Bumgarner hopeful for mill solution

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mayor Les Bumgarner gave a cryptic promise Tuesday in regards totalks with two lumber companies slated to replace Columbus, butwould say little else to elaborate.

“For those of you who are concerned about Great Southern WoodPreserving and Rex Lumber, talks with them are continuing,” themayor said during last night’s board meeting. “There’s going to besomething we can work out. I think the talks are encouraging, andthat’s all we can hope for.”

The talks have been ongoing, as city officials are reluctant toaccommodate GSWP with their own well if they do move in. Cityordinances prevent companies within city limits from having waterwells separate of the city system, and Brookhaven officials arehesitant to begin making exceptions now.

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Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron asked the mayor if an agreementcan be reached even without the well.

“Talks are encouraging,” Bumgarner repeated.

Still, the mayor emphasized the importance of finding commonground with the companies.

“They’re a package deal. They have different reasons for coming,but they’re tied in together,” he said of the two businesses. “Ibelieve Rex is the key. Without them, we’re in trouble. Things arelooking good, but it’s not over until it’s over.”

There is no time frame yet on when talks would be complete, butGSWP has expressed an interest in being staffed and open forbusiness by the first of February.

Meanwhile, the board is also mulling a possible ordinance todeal with trees in order to be compliant with the “Tree City USA”program through the Arbor Day Foundation.

In order to become a part of the program, which providesdirection, assistance and recognition for forestry programs inthousands of towns and cities, and could assist the city in grantstoward beautification, officials have been told they have to havean ordinance directly in regard to trees in the city.

A subcommittee chaired by Ward Six Alderman David Phillips hasworked since the beginning of December to put together theordinance, and Phillips handed copies out to the aldermen atTuesday night’s meeting.

Phillips stressed to the board that the document is simply afirst draft.

Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes said there will be a “treeboard” appointed, which will consist of citizens of the community.In order to address issues local business owners have had in thepast with city trees, Estes said members of the business populationwill be included on the board.

“I thought it would be important to have some professionalsappointed to the tree board, but we don’t want it to be totallymade up of professionals,” she said.

Phillips said at this point the ordinance proposes that the treeboard be made up of five people. When Bumgarner asked if thesubcommittee had considered putting seven members on the tree boardso each alderman could appoint one, Phillips said it had been givensome thought.

“That’s open for discussion,” he said.

The board also held a lengthy executive session in regards to apersonnel matter. When they came out of the executive session, theyvoted to suspend a street department employee for two weeks.

Scheduled appearances from government consultant Demery Grubbsand Brookhaven citizen Sheila Killingsworth were both cancelled.Grubbs was unable to attend the meeting, and Killingsworth’srequest to put a mobile home on property on Old Highway 51 wasremanded to the planning commission.