East Ridge City Council Names Hal North As Interim City Attorney

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The East Ridge City Council, at a special called meeting on Saturday afternoon, named Hal North as interim city attorney on a three-month trial basis.

He will be paid a flat $7,500 fee with no other charges.

Councilman Marc Gravitt said attorney North had called him about the open position.  He said "for full disclosure" he had done some business with attorney North including appraisals.

Both he and Vice Mayor Jim Bethune highly praised attorney North, saying he has excellent credentials.

Mayor Brent Lambert and Councilmen Larry Sewell both said they knew nothing of attorney North.

Mayor Lambert said he was taken aback because he said Vice Mayor Bethune had told him Friday he wanted to name former East Ridge City Attorney Cris Helton to the post. 

Council members Gravitt, Bethune and Manning voted in favor. Councilman Sewell paused for a time and then said yes. Mayor Lambert abstained.

The council had voted 3-2 on Thursday night to fire John Anderson as city attorney. He had held the post since 2008.

Attorney Helton departed and attorney Anderson arrived during the tenure of Mayor Mike Steele. 

Vice Mayor Bethune said he earlier asked attorney Anderson to serve in the part-time position for a flat $7,500 per month, but he declined.  Attorney Anderson and his law firm charged the city as much as $158,000 per year.

Attorney North will represent East Ridge in Criminal Court on Monday on a motion to delay a trial involving the Superior Creek Lodge. Councilman Gravitt said a trial is set on Wednesday and the lawyer for the lodge wanted it passed.

Vice Mayor Bethune said he interviewed attorney North for about 45 minutes after his name was recommended to him by Councilman Gravitt.

He said he has been president of the Chattanooga Bar Association, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Association, the Rotary Club and the Crime Stoppers. He is a deacon at First Presbyterian Church.

The member of the firm of Chambliss, Bahner and Stophel won the 2011 President's Award from the president of the Tennessee Bar Association.  

Councilman Gravitt said attorney North is familiar with municipal law since he is the special counsel for the city of Chattanooga.

"We would be fortunate to have him," he said.

He said attorney North is not asking for any contract and, after three months, the council can decide if it wants to keep him.   

Councilman Sewell said he would like to look into the idea of having a full-time city attorney. But Mayor Lambert said that would be expensive since the attorney would likely require a staff "unless he answers the phone for himself."


Patten Towers Resident Charged In Wreck That Clogged U.S. 27 On Sunday

A Patten Towers resident is charged in a wreck that clogged the northbound lanes of U.S. 27 on Sunday. Melanie Evette Dobbs, 56, was charged with four counts of reckless endangerment, DUI, failure to maintain lane, violating the Implied Consent Law and failing to have insurance. Police responded to a collision at 9:45 p.m. in which a Dodge Caravan had struck a Kia sedan that ... (click for more)

Lookout Mountain Art Dealer Says Bookkeeper Embezzled Funds

Lookout Mountain art dealer Frank Fowler says in a Chancery Court lawsuit that his bookkeeper embezzled a large amount of funds. The suit was filed against Francine Labbe. Ms. Labbe has been performing accounting, financial reporting and other administrative duties at the Fowler office on Watauga Lane, it was stated. Ms. Labbe, who was paid an annual salary of $72,000, ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Knoxville’s Godsend

Back when we were uppity teenagers, the best put-down when a friend started acting crazy was to say to the heathen, “Quit acting like you are from Knoxville!” I don’t know how the term originated but I can say that back in the day it was pretty insulting to be told you were acting like you were from Knoxville. This week I wish that more of us acted like Knoxville. The Knox County ... (click for more)

Sales' Grand Slam Leads Lady Owls To 6-2 Comeback Win

Cheyenne Sales came close to hitting two home runs on Tuesday. She atoned for those close calls a day later with a grand slam in a five-run fourth inning and powered Ooltewah to a 6-2 victory over gritty East Hamilton in District 5-3A softball action at Jim Lovell Field. “That’s the first grand slam I’ve hit this season,” said Sales, who finished with five RBIs. “The pitch ... (click for more)

Red Bank's Kendall Farr Hurls No-Hitter Against Tyner

Kendall Farr was on the money Wednesday afternoon as she hurled a no-hitter and struck out seven as the Red Bank Lionettes blanked Tyner, 10-0, in six innings. Kelsey Peden and Destiny Painter both had two RBIs for the Lionettes while Hannah Wood had a triple and Sami Shrader a double.  Peden also had a double. With Farr improving to 3-2 on the season,, Red Bank finished ... (click for more)