The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Catoosa County as officials with the Brainerd Motorsports Park delivered a sizable donation to the annual "Stocking Full of Love" toy drive Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 20.
The annual toy drive, organized by the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department, collects toys and donations leading up to Christmas and then uses those contributions to give gifts to underprivileged children in the county.
"This is our 30th year," said Sheriff Gary Sisk. "We've had a about 1,150 kids involved, and it's helping out a little over 400 families."
With the drive set to begin distributing gifts on Thursday, Dec. 21, members of the drag strip at the Brainerd Motorsports Park dropped by Battlefield Elementary School the previous afternoon to deliver a big donation to help with the effort.
Steven and Amy Farrow, and their son Charlie brought two vehicle loads of donations to the school, all of which were collected at the drag strip in November.
"We did a toy drive at the drag strip. It was called "Dragging for Toys," and people donated toys as entry fees to get in the gate," Steven Farrow said. "This was all part of a one-day collection. We do it every year, but it had to be rescheduled a couple of times due to the weather."
Farrow says the initial drive was set to take place around Halloween, but that it was pushed back to the second week of November due to the weather delays.
"We also took up canned goods that were taken to Christ Chapel," Farrow said.
County Commissioner Jeff Long helped the Farrows deliver the donation, and said that he's really proud of the generosity shown through the whole event.
"The Farrows did a great job with this, and Ron and Karen Newman couldn't be here, but they partnered with them on this," Long said.
Catoosa County commissioners unanimously shot down a proposal Tuesday night, Dec. 19, for a new cell tower to go up just off Dietz Road.
The denial was of a special-use permit applied for by Gulfshore Towers (GST) Capital Partners, LLC, which was needed to erect a new T-Mobile cell tower in a neighborhood on Daily Hill Road.
County Zoning Director James Davis says the county's Planning and Zoning board voted down the request in November due to the proposed tower being taller than the county's ordinance allows, plus its proximity to residential homes.
Davis says the GST's initial proposal in September was for a 250-foot-tall tower, and that the company whittled its plan down to a 160-foot tower in a new plan that was unanimously voted down by Planning and Zoning on Nov. 28.
Doria Durham, an agent acting on behalf of GST, addressed the Board of Commissioners claiming that the company would paint the tower to look like a tree in order for it to blend with numerous other trees in the area. She also spoke about what the tower would mean for technology growth in the area.
"New technology is coming your way," Durham said. "Over the next couple of years, more services will be available. It's very important that the infrastructure is there to support it."
Aside from the height and size of the tower, commissioners also had to consider that the proposal would place the tower within 1,000 feet of some homes, a violation of the county's codes for cell phone towers.
Before the vote, three residents of that neighborhood raised their hands in opposition of the proposal but did not speak to the commission at the podium.
Commissioner Jim Cutler said his issue was more so with the impact the tower would have on those residents.
"I just can't see putting a cell tower there in that neighborhood that close to all those houses," Cutler said.
The Fort Oglethorpe City Council unanimously approved a major purchase when it agreed to spring for a new utility jet truck to be used by its sewer and street departments.
Public Utilities Director Phil Parker presented his recommendation to the council Monday night, Dec. 11, and explained that he, the Public Works and Recreation director, and staff had gone through an exhaustive process researching the needed vehicle.
"Back in August, we sought proposals through advertisement and we also contacted some suppliers for a heavy duty combination sewer cleaner jet truck," Parker said. "It's a combination unit that will have the capability of jetting out sanitary sewer lines and larger diameter storm drains."
Parker says the city's current fleet of vehicles doesn't have the capabilities that are sometimes needed, and that the departments have to sometimes rely on help from neighboring municipalities.
"We have a small truck, but with a lot of the larger diameter lines, it's ineffective," Parker said. "This truck is very similar to the ones Rossville and Ringgold both have, and on a number of occasions, we have had to call them to unstop those sewer lines and storm drains because our truck just couldn't handle the work."
Parker added that the truck would be used by multiple departments due to its versatility. "The truck we're
requesting will be used in the sewer department and the street department, it'll be used by both for sanitary sewer and storm drains," Parker explained. "The vacuum can be used to vacuum catch basins, and the debris from pump station wet wells. This truck has lots of uses. It's a very expensive piece of equipment, but it will serve the city in a number of capacities for a long time."
Parker says he received four bids for the truck, and the council ultimately approved his recommendation for the purchase from Environmental Products of Georgia in the amount of $330,525.
"This particular manufacturer supplied us with a list of references. ... The cities of Ringgold and Dalton use trucks by this manufacturer, so we talked to both of those folks that run the trucks and they're very happy with the trucks," Parker said. "Dalton has actually bought a second one. "It'll be purchase out of SPLOST for use by two departments."
Mayor Earl Gray says he was impressed with the time and research Parker and Long put into finding the right vehicle for the needs of the city.
"They've gone overboard really looking at them (trucks), trying to figure out which one is the best, which one is the lowest maintenance, and so on," Gray said. "I'd just like to compliment them on their hard work in finding and selecting this piece of equipment. I know it sounds like a lot of money, but it's something the city desperately needs."