April 19, 2014 - 13:20
Copperhill eyes Centennial Celebration
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The first city council meeting ever from Copperhill was March 22, 1913.

The City of Copperhill is looking toward a celebration of its 100th anniversary. Former Mayor Herb Hood visited the city council Monday night to let board members know their centennial was rapidly approaching. The first city council meeting ever from Copperhill was March 22, 1913.

According to Hood, the entire area was called McCays before it split in 1908. He said between 1908-1913, Copperhill was like a rogue town and had no government. Once becoming an official city, Hood said, one of the first ordinances passed had to do with alcohol.

Hood presented the board with a copy of the notes taken at the first city meeting. Jeff Hedden was sworn in as Mayor and M.M. Matlock, J.G. Guinn, L.H. Abernathy, E.M. Akins and D.C. McCays were sworn in as Aldermen, R.A. Barclay was elected Chief of Police. The Franklin building was rented for $15 a month to serve as City Hall. Notes from the meeting were taken in long hand by clerk Elvira McCay.

Copperhill Mayor Eric Waters said he was in favor of anything that would help boost the pride in Copperhill. He said he thought a centennial celebration could bring people together – both residents and visitors. Hood suggested banners declaring the centennial be hung in the city. He said he felt the civic organization would get behind the celebration if the city endorsed it. Board member Kathy Stewart suggested trying to find the oldest living resident of Copperhill as part of the celebration.

Vice-Mayor David Herring suggested the city do a proclamation and try to celebrate the centennial that weekend. All council members were in support of the celebration and noted there was not a lot of time to put something together. Hood said it might be something they could celebrate all year.

In other business, a budget was passed and Timothy Simonds was appointed as they new City Attorney. Council members discussed putting together an employee handbook and having Simonds look at it. The council discussed implementing a sick leave policy that would give employees 1/2 day per month to use as sick leave as well as eliminating vacation time for part-time employees.

The council also debated whether or not to include Christmas Eve as a paid holiday. Waters said he wondered if it would be fair to close City Hall on Christmas Eve and allow employees to use a vacation day to be paid for it. The issue was tabled until more research could be done.

The city voted to begin charging city employees 20% of their health insurance once the plan renews in July. Waters said the city has been paying 100% of coverage and the costs went up about 16% this year. He said something needed to be set in stone either way as to what the city would be doing. Board members agreed 20% was fair and voted to adopt an ordinance making it official.

Waters said another thing he wanted to work on was making adjustment to the city charter.  He said the mayor should not be able to make so many decisions without the commissioners. Waters feels updating everything now would mean future leadership would have a more solid foundation to work from.

At the end of the meeting, local resident Rick Queen asked the board if Copperhill was ever going to have a police force again, asking how residents can have any pride with all the drug dealing, loose dogs and idiots running up and down the streets. He said the sheriff’s department didn’t care and everyone passed the buck. He said his neighbor’s dogs barked constantly and he saw drugs being dealt from while sitting on his porch.

“How can you have pride when you won’t do nothing,” Queen asked. He said the city should pass a pit bull ordinance like Ducktown did and told them to apply for a federal grant for police. Queen said grants were out there if they just tried.

Both Mayor Waters said Vice-Mayor Herring told Queen the current administration had only been in office three months and they had no control over what happened previously. Herring said the police force had been discussed since week one. City Recorder Erica Jordan said they had someone from the state to help with grants and that none were available for application until July.

Waters explained the city was trying to pay for a police force themselves instead of relying on grants because Copperhill was easily overlooked. He said because there is no police, no crime is reported coming from Copperhill. Queen asked if he should laugh now or later; Waters said he didn’t care but wanted to explain how things actually worked.

Waters said the police grants were to help crime and with no crime being reported, they are more easily looked over for a city with large numbers of crime being reported. He pointed out they had not been legally allowed to hire anyone for the police force until passing a budget, because the budget in place when they took office did not include a police force. Unless something is in the budget, a city cannot expend money for it.

“We are working toward being able to afford it ourselves,” Waters said, adding the police car had been in for repairs.

Waters said if they have accomplished nothing four years from now people will have the right to be upset with them. He said they just took over and had a lot of work to do but could not account for the way things had been done previously.

The next monthly meeting for the Copperhill City Council will be March 25th. A special called meeting will be held March 6 at 2 p.m. for the reading of an ordinance and a workshop will be held March 18th at 2 p.m.

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