Council wants a price that's right

Friday, February 17, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Lewisburg councilmen on Tuesday sought a balance between a brush chipper priced at $247,000 and some $30,000 budgeted for a wood chipping service.

Residents' yard waste is piling up at the city garage, and public works chief Kenny Ring says when his crew runs a small chipper, "It literally gets hot and it shuts off."

Councilman Steve Thomas concluded with what might be seen as a bedtime story.

"So, there's one that's too hot," Thomas said. "There's one that's too big. There's got to be one that's just right."

Three bears' porridge and Goldilocks weren't mentioned during the extended session in City Hall where young Andrew Barton of Midway Street fell asleep in the arms of his mother, Carol Barton. The boy dozed through public comments on how the animal shelter might be improved.

Still, Mayor Barbara Woods presided over what she'd recognize as another Vanna White moment when councilmen debated the right price for a wood chipper.

What Ring sought to buy will chip plenty of wood for city park use, according to Recreation Director Jimmy Stitt.

"I think we're going hunting with a canon," Thomas said as Councilman Ronald McRady expressed "grave concerns" for the city budget. Councilman Robin Minor agreed, "it will cause a budget problem, but maybe it doesn't have to be this size."

Councilmen agreed to withdraw the purchase plan and deferred a spending decision.

During the public comment period Terry Cox and Jacki Moss spoke up for dogs' living conditions at the animal shelter, saying they should be improved and operational policies ought to be either clarified or rewritten.

City Economic Developer Greg Lowe, a long-time city advocate, recalled media reports from several years ago saying that City Judge Roger Brandon ruled that "breed-specific" regulations to control vicious dog problems were unconstitutional. The code book hasn't been changed to reflect Brandon's decision.

Marshall County Commissioner John Richard Hill Jr., chairman of the county's Animal Control Committee, was at the council meeting and told city leaders they're invited to the committee's meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Courthouse Annex at First Avenue and Commerce Street where animal shelter issues could be discussed further.