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Council reprimands city engineer for email

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By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

Lebanon City Council reprimanded City/Utilities Engineer Chuck Boyett Tuesday night for saying in that email that the city government is “clearly targeting individuals” with the job cuts some council members say are needed to balance the budget.

Council took the action in response to a copy of an email handed out by Ward 3 Councilor William Farmer during the regular meeting.

Boyett apologized and said he took back the statement, and that he is sorry if anyone on council took it personally or was offended. He also said he thought the e-mail, which he sent to Pat Hickey, a Clarksville city employee, was a private message.

Farmer also e-mailed the entire council about Boyett’s e-mail and said, “The discussion about abolishing city jobs to cut expenses and costs has not been easy – now it is being made even harder by the apparent resistance of ‘key management’ people.”

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston pointed out that he used no names on his list of potential job cuts, but later when the information appeared in local papers, the names of the people holding the jobs were included in the stories. He then asked Mayor Philip Craighead if he had written the stories in question. Craighead did not respond.

In other business, sidewalk questions are still coming before the council, and Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler asked to have a work session to decide exactly what should be done.

This time, Hearthside at Castle Heights, a senior citizens’ home, asked to have a portion of its payment-in-lieu of sidewalks used to help pay for additional widening of Castle Heights Avenue that Hearthside has been asked to do.

The payment-in-lieu would be about $40,000, according to City Planner Magi Tilton, who recommended the exchange. Hearthside would be credited with $22,000 of that for the street work if the council approves.

Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Baines explained to the council that in response to the city’s request, Hearthside has agreed to widen the street for about 200 feet beyond what is required for the turning lane to its property.

The issue came up because Hearthside plans to build several small duplexes on its property for independent living apartments for senior citizens.

The council passed the proposal on first reading, but asked Tilton and Baines to provide more information about the street widening and the project before the second reading.

The council also passed the first readings of an extension of the current hiring freeze until March 2010 and an ordinance extending the current budget until September. In addition, the council agreed to a called meeting before its budget workshop tonight (June 17) at 5 to hear the second reading of the budget ordinance.

Other items passed on first reading and placed on the agenda for tonight’s called meeting include the purchase of traffic loops for the stoplights at Hartmann Drive and Coles Ferry Pike, which are devices to make the lights change when traffic comes at night, and authorization of an agreement to allow Wilson Bank & Trust to claim one hangar at Lebanon Airport as part of one of its customer’s collateral.

Craighead announced that a final presentation will be made at 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 23, at City Hall by the professors from business classes at Vanderbilt University and architecture classes at the University of Tennessee which developed plans over the past semester for renovating historic Lebanon. After the presentation, the plans will be on the city website for citizens to review.

Cathy Adams appeared before the council representing Historic Lebanon Tomorrow. She said the Lebanon Farmers’ Market will host a grand reopening on July 11 with a ribbon-cutting between 10 a.m. and noon. The event will be co-sponsored by the Beautification Committee and Historic Lebanon Tomorrow. Baines said farmers will start using the site this Saturday.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com.

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