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Caboose finds home in Unicoi

The Old Eleven Eleven Clinchfield caboose as it sits today. (Contributed photo)

By Richard Rourk

The Old Eleven Eleven, also known as Clinchfield Caboose 1111, has found a new home.

The Town of Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously during a meeting on Monday, Nov. 18, to accept the donation of the caboose from the Clinchfield Railroad Museum Board of Directors by way of CSX Transportation, following a motion by Alderwoman Kathy Bullen and seconded by Alderman Jeff Linville. Town of Unicoi Vice Mayor Doug Hopson was absent from Monday’s meeting.

“Railroading is a big deal and this is a generous offer,” Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said. “This is the last operating Clinchfield caboose.”

Several members of the Clinchfield Railroad Museum Board of Directors, including Clinchfield Railroad Museum Curator Martha Erwin addressed the BMA on Monday.

“This was my dream and the board’s long-range plan to get a caboose next to the museum and this is an opportunity to bring people here,” Erwin said. “I did not want this piece of our history to leave Unicoi County. We’ve already watched the Clinchfield 1 leave..”

According to Erwin, the Town of Unicoi Tourist Information Center would be a great location for the Old Eleven Eleven.

“I can just see the caboose sitting there off of the interstate,” Erwin said. “That caboose is an attraction.”

Lynch agreed with Erwin.

“That would definitely help tourism in Unicoi, especially being seen off of the interstate at the tourist center,” Lynch said.

The Unicoi History Group is excited to partner with the Clinchfield Railroad Museum.

“I would like to thank the Clinchfield Railroad Museum Board of Directors for giving this wonderful gift. The Unicoi History Group looks forward to working on this project,” Unicoi History Group Chairwoman Pat Lynch said.

• • •

In other business on Monday, the BMA voted unanimously, following a motion that was made by Bullen and seconded by Alderwoman Wanda Radford, to partner with Courtware Solutions for law enforcement risk management including ticketing, records keeping and court documentation.

“This system eliminates paperwork. Everything will be backed up on a computer system,” Town of Unicoi Police Chief Andy Slagle said. “This makes life a lot easier.”

Courtware Solutions Account Executive Kim Willis was on hand to explain the benefits of Courtware Solutions software.

“The (police) chief is trying to bring the town into the 21st century,” Willis said. “This software allows all paperwork to be backed up on a computer for the police department; it also allows citizens to pay fines online.”

According to Willis, the monthly charge will be $250 and can be paid by way of fines.

“It’s an offender based pricing. We actually have several payment options,” Willis said. “We don’t charge anything upfront.”

Slagle confirmed that a $25 addition to citations should cover the $250 monthly charge owed to Courtware Solutions.

• • •

The board later voted 3-1 to award Town of Unicoi City Recorder Debbie Kessler a $2,000 bonus, following a motion made by Radford.

“I make a motion to award Debbie Kessler $2,000 bonus for extra work that was incomplete when she started,” Radford said.

Radford’s motion was seconded by Linville and they were joined by Lynch in approving the bonus, with only Bullen in opposition.

“I know (Kessler) is working hard, but we have already paid out thousands of dollars while we transitioned city recorders,” Bullen said. “What about our other employees that work over? I’d just like to see consistency.”

• • •

The BMA voted unanimously to rezone property on Clearwater Drive from A-1 agriculture designation to R-2 medium density residential designation with a final and second reading.

The board postponed the amendment to the personnel policy of exempt and nonexempt employees and comp time versus flex time, following a request by Town of Unicoi Attorney Lois Shults Davis.

“I would suggest the board take no action so we can work this out during a future work session for clarification,” Shults Davis said.

• • •

In a final order of business, the BMA confirmed the dates for upcoming holiday events.

“The Christmas Parade is set for Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. and Christmas at the Cabin is set for Dec. at 4 p.m.,” Town of Unicoi Communications Specialist Ashley Shelton said.