Tennessee Main Street Town.
Brownsville Radio contacted City Planner Sharon Hayes who provided additional details about Brownsvilleís Main Street journey.
Hayes reports that the undertaking started about two years ago. And, now, Brownsville is in the final stages of the application process. †The designation first required entry into Tennessee Downtowns (TD), a program sponsored by the State Department of Economic and Community Development.
ìOur effort was spearheaded by a steering committee of dedicated local volunteers and guided by state Main Street professionals along with our Collierville mentor. †We have successfully progressed building on a series of activities and projects through goal setting under the Main Street 4-Point Approach ó Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring. †The culmination has been a Downtown Master Plan and a mission for downtown revitalization,î Hayes wrote in an e-mail.
The most recent actions moving Brownsville steadily along: †organization of a Main Street Board of Directors, the drafting of bylaws, and setting boundaries. The next step is to complete a lengthy application. City Hall has contracted with TD Steering Committee member Hayden Hooper to complete the documents.
ìWe plan to submit the application in early January and expect to be notified sometime in February of our acceptance,î Hayes said.
See more information on Tennessee Downtowns and Main Street including a list of State-certified cities and stats on economic development at this site:


Territories downtown and just east of square to see improvement
November 13, 2013

   When the Brownsville City Board of Mayor and Aldermen met Tuesday, they learned that work will start within a few weeks improving the Tamm lot downtown and streets and sidewalks between the square and Jackson Street. Leaders also approved application for a $1 million grant that will extend the work further east.
ìAll of the questions have been answered,î Mayor Jo Matherne said about the construction projects already funded. These include an elaborate park for the Tamm lot (just east of the courthouse). Enhancements aimed at aesthetics and pedestrian improvements from the square to Jackson Avenue are also anticipated. The mayor said advertisements for bids would be composed soon and the work could likely start, weather permitting, sometime in early 2014. Another million to be spent
The board unanimously approved a Transportation Alternatives Program grant application. The total endowment is for $1 million but city leaders say they will have to chip in local funds of up to $300,000 to qualify for the subsidy.
ìThis is to continue the development of the East Main Street corridor,î Mayor Matherne said. ìÖto make it more friendly to pedestriansî The work will include improvements to utilities, sidewalks, streets and other infrastructure. ìThis is the gateway to our central business district,î Matherne commented.
DRA Grant
The Delta Regional Authority has approved a rail spur grant. Aldermen and the mayor accepted the terms Monday. The money, $162,598, will be used to make repairs and improvements to the rail line servicing the Industrial Park.
Other news from Mondayís meeting
ï City leaders will hold a budget session Monday December 2 at noon. City Hall will present semi-annual budget amendments to aldermen and the mayor.
ï The Brownsville Energy Authorityís recommendation that George Chapman be appointed to BEAís board was approved.
ï Madeline Matheny and Julie Dahlhauser were reappointed to the Library Board.
ï The council approved application for the annual Christmas Parade (December 13) and an application for a companion event sponsored by the Carl Perkins Center that takes place the same day.
ï Most city workers will get the day after Thanksgiving off when City Hall will also be closed. City Hall will be open on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas but aldermen and the mayor provided an extra ìfloating day offî employees may take during December.
ï The board endorsed submission of an application authorizing participation in the Main Street Program.


Brownsvilleís Utility Rates compare favorably in area
November 13, 2013

   At Mondayís Brownsville City Board meeting Brownsville Energy Authority manager Regie Castellaw provided aldermen and the mayor with a bar graph comparing Brownsvilleís gas, electric and water rates to other utility rates in West Tennessee. The comparison proves that Brownsvilleís rates are among the lowest.
When compared to Humboldt, Covington, Memphis, Jackson, Gibson and Lake Counties, Brownsville has the next-to-lowest lowest rate for natural gas.
BEA has the lowest electric rates when compared to Jackson, Covington, Dyersburg, Ripley, Gibson County, Southwest and Forked Deer
Water rates in Brownsville are also the lowest when compared with Covington, Humboldt, Jackson, Ripley, Dyersburg, Huntington and the Haywood County Utility District.
Castellaw also commented that the utility has been approved for a half-million dollar wastewater improvement grant that will go a long way in renovating the cityís aging water system. ìSome of our sewer infrastructure is approaching 100 years old,î Castellaw commented. But, he said, with the continued outside financial aid, which have been coming regularly, utility workers are gaining ground on a system that would be otherwise troubled by its stage in life.


