BY DAVID FISHER
Some of the top items for discussion during Monday night’s Dresden City Board meeting included: acceptance of a construction budget for a new municipal complex; property bid proposals; budget amendments; a Weakley County Long Term Recovery Group update; a Personnel Policy Ordinance; donations to and from the City; and department reports.
Municipal Complex Budget
At the request of Mayor Mark Maddox the Board accepted a construction budget for a new $6.8 million municipal complex, to replace Dresden Fire Department, City Hall and Police Department, which were all destroyed in the Dec. 10, 2021 tornado.
Maddox said he would “shop the project for funding sources” and put together a packet for the Board’s consideration at their next meeting. This will give the Board a better idea of the true cost of the Complex.
Property Bid Proposals
City Attorney Beau Pemberton informed the Board that the Winsteads have rejected the City’s latest bid proposal for their property. The lot is located at the corner of Poplar and Main streets across from the Weakley County Courthouse, which is the site of the former Majestic Restaurant.
However, Pemberton indicated the City already has a historical easement and prescriptive easement, since a sewer line was already there. He explained, under law, the City need not purchase the property in order to install a sewer line.
After hearing from Pemberton, the Board voted to withdraw its latest bid proposal on a motion from Alderman Kenneth Moore.
Board members also authorized installing the sewer line.
It was noted that negotiations are ongoing to purchase the Nanny Property, located adjacent to the planned Municipal Complex.
Maddox stated, if this property were purchased, it would not affect the footprint of the Complex, but it would be beneficial as a green space.
Board members voted to amend the General Fund budget, which reallocates funds and expenses for fiscal year 2023.
The amendment does the following:
- moves $17,450 out of fund balance to pay for half of the cost to bore a sewer line underneath Hwy 22 to provide sewer service for a new convenience store/gas station. The business owner is responsible for paying the other half.
“We just got the permit from TDEC (the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) on Friday,” City Recorder Jennifer Branscum said. “The contractor should be in next week to complete that project.”
- records a quarterly grant from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office amounting to $4,565.38. The THSO grant provides $1,192.49 in grant funding to cover the cost of police overtime; and transfers $3,372.89 out of the reserved fund balance for small items of police equipment.
- allocates $2,870 for repairs and maintenance of the McWherter Civic Center, which includes labor and the materials needed to paint the auditorium and bathrooms;
- and transfers $73,236 out of fund balance for emergency repairs on Linden Street.
Long Term Recovery Group Update
Weakley County Economic Development Director Justin Crice addressed the Board, concerning the activities of the Weakley County Long Term Recovery Group. He also submitted a written report outlining the activities of the Weakley County Long Term Recovery Group.
“We are going to have a Community Recovery Update meeting right here in the McWherter Civic Center on Thursday, Jan. 19, at 6:00 p.m.,” Crise said.
As previously stated, the meeting will include a brief overview of the WCLTRG partnerships and work, an introduction of board members, and a financial summary presentation of work for the year 2022.
The meeting is open to the public.
Crise stated that Martin Business Association has announced a grant funding opportunity for business owners in the Dresden area who were impacted by the December 10, 2021, tornado. The MBA Tornado Relief Grants will award selected applicants up to $3,000 to aid in the repair of physical property losses not fully covered by insurance or other sources.
The MBA Tornado Relief Grant application can be completed and submitted at https://form.jotform.com/222155220900138. For more information or assistance in applying for Martin Business Association Tornado Relief Grants, please contact WCLTRG Program Coordinator, Misti Pequignot, at (731) 699-7913 or firstname.lastname@example.org
According to Crise, long term recovery typically lasts 24 to 36 months.
It was stressed that WCLRG does not hold any money for tornado recovery. The organization simply keeps a record of the donations and how the money is spent.
When asked about where Dresden is in the recovery process, Crise said, “We’re on track to see some good things happen this year.”
He added construction has picked up during the past month.
Sick Leave Policy Ordinance
The first reading of an ordinance amending the personnel policy of the City of Dresden was approved by a unanimous vote.
The revised personnel handbook states the following: “Employees shall be compensated for unused sick leave upon retirement from Town employment.”
The policy stipulates “Employees who retire from Town employment must be of regular retirement age, as defined by the Town’s retirement plan.
“Employees shall not be compensated for unused sick leave for any other circumstances, except for the death of an employee.”
At the request of former City Alderwoman Sandra Klutts, the Board approved a $500 donation to help sponsor the Iris Festival Pageant, as it has done in the past. She announced the Iris Festival Pageant is Jan. 21, 2023. This is a preliminary to the Miss Tennessee Pageant, and the winner could possibly be a contestant in the Miss America Pageant. Klutts remarked the pageant is very entertaining and invited everyone to attend.
The Board approved a resolution authorizing the acceptance of a donation amounting to $1,000 from the McWherter Foundation for the Dresden Civic Center. The resolution also accepts a $15 donation from an anonymous donor for the police department to use as needed.
In department reports, Maddox stated interviews for a new police chief are set to begin soon, now that the applications have been submitted and psychological evaluations are completed. He stated there are two candidates for the position.
Public Works Supervisor Josh Lassiter stated Public Works employees cold-patched areas on Linden Street as a temporary measure until the weather is warm enough for Ford Construction to pave the street. Additionally, crews are finishing up leaf cleanup across the City.
Alderman Gwin Anderson asked about the status of a traffic light located at the intersection of Cedar and Main streets.
Branscum explained the City has been waiting for months to get the parts needed to repair the traffic light at that location.
Alderman Ralph Cobb inquired about the traffic lights at the court square, which have been coming on and off.
Lassiter explained, because of this problem, traffic lights around the inside of the court square had to be put on timers, and those outside were put on electric eyes.
Alderman Dale Hutcherson remarked that it is important for local citizens to shop locally in support of area businesses. He noted this helps provide tax revenue. “Dresden thrives when we spend money here,” Hutcherson said.
The next regular monthly meeting of the Dresden Board of Mayor and Aldermen is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, beginning at 6:00 p.m.