published Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Commissioners question purchase


by Cliff Hightower

by Matt Wilson

The Hamilton County Commission decided Wednesday to delay a vote on spending almost $50,000 for a radio frequency identification system for the county jail because the equipment had not been put out for bid and additional information came at the last minute.

“There was a request for more information,” said Commissioner John Allen Brooks, Finance Committee chairman. “I got more information when I sat down here today in a letter dated Dec. 14. So it was available three days ago and I didn’t get it.”

Sheriff Jim Hammond agreed that the purchase was “a little bit out of the ordinary for how we do business,” but said the system came along while officials were doing bidding for other equipment for the jail. He said the system would help jail officials keep track of prisoners more easily and with less paperwork.

Sheriff Hammond and Deputy Chief Richard Shockley, who oversees the jail, apologized for not bringing commissioners the information sooner.

The commission is expected to vote on the system Dec. 31.

ANY QUESTIONS?

Going over the committee agenda Tuesday night, City Council Chairman Jack Benson asked if any council members wanted to raise concerns over any agenda item.

“Are there any questions?” he asked.

No one answered until Councilman Manny Rico put in his two cents.

“No questions means a ‘yes’ vote, right?” he asked.

Council members laughed and Councilwoman Deborah Scott shot him a look.

“Not necessarily,” she said.

joust over horses

County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to deny a Hickory Ridge Drive homeowner’s request to rezone his property so he could keep horses at his house.

“This is an old, established subdivision that has existed for many years,” said Commissioner Larry Henry, who represents the area. “It would be detrimental to the health, safety and well-being to have farm animals in there.”

The homeowner, Jeff Chastain, said his horses are “not able to be seen, heard or smelled.” He also said he didn’t know he was breaking any rules with the horses, which he got for his daughters.

Neighbors said they could both see and smell the horses.

Mr. Chastain said he would have to move out of the county if the zoning change was denied.

SOMEONE GETS THEIR JOLLIES

The City Council talked for a few minutes Tuesday about an ordinance on excavation and restoration of city roads.

The ordinance called for companies that work on roads to pave them back at a certain level and to pave from “curb to curb.”

Council Chairman Jack Benson asked Public Works officials if there was also any consideration in the ordinance about the times when street work could be conducted as well. He pointed out that some of the companies seemed to be working on roads around Hamilton Place mall during Christmastime.

“It seems they get their jollies by doing it around this time,” he said. “They do it and then watch the traffic pile up.”

He suggested that time limits should be considered in the ordinance, which the council will vote on early next year.

SEWAGE PLANT CHIEF GETS PRESENT

Jerry Stewart, the city’s director of waste resources, received a special present Tuesday from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Larry Zehnder, director of Parks and Recreation, gave Mr. Stewart a book titled, “Poop Culture: How America is Shaped by its Grossest National Product.”

Mr. Zehnder opened the front of the book and read off some of the chapters, which include “How Do You Doo,” “The Shaming of the Poo,” and “Free Your Hind: The Tao of Poo.”

“Councilwoman Deborah Scott has also asked about costs,” Mr. Zehnder said. “If you will turn to page 76, you’ll see that includes a chart of costs associated with biosolids.”

Mr. Stewart laughed as he took the book.

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