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Mayor, aldermen detail their New Year's resolutions
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Alderman Jimmy Bonner

Alderman Jimmy Bonner would like to focus on construction of a new home for McMinnville Police Department and upgrades to the city’s infrastructure.
“I would love to see a new Police Department built and soon,” said Bonner. “I would also love to see our sidewalks fixed.”
Currently, the Police Department is housed in Red Road Business Park. It has been there since 2009. In October 2014, Bonner was one of four aldermen, including Mike Neal, Ken Smith and Billy Wood, who voted against hiring AEI to be the engineering firm to renovate the building as the future home for the department. The cost was not to exceed $1.5 million.
At the time of the vote, Bonner said the cost to renovate the Blue Building would exceed $1.5 million so he preferred demolishing it and constructing a new facility.
“I think the Police Department deserves a better place than the Blue Building,” said Bonner. “We can take $1.5 million and build a brand new Police Department, a Police Department they actually want, what they need and what they desire. It’s going to take $2.9 million to start out and up to $3.5 million to renovate the Blue Building.”
Bonner says the city has done 10 studies on the Blue Building and has spent more than $100,000.
“They can’t quit doing studies on the Blue Building. They’ve done 10 studies on it, and they have spent over $100,000 on studies. It’s time to stop doing studies. We know what the Blue Building is. We’ve been told 10 different times. Yes, you can fix it up but it doesn’t make common sense to spend three times as much on renovation when you can build something new.”
Bonner says renting space for the Police Department is not responsible.
“We are throwing money away as long as the department remains where it’s at. We shouldn’t be renting. To me, it doesn’t make common sense to rent. We need to build a new Police Department and get them out from where they are.”
The worst two sidewalks in the city are located on Garfield and Sparta streets, says Bonner.
“We need to focus on sidewalks,” he said. “People walk from town to the mall along Sparta Street and it’s bad,” he said. “Garfield Street is just as bad as what we had on Chancery Street.”
Personally, Bonner doesn’t make resolutions.
“If I have to have one, it would be to lose weight,” said Bonner, with a laugh.

Alderman Everett Brock

Alderman Everett Brock would like to focus on making upgrades to McMinnville Civic Center and the purchase of a new quint truck for McMinnville Fire Department, depending on revenue. 
“I would like to see us put some money into the Civic Center,” said Brock. “We’ve ignored that thing for so long and it really needs some serious money. It doesn’t need $50,000, but it does need some serious money used on it.”
Brock says McMinnville Civic Center director Scott McCord is working on a cost estimate.
“Renovation wouldn’t be in one year,” he said. “It would take several years to do it. I don’t know how much it would cost, but Scott is working on some numbers. I would love to see some work done to the facility. It’s one of the faces of our community. Scott has done a good job. I can’t wait to see what he’s generated for us on a long-range plan.”
Coming in a close second on his list for 2015, says Brock, is the purchase of a new firetruck for McMinnville Fire Department. Chief Kendall Mayfield says the city needs a quint, also called a ladder truck and similar to the city’s Tower One, due to an aging fleet of trucks costing the city money on repairs. In 2013, officials were unable to decide between an engine truck that cost $318,967 and a quint that cost $558,919.
“We recently got the ball rolling on new fire equipment, which we need to stay up-to-date on things,” said Brock. “I hope we, as a board, can make the right decision on that. An engine truck is cheaper, but that’s not what we need. If we need a quint, then let’s toss in an additional $200,000 and get what we need.”
Brock, as Finance Committee chairman, says he is going to sit down with Finance Department director Shirley Durham to go over the city’s finances.
“Before we do anything, we have to see how much money we are going to have,” he said. “I’m going to sit down with Shirley and see what the numbers look like on the budget so far. Of course, we will know a lot more after the taxes come in. Another thing I haven’t taken a look at yet is sales taxes and beer taxes and see how that’s doing. I’m afraid the state will start cutting back, again. The one thing they are talking about is increasing the gas tax. We will have to wait and see.”
Motivation is Brock’s New Year’s resolution.
“Since I’ve retired, I’ve gotten lazy,” said Brock, with a laugh. “I’m going to try to not be as lazy as I have been. It’s not about exercise. It’s about getting up in the morning and getting things done. I have plenty of stuff to do, so I just need to get them done.”

