Notes from the Mayor's Office

Originally Published in The Groundhog


October, 2002 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

We have just completed our second year in office with two more to go. We have accomplished most of the things we set out to do, either finished or well under way.

Judicial Committee: Community Watch Program completed in the first year. The Radio Communication Program and Tower which provides the police, water, and streets with direct contact with Town Hall and each other on an as-needed basis is working well.

Financial Committee: The newly acquired accounting system (CSA34) we have set up this past year now has data retroactively entered into the system, both town and water. What a job! We think we have most of the bugs worked out. We were able to provide full-time employees with heath insurance this past year, and just in time for one of our employees. If the council approves, we will obtain workmen’s compensation benefits in January. These benefits have been a long time coming. The magistrate’s reporting system has been set up and is on line with Montgomery, which means tickets can be entered into the state-wide system much earlier than in the past.

Seniors and Beautification Committee: We received a grant of 200 trees from the National Tree Foundation, and many of them have been planted in Mason Park, Brow Park, and along public right-of- ways. Anyone needing some of these plants may have red maple and green locust, available to plant on public right-of-ways. We will provide you with instructions for land width of your street for location of right-of-way.

Streets, Parks and Bridges Committee: Improvements will be forthcoming at the intersection of Scenic Drive (Co. Rd. 89)) and Highway 117 from a grant we received. Engineers are surveying and designing curbs and sidewalks now. The walk bridges in Mason Park are being built and should be finished within the next month. This was a donation from Senator Lowell Barton.

Water: The Drought Grant is moving along on a timely basis. You will be receiving a letter outlining the required cross-connection controls and required inspections before turning the water on where one wishes to stay connected to his well.

Remember to VOTE YES ON AMENDMENT I to keep the tax money in Mentone for the Fire Department. This is not a vote for more taxes, just to keep what we already voted for four years ago in this fire district. It will mean $20,000 more per year to the volunteer fire departments.

This will be the last of the Mayor’s Notes each month. I do not have time with my other duties with the grants we have in place that require my attention and with badly needed work in the town. Instead, we will replace the column with questions and answers. If you have a question or wish an explanation or answer, we will publish it in The Groundhog if you so desire. Write out your question and drop it in the mail or into the drop box at Town Hall.



September, 2002 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

Contrary to some people’s thinking, the mayor does not have “the power to override or fix a ticket;” nor does he have the authority to change anything in regard to an ordinance. An ordinance is the law, the same as a law written by the state or federal code. An ordinance written for a municipality under the Alabama law must be enforced the same as those written for and by the state and federal governments.

When we each came in office, we swore, under oath as follows, “to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Alabama, and to faithfully and honestly discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, to the best of my ability, so help me God.”

I am doing this to the best of my ability. If it is contrary to what some believe is not what it should be, then, I invite you to do one of the following: make an appointment with me to discuss the issue, and then, if necessary, we will place you on the agenda to come before the appropriate committee, or town council. Circulating a petition or running around town trying to drum up support is not going to get the matter resolved.

Let us all work together. We all wish to make Mentone a better place to work, play, and live.

The laws and penalties against an elected official are far greater than those against a citizen for breaking the law. The same is true of our policemen. They cannot just make an arrest as some think without dotting the “i’s and crossing the t’s”.

We will be meeting with the D.O.T. engineers this month to learn what we can and can’t do at the intersection of Scenic Drive and Hwy 117. Our plan is to make the intersection safer for both traffic and pedestrians. As I advised last month, we were awarded a $50,000.00 Enhancement Grant for this project.

In previous issues of the paper, we have mentioned a problem with dogs. We will not require everyone to fence their dogs. A leash law would be too expensive to enforce. Besides, we do not have the manpower. Our attorney is working on a Vicious Dog Ordinance.

Let us remind you that burning trash, leaves, and limbs as dry as it is, is not a very smart thing to do. The legal chances are too great. Especially if you do not have a bum permit. To obtain a bum permit, call the Alabama Forestry at 1-800-572-2017, give them your name and address, including the section, town ship and range, in which you live and are planning to do the burning.

The contractor started on the Drought Grant water lines the week of August 26th. As of September 11, he has laid the pipe on 641 and has started on 644.



August, 2002 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

Last month I related that we had applied for a grant to do curbs, sidewalks, landscaping, and a crosswalk at the Hitching Post called a DOT T-21 Grant. We received a letter from the governor that our application has been approved. We will not start construction on it until after the October Colorfest. In all probability, we will not be able to finish it until spring as some asphalt paving is required. This will help make the intersection much safer and provide a sidewalk to the Post Office or beyond. Eventually we hope to provide a sidewalk to the new library.

