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By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter


Trenton is a small town with a small government. Everyone is used to that. 

But when, at the regular December meeting of the Trenton City Commission, Mayor Anthony Emanuel nearly forgot to open the formal business portion of the session with “the official roll call,” then remembered and hastily remedied the situation by calling … two names, an observer might have been forgiven for thinking he was making a joke.

But Emanuel has never been much one to go after the yuks, and he was doing no more than following protocol. The Trenton City Commission is made up of four commissioners. With Police Commissioner Sandra Gray absent for work reasons, and the streets commissioner job sitting empty since August, that left … two names: Fire and Utilities Commissioner Tommy Lawson and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Terry Powell.

It was enough for a bare quorum, and the meeting proceeded as planned. But at the Dec. 9 meeting, Mayor Emanuel and City Clerk Lucretia Houts announced a timetable to bring the commission back up to force with a special election, and the commissioners voted unanimously – both of them – to approve the several measures needed to make the election happen. 

The election is for the unexpired two years left of former Streets Commissioner Greg Houts’ term after he moved outside city limits last summer. The city attorney advised Trenton then that since an election was scheduled this November for two other commission seats, the commission was required to append a special election to it to fill Houts’ seat rather than itself appoint a successor.

Protocol continued to rule even when only one candidate, David Raines, stepped up to qualify. Though Raines was a veteran commission member who had served multiple terms in the past, and though he had no opposition for the post, Trenton was advised he could not take his seat until after the Nov. 5 election.

Raines never took the seat at all. Tragically, he died three days before the election.  

So Trenton is now in the position of requiring yet another special election, and at last week’s meeting City Clerk Houts announced it would be as earlier projected on March 18. Interested candidates may come to City Hall to qualify for the position on three days only, Jan 27, 28 and 29, from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Early voting will begin on Feb. 24.

Also as a matter of protocol, the commission voted to name City Hall employee Cindy Robertson supervisor of the election; approve an intergovernmental agreement allowing the Dade County Board of Elections to conduct it; and appoint Board of Elections employee Lowanna Vaughn absentee ballot clerk.

“Most people think when we announce a special election it’s no big deal,” said Emanuel.   

Actually, he said, besides the trouble, it costs the city thousands of dollars. Clerk Houts said she’d looked into it and could put the figure at $4,700.

The mayor urged anyone interested in filling the empty street commissioner seat to call City Hall at (706) 657-4167.

Commissioner Tommy Lawson intimated that perhaps that seat had sat vacant too long: He’d been waiting until there was a streets commissioner to point out trouble he’d seen in the streets department.

Some time ago, Lawson said, the streets department had gone to a four-day workweek. Lately he’d observed that with holidays and vacation time, the four-day schedule left no one at all on duty when the streets department was most needed.

Mayor Emanuel pointed out that the move meant no increase of man-hours, just spreading out the ones already budgeted, and he also observed that none of the city’s other departments had adopted the four-day week; and without further discussion the commissioners – both of them – voted to switch the department back to five days.

The mayor gave the police department report in Commissioner Gray’s absence: In November the Trenton PD answered 213 calls, gave 44 citations and collected $12,163.78 in fines, for a year-to-date total of $100,241.04.

In his report, Commissioner Lawson was pleased to report no major sewer breakdowns in November. In past months that has not been the case and Lawson has explained that Trenton’s wastewater treatment system is now 20 years old and beginning to feel its age.

Commissioner Powell said of work at Jenkins Park that it must now be put on hold “until the weather breaks.” 

But the mayor complimented on him on the new playground equipment and paving work that had already been completed, and said the park was looking very nice indeed.

In his own report, Mayor Emanuel said the holidays were an exciting time for Trenton. “Sometimes when you think things are quiet, that’s because everybody’s busy,” he said.

He commended the Dade Industrial Authority for the new road it has laid connecting the county’s existing industrial park to its recently-acquired 200-plus-acre expansion.  “Drive by and look at it,” urged the mayor. “It’s pretty impressive.” 

In his monthly financial report, Emanuel said revenues were up in November. “It was a good month financially for the city, and we continue to improve the year-to-date as well,” he said.

Clerk Houts advised all that city trash pickup, which usually occurs on Wednesday, on Christmas week will be on Friday instead. The same, she said, goes for the next week, because of the New Year’s holiday.

Dade Chamber of Commerce Director Chris Musser reported that the Chamber had been working with Thrive 55, the regional community-planning group, and with Covenant College on an internship program.

Trenton Tree City President Eloise Gass reported that her group had planted an Arbor Day arboretum at the middle school and cleared out many of the city’s flowerbeds in November. 

The mayor commended her on how lovely the lantana had been at the Trenton post office this year, and she replied it had been a loyal perennial. “We only had to plant it one time,” she said.    

No member of the Trenton Arts Council was present to report, but Emanuel said the city is working with TAC on four unique city entrance signs to be placed at the city limits at its north, south, east and west extremities.

“Their uniqueness will be because they will attempt to depict the history and life of Dade County,” said Emanuel.

Ms. Gass said she frequently encountered travelers at the Trenton McDonald’s who seemed to have no idea where they were, so she hoped a sign would be put near there. “Then they’d know where they’re at,” she said. 

Mayor Emanuel said the signs should be in position by the first of the year.

   The next city commission meeting is scheduled for Jan. 13.


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