published Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Legislators to sponsor Whitfield metro bill

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell Rep. Tom Dickson, r-Calhutta

DALTON, Ga. -- It shouldn't be a problem to pass legislation to continue the proposed merger of Whitfield County and Dalton before the end of the 2011 session, area lawmakers say.

Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, said he supports passing the legislation -- which creates a consolidation charter commission to study the issue -- after speaking to local leaders.

"I think it is a good first step and certainly worth going through to see what a consolidated government would look like," Dickson said Tuesday. "It is a bit premature to say if it is a good thing or bad thing. It depends on the outcome from the charter commission."

State Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, said there should be time to move a bill through the legislative process before the end of the session in March or early April.

Whitfield County and Dalton city leaders unanimously agreed Saturday to move forward with consolidation steps. Leaders hope to place a charter referendum on the ballot in November 2012.

The City Council and County Commission plan to meet separately Monday to vote on resolutions asking legislators to approve a charter commission.

The 15-member commission will consist of two City Council members, two county commissioners, one representative each from Tunnel Hill, Cohutta and Varnell, four residents appointed by county commissioners and four appointed by city council members. It will study issues important to consolidation and write a charter for the consolidated government.

Whitfield County Chairman Mike Babb said Tuesday that the county clerk has already received calls from people interested in serving on the commission.

At a tea party event in Dalton on Tuesday, Dalton Mayor David Pennington urged residents to volunteer their time to serve on the commission.

"For the first time in this community, you get to be Thomas Jefferson," Pennington said. "The charter commission will decide what a consolidated government looks like."

Contact staff writer Mariann Martin at mmartin@timesfreepress.com or 706-980-5824.

IF YOU GO

The Dalton City Council will hold its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.

Whitfield County commissioners expect to hold a special called meeting at 6 p.m.

TO VOLUNTEER

Whitfield County Clerk: 706-275-7507. Dalton City Clerk: 706-529-2490

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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Wilder said...

The City of Dalton is lowering the lifeboats. Dalton's city schools once rivaled the best public schools anywhere - they are now 70% Hispanic and 70% underprivileged.

County kids that couldn't afford private schools, used to transfer to the city for a better education - now it is the reverse.

Merging with County would have been unfathomable a decade ago, but now it is a matter of survival. The carpet cartel created a Frankenstein Monster, and the townies realize that it is irreversible.

February 17, 2011 at 10:23 a.m.
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