CK Americas donates $100,000 to Lewisburg for park work

Friday, April 17, 2015

By Maury Wood

Tribune Correspondent

Lewisburg and Rock Creek Park are $100,000 richer today thanks to the city's largest employer.

Kicking off this week's Lewisburg City Council meeting, Chief Operating Officer Eric Huch and Vice President of Sales Matt Mulliniks of auto parts maker CK Americas presented the check to Mayor Jim Bingham, who later said he thinks it's the largest private donation ever made to the city.

The money will be used at Rock Creek Park. Improvements will include putting power lines and other utilities underground, amphitheater seating on the hillside, a pervious parking lot at the Farmer's Market, and stage improvements.

More improvements are being planned for a second phase of development at the city park, according to Lewisburg Director of Economic Development Greg Lowe.

The mayor thanked Huch and Mulliniks, saying: "CKNA is Lewisburg's largest employer and we appreciate the commitment you have made to our community."

Mulliniks is a former director of Economic Development for Lewisburg.

"Lewisburg's future is bright and I am excited to see what is in store," he said.

After they presented the check, City Manager Randall Dunn told Huch and Mulliniks that work on the project had started that morning.

Rock Creek Park will also be home to a street named in honor of Dont'a Hightower, a former Marshall County High School standout now a linebacker for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The road is off 1st Avenue North.

During citizen input at the meeting, Lewisburg resident Ronald Robinson asked the council about a possible parade in honor of Hightower. City Manager Dunn said the city has been in contact with Hightower's agent and plans are being made for a ceremony and parade around the Fourth of July.

Before the council meeting there was a public hearing on a $20,000 Community Facility Rural Development grant the city is applying for. According to Lisa Cross, Community Development Specialist for the South Central Tennessee Development District, the money will help fund a pavilion with a projected total cost of $42,765.

Some of the other funds will come from the Lewisburg Rotary Club, depending on how much it receives from a Rotary International Grant the club applied for on April 1. The city will use in-kind services for the rest of the project.

Rotary President Amy Irvin told the council the pavilion will benefit the Goats, Music and More Festival and would give the city another structure at Rock Creek Park for the community to enjoy.

During the meeting, Mayor Bingham thanked those involved in the 250 participant Hell of the South bike race held in Lewisburg last Saturday.

"I want to thank the many people who made this a success," the mayor said. "It was a sad event that brought this race to Lewisburg, but the Rector family attended and appreciated the recognition that it brought to Laray."

The race was held in honor of Lewisburg dentist Dr. Laray Rector, who died in a cycling accident in December 2014. Lewisburg Recreation Center director Cary Whitesell said the race was a team effort and read an email from a racer that said it was " a top-notch event."

"Moving it to Lewisburg made it a bigger target," the email said. "The city's hospitality and beauty was very evident."

In economic development news, the council voted on a resolution authorizing a PILOT program for Lewisburg Printing Company (LPC), which is planning to construct a new building on East Commerce Street. The addition will bring more jobs.

LPC has spent $21 million in the past seven years, Lowe said. The council also passed a lease agreement involving the old Tennessee Tech building off the square on West Commerce.

"This building will provide training for vitally needed jobs," Lowe said.

The council also voted to remove speed bumps from the alley next to Mid-Town Laundry on Second Avenue North. David Jent, owner of the business, told the council at Monday's planning session that drivers had been using his parking lot to avoid the speed bumps.

In citizen input, resident Larry Hastings commended the Public Works Department for clearing up a leaf problem in a gutter near his house. He also offered thanks for the city's treatment of veterans.

"Every department has been cooperative and a pleasure to work with," Hastings added.

"I am proud of the city of Lewisburg and on behalf of the veterans, I want to tell you we appreciate the support you give us."

He said the city can count on the help of the American Legion whenever needed.

Mayor Bingham closed the meeting by thanking Al Henderson for providing new bracket pieces for the flagpoles on the bypass.

"Due to the ice storm and high winds a few weeks ago, Al went to A-Team Machine and spoke with Jerry Petty. He created solid aluminum alloy brackets with joints that will not break," Bingham said.

"I asked him how much the city owed him, and he said that he would take care of it. We owe him a debt of gratitude."