Alderman Ryle Chastain

Alderman Ryle Chastain wants the city to continue what appears to be positive forward momentum with projects and getting along with one another.
“I just want to move forward with some of the projects that we’ve been discussing,” said Chastain. “I would definitely like to continue the trend we have going right now of having and conducting smooth meetings without a lot of arguing, bickering and fighting.”
Recently the city has been considering the purchase of a new truck for McMinnville Fire Department. Chief Kendall Mayfield has asked for a quint, also called a ladder truck and similar to the city’s Tower One. Mayfield says an aging fleet of trucks is costing the city money due to repairs and safety is an issue because at least one of the city’s trucks failed testing of its water pumping abilities.
In 2013, the lowest bid for a quint was $558,919. The lowest bid for an engine truck was $318,967.
Chastain wants to go with what Mayfield, as the expert in his department, says the city needs.
 “I think we need to focus on safety with the purchase of fire trucks,” he said. “I think we need to get the one the expert recommends. If the quint is what our expert says we need, then that’s what we need. If Police Chief Bryan Denton said we needed a certain kind of police car or a specific type of police equipment, then that’s what we need.”
Mayfield warned if something were to happen to Tower One, the city would be in desperate need for a replacement. Chastain says the safety issue spoke volumes to him.
“It’s kind of like other things. It’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it,” he said. “It’s like your insurance policy. You don’t always use your homeowner’s insurance, but if your house burns down, you will be happy you have it.”
Chastain says new homes for the police and fire departments, street paving and sidewalk improvements, as well as what to do with the Blue Building and completion of Park Theatre, are areas he would like to address.
“I’m really not sure where we are in terms of the Blue Building,” he said. “I’m not really sure what everyone’s thinking is on that. That’s something we will need to take a look at, at some point. I would like to continue with the development of Park Theatre. I’m an advocate of Park Theatre renovation. It’s another amenity for our city.”
Personally, Chastain would like to improve his fitness and be more involved in city-related activities.
“I would like to get in better shape and get more involved with the city, not just attending city council meetings,” he said.

Mayor Jimmy Haley

Mayor Jimmy Haley says he wants to be progressive in moving the city forward in 2015.
“My kind of resolution is to be progressive as a city board and build on our future,” Haley said. “Change is based on trying to do things and new approaches. I think it’s my task to keep our team together and move McMinnville forward. That’s kind of a generality, but I think it covers everybody’s wants, needs and wishes and covers what we need to do for the city.”
Over the last two years, the board has been engulfed in controversy with disagreements between its members. Haley hopes the current board can be unified and use level heads.
“There are a lot of possibilities there,” Haley said about the new board. “I think about past boards where we got so much done. We worked together and got things accomplished. My grandmother always said ‘level heads will prevail.’ Hopefully, this board can move forward and work together.”
Volunteerism is on Haley’s personal resolution list.
“God put us on this planet for a reason. It’s not to sit on your can but to get out and make a difference in other people’s lives. I volunteer as much as possible. I wish I could volunteer even more. I wish I had more hours in the day. There are lots of organizations out there that need more help. I wish I had more time to volunteer at the Hope Center, the Hamilton Street Center, Kids of the Community, and The Children’s Advocacy Center. They are all good, worthwhile projects. Government can’t solve everybody’s problems. We have to have partnerships with private groups and organizations.”
Haley says these organizations are in need of volunteers.
“They are desperate for volunteers. They are desperate for funds. They are desperate for a lot of things because we have a lot of desperate people. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the society that we live in. Volunteering is where you make a difference in peoples’ lives. You get to help people who have no hope and nobody to be their advocate. Sometimes all it takes is a pat on the back. Even the simplest gestures make a big impact, I’ve found that out by working with all those groups. It’s so rewarding just to get a hug or a thank you.”
If you haven’t set your resolution, consider volunteering, Haley says.
“It’s a wonderful thing to volunteer,” said Haley. “Without our organizations, our city can’t survive. It’s clear and simple, because government can’t pay for everything that needs to be done. Thank goodness we have these organizations, and thank goodness we have people who are willing to step forward and take on these responsibilities. Some of the responsibilities are huge. It’s unbelievable the broad shoulders some of these people have because they have so much piled on top of them. They trudge right along, never complain and keep a smile on their face.”

Alderman Steve Harvey

Alderman Steve Harvey says making Park Theatre a success and coming to a decision on the future of the Blue Building top his list of priorities for 2015.
“I think the priorities in 2015 should include getting Park Theatre up and running,” said Harvey.
Renovating the facility is ongoing and completion is set for March 31, 2015. The cost will be more than $2 million. At this time, McMinnville Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord is interviewing candidates to serve as a manager.
“We at least need to come to a decision on what we need to do with the Blue Building,” said Harvey. “Related to the Blue Building, we need to decide if we want to put the police station in it or not. A decision on that needs to be made.”
The future of the Blue Building has been up for debate since 2009 when city government, followed by the police department, moved out. The Blue Building has been vacant since November 2009. In October 2014, officials were one vote away from hiring AEI to be the engineering firm to renovate the Blue Building as the future home for the department. The measure failed 4-3 on second read. Aldermen Jimmy Bonner, Mike Neal, Ken Smith and Billy Wood voted against hiring the architect, while Mayor Jimmy Haley, Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Alderman Rick Barnes voted in favor.
Harvey was elected approximate one month later in November.
“I’m fine with the police station going there, but I think the Blue Building needs to be saved one way or another,” said Harvey. “I’m not dead set on putting the police station there. It’s no secret that I’m in favor of saving the building no matter what we do. I would like to review the options to see what we have.”
Harvey would also like to take a look at what can be done when it comes to renovating the city’s Civic Center.
“It’s a great place,” Harvey said. “I just think it needs some updating. I will be very interested to see what (McMinnville Parks and Recreation director) Scott McCord has for us. I think those are the main priorities for 2015 as far as city business is concerned.”
Time management tops Harvey’s personal 2015 resolution list.
“I’m pretty good at managing my time, but now that I am an alderman, I need to work a little harder at that. I’ll have to manage my career and being alderman, so those two need to work together. I think that’s going to take some effort on my part.”
Harvey is a contractor and owns Steve Harvey Construction. He specializes in residential remodeling, as well as some commercial work. Reading more has made the list, again.
“I need to read more,” said Harvey. “I think I have that as a resolution every year. I actually did it this year. I read about six books.”

