By Becky Jane Newbold, Managing Editor
City of Hohenwald officials called the May meeting to order at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at the fire hall on the corner of Linden Avenue and North Oak Street. Present were Council members Janet Turner, Ray Brewer, Kevin King and Vice Mayor Don Barber.
Approved was the official tabulation and certification of results of the May 2, 2019 Municipal Election with a motion by Councilman Brewer, seconded by Vice Mayor Barber. Results were unanimously accepted.
In Old Business, an ordinance to rezone property at 423 West Linden Avenue from an R-2 to a C-2 central business district was approved on second reading. A motion to approve was made by Vice Mayor Barber, seconded by Councilman Turner to precede a unanimous vote.
A recess was called by Mayor Danny McKnight followed by a motion by Councilman Brewer, seconded by Vice Mayor Barber.
The meeting was reconvened by Lewis County Judge Mike Hinson for a swearing in of newly elected officials.
“Without question, these four years have seen some of the best leadership in Hohenwald,” Judge Hinson remarked. “Pride has come back to Hohenwald,” he added.
Judge Hinson held a swearing in for each official beginning with Mayor McKnight, who was accompanied by his wife, Dolly.
Vice Mayor Barber was accompanied by his daughter Mary, step-daughter, Allie Hinson, and grandchildren, Ezra and Poppy.
Councilman Scottie Bass was accompanied by his wife, Rhonda; Councilman Kevin King, by his wife, Kim; and Councilman Cody Mitchell by his wife, Haley, and their son, Finn.
By resolution, Don Barber was confirmed as Vice Mayor for a four year term. Motion to confirm was made by Councilman Mitchell, seconded by Councilman King. Three votes were received in favor with Vice Mayor Barber abstaining.
Mayor McKnight was acknowledged as City Administrator with a motion by Vice Mayor Barber, seconded by Councilman King to precede a unanimous vote.
City Recorder Kyle Hamm was confirmed to retain his position with a motion by Vice Mayor Barber, seconded by Councilman Mitchell.
“The City Recorder works for the City Council, not the administrator or the mayor,” Barber noted for clarification.
The City Council unanimously authorized the purchase of two backhoes for the Water Department and Gas Department. A motion was made by Vice Mayor Barber, seconded by Councilman King.
“The purchase is coming from the 2018-19 budget,” Barber noted. The Caterpillar backhoes are to be purchased from a Statewide equipment website. Councilman Mitchell requested the backhoes have safety inspections done. Police Chief Sam Livingston acknowledged he would.
By unanimous vote, the council authorized the purchase of 27 street light poles and 27 LED light fixtures for Highway 412 East. The street lights are to be installed from the Hohenwald Animal Hospital to the golf course, City Recorder Hamm stated. Cost to the City will be approximately $70,250, the resolution read.
The 2019-20 budget was approved on first of three readings with a motion by Councilman Mitchell, seconded by Vice Mayor Barber.
Budget amendments in the amount of $427,000 were approved with a motion by Councilman Mitchell, seconded by Vice Mayor Barber. A breakdown of the amendment follows.
Included was $275,000 for police cars. Previously, the council voted to obtain a loan for the vehicles. Auditors advised the City purchase them outright with fund balance.
Amended was $95,000 for street expenditures, $15,000 for paving and $80,000 for lights, Hamm confirmed following the meeting.
Mowing at Swiss Cemetery was also part of the amendment at $2,000.
The City’s portion of an annual contribution to Memorial Park was included at $45,000.
Finally, $10,000 received by anonymous donations, was amended into the Economic & Community Development budget for Christmas in Hohenwald, “So work can proceed before July.”
Comments from Council members
Scottie Bass: “I am looking forward to helping move the City forward.” First order of business for Councilman Bass will be how to generate revenue to help with the City’s tax base. “I’m grateful to the voters and the City for their outpouring of support at the loss of my father.”
Cody Mitchell: “Really what I’m looking forward to is working more with the community. It’s what I’ve done it for. I didn’t do this for anything but for them.”
When asked how to get more community turnout to meetings, Councilman Mitchell commented, “A lot of time they don’t know where the meetings are or when the meetings are. I don’t want people to have to run to the courthouse door to check for a meeting announcement, because I’m not going to be able to do that either.”
Kevin King was elected after serving out an appointed term.
“They don’t give me the agenda or anybody else quick enough, like buying two backhoes,” Councilman King said. “I had to run out this morning and find out what’s the deal with the backhoes. I found it all out before I voted. We need the agenda long before 12 hours before the meetings. I’ve talked to Kyle about it and he’s working on it.”
“During the election, I had a lot of people asking me about changing this, and that. I cannot promise anything. There are four other people to work with. Before I make a call, I just tell people I’ll do the best I can.”