By Louie Graves
Nashville City Council members heard from one new department head, and by split-vote selected a second one, Monday night.
In less than two months the council has hired a new Code Enforcement Officer and a new Fire Marshal to take the place of Jerry Harwell who has held both positions and who is retiring in about a month.
After an executive session lasting 25 minutes and by a 7-2 vote, the council voted to hire Justin Thornton as new Fire Marshal. The other applicant for the job was Heath Harwell, son of current Fire Marshal Jerry Harwell and Donna Harwell, who sits on the city council. Voting “aye” on council member Carol Mitchell’s motion to hire Thornton were Freddy Horne, Monica Clark, Vivian Wright, Kay Gathright, James Parker, Andy Anderson and Mitchell. In opposition were Nick Davis and Mike Milum. Council member Harwell did not vote but did stay in the room for the executive session.
Thornton has been with the Nashville Fire Department since 2007 and is a former member of the Bingen VFD.
Both applicants were present at the meeting, and both are current members of the Nashville Fire Department.
The new department head heard from was Code Enforcement Officer David Riggs who was hired for the position last month, and who was the only applicant for the position.
Riggs addressed some concerns from council members, and said he was learning from the current code officer, Jerry Harwell, and from a former code officer, David Johnson.
One item Riggs mentioned was complaints from motorists about basketball goals set out on city
streets or placed where kids were using the street as a playing court.
He said that “Kids need a place to play,” but that the goal placement provided a hazard. He said he’d hate for a child to be run over.
PWD Dunaway said that April 27-May 5 had been selected for the city’s annual free Spring Clean-Up.
Citizens may dispose of items at no charge. Large bins will be placed at numerous locations for the convenience of residents.
Dunaway said that, as usual, citizens were asked not to dispose of paints, solvents or any flammable item.
Large bins will be placed at the Carter Day Training Center, fire stations on the Isaac Perkins Bypass and at Toland Heights, also at the Collins Road intersection on the bypass, and at the intersection of Coleman and Front Streets.
He noted that the chosen dates would include two full weekends.
Council members briefly discussed a potential zoning change proposed last month. The change would allow a business owner to reside in a downtown business building.
The idea, however, was tabled again because council members wanted to know more about code requirements for utilities, parking and fire protection, and what would happen should the business close.
In the end, Mayor Billy Ray Jones said that the idea would be brought back to the council later. “We need more time,” he said after there were several questions to which no one had an answer. Code Enforcement Officer Harwell suggested to City Attorney Aaron Brasel that the state fire marshal might have some valuable input.
In his own report to the council, Harwell told the council the number of days, hours and minutes he had left on the job. He promised to complete work on the city’s storm warning sirens even if he had to come back in to do the work. He noted that he had been on the fire department for more than 29 years, and had been the city’s code officer for 16 years. Harwell is the city’s second Fire Marshal, succeeding the late James Daniel. He was asked to take the position about four years ago.
The council adopted an ordinance which slightly increases the city’s fee for connecting to water mains. The increase is the first in 24 years.
Present at the regular meeting for March were Mayor Jones, City Recorder Mary Woodruff, Police Chief Amy Marion, City Attorney Brasel, PWD Director Dunaway, and council members Milum, Anderson, Mitchell, Parker, Gathright, Wright, Clark, Davis, Harwell and Horne.