Monteagle Grapples with Water Loss, Road Repair; Two New Restaurants Opening

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the June 24 meeting, the Monteagle City Council revisited an 8,000-gallon-per-day water loss issue, and grappled with the need for paving an easement, which provides access to the medical emergency helipad and ballpark. During regular business, the council approved business licenses for two new restaurants and announced plans for three days of July Fourth festivities.

Utility Manager John Condra explained the water loss occurs because the water department must leave water running at the Marshall Graves property to avoid rust. The waterline dead-ends at the Graves property served by 80-year-old cast iron pipe. The city delayed replacing the line due to negotiations with Graves. Graves wants to develop the property, which would require a larger service line.

Graves recently agreed to pay for the larger line, but asked the city to pay for the meter and a fire hydrant.

Condra objected to Graves proposal.

“We haven’t done this for anyone else,” observed alderwoman Rebecca Byers.

“Water customers pay $18 to $20 dollars for each 2,000-gallons of water. We’re losing money from the water dumping out,” said alderman Tony Gilliam. On Gilliam’s suggestion, the council will consult with city attorney Harvey Cameron and invite Graves to the next workshop to attempt to resolve the issue.

Codes Enforcement officer John Knost brought to the council’s attention the need to pave the road adjacent to and owned by Shan’s Chinese Buffet. The city has an easement to use the road to access the ballpark and helipad.

“There are potholes as big as cars,” said alderwoman Jessica Blalock.

“If we have an easement for use of the road, isn’t it partly our responsibility to keep it up?” asked alderman Kenneth Gipson.

Knost said the owner estimated the paving cost at $38,000. Knost expressed concern about dust from vehicle traffic and has asked the state to perform an air quality assessment. The air quality assessment could result in the state requiring the restaurant to address the dust nuisance.

Knost also brought to the council’s attention tree rubbish being dumped within the city limits by Bob Lowrie. Lowrie claimed to have permission to dump the refuse with the intention of burning it. Knost said Lowry did not have a permit for dumping and objected to the burning due to overhead power lines and the close proximity of the lake watershed.

“Lowry can either clean up the mess or tell the judge why he hasn’t,” Knost said.

Turning to routine matters, the council approved business licenses for The Big Porch and Dixie Lee Diner restaurants. Both establishments will serve beer, and The Big Porch will also serve wine. The Big Porch, located on Main Street, will feature southern comfort food. Catering to a 1950s-1960s theme, the Dixie Lee Diner on Dixie Lee Avenue will offer milkshakes, Chicago hotdogs, Philly cheese fries, burgers, and perhaps a jukebox.

Parks and Recreation Chair Blalock announced three days of July Fourth festivities. On Wednesday, July 3, at Dubose Conference Center, the community is invited for free food, a bounce house, swimming, and evening fireworks, an event organized by mayor David Sampley. Monteagle’s parade will begin at 10 a.m. July 4. Friday, July 5 at the ballpark, the city will host a homemade ice cream making contest at 6 p.m. and fireworks at dark.

Updating the council on police activities, Sergeant William Barker reported Monteagle’s 2018 crime rate was under five percent. Pointing to the 16 percent crime rate in Memphis, Barker said only two other communities in the area had crime rates as low as Monteagle.