Smithville Fire Chief Charlie Parker had some good news for the Mayor and Aldermen Monday night.
According to Chief Parker, the fire-protection services of the City of Smithville, as evaluated and rated by Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO), has improved from Class 7 to Class 6, which will likely mean a savings on city homeowner's insurance premiums. "A little over a week ago we received our new ISO rating. A representative from the ISO was here in November and did a survey which is what determines our rating for the city for our fire protection, which the insurance companies use to rate insurance premiums on homes and businesses inside the city."
" I am proud to announce that we actually dropped down a class. We were at a class 7. The grade that we came back with is a 49.64 which puts us in a class 6 category so we did improve and drop down one class. We're only about a half a point away from going down to a class 5 which is a big accomplishment. The lowering of one class will help on insurance rates. We still want to continue to try to lower it even more and get into a class 5. That will help (reduce) insurance rates inside the city even more for residential homes, businesses, and factories. It's also a drawing card for other industries who start looking around and when they see the classification for the city, it is a bonus to them."
"I would also like to see the fire department continue to improve even more. I would like to see if we could sit down in a workshop or a meeting with the mayor and board of aldermen and go over this review plan that we have and explain any questions that you may have on how we can improve it. There are areas we can improve in. It's not just in the fire department, there's water protection things we have to work on. We have a goal of at least going to a class 4. It's well within our reach. We are very lucky to be at the class 6 where we are (compared to other cities). It would be even better to go to a class 5. It would be phenomenal if we could go to a class 4. There are some proposals we have, looking toward the future for personnel, equipment, and there are some grants that are available but we do need to have a commitment from the city on that (grants)."
"I would like to see if we could sit down and discuss it and see if we can move forward for all the citizens of Smithville."
Although it was not specifically mentioned Monday night, Chief Parker has said previously that the department would like to have at least a few paid firefighters on staff and a ladder truck at some point in the future.
The mayor and aldermen have agreed to conduct a workshop with members of the fire department to discuss their plans.
In other business, concerned citizen and Smithville Alderman candidate Gary Durham came before the mayor and aldermen Monday night with questions about why the city's water supply is not treated with flouride. "Has the flouride treatment at the water plant been out of service for sometime? Is it in service at present? If it has been out of service, how long has it been out? And what's the date that you expect to put it back in service?
Mayor Taft Hendrixson responded, " It is not in service. Flouride is not being added. I'm not sure how long it's been. It's not state mandated. We get letters in here from different people. Some say use it, some say don't use it."
Durham: " I have statements here from the U.S. Surgeon General and from the American Dental Association and several others that totally recommend it and have recommended it for over 50 years. It's basically for kids and mostly teenagers and younger for decay and plaque (prevention)."
Durham asked, "Why wasn't it (information) given to the media so they could have at least addressed it so parents could have been told to buy toothpaste with floruide or given them some type of warning? Is there any reason?"
Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson: " I talked to Mr. Johnny Walker who is over the water supply with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. It is not state mandated. The last time I talked to him, which was last week, he said that just three or four months ago, EPA put out a bulletin and they recommended not using flouride in water, especially warning women mixing baby formula to not use water with floruide."
Durham: "If we put it (floruide) in this water, and I know it was there in 1984 and for at least 20 years, why did we stop? And if we did stop, why didn't we notify the people? You notified them when it was going in (the water), I know. I think we should have at least notified the people if we were not going to put flouride in the water."
Hunter Hendrixson: "I knew flouride wasn't being put in there, but I had contacted the state."
Durham: "It's not a state issue. It's a local issue."
Mayor Hendrixson: " I guess, Gary that's a decision of this board, if they want it in there."
Durham:" I think it ought to be brought up. I would like an answer to it for the public."
Hunter Hendrixson: I'd like to get a statement from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Mr. Johnny Walker out of the Cookeville Office, and see what he has to say. I know many cities are getting away from flouride. I've had several people tell me that dentists are concerned about it but I've not had the first dentist contact me."
Alderman Tonya Sullivan: " I have had a dental hygienist report to me that she has a letter stating that Smithville does not have flouride in the water and that it is a problem for children."
Durham: "I personally talked to a dentist in this town and that dentist particularly is very concerned along with other dentists, which I did not talk to but he has."
The mayor and aldermen agreed to conduct a workshop to study the issue further and report back with their findings at another city council meeting.
Also Monday night, Mayor Hendrixson appointed Walter Burton to fill the unexpired term of the late John Bill Evins on the Smithville Electric System Board. He also appointed Tim Stribling as a member of the Smithville Industrial Development Board, to serve out the remaining term of his brother Leon Stribling, who recently resigned.
The aldermen voted 4 to 0 to approve the appointment of Stribling. However the board was split 2 to 2 on Burton's appointment. Mayor Hendrixson cast the tie breaking vote in favor of Burton. Aldermen Steve White and Cecil Burger voted for Burton but Aldermen Tonya Sullivan and Jerry Hutchins, Sr. voted no. Alderman Willie Thomas was absent.
Alderman Sullivan complained that the appointments of Stribling and Burton were not included on the regular meeting agenda for Monday night, and that the mayor may have violated the city charter by not presenting his request in writing to the aldermen. "I'm just wondering why we can't get this on the agenda so we could have time to talk. I have spoken to several people who are interested in that Smithville Electric position, but we (aldermen) haven't discussed anything and I haven't seen it in writing on the agenda, as to be able to talk to anyone from Smithville Electric to see what their thoughts are on who they want to work with. I'm not opposed to appointing someone but I would like to be a little more notified."
Mayor Hendrixson responded, "It can be on the agenda, but it doesn't have to be on the agenda."
Alderman Sullivan: "I think in the (city) code and charter it says that you're supposed to submit that to us in writing as to who you want to appoint."
Mayor Hendrixson answered, "No ma'am I don't think it says that. The code says I will lay before the board any business I deem necessary to come before the board. That's what the charter says."
Alderman Sullivan: "But I'm talking about specifically appointments to city boards. I think it says you're supposed to do that in writing.'
Mayor Hendrixson: "I would like to appoint Walter Burton to the board of Smithville Electric.
Alderman Steve White: "I move that we appoint him."
Alderman Sullivan: "Was this not already declined at a previous meeting?"
Mayor Hendrixson: "Yes ma'am it was".
Alderman Sullivan: "So once we vote on it, we just keep voting on it until you get the answer you want? We're not going to do this in writing?"
Mayor Hendrixson:"I may not get the answer I want. Are you going to decline it until you get the answer you want? Is that what you're telling me too?"
Alderman Sullivan: "No sir, I would like for this to be on the agenda or in writing like the code and charter says and I would like to appeal to the secretary-treasurer that he check to see before we make that vote."
Alderman Steve White: "There's a motion on the table."
Alderman Sullivan: "Okay. We've got a code and charter, I thought we were supposed to be following that.'
Mayor Hendrixson:"We do and to my knowledge we are following that."
Alderman Sullivan: "We're not following that."
Mayor Hendrixson tried to appoint Burton to the Smithville Electric System Board during the February 2nd meeting, but the aldermen denied the appointment on a 3 to 2 vote with Aldermen Sullivan, Hutchins, and Thomas voting no and Aldermen White and Burger voting in favor of Burton.