April 7, 2014

New public defender for Municipal Court

Charles Oliver

— The Dalton City Council hired a new public defender for Municipal Court and a new arborist on Monday.

In a 3-0 vote, council members approved a contract with attorney Giles Jones to serve as public defender in Municipal Court. Officials said the post was advertised and several candidates were interviewed. Jones was chosen because of his experience in representing indigent defendants in other judicial systems in Tennessee and Georgia.

The city will pay Jones $125 an hour for court appearances and $115 an hour for any work outside of court. The contract lasts until one side gives the other 30 days notice.

City Administrator Ty Ross said Sam Little, who has served as public defender for the past three years, wished to serve as backup prosecuting attorney for the court. The prosecuting attorney represents the city in court, so in order to prevent any possible conflict of interests the city had to appoint a new public defender. Michael Corbin is the city’s primary prosecuting attorney.

The contract the city signed with Little three years ago called for him to be paid $85 an hour for court appearances and $75 for work outside court.

Council members also voted 3-0 to approve a one-year contract with J. Matthew Searles to serve as city arborist. Searles will be paid $41.25 an hour for his services. Ross said Kris Thomas recently retired as city arborist. Thomas was a full-time city employee who also had other duties in the public works department.

Searles, a certified arborist who works for a utility in Tennessee, was recommended by members of the city’s Tree Board, and officials said they expect him to work about one day a week.

Council members also voted 3-0 to:

• Approve an amendment to the 2013 budget adding $326,660 for the value of property donated at the site of the old Lee Printing building on Hamilton Street by McNeese Properties.  The city recently tore down that building. Officials hope to sell the site to a developer.

• Approve an amendment to the 2014 budget moving $237,720 for lease of a fire truck to the debt service fund from the general fund.

• Approve a one-year, $3,600 contract with Emcor Services of Smyrna for maintenance of the heating and air conditioning of the old post office building on Hamilton Street. That building is now the home of the Carpet and Rug Institute and the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Pro Tem George Sadosuk generally votes only in the event of a tie when serving as acting mayor. Sadosuk became acting mayor last month after David Pennington stepped down to run for governor. Sadosuk will remain acting mayor until an election is held in November to fill Pennington’s unexpired term in office.

Council members also recognized April 15 as Rotary Club of Dalton Day, recognizing the Rotary Club of Dalton for 76 years of service to the community. The Rotary Club will hold the 2014 Dr. Earl W. Lusk Memorial Rotary Golf Tournament at the Dalton Golf and Country Club on Tuesday, April 15. The tournament is a fundraiser supporting the college scholarships that Rotary provides to high school seniors each spring.