The Community Advisory Council on Inclusive Recognition and Acknowledgement has requested that the 110th and 111th regiments of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) that were stationed at Fort Hill be recognized.
Vivian Sims, a 92-year-old school teacher of 47 years, delivered the request to the Pulaski Board of Mayor and Aldermen during its meeting last week, saying she “had no idea that they existed” for lack of the troops being identified in her own schooling.
It was the Community Advisory Council’s request for the 2,400 black men who fought in the area during the Civil War be acknowledged so “people could see that the United States Colored Troops existed,” she added.
Mayor Pat Ford said it was a “well vetted” recommendation, as the committee had spent the last several months on this research.
The board ratified the recommendation that will then go back to the committee for a determination of how to best honor those troops.
“I want to say, ‘Thank you,’” Sims said. “This is really a historic occasion because this is the first time that the CAC [Community Advisory Council] has presented an organization or a person for us to honor.
“And the United States Colored Troops have been neglected for over 150 years.”
Ford said he had originally brought the idea of an incentive for city employees to receive their COVID vaccine before the city council for discussion and “to kind of see where everybody landed on it.”
Since then, he said he had received “a few” thanks from people who said they appreciated the encouragement and one that did not like the idea at all.
After a recent water leak, Alderman Pat Miles said those urgencies require several workers in a hurry and asked, “What would we have done?” if there were not enough employees for such an incident.
“I am very reluctant, personally, to require someone to do something to their own body that they don’t consider appropriate,” Miles said. “But at the same time, my overriding concern as an alderman is the safety, security and health of the citizens and our workers.”
Ford said he was not in favor of mandating or “guilt tripping” anyone into getting the vaccination but recognized that some city departments only have a few employees who are trained and capable of working in them.
He added, however, that there were backup plans in place and that the effectiveness of the vaccine is still being determined.
“Me, personally, this is how I feel about it,” Alderman Randy Massey said, adding “I don’t think this should be a decision of the board.”
Alderman Hardin Franklin shared his thoughts, including that “the buck stops with us.”
“If we don’t want to do it, then who is going to do it?” Franklin said.
“Let’s face the issue and do something about it,” he insisted, adding that it should be required for city employees to get the vaccination.
Alderman Ricky Keith said he disagreed.
“We are elected to represent the people of this city to this council,” Keith insisted. “We are also elected to represent government to the people.
“And in that role, to assume the responsibility for the health and wellbeing of an individual; and to say, ‘we know better than you know better how to take care of yourself” is greatly usurping our authority in a role that we were never elected to.”
Much discussion ensued.
“If you wanted to provide an incentive, then that would be something you could discuss,” City Administrator Terry Harrison said. “But the discussion whether or not to take a shot, should be off the table because it is against state law.”
No incentive or mandate was put to a motion.
Keith said he recommended providing “information and opportunity and allow the employee to decide,” to which Massey said he agreed.
In other business during last week’s regular session, the board:
• Heard the estimated delivery date for the last of the equipment for the dog park on Rhodes Street is Oct. 7. Ford said he was hesitant to open the park without the trash receptacles and bags for the cleanup of the “mess.”
“Let’s get it completed before we open it,” Keith suggested.
• Heard the splash pad at the Recreation Center should be going “pretty quickly now,” according to Harrison, who added that the water tanks that were ordered in April only got delivered the week prior.
The retaining wall could not be built until the tanks were in, and the concrete could not be poured until the retaining wall was built, he added.
• Approved parade permits for UT Southern for Aug. 22 and Aug. 24 on Madison Street and Giles County High School Band Backers and Giles County Public Library for Oct. 16 from Giles County High School to Sam Davis Park.
• Approved a recommendation from the Pulaski Regional Planning Commission, on second reading, to change the zoning ordinance in the C1 District to not allow multi-family on the street-level floor, which is currently allowed by special exception. It will still be allowed in the buildings that face Third Street.
• Approved a recommendation from the planning commission, on second reading, to rezone property located at 1936 Elkton Pike. The property is 54 acres that is proposed to have five commercial lots toward the north end rezoned from R1 to C3, multi-family on the north and south end rezoned from R1 to R4 and single family lots in the middle rezoned from R1 to R3.
• Approved, on second reading, the rezoning of property located at 225 E. Grigsby St. After receiving a Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) home grant, the owner’s previous home was demolished for a new one to be built on the site.
The property is zoned C1 and will be rezoned R4.
• Approved a change order for materials for the Move-Again project on Highway 31 South for sewer and gas lines that were buried with excess dirt by the state. The sewer will require another $35,153.83 for materials and the gas line $26,845.50.
The work is almost complete and will be reimbursed 100 percent from the state.
• Approved a resolution for the application of a National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) grant for the city to be a “standby” applicant. Harrison said no cost is expected with PES putting up the 10 percent match for the grant.
• Heard a lawsuit that the city is involved in has received a settlement proposal.
The board will next meet in regular session at City Hall Tuesday, Aug. 24, at noon.