Since our last notes in July about the dogs, not only have we had more complaints but two cases of bites. We will now be working on an ordinance to protect our citizens and the general public.

At our Town Council meeting on Aug. 12th, Larry Sanders was elected councilman to fill the un-expired term of John Corey who resigned. Larry was selected from several candidates. We appreciate the interest shown.

As most of you know, we had to replace our older police car. The new one has a different look, and the other one will be re-striped to match it —a much cleaner look, don’t you think?

The last step before starting construction on the Drought Grant (641, 639, 644, and on down Hwy. 117 to 106 (Whatley’s store area) is set for Friday Aug. 16th. We hope the contractor will be able to start immediately. Also included in this grant are Alpine Road and Gray Road.

The tank site on Co. Rd. 642 is being cleared, which is included in the Rehab grant/loan. In all, we have over $2.4 million in water improvements to our water system taking place.

Below is a copy of a warning sign posted at the pumping station and the tanks, stating it is a federal offense to tamper with a water facility under U.S. Code Title 42, Section 3001-I. This is a terrorist act and includes all water lines, obstruction or tampering with or accessibility to equipment, including water meters and fire hydrants. Therefore, take notice that it is illegal for anyone other than a Water Board employee or supervised person by a Water Board employee to even cut a water meter on or off. This is the reason why it is required: a cutoff must be installed on the customer side beyond the meter and back flow preventer.

It is worth noting that it is a felony for anyone taking water illegally, that is, out of a fire hydrant or NOT SIGNING UP for water PRIOR to using it.

We are under a mandate by state and federal laws to protect our water system. We intend to do our part and will prosecute. It is all of our responsibilities to protect our water supply and source. If you should see anything suspicious, you should report it to the police, 634-0704; the Water Board, 634-9106; or to me, the mayor, 634-4278; or even to 911 if you think it’s warranted.



July, 2002 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

The Mayor's notes seem to be repetitive each month, so unless we have something to report differently, we will not be taking time to do them each month as our plate is full trying to keep up and follow up on the grants that we have in the works.

I must admit that everything not only seems slow, but does move slowly where the government is involved. We opened bids on May 22nd for the drought grant and should have started construction by now.

Last year, we filed a grant application for curbs, sidewalks, and landscaping near the Hitching Post. No one filing an application under the DOT T-21 program has heard who might be eligible for an award. In following up with the state, it appears those eligible should be notified in the next week.

We are surveying Co. Rd. 631 now for those who might wish to have water.

We are going to build new walking bridges in Mason Park, thanks to the donation from Senator Lowell Barron for this purpose.

We have had complaints about dogs frightening visitors around the Log Cabin Village over the weekend. The dogs are a Collie, Dalmatian (no collar), 2 Rottweilers, brown and black, and a beige (mangy) long nose composite. We ask you to help with this situation so we do not have to deal with an ordinance or restrictions.



June, 2002 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

It makes me feel good for people to stop me on the street and tell me they look forward to reading this column every month and appreciate what we (Town Council and Waterworks Board) are trying to do to serve the people. Appreciation is always welcome. Constructive criticism we listen to and try to correct and improve on.

The trees we received from the National Tree Trust which were planted by the Seniors & Beautification Committee in April in Mason Park have done extremely well. When the seedlings arrived by UPS they appeared to be sticks. Now every one of them has sprouted and is growing. One particular one I keep an eye on beside Town Hall has beautiful leaves on it and has grown at least two feet. I believe it is a black gum. We also have red maple. We plan to build new walking bridges in the park soon from a donation we received from Senator Lowell Barron for use in the parks.

Many of you have asked about the plans and grant application we applied for last year to put in curbs, sidewalks, a cross walk, and landscaping at the caution light. We have been advised no one has received any notice regarding this grant. In a meeting with Senator Barron we asked him to look into the status of it for us. We have received a copy of a very nice letter he wrote to the Director of ALDOT, Mr. Paul Bowlin, on behalf of Mentone in support of this project.

The Rhododendron Festival went very well from a traffic flow point of view. The weather hampered the turnout which accounts for reduced traffic. However, it seemed to pick up on Sunday. Maybe the turnout for the fall festival will be more productive.

