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Unicoi BMA moves ahead with plans for own police force

Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch announced that steps are being taken to create a security/police department for the town.
The Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen convened on Monday, Sept. 21, at town hall to give notice to the public of the steps taking place for a police department.
Midway through the BMA meeting, Lynch explained that officials recently met in a planning commission meeting and formed a four-person committee tasked with gathering information on the process of starting a police department.
Vice-mayor Doug Hopson was elected to lead the committee and is joined by Bill Langley and Bob Sauley, both of whom have previous police experience. Lyle Wilcox, was also appointed to the committee. Wilcox currently is a deputy with the Unicoi County Sheriff's Department.
Lynch also said that the town is consulting with the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS).
Town Recorder Larry Rea and Lynch later said the community, along with the members of the committee, will have the opportunity to meet with Rex Barton, the town's MTAS advisor next month.
A workshop will be held at the Unicoi Visitor's Center on Oct. 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Barton will be available to answer questions citizens have about the potential new department.
While discussions are underway for a department, the county's sheriff department will continue to assist the town with patrolling due to a contract currently in place between both parties.
Deputy Nick Hughes said during the meeting that he will serve in a supervising role and begin a full-time patrol in the town.
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In other business, the BMA:
• Unanimously approved three ordinances on their first readings. The first ordinance was a change to a large truck ordinance allowing truck drivers to call in to the sheriff's department before making entrance over a railroad crossing. The second ordinance is to prohibit right-of-way parking in the town. Offenders would risk a $50 fine, along with court cost. The final ordinance was to govern hunting preserves in the town.
• Approved Maple Grove Wine & Spirits' certificate of compliance.
• Approved Barry Heating and Air Conditioning and Erwin Aluminum grant bid awards to perform HVAC work and place new windows and doors in the visitor's center.
• Approved the town's audit for the 2014 budget.
• Heard discussion on the Unicoi Ruritan Club’s agreement to use the Buffalo Room of the visitor's center.