Macon County Chronicle

RBS Council Appoints New Members; Unparks Patrol Cars; SWAT Team Members Reinstated

Two new council members were chosen by the Red Boiling Springs City Council at their regular meeting on July 10, to fill the two vacant seats left by Billy Whitley and Jimmy Neal Roark. Whitley moved out of the city in April; Roark’s seat was left open by his untimely death on June 10.

Lawrence Hollis was chosen for one of the seats, after a motion by Ray Bilbrey was seconded by Bobby Etheridge. Shelly Dean was chosen after Bilbrey’s motion was seconded by Steve Newberry. Both motions were passed unanimously by the council.

“I think I have some pretty good ideas,” said Dean, who is new to the council, “and I might be able to help the city with their business.”

Hollis, who has served on the council before, had no comments to make either before or after being sworn in. Hollis was elected to a four year council term in 1995, which he filled until 1999. In March, 2006, Hollis was appointed to fill a council seat left vacant by Shirley Russell’s resignation, which he filled until the 2007 election.

City patrol cars, which were parked on April 24 by order from Mayor Kenneth Hollis, were unparked by the council; and officers which were removed from the county’s SWAT team were reinstated, after council members heard from Police Chief Terry Tuck.

“It makes no sense to me for Steve and me to drive past an officer who’s needing back-up, to come down here and get our patrol cars,” said Tuck, who lives exactly one mile outside of the city limits. “When an officer is calling for back-up, he needs it now.” Assistant Chief Steve Evans lives within the city limits.

Tuck said that he would be glad to pay for his own gas when driving his patrol car home, as would Officer Junior Fields, who lives in Lafayette. Fields stated that he lives exactly 10 miles from the city limits, and drives to and from work 14 days a month.

“That’s about a gallon of gas a day,” said Fields, who was present at the meeting. “You could take it out of my check if you wanted to, or I’d pay for it, so I’d have my equipment with me when I was called out.”

According to City Clerk Coby Knight, the city has saved about $100 a month in fuel costs by parking the patrol cars, out of a total $1,000 per month fuel savings in all departments.

The Police Department fuel bill during the month of May – the first full month that the cars were parked, showed a 53 gallon savings over the month of April, when cars were parked for only six days out of the month. The June fuel log showed a 43 gallon savings over the month of April. Based on $4.00 a gallon, that meant a savings of $172 for the month of May; $212 in June.

The council voted unanimously to ‘unpark’ the patrol cars, with Officers Fields and McDonald (who also lives in Lafayette) paying $10 per week to drive their patrol cars home. Tuck, Evans, and Officer Jesse Gentry, who lives less than half a mile outside of the city, will drive their cars home without charge.

Based on $4.00 a gallon, at the reported 20 m.p.g. that the patrol cars get, that should cover about 50 miles a week. No mention of wear and tear on cars was mentioned by either Tuck or the council.

“For two months, the council wanted to park the cars,” said Mayor Hollis, later in the week. “I was just doing what they wanted. Now they’ve changed their minds.

“It’s still my choice to park them,” he continued. “We’re not the only ones that are parking cars and cutting back. It’s on the news every night – towns, cities, and states are parking cars and cutting their costs, even cutting employees. Times are tight.

“We’re so tight in the General Fund that if they waste it, we won’t have enough money to run the city through the year,” the Mayor finished.

Cars in the city’s utility department will remain parked.

SWAT Team members Doug McDonald and Junior Fields, who were removed from the county’s team by Mayor Hollis, were placed back on the SWAT Team by council members.

“The mayor put a stop to the SWAT Team, because he said everybody was pulling out,” Tuck told the council. “I’ve talked to Chief Jerry Dallas in Lafayette and Sheriff Mark Gammons and they said they weren’t pulling out. Chief Dallas even went and talked to Mayor Carter about it, and he said they have no intention of doing away with the SWAT Team.

