By Curtis Carden
A familiar face is back with the town of Erwin.
Mark Lafever, who previously served as the Public Works Director with the town, was appointed to the Erwin Board of Mayor and Alderman during their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Feb. 8.
The appointment of Lafever, who has also served as an alderman before with Erwin, was made to fill the role left by Michael Baker who resigned during the last month, citing potential conflicts of interest after he accepted a position with a company that does business with the town.
Lafevers move to alderman was unanimously voted on by town officials in attendance at Mondays meeting. Hensley recommended the board appoint Lafever and a motion was made by Virgil Moore and seconded by Sue Jean Wilson. Alderman Gary Chandler was not present at the meeting due to medical reasons.
Hensley said that the town received numerous names for potential aldermen following Bakers resignation and thanked the citizens for the response and voicing their opinion on the issue.
Hensley and City Recorder Glenn Rosenoff addressed concerns presented by residents Edd Bolton and Kathy Alford in regards to the removal of dozens of trees along South Industrial Drive and the Erwin Linear Trail.
Initial rumors circulated in the community stated that the town had given the go-ahead to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) for trees to be cut on the trail. In a statement read at the meeting, Rosenoff stated the town did not give the OK and the towns only request to TDOT was to remove a fallen tree that fell nearly eight months ago and prevented town employees from mowing in the area. Rosenoff also said that trees removed along the Linear Trail were on property owned by TDOT.
The town of Erwin was not aware of plans to remove trees along the Erwin Linear Trail, Rosenoff read. The trees removed along the trail were located on property owned by the state of Tennessee and were removed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). The only request made by the town regarding trees in that area was to remove a dead tree that was obstructing interstate mowing performed by city crews under contract with TDOT.
The town is aware that the loss of the trees has upset several citizens, he continued. Town officials will be working with TDOT to see if new trees can be planted along the trail in the future. Town officials are proud of our Linear Trail and understand that it is an important part of our community.
Hensley seconded Rosenoffs sentiments, stating that the trees did not present a problem and enhanced the trail.
Alford addressed the board and said she pursued the matter and was told that Jerry OConnor, with Impact Plastics, was the one who requested TDOT cut the trees because they fell on his property and presented a hazard.
A personal investigation by Alford showed that OConnor only owned around 125 steps worth of the trail.
Bolton later addressed the board and requested the town ask TDOT for a cease and desist on cutting trees on the trail.
Rosenoff said that talks with TDOT did not have OConnors name circulate as the one who put in the request for the trees to be cut. He also said the town rendered images for new trees to be planted in the area and they would pursue getting the item accomplished with TDOT.
The BMA also considered and approved the closing of Gay Street from Main Avenue to Church Avenue for The Brambles Swing and Swank Valentines Day event. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 13, from 6 to 10 p.m. The need for the closure is due to an estimated 10 antique cars that will be on display for the event.