By Robin Ford Wallace
Trenton welcomed its newest leader on Monday night as
City Clerk Lucretia Houts administered the oath of office to recently appointed
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell at the city commission’s regular
Powell will serve out the unexpired term of Chuck
Cannon, who resigned from the commission this year amid headlines stemming from
a tumultuous personal life. Besides parks and recreation, Powell will also
oversee animal control in the city.
Mayor Anthony Emanuel in his usual review of Trenton’s
fiscal situation had, for once, glad tidings: “This is a month that anybody
would love to review the financials,” he said. February had brought in a healthy
infusion of much-needed tax revenues, he said, with the $291,000 collected far
But he immediately qualified his message: It was now
up to the city to stretch that income out for the rest of the year, said the
mayor. “It can be somewhat misleading because it looks like we have a lot of
money to spend,” he said.
On the other hand, Emanuel was also pleased to
announce that expenditures had been down in several key areas. “This is the
only meeting that you will ever hear me say ‘less than budget’ five times,”
said the mayor.
Emanuel said that continuing to wrestle expenses down
was the only way the city could hope to avoid more personnel layoffs and
continue providing services. “It’s something that we spent the entire year of
2012 climbing out from under,” he said.
Police Commissioner Sandra Gray asked for approval for
hiring an extremely part-time firearms instructor. “He’ll probably be working
around 20 hours a year,” she said.
She explained that Trenton police officers have
training requirements in firearms and that having an instructor on payroll
would save money over sending city officers to Forsyth to complete their
Ms. Gray said the instructor she had in mind was a
retired officer from Fort Oglethorpe, Dough Howell. The commission voted to approve Howell’s
Streets Commissioner Greg Houts announced the
retirement of longtime employee Donny Daniels from the road department. The
mayor commended Daniels’ years of service as well as specifying that he would
not be replaced, saving the city more money.
Emanuel told the commissioners and audience that
Trenton would help Dade County and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA)
all it feasibly could with infrastructure for IDA’s new industrial park
acreage, though only part of it lies within the city itself.
He explained that IDA is an autonomous agency that
does not answer to either county or city governance. “They can do all sorts of
grand and wonderful things in and of themselves,” he said. “But they need our help
getting utilities up to this industrial site.”
He said that getting water, sewage and electricity to
the site would come with a hefty price tag but that it was in the city’s
interest to attract new jobs. “Obviously when a business comes into the industrial
sites, the city of Trenton will directly benefit,” he said.
He said the city was coordinating with the county on a
related GRAD (Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development) grant from the state.
Asked about progress on the city’s anti-eyesore
ordinance, Emanuel said he was working on it but it was slow work. In most
cases, he said, the city was dealing with absentee owners – “They got the hell
out of Dodge” – and would have to raze the offending buildings and clear the
Nevertheless, said the mayor, 2013 was going to be the
year Trenton cleaned house, and come spring: “You’re going to see a renewed
vigor addressing this issue.”
Fielding a question about City Hall’s own current mess
out front, the mayor explained that the trees there had not worked out due to a
high water table and that despite other creative ideas for the area – “Someone
suggested a mud wrestling venue” – the plan was to plant grass instead.
And speaking of messes, the Dade County Chamber of
Commerce’s Debbie Tinker reported that bags were available for the ongoing
Great American Cleanup. Throughout the year, she said, the C of C is happy to
provide garbage bags to any group or individual wishing to help keep any
section of the city or county tidy.
Ms. Tinker also announced a ribbon cutting next
Tuesday, March 19, for D&B Powder Coating’s expansion, and she reminded all
of the upcoming Chamber banquet on April 20. Additionally, she solicited judges
for the Project Synergy competition next Wednesday, March 20. She may be reached
at (706) 657-4488.
Friends of the Library President Donna Street, as she
had at last week’s county commission meeting to the Dade officials,
hand-delivered to the city commissioners invitations to the group’s March 22
dinner, which is intended to bring together the three agencies responsible for
funding the threatened institution. “I think we ought to be able to solve this
without a lot of media hoopla or without a big political campaign,” she
Library Manager Marshana Sharp updated the city
commission as to current library doings, as detailed elsewhere in these pages,
and reminded cardholders that they can check out passes at the library for free
entry to Georgia state parks and historical sites, including local Cloudland
Canyon, and to the Atlanta Zoo, as well as to a couple of other attractions in
Trenton Tree City’s Eloise Gass reported on tree
plantings last month dedicated to Bill Marshall and to late Trenton Mayor Paul
Rollings, and reminded the audience that National Arbor Day is the third Friday
Ginnie Sams, speaking for the Trenton Arts Council,
reported on publicity the group’s ArtScape public art project had brought the
city and announced that the next installment would be a “Running Man” sculpture
in front of the Southeast Lineman College housing on Highway 11.
She announced a community art event called the
Appalachian Renaissance Project for May 4, which will feature music, visual
arts, poets and perhaps dancers. Details will be announced as they become
The next regular
meeting of the Trenton City Commission is scheduled for April 8.