By Richard Rourk
During a meeting on Monday, Oct. 26, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously voted to allow the Erwin Christmas Parade to take place.
“I make a motion to approve the Nov. 28 Christmas Parade,” Alderman Michael Baker said. “I’m so glad that we are going to be able to have these Christmas events. The citizens really look forward to them.”
Alderman Gary Chandler seconded the motion.
According to Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Delp, the shutoff date for float entries is Nov. 20.
The BMA also unanimously approved the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
“With (COVID-19) numbers going up, we would definitely need to scale back,” Delp said. “The tree-lighting ceremony will take place on Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.”
Town of Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley expressed worry regarding both Christmas events during Monday’s meeting.
“Our concern is getting too many people together,” Hensley said. “Safety comes first. I am concerned for the citizens, but also the staff and public safety employees of the town. One measure we will have to take to ensure safety is to keep town hall closed during the events.”
Vice Mayor Mark Lafever voted to approve the events, but warned that safety measures must be followed by everyone involved.
“I feel the lighting is fine, but the less interaction we have the better,” Lafever said. “People really need to take the steps to make sure these events are safe.”
For more information about the parade and tree-lighting, call the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce at 743-3000.
Also on Monday, Unicoi County Emergency Management Director Jimmy Erwin was on hand to seek approval of a hazard mitigation plan that was created by former Unicoi County Emergency Management Director Ed Herndon.
“This is required by TEMA to be eligible for future hazard mitigation grants,” Erwin said.
The BMA voted unanimously to accept the hazard mitigation plan.
Following the BMA meeting, Town of Erwin City Recorder Travis Bishop announced that road paving has begun in Erwin.
“We have started the process of paving roads today,” Bishop said.
During a meeting held in September, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to accept a bid of $1.159 million made by Summers Taylor to pave several area roads.
“This is money that has already been budgeted and will go towards paving 19 of our roads in the city, which is roughly 15 percent of our roadways,” Bishop said during the Sept. 28 BMA meeting.
Town of Erwin Public Works Director Tim Bailey announced that one specific area is currently being paved.
“If you have been on Opekiska, Carolina and Catawba you may have seen asphalt being laid down,” Bailey said. “We will work on the roads including filling potholes as long as the weather cooperates with the asphalt.”
In closing, the BMA discussed a new insurance plan. Following the discussion, the BMA voted unanimously to change the employees of Erwin to the state healthcare plan. A motion to approve the state plan was made by Chandler and seconded by Baker.
According to Bishop, no further details are available in regards to the insurance switch.
“We really don’t have anything more right now,” Bishop said. “We just know that with costs rising we needed to seek a change. We will be planning workshops in the future to discuss the state plan further.”