South Pittsburg board approves bucket truck purchase

South Pittsburg board approves bucket truck purchase

April 19th, 2019 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News
South Pittsburg City Administrator Gene Vess / Photo by Ryan Lewis

South Pittsburg City Administrator Gene Vess / Photo...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — If the cityscape along Cedar Avenue in downtown South Pittsburg has seemed unchanged in recent months, that's because it hasn't changed.

The reason? City Administrator Gene Vess said the town doesn't have the equipment needed to change the light pole banners and flags along the route.

Now, he said, the street's banners are worn and unsightly. And with the National Cornbread Festival happening later this month, which is expected to draw thousands to the area, he said something needs to be done.

"We are in dire need of a bucket truck," he told South Pittsburg City Commissioners at their April meeting. "Banners have not been taken down. Flags have not been taken down in a few months now."

He said he's been scouring the internet for months looking for options.

"Like anything else, it's a stab in the dark," Vess said. "You have no idea what you're buying until you get there to pick it up and find out that you can't get back to town because it won't run."

A local company that's going out of business offered to sell the town a 2002 GMC C7500 bucket truck with about 80,000 miles on it.

"If we take care of it, it should last us for 10 or 15 more years," Vess said.

He said the truck has a bigger boom than South Pittsburg's old truck and the brakes have been replaced recently. And it comes with added bonuses: a hydraulic pruner, a chipper and a new stump grinder.

South Pittsburg has been paying a private company for months to chip debris since the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation banned the town from burning it.

"This would help us as far as we could do our own chipping," Vess said.

He recommended purchasing the equipment for $45,800.

All of the pieces purchased individually would normally cost about $55,000 "or better," Vess said.

"Have we got the money in the budget [to buy the equipment]?" Commissioner Ronnie Lancaster asked.

"Budget?" Vess replied. "No. General fund. Yes. This is not a budgeted item."

Lancaster asked if the town could afford the price.

"Yes, sir," Vess told him.

The board voted unanimously to approve the purchase.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at