Three mayors unite for one district in reapportionment

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By Mike Gibson

Kingston City Council nipped reapportionment rumors in the bud on Aug. 9 and passed a resolution calling for Roane County to remain in one piece, district-wise.

According to Mayor Troy Beets, rumors have been afloat for some time in Nashville political circles that Roane could be part of a district reapportionment plan.

One rumor has it that Roane County could be part of as many as three political districts, and thus contend with three state and congressional officeholders instead of one.

Beets said he consulted friends in Nashville, then shared what he learned at a Roane County mayor’s breakfast.

That resulted in Beets, Harriman Mayor Chris Mason and Rockwood Mayor James Watts drafting a resolution asking their individual city councils to  oppose reapportionment.

“It’s one of those things that took on a life of its own,” Beets said. “I checked on it, and what I was told is that it is a possibility. So we decided we would get out in front of it.”

The resolution against reapportionment passed unanimously.

Rockwood City Council will discuss the resolution during a workshop at 5 p.m. today, Aug. 15.

In other business:

• Beets reported that a 4.5-ton piece of recovered steel from the Sept. 11, 2001, disaster was to go on permanent display at the boat ramp at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant as part of the World Trade Center Artifacts Program.

• Beets was recently elected to the Association of Tennessee Valley Government Board of Directors. The organization serves the interest of about 1,000 local governments in a seven-state region.

• The County Parks and Recreation Service will hold its Storm the Fort Olympic Distance Triathlon on Aug. 27.

• Police Chief Jim Washam reported a turnout of more than 1,300 for the National Night Out Against Crime on Aug. 2.

• City Manager Jim Pinkerton updated several projects, including the Rockwood waterline (85 percent complete; projected to finish in September), with the Spring Street sidewalk to finish on Aug. 15; the Gallaher Road sewer project (60 percent; projected October); the automated meter-reading project (35 percent, projected September); Ladd Greenway (awarding bid pending Tennessee Department of Transportation approval).

Pinkerton also reported that HVAC at the community center is now in service; pumps and motors at the Spring pumping station are scheduled for shipping Aug. 17. The city has received verbal approval for energy efficient lighting in City Hall from the East Tennessee Development District. These three items are all being funded by a $100,000 energy grant awarded by the state in 2010.

Pinkerton said street paving is in a “holding pattern” until asphalt prices come down, while the housing rehabilitation grant should be ready to accept applications in December. And security cameras should be installed around the waterfront the week of Aug. 14.

• Council adopted resolutions necessary to begin accepting applications for the $150,000 housing rehabilition program.

• Council approved measures — some on first reading — related to the annexation of three parcels on Gallaher Road. The parcels are being annexed by the owner’s request.

• Council awarded the Ladd Greenway Project to Stethen Smith Construction, whose bid on building the Greenway on Ladd Landing was almost $2.226 million. The project is being built with an 80-20 matching grant from the state, with 80 percent coming from state funding.

• Council approved a pair of measures to clear the way for the local planning office to receive planning services through ETDD. Such services were previously provided by the state planning commission, until Gov. Bill Haslam did away with that office a few months ago. Pinkerton said Kingston will have to apply for a grant and take care of other procedural matters, but the ultimate cost (about $10,000 per year) for planning services should be about the same.

• Council approved a resolution to establish a Boy Scout Explorer Police Post in conjunction with the Kingston Police Department.

• Council passed a resolution opposing Federal Highway Administration rules that require municipalities to meet new criteria concerning the size and reflectivity of street signs. Municipalities must issue reports on all their street signs by year’s end, then replace all signs that need replacing according to the new guidelines within two to three years. Pinkerton called the new rules “an unfunded mandate.”

• Council passed a resolution appointing Josh Igou to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

• Commission passed a resolution to participate in Gov. Haslam’s job incubator program.