July 29, 2005

How long has it been since we have experienced an electrical storm and flash flood like we had last Thursday night/Friday morning? That was the topic of conversation everywhere I went Friday morning, ranging from having coffee at Hardees to talking with folks at the post office to discussing it with personnel at Boston Elementary School when I arrived at work.

I was called to look at one graveled street and it had a huge ditch washed out right in the center and making it almost impassable. Other streets and culverts experienced damage. A big tree was down on Fifth Street, power went out in some sections and the heavy rain that brought flash flooding so quickly, led to water entering at least one local business, several homes and even a vehicle. There were also reports of motion lights coming on all over town; door bells ringing, smoke detectors, burglar alarms and fire alarms sounding, etc.. (Our emergency alarms were set off at Boston Elementary and I lost unsaved data on my computer.)

Probably the worst damage that we received was the tremendous amount of muddy water that temporarily contaminated our city water supply. But things could certainly have been worse.

Someone at Hardees commenting on the tremendous volume of lightning, stated that it looked as if mother nature had decided to put on a gigantic fire works display. It truly was awesome and some of the roaring of thunder and cracks of lightning were enough to frighten just about anyone

(One wag humorously stated that if the storm had occurred following a few of our City Council meetings in past years, some might have thought it a result of those meetings. However Thursday night's monthly meeting for July proceeded very peacefully and members of Council are now working very well together with no fireworks. (In fact we were ready to adjourn at approximately 8:45 PM.) And as I have mentioned previously, our meetings now sometimes get downright boring to some. Discussing budget figures and other such items is not too exciting but it is extremely important to the business affairs of our town.)

Our local media cover our meetings very well and I usually do not discuss what takes place during meetings in detail in these notes. But it is significant that thanks to a lot of help on the part of City Recorder Linda Meadors, we were able to come up with a balanced budget with no increase in our property tax rate over last year. The approved budget also included a raise large enough for our city employees to "feel".. (Meadors rejected a raise in her personal salary).

As Councilman Jim Dobson who made the motion pointed out, we had not given city employees a raise in three years while the cost of health insurance, gasoline and many staples have continue to increase dramatically over that same three years period.

One of the topics of discussion at last Thursday night's meeting was that of skate boarding. That activity/sport is becoming more and more popular around here and the number of skateboarders has greatly increased over the past several months. It is good recreational and physical activity for our young people -although it seems a little risky to us old timers who thought roller skates with a key were really daring... (Remember the once popular song, "Ive Got A Brand New Pair of Roller Skates, You've Got a Brand New Key? If you do, don't admit it - especially in public where someone might hear you and quickly mentally compute your true age!)

A problem has developed here due to the fact that we have no place locally specifically designated for skateboarding as is being done in many towns and cities throughout the country. And it is dangerous to both the skateboarders and our citizens when they skateboard on our sidewalks and in Veterans Park and other areas where folks congregate.

We have been getting more and more complaints, and the complaints were very numerous in Veterans Park during our Fourth of July activities when some insisted upon skateboarding right through the crowd which could well have resulted in injuries. And I personally recently observed four skateboarders side by side coming down the sidewalk on North Main Street. A pedestrian saw them coming and moved completely off the sidewalk and onto the edge of the street..

And on another occasion, a vehicle came through our central traffic signal and then turned into the South Main entrance of Veterans Park. The driver narrowly avoided a collision with a skateboarder who suddenly came racing across the park directly in front of him.

We don't want to spoil young people's fun but we must prohibit skateboarding in such areas. In the meantime, the Council is in agreement that we need to work toward obtaining a suitable place where youngsters can skateboard and enjoy themselves in an area that is safe for both them and for our citizens. And it was reported to the Council and a group of young people in attendance with Steve Allen, Youth Director at the First Baptist Church, along with others, that Councilman Alvin Evans has been in contact with an office in Nashville that will prepare plans for a skateboarding facility that we may be able to construct utilizing city resources.

It sounds as if funds are finally going to be released with which to close the ditch on South Main Street located between Jellico Drug and Douglas Grocery/Family Drug. We had originally hoped to have completed that work long before now but we kept running into problems concerning the grant funds that were required.

Closing that ditch will solve several problems including the prevention of standing water that stagnates during periods of dry weather; elimination of a breeding area for mosquitoes and other insects and stopping the discarding of litter and rubbish into the trench.

