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Rhea County Commission discusses emergency responses and upcoming air show

From the Chattanoogan: The Rhea County Commission authorized Emergency Management Director Brad Harrison to enter into a mutual agreement with Mei

From the Chattanoogan: The Rhea County Commission authorized Emergency Management Director Brad Harrison to enter into a mutual agreement with Meigs County Emergency Management for responses to incidents on the Tennessee River that separates the two counties.


“With the recent two events that occurred at the river area, the drowning of two Cleveland men and the accidents at Blythe’s Ferry on both sides of the Tennessee River where cars went into the water; I met with Tony Finnell, Meigs County’s emergency management agency director and we both agree that both counties need to respond to any incident on the river around Highway 60, 30 and 68. When a call comes in to don’t have time to wait to see which county the incident is in. Lives are at stake and time is critical,” said Director Harrison.


The Commission also voted to enter into an agreement with the State of Tennessee to build a gate on Fire Tower Road on Grandview Mountain to stop the excessive dumping of trash including mattresses and tires on the state property.


The state of Tennessee owns the whole property on Fire Tower Road said Chairman Jim Reed. He stated they are wanting to cut off people’s access beyond the parking lot area for the nature trails to eliminate or at least slow down the illegal dumping that occurs there.


“They don’t want to keep anyone who needs in out of Fire Tower Road. EMA Director Harrison will get with the state and give them a list of people who need access,” said Chairman Reed. He further added that the state does not want to take the road over, that it would still be maintained by Rhea County Road Department.


Commissioners tabled a request from the Marc Anton Airport for support on an air show they are planning to have in September until they can get more information from the city of Dayton. Even though the airport is out in the county, it is owned and operated by the city of Dayton.


Airport Manager Bryan Janisch came before the commission requesting assistance for the airshow. He told commissioners that he already had $5,000 from the city of Dayton. He is estimating that the total cost of the event will be around $25,000. “We have currently raised $12,000,” said Mr. Janisch.


“Airshows have been held out at the airport since the 70s and 80s, with the last one held in 1982. And it was like it just fell off. This event will not be an air show but an air carnival. Of the planes we are expecting to have are military warbirds, along with vintage civilian aircraft. There will be a DC-3 and a World War II Catalina flying patrol plane. We are expecting two to four thousand people to come and attend,” said Mr. Janisch.


Mr. Janisch said this is open to the public, and they are wanting a lot of younger people to be in attendance as well.


“Ask any pilot why they wanted to fly, and I guarantee most will stem it back from a memory in their childhood. Aviation needs younger people to get involved to become future pilots of tomorrow. This is our main goal of this air carnival. The secondary goal is to raise money for a veteran’s monument with the Save the T-33 project,” said Mr. Janisch.


The T-33 is an old Air Force trainer from the 60s that was donated to the city of Dayton. In the beginning it was placed by the Dayton Chamber of Commerce but was later moved out to Marc Anton Airport. Mr. Janisch said that the plane has become dilapidated and in sore need of restoration.


Mr. Janisch introduced Andreas Montgomery of Montgomery Aero Enterprises. Mr. Montgomery is building a facility by the airport to restore and repair aircraft. He has volunteered to do the restoration to the T-33. Mr. Montgomery says his new company will be bringing in 50 new employees into the Rhea County workforce. They will be building new aviation park facilities on 41 acres by the airport to move from their current location in Calhoun.


At the end of the meeting during commissioner comments, Commissioner Mark Cashman brought up the subject of the boat ramp at Old Washington by Highway 30. Commissioner Cashman asked if there was any update on where the Commission wanted answers from the contractor on why the boat ramp was not according to what the commissioners expected.


County Executive Jim Vincent told Mr. Cashman and the commissioners that, “You can’t go after the contractor until you get a professional study done by the architect on this project.”


Commissioner Cashman then asked, “Does the county not have anyone to go behind on these projects to check to see if they are being done correctly?”


Chairman Jim Reed then stepped in and said that it is the job of each commissioner to check on projects in their district, as well as projects around the county and see what is happening with them.


County Executive Vincent said that for years, “the county has not been professional with its contacts. We don’t have a superintendent to go behind and see that things are being done correctly.”


Commissioner Nick Welch agreed with Chairman Reed and added, “We need to make sure the language of the contracts are clear and concise as to how the project is to be done. That is where accountability starts on these projects.”


County Executive Vincent said they can hunt out good people to do work on projects, “but a lot of time the bid process gets in the way of getting a good contractor.”


After concluding on the boat ramp, Commissioner Cashman then asked about the tire washer being installed at the landfill.


County Executive Vincent said he has not asked about it lately, but reported that the first phase of construction on the new part of the landfill is near completion with the entire height of the vault being incapsulated to contain the leachate runoff from the landfill into storage tanks that will then be routed into the city of Dayton Sewer system that runs along Highway 27.


The next stage to be completed will be the methane burn off system. This project is moving at a good clip. The Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation is constantly inspecting the new construction.


Chairman Reed reminded County Executive Vincent, along with commissioners, that the tire wash system has been asked for a decade now and hasn’t been completed yet.


Chairman Reed then asked for a motion to adjourn but advised before commissioners left that there would be a special called workshop on June 28 at 6 p.m. for the end of the year budget adjustments and then at 6:30 there would be a special called meeting of the County Commission.