Council passes resolution involving hanging of Hometown Heroes banners

Posted July 10, 2019 at 2:21 pm

The Hometown Heroes banners that hang proudly in the city of Albany will be definitely hung and maintained, thanks to action taken last Tuesday, July 3 during the regular meeting of Albany City Council.

The council, with five of six members present, met before a standing room only audience for its approximate 40-minute meeting, which saw several members from both the Tourism Commission and local VFW in attendance.

Clinton County Tourism Commission Chair Patrick Padron then addressed the Council regarding the hanging and maintenance of the Hometown Heroes banners in the city, as he and others addressed the council about the issue. The Tourism Commission organized the Hometown Heroes project, soliciting the purchase of each banner from family members and friends of each veteran featured.

The project involves multiple rounds of the banners being installed and removed for at least three rounds of each banner group being displayed.

The organization was at the council seeking a resolution by the city continue to hang the banners.

Several members of the local VFW, who were there on a dual issue, spoke in favor of the banners and said if the city was not interested (in hanging the banners) the VFW might be. However, it was noted that the city had the equipment, such as access to experienced employees, buckets trucks, etc. to do that work.

Padron reiterated that it was the veterans’ families who had paid for the banners and councilman Delk said he was “110 percent in favor of the city continuing to install them.”

It was also stated that the veterans’ banners should be put up just like the Foothills Festival and Christmas banners each year, with councilwoman Thrasher at one point saying, “it shouldn’t even be an issue. We (city) have problems to deal with.”

One person in the audience said that the mayor was against the banners, but Mayor Lyle Pierce denied that claim and referred to a copy of the previous month’s meeting in which he had spoken in support of the city hanging them.

There were also “unanswered” questions as to how the Hometown Hero banners being hung had become a controversial one to begin with, with no specific reason ever being given.

City legal advisor Norb Sohm also told the group there was a question from the city auditor about the “stipend” that the tourism commission pays city employees for hanging the banners, saying it may be considered “double-dipping.”

That stipend in question was in relation to only when the Hometown Heroes banners were being handled at a time when neither the Foothills Festival nor the City Christmas banners were being handled by the city crew.

The employees hang the banners at night for safety reasons, which means some overtime for the city to pay. Thrasher recommended that if that were the case, the city should just allow street department employees some time off during days to offset the overtime.

Padron thanked the city street department for its work in hanging the banners for the tourism commission and the veterans families, but said if there was an issue with the stipend they pay them, they (tourism commission) could use the money for other things.

The council recommended the tourism board discuss the stipend issue with city auditor Sammy K. Lee.

After the discussion ended, Thrasher made a motion, seconded by councilman Reed Sloan, that “the City adopt a continuing resolution that from now on the City would take care of the installation of the veterans’ banners for the Tourism Commission.” The motion passed by unanimous vote and was signed during the meeting by the mayor.

Prior to discussion and a vote on the banners, however, a couple of other items preceded those discussions.

Albany street department employees wished to thank the county for their assistance in helping keep city roadsides mowed.

David Bowles of Monarch Engineers then addressed the council about a $2 million grant the city is currently applying for, that if received and matched with another $575,000 for a total $2.5 million project, lines and repairs could be made to hopefully finally repair the problems of low water pressure in the Duvall Valley and Bald Rock areas of eastern Clinton County.

Bowles estimated the city should hear word on whether or not the grant is approved by this fall, but said the total time of the project, if funded, could be in excess of two years.

Councilman Tony Delk questioned whether or not the $2.5 million project would also cover the Bald Rock area and also noted again that a storage tank that had cost the city $150,000 a few years ago and installed at the foot of the mountain, had not worked.

Bowles said there would be an assessment done on water usage in the entire area and the council said the residents of the area needed help with their water pressure problems as the process of possibly running new lines to the area is taking place.

Randy Jones with the Foothills Festival Committee then addressed the council, asking that Jefferson Street in Albany be closed one night earlier than the usual streets during this year’s October festival.

He noted the festival would be having a “gunfight show” on that particular street on the southwest side of the courthouse and it would take an extra day for those putting on that show to set up, adding it should not interfere with any vendor space.

A motion by councilwoman Tonya Thrasher to close off that particular street on Wednesday night instead of Thursday during the festival passed by unanimous vote.

Mayor Pierce also noted he has requested discretionary road funds for resurfacing some city streets, High, Poplar, Spring, a portion of Dalton and others.

The council also discussed other street repairs, a flooding problem at one local residence and an “eyesore” problem in another location that should be looked at being cleaned up.

The council and those in attendance also held a moment of silence in memory of the late long-time city council member and Albany businessman James “Smitty” Smith and on a request from councilman Steve Lawson, Jeremy Ferguson, an employee for the street department, said a prayer for current city council member Gene Ferrill who is suffering through some health issues.

Finally, Jason Warinner presented the council with a resolution asking support in naming a portion of the 127 Bypass in honor of the late Lt. Garlin Murl Conner.