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County asks for city's help to maintain traffic signals
City government has one maintenance technician who works on all 23 of its traffic light intersections in McMinnville. Pictured is McMinnville Public Works Department employee Charlie Furbee. - photo by Lisa Hobbs

How many governments does it take to change a light bulb? Two, if an agreement can be reached between the city of McMinnville and Warren County. 

Warren County government has asked the city of McMinnville to consider entering into an agreement that would allow the city’s maintenance technician to provide routine upkeep of the county’s traffic signals.

There are less than 10 traffic light intersections in the county in which vehicle movement is controlled by traffic signals or flashing lights are present to urge motorists to use caution, says McMinnville Public Works Department director Frank Southard.

“I think they have four red lights and four to five flashing lights,” said Southard. “Maintenance on flashing lights is, more or less, changing a bulb. There’s not a lot to maintain flashing lights.”

The city has one maintenance technician to oversee its intersections that contain traffic lights. The city has 23 such intersections.

Southard presented the request before members of the city Streets and Sanitation Committee. Communications Evolutions on North Chancery Street used to handle this service for the county when it was owned by Richard Myers, but the business has changed ownership. 

“City business would take precedence over county business,” said Southard. “If you do this, I want to make that very clear in the agreement.”

When asked exactly what services would be provided, Southard said work would include a little more than changing of bulbs, but not much more. 

“If the whole system went down, they would have to hire someone. We would have to, too,” he said. “This would be changing out bulbs and things like that. If something hits the cabinet and destroys it, they would have to hire someone to come in and change that out.” 

Alderman Everett Brock asked about a lightning strike.

“It depends on how much damage was done,” said Southard. “If we can fix it, we will.” 

Suggested was a charge of $75 per hour for the first employee and truck, and $50 per hour for each additional employee needed. Plus, the cost of material. 

“That’s something that can be changed,” said Southard. “I would like to talk to Richard Myers or somebody. I’ve not had a chance to do that. I think we should charge more than that, just because of the truck and the person. I think $75 is kind of cheap.”

Brock stated, “If they had to hire someone from out of town to bring a truck in, it would cost them a lot more than $75.” 

Streets and Sanitation Committee members tabled the request to allow time for Southard to gather information on what an appropriate charge would be for those services.