The council at its June meeting appointed Huey Mathews to chair the Planning Commission and to be zoning administrator, and also appointed Marie Corsentino to the commission.

The Architectural Review Board established in 1992 by ordinance has not been used before because there was no commercial development. We have appointed five members to this board to review new and renovations development plans in order to keep Mentone’s commercial development aesthetically in accord with the rest of the architectural scheme in Mentone. This review and the board’s recommendations will be done after an application for a certificate of compliance is submitted to the zoning administrator.

Waterworks Board: Bid opening from seven contractors on May 2nd for the Drought Relief Grant ranged from $301,000 low bidder to $649,000 high bidder. This was approximately $136,000 below the projected cost of the project. We were given permission by RDA to apply for change orders to use the balance of the grant in the areas which had been environmentally accessed.

The Rehab and Tank Grant engineering is being completed and confirmation for this portion of our water program has been committed by RDA. Included in this application is a Waterworks Board office and some equipment.



May, 2002 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

We cannot thank our Boy Scouts enough for the marvelous job they did in cleaning up our town and helping to rid us of the West Nile virus threat.  They and their leaders worked for several days to rid us of literally mountains of unsightly and dangerous junk. Remember to make a donation to the Scouts if you are able: Boy Scout Troop 106, P08 205, Mentone, AL 35984.

Also I I want to remind anyone engaging in business without a license: get one so immediately if you do not wish to incur, a fine.

Another reminder: Zoning ordinances are in effect; penalties will be levied on violators.

First Federal Bank is proceeding with the demolition and clearing away of the old houses across from the Post Office. We are most grateful to them.

Some good news from our Water Works Board: bids for our Drought Grant are scheduled to be opened May 22nd. This grant will enable us to improve and upgrade our water system and allow us to reduce water losses.

Recently I spent a weekend in an Atlanta hospital undergoing necessary test procedures. The water I had to drink there tasted horrible. When I came home, Karen handed me a glass of water when I had to take a bunch of pills. Folks, it was the best tasting water ever! Our water hasn’t been coming from the Tennessee River lately, but from the reservoir in Fort Payne. We are truly blessed.



April, 2002 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

The West Nile virus clean-up was not only a success but it mushroomed beyond our greatest expectations. Did you see the amount of stuff piled up at Sutton's Hill, also known as Tom's Drive-In, and the amount of scrap metal at the corner of Scenic Drive and Highway 117?  The Boy Scouts and their leaders worked very hard and long on Saturday to amass five roll-off dumpsters full of junk, approximately one thousand tires and at least two tractor trailer loads of scrap metal, including two boats and a number of batteries.  The count could go well beyond this as we are still hauling and will be for the next several days.  When the town council voted to sponsor this project with Boy Scout Troop 106 of Mentone, our best estimate for the cost of dumpsters and dump fees was from $1500 to $2000.  Now, the disposal of the tires alone could cost $2000, at $2.00 a tire, not including loading and hauling.  I spent two days trying to get someone to dispose of the scrap metal.  Scrap metal prices are so low these days that it is not worth hauling.  You can see this from the amount of scrap metal that was cleaned up out of people's yards.  Based on the response, they also know the cost of the disposal of tires.

This project was to last only one week-end, not an entire week.  We have now had to post the sites and place security at each site.  We were allowed to use these sites for the central location and convenience of the Scouts.  Now we have to stop dumping; and the clean-up by the Scouts is over.  The purpose of this project was to clean up the Town of Mentone.  However, we decided it was also important to clean up and accommodate the surrounding area (police jurisdiction).  However, it was related to me that a pickup truck with a Georgia tag was seen dumping tires.

Thank You cannot be said enough to the many people who participated in this project.  Thank you to the owners of the Mentone Inn and to the owners of Sutton's Hill for allowing us to use their properties.  The Boy Scouts and the Town of Mentone appreciate their contribution.  A very special thank you to the Boy Scouts of Mentone Troop 106 and their leaders.

In summary for now on the West Nile virus, those of you who for some reason didn't elect to participate in this clean-up and opted to be of the opinion that the threat is not real, we pray that you are not the one to get sick.

One final note, a gentleman who lives in the police jurisdiction stopped by the scrap metal site on Saturday afternoon and said to me, "I did not know that young people like these Scouts and their leaders would work as hard as I I have seen these fellows working.  They cleaned up my yard and it was a professional job.  This is the greatest thing that ever happened in Mentone."  We hope that many of you share this gentleman's kind remarks.  This has been a costly project; and, if it were not for the labor furnished by the Scouts and their leaders, we would not have been able to afford such a project.

