Members of Hamilton County's Health and Safety Board came to the County Commission on Wednesday to ask for help finding ways to get people to clean up debris cluttering their yards.
"The people who own those properties are usually physically disabled, they're mentally disabled or they're financially disabled," said Bonnie Deakins, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department's director of environmental health.
She said owners of such homes are charged a $49.99 daily fine but often aren't able to pay it.
David Norton of the Hamilton County attorney's office said officials have the option of sending workers to clean up the property, then putting a lien on the property if the owners don't pay. But Charles Wheaton of the Health and Safety Board said they've never done that.
"We'll have to have some county (equipment) and some people," he said.
Commissioner Fred Skillern said it would be good for the county to go ahead and clean up the properties.
"I see no reason why their heirs shouldn't pay eventually," he said.
Mr. Skillern went on to say that "the certainty of punishment is the greatest deterrent we have."
County Mayor Claude Ramsey asked Mr. Norton to make sure that county workers could legally go onto private property to do such work.
Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles created a momentary scare Wednesday morning when he fell climbing the step to the dais where county commissioners sit.
Mr. Knowles quickly jumped back up and let everyone know he was OK.
"Step up," he said.
Once Mr. Knowles was back on his feet, Commissioner Bill Hullander quipped, "He's new; he's not familiar with this place."
Mr. Knowles is nearing the end of his ninth term as clerk.
new fire hall opens
Officials celebrated the opening of a 5,600-square-foot fire hall for the Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department Tuesday night at Cooley Road and Birchwood Pike.
The building will house six firetrucks and will have 10 volunteer firefighters on hand, according to a news release. Before its construction, the closest fire hall for residents in the Ware Branch area was five miles away.
Wait! Wait! He's not there
Chattanooga City Council Chairman Jack Benson was going through roll call of council members asking for reports Tuesday night when he suddenly learned something.
"Councilman McGary," Mr. Benson called.
Mr. Benson slowly turned his head to see an empty chair. Councilman Andraé McGary had slipped out just a minute earlier to attend meetings for National Night Out.
"I didn't even look at him," Mr. Benson said.
With a little less than 18 months left before his administration ends, Gov. Phil Bredesen said he understands some top appointees in his administration are trying to land jobs elsewhere.
"Of course, I'm at that point in my time as governor when some of these commissioners are going to be thinking about what life is going to be like after the Bredesen administration," Gov. Bredesen told reporters last week.
His remarks came after it was reported that state Education Commissioner Tim Webb had applied for a job as Cheatham County schools director.
The job would come open next July. Gov. Bredesen said Mr. Webb has done a "great job."
He said he has started telling top officials that "obviously if you're willing to stay and walk out the door with me, I think that's great. But ... I don't think everyone wants to be on the street looking for a job on the same day."
Still, Gov. Bredesen said, he remains "very sensitive" that officials with regulatory authority are "taking themselves out of any decisions if they're talking to anybody (where) there would be any sort of a conflict."
Gov. Bredesen, a Democrat, is barred from seeking a third term. He leaves office in January 2011.
The perfect gift
Birthday presents generally tend to grow fewer as the years increase, but that evidently doesn't apply to politicians, judging by a recent fundraising appeal from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
In a July 31 letter, the Chattanooga senator's 2012 re-election campaign organization has Mr. Corker's wife, Elizabeth, using the occasion to ask supporters for campaign contributions to "celebrate" her husband's 57th birthday on Aug. 24.
"As you know, campaigns are expensive and each year during this time, we also ask Bob's supporters to continue their financial support for his campaign," Mrs. Corker writes in the letter.
"To mark Bob's birthday, I hope you might consider a contribution -- perhaps $114, two dollars for each year -- or even just $57 as a friendly reminder of his age."
Of course, the accompanying card itself has contribution categories going up to $2,400.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...