First real charter document could come near first of the year
November 12, 2013

   Holiday schedules and the tedium of writing the details of the suggested Brownsville Haywood County Metro Charter may delay the unveiling of the real first draft until the New Year. The news came at yesterdayís Committee of the Whole assembly of the charter commission.
The panel met for two hours Monday. It was their 16th get-together. They talked at length about methods for eventually getting the public involved and informed. They also made substantive decisions about previously undecided fine points.
Michael Banks, who is charged with the minutia of writing the draft, said yesterday that describing the transition ó from present to consolidated is ìtaking up more time than we thought.î
Commissioners took action on several subjects
Metro Council Pay
Under the present proposal the ten representatives of the metro council will have many responsibilities and the commission discussed, at length, the compensation of councilpersons. Finally deciding on $500 monthly, the stipend is more than Haywood County Commissioners make ($100 per meeting) and the same as Brownsvilleís aldermen. The charter will allow the council to adjust its pay at the beginning of a term of office.
Department of Public Safety
The new government would have a Department of Public Safety led by a manager. The charter will require the manager, like others, to hold a Bachelorís Degree or have equivalent experience.
Chief Of Law Enforcement
A college degree in criminal justice or equivalent experience will be required for those seeking to run the metro governmentís police department. Qualifications include POST certification. Under the present thinking, the metro council can appoint the sheriff as chief law enforcement officer. To be qualified to run for sheriff a candidate must be POST certified and have five years of law enforcement experience.
School Board members
Haywood County School Board members are presently paid a small stipend ó $50 per meeting and $25 for mid-month luncheon gatherings. The new charter will state, ìschool board members may be paidÖî
Amendments to the budget
Like Brownsvilleís government is today, the consolidated government will pass budgets by ordinance. After discussion last night, the group intends to require budget amendments also be made by ordinance. Ordinances, under the new government plan also closely mirror Brownsvilleís existing requirements, requiring two readings and sometimes a public hearing.
The agenda for regular meetings of the metro council must be published at least three business days in advance. The same regulation will apply to special called meetings except that for called summits only agenda items may be discussed.
Next steps/future meetings
Charter commissioners will take next Monday off, providing Michael Banks more time to draft. His work will focus on the transition. He describes the work as ì90% done.î
Once the final draft is delivered, itís likely certain commissioners will want to renew debate about some of the features before the public hearings commence.
Last night Commissioner Tom Archer made it clear he wants the group to talk more about the number of people who will serve on the metro council. ìIs ten enough?î Archer questioned.
The next meeting is scheduled for November 25, 5pm at the Justice Complex.


Santa makes his first stop in Brownsville Saturday, November 16
November 9, 2013

   Haywood County children are invited to visit with Santa Saturday morning during a special Breakfast with Santa at this year’s Holiday in Haywood. The pancake breakfast is presented by the Brownsville Unit of the Boys and Girls Club and will be held from 9-11 a.m., at the Haywood County Justice Center Saturday, November 16. Cost is $5 and includes breakfast and a picture with Santa.

Children who just want to get their picture taken with Santa ($3) can drop by any time before Saturday at noon. All proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Club.
Letters to Santa can be brought to the event beginning at noon on Friday, Nov. 15. Letters will be published in the December 19 issue of the Brownsville States Graphic.
Holiday in Haywood is a two-day shopping mart featuring retail and specialty merchants showcasing their best holiday wares and gift ideas. This year’s event is held November 15-16, at the Haywood County Justice Center, 100 South Dupree. Friday hours are noon -7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Admission is free. Attendees are asked to use the north door under the breezeway.
Items that will be available for sale include clothing, jewelry and accessories, handcrafted pens, jewelry boxes, frames, wine racks, wood decor, ciders, butters and jellies, toys, pecans, Tupperware, cakes, pies and candies, purses, candles, and more.
Holiday in Haywood is sponsored by the Brownsville Business Association. For more information about this event, contact Vickie at 731-225-5683.


Metro charter commissioners have today off
November 4, 2013

   For the first time in weeks the Brownsville/Haywood County Metro Charter Commission isnít meeting. Commissioners are taking the week off because their attorney, Michael Banks, needs extra time to complete the first official draft. At last Mondayís meeting Banks said he needs two weeks to write the paper and commissioners decided they need the document before work could further progress.
The charter commissionís next meeting is set for 5pm November 11.


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