Wanta Be Mayor? City Election Qualifying Aug. 19-21

July 10, 2019

This is an off-year for national and county elections, which means it's an on-year for mayoral and city races. In Trenton's case, that means three seats on the city commission are coming up for grabs--the mayor's slot currently occupied by Alex Case and those of Streets Commissioner Monda Wooten and Fire/Utilities Commissioner Jerry Henegar (depicted at left and below, in that order). If you're hankering to participate in democracy at the municipal level, please make sure to fill out qualifying papers by the Aug. 21 deadline at City Hall.


At its regular July meeting on Monday, the Trenton City

Commission set August 19, 20 and 21 as qualifying dates for the election, which is on Nov. 5. Qualifying fees, which represent 3 percent of base pay for the elected offices, are $216 for the mayoral job and $108 for the commission seat.


Commissioner Wooten says she'll run again and that she understands Mayor Case intends to as well, though neither of them has announced yet formally; but Jerry Henegar has already announced he will not seek reelection so the field there is wide open.

To sit on the city commission, candidates must live within the city limits of Trenton. For more information, you may call City Hall at (706) 657-4167. 


In other business, the city commission amended its existing sign budget after hearing from Commissioner Jerry Henegar and Assistant Fire Chief Ansel Smith. Henegar explained that the current action came as a result of public protest after the city government belatedly began enforcing its longstanding sign ordinance. The city cracked down, said Henegar, after the Dade Public Library got its two big computerized  signs (below) installed on the historic courthouse lawn in the center of town, which the commission figured should allow for the dissemination of just about all the information the community needed to know. "You can put anything up there that you want to," said Henegar.


But the ordinance included a total ban of banner signs--such as had been used to announce swimming lessons or sports tryouts--and it wasn't long before citizens began protesting the ban. This amendment was meant to accommodate those citizens, said Henegar.


Ansel Smith went over the new rules: They allow for banners but specifies they must be no higher than four feet tall and no closer to the road than 10 feet. They must be made of durable materials rather than paper and must be printed, not handwritten. 


Parenthetically, library manager Marshana Sharp gave information about how to submit messages for the library's community signs: Go to chrl.org, click on Dade, then on Electronic Sign Request.


The city likewise amended its Trenton/Dade Comprehensive Plan to include broadband-ready language, in the interest of making itself eligibe for any broadband grants that might happen by. It also discussed the city's brush ordinance, to specify limitations on what it will and will not pick up brush-wise, but did not take action on it at the July 8 meeting. 


Other discussion-only topics included formalizing policy and coming up with a package for events at the city park. The city coordinates routinely with big civic events such as parades and the July 4 bash last week; but an independent music festival in June appeared to have caught municipal authorities by surprise and Mayor Case shared thoughts about ensuring for police and insurance coverage for such events going forward.


(Photo: Pluto's Advantage at the Valley Vibes music event in June)


Police Commissioner Kirk Forshee reported that the Trenton Police Department had collected $17,579.47 in June for a year-to-date total of $114,916.55. Forshee also reminded all that the PD is repeating the "Touch A Truck" event that was so popular with kids last year. This year's rendition will be on July 27--The Planet was unable to get a time but watch these pages--outside the new Dade Courts building. At this event, children are provided with interesting vehicles like Army Jeeps, fire trucks and cop cars they are usually allowed to observe only in passing at high rates of speed, or on television.


Fire and Utilities Commissioner Henegar talked about raising per-call pay of Trenton firefighters for emergencies and reported at some length on the Trenton sewer situation: The city will have to find somewhere else to haul sludge from the sewer because its current landfill is shutting down, he said.


Mayor Case spoke grimly of beginning the city's budget process in the face of emerging information about the tax digest. "Even though there was growth, there was a larger growth in exemptions," he said. 


Eloise Gass and her new and energetic gardening henchwoman, environmentalist Jennifer Blair (left), appeared for Tree City. Mayor Case told Ms. Blair he would have Ansel Smith sit down with her and discuss changes to city ordinances in line with her requests to make the city tree-shadier and less prone to stormwater runoff. He sees it happening in other towns and: "It makes a lot of sense," said the mayor.


"If we can’t get anything changed in the parking lots now, we can change things in the future,” added Commissioner Henegar.


Dade Public Library manager Marshana Sharp had a lot of library events to announce this month: This Friday, July 12, at 8:30 p.m. the library will host a moon-gazing party on the town square. The library will keep the telescopes after the party and will check

them out to patrons.


On July 16 from 1:30-3 p.m. the library will host a rocket launch outdoors. Then there will be a free cooking-for-diabetics class at the library on Tuesdays, 5:30-7 p.m., July 16, 23 and 30. And in August the library will do a multi-day job fair. Businesses are pushing for it, said Ms. Sharp--they’re having trouble finding people who want to work. For information on any of these programs, readers may call the library at (706) 657-7857.


Dade Industrial Development Authority executive director William Back announced that the 330 or so acres of the old Dave L. Brown estate that have been on sale in Wildwood have now been sold to Chattanooga developer John Wise. He speculated that Wise might intend to use the tract for a high-end residential development. That will doubtless please Wildwood residents who have pled with the county commission to help them keep a chicken processing plant from moving into the slot.


The Trenton City Commission meets at 6 p.m. the second Monday of the month. Its next regularly scheduled meeting  will be on Aug. 12.

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