The Times-Gazette asked the five candidates for Wartrace's three open alderman seats the same three questions.
Roston Floyd, incumbent
Jean Gallagher, incumbent
Thomas Hurt, incumbent
Phillip Jackson Smith
Water and sewer
1.) How do you feel Wartrace can better address the water and sewer needs of its residents and customers?
CLAXTON: We should stay with Cascade Water, spend to get up to date and not be at the mercy of Tullahoma. Lots of residents agree.
FLOYD: Now that we're going to the lake (Duck River Utility), everything seems to be in pretty good shape.
GALLAGHER: Cascade Spring has been a wonderful source of water for the Town of Wartrace and the surrounding community since the 1930s. It was a very difficult situation that faced the Town Council in the Spring of 2008 when our water system was issued a "Boiled Water" alert and later received a state order that we had two choices -- build a $4 million filtration plant or find an alternative water source by September, 2009. When the cost of connecting to the Tullahoma Utility District was weighed against the cost of building a filtration plant, the choice was obvious. It was very difficult to consider abandoning the water source that we had all become dependent on. However, prime consideration had to be providing safe drinking water for our customers in the most cost-effective way. I feel the Town Council acted responsibly for all its customers.
HURT: We need to hire a licensed water and sewer plant operator or have one of our employees to obtain a water license. I would like for everyone in the eastern part of Bedford County to have excess to the Wartrace water system. This could be accomplished by constant upgrades to the water system and water storage. Sewer needs have to be addressed as problems arise. Due to the upcoming switch to the Tullahoma Utility Water System problems such as low water pressure, turbidity, water testing should be delineated. I am sure the Town of Wartrace and Tullahoma Utility Board can work together for the benefit of all customers and residents.
SMITH: I appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself. I grew up in Wartrace/Bell Buckle and attending Cascade, my parents and I own the Blockade Runner (Civil War store). Now with the responsibility of my new daughter Lola, and with the support and encouragement of my wife April, this will be my first venture into public service. I feel that I need more information about how Wartrace arrived at our current water issues before I can give an honest and effective plan to better serve Wartrace. I can tell you I sure do miss the days when Wartrace's tap water rivaled the taste of the most expensive bottled water.
2.) How do you plan to get unfinished projects, such as the sidewalks, resolved?
CLAXTON: Use money allocated for projects wisely; never take funds out for the music festival, etc. Money set aside for certain projects should stay in that project.
FLOYD: We've got some special projects -- we're always doing things for the park. The park and the sidewalks are some of the big projects we've got going and we want to continue them. I hope to get them finished soon, probably within the next year.
GALLAGHER: All of the projects that are in process for the Town of Wartrace are on schedule except the grant for sidewalks to connect the Wartrace Memorial Park (beside the railroad) to the Winnette-Ayers Park.
The parking area in the Memorial Park was dropped from the project because CSX, who owns the property, never granted permission for construction. Sidewalks to Winnette-Ayers Park had to be built on state right-of-way along State Highway 269. There were issues securing permission from the State to build the sidewalks on its right-of-way. The State right-of-way issue has now been resolved and the project is moving forward.
This project, like all other grants, is set up so that grant monies are released by the state to the town after the proper construction vouchers have been submitted for repayment.
HURT: The Town of Wartrace received a grant for upgrades to sidewalks as part of a Parks and Recreation Grant about 2 1/2 years ago. We have not received the money from the state as of yet. There have been problems with rights of way. We have to pursue why the money has not been received from the state. Due to the current economic situation, tax collections are low, property tax collections are slow to come in and we have to look at the list of unfinished projects to see which ones have priority. In my opinion, police protection and fire protection are the number one and two priorities. The other projects will be carefully studied.
SMITH: A successful business has to live within its means. Cost is calculated by both dollars and time. A good deal on a service, is not a good deal, if it takes forever. Especially if the same job could be done timely for just a little more. My gut reaction as a business man (and Dave Ramsey fan) when I read about the purchase of two 2008 vehicles, was of the thousands of dollars that could have been saved by purchasing a model one year or older. I believe someone with business experience on the board of Alderman, could only help to move these projects along.
3.) What do you think is another important issue facing Wartrace and what do you plan to do about it?
CLAXTON: The train (CSX) blocking the tracks. The easiest way to me to resolve it is to expand the second track toward Fairfield to allow the rain to move off, out of traffic.
FLOYD: We're always into things like streets and city -- cleaning up the drainage problems. Drainage is always something we want to work at and do a better job at.
GALLAGHER: One of the important issues in Wartrace is the blocking of the railroad crossing by CSX trains for long periods of time. The town has been documenting the dates and times that the crossing has been blocked. I plan to be supportive of a scheduled meeting of representatives of emergency agencies in the county, the town officials, state officials, and CSX representatives. I am in support of the proposal for CSX to lengthen the sidetrack to accommodate long trains so that they do not block our only crossing.
HURT: There are several issues facing Wartrace at this time. One is the railroad being blocked by the trains. This not only affects the citizens of Wartrace but all the citizens in the eastern part of the county. This affects people trying to get to work in the morning and people trying to get home in the afternoon, school buses trying to get the children home from school, and also people who work at night. Most importantly it affects the emergency vehicles, such as ambulances, first responder, fire trucks, policemen. Someone's life and property are at stake There is a meeting planned with the town officials and CSX. We hope to reach a solution to this problem.
SMITH: Promoting an environment that will attract business and bring new life to downtown is an important issue that I believe I have the experience needed to address. Wartrace is a beautiful place, with a rich history, and is full of residents with many talents. This adds up to real tourism potential. With events like the Wartrace MusicFest and Horse show, I think we are well on our way. Making the right improvements and encouraging the creation of new events will increase Wartrace's overall appeal and add to our commerce, which will benefit not only Wartrace citizens but the county as a whole. I see no reason why, under the proper direction, Wartrace cannot experience economic prosperity similar to that of our neighbor Bell Buckle.