If you would like to make a donation to Boy Scout Troop 106, you may send it to:  Boy Scout Troop 106, c/o Mentone Town Hall, PO Box 295, Mentone, AL 35984.  Any donations made will be used to improve the buildings and grounds at the Boy Scout Hall on Dempsey Avenue.



March, 2002 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

In cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and the Alabama Department of Health, the Town of Mentone is sponsoring Boy Scout Troop 106 in the West Nile Virus Cleanup Program. Let's all get behind this effort to clean up our yards, streets, and all of Mentone. Our motto is if we can save one life or person from being extremely ill, it will be worth the effort. This disease is not like what we have dealt with before and there is no shot available as yet.

Our appreciation goes to all those involved in obtaining and mounting the flags along Highway 117, especially Linda Brown, who spearheaded the project after the request came to the council. They are beautiful, and I am told more are on the way - maybe one or two state flags will get included. I hope that our young people who have not had to experience war and depressions will admire what our flag stands for and treat it with respect.

After several meetings, the DeKalb Mayors Association (of which I am a member) has gotten some input into the planning of a new jail for the county. One thing we all agree on is that it is badly needed and soon.

After a survey of vehicle tag receipts, it appears that the tax collector's office has not been collecting our Mentone Motor Vehicle Tax. They have been advised, so you should see an amount in the block labeled "city" when you purchase your tags.

The Alabama Department of Transportation held a public involvement meeting at the Mentone Community House on Thursday March 7, 2002 for Project BR 204 (503) replacement of the Whatley Bridge on Highway 117 at Little River near Four Roads at the state line. The bridge will be located adjacent to the old bridge on the west side. It will be plenty wide, 44 feet. Skyline Bridge at Little River we hope will be next and not too far in the future. Every time you get an opportunity, speak to our commissioners, senator, and representative. Remember, this is election year. And just a reminder: political signs under our ordinance are considered temporary. In no case are they permitted on the public right of way of state or county. In order to be placed on private property, one must have permission or risk prosecution.

First Federal Bank of Fort Payne has purchased the property across from the Post Office, hopefully for a bank in Mentone. They have advised that they will work closely with first-time home-buyer applicants and provide counseling services to prospective buyers in such areas as mortgage financing procedures. For further information about this program under the current Affordable Housing Program of the Federal Home Loan Bank in Atlanta, contact them in Fort Payne at 845-1077.

The Beautification and Senior Activities Committee will soon receive 300 seedling trees: red maples, black gum, and green ash, from the National Tree Trust. We plan an April 13th work party.

Water Board: Our grant applications to RDA for a new tank and rehab of old lines is still processing along. Our water losses are so high that several lines which are not included in the grant have made us borrow money to replace some on an emergency basis. In some cases it is more prudent and economical to replace them than to patch them. We should have the Mason Street, Douglas Street, and part of Highway 117 in the downtown area relocated and in service within the next week. Then we will be able to disconnect several thousand feet of old galvanized and cast iron lines. Due to more costs implemented in the processing of water by governmental regulations under the Clean Water Act, our costs from Fort Payne have increased this month. Therefore, we will have to pass this cost on, probably in the month of April.



January/February, 2002 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

The North Lookout Mountain Fire Protection District, its Chief Jim Roberts, Assistant Chief Rusty Chambers, and their volunteers are to be commended for their dedication and response to the rash of fires in the past couple of months. In December, they responded to a 911 call to a fire which had been left unattended. Their response time of four minutes saved several houses from disaster.

Another night, they fought fires all night along the north brow (County Road 89), saving at least three houses. Then, recently, the Mentone Springs Hotel had a gas leak in the kitchen to which they responded in less than five minutes, saving the landmark hotel, but not before considerable damage was done to the kitchen and roof. One remark I heard was that they would have been there sooner if they had not had to wait for the air to build up on the truck.

We hope their prayers and dreams will be answered shortly. I have been told their application for an RDA loan for a brand new truck is very close to being granted. Then fund-raising and contributions will need to be a responsibility of all of us to help pay for it. This, together with the Water Works improvement of water flows, will help them to get an improvement in our insurance rates.

Presently, our rating is as high as you can get (ten, some say nine). It does not matter; until we get an eight, our rates will not drop. A rating of eight will lower our rates by 25%. A rating of six will lower our rates by 40%. It appears with that kind of a break we should all be willing to contribute. Please: let us get behind our volunteers to help us all.

