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Unicoi BMA votes to begin search for town police officer

A decision from the Unicoi County Commission has put the town of Unicoi in a unique position.
During the committee reports portion of the Unicoi Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday, Aug. 17, town officials unanimously voted in favor of beginning the search for the town’s own police officer.
The town and the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department had a contract for $100,000 that would allow two officers for patrol in the town. The contract is set to be in question because the County Commission has voted to no longer provide 100-percent coverage to family employees’ health insurance premiums on Thursday, Aug. 13.
During the Thursday, Aug. 13, County Commission meeting, Sheriff Mike Hensley stated he was contacted by multiple officers who said they would seek employment elsewhere if the health insurance premium increase was implemented.
Officials began the discussion following the report given by Austin Miller, deputy with the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department, on tickets and calls within the town. The report covered action taken by Miller and Sgt. Chris Boings. Boings has stepped away from his position with the department following the county’s decision about insurance.
An update on developments will be featured in future editions of The Erwin Record.
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Concerns addressed by the wife of former alderman Dwight Bennett for parking congestion on Unicoi Drive and Garland Road was presented to the BMA. Officials stated they would work on placing no parking signs and that the current reason for trouble was the lack of enforcement, which stems from the current financial trouble by the county’s sheriff’s department.
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Discussion was brought up in the meeting in regards to the potential of closing Washington Street.
Town officials said the issue will be brought up in a future meeting due to the length of the agenda for Monday’s meeting.
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The town is expected to bring together a new ordinance soon in regards to large trucks, according to town attorney Lois Shults-Davis. Davis stated she would have the paperwork ready by next month.
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In other business, the Unicoi BMA;
• Voted to approve a change order to phase one of Mountain Harvest Kitchen construction of $7,308.31 for a sewer line with Erwin Utilities. The part of construction will be absorbed from what was projected in phase two of construction.
• Voted to approve a change to a payable error included on the 2014-2015 budget.
• Voted to adopt Title VI policy and hearing procedures.
• Voted to approve a certification of compliance for Unicoi Wine and Spirits.
• Voted to adopt a new zoning map for the town.
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The Unicoi Beer Board met before the BMA and approved an on-premise beer permit application for Eric Sommer’s Buffalo Valley Music Valley Festival.