BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (July 18) – When the City of Dresden Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently convened for its July meeting, there were numerous topics covered that evening. Last week’s issue of The Enterprise highlighted discussion pertaining to tornado damage and future plans. The rest of the topics discussed during this month’s board meeting are highlighted below.
Residential and Commercial Building Inspector
Mayor Jeff Washburn announced Dresden’s former commercial building inspector, David Kelley, died of a fatal heart attack and offered condolences to his family on behalf of the city.
Instead of having separate building inspectors for commercial and residential structures, the board agreed it was in the city’s best interest to hire a single person certified to conduct both types of inspections.
The city advertised for someone to fill the position, but had no replies.
Mayor Washburn contacted Greenfield Fire Chief Bob Dudley, regarding the commercial building inspector the City of Greenfield uses, and Chief Dudley provided contact information for that individual to the mayor.
With that in mind, Mayor Washburn recommended hiring Ricky Watkins, who is also a state building inspector. He said Watkins lives in Brownsville and works for the City of Bolivar, but also performs inspections all over West Tennessee, including Greenfield, South Fulton and other municipalities. Dresden would pay the $100 fee that Watkins charges per inspection, which costs the city nothing, since the fee is provided by the building contractor.
The mayor stated, if Watkins is given a day or two’s notice, concerning a requested inspection, Watson should be available to perform the inspection most anytime. “He’ll do his best to accommodate the builders,” Mayor Washburn said.
After hearing from Mayor Washburn, the board unanimously approved hiring Watkins to serve as both residential and commercial building inspector for the City of Dresden.
Leaf Machine Purchase
The purchase of a new leaf blower machine, which vacuums up leaves, was discussed, because the 10-year-old machine has constant breakdowns, due to component failure.
The possibility of borrowing an old leaf machine from a neighboring municipality that will be acquiring a new leaf machine sooner than when Dresden could have one delivered, or purchasing one from government surplus, were discussed, in order to get through this year.
Anderson asked if any of the landfill money could be used for the leaf machine purchase.
Mayor Washburn said he believes it is a possibility to use some of that money for that purpose.
Alderman Ralph Cobb asked if the $69,000 donated to the city could be used for purchasing the leaf machine, if the FEMA funds cannot be used for that purpose, “so the taxpayers won’t be out so much money.”
The mayor stated he thinks it could be used to help purchase the leaf machine, but he will ask “before proceeding down that road. It’s going to be awhile before we’re going to have to make a payment for the leaf machine.”
After considering several options, Alderman Anderson made a motion to go ahead and purchase a new leaf machine at $89,991.14 and Alderman Willie Parker seconded the motion. The board approved the purchase by unanimous vote.
The machine will be delivered in January or February.
4-Way Stop Light Bid Approved
The board approved a bid for the construction and installation of a four-way stop light at the intersection of East Main and Cedar streets at $32,408.37, submitted by Shelby Electric Company of Memphis.
The stop light was damaged in the December 10, 2021, tornado.
The project includes a mast arm pole, four-way stop light, signal cable conductor, installation of the pole to the existing circle bolt pattern pier, connection to the existing control box, and all materials and labor.
Alderman Anderson stated the city really has no choice but to replace the light, and moved to approve the bid.
However, the mayor pointed out the city will be reimbursed by FEMA, once the project is completed.
Property Donated to Santa’s Helpers
Chace Kesterson requested the board’s permission to store surplus items from Santa’s Helpers in a city-owned storage building, located on a property the corner of Jefferson and Lane streets. He stated the city would have to cut the lock and remove any city property, then he would move any trash to the curb to be picked up.
Mayor Washburn said the building is located on a lot the city acquired a few years ago in a tax sale, where a partial house was demolished and hauled away. The storage building is a two-car garage with metal siding and sliding doors. Alderman Moore stated, rather than getting into a possible liability issue over allowing the building to be used for storage, he would prefer deeding the property to Santa’s Helpers, and made a motion to that effect.
The motion to donate the property to Santa’s Helpers was approved by unanimous vote.
Kesterson thanked the board for donating the property.
Surplus Equipment Auction
The board approved a resolution selling city-owned surplus equipment at an upcoming auction that will be held by Marvin Alexander Auctioneers, and the proceeds will be put back into the city’s treasury.
Alderman Lyndal Dilday asked about the status of a residential structure located at 125 Valley View Rd.
The mayor remarked, “The house that’s in terrible condition and it needs to be on the condemnation list, in my opinion.”
“The water was turned off in March, and the yard has not been mowed this year,” Alderman Dilday said. “It looks like they had a moving sale, and everything that didn’t sell was still out in the yard.”
Mayor Washburn stated Mr. Gallimore, who resides behind the Valley View property, has expressed concern over the condition of the building and lot at that location and how they continue to deteriorate.
City Recorder Jennifer Branscum stated she sent out letters to property owners, Chase and Jessica Higgs, who reside in Dyersburg, telling them they need to clean up the property and get it back in shape, but there has been no response, and nothing has been done to alleviate the problem.
“This is the second time the city has addressed that property in recent years,” the mayor said. “Previously they cleaned it up, but recently, they appear to have just walked off and left it.”
The mayor stated FEMA is looking for a construction manager for the Long Term Recovery Group, who will be responsible for rebuilding and remodeling houses damaged by the storm. “Some folks have already been contacted and a case manager has been working with them for the last several weeks to get scheduled for potential reconstruction. There are some folks who lost their homes that I hope will be strongly considered for a complete rebuild. There’s a house located on the corner of West Main and North Cedar Street that’s in the process of being rebuilt by a non-profit organization. They’ve been digging the footing the last few days, and we should see something going up above ground pretty soon. So, that’s one house that’s being rebuilt with local funds that were donated; and hopefully, there will be others.”
Dilday also asked about the building material FEMA promised to provide to assist with rebuilding efforts in Dresden.
“That’s going to fall under the Long Term Recovery Group,” Mayor Washburn said.” They’re going to house it somewhere; and they’re looking at our property across from the walking trail, as a possible location to use as a storage facility. They have not made a firm decision where that’s going to be stored. They’re not going to warehouse, only lumber. They’re going to store furniture and things like that in it, as well, to provide needs following the tornado.”
Alderman Moore asked about the status of donated funds for storm victims.
The mayor stated he would contact Weakley County Economic Development Director Justin Crice, who co-chairs the Long Term Recovery Group, to give a report.
“As of the last of June, approximately $17,000 had been disbursed to various people in the community out on Sharon Highway 89, that had unmet needs,” Mayor Washburn said. “But there is a lot more that needs to be done and hopefully we’ll see that happening soon.”
Mayor Washburn complimented Parks and Recreation Director Joey Winstead saying, “He did a really good job of hosting a post-season tournament at our park this year. It was well attended and well organized. The fields were well prepped.”