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Residents cry foul over city ordinance
  • Updated

Three Portland residents spoke out in opposition to the city’s domesticated fowl ordinance at the first meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) in the new council meeting room. Several people have received citations issued by Animal Control Officer Jamie Weekley for violating the ordinance.

The current ordinance was approved Oct. 21, 2019. Residents are allowed three domesticated fowl on residential lots with a minimum lot size from 7,000 to 10,000 square feet. Six are allowed on lots from 10,001 to 20,000 square feet. Roosters are not allowed in the ordinance.

There are other regulations regarding waste disposal and other prohibitions listed in the ordinance. Domesticated fowl are described in the ordinance as female chickens, ducks, pheasants, and similar fowl.

Wes Lugten addressed the council during public recognition regarding a citation he had received from Weekley for having too many chickens. He complained that he had asked for an extension but was given a citation instead.

Lugten said that there had been no complaints from the neighbors. He stated that the citation had caused emotional stress on him and his wife. He said that his chickens were fenced in and none were free range. He added that the chickens were a food supply.

Rachel Harmon and Tanya Dubowyk spoke requesting that the regulation banning roosters be lifted and asked that one rooster per household be added to the ordinance. Harmon mentioned that roosters are good for flock continuation and flock protection.

Hamon said, “I have one and he is my baby and if I have to get rid of him for you, I’m going to cry. My kid will, too.”

Alderman Mike Hall reminded everyone that he did not vote for the ordinance when it was passed because he wanted to go in a different direction. He added that there is no limit to the number of dogs a person can have. He added that in his neighborhood someone had six pit bulls, and one neighbor had a hog in his back yard.

“One man’s dog is another man’s chicken,” Hall said. “Pigs, pit bulls, goats, and sheep are higher on my list than chickens.”

The rules were suspended to allow Lugten to speak again. He asked the aldermen if they thought it was right for animal control to use social media to track the people that have chickens. He stated that animal control was using HIP Portland pages, Middle Tennessee Poultry pages, and Middle Tennessee Chicken pages to find out who have chickens. Alderman Thomas Dillard defended the animal control officer by stating that she was just doing her job.

Hall entered the discussion again by adding that there was a path to follow in dealing with personnel issues. He encouraged people to go first to the chief of police, then the chief would go to the mayor and that human services could get involved. He added that there was nothing the council could do involving personnel matters.

Portland Police Chief Jason Williams asked to speak to the ordinance stating that they were there to discuss the ordinance. He added that the animal control officer does not have the discretion to give an extension on the ordinance. He told the council that an ordinance is enforced as it is written. His department did not have any control over extensions on any ordinance because that is how it works.

Williams said, “What we are here for today is the ordinance. All other is procedural stuff. If there is an issue, that’s for me and my staff to address. You are welcome to talk about that to the department. Tonight, we are here to talk about zoning regulations. I personally don’t have an opinion about the number, but I need to caution you that the number just can’t be subjective. How it’s written is how we are going to enforce it.”

City Attorney John Bradley stated that the ordinance was only up for discussion at this meeting. He suggested that the council allow him to prepare an amended ordinance for the next meeting which would guide the discussion. He asked the aldermen if they had any specific amendments they wanted to make to the ordinance that they call the mayor or him, adding he would take the amendments suggested and prepare an ordinance. The BOMA agreed to allow Bradley to prepare the ordinance with amendments to present at a meeting in April or May.


Hagerty touts gun rights during Beretta tour

Republicans in the U.S. Senate plan to oppose efforts to pass increased gun control measures in the wake of two recent high-profile mass shootings, Sen. Bill Hagerty said Monday in Gallatin.

Hagerty, who was elected in November, condemned the killing of 18 people last month while also reiterating his support for the Second Amendment following a tour of Beretta U.S.A.’s firearms manufacturing facility.

“This is a kneejerk reaction by the administration to use… the shootings as an excuse to come in and impose their agenda for more gun control legislation,” Hagerty told the Portland Sun.

Last week, President Joe Biden called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines following a shooting at a Colorado grocery store that left 10 people dead, including one police officer.

His remarks also came less than one week after eight others were killed during a series of shootings at three massage parlors in Georgia.

“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take commonsense steps that will save the lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” Biden said at the White House on March 23. “We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again.”

In 1994, Congress passed legislation banning the manufacture, transfer and possession of certain semiautomatic firearms along with large capacity ammunition magazines. The restrictions were allowed to expire a decade later after they failed to be extended.

Earlier this year, the House passed its own pair of gun control bills that would expand background checks and close the “Charleston loophole,” which allowed gun sales to occur without a completed background check if three business days had already passed.

“This is not and should not be a partisan issue; this is an American issue,” Biden said about the proposed legislation. “It will save lives – American lives – and we have to act.”

Hagerty, however, noted the likelihood the legislation will ultimately be approved in the Senate is “extremely low.”

