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Dilapidated property in Obion a hot topic

Dilapidated property in Obion a hot topic
Staff Reporter
Changes at Obion’s Rosehill Cemetery, street improvements and a new health insurance provider for city workers were all handled during a 90-minute Obion City Council meeting Monday night.
There were also a couple of hot issues that emerged during Monday’s meeting — the issue of dilapidated lots around town and the perpetually controversial issue of rural fire protection.
A heated discussion took place concerning a lengthy list of run down properties in town and what action is being taken to clean up the lots.
Police Chief Royce Aker read the list of lots, which was followed by a lengthy discussion about how to proceed with getting the lots cleaned up. The legal process of dealing with the lots has been hampered by a lack of action by the city concerning the process, but that may soon change in light of the anger and frustration that were exhibited at Monday’s meeting. There was no formal action taken on the issue by the council, but the process is expected to be reinitiated to clean up dilapidated lots around town.
The issue of rural fire protection was brought up by Obion Fire Chief Jamie Evans, who informed the council about a house fire last week north of town. The residence was actually owned by Mike Riggs and was not enrolled in the rural fire protection plan but, due to Carrie Clark’s being briefly trapped in the house, the Obion Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire.
Evans estimated fighting the house fire cost his fire department about $8,000 to $10,000 and that didn’t include the medical bill for treating a firefighter for heat exhaustion. He encouraged the council to review the county’s proposed contract for rural fire protection and, specifically, the contract’s hold-harmless agreement.
The council will request help from the Municipal Technical Advisory Service to draft an ordinance that deals with fire protection fees for non-subscribers. Already, such a policy is being used by fire departments in Hornbeak, Rives and Samburg.
There was a considerable amount of criticism aimed at the county commission and its lack of action on a countywide fire protection plan.
Monday night’s meeting actually began with a report from council member Polk Glover, representing the Rosehill Cemetery Committee. He presented a series of four recommendations that were all approved by the council.
The council eliminated a requirement that graves have a concrete liner, approved increases in the fees for cemetery lots and perpetual care fees, agreed to have Gibson Electric Membership Corp. install lighting at the cemetery and moved forward with a plan to verify and register the original deed to the cemetery.
The new fee structure for Rosehill Cemetery will increase the costs for individual graves as well as the cost for full lots (eight graves). Previously a full lot and perpetual care cost $800, but under the new fee structure, that will increase to $1,200.
Work was scheduled to begin today on repairs to potholes around Obion, according to Obion Public Works Director Randy Evans. He also was given the authority to purchase two 40-foot metal culverts that will be installed at Troy Road and Mathis Street and at Broadway and Watson avenues. The 18-inch culverts will replace collapsed culverts at the two intersections and will cost nearly $683 each.
Evans will also look into prices for a tractor-mounted sprayer that could be used to spray along the banks of the city’s sewage lagoon. He said saplings growing along the banks are causing problems and “you can’t mow it because of the rip rap in place.”
Evans will also look into prices to install new water lines along Mathis Street and along Fred Hayes Road in Polk Station. He will report back to the council at its next meeting on the cost to install what he said was about 300 feet of new water lines along the two streets.
From public works to health care, the council agreed Monday night to accept a bid from the Union City Insurance Agency for health insurance for city employees.
Based on numerous complaints about the city’s Humana health insurance plan, the council agreed to accept a Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance plan from the Union City Insurance Agency. Under the new plan, the city will pay $4,309 a month for its seven employees, which is an increase over the monthly $3,220 premium for the Humana plan.
“We’ll have to juggle some figures around to make this work,” Mayor Glen Parnell said.
Also during Monday night’s meeting, the council:
• Was informed by Parnell the first of a series of budget hearings will be held sometime next week to begin work on a new 2012-13 city budget.
“(City recorder Jana Fluty) and I have got to do a lot of work to get ready,” Parnell told the council.
• Agreed to spend about $325 each for five new steel picnic tables that will be built by Dale Cranford. He will be paid $150 each to build the picnic tables, with the city spending about $175 each for the materials for the tables. The picnic tables will be painted by the public works department and will be placed at parks in the city.
• Agreed to pay Danny McDonald $9 an hour for part-time mowing work around the city.
• Agreed to contract with A&A Backhoe (Robert Albright) for trackhoe and bulldozer work. The city will pay $110 to $125 an hour for trackhoe and bulldozer services on a contract basis.
Absent from Monday night’s meeting was council member Mike Miller. Glover opened the meeting in prayer and Parnell led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Published in The Messenger 4.17.12

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