Editors Note: Matthew DeGlopper is a contributor to East Ridge News Online.
With Councilman Larry Sewell absent, the East Ridge City Council met Thursday night and recessed until Saturday morning to take care of the more serious issues before them.
However, Councilman Denny Manning, who will have served for 12 years when his term expires in 2016, provided the shock of the evening when during communication from council portion of the meeting announced to the council that he would oppose Vice Mayor Marc Gravitt when he stands for re-election to the state House of Representatives.
“Good luck to you Mr. Manning,” Gravitt remarked. “Are you running as a Democrat or a Republican?”
Manning said he wasn’t telling at this time.
Mayor Brent Lambert said that several issues before the council should be held until Councilman Sewell could attend a meeting. Sewell would be back on Friday, but the council decided in advance to recess until Saturday morning at 9 a.m. The council would wait until Saturday to consider the following measures: the first vote on the fiscal year 2015-16 budget, renewing health insurance for employees, a variance on a beer permit, a contract to continue to provide certain services to the City of Ridgeside and the renewal of the City Manager’s contract.
Mary Baier, who the city hired last year to step in as the Chief Building Inspector, was presented with a plaque by two officials from the State Building Association, on the occasion of her leaving her post with the city.
“She’s a top-notch person, a heck of a building professional,” said Keith Bruner, President of the Tennessee Building Association. “Most important, I’m honored to call Mary my friend.”
During the communication from citizens portion of the meeting, Frances Pope asked about the recent title problems with the land associated with the Bass Pro Shops Development. Pope said that the developers got clear title to 4.7 acres in 2012, yet restrictions remained on 1.2 acres. She wanted to know how that was possible.
Mayor Brent Lambert said that was a question for the attorneys, and that he did not know.
Pope pressed, asking if the city’s Industrial Development Board knew of the restrictions when discussions were underway concerning the $4 million in city incentives.
Lambert said he didn’t recall each and every meeting that was held.
Matthew DeGlopper, a contributor to East Ridge News Online, told the council that city officials’ actions should be more transparent. He criticized the mayor for not divulging restrictions on the fire hall property the city has turned over to developers at Exit 1.
“The entire city demands from its elected officials accountability and transparency,” DeGlopper said. “On this issue it was lacking.”
The council passed on second reading an ordinance on how the proceeds from a $3.5 million bond offering would be budgeted. The council is putting $1 million into the General Fund and $2.5 million into the Capital Improvement Fund.
The council decided to name the children’s reading room in honor of Susan Millsaps Macrellis, who recently passed away. Ms. Macrellis was the city’s head librarian for the past 15 years.
The city’s auditing firm was retained by resolution to continue its work for East Ridge in the coming year.
The council voted unanimously on first reading to exclude certain businesses from the Border Region District. Mayor Lambert explained that City Treasurer Thad Jablonski and IDB attorney Mark Mamantov had been working on this for months.
The Governor recently signed into law an amendment to the Border Region Act, allowing the cities which qualified _ Bristol and East Ridge _ to remove businesses which, if closed, could cripple the impact on economic development for which the Border Region Act was developed.
“It’s a one-time opportunity to mitigate risk,” Lambert said.