Mayor: Obion struggled in ’11; turnaround sought

Mayor: Obion struggled in ’11; turnaround sought
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
In a phrase, Obion Mayor Glen Parnell summed up 2011 with the statement, “It’s been a tough year.”
This is Parnell’s fourth term in office and it may be one of his busiest as the mayor of Obion.
“We’ve got less money to operate on and a lot more problems to deal with,” the mayor said about his current term in office.
Parnell said Obion’s water and sewer system is in bad shape and so are the streets in town. Those are two of the issues he and the current administration have had to deal with this year and will certainly have to deal with in 2012.
The mayor said Obion will have to rely on grants to help finance repairs to the town’s infrastructure. A meeting is scheduled for this week to begin work on applying for grants to help the town.
For a town of about 1,100, there’s been a lot going on in Obion this past year.
Spring storms, which included torrential rains and violent straightline winds, caused heavy damage across the south side of town. Those storms destroyed the town’s former City Hall and caused extensive damage to houses along Obion and Troy avenues.
Residents around the south side of Obion suffered greatly in the aftermath of the storms. There was a constant buzzing of chainsaws and the sounds of crackling branches that filled the air for several days as neighbors helped neighbors clear away trees and tree limbs that were knocked down by fierce overnight winds from late April into early May.
A disaster relief center was set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the Obion Community Center to help area residents apply for federal assistance. Obion was one of the hardest hit towns in the area, but the spring storms brought out the best in the town’s residents as they rebounded from the storm damage with a strong sense of community spirit.
Parnell said the town had to rely on its own resources to rebound from the storms since no federal funds were allocated by FEMA.
This past year, Randy Evans returned as the town’s public works director after having previously served in that position from 1981 to 2000. He was hired for the position after having worked at the Union City Goodyear plant until it closed in July. His return was accompanied by regular reports about the failing condition of the city’s water system and his recommendations on getting the system back in working order. This coming year will bring more of the same as Evans works with the council to get the city’s water system operating at 100 percent.
The mayor said one of the current administration’s goals is to maintain a low cost of living for the town’s many retired residents.
“We’re keeping the budget balanced, but it’s pretty hard to do,” he said.
Looking ahead to 2012, Parnell said, “We’d like to put up a new building where the old City Hall was if we could just get a commitment on that.”
The commitment he referred to was from a potential retail business like the Dollar Store or the grocery store that were once open downtown.
This coming spring will also mean the delivery of a new $16,000 piece of playground equipment that will be installed at Indian Park. Parnell said he is also continuing to install comemorative bricks in the walkway at Eddie Huey Memorial Park.
Parnell ended his year-end interview with The Messenger by saying, “another of our priorities is to get the town cleaned up.”
Published in The Messenger 1.2.12

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