City Council discusses closing Simms Street

The Italy City Council is contemplating the possibility of closing Simms Street between US 77 and Main Street until the bridge on Couch Street is completed.

Council member John Droll brought the recommendation to the city council at their monthly meeting Monday evening. Droll said trucks are now going down the one block long street and destroying it.

Brad Chambers, public works director, said the citizens are angry because Couch Street is closed for bridge replacement. He said the city did not need to make the citizens angrier.

Greg Richards, council member, said Droll is right about the truck traffic tearing up the street but said he understood Chambers’ stand on the matter. He pointed out that there is no protection on the sides of the road at the intersection of Simms Street and US 77. He suggested possible signage to prohibit truck traffic.

Rodney Guthrie, council member, said three property owners needed access to their property and pointed out that the city cannot shut down the street completely due to that fact.

Droll said that citizens could go two blocks down US 77 to the intersection with Hwy. 34 to turn onto Main Street.

The council decided to check further into the matter before making a decision.

Chambers said the bridge deck is scheduled to be delivered Dec. 22 and 23 and should be set by Christmas.

In other business, Mark Stiles, Italy Economic Development Commission president, addressed the council regarding efforts by the commission.

He said the EDC strategic plan is to create jobs and expand businesses. If that was not what the council wanted, he suggested they could disband the EDC.

“I have no agenda. I am going to follow what the law says,” Stiles said.

He said the firefighters, back in the 90s, canvassed the community and got a half-cent sales tax passed by the community for the fire department and equipment.

Since that time, Stiles said the EDC laws have changed.

Mark Souder Sr., council member, said he became a member of the EDC in 2002 when the EDC purchased a fire truck. Three years into the note, he said the legislature changed the way local entities could expend EDC money.

“The verbiage is that EDC money is supposed to create jobs and enhance the town,” Souder said.

Stiles said the city had not kept up the EDC charter. He said that was the first order of business once he joined the commission. Financially, he said the board has one more payment of $25,000 for the fire truck that is due next year. He said the board plans to pay the note off a year early.

Richards said he has not been to all the EDC meetings but said he was impressed at what he heard at the ones he attended.

“I am for whatever enhances and builds up the city.” He added, “I want to see the city grow.”

Stiles said he is a big supporter of the fire and EMS and sees the need for a civic center.

“I don’t mind working on the EDC as long as I have your support,” he added.

“We are going to attract and create jobs or the commission can disband. I don’t like being the gate keeper,” Stiles emphasized. “I am going to follow what the law says.”

Tom Little, EDC member, suggested the mayor get an updated attorney general opinion. He said he felt EDC could spend money on a civic center.

Little said he sat through two strategic planning meetings. He said the commission spent more than $10,000 for a consultant He said that money could have been used as a down payment on a lot for a civic center. This is something, he continued, that would benefit the citizens. He said the citizens want something that is visible.

“We ought to honor the citizens’ desire and build a civic center,” Little concluded.

In other business, the council approved the appointment of Darrell Rosemond to the EDC Board.

They also voted to change the council meetings from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Souder requested the meeting time change because it is difficult for him to leave work in downtown Dallas and get to Italy by 6:30 p.m.

During department reports, Police Chief C.V. Johns said the warrant officer made 10 contacts in November. The animal control officer received two calls and issued three warnings.

Thomas Peyton, code enforcement officer, said he received five complaints and issued warnings on four of them. He initiated six other concerns and issued six verbal warnings.

The city clerk reported 365 citations filed by the police department.

During council comments, Droll said he is disappointed that the mayor is using the city vehicle just because he is having personal vehicle problems.

Mayor Frank Jackson said the city had a successful Christmas parade and festival Dec. 5 and a nice evening service on Dec. 6

The next city council meeting is set for Monday, Jan. 4, at 7 p.m.

Comment from Judi Rowe received December 15, 2009, 3:09pm

The item that Ms. Kirton mentions regarding John Droll’s disappointment “that the mayor is using the city vehicle just because he is having personal vehicle problems” has raise some questions that I would like to get answers to if possible.

  • How long has the mayor been utilizing a city vehicle for personal transportation and what liability insurance changes were necessary for this use to occur?
  • How long will the mayor be using the city’s vehicle?
  • Who is responsible for fuel in this vehicle and are accurate mileage records being kept?
  • Where can a citizen find the city’s policy on the use of city vehicles for personal use?

I guess, I’m disappointed to find out about this occurance as well and would appreciate more information.

Comment from Donna Garner received December 16, 2009, 11:45am

I own a home on Main Street. I understand the need for the bridge repair. However, I think the city and law enforcement needs to pay more attention to Main and Simms St and the safety issues that have arisen from the closure of the bridge.

The increased traffic has made exiting my driveway very dangerous. I have almost been hit twice in the last two weeks trying to leave for work. The speeding traffic was bad enough now it’s just plain DANGEROUS! (Is that not why the city no longer allows the homeowners on Main to have curbside mail delivery due to concerns for the postal carriers from the traffic?)

There are 7 other homeowners on Main St. in the same situation as myself. I would be extremely grateful if the police dept and council could look at this situation a little closer before someone gets injured.

Donna Garner
313 W. Main St.