Convention center gains support as Union City Council backs project
By: Donna Ryder Messenger Associate Editor
By DONNA RYDER
Messenger Associate Editor
Union City is getting a convention center.
Members of the Union City Council voted Tuesday to fully fund the center, along with a full-time employee to run and promote it. A dollar amount was not discussed at the meeting.
Robert Kirkand, who is funding a majority of the construction of Discovery Park of America in Union City, appeared before the council Tuesday evening asking that the city fund a building capable of seating 800 to 1,000 people for dinner. He informed members the first vision session was held on Tuesday and in order for a convention center to be included in the architectural plans for Discovery Park, he needed a commitment.
Kirkland said the largest facility now available for a sit-down dinner in Union City will only hold 250 people.
“We’ve missed some conventions here because there’s not enough seats,” he said.
Though expected to seat 1,000 people, the convention center will be able to be divided into smaller areas. It would also include a storage room for tables and chairs and a fully-functioning kitchen.
Before the vote, Mayor Terry Hailey said, “I don’t think there’s a question about if we want to do it.”
Councilman Bill “Rat” Harrison added that Union City asks others to “come to the city and make a commitment. I think we should do the same.”
After the vote, Hailey said, “We’re in.”
Kirkland told the council a friend of his in New York has offered to give $50,000 toward Discovery Park and another person has called about locating a truck stop in the city.
He said Union City will be halfway between Canada and Mexico along I-69 and would be the perfect spot to locate a truck stop since truck drivers like to stop once.
“Things are happening,” he said, adding he has also had an offer for the donation of a log cabin.
In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by city attorney Jim Glasgow Jr., the council:
• Awarded a $16,781.37 bid to NICO Property Management in Dyer for the placement of an irrigation system at L.H. Ladd Field. It will be funded out of the turf management budget.
• Agreed to allow Tele-communications Consulting Associates to perform an audit on the cable television franchise fee. City manager Don Thornton said the company will go back six years and will receive half of any fees paid to the city as a result of the audit. He said Paris was owed $40,000 and Martin $60,000.
The cable company collects a 5 percent franchise fee for Union City and the audit will determine if the company is actually passing along the full amount to the city.
• Voted to have J.R. Wauford and Co. begin the engineering portion of Phase 2 on the infrastructure project on High, Exchange and Church streets. Two- and four-inch water lines will be replaced with six-inch lines and new fire hydrants will be installed. The engineering fees will be $79,500, with the total cost of the project expected to come in at $625,000.
• Was reminded of the unveiling of a World War II monument at the Obion County Courthouse on Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. A winner of the prestigious Medal of Honor has committed to participate in the ceremony.
• Proclaimed Oct. 25 to be Jim Cawley Day in Union City. Hailey said a special event to recognize Cawley for his contributions to the community is set for that day.
• Discussed property in Union City which needs mowing or a house repaired or cleared from the lot, among them was the ditch in front of McDonalds, Catfish Galley and Super 8 Motel, as well as Old Troy Road.
• Learned that Barbara Horner with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office said officials there are trying to help the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Tennessee fund repairs at the former Central School building. The mayor said she said it would be better if the club could buy the building instead of lease it.
Glasgow said Clint Joiner is to meet with him to discuss their options.
• Clarified that the agreement to extend Home and Nelson streets does not include opening that area up to connect to Highway 45. Thornton said the road to be built to Highway 45 will not go all the way to Home Street.
• Was asked to check with Atmos Energy why natural gas bills have increased in the Union City area and not in other cities serviced by the company. Hailey said he received a call from a man out of the area who also owns property here. Both homes are serviced by Atmos, but his bill from the Union City home increased.
The council suggested that officials from Atmos be invited to a meeting.
• Granted permission to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and its Ladies Auxiliary to place a banner across Reelfoot Avenue promoting a Veterans Day parade to be held on Nov. 10.
• Heard from Rodney Phillips who asked that the council continue to help clean up Union City and try to get owners of rental property to do the same. He also suggested that the city may wish to invest in an ambulance or two instead of depending on a private ambulance service.
Harrison said he wished more people would come before the council and make their opinions known.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Published in The Messenger 10.17.07