Mayor Jerry Jones made two major announcements at last Thursday’s meeting of the Cleveland Town Council. One was a new police chief had been hired and the second involved the street repaving project.
Mayor Jones introduced Bill Ferry as the town’s new police chief. At last month’s meeting, Jones informed the council that Tim Jones had tendered his resignation. At that meeting, Jones submitted Ferry’s name to the council as a replacement, pointing out Ferry’s resume as a long-time veteran of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office. On a unanimous vote at that time, the council agreed to offer the job to Ferry. At this month’s meeting, Jones told the council that Ferry had accepted the position. Ferry’s first day on the job was the following day, March 9.
Ferry, a life-long resident of Cleveland, addressed the council and those present saying, “I appreciate the opportunity. I thank you for giving me a chance…to work to serve among friends.”
The other significant issue the mayor addressed regarded the $1 million paving project. Jones said the contractor, McCartney Construction Company, has not finished the work beyond the contractually time allotted. He said this included making some repairs on work already completed, as well as paving some streets. Mayor Jones said that after consultation with town attorney Alex Smith, the last payment of $250,000 will be withheld until the work is done. All of the councilmen present voiced agreement.
Mayor Jones also said citizens had voiced concerns about the edges and shoulders on some of the streets. He made it clear this issue is being addressed and those problems will be corrected as soon as possible.
Revisiting police matters, Jones said Chief Ferry has been tasked with upgrading equipment for the police department to include ballistic vests and body cameras. Jones said they have already ordered two vests to replace those out of date, noting vests must be replaced every five years. He asked the council to increase the police department’s budget by $5,000 to cover these expenses. Councilman
Glenn Puckett asked, and it was confirmed, if the money would come out of the general fund. A motion to allot the funding passed unanimously.
Utilities superintendent Steve Pass reported to the council he had requested quotes from four companies to paint strips on the newly-paved town hall parking lot, as well as the lot at the park.
The work would also include repainting the lines on the park’s basketball court. Pass said only one company, Rodney Harris of Blountsville, had followed through and submitted a quote of $4,350. A motion by Councilman Tommy Swindle to accept the proposal and move forward with the project was passed without dissent.
The mayor reported he had requested estimates for replacing broken windows at the town hall.
In park business, the mayor reported the bathrooms at the park are in need of major repairs and has requested an estimate from Donnie Adams Construction Company of Blountsville, which will include upgrading them to be handicap accessible. He also noted there was an immediate need to replace the commodes in the bathrooms at the park. The council unanimously agreed to a motion by Councilman Doug Hill to allocate up to $1,000 for the project.
The mayor also reported the work on placing a roof over the seating at the amphitheater is progressing.
Mayor Jones reported that a receptionist, Alissa Haynes, had recently completed one year of service for the town and requested the council approve a $1-per-hour raise for Haynes, praising her as a good employee who “does a great job.” The council unanimously approved the pay increase.
Blount County Circuit Court Clerk Cindy Massey was present at the meeting. She had made arrangements to attend prior to learning she was unopposed in the upcoming election. Even so, Massey said she felt it was important to honor her commitment and thanked the citizens of Cleveland for their support.
Present at the meeting were Mayor Jones and Councilmen Puckett, Hill, Swindle and Shery White. Councilman James Bynum did not attend. The council regularly meets the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at the town hall.