“They are not going to get any support from me or from the Republicans in the Senate,” he said.

As for Beretta, Hagerty said the firearms producer has been “thriving” since opening its state-of-the-art manufacturing and engineering center in Gallatin five years ago.

“Bringing an iconic company like Beretta to Tennessee says a lot about the economic environment here, a lot about our workforce and a lot about our state being a strong proponent of the Second Amendment,” Hagerty added. “I’m very proud of that.”


4-H provides a strong foundation for life

Imagine someone started a youth program for children ages 7-18 and any child could join and work on projects geared to their interests, age level and ability. Suppose that program successfully worked again and again over the span of a century to help young people build self-confidence, develop healthy habits, and to care about others in their community. What if parents didn’t have to pay for their children to join?

Well, there is a program just like that and it’s called 4-H.

Being involved with 4-H in Sumner County was a formative experience for me. Having grown up on a farm in Portland, it certainly wasn’t my first introduction to agriculture but it did give me an avenue to learn about civic responsibility, leadership and service to others. There’s so much work that goes into raising and showing an animal, growing food, preparing for a speech or working on a project with peers. To say children “learn by doing” in 4-H is an understatement.

4-H develops new skills but also teaches young people critical thinking. They learn through hands-on experiences how to identify, evaluate and problem-solve through collaboration.

Preparing for competitions and county fairs is hard work, but also fun. These experiences are some of my best memories and helped me cultivate long-lasting friendships beyond my community. Through 4-H, I gained valuable leadership skills, new hobbies, and a lifelong passion to “make the best better.”

Sadly, many of our kids today are lacking exposure and connection to the natural world many of us enjoyed just a generation ago before the digital age. Being involved with 4-H can help foster a love for the outdoors by providing experiences in nature that are important for a child’s healthy development.

It’s worth noting, 4-H is not just for farm kids. There are many real-world learning opportunities to match every child’s diverse interests whether that be geared toward science, math, entrepreneurship, design, wellness, communication and so much more. These programs support Tennessee’s STEM education objectives.

In Tennessee, we are fortunate to have wonderful 4-H programs through a cooperative effort between the University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University Extension Offices. These programs are funded with a combination of local, state and federal dollars as well as private donations. It takes an army of dedicated 4-H professionals, parents and community volunteers willing to share their time and expertise for numerous clubs, after-school activities and camps. With some modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, these programs are still fully operating as scheduled here in Sumner County.

Today, I’m proud to continue these traditions with my children. It’s rewarding to see the excitement on their faces when they overcome a challenge or experience the joy of a job well done.

Together, the four H’s symbolize the development of the head, to think, plan, and reason; the heart, to care for others, good citizenship and a positive attitude; the hands, to be helpful; and health, to develop healthy habits. These are values that build a strong foundation for life.

I am deeply invested in making Tennessee a place where we all have the best opportunity to prosper. I’m proud to support our local 4-H and I would encourage anyone with children to seek out opportunities available at any Extension Office throughout Tennessee.

I thank you for the privilege to serve as your voice in Nashville. I look forward to continuing our work together, building stronger communities for the next generation of Tennesseans.

William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 112th General Assembly. He is a member of several House committees including Finance, Ways, and Means, Government Operations, Criminal Justice and Calendar & Rules. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.


Man struck by train still in hospital
  • Updated

A man was the victim of a train accident while he was sitting on the tracks directly behind Portland East Middle School April 2. The conductor was unable to stop the train in time to avoid the accident. Submitted by Portland Police Department

Identified as Wilson David Medina Ferrera, he was hit by a CSX train on the tracks directly behind Portland East Middle School on April 2 at 5:44 p.m.

A Honduras passport belonging to Ferrera was found among his personal belongings. Ferrera’s date of birth was listed as April 5, 1982. No address was located.

According to the police report filed by Portland Police Officer Clint Whitson, Conductor Trent McKinley stated that when the train crested the hill behind 604 South Broadway, he and Locomotive Engineer Timothy Taylor observed Ferrera sitting on the left rail facing inward toward the other rail of the track.

The victim was reported to have been sitting with his head on his knees in a slumped over position. Efforts were made to stop the train but were unsuccessful. The train ultimately struck Ferrera causing his body to roll approximately 20 to 30 feet to the left of the tree line.

McKinley stated that the train was traveling approximately 20 to 25 miles per hour upon impact. When police arrived, Ferrera appeared to be breathing and appeared to have head injuries. The police report indicated that alcohol was involved in the accident.

The Portland Police Department has requested a copy of the onboard video footage from the incident from train officials. Photos were obtained from the incident and are a part of the police report.

The victim was transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center. Medical officials reported that Ferrera was in the Vanderbilt Trauma Unit and was undergoing surgery at the time of the police report. He was continuing to survive the injuries on Monday, April 5.


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