Davis to prosecute cases in city court

Friday, September 5, 2014
Pictured shaking hands with Mayor Jim Bingham after being sworn in as a city councilman Wednesday is "Bam" Haislip, flanked by councilmen Steve Thomas and Artie Allen.

By Karen Hall


Earlier this year, District Attorney Robert Carter advised the City of Lewisburg that a recent legal ruling indicated the city needed a member of the District Attorney's office to prosecute violations of state law in city court.

The decision was made to ask Carter to find them a prosecutor, and Wednesday City Manager Randall Dunn reported Carter had six very good applicants for the job and chose Jason Davis.

"He officially became our D.A. yesterday," said Dunn. "I'd like to thank General Carter for the work he did."

Reached by phone Thursday, Davis confirmed he would be sworn in and prosecute his first docket on Monday, Sept. 8.

"Our goal is to make sure everybody gets treated the same, whether they are in General Sessions Court or City Court," Davis said.

City attorney Steve Broadway has agreed to prosecute city court cases against people who have violated local ordinances.

"That's no problem, as long as you keep Buck (Beard) under control," joked Broadway, referring to Beard's ability to write citations for violations of city codes.

Davis has recently set up his own law practice, with an office just off the square.

Also new to city government is 3rd Ward Councilman Roy "Bam" Haislip who was sworn in before the council's work session.

Mayor Jim Bingham welcomed Haislip to the council and asked what he preferred to be called.

"If you want to get an answer, you probably should say 'Bam,'" Haislip responded.

In other business, Dunn reported the city has not given up on trying to get a grant to improve 1st Avenue North from the square to Rock Creek Park.

They applied to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for a $1 million multimodal grant and were turned down earlier this year. This grant will be available again this year. Dunn reported he'd met with TDOT and consultants Kimley-Horn for advice on tweaking Lewisburg's application to improve it. The backup plan is to apply for a different grant for the same project -- an enhancement grant. This is not as attractive as the TDOT grant because it requires a 20 percent match from the city, and does not cover right-of-way acquisition or planning costs. Dunn estimated the cost of doing the 1st Avenue project with this grant could be over $400,000, though this would be paid over several years.

He proposed applying for both grants, and if the city were approved for the multimodal, there would still be time to withdraw the application for the enhancement grant.

This would require the council to agree at their monthly meeting on Sept. 9 to spend $9,400 on the grant applications, and the next month to agree to spending nearly half a million dollars if they are awarded the enhancement grant.

"What's your pleasure, gentlemen?" Bingham asked the councilmen.

"Do both," exclaimed Councilman Steve Thomas, and Councilmen Roy "Bam" Haislip and Artie Allen agreed. (Councilmen Robin Minor and Trigg Cathey were absent.)

Dunn also reported the safety grant for improving the intersection of Heil Avenue and West Commerce Street is finally moving ahead with the purchase of land for the right of way. This is just the corners of two lots on either side of Heil Avenue. The plan is to widen Heil Avenue by rounding off the corners where it meets West Commerce, which will make it much easier for the drivers of big trucks to turn.

"It will be a welcome improvement," said Dunn.

Also slated for improvement is the intersection of Yell Road and Cornersville Road.

"It's a pretty dangerous intersection," said Dunn. "We're going to ask for another safety grant to reconfigure it, and we have high hopes we will get it."

He went on to explain the reconfiguration would result in Yell Road meeting Cornersville Road at nearly a right angle, instead of a slant, the way it does now.

Police Chief Chuck Forbis also asked the council for money.

"It's less than 1 percent of what Randall was asking," he said.

Forbis went on to explain the police department has received numerous complaints about people speeding on certain roads, and in school zones. He would like to get two portable radar signs. They are programmable and movable, but are hard to damage or steal. They record data about the passing traffic, including speed and number of vehicles, but do not contain a camera, and one battery powers a sign for two weeks.

"We have a need for at least two," Forbis said. "I can get one out of my budget, and I'm asking you for $3,500 to get the other. These are the best -- they're very reliable."

After a few jokes about catching the mayor speeding on his bicycle, councilmen agreed to look favorably on Forbis' request.