By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
There are a lot of organizations, all doing a lot of good work, in the city of Grayson, Mindy Wood-Click told Grayson city council last week. Between events sponsored by Grayson Tourism, the Chamber of Commerce, and community groups like the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs, as well as programs from the library, the Carter County Historical Society, and the Grayson Gallery & Arts Center, there are also a lot of people coming into town. That’s before you even count the people coming in to see performers and events hosted by local businesses, and travel teams coming into the sports park.
There are so many events, programs, and attractions, in fact, that Tourism decided it was time for Grayson to rejoin the Main Street program, she said.
Woods-Click said one of the reasons they wanted to rejoin was for the opportunities being part of the organization brought. While there is no money directly available from being part of the Main Street program, she explained, there are grants and other opportunities for training and guidance available with membership.
“Things are already happening, with multiple organizations,” Woods-Click said, explaining this makes it an opportune time for Grayson to rejoin.
Woods noted that last year Tourism worked with businesses and others to cleanup and decorate downtown for the holidays and that they are looking at cleaning up more properties.
She noted, for example, the “pocket park” placed in the empty lot next to the Blue Goose building, itself a rehabilitation project that Tourism is using as an event space and business incubator. The park, tucked in the space between buildings, includes seating as well as water and fire features and was used as a venue space for performers during various events last year.
She also told council the first list of properties identified following the passage of last year’s
blighted property ordinance has been sent to the clerk. That ordinance aims to encourage owners of blighted property to rehabilitate them – to avoid a higher tax rate – or to sell them to someone who wishes to rehabilitate them.
With action expected on these derelict properties, and the ongoing growth of events and attractions in Grayson, Woods said, they felt it was the appropriate time for Grayson to rejoin and take advantage of the guidance and resources membership offers.
Woods-Click also gave an update on the Grayson Gallery, noting the entity has been bringing monthly art shows and other events to the community for ten years now.
In other action the new council moved to place Mayor Troy Combs on all city checking accounts, and to remove retired mayor George Steele and former city clerk, the late Duane Suttles, from those accounts.
Council also moved to approve the creation of a new account for the deposit of money received from opioid settlements funds. That account will open with a balance of around $60,000 from two payments, one just over $43K and the other just over $19K. By the terms of the settlement, the funds must be used for opioid abatement.
In department reports emergency management reported on working with the new owners of the Shangri La property to house homeless people during the worst of the dangerously low temperatures. Fourteen individuals took advantage of the opportunity for shelter, and while some of those did probably have family or friends who they could have stayed with, Joann Dunfee said, she believed the needs of the homeless were “going to be an ongoing problem,” for the city.
Chief Steele asked council to consider revisiting impound fees, and the possibility of raising them from $75 to $125 to keep pace with costs. Steele said council might also need to consider other ordinances as well – such as ordinances prohibiting the discharge of firearms inside city limits.
Currently, city attorney Jason Greer said, the only recourse against someone discharging a firearm inside city limits is a violation of the noise ordinance.
The fire department reported their busiest year to date in the previous year, with more than 700 calls. Chief Greg Felty said a number of those were calls for accidents, “especially on Carol Malone.”
Councilperson Jennifer McGlone, returning to council after a brief hiatus, asked about the number of calls outside the city, asking why the city should be responsible for calls in the county.
Chief Felty explained that the county does help fund the city’s department, including fully funding their weekend crew. In addition, he noted, “about 90 percent of the firefighters on our force actually live in the county.”
McGlone asked about billing for those runs outside the city, in instances where they could bill.
“We charge what we can,” Felty said. “Sometimes we get it. Sometimes we don’t.”
McGlone also made a motion to allow the fire department to move funds from unused line items to their maintenance line item, for the purpose of replacing tires on their ladder truck.
In his administration report Mayor Combs noted the city was taking applications for the position of city clerk through the end of the week.
In other news the mayor reported on a report from Bell Engineering regarding the Rupert Lane drainage and sidewalk project, noting that he will meet again with the engineer in two weeks for more details. While the first two phases will be funded with grants, the costs has gone up and the final beautification phase of the project will be the responsibility of the city.
In other new business the mayor reported on a future need for drainage repairs on CW Stephens and discussed planned street closures along Pomeroy, from Main Street to Second Street, for Memory Days food vendors.
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