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Even with 4 strike-outs, Mathes still swings away

Despite four strike-outs, Councilman Carl (Buck) Mathes stayed in the ball game Monday night. And he finally got a hit.
Mathes’ motions for $300,000 for firefighters, $750,000 for highway work, $300,000 to replace a bridge, and $6,600 to attend a national conference on land use all died for lack of a second.
But his motion to approve $300 for a light meter for the planning commission squeaked past the seven member board, 4-3.
In that instance, council chair Gary Davis cast the tie-breaker in favor of the funding.
Earlier, Mathes hesitated to make that motion. “I’m afraid to make a motion. I’m afraid I’ll jinx it,” he said, laughing.
“No guts, no glory,” Davis told him. “Why don’t you go ahead?”
He did. “They’ve got to let me win one once in a while,” Mathes reasoned.
In response to the plan commission’s request for a light meter to guard against over-lighted areas, especially in planned employment centers (the commission’s latest category for developments), Councilman Carl Duley asked, rhetorically, if residents are being over-regulated.
“Do you think we’re dictating too much?” he asked planner Eric Wise. “It’s a wonder they don’t march in here and tell us what we can do.”
Mathes, who serves on the plan commission board, interjected: “I think it’s a good idea.”
He said in cases such as a planned employment center, the light could be so bright it would interfere with neighbors. The light meter would be used to check the intensity. “We need them,” Mathes said. “This is a way we can help solve a problem.”
Councilman Alvin Brown said the purchase is “ridiculous.”
“I ain’t heard the first complaint about” lighting, he said. “When I tell people about it, they laugh.”
But Commissioner J.R. Eckart, chairman of that board and a member of the plan commission, said written complaints have been received.
Mathes complained that serving on the plan commission board is difficult. “You start out with friends, and by the end of the night, they’re enemies,” he said. Yet, “when (the board) asks for money, you treat me like a stepchild.”
Mathes’ motion, seconded by Councilman Ralph Sherman, passed 4-3, with Davis casting the tie-breaker, as the audience applauded. “I’m one of those people who wants to keep Buck on the plan commission,” Davis said.
Others voting in favor were Mathes, Sherman and Councilman Kenneth Saulman; opposed were Brown, Duley and Councilwoman Rhonda Rhoads.
Earlier, Mathes’ motion to approve $6,600 for a staff member and two plan commission board members to attend a national conference on land use wasn’t as successful.
“We have a few good members who will be on the board for several years,” Mathes said. “It would be an asset for the county.”
Mathes stressed he would not be the board member to attend. But his motion died for lack of a second.
“Could we have a little more discussion?” asked Councilman Kenneth Saulman, addressing Wise for more details on the conference. “This is one on hillside development,” Wise said.
Saulman suggested a visit to Tennessee. “They build on hillsides there all the time.”
Councilman Ralph Sherman’s motion to send two people – a board member and a staff member – at a cost of $4,400, seconded by Saulman, passed 5-1, with Brown casting the dissenting vote.
Later, he said, “I only wanted to send one. It’s a waste of money sending two.”
Before that brouhaha, Mathes tried to get $300,000 approved as requested from riverboat revenue to replace Bridge Number 57 (Mathis Road) across Indian Creek, a steel truss structure built in 1900 which was washed away by high water. Others on the council wanted to use cumulative bridge funds instead.
“It’s buying something that’s going to last us 100 years,” Mathes said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you all.
“Most of these horse bridges we replace now is about 100 years old,” Mathes said, adding that the cumulative bridge fund, which is made up of property tax dollars, would still be available for other bridge projects.
Saulman’s motion to approve the spending out of the bridge fund instead of riverboat revenue, seconded by Sherman, passed 6-0, with Mathes also voting in favor. That appropriation will have to be made later, Davis said, so the spending can be re-advertised from the proper fund.
Mathes also failed to get through a request by the commissioners for $750,000 ($250,000 in each of the three districts) to help make up for state cuts in gasoline tax dollars and to help get projects underway earlier this year than last.
His motion to that effect failed to get a second. “You’re on a roll, Buck,” Davis said.
“You all just keep rolling downhill,” Mathes said. “I’m not going to help you.”
Duley’s motion, seconded by Saulman, to approve $200,000 in each district passed 6-0. Mathes said, “I was in favor of all of it, but since you pinched it off … ”
Eckart said on behalf of the commissioners: “We thank you for the pinch.”
Another request by the commissioners for $333,333 in each district for road improvements was also reduced to $200,000 each.