published Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Etowah eager for spring cleaning

ETOWAH, Tenn.—Etowah plans to revitalize its emergency services equipment and its curbside appeal with a little spring cleaning.

The town finally scrapped its oldest firetruck, earning the city $6,000 in salvage fees, according to City Manager Matthew Gravley.

“It’s hard to believe, but that was the best thing to do,” he said.

Prohibitive replacement costs made that the most cost-effective step, he said. The city would have spent $106,000 plus delivery to have the firetruck restored to proper working order, Gravley said.

In the meantime, the Etowah Fire Department still has two working firetrucks.

The City Commission approved the $2,780 purchase and installation of new computer hardware for the police department’s audio-visual storage/retrieval system. Gravley said the current system had reached its capacity.

Personnel changes also are in the works for the fire and police departments, he said.

The fire department recently hired three part-time firefighters to cover when other firefighters are absent. The police department will advertise for two officers soon, Gravley said.

Emergency services may take priority, but Etowah officials take the city’s appearance seriously, too.

The biggest cleanup project involves demolishing 25 uninhabitable homes. The commission agreed to move forward a couple of weeks ago after publicly reviewing the matter with County Attorney Russ Blair.

Commissioners voted to assign a mowing contract to Justin Morgan, of Etowah. Gravley said he expects significant savings over the $100,000 the city annually pays for staff, equipment maintenance and insurance to keep its grass trimmed.

Mayor Burke Garwood asked that the city manager and the planning commission look into ways to encourage residents from leaving their garbage cans “on the curb forevermore.”

“It’s the most trashy thing we’ve got going,” he said.

Garwood strongly opposed a suggestion by Gravley to increase the number of allowed household yard sales from two to five per year.

Five yard sales would amount to an ongoing business concern and not simple housecleaning, Garwood said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at

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