BY DAVID FISHER
MARTIN (May 5) — During a meeting of the Martin City Board on Tuesday, May 5, aldermen and department supervisors participated via the internet program Zoom. Additionally, members of the public had the opportunity to observe the proceedings over Facebook Live.
Under new business, the board unanimously approved a motion calling for city elections for three of the six aldermen positions on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. There are two aldermen for each of Martin’s three wards serving four-year terms. One of the aldermen seats in each ward is on the ballot in November.
Those seeking re-election are: Danny Nanney, Ward 1; Marvin Flatt, Ward 2; and Randy Edwards, Ward 3.
The three remaining aldermen seats of Scott Robbins, Ward 1, David Belote, Ward 2, and Terry Hankins, Ward 3, and the mayor’s post are on the 2022 Martin City Election.
“COVID-19 has impacted the city’s budget,” Mayor Brundige said. “When you lose 7,000 people in your town, it has a great impact on it.” He stated, UTM students were spending money in Martin every day they were present, but since they went home, due to the coronavirus, it has cost the city a great deal of lost sales tax revenue.
In reference to the city’s ongoing construction activities, Mayor Brundige reported work on the sidewalk improvement project along University Street at UT Martin, and the city’s new library on the corner of Lindell and University streets are continuing to make progress.
“Police Chief Don Teal has measured the courtroom where we normally meet and determined only 16 people can meet at that location at the same time,” Mayor Brundige said. He stated some of the board members will have to sit in the seating area normally reserved for the public to maintain proper social distancing. “So hopefully, they will continue allowing us to meet by Zoom or other electronic means during this time.” Since Mayor Brundige made this statement, Gov. Bill Lee issued executive order #34, extending electronic meetings until June 30.
The mayor noted city officials are formulating a budget for fiscal year 2020-2021, and he hopes to have something ready by end of month.
“We’re waiting to see if the federal government will be providing a relief effort in the stimulus package in the next few weeks,” he said.
Mayor Brundige gave an update on the status of storm damage within the city, which he stated was caused by 70-80 M.P.H. straight-line winds, generated by a powerful storm front that barreled through the region on Sunday, May 3. He noted a second thunderstorm on Monday, May 4, caused additional damage.
“I don’t know the dollar assessment yet, but there were several houses that were damaged when trees fell on them,” Mayor Brundige said. “There are some residents that still don’t have electricity. We lost a big tree over by the library that fell across the parking lot and took out all of the electricity to the downtown area, including the construction site for the new library. They restored power around noon on Monday, May 4.” He added there are a few other places in town where trees had fallen across roads and electric lines.
The mayor reported the gas company personnel turned off valves and meters on broken gas lines going to houses. “A few facilities have not been reconnected yet, but they’re working on it.”
He stated, in addition to wind damage, a heavy downpour caused flooding issues in the area.
According to the mayor, the city’s garbage removal contractor, Republic Services, Inc., has been extremely busy picking up debris left in the wake of the storms, in addition to their regular garbage pickup service. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, these workers are operating under restrictions, just the same as Martin City employees. If a worker gets sick or has a fever, he or she must be quarantined for one to three days. “This past week, we had a couple of employees that had to be quarantined until their tests came back,” he said. “These are unusual times that we are in, but they are times we have to work through,”
BY DAVID FISHER