SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. - After the South Pittsburg City Commission voted unanimously last week to abolish a policy requiring a written request to speak at board meetings, the door was opened for residents to voice grievances openly - and they did.
One resident complained that Old Jasper Road, which runs along the side of South Pittsburg Mountain just above U.S. Highway 72, is "sliding" off.
The resident said she had complained about the problem before to officials in the previous administration, but had "gotten no results."
"The road is in dire need of help," she said. "Even the guardrail is sliding over towards the main highway."
The resident said she owns property near the road's intersection with Coburntown Road, and city-owned drainage ditches are "full" of debris, which has caused gullies to form on her land.
"My property is going to wind up down on the main highway if that's not stopped," she said.
Mayor Virgil Holder lives just below the road and said he "knows exactly" to what the resident was referring.
"There's going to be a lot of those spots," he said. "I've seen it. As a matter of fact, I was driving through there when it was raining looking at everything."
Another resident said he has lived along the road for almost 30 years, and that speeding is a major problem there as well.
Holder said he would examine the area with Public Works Supervisor Russell McCain, and the South Pittsburg police would be "looking in on the speeders."
"We may not get it done tomorrow, but I can assure you that will get our attention," he told to the residents. "If it doesn't get our attention, we're taking too long, or you don't hear back from us, holler at me right here in front of everybody."
"At least you're listening," one resident said.
Old Jasper Road and Coburntown Road are going to require a lot of work, Holder said, and he realizes the area has been "neglected for a long time."
Other roads in South Pittsburg need work, too, he said.
"We're going to be working on them and working our way through them," Holder said.
December meeting attendees complained also that some of the town's Christmas lights were out, illegal dumping was taking place in a residential area known as Hamburg, and there were concerns voiced about the ongoing flooding problems in the town.
Holder said all of those grievances would be addressed.
"Welcome to city government," one resident joked.
Holder said he's looking forward to the challenge of leading the town.
"I am glad to be on this board," he said. "I think we have a really good board that's really going to help get this town moving."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at email@example.com.