Eddie Cantrell updates the Trenton City Commission about water board doings at its May 13 meeting.
At its regular May meeting Monday night, the Trenton City Commission formalized its arrangement with local clergyman Eddie Cantrell, a current member of the old governing board for the Dade Water Authority who has been mentioned as the obvious candidate to represent the city on the new board. The water board has just been reshuffled in order to, among other goals, give Trenton a presence on the body.
Cantrell has sat on the water board since 2010, the last time it was reconfigured, as a representative for the south part of the county. But he lives in the city, his church is downtown, and he is generally present for at least part of city commission meetings, where in his pastoral capacity he is often called upon to give the convocation. As such, he has lately gotten in the habit of providing the commission updates on the doings of the water board, which interest the city particularly insofar as the city operates the local sewer system, while the water board tends to be the entity that elects to expand sewer coverage, occasionally to the city's surprise and distress.
Cantrell told Mayor Alex Case and the city commissioners that he’d love to stay on--“I know a reasonable bit about what we’re doing” but wouldn’t be offended if the city chose someone else as its voice on the water board. He said the water company now has a new manager—Jeff Pendergrass, hired to replace retiring manager Doug Anderton, started work May 1—as well as a new board structure. “I hope you will see a difference,” he said.
Fire/Utility Commissioner Jerry Henegar suggested putting the Trenton representative’s duties and responsibilities into writing, but Mayor Case waved his concerns aside. “I think open communication is what we want,” said Case. He said a joint resolution shortly to be issued by city and county would take care of the particulars of board members’ responsibilities to those they represent.
Cantrell was approved as the city’s water board representative without dissent. Hardware maven Darrell Pardue was mentioned as a possibility to represent the south end of the county in Cantrell’s place. The water board meets at 8 a.m. Friday for the first time since legislation was approved reforming it.
Meanwhile, Cantrell--“Not trying to suck up or anything,” he quipped--reported to the commission on what the water board was up to: Water company employees in the city had repaired two hydrants, and a contractor had been hired to repair seven more throughout the county, looking first at one in front of Gross Furniture just north of downtown.
[As some may have noticed, repairs of that long-out hydrant complicated life for a small portion of downtown Trenton on Tuesday. Manager Doug Anderton told The Planet that when workers began repairing the hydrant, the seal first sprang open and then slammed shut, putting extra pressure on the main and ultimately causing the outages experienced by residents. The outages have ended now—“They worked all day and all night,” said Anderton—and the derelict hydrant is at long last fixed.]
Speaking of hydrants, both Cantrell and Assistant Trenton Fire Chief/Building Inspector Ansel Smith said that a representative or representatives of ISO will meet with the volunteer fire departments at the June “chiefs’ meeting” about how to improve their ratings. “ISO” stands for “Insurance Services Office,” a generic sort of name but ISO rating is the industry standard in the fire insurance field. Improving an area’s ISO rating can dramatically lower residents’ homeowners insurance premiums. The city and county governments have been invited to attend the ISO meeting and as such public announcement must be made—and the meeting opened to the public. So for anyone interested, the meeting is at 6 p.m. June 3 in the Dade Administrative Building.
New Trenton Police Commissioner Kirk Forshee requested SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) funds for new radios for the city police department. He made the request and then Mayor Case, who in his day job as emergency services manager for the county had recently made a similar request for the same radios for his department, took over explaining: The force needs the new radios because they are encryptable; as it stands, he said, perps can listen in on police radios and figure out when the cops are on the way. The commission without dissent okayed $56,195 for 12 portable and eight mobile radios.
“What will we do with the ones we have currently?” asked Streets Commissioner Monda Wooten. Surplus and sell them, said the mayor, or give them to the fire departments.
The city commission also gave its blessing to the hiring of a full-time animal control/parks and recreation employee, opting to give the slot to a current employee who had been working part-time.
Ansel Smith (above) presented recommendations on changing the city’s zoning rules to accommodate the new trend of tiny homes. After some discussion, the commissioners decided to set 800 square feet as the minimum area for tiny homes in its R1, or single-family-home, zones, and 500 for its R2, or multiple-family-dwelling areas.
