Bloomfield discusses bicentennial plans

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By Dennis George

The calendar has just passed the halfway mark of the current year, but residents in Bloomfield are already looking forward to 2019.

The northeast Nelson County community will be celebrating its bicentennial then, and Brent Long told the Bloomfield City Council at its Monday meeting there are several major events already in the works.

“On Feb. 9 at the Bishop Event Center, we are planning on having a big birthday party for the community,” Long said. “We are asking our wineries, Springhill and Chuckleberry, to have a wine tasting. Since February is Black History Month, we want to be able to tell the history of their contributions to the city.”

Long said he is searching for photos from the Bloomfield Tobacco Festival.

“I know there are a lot of people who have old vending machines and clocks and calendars that back to the early 1900s,” he said.

Long and his sister, Tina, are spearheading the plans for the bicentennial celebration.

“We also want to have a scavenger hunt in the spring that will last a few months,” Tina Long said.

“We would do it digitally,” she said. “We want to get people walking around and looking at things in the city. The key is community involvement. Two hundred years is pretty damn good. We are always hearing about events we used to have. Let’s make this a good one.”

Brent Long asked the council to allow the groups to have use of city property and services for a June 9 celebration.

“We are hoping to have a citywide yard sale and food trucks too,” he said. “We are looking into having a Civil War encampment and maybe a soldier march. We will do something for our 200 years of agriculture history up at the park. We want the town to be bustling with people.”

He told the council there will be a new mayor and perhaps new council members in Bloomfield in 2019.

“That’s why we are here to ask for your support now,” he said.

The council unanimously passed a nonbinding resolution to support the bicentennial plans.

Pool coming?

Mayor Rhonda Hagan suggested the city consider building a swimming pool for its residents.

“I don’t want you to make any decisions tonight, but I think it is something we might want to look at,” she said.

The mayor said the city has received bequests of money totaling more than $131,000, and hopes it can be utilized for something permanent.

“We need more for people to do here,” Hagan said.

Councilman Denny Howard reminded other council members the city once had a pool on Riverside Drive.

“Those things can be a lot of work and a lot of trouble,” he said. “It is not a bad idea but it is something we really need to think about.”

New Haven has a city pool and Hagan will see what their operating expenses are.

“We’ve come a long way with our finances and I just want you all to think about this.”

Chief to become

full-time employee

The city will now have a full time police officer as the council voted to increase Chief Scott Dennis’ hours from 20 to 40 per week.

“Due to a change in the state law, we can do this and not have to pay any more into the County Employees Retirement System (CERS),” Hagan said. “He will be eligible for sick pay, holiday pay, and vacation pay, but we will not have to pay any retirement. We have the money to do that.”

Dennis will continue working at a rate of $19.28 per hour.

In other actions:

• The new state law that went into effect on July 1 means the city will be charging more for the use of its facilities.

“I received something in the mail and we are going to have to start charging the 6 percent sales tax for the rental of the ballparks, the shelters, and other things,” Hagan said.

“It sounds like we’re going to be doing a lot of paperwork for not sending in much money,” Councilman Nathan Jones quipped.

• Public works employee Scott Thompson told the council the city’s Geographic Information System (GIS) is now available to the employees in real time.

“We can look on our computers and see what is happening,” he said. “The fire department will have access to the information and know the capabilities of each hydrant.”

Thompson has been working with Lincoln Trail Area Development District for more than two years to gather and input the information.

“A lot of the stuff we have is on paper from the 1930s,”he said. “We know where everything is.”

• The city approved an ordinance to have the Nelson County Sheriff collect the city’s property taxes.

However, the ordinance must be amended as it does not specify the cost to the city. Bloomfield’s billing system is outdated and the council determined it is cheaper to pay the sheriff (.0425 percent) to collect the taxes than to update its system.