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.
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.
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.
think when we announce a special election it’s no big deal,” said Emanuel.
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.
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.
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
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.
Powell said of work at Jenkins Park that it must now be put on hold “until the
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,”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
said the signs should be in position by the first of the year.
The next city commission meeting is
scheduled for Jan. 13.