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Jellico adopts rental agreement for community center

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By PETER SAWYER

 At its meeting last Thursday, Jellico’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a rental agreement for the community center.

Town attorney Terry Basista presented a rental agreement for the community center to the board. Jellico plans to lease its community center to different entities, including governmental agencies, business and community organizations. There are different guidelines for leasing to these different organizations, Basista said.

Instead of drafting different agreements that include the guidelines for the various groups, Basista decided to draft one that includes encompasses them all, Mayor Les Steirs said.

In addition to some provisions against drugs and alcohol, and having to follow all laws, Jellico has the right to use discretion for leasing to businesses.

“We have the right to screen people,” Basista said.

Food Pantry

A group of 13 churches want to use the kitchen in the community center for a food pantry. Alan McClary and Steve Christian represented these churches at the meeting last Thursday.

“This is a needy area,” Christian said.

These churches intend to operate a food pantry to feed hungry people on a daily basis. They want to cooperate instead of operating their own food pantries, and store it all at a central location. People have been willing to give them food, but they need a place to store it. While the churches want to see it grow to a daily ministry, they are currently taking it one step at a time.

“This lease provides for them to do that,” Basista said.

Basista said the people running the pantry can’t discriminate against people with regards to their religious affiliation.

“Our goal is to show love,” McClary said.

Stiers asked them to talk to First Baptist Church on Baptist Street, which is pastored by the Reverend Gerald LittleJohn.

“We have a habit of leaving them out,” Stiers said.

Summer Youth Program

Bob Carbaugh asked the board about the summer youth program.

Last summer the town of Jellico hired about 18 teenagers who worked 20 hours a week for $7.25 an hour. 

“I think it’s a good program, I think the youngsters did a good job last year,” Bob Carbaugh said.

Bob Carbaugh feels teenagers might become Jellico’s future workers, and the program allows them to see they can be a part of Jellico and take pride in it.

The town has set money aside for the program again this year, Stiers said.

The jobs the kids do will include picking up litter, painting and cutting grass.

“They’re all outside jobs, no inside jobs,” Stiers said.

But Alderman Tommy Bowlin referred to budget constraints. 

“If we do this we’re not going to be able to do it as broad as we did it last year,” Bowlin said. “Everything’s going up, and everything’s tight.”

Jellico will have to hire less students this year, 10 instead of 15, and for less time, two months instead of three months, Bowlin said.

Bob Carbaugh asked how the program would be operated, wondering if the candidates for the jobs would be picked in a way that could be influenced by favoritism.

On Monday at 5 p.m., the board will review the applications of the students who applied for the jobs. Ten to 12 will be hired to work for the town, and five will be hired to work for the utility company.

Preference will be shown to rising and outgoing seniors, Stiers said. Students who live in the town of Jellico will also have preference.

Branam Hill Road Sewer Extension

Utility workers are volunteering to bring sewer service to an old neighborhood in Jellico.

Branam Hill Road was annexed in 1974. There are four to six homes on the road. The residents were told they would receive sewer service, but haven’ yet. 

“When you make commitments, you’ve got to keep commitments,” Stiers said. “This city has to keep this commitment.”

McGill and Associates is going to look for a route to link the residents on the street into the sewer system. The project would cost $34,000, including labor. But Jellico Electric and Water System workers are helping to bring costs down. By volunteering to dig ditches on the weekend, these employees are attempting to bring the overall price tag down to about $10,000. Jellico Electric and Water System General Manager Billy Rowe and Water and Sewer Superintendant Woody Swafford are spearheading the effort, Stiers said.

Beer

During the portion of the meeting where the board hears grievances from citizens, 

Retired Air Force Sergeant Kevin Walden went to the podium to voice concerns about the recent changes to the beer ordinance. 

Walden feels that beer is a sensitive subject, and changing the ordinance should have been decided by the people.

“I like to see it (a sensitive subject) on the ballot rather than in a (vote) of seven people,” Walden said. “I respect you, and I respect this body. But I want this body to respect the people that elected this body.”

Walden was also disturbed by rumors he had heard that there would be changes to Jellico’s law that prohibits beer sales on Sundays.

“It scares me,” Walden said.

Stiers told Walden the rumor wasn’t true.

“That’s exactly what it is, a rumor,” Stiers said.

Light Project

The board of mayor and aldermen is working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to install cluster lights where Interstate 75 crosses Highway 25W.

In the spring of 2011, the board was told it would cost $40,000 for survey, geotechnical services, lighting design and design plans. Jellico shares 50 percent of the cost with TDOT, and submitted its $20,000 portion. But in November 2011, Stiers received a letter from TDOT that informed him the price had increased to $78,059. This increased the amount Jellico needed to pay by $19,000, and the town was required to pay this amount by May 1 to keep the project going, Stiers said. Jellico received $19,000 from the East Tennessee Economic Development Fund. At Thursday’s meeting, the board voted to use this money on the I-75 project.

The whole project will cost Jellico around $156,000, Stiers said. He estimated that work on the project would begin in October and last about three months.

Adopting streets

The board had a first reading of an ordinance that adopts four streets, Trails End Lane, Trails End Lane South East, Lynn Avenue and Ashley Avenue, into the Jellico. 

Byrge mentioned that Jellico would have to spend money to fix the roads.

“Everybody who has property should have services (water, sewer, lights),” Evans said. “They’re taxpayers and they deserve it.”

The people living on these streets currently receive all municipal services, except the streets aren’t maintained by Jellico, Stiers said.

Byrge, Carbaugh and Johnson voted against adopting these streets. Vermillion, Bowlin and Evans voted to adopt them. Stiers broke the tie with a yes vote.

Because adopting the streets requires an ordinance, it requires another reading before it is passed. There will also be a public hearing about this ordinance on May 17, at 6 p.m., before the next regular meeting. This will give all people a chance to discuss the issue, Stiers said. 

Ball field

Jellico will lease some of its land to Campbell County. Campbell County will spend $55,000 to build a ball field on it. These plans were obstructed by confusion over who owned the land. This was due to confusion over the maps, Stiers said. Some of the maps showed the land belonged to the state.

Jellico had to prove the property in question belonged to the town and not the state.

“All the land over there is ours,” Stiers said. “I know it’s taken some time, but the state didn’t want to give the land back.”

Welcome Sign

Beautification Committee Chairperson Vicki Payne spoke to the board about the committee’s plans to put a welcome sign in front of the Rocky Top BP Station near the interstate, to greet people as they enter Jellico. The committee will also place banners on lampposts. The project will cost $2,850. The board approved it. The money will come from the sundry fund, which contains $13,000.

Speed bumps

The board approved installing three speed bumps on London Avenue. A traffic Engineer from McGill and Associates did an assessment on London Avenue. Three speed bumps were left over after the town installed speed bumps on four other streets. Police Chief Chris Anderson asked the board if the bumps could be used at the ballpark.

“There’s a lot of pedestrian traffic at the ball park,” Anderson said. “We’re lucky we haven’t got a kid hurt yet because they fly through there.”

Students Honored

The board of mayor and aldermen gave about 25 athletes from Jellico High School and Jellico Middle School a letter of accommodation. These student athletes had participated in fall sports such as cross country, football, basketball and volleyball, and had received all state, all district or all county honors.

Employee of the Month

Mike Johnson from the street department was given employee of the month honors.