Our RDA grant/loan application for the rehabilitation of most of our old lines and new half million gallon tank is moving through the slow wheels of government. This is the other portion of our being able to get a reduction in our insurance rates. They count for 40% of the ISO rating process.

We are having to make some improvements in our water system now. You may experience outages of water in some areas over the next few days, but be assured we will not keep the water cut off longer than absolutely necessary.

If for some reason you did not receive a water bill this month, please call the office at 634-9106.



December, 2001 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

This being the last notes for the year 2001, I will make them brief this month.  The December Town Council meeting approved the budget for the fiscal year 2002.  Again it is very tight and we will have to operate very cautiously.

The council posted a “Noise Ordinance” to deal with the ever increasing loud boom boxes which so many of our citizens have complained about.  We can post ordinances, but they do not solve the problem unless we get an officially registered complaint from you.

We have received notice from health officials that we must plan to deal with the “West Nile Virus” this spring, which is expected to be a health hazard to our citizens.  This disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.  In order to eliminate their breeding places, we must clean up places that provide for their habitat, such as old tires, open junk automobiles, cans, barrels--in other words, where rain water can stand.

I expect to ask the council for help in carting off debris as a result of an organized community effort “Clean Up,” especially to help those who are unable to help themselves.  I would appreciate any ideas from you as to what we should and can do.  This is a very serious problem, and we must unite to overcome it.

It is very difficult for me to understand why so many people came to meetings requesting water; I worked very hard to get the Drought Grant approved, and then we and several of those needing water had to pull teeth to get the required number (61) to sign up.  Several who had written to me before, begging for water, did not sign up during the sign-up period as required by RDA.  I am sorry that we will be unable to provide service to those at the same installation cost allowed during the sign-up period.




November, 2001 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

Last month we reported the state of affairs of the town and accomplishments of the committees for the past year. What we will accomplish in the coming year is up to you. The Town Council, the committees, and I cannot do it alone, and certainly not without the will of you, the people. As for me, I took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the laws of the state of Alabama, and to protect the health and welfare of the good citizens of Mentone, regardless of the opposition. With your help and with the grace of God, I intend to uphold my promise to the voters and to my oath.

It appears that the Octoberfest was as successful this year as last. The Tourists and Events Committee is moving forward with the web page and should have it up and running around the first of the year. We hope to include a civic page on the web site to keep you informed of the current events in town and happenings in surrounding areas.

We have received numerous inquiries and complaints about loud and disturbing noises and when or if we will have a noise ordinance. There are laws on the books which can deal with this as "disorderly conduct.” However, most of the towns have adopted a noise ordinance, and we have one on the agenda which will deal with such problems as boom boxes.

Those people on County Roads 641, 639, 644, Hwy 117, and portions of County Road 106 around Whatley’s Bridge who have not yet signed an application for water, please contact the Water Board for an application. These need to be completed by Nov. 20th. You will need your 911 address and your section and lot number, which can be found on your tax statement. The charge as approved by the Board and Rural Development will be a $150 tap fee; a $35 set-up fee, and a refundable deposit of $50 for owners and $75 for lease-holders (renters). If you work and cannot get into Town Hall, call 634-9106, and we will send someone out to your home to complete your application, or we will mail it to you.

We are in the process of preparing plans and budgets for the year 2002. With the economy in a state of disarray, it is difficult to envision which direction to go and which plans to try and prepare for.

At present I can only report to you that we are waiting on Congress to pass a budget for this year which will affect the grant applications we have for the beautification and safety improvements at Scenic Drive and Hwy 117, and the water rehab grant/loan combination for a new tank and replacement of most of the older and undersized lines in our system.

Our old water tank has been out of commission while we have been cleaning and having it inspected. We have been advised by the inspectors that it is okay for several more years. However, we plan to replace this one under the aforementioned grant.

There have been small amounts of criticism of the Zoning Ordinance. We realize that it needs some revisions to provide for more uniformity as well as enlarging our business district. This has been under study by the Planning Commission, Board of Adjustments, and Town Council. Some changes will be forthcoming soon.

Let me remind you that a town, a city, or a nation without proper planning are like an uncultivated watermelon. It will dry up and die on the vine. So let’s cultivate the heritage which has been given to us and make it grow!



