Signal Mountain is standing taller than usual after the Tennessee Municipal League presented the city with an award for Small Town Progress.
Each year the league honors cities throughout the state for overall excellence, improvement, outstanding programs or department accomplishments.
Over the last two years, the league found that Signal Mountain excelled in its audit findings while maintaining at least a 35% fund balance and balanced budget, the organization said in a news release.
Signal Mountain Town Manager Boyd Veal says his staff simply worked hard to provide for the long-term welfare of the community and its residents and to improve the level and quality of services provided. “The award is the result of what we did, not the reason we did it,” he says.
Signal Mountain was also able to undertake several major projects while maintaining an Aa3 bond rating from Moody’s.
The Tennessee Law Enforcement Accreditation Program and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police awarded the Signal Mountain Police Department full state accreditation, making the department the second smallest in the state to be fully accredited.
The police department has also gone virtually paperless thanks to the deployment of new technology that connects officers’ computer tablets to patrol cars, NCIC, Hamilton County 9-1-1 and other law enforcement agencies.
The department’s records management system is also up and running, allowing officers to complete their reports from their patrol vehicles and send them wirelessly to the RMS system.
Signal Mountain also is the first law enforcement agency in Tennessee to implement the federal FirstNet wireless communications system, a nationwide First Responder Network supported by AT&T. The town was featured at a conference in Atlanta regarding its application of the program.
Signal Mountain also constructed a $3 million second fire station that has improved response times, increased coverage and added additional resources for training. The facility is both large enough to house a second engine company and provide space for reserve apparatus.
In addition, the fire department was awarded a SAFER grant worth more than $900,000, which enabled it to hire the nine additional firefighters required to staff the new station.
The department has also developed a strategic plan for the next five years to help it continue the momentum it has.
Signal Mountain’s Public Works Department also boasts a major upgrade having moved into a $2 million, 7,000-square-foot facility featuring a three-bay garage, new administrative offices and a truck wash.
The department recently purchased two hook-lift system trucks with dump beds, a brine tank and one-man automated leaf machines.
Signal Mountain has received numerous grants totaling more than $3.5 million to facilitate infrastructure improvements, including a bridge replacement, a sidewalk replacement and reconstruction of an historic roadway.
The town also recently completed its first bicycle and pedestrian plan.
Additionally, Signal Mountain invested just less than $900,000 to complete four infrastructure water system projects that replaced aging water mains.
The town has worked to provide facilities for a wide range of youth sports activities, including earning an LPRF grant to assist in an $880,000 project to rebuild two softball fields and improve the surrounding support area.
Signal Mountain gave equal weight to the arts as it transformed former Signal Mountain Elementary School into a cultural center. The town spent $500,000 bringing the building up to modern fire and safety codes, which will allow the facility to accommodate more concerts, theatrical productions, art exhibits and other community events.
Municipal Technical Advisory Service management consultant Honna Rogers nominated the town for the award. She is a former town manager of Signal Mountain.
The town received the award during the year of its centennial celebration. Veal says the recognition will help the town remember its past while committing to its future.
“We can look back and take stock of what we’ve accomplished but we also have to note what we could have done better,” he says. “This award helps us with the first part but we now have to commit to the second part. That’s how Signal Mountain remains the fantastic community it is.”
Source: Tennessee Municipal League