Story by Shannon Taylor Senior Investigative Reporter
During input from citizens, Mary Dortch, from Martin spoke to the board regarding an incident involving her husband driving her vehicle on Linden Street and hitting “a hole that was made in order to do repair on the water lines.” The total damage to her vehicle was $1100.00.
City Attorney Beau Pemberton stated that his counsel was to have the couple involved get with City Recorder Jennifer Branscum after the meeting and obtain their information and consult the city’s insurance carrier to determine what exposure the city of Dresden has because it could affect a potential claim. “It’s not really a matter the board should consider acting upon at this time.”
Branscum stated that the information was turned in to the city’s insurance and they denied the claim.
Dortch said that she had spoken with the insurance representative whom she said, “claimed it was a pothole and it was in our error.”
Alderman Gwin Anderson said he knew where she was talking about. “That was done awhile back, and it’s been sitting there waiting for something like this to happen because you couldn’t see it.”
Anderson said that he didn’t know what the city’s insurance was going to do, but that he felt the city was obligated to maintain their streets and to ensure safety and that, in his opinion, they weren’t. “I’d like to see if the insurance company can move forward, but if it doesn’t, I honestly think that the city, in my opinion, has a liability here.”
Pemberton stated that the whole point of having insurance adjusters is to have individuals that can evaluate whether the city is liable in these situations. He said that the Dorch’s had the right to obtain counsel and move against the city if they chose to.
Anderson said, “There becomes a point that when you leave a hole there for months upon months then the city has a liability in that. We’ve been negligent on fixing that.” Anderson made a motion to work with the insurance company, but if they refuse, then the city pay the Dortch’s damage.
Alderman Dale Hutcherson spoke on the cost-risk analysis of having to pursue or defend a claim later. He said that $1,100 versus paying attorney fees down the line would end up being a better route to take considering all aspects.
Pemberton stated that if the board voted for this it would set the precedent later for other similar situations.
Hutcherson tried to ask a question of Pemberton regarding setting the precedent, but mayor Mark Maddox said, “I think we’ve already moved to vote, so let’s go ahead and vote.” The motion passed 4-2 with Alderman Willie Parker and Moore voting no.
In communications from the mayor, Maddox said that the city has received 58,209.83 payment from FEMA for two of the projects that were completed. “We expect more money when we complete the rest of the projects.”
Henson Construction has been renewing their proposed layout for the new complex. “He indicated to me last week that cost estimates would be available, maybe by the end of the month.”
The city of Dresden has received a downtown grant in the amount of $100,000 for façade improvements, windows and painting. “We intend to help our downtown businesses with many grants, just like we did two years ago when we got that grant, so that’s how we intend to disperse that money.”
The Chamber of Commerce will be having their Christmas Reception on Thursday, Dec. 8 from 5-7 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.
A Tornado Remembrance Event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 2-4 p.m. at the Dresden Civics Center and the Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. at Court Square. “The long-term recovery group is in charge of that-we’re simply invites. The city has very little to do with that.”
The Office on Aging Christmas Open House is Monday, Dec. 12 at noon.
Maddox said that police chief applications are open and due Dec. 16 at noon. “Once those applications are closed, we can begin the process of hiring a new police chief.”
The Winstead property was discussed, and Pemberton said that Langdon Unger hadn’t had a chance to coordinate with Tony Winstead to get all the documents but hoped to have it done this week.
The Hutcherson and Nanney demolition invoices were presented, and Maddox said that Nanney reached out and wanted to sit down and have a conversation and that he would have one with her.
The board voted 5-1 in favor of Alderman Gwin Anderson as the new vice-mayor. The motion was made by Willie Parker and the only board member to vote no was Kenneth Moore.
The next board meeting was scheduled for Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center.