Surgoinsville sewer project back on the table

Jeff Bobo • Feb 13, 2007 at 11:36 AM

SURGOINSVILLE - The Surgoinsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen put the town on notice Monday evening that the sewer project is "back on the table."

Around the beginning of the decade, Surgoinsville began investigating the possibility of installing sewer service in phases beginning with the downtown area, and had actually acquired significant grant funding to move the project forward.

There was opposition to the project among a very vocal group of town residents, however. The election of former mayor Hanes Cooper, an opponent of the sewer project, in 2002 was the beginning of the end for the project.

At that time Surgoinsville had raised $2 million for the project through three separate grants and needed another $500,000 to begin the first phase. When the project died, those grants were released by the town.

Newly elected Alderman Merrell Graham said during Monday's BMA meeting, however, that he's been told by First Tennessee Development District advisers that the town can again reach the level of progress that had been achieved on the sewer project before it died.

"We can go back and re-file for grants and put ourselves back in the same place," Graham said. "We have promised the citizens of Surgoinsville that we would put the sewer project back on the table and discuss it. So what we're doing is basically notifying the town that we are putting the sewer system back on the table, and we want to assure the town that we're not going to do anything crazy.

"I know when you start talking about big money people get scared, they get nervous, and we're not going to do anything for people to be uneasy about."

Graham said the board will be meeting with FTDD officials again to see what must be done to restart progress on the project. But at this point the sewer project is only at the discussion stage.

Graham said that by next month's regular monthly BMA meeting there will likely be an eight-member committee establish to begin studying the project.

Graham asked the people of Surgoinsville to "stand with us and have some courage to make some hard decisions about the sewer project. We're always going to be behind in Surgoinsville until we have a sewer in place, so we have to work toward that."

Mayor Johnny Greer invited anyone interested in sitting on that sewer study committee to contact him or call City Hall.

"This is not saying we're going ahead and spending money on sewer," Greer said. "We're just checking out the possibility."

In other business Monday the BMA:

•Tabled a proposal to move the regular monthly BMA meetings from the City Hall boardroom to the Surgoinsville Middle School auditorium. The boardroom was filled beyond capacity for Monday's meeting, as has been the norm for the past several years, and Greer suggested that people would be more comfortable in the bigger school auditorium.

Greer said he has received permission from the school to hold meetings there. The only concern expressed Monday was arrangements for recording devices. City Recorder Sheri Minor uses video recordings to complete the minutes of each meeting, and City Hall has cameras that record automatically.

The matter was tabled for further study of the recording issue.

•Heard a report from Greer that he had appointed the Planning Commission to include Don Thurman, Bobby Jarnagin, Hugh Kyle Johnson, T.J. DeBord, Ken Bass and Larry Dykes.

Greer also reported that he'd appointed the Beer Board to include himself, Ken Bass, Junior Christian, Jack Case and Murlice Carpenter.

•Heard a report from Greer regarding board member departmental appointments. Traditionally in Surgoinsville one or two board members have managed various town departments.

Among Greer's appointments were Thurman and Graham for the police department; John Sandidge for the fire department; Tim Hoss and Ralph Bass for streets and roads; Bass and Hoss for maintenance; Jarnagin and Bass for parks and recreation; and Bass for streetlights.

Greer also appointed local resident Penny Hall as the town's communications liaison.

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