“I think the SWAT Team is important,” said Tuck. “God forbid we ever need it, but we have a school full of students up there on the hill…people want to think ‘that’s not going to happen in my town’ but we just never know what’s going to happen. I’d like to see the council put the officers back on the SWAT Team.”

Officers train for the SWAT Team only three to five hours per month, so they will know their roles and everyone else’s in the event the team is ever called into action.

The cost to the city for Officers Fields and Gentry to train for four hours a month, at $13.92 per hour, amounts to $111.36; or $1,336.32 a year. Fields and McDonald were put back on the SWAT Team at the city’s expense, after a motion by Newberry, seconded by Etheridge, passed unanimously.

“I pulled the SWAT Team because of the funds,” said Hollis. “I had been told by different people that the county and Lafayette were pulling out. Bobby Etheridge said he’d heard it too.”

The Mayor said he hadn’t heard back from Sheriff Gammons, who he’d tried to contact about the matter, and hadn’t talked to Chief Dallas.

A committee meeting to discuss a pay scale for city employees will be held on August 12 at 6 p.m., the council decided. The meeting will be advertised, and is open to the public.

“This is something we owe the employees and the people of Red Boiling Springs,” said Bilbrey. “We owe them a meeting to discuss a pay scale.” The meeting has been put off, for one reason or another, for several years.

In other business, the council:

•approved a charter change allowing the council to spend $10,000 without advertising for bids. The previous allowable amount was $5,000.

•added Kenethia Woodard to the Fire Department as Secretary. Woodard replaces her father, Jimmy Neal Roark. Roark, who served as Secretary for several years, passed away last month.

•heard a proposal by Pamela Dean that the city allow an antique truck and tractor pull to be held in the field beside The Thomas House on the weekend of September 12 and 13. Dean spoke on behalf of Robert Stroop, owner of The Donoho Hotel. Stroop, said Dean, would like to see the pull named the Red Boiling Springs Antique Truck and Tractor Pull, with 20% of the profits going to the Police Department and 20% going to the  Fire Department.

Hollis said that he would check about insurance for the pull, and also check to see if there was anything else going on that weekend. The weekend requested by Dean is the weekend after the Antique Car Show and before the weekend of the Motorcycle Show.

•heard a report from Mayor Hollis that, except for the month of June, the city has been steadily losing money in the water department, due to “things that had to be done.” Hollis asked the council to consider adding a supplement to customers’ water bills to help pay for required work done to the system, that the city had lost money on.

•passed, unanimously, a motion by Spivey (seconded by Etheridge) that any person or organization planning a fundraiser must get approval from the council.

•approved the request of Assistant Police Chief Steve Evans to plant a tree near the tourist information cabin in the old park in memory of his wife, Leticia. The tree will be planted at Steve’s expense.

“You can plant a whole bunch of them,” said Etheridge, with enthusiasm. “We’ll even help you set them.”

•were told by Chief Terry Tuck that Lafayette was going to double the charge for keeping stray dogs that are picked up in Red Boiling Springs.

“As of August 1, they’re going to start charging us $10 a dog, then $1 a day for every day after 10,” said Tuck. “We’re required by law to keep them for so many days. We have no choice.”

•passed the 2008/2009 budget, on second and final reading.

•amended the 2007/2008 budget, on first reading.

•heard a report from Chad Owens, Waste Water Superintendent, that Nestle will be removing all of their own reverse osmosis water. No action was taken.

•heard a report from Larry Cato, of Barge, Waggoner, Sumner, and Cannon, that the line work on this year’s CDBG project was finished, and engineers are getting the pumps in to pump water from the Hudson Spring to Cotton Hollow.

•rejected a $57,000 bid to run 740 linear feet of gravity sewer line from Witcher Hollow to property owned by Robert Stroop on Highway 151.

•gave the go-ahead to Brown Painting Company to seal the settling basin at Sabins Spring. Brown submitted the only bid, of $7,240, for the job.

The next regular council meeting will be held on August 14 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.