During their first meeting for the month of September, Sparta Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved several purchases so city departments can better serve the people of Sparta.
The board unanimously approved the purchase of a Police Pursuit S.U.V. from Lonnie Cobb Ford, of Henderson, Tennessee, under the State Contract of the Police Department. They also approved, again unanimously, the purchase of a 2020 Ram 1500 V8 Special Service Vehicle Crew Cab 4WD, again under State Contract, from TT of Columbia Inc. for the Public Works-Water Department.
“Did we give the local guys an opportunity?” alderman Jerry Lowery asked, acknowledging that he knows this question has been asked in the past, but he just wanted to clarify that the city was willing to shop local when possible.
“Every time we have ever put a bid out like this, they have never given us a price,” public works director Dillard Quick answered Lowery. “The only people who give us a price is a company out of Knoxville, and the prices are always higher than what we get on state contract.”
In other business, the board approved the hiring of Andrew Corso as a patrolman for Sparta Police Department and approved the decision to begin taking applications for sergeant for the police department.
“He seems to be a good young man - I think he will be a good hire,” Police Chief Doug Goff said of Corso, adding that Corso is in the Navy reserve.
Goff went on to explain the position of sergeant will be available at the end of the month due to Cole Stickler, who has been with the department since 2016, resigning.
“He [Stickler] will be leaving the police dept on the 22nd of this month to further his career with the Tennessee Highway Patrol,” Goff said. “He is a super good guy. It always stinks to lose an officer like that, but we wish him the best.”
The board heard reports from all of the department heads, and the consensus was that it was mostly business as usual around the city. Several projects are underway, and the city is awaiting word on both the multi-modal grant and the Gateway Project, both of which they should have more information about their status in the next few weeks.
“How is your labor? Are you needing help?” Vice Mayor Jim Floyd asked, speaking specifically to Quick. “You have a lot of projects going.”
Quick responded that the hiring of one more employee would ease the load and ensure the department could handle not only the scheduled projects but also the daily maintenance.
“Going forward, we do see that we are going to need another person on the water department,” Quick explained. “There are so many things that go on during the day. You have guys working on the projects, you have leaks, you have locates. You have to constantly test. We have the equipment, and we have the guys that want to do the work, but going forward it would be nice to have one more person for a maintenance crew.”
Ultimately, the board agreed to host a work session to look at the budget and determine if the funds were available to provide for another full-time laborer for the water department.
There was also discussion about the paving projects being done throughout the city, and the board approved a contract for $19,200 to make infrastructure repairs to water and sewer lines on Howell Street so they can continue with the paving and not face the need to tear the street up after that is done. They also agreed to authorize the city administrator, Brad Hennessee, to begin looking into engineering issues surrounding Rhea Street as paving cannot be done if there are structural, or infrastructural, issues on the road.
Hennessee addressed the board and asked for patience with all of the departments due to being in unprecedented times.
“COVID-19 quarantines have begun to affect city operations, he said. “Some departments have not experienced any, while one department has three that are on quarantine. Another department has two individuals that are on COVID-19 quarantine.”
Hennessee explained the quarantines were creating a need to reassign work and ensure the safety of the residents of Sparta.
“What we’ve done, if they’re in a safety-sensitive position, we’ve had to prioritize work and schedule based on that priority,” he explained. “That has the potential to delay some of our infrastructure projects that are ongoing. The situations are being carefully managed on a case by case basis, but I would ask for patience while we navigate this new territory.”