Wartrace makes good on promise to police

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Wartrace Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted last week to give police chief Danny Odeneal a $1 per hour raise, plus back pay, retroactive to July 14, 2013.

As a point of new business, the question was raised among board members if all promised pay increases had actually been given out during past months. The consensus of the board was -- no.

It was noted that when Odeneal was given a raise in January 2013, the board promised him an additional $1 per hour raise in six months.

Board members decided to make good on their word and passed a motion to award the raise with back pay.

"We need to do what we said we would do," said alderman Vickie Smith.

"He is doing a good job, and he has never said anything about it," said alderman Terry Smith.

Police

Earlier in the meeting, Odeneal provided an update on the proposed speed radar camera issue.

"We had the option of obtaining a radar gun with camera which would be used in outlying areas of Wartrace, such as Highway 64 toward Beech Grove," he said. "It measures speed, takes a picture and (the offender) is sent a ticket in the mail. It would be a $50 fine, with no points (added to their driving record)."

Odeneal and a company representative took the camera out into the field but determined it was not a "good fit" for Wartrace, he said.

"We moved forward. We went out and played with it. The rep said while using the system he had seen good fits and not-so-good fits," said Odeneal, "and we agreed it is not a good fit for Wartrace."

While similar systems are mounted on poles in other cities such as Murfreesboro, Odeneal had looked at using the camera in his patrol car to enhance the safety in making traffic stops.

"We looked at it for safety reasons on outlying roads, the safety of stopping on the roads," he said.

"We just need to pass on (obtaining) it at this time," Odeneal said. "It's there if we ever want to do it in the future. We don't want Wartrace to be known as a speed trap."

The board had unanimously approved guidelines for the use of the device exactly one year ago. Officials at that time expressed that they did not want the town to be seen as a speed trap either, but Wartrace residents were pushing for a solution, he said.

Odeneal said that simply providing visibility as he patrols outlying roads could provide a deterrent to speeders in the future.

For February, Odeneal reported 23 traffic stops, 16 citations, four calls, six county-assisted calls, and no arrests.

Fire

Wartrace fire chief Robert Dye reported four grass fires, three first-responder calls, one mutual aid and two motorist assists for the month of February.

Dye told the board that, for safety reasons, a lighting solution is still needed for the parking lot behind the fire hall.

He also told the board a new roll-up door is needed in back of the fire hall since the existing one is worn out. It is hazardous and time consuming to close it properly after returning from a call, he said.

Dye reported that two recent fire department fundraisers had netted over $8,000 and suggested that funds might be used toward fixing the roof of the old jail. A photo fundraiser this fall could raise addition monies for the same project, he said.

A motion was made by the board to take bids for the necessary roof repairs on the old jail, using the fundraiser profits, but the motion was tabled.

Drainage

Joe McCurry presented a request to the board for budget information regarding two different town projects -- the resolution of a drainage issue on Vine Street and an electrical issue at the Wartrace Park.

McCurry had addressed the board in February, expressing concerns about money being spent to resolve drainage issues behind an apartment complex adjacent to his building on Vine Street. He was also concerned about the potential redirection of water from the apartments to his land, according to previous reports.

Wartrace Fire Department and water personnel have worked to blow out culverts and dig out the ditches on Vine Street, which has helped, according to one resident of the apartments.

Officials have additional plans to form up a concrete C-channel (storm ditch) behind the McCurry property and put a grate over it. Leftover concrete will be used to repair the Broad Street sidewalk between Highway 64 and Vine Street.

Mayor Ron Stacy assured McCurry last month that the work was on city land and right-of-ways, and that it would only improve the drainage situation.

Other

The board passed a resolution authorizing Wartrace town attorney Ginger Shofner to file the 2012 tax bills for collection of all delinquent taxes, totaling $8,719.

Payment of delinquent taxes will be collected at Wartrace Town Hall through March 24.

On March 25, delinquent tax bills will be turned over to Shofner for filing with the Bedford County Chancery Court, at which time all collections will be made by the court.

A resolution was passed authorizing Mayor Stacy to advertise for bids on developing and maintaining a "Town of Wartrace" website. A 50/50 grant is available for assistance with the project, and town officials said there has already been some interest from potential bidders as well.

It was announced that Charles Steffen would report for work as the new Wartrace water department manager on March 27.