Alderman Mike Neal

Alderman Mike Neal says he has several areas he would like to focus on in the new year, including Park Theatre completion, a new home for the Police department, a decision on the Blue Building, purchasing a new firetruck, and finish the currently ongoing hiring processes.
“I would like to finish the Park Theatre,” said Neal. “It has been a long time coming, but 2015 will be the year.”
According to AEI president Peter Metts, the facility will be worth the wait.
“We’ve added recessed lighting fixtures as well as three chandeliers in addition to the medallion lights for multiple lighting levels,” Metts said. “We also added a back-stage area that has dressing rooms, toilets and storage. It’s going to be quite a facility. The audio video lighting contractor has done others and said this one is going to be quite special. Others have either been gutted and remodeled as modern facilities or renovated but not taken to the level the Park is being taken.”
Once Park Theatre is 100 percent complete, which includes the balcony, the facility will accommodate close to 915 individuals, says Metts.
Neal says making a decision on the Police Department, as well as the fate of the Blue Building, are on his list.
“I would like to find a home for the Police Department,” said Neal. “I would also like to make a final and lasting decision on the Blue Building.”
In October 2014, officials were one vote away from hiring AEI to be the engineering firm to renovate the Blue Building as the future home for the Police Department. The measure failed 4-3 on second read. Aldermen Jimmy Bonner, Ken Smith, Billy Wood and Neal voted against hiring the architect, while Mayor Jimmy Haley, Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Alderman Rick Barnes voted in favor.
An ever-changing cost for renovation, says Neal, is why he voted against it.
“The price keeps going up on renovation so that’s why I jumped ship on it,” Neal said.
The city needs to make a decision on the purchase of a firetruck and hire two new staff members, says Neal.
“This year, we need to make a decision on the purchase of a firetruck,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ve got all our people hired yet, like the Water Department director and a Park Theatre manager, but we need to do that. They may have hired people, but I haven’t heard. I could just be the last one to know.”
There are no personal resolutions for Neal in 2015.
“I’ve found New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep,” said Neal. “At my church last Sunday, I did my lesson or sermon, whichever you want to call it, about how we revert back to our old selves after Christmas and the spirit of goodwill and peace on earth kind of fades away. It’s the same thing with New Year’s resolutions, they just fade away. Because of that, I don’t make them.”

Vice mayor Ben Newman

Vice Mayor Ben Newman says he would like 2015 to be about creating new jobs and making improvements to McMinnville Civic Center.
“There are hundreds of things we have to do and it’s tough to pick out just one or two,” Newman said when asked about a couple of items he would like to focus on in 2015. “Some of the top ones I think need attention or just finessed and kept going are working with the Warren County Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Development Board and the county to make sure we are working together and toward the same goal. I believe the goal is returning more jobs and attracting more jobs to McMinnville and Warren County.”
Mandy Eller is the Chamber’s new president.
“I know Mandy Eller has been pro-active at reaching out to people,” said Newman. “I think we can take the momentum that she will bring to the Chamber and help work with the county and IDB and make sure we are all on the same page moving forward."
Newman hopes promoting the community’s natural resources can become a joint effort.
“We have a lot of greenways. We have rivers, creeks and natural beauty. It’s not that we haven’t been doing it, but I think we could do a better job by working with our Parks and Recreation Department, Friends of the Greenway and other groups to increase awareness and take care of our natural scenic resources.”
Civic Center improvements are important because that facility is used to entice businesses to locate here, says Newman.
“I want to see the proper Civic Center renovations are identified, funded and completed,” he said. “When I say proper, we could tear that building down and build a new one, but I think we need to take advantage of the space that we have by expanding it or just fixing some of the things that are already there. It just needs fixing.”
McMinnville Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord is focused on providing the community with what it wants, says Newman.
In his personal life, Newman wants to focus on his health and being a good husband.
“I played in a Frisbee league and I injured my shoulder. I didn’t have to have surgery but I did have to allow it to heal. Since then, I’ve been getting out of shape. I want to heal my shoulder and get back in shape. I got married in October so I want to focus on being a good husband.”