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Take cover: UC council approves construction of safe room in city

Take cover: UC council approves construction of safe room in city
By DONNA RYDER
Associate Editor
There has never been an approved safe room in Obion County for residents to retreat to in the case of tornadoes. That will soon change.
Union City council members approved a resolution Tuesday night in support of the construction and maintenance of a safe room in Union City. It is to be built on currently owned city property located between Fire Station 2 and Union City Elementary School.
City manager Kathy Dillon said the safe room will be funded with a 100 percent grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It was offered to this area because of the number of severe weather storms which have occurred here in recent years.
Ms. Dillon said the grant was originally supposed to be a matching grant, but because only eight or 10 communities applied, the grant is now a 100 percent grant and Union City will only have to pay maintenance on the building. This should be “minimal upkeep,” she added.
The safe room will be for general public use and will hold 150 people, she said.
The number of people concerned Mayor Terry Hailey and other council members.
“If things get bad, will you have trouble getting everyone in,” Hailey asked, adding Paris built one in a school that accommodates everyone in the school.
Ms. Dillon said one of the stipulations was that it be built in a residential area. She said they looked at city property and decided on the land beside the fire station because of its proximity to the nursing homes and residential homes there.
“Who controls who gets in there,” Hailey asked.
Ms. Dillon responded, “Whoever is on duty that night.”
She added people are already coming to City Hall and to the schools when the city experiences severe weather and she doesn’t think anyone will be counting heads.
When asked, city attorney Jim Glasgow Jr. said he did not think it would be a liability problem for the city.
“I’d hate to throw away the first of what could be five (safe rooms),” Ms. Dillon told the council, adding it is because of the storms the city has had that it was looked at for the grant.
In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by Glasgow, the council:
• Purchased a two-ton pickup truck for public works from Tri-State International for $66,365. This is the state price, according to Public Works Director Steve Ladd.
He said the truck will be used for such tasks as hauling rock and dirt. It can also be used when the other department vehicle is down.
It is a budgeted item.
• Approved the Debt Policy, which establishes a set of parameters by which debt obligations will be undertaken by the city. This policy reinforces the commitment of the city and its officials to manage the financial affairs of the city so as to minimize risk, avoid conflicts of interest and ensure transparency while still meeting the capital needs of the city.
• Approved the Financial Control Policy, which is a policy to safeguard funds and to provide clear instructions to city officers and employees as to how such funds should be processed and recorded.
• Approved a Credit Card Policy. Currently the city has only one credit card, which is in the name of the city recorder. She makes the purchases and the bill is paid by another employee. The check must be signed by two other employees. Therefore, any credit card purchase goes through four city employees in order for payment to be made, Ms. Dillon said.
• Agreed to purchase tires for police vehicles on an as-needed basis instead of getting a contract bid. Police Chief Joe Garner said the prices are all over the board because of the different brands and the bids are only good for six months because the prices change based on oil prices.
He said the department will start using the spare tires in each vehicle as replacement tires and will run the tires as long as they possibly can. Despite a suggestion from councilman Billy Jack “B.J.” Cranford that the tires could be run “slick,” Garner said he will not run them slick because of the liability issue.
“We will run them as long as we can, but we will not run them bald,” the chief said.
When asked about public works tires, Ladd said his department must meet Tennessee Department of Transportation standards and he works with three different businesses to get the tires at the best price.
• Learned the city will start prosecuting people who turn on their water after it’s been shut off for non-payment. (See related story, Page 1.)
• Learned the leaf machines should start running Monday.
Councilman Johnny Bacon was absent.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by email at dryder@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 11.2.11

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