Snead still struggles with defeated candidate issues

Reading from an attorney’s general opinion, Snead Mayor Tim Kent refuted claims made by his defeated run-off opponent. At the previous council meeting, Jane Childers had questioned the legality of Kent’s serving as both a sheriff’s deputy and mayor. She had noted the state constitution forbids an individual from holding more than one office of profit.

The opinion holds that mayors do hold offices of profit. It contends, however, that a deputy sheriff’s position is not an office of profit. A copy of the faxed letter refers to previous opinions offered in 1980 and 1984 to cite its conclusion.

Childers, who had evidently seen the opinion before the meeting, responded to the tardiness of the decision. She suggested the 1988 opinion was in error. [Attorney general opinions are not considered legally final but are routinely used to settle questioned matters unless or until courts rule otherwise.]

Kent held that there are more recent opinions underscoring the opinion dated Aug. 11, 1988. He offered to obtain copies of later substantiations, but Childers said she would research the matter on her own.

Childers had also questioned at the earlier meeting the legality of creating a position and filling it without advertising the job first. The council had voted to employ former mayor Curt Painter in a part-time maintenance job. After Childers questioned that action, the council accepted councilor Phillip McHan’s motion to advertise the position for two weeks. In an after-meeting inquiry from The Blount Count- ian, town clerk Rae Ware explained she had not been instructed to advertise that job. McHan indicated he understood his motion had required the advertisement.

Fire department

Councilors voted to seek sealed bids for a new frontline fire truck. The existing truck will soon pass the 20-year age limit set by ISO raters. Fire chief Lee Netherton, who anticipates a new truck will cost around $250,000, speculated that prices will rise with the new year. Councilor Jack Freeman disagreed with Netherton’s assessment, conjecturing that steel prices will fall with the existing economic downturn.

Councilors questioned Netherton about the town’s ISO rating and efforts to obtain a grant for the truck purchase. Netherton indicated the town had not been awarded a grant in the first announcement but had also not been rejected. Ware advised the council that the town has budgeted for the truck, should the grant fall through.

Council members tabled Netherton’s request for $210 each in new equipment for his firefighters. They did agree to purchase new gloves and hoods for a total of $653.70, $1624 in new tires, and over $2000 in transmission replacement and work on the department’s Bronco.

Netherton and other firefighters joked over the police department’s loss in the recent interdepartmental flag football fundraiser. That event raised almost $240 for use by the departments and provided opportunities for additional camaraderie among town employees and residents, according to both department chiefs.

Police department

The council approved the purchase of four car unlock kits at nearly $240. Police chief Chuck McBrayer explained that his officers will use their own discretion to determine when to offer use of the kits and when to refer people to locksmiths. He noted one incident of a child’s having been locked in a vehicle and needing quick extrication as an example of when the device would be used. Councilors endorsed McBrayer’s plan to require a signed liability release before officers would use the kit.

Members approved McBrayer’s request to raise the pay of A. J. Blevin, his newest officer, to $10 an hour. Blevin has now completed his official training. They ignored the chief’s request to increase his part-time administrative clerk’s pay to the same amount.

McBrayer reported the police will collect money, toys, and other items for needy children for Christmas.

He also questioned why he and other officers must have another background check.

Kent explained that new councils must reappoint all officers. He said that the council had decided it wanted to have new background checks with the reappointments. Utilities department

Utilities director Jeff Whited announced completion of the Mt. Carmel Road water extension. He said telemetry on the town’s bluff tank failed over the past weekend and that many lost water. He promised correction of that.

Other matters

Chamber of commerce representative LaShone Price explained the town had waited too late to prepare a float for the annual Christmas parade. He also asked for and received a $100 town donation to the local Hope

House food bank.

The council reappointed Whited its safety officer, voted to adjust names on its surplus property use list, and approved initial $350 funding to begin the park and recreation department’s turkey shoot fundraisers.

Freeman reported on work at the new senior citizens center and his inspection of the police building. He urged the council to make several repairs to and further inspect the latter.

All councilors (Kent, McHan, Freeman, James Campbell, Trudy Campbell, and Charles Sanders) along with a score or more employees and interested residents attended the Nov. 24 session. Members met an hour before the regular meeting for a work session. The council holds its regular meetings the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the town senior citizens building.