Story by Press Reporter Shannon Taylor
Alderman Gwin Anderson made a motion to rescind the censure on Dresden Mayor Jeffrey Washburn. The motion was seconded by Alderman Kenneth Moore. The vote ended up being a tie with Anderson, Moore and Alderman Ralph Cobb voting yes and Alderwoman Sandra Klutts, Alderman Lyndal Dilday and Alderman Willie Parker voting no. Washburn broke the tie by voting yes and stated to the board, “Well played.”
Anderson stated that he made the motion and voted yes because he had no other choice due to the agreement that all of the alderman signed. “Because of the depth of the problems in which we have, Dresden has more pressing problems than fighting with the mayor. Dresden has real problems, and we need to deal with them. The lawsuit was a distraction. I hope we can move forward. I am disappointed that three aldermen chose not to follow what their signature on the settlement they agreed to implement.”
In communications from the mayor, Washburn stated that cleanup has continued around the city and that the cleanup contractor was nearing completion. He stated that the contractor has hauled off 2,000 tons so far. “There are some things that are out there that are not eligible to be picked up.” Washburn stated this was due to timelines that FEMA had given them.
During input from citizens, Washburn made it clear that any citizen was free to come before the board with a three-minute allotment to speak.
Jason Taylor spoke on behalf of the Weakley County Fair Board to ask if the city would allow the fair to use the stage, sound equipment and tables for the board. The board unanimously approved the fair’s use of the equipment.
Chase Kesterson asked the board if Santa’s Helpers could use the garage to store items donated to Santa’s Helpers. The property is located on 1050 Jefferson Street that the city owns. The board voted unanimously to give the property to Santa’s Helpers.
Bob Spellings spoke to the board about his house on 445 Taylor Street that was damaged by the storm. He stated that he recently had it demolished and put to the side of the road but received a letter from city hall stating that it was his responsibility. Spellings said that he attended a meeting previously where he was told that as long as he got his storm debris to the side of the road that it would be picked up.
Washburn stated that storm debris was the debris that the tornado left and that demolition debris was not included “even in the beginning.” Washburn went on to say that “there were houses that were demolished and moved to the street and up to about three weeks ago what was on the side of the street FEMA said we could remove but this is the cutoff date here.” Washburn went on to say that when that cutoff happened, Spellings house was still standing as well as a few others.
Spellings said that he did not get a notice that FEMA would pick up what was already by the street nor that there was a cutoff date for that. The problem for Spellings and other property owners is that some churches and houses were hauled to the water tower and some houses were picked up and now there are some that are not getting the same treatment. Washburn blamed it on FEMA and the Federal Government changing their information.
Spellings stated that had he known, he could have gotten things done and to the side of the street in time. Spellings stated that there was a lot of confusion on the city’s part and Washburn said that he didn’t think there was any confusion on the city’s part. Spellings stated that he disagreed with Washburn. Washburn told him that he had the right to disagree with him but that the city had acted in what FEMA had told them to do.
Kenneth Gatewood from First Baptist Church announced his run for alderman. “I believe in truth and honesty and doing the right thing. I’d like to help the city, if elected, I’d like to contribute to moving things forward in Dresden.”
During old business, the properties for sale on court square were discussed. The Hutcherson and Wilson properties were going to cost the city $300,000.00 and Washburn stated that he could not recommend the city buying them, but that the Peeler property for $14,000.00 was a good deal and that he was in talks with Tony Winstead concerning the sale of a piece of his property at the back that runs behind the Flower Box. The board voted unanimously to buy the Peeler property at $14,000.00.
In new business, a declaration of surplus resolution was passed unanimously to sell items the city has at an auction and the proceeds be put back into the city treasury.
The purchase of a leaf machine in the amount of $89,000.00 was unanimously approved by the board. However, the delivery of the leaf machine would not be until January or February of 2023, so the city will have to either find parts to repair their current leaf machine or find a surplus machine.
The city received a bid to replace the Cedar Street four-way light from Shelby Electric for $35,000.00. This was unanimously approved by the board.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds project budget was discussed and funds available come from a federal allocation, state allocation and a county allocation to the city in the amount of almost 2.5 million dollars. The board voted unanimously to approve the budget and move forward.
The board voted unanimously to hire a construction manager for the city hall, fire department and police department project. Carey Henson of Henson Construction in Jackson Tennessee was hired.
The board voted unanimously to hire a new building inspector. The building inspector the board previously terminated, David Kelley, had a fatal heart attack and passed away. Washburn extended his condolences to Kelley’s family. “It was quite shocking to all of us.” Ricky Watkins was hired as Dresden’s new building inspector.
The next Dresden City Board meeting will be held Monday, August 8th at 6:00 p.m. at the Dresden Civics Center. The meeting will also be livestreamed on the Press’s Facebook page.