Monteagle Hopes to Lower ISO Rating; Will Offer HELP Hotline

by Leslie Lytle Messenger Staff Writer

“I think we can get our ISO rating back down to a five or maybe even a four if we’re re-evaluated,” speculated Fire Chief Mike Holmes at the Feb. 27 meeting of the Monteagle Town Council. Holmes requested permission to surplus the departments three aging fire trucks and replace them with a single multi-function truck. The council also finalized plans for setting up a wellness check-in service for seniors, reviewed a road repair arrangement with Franklin County, and approved de-annexing a section of Deepwoods.
“All three of our trucks are more than 20 years old,” Holmes said, “so the ISO (Insurance Service Office) does not recognize them as engines.” The department no longer uses the oldest 1981 model truck. The fire department’s ISO rating is a point higher than Sewanee’s rating. A lower rating means lower insurance premiums for residents. The fire department applied for a $775,000 matching funds grant to purchase new equipment. Monteagle’s share would be 5 percent, or $38,750.
Another option would be to purchase a newer used engine, Holmes said, quoting $80,000 as the estimated surplus value of the three aging engines.
“I don’t think we should surplus the trucks until we find out if we receive the grant,” Alderman Rusty Leonard said.
The council approved sale of the 1981 model truck, but deferred a decision on the other two trucks.
Mayor David Sampley presented a revision of his proposal to hire an employee to oversee a program dispatching a police officer to check on the well being of registered seniors who neglected to phone in daily. The same phone number would function as HELP hotline for non-emergencies.
“Residents would also be able to phone in to report problems like a burned out street light or busted water line,” Sampley said.
The council gave final second-reading approval of the program, allocating $12,849 to staff the position through June. The new employee will assists with parks and Chamber of Commerce needs, as well. The service will operate out of the police department with a call in number of 924-HELP.
Turning to road maintenance, Sampley said the Franklin County Highway Department agreed to repair the roads in the section of Deepwoods designated for de-annexation at a cost of $52,000, with payment to be spread over a three-year period. Monteagle’s Plan of Services agreement with residents requires the town to restore the roads to the condition they were in at the time of annexation.
The council approved the Deepwoods de-annexation on the second and final reading. Residents cited the need for road maintenance as a chief reason for the request. Monteagle does not levy an income tax and lacked funds to maintain the roads.
Vice Mayor Jessica Blalock announced Monteagle youth would play with the Tracy City baseball team this year since only seven children signed up. The Tracy City team will hold games at the Monteagle ballpark. At a work session scheduled for noon on March 4, volunteers will tackle plumbing, painting and raking chores. Papa Ron’s donated new sinks and toilets for the restrooms, Blalock said, and KK’s Music in Tullahoma refurbished the PA system.
Monteagle resident Nate Wilson asked the council to assume liability for a trail from Monteagle Elementary to the ballpark which is scheduled for construction in conjunction with Make a Difference Day on March 4. Wilson said the Marion County Board of Education expressed interest in assuming liability, but asked the town to step in as backup if the board of education declined at the last minute.
Sampley cited a letter from the town attorney Harvey Cameron who “saw no need” for the town to assume the risk.
“If someone fell on the street, we’d be liable,” Alderman Kenneth Gipson said supporting Wilson’s request.
The council voted to grant the request contingent upon Gipson and Blalock’s approval after visiting the site.
In other business, the council approved $1,050 for music and movies in the park during the Monteagle Cruise-In scheduled for every third Friday, April through September.
Alderman Delores Knox said she’d received complaints about theft of flowers from the cemetery. Sampley will ask Police Chief Virgil McNeese to increase patrol in the area.
Alderman Rusty Leonard resigned from the council.
“It’s been an honor serving the town of Monteagle,” Leonard said. Due to the de-annexation of Deepwoods, Leonard no longer resides in Monteagle. The council will appoint an alderman to serve until the next election.

The council meets next on Monday, March 20.