Snead votes $63,000 for Lee Ridge road work, hears from other providers

At its Aug. 14 meeting, the Snead Town Council appeared to end discussion over its lingering conflict involving Lee Ridge Drive. Members voted to cover the estimated $5,000 county foundational base work and the $58,000 paving costs.

Councilman Greg Ogles had first made that proposal and eventual motion, noting confusion on the part of several of the drive residents as to their responsibilities. Resident Ben Osborne, who has at times spoken for the drive residents, began the evening’s discussion, noting that absent Mayor La’Shone Price had asked him to get some people to attend the meeting and relate their story. Osborne and Ogles generally agreed on their understanding of events over the past eleven or so months.

Their narrative held that District 2 Commissioner Mike Painter had offered to perform the road base work and prepare the road to standards acceptable to the Snead town engineer. The Lee Ridge residents would contribute money to cover the $5,000 Painter estimated the project would cost. Once the town engineer approved the base work, town officials would accept the road as town property and pay for its paving.

That story changed, according to town clerk Rae Ware, after Painter learned he could not work on private property. According to cumulative accounts, Painter had then suggested the town accept the road, cover the foundational costs, and the residents reimburse the town the $5,000. Ware asserted that everyone knows that $5,000 will not cover the county’s promised work.

Some noted that not all residents on the road appeared willing to share that cost. One offered that he saw the proposal as “ludicrous,” when he anticipates perhaps 70 percent of the residents would not contribute. With that background, Ogles questioned what was another $5,000 to the town on its already anticipated $58,000 paving bill? He suggested the resolution.

Despite Ogles’s support for the work, he added strongly the caveat that the residents should bear in mind the town had no legal responsibility to do as they have agreed. Several residents acknowledged Ogles’s position and expressed their appreciation for the town’s decision. Contacted the next day by The Blount Countian, Painter echoed Ogles’s comments that he as the commissioner also had no responsibility for the road work. He explained that he felt sorry for the residents who had evidently been misled by Terry Stover, the subdivision developer. Painter urged that would-be buyers verify road ownership before purchasing property in the county.

Painter disagreed with the above account, contending that he never entertained the $5,000 payment from residents. He said he knows he cannot contract with individuals. The commissioner holds that he sought to mediate the controversy and had suggested that residents donate the estimated $5,000 expense to the town.

When questioned by councilors, town attorney Brett King indicated he had told Price that the legal agreement upon which he had worked was ready. He provided his assent, noting the limited time period available for work before winter sets in. King had noted that he did not have signatures of all the landowners in the subdivision.

Asked of right-of-way stipulations included in the agreement King had prepared, Painter said he felt there was no need for any further document to that effect. He noted he has Stover’s original deed conveyance and that it provides for the 60-foot right-of-way with utility easements. Additional contractual concerns

Altoona Mayor and A-Med ambulance part owner Rick Nash addressed the council prior to Osborne. He warned that should Snead endorse the proposed county 911 Ambulance Advisory Board contract, his ambulance service would no longer be legally able to answer any scanner calls in Blount County.

He asserted that A-Med has averaged an eight-minute response time to calls in the Snead area and expressed fear that any other provider will not match that record. With that, he added his concern that some individuals will lose their lives through delayed response time.

Mayor pro-tem Ann Sullins, acting in Price’s absence, expressed her appreciation to Nash for the service A-Med has provided the town over the years. Later in the meeting, town resident Jane Childers asked why Snead citizens cannot vote on whether or not the town should join the advisory board.

King reminded those present that under the present legal system, most decisions belong to representative bodies not through direct democratic processes. He urged those with concerns to express those to their council and mayor.

Advising further, King noted that he understood two ambulance suppliers had met the request for bid requirements and that one of the two had said it would locate a branch in the northern part of the county. He also contended that having competitive bidders is always a good thing.

Speaking for the Blount County Economic Development Council, executive director Don Mitchell reviewed his council’s activities and urged councilors to continue membership in the body. Later in the meeting, councilors did approve continued membership, a matter which had been tabled at their previous meeting.

In another previously stalemated matter, the councilors voted to donate $1,000 toward the Blount County 911 Board’s prior purchase of a drone. Members also approved the town’s continuing contract with M4A, which provides senior citizen meals and other services, its $1,000 donation to the county’s juvenile court, $250 donation to the Blount County Education Foundation, and renewed membership with the Birmingham Regional Planning Commission.

Members also voted $400 to cover part of the cost of a new fire department sign and its installation. They voted funds to cover painting the fire department building itself, as well.

Utilities department head Jeff Whited presented plans for a potential sewer upgrade dependent upon an 80/20 federal grant. Sullins asked if the city had funds to match the requested grant.

Ware advised that the utilities department can meet the required match. She noted that water revenues have increased substantially with the new radio-read meters.

Ware and Whited explained that old meters tend to slow down and misread water usage over time. Whited noted that manufacturers recommend replacing the older type meters every five years. Many of those in Snead, he reported, were 10 or more years old.

Police Chief Alan Hicks reported the loss of a cruiser damaged in a chase the prior week. Councilors discussed the need to replace that vehicle and whether or not its loss would lead to increased insurance rates.

Considering that need in looking toward the upcoming budget, Ware asked that departments begin examining their needs for the 2018 year. That budget should be approved prior to the Oct. 1 beginning of the fiscal year.

Councilmen Tim Kent, Phillip McHan, and Dale Snead joined Ogles and Sullins for the meeting. The council normally meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. Councilors did not hold their prior scheduled July 24 session.