The old Spellman Ford building was discussed during our Council meeting and Charles Allen who was present in the audience, reported that he had seen workmen looking over that property that very day and it was in the process of being torn down the next day. Boarded up, it had become somewhat of an eye sore and it had been used in the past for some undesirable purposes.

In my lifetime on that property I have seen an ice cream parlor, a radio repair shop, a skating rink, a car dealership and possibly other uses. (I remember my dad taking my sisters and I to that ice cream parlor with all three of us crammed into the cab of his coal truck right after church and Sunday school - and boy was it hard to keep our minds on what the preacher was saying knowing that we would be stopping there. But mother was never too happy about it because she said that it spoiled our Sunday dinner.)

But there is always something sad about seeing an existing building taken down and I will never forget my shocked reaction when I came into town from work one day and saw the old city hall lying in piles of rubble - just as we had received grant funds with which to restore it as a historical building for housing a visitors' center. A lot of folks do not realize that a good section of our downtown has been designated as a national historic district. And one of the reasons that we were granted that status was the existence of our old City Hall.. Tragic it was then destroyed!

Seeing the work being done by the Bucks on their buildings is in my personal opinion, the right approach to be taken. We need to restore and save as many of our historic buildings as possible. Here's hoping that John Baird determines that the old Coca-Cola building can be saved. We all realize that sometimes structures are allowed to deteriorate beyond the point of no return and that may well be the situation with that building. But I would sure love to see that building standing out once again with its white paint and red lettering proclaiming Coca-Cola! (Wonder if the Coke Company would be willing to pay for such outstanding advertisement?)

I was informed in correspondence from the Tennessee Corrections Institute that a recent comprehensive inspection of our Jellico Police Department revealed that we meet all applicable minimum standards. That speaks well for our personnel and our facility. In fact Jellico was congratulated for "attaining this degree of professionalism in your organization".

I wrote last week that we are very hopeful that we can obtain nationally renowned guitar player Ray Cummins for our Fall Fest and the prospects are good that we can work that out. (A lady called me from Cincinnati who had just heard Cummins on a local television channel there and she stated that he is truly an extremely talented individual. Of course he would not have received so much national acclaim if that were not the case.) Along with some of our best local entertainers, our lineup of visiting performers for this year's Fest promises to be the best ever.

I wrote earlier about the optimism that I now have concerning our football program at Jellico High. The team is preparing to attend camp at Tennessee Tech prior to the season and members of the squad seem to exude new enthusiasm for the sport.. Due to our youth (both quarterbacks are sophomores), it will take time. But the coaches seem to be on the road to restoring Jellico football to a higher level of competitiveness. And we all need to get solidly behind them!

I have seen grass grow extremely fast in spring. And I have seen it grow fast in early summer - especially f we have abundant rainfall. But I have never seen it grow at the rate it has grown this mid-summer. It seems that mowing is just finished when it is time to start all over again.

Our grass has grown so fast that I have considered selling hay for a little extra income. Or better yet, purchasing a cow. (But then Jenny would probably expect me to milk her!)

Don't tell me that writing these notes and distributing them doesn't pay off! I had several to comment on my last article and what I wrote about my not having had a bite of blackberry cobbler this entire summer. Several told me where they had obtained their berries and described the cobblers and other treats that they have prepared.

But Charlotte Lindsay went one step further and called last Friday morning to inform me that she had made blackberry cobbler, had brought it to the Union Bank and that I was welcome to come by and have some. I would have left school for the bank at that very moment except that I was expecting one of my bosses to possibly come by the school to meet with me.

But when lunch time finally did arrive, I was on my way to the bank and believe you me, it was worth the trip. Charlotte even had ice cream to go with the cobbler! And she and Helen Ruth Sharp topped that off by serving me with some peach cobbler. Have mercy! Then she informed me that she brought me some blackberries to take home with me for another cobbler as well.

With my great luck with that article, I think next time I may write about apples grown and gathered locally, fried and spread over hot biscuits for breakfast. Or possibly homemade apple butter with biscuits, eggs, country sausage loaded with sage, fried taters, and fresh sliced red ripe tomatoes? Whew! (Come to think about it, green tomatoes rolled in meal and fried to a golden brown aren't bad either!) But mind you Charlotte, I'm not hinting! But if some of you other ladies should decide……………………..

JOHN CLIFTON, Mayor, City of Jellico

E-mail me at: mayor@jellico.tn.us

Go back to the Mayor's Page .

Visit the Archives of the Mayor's Column .

Visit the City of Jellico's Web Site at: www.jellico.tn.us