Council passes measures to include bridge replacements and open burning ban

Published 9:03 am Monday, October 14, 2019

The Elizabethton City Council convened Thursday night and worked through a packed agenda that included giving recognition to employees of the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant who received an operational excellence award, approving special events, appointing members in the newly created Veteran’s Oversight Committee, approving agreements with engineering firms for the replacement of two city bridges and adopting an open burning ban.

City employees of the wastewater plant were recognized by Mayor Curt Alexander and council members for helping clinch an 11th annual win of the KY/TN Water Environment Association’s Operational Excellence Award for 2018.

The award is given to facilities that receive less than one violation of their pollutant permits. Elizabethton’s facility had no violations for 2018.

The council next combined and unanimously approved several exciting special events planned by the Parks and Recreation Department.

On November 11, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., roads will be closed on Armed Forces Drive for a Veteran’s Day Ceremony.

The city will hold a Christmas Parade on December 7 beginning at 4 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., and the annual lighting of the Fraser Fir on November 12 starting at 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Alexander appointed Mike Barnett, Rick Walters, Andrew Wetzel, Tom Hitchcock and Bill Clark to serve terms on the previously created Veteran’s Oversight Committee.

The council next turned to two bridges in the city that need replacement. The bridges are on Southside Road that crosses over Gap Creek and the Milligan area Reeser Road bridge.

Councilman Mike Simerly expressed concern about the issues that area motorists would encounter by the closure of bridges because of usual long turnaround time for construction of new bridges.

City Street and Sanitation Director Danny Hilbert reassured council members that both bridges fall under TDOT’s IMPROVE Act of 2017 and the High Priority Bridge Replacement Program. Hilbert said that the city would have to front the bill on both bridges, but all monies would be refunded by the state.

The construction would be completed at a much faster time than the usual time of three to six years it takes to complete such projects.

Hilbert also advised the council that a TDOT inspector closed the Southside bridge on Monday over safety concerns.

The Reeser Road bridge will remain open until the new one is built because it is the only way into an adjoining neighborhood.

The council next voted unanimously to ban open burning and change a city code that allowed the residents to use the fire department to become involved in squabbles.

Elizabethton Fire Marshal Andy Hardin explained the problem with the previous codes is that if the smoke was deemed “objectionable” the fire department was obligated to put it out. The council moved on to this issue because there is no finite way to determine what smoke is objectionable. In the future, neighbors would have to pursue such complaints in civil courts.

Recreational burning such as small contained pits and commercial burning are still allowed.