Romance, Resignation, Budget Figure at City Meeting



What light through yonder window breaks? It's Police Commissioner Sandra Gray o'erperching the walls of City Hall as she announces her nuptials--and resignation. Also pictured are, from left, City Clerk Lucretia Houts, Mayor Alex Case and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell.

With love's light wings is Police Commissioner Sandra Gray o'erperching the walls of City Hall. She announced at the September Trenton City Commission meeting on Monday her approaching nuptials--and hence her resignation--sending the police department into accolades of her service, the mayor and commissioners into paroxysms of congratulation, and The Planet into a frenzy of Shakespearean hyperbole of category-5 magnitude.

Why does Commissioner Gray have to quit? It's not that marriage is an honor a Trenton police commissioner may dream not of, explained the bride-to-be after the Sept. 10 meeting; it's just that serving on the city commission carries a requirement to live within the city limits, and that love's light wings are fixin' to waft Commissioner Gray atop Lookout Mountain. She will reside there at the home of her intended, whom she was pleased to identify as Harvey McKaig. (Though what's in a name?)


So under love's heavy burden does Sandra Gray's commission seat sink, after she'd occupied it some 20 to 24 years. (She's always hazy on the numbers because she sat one election out to let another candidate serve but he died in office, she was appointed to finish his term, and then she ran again when the term was up.) In any case, she was last reelected most recently just last November.

​​(Photo: “See how she leans her cheek upon her hand. O, that Harvey were a glove upon that hand That he might touch that cheek!” ― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet. More or less.)

Thus The Planet assumes the matrimonial decision was arrived at rather suddenly, or at least after the election. Commissioner Gray, though, maintains it was not a case of "no sooner met but they looked, no sooner looked but they loved"; but more one of "wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.” She and the bridegroom-elect have been an item for 19 years, she said, and both have adult children from previous marriages who do not oppose the match Montague-and-Capulet-style but think it's about time.

So despite The Planet's poetic excesses, it's a case not of love at first sight but at 6,442,331st, and a happy ending all around. The only star-crossed part of the whole romance is that it requires the commissioner to quit being, well, a commissioner, and about that the bride-to-be says she has no regrets. "He's worth it," she told The Planet. "He's very worth it." The Planet expects she is right and will not, in any case, to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.

Commissioner Gray will carry on her duties to the end of the month. An election cannot be called earlier than March 19 to replace her, said Trenton Mayor Alex Case. It is unclear when and if the city commission will appoint an interim fill-in but anybody interested in the job may contact the mayor or any of the commissioners. The telephone number for City Hall is (706) 657-4167.

The rest of the meeting was, on the downside, more routine and, on the upside, less likely to inflame The Planet's rampageous Shakespearean bent. Mayor Case and the commissioners briefly discussed preliminary numbers for their 2019 budget, Case intimating that the numbers look pretty good. "I'm very pleased with the revenues," he said, noting that SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) is up and that with the hotel-motel tax now increasing, so should go the percentage that goes into the city's general fund. "That's going to be another blessing," he said.

The city commission scheduled two budget workshops, one for the next night, Sept. 11, and another for next Tuesday, Sept. 18, both at 6 p.m.; and then a special called meeting to adopt the budget and a millage rate at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20. (It is


to be presumed that since no public hearings have been scheduled, the commission harbors no intent to raise the millage rate.) Otherwise, the commission's only financial transaction this month was to shift money around among its SPLOST project accounts to satisfy bookkeeping requirements.

In her monthly report, Streets Commissioner Monda Wooten said her department had filled in a bad ditch behind the Subway and patched an area downtown in front of The Dade Sentinel well enough that "it's not a liability." She also had a message for well-wishers who bought blue-and-black flags to line the streets in honor of Dade's wounded hero, Tommy Bradford. There had been so many she'd lost track of who bought what but: "If you bought a flag, come by the store and I'll be happy to give you your flag back." (Commissioner Wooten is the proprietress of the Discount Flooring Store on North Main Street.)


Parks and Recreation/Animal Control Commissioner Terry Powell thanked animal welfare activist Ann Brown as well as fellow dog lover Commissioner Wooten for helping the city find homes for dogs. Ms. Brown described how she had connected with the Fort Payne (Ala.) animal shelter and a no-kill facility in Wisconsin to transport and place three large adult dogs. "There's nowhere for big dogs to go," she said. "Everybody wants a puppy."

Trenton has only a small animal detention facility and Dade County none at all. "We've got to do something with that," said Mayor Case earlier in the meeting, a sentiment often heard at county commission meetings as well but never so far acted upon. Until it is, the city and county depend heavily on volunteers like Ann Brown and Monda Wooten.

Besides her matrimonial and amatory declarations, Police Commissioner Gray also announced that police fines for August had been $27,673.66 for a year-to-date total of $198,619.22. On the subject of traffic tickets, Mayor Case commended Georgia State Patrol troopers for having written 82 of them to people speeding through Trenton on the highways. People need to slow down, said Case, and anyway: "That revenue is very helpful for our taxpayers."

Police Chief Christy Smith reminded all that the Dade County High School Homecoming parade is Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., with lineup starting at 6 p.m.

In his own monthly report, Mayor Case addressed the need to expand broadband internet access in Trenton. Even within the city, he said, some schoolchildren are unable to complete their Google Classroom homework. He named as possible carriers within the city EPB, Comcast, Charter and Trenton Telephone Company. "It's got to be affordable for folks as well," said Case.

He said the county is finishing up its summer paving projects now and will shortly get to Trenton's trouble spot at the Highway 11/136 East intersection, where LaFayette, Pace and Killian streets need repaving.


Eloise Gass of Tree City toils at Jenkins Park to keep her gardens beautiful.

In appearances, President Eloise Gass reported that Tree City had cleaned up the flowerbeds at Jenkins Park in time for the Pickin' and Pork event there. Marshana Sharp, manager of the Dade Public Library, said the library's new LED signs are fully functional now and those wishing to make community announcements on them should go to chrl.org, choose the Dade Library, and fill out the online form there. She said Oct. 3 is Have Coffee With a Cop at the library from 10-11:30 a.m. on Oct. 3, then Have Cookies With a Cop for children at 3:30 p.m. the same day. Crazy 8s Math Club starts later this month--see The Planet's event calendar. She said the library had received an anonymous $1000 gift to improve its children's department.

Citizen Doyle Stone asked the mayor if the commission had considered his request last month to have property rezoned from R1 to R2. Mayor Case apologized for not having acted on the request. He explained later that two public meetings will have to be scheduled to let neighbors weigh in on the change. R1 designates areas where only single-family homes may be built; R2 allows for apartments or duplexes.

The Trenton City Commission meets at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. In October and November, though, the second Mondays are holidays and meetings will move to Tuesday. The next regular monthly meeting will be Oct. 9.


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