October, 2001 -- C. E. Britt, Mayor

The Council and I have now completed one full year in office, and I am happy to report to you that the state of the town is well and healthy. We have accomplished many of the things together that we promised and planned to do.

Some of the items I pledged to work for in my letter to the voters were to make Town Hall more efficient, to encourage community participation, to improve police and fire protection, and to improve and preserve our water system.

First, we have renovated Town Hall. We have installed an innovative phone system with dedicated lines to the Police Department and Water Board. We have rewired Town Hall which was necessary to provide more outlets and additional lighting to get us out of the dark ages. We have built a customer counter for improved paying of bills. We have provided more working space for the Town Clerk and Magistrate. We have provided space for the Water Board Clerk and a new computer system. While we haven’t reached our maximum efficiency, we have made great strides.

We have encouraged community involvement:

Through the Judicial Committee chaired by Gerald Bailey, we have successfully launched a Community Watch program with 35 signs posted in the community. We acquired an a $18,000 grant through the state judicial for a new radio system, including more powerful police car radios, walkie-talkies, a base station with a repeater, and a 60 ft. tower, thus eliminating dead zones, giving us the capability of communicating with the four surrounding counties and other law enforcement agencies throughout DeKaIb County with our own radio frequencies.

Through the Beautification and Seniors Committee chaired by Sam Franks and Ann Wright, I hope you have noticed the beautiful plants and rock planters around Town Hall. Once a month they have had a work party clearing and planting native plants in Mason Park. Through their efforts, we have applied for an Alabama Power Company tree grant of $3,000 for 121 trees to be planted in Mason Park and adjacent streets.

Through the Streets, Parks, and Bridge Committee chaired by Larry Gray, there have been meetings with the state highway department for review of our bridges and school signs and other areas of concern. As a result, narrow bridge signs and fluorescent school signs have been installed. In an effort to provide a safe intersection of Hwy 117 and Scenic Drive, a DOT Traffic Enhancement grant for approximately $50,000 has been applied for which includes curbs, gutters, and sidewalks with a striped cross walk at the intersection, and sidewalks to the Post Office. Also included in this application are 151 trees along Hwy 117 to the new library.

Improved Police and Fire Protection: Our police have participated in state and federal safety programs to create more safety awareness. These programs have resulted in a crackdown on driving under intoxication, speeding, seat belt violations, and general safety violations such as speeding in school zones. These programs have resulted in a significant increase in fines and arrests. Our police have been doing a fine job and should be commended for their long tireless hours and dedication.

The Volunteer Fire Department has been engaged in applying for grants and/or loans to obtain necessary equipment to become ISO rated. This means a cut in insurance rates. We are presently as low as we can get, which is a 10. A drop to 8 would lower our rates by 25%; to a 6 by 45%. The most important element of this formula is water flows and fire hydrants.

Our Water System: In August last year I advised you that I was in the process of applying for several federal and state grant/loan combinations to rehab the entire water system. This has a two-fold purpose: first, to provide the citizens with quality drinking water and for the drought-stricken communities around us; second, to improve water flows for fire protection. I am happy to report that we have been notified and received one grant called a “Drought Stricken” grant for $500,000 to provide service to communities on County Roads 641, 639, 644, and Highway 117 to Whatley Bridge and portions of 106. We will begin signing up customers within the next couple weeks. More significant is our application for a $1,500,000 grant/loan to rehab the major portions of our town system and some outlying areas, and also to provide a badly needed new tank. This will help complete one of the requirements needed by the Fire Department to get ISO certified. We expect this application to be approved this month. It has been held up because of some environmental concerns about the endangered Green Pitcher plant. It finally bloomed in July, and the application was cleared in late August. Guess what? The Rural Development Program ran out of money, so we have to wait until they get 2002 funding, which is in October.

In summary, we have had a worthwhile year, and while we have not yet accomplished all that we set out to do, we can say, “It is in the works.” The significant question is “How have we done all this and not raised taxes?” While we have had some short falls in taxing areas such as a decrease in sale tax collection of approximately 10%, through prudent budgeting and management we have increased our reserves by 18% over last year, while providing more services and benefits to the community and the town’s employees. Much of this has been through participation of people serving on committees and dedicating their time and labors to make Mentone a better place for all of us. In the coming weeks and months, we must all pull together, as we cannot accomplish all that we have outlined without everyone’s help. I hope that the people living in the suburbs (police jurisdiction) realize we are not just trying to provide for downtown, but for the Mentone community as a whole.


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