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LaFollette council debates bridge cost, library hours

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By Natasha LaFayette

natasha@lafollettepress.com  

The LaFollette City Council continued with discussion on the Pleasant Ridge Bridge on Tuesday night. County Road Superintendant Dennis Potter approached the council about the estimated amount of the project. He said a previous bid for the bridge was $108,000, and the county is willing to match the city with half of the cost.

“The way the economy is right now, every project is coming under what was proposed,” said Potter.

The council was adamant about receiving an exact amount before promising funds to the project. However, Potter said he wanted the city’s approval before bidding the project.

“That’s not a smart thing to do is for us to make a commitment on whatever it might be,” said Councilman Hansford Hatmaker. “This is taxpayers money on both ends.”

Potter agreed that the counties share is also taxpayer’s money, but the bridge is misaligned and could be dangerous, he said.

“I’m not going to put a price tag on it myself,” said Potter. “I am committed to build this bridge and I want the same commitment from you.”

Potter explained that if the bridge comes in at $120,000, then the county is willing to cover $60,000.

Stanfield said the city has around $50,000 to designate for the Pleasant Ridge Bridge.

The council said they are all in support of fixing the bridge, but they are waiting to vote until after the bids have been made and an exact amount is provided.

Potter said he would bid the cost for the bridge and return to the council with an amount. He also stated the county has equipment and men to work on the project to save as much money as possible.

The next item for discussion under administrative topics was library hours.

Councilman Joe Bolinger addressed the council and mayor about several requests to extend the libraries operating hours.

“I think a lot of people who work through the week and can’t get to the library would probably attend it on Saturdays,” said Bolinger.

City Administrator David Young asked whether the library would be closed some hours during the week to cut down on overtime. Bolinger said there was no need if part-time help was used on Saturday.

“We tried this before and ended up after six months, I think there was three people per month who participated in it,” said Hatmaker. “The names of whoever called you, I would like to know the names and see if they are library users.”

Hatmaker said extended days of operation might be something to consider in the future when it can be budgeted for additional days.

Library Director Nancy Green said only $6,000 is in the budget for part-time help.

“The names that I have aren’t currently using the library because they can’t get to it when it’s open,” said Bolinger.

Hatmaker said with over 2,000 visitors to the library a month, those who cannot come must be faced with a personal problem. Bolinger said it was not a personal problem preventing many from going to the library, but work hours keeping them from attending.

Bolinger continued to recite the number of libraries in the region that are open on Saturday in comparison with those that are closed.

“If we come up with the money and hire help, I am for it all the way,” said Hatmaker.

Bolinger continued to state part-time help could be used in the library.

The council concluded the budget would have to be considered before making any changes. The item was postponed until a further meeting.

Two resolutions to apply for a THDA Home Grant were accepted by the LaFollette Council. The grant, possible amount of $500,000, will allow low-income families to be eligible for home improvements or investments.

In other business, Mayor Mike Stanfield announced that discussion on the West LaFollette Railroad Crossing would be postponed. The council is waiting for a representative from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to provide specifications for the needed improvements.

In other business two ordinances were approved in the first and second readings. The first was adding business and professional offices to the list of permitted used and structures in the C-2 zone. The ordinance was approved in its first and second reading.

The second ordinance approved by the council was the sewer use ordinance. LaFollette Utility Manager Kenny Baird briefly addressed the council about the necessity of the ordinance. Baird said the ordinance is an updated document, which is federally mandated.

The council approved the ordinance in the first and second reading.