Solid Waste fee increases tabled for discussion
Lewis County a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary; Jail plans accepted by Safety Committee,
January 30, 2020
A peaceful crowd gathered early at Lewis County Courthouse in anticipation of a vote on a Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution.
Lewis County resident, Kim Patterson, addressed all 18 members of the Board of Commissioners and Mayor Jonah Keltner during Citizen Input asking they support the legislation.
Labeled, "A resolution to protect and defend the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the document referred to the Second, Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and to the Tennessee Constitution, Article I, Section 26. "That the citizens of this state have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime."
A unanimous vote supported the resolution which called upon state legislators and elected officials to "join in the affirmation of the rights of our citizens under the 2nd Amendment."
Any rules or regulations with the purpose of confiscating or banning firearms, limiting the size of magazines or ammunitions purchases "shall be further considered null and void and of no effect in this County," the resolution stated. Copies of the resolution will be mailed to U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander, Congressman Mark Green, State Senator Dr. Joey Hensley, State Representative David Byrd and Lewis County Sheriff Dwayne Kilpatrick.
Sheriff Kilpatrick, who called the meeting to order, expressed his support of the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary resolution.
Applause was received for passage of the resolution which was co-sponsored by Lewis County Commissioners Austin Carroll and Wendell Kelley. A "thank you" rang out from the audience as well.
"It's a sad sign of our times that we are having this discussion," Commissioner Jason Fite said.
Two resolutions that would have increased both commercial and solid waste fees for Lewis County were tabled by a motion by Commissioner Michael King, seconded by Commissioner Carroll.
In making a motion to table both resolutions, Commissioner King said the Solid Waste budget "runs at zero," and further indicated an "in-depth look" should be taken by the budget committee. "We need to do something more permanent," he said.
All commissioners were invited to review the proposed increases next Monday, February 3, 2020 during a joint meeting of committees.
Commissioner Aren Ragsdale pointed out the Solid Waste Committee was in charge of the landfill and Commissioner Ronnie Brewer stated the Budget committee would lead the discussion.
Also to be discussed was the idea of starting a landfill in Lewis County. The closure of a landfill in Decatur County slated for February, where Lewis County trash has been disposed of for years, has prompted proposed increases and the discussion of expansion of Lewis County Landfill.
"What Decatur County has is what this county fought," Commissioner Brian Peery reminded the Board, referring to a salt cake/aluminum waste dumped in Decatur. "Their wells and springs are gone. They have no water at their houses. We need to keep that in mind."
"And there is not enough money in the county to pay for an environmental cleanup," Commissioner Carroll added.
Mayor Keltner reminded the Board the county anticipates a $57,924 shortage in the Solid Waste budget. Proposed is an increase in residential solid waste fees from $90 to $110 annually. Commercial solid waste fees were proposed to increase to a minimum of $55 per quarter.
Architect Presents Jail Plans
Architect Bill Allen of TMI presented a 69 pages long design development plan to the Safety Committee prior to the meeting of the Commissioners. Present were Commissioners King, Connie Sharp, Patrick Halfacre, Carroll, Kelley, Allison Tanner, Earl Taylor, Jerry Ashmore, Peery, as well as Jail Administrator Josh Keltner, Mayor Keltner, Captain Matt Tiller, Johnny Clayton and Sheriff Kilpatrick.
A representative with Lashlee Rich was also on hand to answer questions.
Plans presented represented a renovation and an addition at Lewis County Jail, 437 Swan Avenue. Estimated costs are between $4.5 and $4.7 million, depending on how bids come in later this year. "The cost of construction is increasing every day," was a comment heard during the Safety Committee meeting.
From the time bids are released until they are accepted can take approximately two months.
Mr. Allen suggested Lewis County proceed with the USDA loan plan to get all paperwork started. Completion of the plans will take approximately two more months and Rural Development work can take place simultaneously, Allen indicated.
A motion by Commissioner Peery, seconded by Commissioner Taylor with a unanimous vote by the Safety Committee approved the plans.
Tiffany Spears Pierce addressed the issue of the lack of available parking for semi-trucks. She pointed out that areas that allowed parking in and near Hohenwald were being sold or were no longer available. Some truckers are home daily, other only on weekends or monthly. "No one is requesting free parking, I just ask you to develop working relationships with truck drivers," she urged.
Joseph Killenger pointed out communication under the 911 dispatch was in need of additional repeaters and improved cell service. He also urged the Board to pursue locating a hospital in Lewis County.
Sixth grade mathematics teacher, Paula Dyer, spoke against increases in Solid Waste fees. "If we have budget issues in my house, we cut expenditures," she commented She requested the Board find another way to solve the proposed increase, "not by asking the hard working people of this county for more money."
Lewis County Mayor Jonah Keltner stepped away from the chairman seat to present his report. Chairman Pro Tem Brian Peery assumed the chair.
Mayor Keltner reported on the General Fund, $70,289.92 less than this time in 2019, with $1,300,548.37. In Solid Waste, the difference is $5,824.72 less than last year with $54,928.18 as of Monday.
Big projects included a $325,000 renovation at the Lewis County Health Department, the purchase of a $315,000 fire tanker truck with grant funding and the receipt of $2 million in grant funding to resurface the airport runway.
A motion by Commissioner Tanner, seconded by Commissioner Jim Grinder, preceded a unanimous vote of approval.
Director of Schools Benny Pace's report received unanimous approval with a motion by Commissioner Sharp, seconded by Robert Brewer.
Lewis County Emergency Management Director Danny Atkinson informed of a 75/25 grant that could fund a portion of a new tower for improved law enforcement communications. The total cost estimate is $350,000 for a new tower.
"We are going to end up in some bad trouble someday if we don't do something." Atkinson reminded the Board this has been an ongoing issue that he has brought to their attention previously. The matter is to be discussed during committee meetings next Monday.
Mr. Atkinson commented his department had been able to assist two homeless people, finding them housing and helping another, through donations, get a vehicle operational. Both are now working jobs.
The Emergency Management report was unanimously accepted with a motion by Commissioner Peery, seconded by Commissioner Ragsdale.
Quarterly reports were also accepted from Highway Commissioner Joyce Holt, Librarian Crystal Nash, and Park Board Director Don Barber. Usage of the library continues to grow. Repairs at Memorial Park include the addition of LED lighting to the walking track and continued work on a new pavilion and restrooms.
The floor inside the Community Building is to be upgraded. Mr. Barber noted donations he was hopeful to receive. Commissioners Timmie Hinson and King offered to split the cost, $3,500, with the City. Repair to a crack in the swimming pool is also in the Park's upcoming projects. "Save the money for the pool," Commissioner Hinson told Barber.