Council goes for Pepsi, cell phones

By Thomas Wilson

   Pepsi, please.
   That was the choice of the Elizabethton City Council at Thursday night's meeting. Council members voted 7-0 to approve a resolution granting Pepsi an exclusive 5-year contract to sell the company's beverages at the city's park facilities where no existing contract currently exists.
   Under a proposed contract, Pepsi would install electronic scoreboards -- including materials and labor -- at several city athletic facilities including Joe O'Brien Field, the Ladies Softball Field and the Elizabethton Recreation Center on Mill St. The scoreboards are valued at $25,342 and would become the property of the city at the conclusion of the contract.
   The city sent requests for proposals to Pepsi and Coca-Cola distributors in April. A representative of Pepsi of Johnson City submitted a proposal for the contract, but the city did not receive a response from Coca-Cola.
   City attorney Roger Day said the American Little League organization presently had a contract with Pepsi while Cat Island Park presently held a contract with Coca-Cola. He told the council approving the contract did not, in his estimation, violate any current contracts.
   Pepsi presently sells products at most city buildings and all city recreation facilities except Lions Field. The field lies on city property but is operated by the Elizabethton National Little League. The lone Coca-Cola vending machine at a city facility is located at the city garage, according to the city review of the proposal.
   The Pepsi proposal places vending machines at indoor gymnasiums, outdoor fields and athletic areas, concession stands and city administrative offices. Products would include Gatorade, All Sport and Aquafina water among other soft drinks offered.
   The council voted 5-1-1 to replace the city government's existing telephone with an upgraded system. Council selected a Toshiba system proposed by T & M Communications over an NEC and IWATSU telephone system proposed by the Teleconnect company in Gray. Moffitt estimated the city would have an operational cost savings of $162,000 with the T & M proposal compared to $125,800 with the NEC telephone system. Councilwoman Nancy Alsup voted no while Janie Smith McKinney abstained on the telephone system vote.
   Council voted 6-1 on second reading and public hearing to eliminate the two percent discount given to citizens who pay their city property tax early. McKinney voted no to the resolution as she did when it passed 6-1 on first reading last month. Eliminating the discount will effectively save the city $20,000.
   Council members also voted 7-0 to approve several appointments recommended by Mayor Sam LaPorte. Ken Markland was appointed to the Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission to replace Howard Matherly, who resigned in July. Council voted to appoint Ray Isaacs to the Elizabethton Housing and Development Authority board of directors while Jim Jones was named a board member to the Elizabethton Electric System.
   The council also voted 7-0 to approve the following actions:
   * Accept a $15,586 bid to purchase new firearms for the Elizabethton Police Department. The purchase includes 32 .40-caliber Glock sidearm pistols for patrol officers, eight laser sighting systems assigned to S.W.A.T. team members, and two H&K submachine guns from the bid received from Craig's Firearm Supply in Knoxville. The city sent seven request-for-proposal bid forms to firearms dealers in East Tennessee.
   * Payment of $3,918 in annual membership dues to the Tennessee Municipal League.