Burn, Baby, Burn: Trenton City Commission Asks Citizens' Help in EPD Brush Crisis

Trenton City Commissioners Sandra Gray, Terry Powell and Monda Wooten. (Commissioner Jerry Henegar was absent from the June 12 meeting.)

The big news from the Trenton City Commission’s Monday night meeting: Commissioners want citizens to know is that, going forward, the city will pick up brush only once a week.

“I know it’s causing a problem,” said Streets Commissioner Monda Wooten. “I’m hoping we can come up with something different.”

Like Dade County, Trenton was blindsided by the state’s sudden crackdown on brush-burning policies, which has shut down routine maintenance operations at both governments. Mayor Alex Case encouraged city residents to burn their own brush--private burning is still OK--first obtaining a burn permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission. Citizens may obtain a permit by calling GFC at (706) 657-4211, or going online togfc.state.ga.us.

Commissioner Wooten and the mayor explained that to comply with rules from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, the city now has to take its chipper to each individual yard and chip homeowners’ brush onsite. Case said the city and county commissions are checking into commercial operations to chip large amounts of brush all at once, and are also exploring uses for the resulting mulch, which Case reminded would be composed of all sorts of materials from all sorts of areas. “Both commissions are going to work on a solution,” he said.

In the meantime, Commissioner Wooten asked that citizens not try to make their refuse “chipper-ready” as the Trenton chipper had had problems processing wood a homeowner had thoughtfully pre-cut for the city into smaller pieces.

And both the mayor and Fire Chief Jerry Kyzer reminded citizens who burn their brush to be careful. “We need to stress to everyone they do need to call,” said Kyzer, referring to calling for GFC burn permits. Case added that conditions are still dry from last year’s drought. Both advised citizens they can have a small “warming” fire, or what Kyzer called a “hot dog fire”--one for outdoor cooking--without a permit, but when in doubt, get a permit.

As the county did on June 1, the city gave its blessings to a referendum on a proposed TSPLOST--special purpose local option sales tax to be used for transportation projects--to go before voters this November. “We’d be crazy not to do it if they’re going to ask for it,” said Commissioner Wooten.

Mayor Case also spoke for the new sales tax, reminding the commissioners that Dade had voted for a statewide TSPLOST in 2012, when it was rejected by other voters in the region. Now state law allows counties to pass their own TSPLOSTs. “The other counties that are doing that are getting a tremendous amount of money,” said Case.

The Dade/Trenton TSPLOST is projected to bring in over $9 million over five years, said Case, which would go 75 percent to the county, 25 percent to the city. Case said the new money would relieve demands on the existing regular SPLOST for fixing the city’s roads and sidewalks. Cases in point are the sidewalks at the new courthouse, he said: They were laid before the paving was done and are too low in relation to the asphalt, causing drainage problems after rain and confusion among drivers who tend to cruise on over them. “That whole street’s got to be ground down,” he said.

The commission also voted in favor of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to combine the TSPLOST referendum with the city’s regular November elections and to hold the polling at the county Administrative Building as opposed to City Hall. City voters will at the same time vote on commission seats and a liquor-by-the drink referendum. The county voted on LBTD in 2016 but the city requires a separate mandate from its own residents. The mayor said the city and county are working on an IGA on how to share the cost.

Parenthetically, Lowanna Vaughn of the Dade County Board of Elections provided the additional information that county voters may vote on the TSPLOST referendum at their regular precinct as well as the Administrative Building on Election Day only; there will be early voting on the matter beginning in October but only at the Administrative Building.

The city also put its stamp of approval on an IGA with the county and the quasi-governmental body the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to fund a full-time economic development director who will be employed by the county but will work to coordinate economic development for all three entities. “This would also help us revitalize or DDA,” said the mayor, referring to the Downtown Development Authority. The DDA was formerly administered by Peter Cervelli, who is the IDA’s current executive director, the city’s former Better Hometown Manager, and the hands-down favorite to be awarded the new position, which will however be advertised.

Case said the city will kick in $15,000 to fund the new job, such funds deriving from Trenton’s hotel-motel tax.

Mayor Case in his monthly report said Highway 136 East was close to being complete in the state’s resurfacing operation though some areas still need striping. He said he believed Georgia’s next paving project was Highway 301.

After hearing from newly anointed Police Chief Christy Smith (right) on the need for them, the commission approved $6607.60 for two laptop computers and mounts to go into police cars. The computers cost $2455 apiece and require special mounts to be used in an automobile without shaking.

Chief Smith also asked and was granted permission to have the city’s K-9 vehicle outfitted to accommodate the city police dog, who will be handled by Officer Eric Hartline. Hartline has already been through K-9 training and will now take a refresher, said the chief. The dog will go home with Hartline, she said, who has a large, fenced back yard. “He’s going to be well taken care of,” she said.

Police Commissioner Sandra Gray gave monthly and year-to-date collected police fines and The Planet herewith duly passes them on: $18,159.56 for May and $99,072.28 for 2017 so far.

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell said the city pool and park are going strong this summer season. “Everyone was glad to see the improvements we made,” he said.

He said the pool was open noon-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-6 p.m. on Sundays. Call the city (706-657-4167) to reserve it for parties, which costs $50 an hour and is available every day but Wednesday or Sunday.

After a lengthy executive, or closed-door session, the commission returned to announce Bobby Williams will be hired to work full-time for the Streets Department. He must give notice at his current job so will come on later in the month. Also, the commissioners voted to remove the extended illness policy from the city’s personnel handbook as it has been superseded by one from the third-party insurance company.

As the Dade County Commission did at its June 1 meeting, the city commission formally adopted the Trenton/Dade Comprehensive 10-Year Plan update, which city and county officials and community volunteers had brainstormed for months to come up with in conjunction with the Northwest Georgia Regional Development Center. Mayor Case went over the high points of the plan including the two governments’ wish list regarding roads and sidewalks, and desires expressed by citizens for better jobs close to home and more apartment housing.

Streets Commissioner Wooten expressed her department’s need for a new all-terrain vehicle. “We need this more than we need a truck,” she said. The city approved a bid of $6500 for the ATV.

Speaking for the Dade County Library, manager Marshana Sharp invited all to come to the library on Thursday at 10:30 a.m., when the summer reading program will feature popular magician and puppeteer Timothy Johns. And she reminded that the library is dispensing free lunches for children from the school system’s nutrition program every day it is open, Tuesday-Friday, 11. a.m.-2 p.m., any leftoevers passed out on Saturday. Lunches are also served the same hours at Jenkins Park and Dade Elementary on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Trenton Tree City President Eloise Gass was not there to speak, but The Dlade Panet has this belated report for Arbor Day 2017, which was April 28:

Tree City planted a Japanese flowering cherry tree on that occasion to honor the aforementioned Ms. Sharpe for her years of brilliant service to the city and the larger community. A separate article follows to that effect.

Pictured here are Ms. Sharp (second from left) with Tree City members left to right, Jane Dixon , Joy Golden and Eloise Gass.

The Trenton City Commission meets at 6 p.m. the second Monday of each month at City Hall.

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