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Downtown construction proceeding on schedule

Downtown revitalization was on top of the agenda during a regularly scheduled meeting of the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen held Monday, Feb. 9 at Erwin Town Hall.
The third phase of the town’s downtown revitalization project is currently on schedule, according to Jonathan Shipley, with Tysinger, Hampton & Partners, the engineering firm working on the project.
“Construction is progressing on schedule,” Shipley said. “Storm sewer installation began today, it will be projected two to three weeks before completion.”
To clarify the end of the third phase, Alderman Gary Chandler asked for a specific date. Shipley stated the contracted end date is set for May 15.
Four options were also presented for extending the limits of the downtown revitalization up Love Street.
Of the four, option number three received the most traction from the board. This option included new sidewalks, curbing and driveways on the south side of Love Street.
There would be no projected increase of time with this option, Shipley explained, with the streets, sidewalks and curbings already under the contract the town has with Summers-Taylor, Inc., the company performing the construction. The additional cost of option three would be $36,912. City Recorder Glenn Rosenoff said this amount could be absorbed into the loan the town is using to finance construction.
The BMA passed the approval of option three unanimously, on the contingency of meeting with members of First Baptist Church, which is located at the intersection of Main Avenue and Love Street. Town officials will meet with church members in the coming weeks to discuss the plans.
Other options presented by Shipley to the board included additional costs of $300,000, $230,000 and $100,000. These options would have extended the downtown revitalization construction various lengths up Love Street toward the Elm Street intersection.
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During the opening moments of Monday’s meeting, discussion ensued in regards to the naming of the railroad overpass currently under construction in town. The discussion was spearheaded by questions from Alderwoman Sue Jean Wilson.
Wilson asked why the measure to name the overpass after Pat Brown, who previously owned the land the overpass is being built on, did not pass at the previous meeting on Jan. 27.
A draft was approved to name the overpass after Brown, but the resolution failed to gain traction during the Jan. 27 meeting because it did not receive a second. Russell Brackins was also included as a nomination.
“This has got the attention of more people in Erwin than anything, I think, we have ever done,” Hensley said. “We’ve received contacts from members of the committee on other names.”
Other names that circulated included: the late Senior Airman Benjamin White, Register of Deeds Debbie Tittle, former Erwin Mayor Don “Brushy” Lewis, former Unicoi County Mayor Paul Monk, Erwin Nine member George Hatcher and a nomination to include to the name the overpass after the entire Erwin Nine group.
“The ones that come to my mind are the over 90-plus veterans’ names who are on the plaque at Veterans Park that gave their life,” Hensley added. “There are just so many names that come to mind. The next meeting when we bring this up, let’s think about it. Pat Brown is very deserving – all these names are very deserving.”
Lou Petterson also took the floor to talk to discuss her late father, Pat Brown.
In a contributing article that was supplied to The Erwin Record for the Jan. 28 issue, it was incorrectly reported that Brown donated the land the overpass is being built on to the town when it fact Brown sold the land to the state of Tennessee in 2012 for $397,380. The error was corrected in the Feb. 4 edition of the paper.
“We were forced to sell that land to the state to build the overpass,” Petterson said. “My daddy was never political and never got the recognition he deserved, in my opinion. He never took credit for anything and I know if he was alive today he’d say, ‘It doesn’t matter’, but it matters to me, my family and others working in the community. I just ask for this to be settled at the next board meeting.”
After the discussion, Mayor Doris Hensley requested that naming of the overpass be placed on the agenda for the next BMA meeting, which is scheduled for Feb. 23.
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In other business, the board listened to a presentation by students in the East Tennessee State University advertising/public relations program on a proposed advertising campaign for the town.
Students placed multiple ideas on the table, including ‘Destination Days’ – a week long event spotlighting different aspects of the town.
“We have created a campaign with tactics that serve to create a positive image through creative media, advertising and a new brand image,” student Katie Sneed told the board. “The campaign will create a new focus on what defines Erwin and its core, and will bring those qualities to the surface.”
They also presented the board with demographics of Erwin, as well as potential advertising ideas and costs for suggested events. The students said they hoped the campaign would encourage residents, business owners and visitors to “Embrace Erwin.”
“We really appreciate your hard work on this, and it looks like we’ve got hard work ahead of us,” Hensley said.
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The board also awarded a bid for the beautification project on the Main Street Exit off Interstate 26. The $130,000 project was awarded to Terry Henderson Landscaping.
Beautification work is covered by a grant by the state and work on the project will begin once approval comes from TDOT, Rosenoff said after the meeting.
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Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Delp also provided a quarterly report for the Chamber to open up the new business of the meeting.
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BMA members ended the meeting by voting unanimously to approve resolutions authorizing electric system, water system and wastewater system in lieu of payments for the year ending June 30, 2015.