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Ringgold Mayor Joe Barger wants to prevent ginkgo trees in Citizens Park from being replaced with maples.

RINGGOLD, Ga. -- The Ringgold City Council voted this week to move an electric sign currently sitting in the heart of downtown.

Wait, no, they didn't.

Yes, they did.


It's complicated.

The City Council voted on the sign this week, that's for sure. Some residents had complained the sign was an eyesore, with its bright lights flashing constantly, displaying one ad after another, the images and colors changing every couple seconds.

This is Ringgold, the angry residents say. The historic city square is supposed to look like it did decades ago.

So Vice Mayor Nick Millwood made a motion during Monday's council meeting. He said the elected officials should spend the next three months finding a new place for the sign. If they can't find one by April, he said, they should just shut it off.

Then Councilman Jake Haynes offered an amended motion. He said Mayor Joe Barger should form a special committee that will privately raise the money to buy a new location, move the sign and pay the bills for that sign for 10 years.

Also, Haynes said, this committee will design a new sign that will go in front of the Ringgold Depot, meaning residents will still have an electronic display downtown. The committee will have one year to complete all of these assignments.

The council voted 4-1 to approve Haynes' amended motion. Councilman Earl Henderson was the lone holdout.

Five days later, though, the council is still divided on what they actually voted for. Their dispute concerns that one-year deadline.

Say Barger forms the committee but it doesn't raise enough private money to execute the plan within a year. What happens then?

Henderson and Millwood believe the city will shut off the current sign, but the other councilmen believe the sign stays in the middle of downtown.

Barger said Thursday he's not sure who is right.

"It sounds like if I don't get this done in a year, they will move (the sign) anyway. It was not clear. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you more."

On Monday night, council members said they needed to ask City Attorney Jim Bisson, who did not return a call seeking comment late Friday afternoon.

Local attorney McCracken Poston, who wants the sign moved, said the council should never have voted for Haynes' amendments. He said Haynes did not present the potential amendment during a planning meeting earlier Monday because Poston would have pointed out that the amendment was a "poison pill."

The committee will never be able to move the sign, Poston said, because Haynes' amendment put so much junk in the motion. And installing a second sign in front of the Ringgold Depot puts anti-sign residents back at square one.

"It was a trick that got pulled over the people," Poston said. "The battle is not over. We just go to different tactics."

Haynes could not be reached for comment Friday.

Staff writer Katie Ward contributed to this story.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at tjett@times or at 423-757-6476.