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Guns get cleared up, CoreTech questioned

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By BEN DUDLEYThe Wilson Post

Lebanon City Council approved on first reading Tuesday night an ordinance from Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath designed clear up any confusion about the so-called “guns in parks” law.

The council opted out of the law at the previous meeting, which kept the ban on handguns in city-owned parks, buildings, etc.

There was a work session prior to the meeting to deal with the city’s chipper service, which has been changed to monthly instead of weekly. The council was very adamant about the chipper service not doing its job in the first place and needing to pick up what has been missed before starting this new schedule.

“We have divided the city into two zones,” said Jeff Baines, commissioner of Public Works. “Zone 1 will be what was normally picked up on Mondays and Tuesdays. We will start that tomorrow (Sept. 2) but will usually be the first Monday of the month. Zone 2 will be what was picked up on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. That zone will be picked up on the third Monday of the month.”

Baines said that they will start being firmer on their rule of only taking limbs that are 6 inches in diameter or smaller. This is because larger limbs wear the chipper down quicker.

The new plan, however, was seriously questioned by the council. Ward 1 Councilor Alex Buhler told of a situation he witnessed two weeks ago.

“I saw two trucks on Lane Road trimming limbs,” Buhler said. “There were four men working on a 300 yard-long road with one house on it. They had to pass about eight houses with brush piles out front just to get there.”

Baines responded saying that that area had already been picked up and that day had a different task which was removing overhanging limbs for school buses. Buhler rebutted by explaining that the brush piles were already turning brown from sitting there so long.

“Shouldn’t we just take some time to get used to this procedure since it’s new?” Baines asked.

“No,” said Ward 3 Councilor William Farmer, “you need to pick up what you should’ve already picked up first. Then start your new plan.”

Farmer explained that it cost around $13,000 a month to run the chipper service, making it approximately $150,000 a year. He said that the city should take bids from private contractors to see if it can be done better and for less money.

“You’ve got good workers,” Farmer said, “but they need motivation. A good motivator would be telling them they could lose their jobs if they don’t do them right. The problem is leadership, Mr. Baines, and that includes you.”

Buhler said he would not support the new plan until what was missed was picked up. The plan will be voted on sometime in the future.

The meeting went smoothly and the first reading of the amendment to the gun ban was passed unanimously.

Then Farmer announced that he had some questions for Billy Weeks, commissioner of Public Safety, concerning the company called CoreTech Industries, Inc., which hopes to produce a product known as “foam concrete” which has been described as light and also environmentally friendly. CoreTech had pitched a plan to the Joint Economic and Community Development Board in October 2008 but had not followed through. Weeks and City Attorney Andy Wright had investigated the company and even traveled to different sites in which CoreTech said it had offices.

Farmer explained that after the pitch, the council and JECDB pledged about $150,000 in addition to money from the state. Later, it was discovered tax liens were filed o the company the theState of Tennessee and the Internal Revenue Service. CoreTech officials have claimed since that time those liens have been resolved.

Weeks said that he and Wright went to Erin, Tenn., where there was supposed to be a CoreTech Research and Development plant, after a “source” tipped them off that something was not right about the company. It turns out that there was only an empty building with a CoreTech sign on it and no electricity or water running to it.

They discovered that there were three lawsuits filed involving CoreTech including one by the industrial park in which the building was located for failing to pay rent.

They later traveled to Spokane, Wash., where CoreTech listed its headquarters. That address was a box in a UPS store and no “brick and mortar building” was ever found.

The men involved in the company were also involved in dozens of other “corporations” and it seemed that all of their claims of being an international business were false, according to Weeks’ report. Also false, he reported, were their claims that their product could be used to build bridges and multi-story buildings.

“I was laughed at by every engineer that I asked about this product and the uses that CoreTech told us it had,” Weeks said. “It simply is not true.”

In the end, Weeks had a simple message to the council: cut all ties with this company.

“I have been told by a high-ranking government law enforcement official to give you this message: Run away from this company,” Weeks said.

Although the council agreed wholeheartedly, the money they pledged was not due until CoreTech purchased land in Lebanon, which they have not done. The council decided to ask the Industrial Development Board to rescind their pledge as soon as possible so that the city did not get stuck in this company which merely existed on paper.

There will be a work session Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 5 p.m. to discuss line item budgets. The next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Staff Writer Ben Dudley may be contacted at ben@wilsonpost.com.

 

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