Chelsea City Council honors Juanita Champion for 287 straight council meetings

CHELSEA – The Chelsea City Council held a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 11 to discuss several topics, including a few surprises.

The first order of business was the celebration of City Councilwoman Juanita Champion, who has attended 287 straight council meetings and only has one more before the new council takes over.

This includes a City Council meeting that was moved to her house because of a conflict keeping her from city hall.

Mayor Earl Niven surprised Champion by presenting her with a plaque that reads, “City of Chelsea Historical Museum established by Juanita Champion.” This plaque will be placed on the door of the museum, which opened in 2012 thanks to the efforts of Champion.

“We are very proud of the service she has provided the city of Chelsea,” Niven said. “She has done so much work for the city over her twelve-year run.”

The mayor also presented her with a gag gift known as the safety award for the amount of injuries she has dealt with over the years while being a member of the council.

“I think I appreciate the first gift a lot more than the second one,” Champion said chuckling. “I appreciate all of this so much.”

The council also celebrated mayor elect Tony Picklesimer by passing a resolution to certify him as the new mayor of Chelsea, which resulted in a round of applause from the audience and council.

“It’s going to be a fun adventure for him,” Niven said. “It’s fun to be mayor when you can see things being done for the city.”

He went on to tell Picklesimer and his new council to remember their purpose is to provide service to the citizens of Chelsea.

One last surprise was when Fire Chief Wayne Shirley stepped in front of the council to announce that the new transport unit they have been working on is ready to go in service.

“Our plan is to put it in service this weekend,” Shirley said. “We’ll be doing driver training this week to get them used to the new vehicle.”

Shirley brought the vehicle to the meeting to show off and asked the mayor to bless it with a prayer before they put it in service, which Niven did immediately following the meeting.

The announcement of the new transport vehicle comes on the heels of a dangerous time for wild fires in the state.

During a normal 24-hour shift the fire department averages around three to four calls, but on Tuesday alone they received 11 before the 6:00 p.m. meeting started.

“We are taking every opportunity to get word out to people to not be burning anything outdoors right now,” Shirley said.

In other business, the council:

  • The council approved a manufacturing and retail table wine license for Cat and Bird Winery.
  • Approved a resolution to dedicate Grand Slam Drive and Sports Highland Parkway as a public right-of-way from a certain point in the road.
  • Accepted a re-zoning request from the planning and zoning commission for Tall Timbers, LLC. This property is located on County Road 11 next to the Chelsea Fire Station and Brynleigh Estates subdivision and contains 197 acres. The plan is for the owner of Tall Timbers, David Brogdon, to develop this land into a neighborhood called “The Highlands of Chelsea.” Brogdon is requesting the property be re-zoned from agricultural residential to planned residential development. Tony Picklesimer recused himself from the vote.
  • Accepted a re-zoning request for Partner Properties, LLC. This property is located on Old Highway 280 behind Publix and contains 1.84 acres. Owner Mark Byers is requesting the propert be re-zoned from residential to general business. A public hearing has been scheduled for November to discuss.