published Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Adams, in new position, fires Crossville engineer

by Cliff Hightower

by Dan Whisenhunt

Former Hamilton County Commissioner Curtis Adams fired Crossville city's engineer shortly after becoming city manager there, according to the Crossville Chronicle.

The newspaper reports that some on the council felt the firing was the result of "good-old-boy" politics, but Mr. Adams said it was because the city needed to save money.

Crossville Councilman Jesse Kerley implied that engineer Tom Wolf was fired because he ran afoul of Crossville Realty, owned by Dean Bennett. Mr. Bennett and Crossville City Councilman Boyd Wyatt both made contributions to Mr. Adams' last re-election campaign.

It's not the first time Mr. Adams has run into trouble as a city manager. He served briefly as city manager of East Ridge in 2008, but left after disagreements with City Council members.

On Friday, Mr. Adams defended his decision.

"I would say most cities our size do not have a full-time engineer," Mr. Adams said. "It wasn't a personal thing. It wasn't a political thing. If you're familiar with the city, the city manager is in charge of all employees. So my goal is to try to trim some people.

"Politicians in a city are not supposed to tell a city manager anything about employees. That's the unwritten rule. They vote on policy and (the city manager carries) it out."


When it meets on June 16, the Hamilton County Commission may approve the following items:

* Appointing Matt Hullander to the Zoning Appeals Board for five years.

* Appointing six members to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Health Council: Phyllis Casavant, Sheryl Rogers, Earl Medley, Mai Bell Hurley, Eva Dillard and Rae Bond. They will serve four-year terms.

* Accepting a grant for the "Safe Journey" project by adding $143,156 to the Sheriff's Office operating budget.

* Awarding a $1.7 million contract to Talley Construction Co. for construction of the Hamilton County Rail Authority-Hickory Valley Road Bridge Replacement at Enterprise South industrial park.

* Increasing the contract by $74,566 with Sain Construction Co. for the new Hixson Middle School.


The Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department has received recognition from the National Association of Counties for the department's 2009 "Buried and Hidden Treasures Program," according to a news release.

"The summer program celebrates Chester Frost Park's many natural resources through a historical timeline and hands-on learning activities for school-age children 6 years and older, plus their parents," says the release from County Mayor Claude Ramsey's office.

"The program was developed over a two-month period by Recreation Specialist Maureen Davis and Superintendent Tom Lamb. Their objective was to allow participants to see Chester Frost Park and surrounding areas as not only a fun place to picnic, hike and swim but also a classroom full of nature, wildlife and history," the release said.


The JFK Club meets at noon Monday at the Out of the Blue Cafe and will host Brenda Freeman Short, candidate for the 3rd Congressional District.

Ms. Short is campaigning as a Democrat and faces Alicia Mitchell, John Wolfe and Brent Davis Staton in the Aug. 5 primary.

The JFK Club is an organization of local Democrats. Cost of the buffet lunch is $11.


Brandon Lewis, creator of the website www.stopthe, sent out a news release last week saying a proposed property tax increase could hurt businesses.

Mr. Lewis quoted Justin Owen, director of policy and general counsel of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

"During these tough economic times, the last thing Chattanoogans should have to face is a property tax increase," Mr. Owen said in the release. "A property tax hike will result in taking much-needed resources away from businesses, inevitably causing them to reduce wages, lay off workers, or even worse, close their doors entirely."

The Tennessee Center for Policy Research is a free-market think tank that focuses on promoting libertarian ideals.

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said the council has a tough decision ahead as it considers a property tax increase of 64 cent per $100 of assessed value. He said council members are being influenced by many people and parties, and this was just another one.

"I would hesitate to call Mr. Owen an expert, but rather someone who has another opinion," Mr. Beeland said.

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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