#133: Anderson, SC 9/25/17

There are two things that are universally beloved: cute babies and the fire department. And the Anderson city council meeting had plenty of both.

“I’m gonna ask Chief Bratcher to come up with his wife,” Mayor Terence Roberts beckoned the interim fire chief to the stage.

City staff, meanwhile, wheeled around in front to ogle the talkative toddler bouncing on his dad’s knee.

“Sometimes we get so busy and the chief was doing such a good job being the interim chief, we kind of forgot to recognize him,” the mayor smiled sheepishly.

“I’m going to do the oath of office and I think his wife is going to have a role in this too.”

He looked down at his script and quoted the oath. “I do solemnly swear–”

“I–” began the chief before his quick-thinking wife nudged him to raise his hand. Immediately, he sprung his right arm upward. The mayor was right: she saved the swearing-in!

Good rescue

After accepting his badge and shaking hands with the city council, the chief invited eight of his men to the front for their own promotions. The baby gurgled and cooed while they all stood silently and were pinned with their shimmering badges.

Now came an interesting assembly line: with eight council members plus four city employees, a whopping 96 handshakes were performed in the space of minutes. The microphones picked up a rapid-fire volley of “congratulations, congratulationscongratucongratcongrats.”

If they could handle that onslaught, they can certainly handle a three-alarm blaze.

Stay close, boys–there’s a lot of wood here.

As the mass of family, friends, and–tragically–the baby mobbed the exit, the police chief strode to the lectern. He had his eyes on a new set of wheels or two.

“The Interceptor is very handy,” he praised his preferred secondhand purchase. “It’s something different from what we already have. That vehicle will be equipped with lights and a siren.”

His other wish list item was a Dodge Ram. “That vehicle will be an unmarked vehicle,” he explained. (Oh, crap–should I have printed that? Forget I said Dodge Ram. It’s…a Suburu Outback. Yeah.)

“The old cars that you put up for auction,” Council Member Beatrice Thompson raised her hands quizzically, “is anybody buying those?”

The chief let out a light chuckle. “Yes, ma’am. I’m really surprised. We had one of the cars and I drove it from the PD on its last journey. I gave it some gas and it coughed.”

Council members laughed. Then the chief hit them with the punch line. “I believe that car sold at auction for $1,300. I was amazed.”

Murmurs of astonishment flitted across the room. I’m surprised as well: a sentient, coughing police car?! I’d empty my savings account for that modern-day Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.


But it was the fire department that had the last word.

“We’ve had interest from citizens about the Veterans Parade,” city manager Linda McConnell reported to the council. “You will remember the group that normally put on the Veterans Parade was unable to do so last year. Our own Fire Chief Randy Bratcher rallied the troops and the parade went off without a hitch.”

Apparently, all that previous time spent not being sworn in was put to good use because, she disclosed, “Randy and his group are once again spearheading that effort, which is scheduled for Sunday, November 5.”

To reassure citizens, she added, “the chief’s wife is assisting with that as well.”

Whew! The parade is in capable hands, indeed.


#65: Lawrenceburg, TN 11/10/16

Small-town charm was on full display at the Lawrenceburg city council meeting. From the Mayberry-like feeling in the room, you’d barely know that the country was in turmoil outside of city hall.

“We’ll be closed tomorrow for Veterans Day. The parade starts at 11 o’clock,” solemnly announced Mayor Keith Durham. “So guys, if you wanna ride with my dad, he’s got his truck ready to go.”

Wow, an official councilmobile! Crank up the bass and fasten on the truck nuts, boys! Oh, but bring a Snuggie, says Hizzoner:

“You’re welcome to ride with us in the back of the truck. It may be a little chilly. But we’ll have lawn chairs.”

It’s how Caligula would have traveled if his dad owned a truck.

Seat belts not included

“Next, gentlemen: a resolution for the city of Lawrenceburg to reappoint Gary Hyde as the representative to the Regional Solid Waste Planning Board,” the council’s reader said.

The mayor scratched his nose and glanced at Hyde across the room. “Are you okay with that, Gary?”

“Yes, sir,” the man responded stiffly.

“We have appointed people without their permission, you know,” the mayor explained to chuckles.

Your Honor, feel free to appoint me to anything you want without my consent. Solid Waste…Liquid Waste…Human Waste…I would be proud to represent your city at the waste level.

“Next, gentlemen: a resolution to approve the purchase of a 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew cab from Mike James for the use of Lawrenceburg Parks and Recreation Department. Purhase price is $10,500.”

Council Member Jamie Sevier stopped writing and looked up. “How’d this deal come up, Chris?”

Chris Shaffer, the city administrator, elaborated: “This was approved in the budget to replace the old black van that Parks and Recreation uses. Pam looked at this vehicle and felt it was a good deal.”

“I know Mike was asking $13.5, Pam?” Council Member Ronald Fox inquired.

“Yes, sir,” Pam called out.

“And they talked him down from $13.5 to $10.5 so I believe it’s a pretty good deal,” he nodded at Pam’s negotiating expertise. “It looked like a pretty good truck.”

Mayor Durham frowned. “Are you going to sell the ‘mystery machine’ as a result?”

File photo of the Parks and Recreation director

The city administrator grinned. “We’re gonna try to.”

“Might save it for Halloween!” Council Member Fox quipped.

Or perhaps the next parade. I’m sure you could fit lawn chairs and four councilmen inside–and Papa Durham could use his truck bed for less fleshy cargo.

“All right. If you’re in favor of this, let me know by saying aye,” the mayor boomed. Everyone was an “aye.”

But Fox was already waxing nostalgic for the van. “Mayor, maybe they can paint this pickup black!”

Final thoughts: I give 10 out of 10 stars to Pam for knocking $3k off the asking price. She should be allowed to ride in the truck with you guys.