Smith also talked about the need to enforce the city’s current rules on signage: City hall has had a lot of calls about signs around town, it emerged. Big banners for sports or swimming lesson signups in front of the Ingle’s had to be stopped, discussed the commissioner, because letting civic groups get away with it would open the door for the gas stations to do the same. Instead, agreed the commission, signups and other community events can be announced via the electronic signs the library has put up on two sides of the historic Dade Courthouse.
[For information on getting your message onto those signs, the library can be reached at (706) 657-
Other existing regulations mentioned by Smith were that business signs are not to exceed 13 percent of the business’s façade, and that only one standard informational sign is allowed per establishment (except in election season, he added, at which time no holds are apparently barred) and that signs must be positioned five feet from the curb.
“I think the majority of people will be thrilled with this,” said Commissioner Wooten. She didn’t hear anybody expressing a desire for more signs in town, she noted.
Smith also pointed out that the city’s rules forbid any signs advertising alcohol sales or listing how much beverages cost.
Package sales referendum this year?
But speaking of alcohol sales, Mayor Case said store owner Jay Patel had hired local law firm Harriss and Hartman to represent him in his push to get a referendum on hard liquor package sales on the ballot for the mayoral election this very year. Case said that in order to accomplish that, Patel must induce 35 percent of the city’s registered voters, based on the 2017 election numbers, to sign a petition asking for the referendum. City Clerk Russanna Jenkins said that amounted to somewhere around 700 or so.
In other business, the commission approved putting an old Suburban on its surplus list to be auctioned off and agreed to issue city credit cards to everyone who used them rather than passing one back and forth.
In departmental reports, Police Commissioner Forshee reported police fines of $18,793.75 for April and $82,326.33 year to date.
Commissioner Henegar reported the sewer department had been struggling to make repairs caused by shoddy workmanship on the front end. “These lines weren’t put in correctly back then and it’s causing us problems right now,” he said. He said the department was overworked but workers were supporting each other well in a team effort.
Streets Department Commissioner Wooten said the new lights at Trenton’s interstate exit were right on schedule.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell said the city had more than doubled the number of electrical plug-ins available for vendors for Dade's planned July 4 festival. He said the Trenton Civics Center had been rented 18 hours las month and that the city swimming pool would open for the season May 25. It will then be open seven days a week—noon-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday--until the day before school starts back in August. Pool parties have already begun being scheduled and: “You need to book early,” he said. The YMCA will give swimming lessons at the pool this summer for $80 per session. Family passes are available for the pool. For more information, the pool’s number is (706) 657- 7433, or you can always reach City Hall at (706) 657-4167. Powell also added the city is still looking for a lifeguard. It’s a good part-time job, he said. You must be certified—if interested, apply at City Hall.
Volunteers needed Tuesday and Wednesday
Mayor Case said a grant-funded bank stabilization project on Town Creek project is starting next week, and he’s looking for volunteers for Tuesday and Wednesday. Plants, a silt fence and gravel must be installed, and a wetland area will be established in the area behind Ingle’s and Pizza Hut. If interested, call City Hall or show up.
Eloise Gass of Tree City said the group had planted three trees for Arbor Day and had been busily cleaning out flowerbeds this spring. She and her able henchwoman, Jennifer Blair (right), as well as Dade Public Library manager Marshana Sharp, reminded all of next week’s free Lupi’s Pizza dinner and movie on composting at the library. That’s at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21. Everyone is welcome, but call the library (657-7857) to say you’re coming to make sure there’s enough pizza to go around. Ms. Blair, dubbed Tree Hugger by the county commission, added that she’d had almost 100 percent positive reaction to a petition she’s been circulating asking big stores in town to add trees to their parking lots.
Library manager Sharp (left) reminded all of the free vegan cooking classes at the library at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays through May. Also, she said, don’t forget the Dade Historical Society’s Brock Cemetery Walk this Saturday, May 18—see the front of The Planet for details—and there will also be a job fair May 30 in front of the library. The Georgia Department of Labor will have its bus available in Veterans Square from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 30 to help anybody who needs help with resumes or job applications. No appointment is required.
The Trenton City Commission meets at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at City Hall. The next meeting is scheduled for June 10.