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Rocky Top preparing for new garbage truck, shift to special cans

  • Matt Tuck

  • Rocky Top Mayor Tim Sharp hands the trophy to Harold Collins for winning first place in the “Hot Wheels” category in the recent city Christmas parade. Looking on is Rex Lynch, Anderson County Circuit Court clerk and member of the board of the Rocky Top Chamber of Commerce, the parade’s sponsor. The presentation was made during last Thursday’s City Council meeting.

  • Harold Collins won first place in the “Hot Wheels” category for his airplane car entry in the Christmas parade.

Rocky Top residents may have about four months until they must start using new trash cans that go with the city’s new automated garbage truck, which is on order and could be delivered early next year, City Council members were told last Thursday night (Dec. 16).

City Manager Michael Foster said the garbage truck, which has an automated side-loading feature that picks up the garbage cans and dumps them into the truck, has been on back order, but is now close to being built.

But the truck’s completed chassis still must go to Texas for the body to be installed, and that could be up to four months away, Foster said during the December council meeting.

Also about four months out is delivery of the new trash cans, which are specially matched to the automated system. All Rocky Top trash-collection customers will be required to use the new cans once the new truck starts making its rounds, Foster said.

“The city will provide the first one as part of their garbage fee,” Foster said Monday. “We think the truck’s going to be done just after the first of the year. We’re getting ready to order the cans.”

The cans will be distributed along with a letter to trash-collection clients with instructions on how to use it, he said.

“Everything’s got to be in the cans,” Foster said. “It will be just like Clinton did. That’s the route everybody’s going.”

But while Clinton uses a third-party contractor for garbage pickup, the city of Rocky Top operates that service in-house.

“We do our own garbage,” Foster said. “It’s less expensive than having to pay three people to operate the garbage truck.”

The city had expected to have to borrow money to buy the new garbage truck and cans, but instead is going to be able to pay for them out of the budget, Foster said.

“We had raised rates on garbage to pay for it, and were going to take out a loan, but we got enough money to pay cash for it,” he said.

That’s because the truck has been on back order for several months, giving the city time to raise the money to pay for it.

The city will order about 700 of the new trash cans, Foster said. “We have about 660 customers right now.”

In other business Thursday night, the council:

• Appointed Maria Hooks and Dustin Leach to serve three-year terms on the Recreation Committee. That fills out the committee with its full complement of seven members, Foster said.

• Approved a new medical insurance plan for city employees with about a 2.5-percent increase in cost, but with the same deductibles and co-pays as the current plan.

Also approved was continuation of the employee dental plan, whose cost increased about 2-percent.

• Welcomed the city’s new part-time administrative hearing officer, Oak Ridge lawyer Matt Tuck, who will hear cases involving city code violations, including property maintenance issues and junk-car removal. Tuck also is serving as interim municipal court judge for the city, as the appointed judge, Sal Varsalona, has taken a leave of absence to deal with personal issues, Foster said.

• Also, Mayor Tim Sharp and Rocky Top Chamber of Commerce board member Rex Lynch handed out trophies for the winners of the awards for participating in the Rocky Top Christmas parade Dec 3.

Anderson County Sheriff Russell Barker, Rebecca Sweet and Mike Lovely were the judges.

This year’s winners were:

Floats: First place, Clear Branch Baptist Church; second place, Sleepy Eyed John’s; third place, Rocky Top Dentistry.

Groups: First, Willow Brook Baptist Church; second, Lake City Football, No. 2.

Tractor: First, Daniel Gentry.

Hot Wheels: first, Harold Collins; second, Brad Shadrick; third, Mike and Vickie Foust.

ATV/UTV: First, Alley Smiddy.

Other parade participants included the Anderson County High School Band, the high school’s JROTC unit, and various elected officials and candidates.

Fourth-graders from Lake City Elementary School rode on a flatbed tow truck.

The city’s 2021 Mayors Award recipients were the Spitzer family (in memory of the late Fire Chief Ronnie Spitzer) and the Phillips family (in memory of the late city police and fire dispatcher Red Phillips).

The 2021 Grand Marshal recipient was the Baggett family (in memory of Henry Baggett).