Monteagle: Employee Raises, Speeding, MGT Funding
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
“Salaries are not even in the marketplace. We’ve lost several employees because of that,” said Mayor Greg Maloof at the Oct. 30 Monteagle City Council meeting where the council voted on first reading to approve an ordinance calling for employee raises. The council also approved rezoning several parcels in the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly and an ordinance adding $100,000 to the revenue budget for Mountain Goat Trail funding, at no cost to the city.
Alderwoman Dorraine Parmley said she wanted to see “a breakdown of who was getting what” before approving the raises. “I agree, Dorraine,” said Alderman Nate Wilson. “We need to be paying everybody a living wage.” Wilson also suggested funneling the recently approved employee-bonus money into more sustained wages. “Pay check to pay check is the way we retain people,” Wilson insisted. Maloof said the breakdown and raise amounts would be discussed in a workshop before the second reading. “We wanted to get the process started before the holiday.”
Explaining the reason for rezoning several Monteagle Sunday School Assembly parcels, Executive Director Scott Parrish said the property had been acquired over the past 14 years. Central campus was zoned Institutional Development, in keeping with the Assembly’s mission. The rezoning would convey the same zoning category on the contiguous parcels. The Assembly was not asking for rezoning of a C-1 commercial tract fronting Main Street, deferring a decision on that property until the Community By Design town plan had been completed.
Updating residents on the town planning process, Wilson said Community By Design representatives from the Architects Foundation had visited Monteagle, conducted a site survey, and met with residents, preliminary to putting together a team of advisors and planners. The planning team will return in the spring to host community meetings and collect detailed information about residents’ vision for the town.
Wilson said $95,000 of the MGT funding came from a Tennessee Department of Transportation Multi-Modal grant and $5,000 came from the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance. The grants will facilitate “the next phase” of moving the trail through Monteagle, Maloof said.
Police Chief William Raline said the department had “ramped up” traffic stops for speeding. “The reason is obvious. Speeding kills.” In the past month there had been 11 vehicle crashes, one serious crash in the Depot Cafe area, with several injuries, but fortunately no fatalities. Other high-speed locations where the department has increased enforcement include the Pizza Hut section of Highway 41 and just before the Summerfield area. Last month the department made 176 traffic stops, although only 52 arrests. Raline stressed the goal of “pulling people over was to inform them to stop speeding.”
Reporting on the Oct. 8 homicide of a woman, Raline said he could not release any details on the “active investigation.” He advised residents with information to phone the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation hotline (800-882-0611). Contrary to rumors, there was “no danger to the community,” Raline said.
Maloof thanked Raline and urged the department to supply additional information when available to dispel future rumors. Countering rumors about the proposed Mariott Hotel, Maloof said plans were on track for the project to move forward, and the developers recently purchased additional land to satisfy drainage requirements.
Fire Chief Travis Lawyer reminded residents beginning Oct. 15 burn permits were required for “all open fires,” including cook fires and campfires. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture issues burn permits online, 24-7, at Burn Permit Application <tn.gov>. Wilson commented, in spite of dry conditions, based on lake levels “we have more water than at this time last year.” Condra concurred, “It’s pretty normal.”
Commissioner Dan Sargent said several residents complained about water discoloration or sand in their water. Utility Supervisor John Condra speculated the cause was a recent line break.