​Monteagle Police Stop Drug Traffic; City Pursues Enforcing Screening Ordinance

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the April 30 Monteagle City Council meeting, Police Chief Virgil McNeese updated the council on a year-long narcotics investigation leading to six arrests.
“We were able to sever a major line of methamphetamine coming into the city,” McNeese said. Assisted by the Tracy City Police and Drug Task Force, law enforcement seized more than 10 ounces of methamphetamine from Georgia destined for Tracy City and Monteagle.
Turning to another legal issue, Alderman Ken Gipson inquired about the progress in a case citing Rocky Top Truck Stop and Wrecker Service for violation of the fencing ordinance requiring “junked vehicles and other such properties…be screened from view.”
Cited for violation of the ordinance, Rocky Top owner Rodney Kilgore appeared in city court in November. The judge fined Kilgore $50 a day and ordered the case be bound over to Chancery Court.
Kilgore has not paid the fine.
“The issue is what does ‘screened from view’ mean,” said Codes Enforcement officer Earl Geary. “It means ‘can’t be seen from anywhere,’ I think.” Kilgore has a fence at the back of the property, but semi-trucks waiting to be serviced are highly visible.
“If a person in violation of the ordinance doesn’t pay, what is the next step?” asked Alderman Ron Terrill.
Geary will contact city attorney Harvey Cameron to inquire about the city’s options for recourse if the fine is not paid and for clarification on the meaning of the language “screened from view.” Cameron drafted the ordinance.
In other business, the council approved Vice-Mayor Jessica Blalock’s recommendation to retain a Tampa Bay, Fla., vendor to erect the new playground equipment at Harton Park. The lowest of three bidders at $6,200, the company came highly recommended by Grundy County who used the installers when they refurbished county playgrounds.
The Council also approved purchase of a new tornado siren with a 15-mile radius from Sirens for Cities. Parts are unavailable to rebuild the 50-year-old siren currently used by the city, Mayor David Sampley said. Even within the downtown area, the siren can’t be heard.
The low bidder at $9,894, Sirens for Cities offered the additional advantages of having a representative in Tennessee and providing a unit with no limit on how long the siren would stay on during extended emergencies.
Gibson raised a question about the police department hiring policy, citing the instance of a department employee recently booted up from part-time to full-time.
McNeese said William Barton was moved from part-time to full-time when another officer quit. McNeese noted that he didn’t create a new position. In that case, he would have needed council approval for budgeting, McNeese stressed, and the opening would have been advertised in the newspaper.
During the Citizen Comments portion of the meeting, Monteagle resident Tony Gilliam said community members had voiced concern about the health of trees on Main Street that still had Christmas lights on them. Sampley replied the lights were difficult and costly to remove and couldn’t be reused after removal. Sampley proposed the city look into getting more suitable lights with larger bulbs.
Resident Mike Roark who lives on 49 North Bluff Circle asked the council to correct inaccurate street signs or to rename the section of the street where he resides to Lee Avenue to clear up confusion. “Delivery people can’t find my house,” Roark said. Sampley and McNeese will review the signage. “Replacing the signs wouldn’t be a problem,” Sampley said.
The council meets next on Tuesday, May 29, instead of the regular meeting date on the fourth Monday.