Owner: Road closure inconvenient, hurting business

Owner: Road closure inconvenient, hurting business
By DONNA RYDER
Associate Editor
East Main Street in Union City has been closed in front of the former KT building since a portion of the roof collapsed on Sept. 1. Businesses in the area and motorists who took that route daily won’t have to wait much longer for the street to reopen.
Sheila Ervin, owner of Celebrations by Sheila, appeared before the Union City city council Tuesday night and read from a prepared statement.
She said she has been “more than patient with the closure of East Main Street and State Highway 5.” She and her husband have attended each council meeting since the collapse and have spoken with each council member, the mayor, the city manager, the police chief and the building inspector. On Monday, she called Chuck Richeen with the Tennessee Department of Transportation in Jackson regarding the closure and she said he explained to her that the City of Union City could request Ford Construction place a barrier between the street and the building, which is owned by Emily Timm Elliston, and reopen the roadway.
“This street has been closed for three months and we are now going into our fourth month. This situation did not come about because of some natural disaster. It came about because of the negligence of its owner due to lack of maintenance on the roof, allowing it to collapse and take part of the building with it. This owner has been allowed to do a restoration instead of doing repairs on this building. Others suffer or are inconvenienced at her lack of caring for anything but her own wants and desires regarding this building. It should be noted that this council has had previous issues with Ms. Elliston and have a history with her.
“This lengthy street closure has altered the traffic pattern for this whole area. The longer it is altered, the longer it will be before visitors and residents come back to using this route for traversing Union City. Emily Elliston has been allowed to change that traffic pattern in Union City to where the location of Celebrations by Sheila is no longer one of convenience for customers. My business is being adversely affected for the period of time this street is closed. I don’t know of too many businesses in today’s economic times that can continue to operate at that kind of loss that I am experiencing because of this road closure. I know the city council wants to do everything possible to support local business and reopen Main Street,” Mrs. Ervin said.
Jimmy Temple with building and codes then informed the council that Ms. Elliston has missed her Dec. 1 deadline to have the building to a state of repair which would allow the roadway to be reopened and that she has been issued a summons to appear in city court. He said Ms. Elliston’s engineer submitted a plan to TDOT for the reopening of the roadway, but that TDOT rejected the plan. TDOT officials then made changes to the plan and sent it back to the engineer, therefore, placing the opening back into Ms. Elliston’s hands.
Councilman Jim Douglas asked what the judge could do and Mayor Terry Hailey replied he could fine her a maximum of $50 per day.
Temple told the council  that, during the process, he has counted three weeks of idle time, where no work was being done. “To this point, it has been up to her to get (Main Street) opened,” he said.
Hailey said the city decided to allow the repairs instead of condemning the building because the condemnation process would have taken longer. But, he said, she has missed her deadline and now the city must take action to reopen the roadway. He told Temple to put up the necessary barriers and send the bill to Ms. Elliston.
Councilman Judy Robinson said if this had happened on Reelfoot Avenue, it would have not been allowed to go on this long. Temple said the city had to follow procedures “to stay out of legal trouble.”
Temple told The Messenger after the meeting that he is unsure how long it will take to place the barriers and reopen the roadway.
In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by city attorney Jim Glasgow Jr., the council:
• Passed the city’s budget on first reading following a public hearing. The budget includes $14,566,219 in the general fund, $278,258 in the state street aid fund, $120,000 in the traffic fines revenue fund, $4,475 in the cemetery perpetual fund, $60,000 in the drug enforcement fund, $5,500 in the City Beautiful Commission fund, $145,010 in the hotel/ motel tax fund, $1,785,000 in the sanitation fund and $851,176 in the capital projects fund, which is for the Carey Counseling building and includes no financial obligations from Union City. The appropriations also include $8,155,160 in water and sewer service funds, $24,824,000 in electric system funds and $14,565,297 in school system funds.
The hotel/motel funds will be distributed 42 percent to Obion County Industrial Development Corp., 39 percent to Obion County Chamber of Commerce, 14 percent to Main Street-Union City and 5 percent to the city to defray costs of collecting the tax and the cost of auditing the taxpayers.
• Approved on second and final reading the establishment of a bank account for receipt of funds and payment of expenses incurred in the construction of a building for Carey Counseling Center.
The council also awarded a bid for the construction of the building to Bruce Green Builders Inc., which had the low bid of $767,800. The bid was $25,440 more than the Community Development Block Grant received for the building. Carey Counseling executive director Robert D. Vaughn provided a letter to the city stating Carey Counseling is covering the overage and the city will not be financially responsible.
• Awarded a bid for the rehabilitation of the city’s wastewater treatment plant to W&O Construction Co. in Livingston in the amount of $2,297,000. It was the low bid. City manager Kathy Dillon said this route is cheaper than new construction, which would have been around $16 million.
The council also approved a change order to the contract that will allow for the installation of new mechanical screens, which were not in the original proposal. The cost is $274,063.
Prior to the meeting, councilman Bill “Rat” Harrison was circulating a June 8, 1984, copy of the Daily Messenger he found recently. It included a story about the Union City city council and its approval of a budget that boasted of a $3,555,000 Environment Protection Agency grant which was used to complete the construction of the Strub Wastewater plant.
He said he thought it was interesting that he found a newspaper that mentioned the construction of the wastewater plant at the same time the council was discussing its rehab.
• Agreed to seek bids for new bleachers. Turf Management director Chris Crockett said they will be placed at the softball fields. Bleachers have already been replaced at the Babe Ruth and Minor League fields. The city’s insurance company, TML, has told the city to replace all existing bleachers within a five-year period.
• Appointed John Horner to the Union City Industrial Development Corp. and Jim Roper to the Union City Beer Board.
• Canceled the December orientation session.
• Heard the public works, building and codes and fire department got together and spent three days moving and burying materials at Greenway Recover and Recycle and that there has not been a sign of smoke since. “They did a fantastic job,” Ms. Dillon said, adding it just shows how well the city’s departments work together.
The business caught fire in September and flared up again at the end of October. Smoke from that location has been causing problems for area residents.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by email at dryder@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 12.5.12

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