The Old Fort Board of Aldermen agreed to changes in the planning board ordinance and recognized helpers at last month’s carnival during Monday’s regular meeting.

The town’s planning board is an advisory team comprised of Old Fort residents, frequenters and business owners with an aim to help stimulate economic and social growth.

“The planning board came up with this ordinance that they wish to reestablish, and I hope you’ve read it,” said Mayor Rick Hensley to the board. “They’ve made some very, very good changes.”

“It cleans it up a little bit,” said Alderman Andrew Carlton. “Because the ordinance hasn’t been updated in a long time and it’s in line with ordinances all across the country that I’ve seen.”

Alterations to the previous ordinance included the following:

- Membership shall consist of a minimum seven members to a maximum of nine

- Members will be appointed for a term of two years with an option for a two-year term with no more than six consecutive years before a mandatory roll off the board. Said members will be required to take a mandatory year off before rejoining to board if asked and approved

- Any member who is absent from three consecutive meetings or whose percentage of attendance over any 12 month period is less than 60%, shall have membership automatically terminated unless such absence is excused by the full board for good and sufficient cause

- A quorum of four members is needed for the purpose of taking any official action required by the ordinance

- The planning board shall have the right to accept gifts, grants and donations for the exercise of its functions and for giving publicity to its work and may expend the money received from such donations and gifts as in in its best judgment. Any said monies shall be kept as a separate line item in the budget and only be used for planning board purposes.

- The planning board shall present a report to the alderman the last month of each quarter, or as needed for a special meeting.

The board agreed to these revisions and approved the new ordinance.

Also during the meeting, the town recognized several community members and groups for their participation in Old Fort’s carnival in August. Among those recognized was Boy Scout Troop 812, which also received a $250 donation check.

“I couldn’t have done it without them as far as parking,” said Carlton. “It took a big load off of us and I really appreciate it.”

Other individuals recognized include residents Patrick Ellis, Kim Allison Martin and Isaiah Robinson, who was not in attendance.

Hensley deemed the carnival a “huge success” and that the board looks forward to the event being an ongoing staple of Old Fort.

In other business:

• In public comments, Hensley stressed that, due to perceived outbursts in previous town meetings, individuals wishing to speak during the open comments section need to write their name and check “yes” or “no” on the attendance sheet. “If you did not check the box, just sit there and wait,” said Hensley. “It got out of hand the last couple of meetings we’ve had once we go into public comments and then people gets cranked up and then everyone wants to speak, so it gets out of hand.” In response, resident Toni Hollenbeck disagreed, saying, “You’ve taken away my freedom of speech and if there are some things I want to comment on, I want the right to be able to comment on it, even if I didn’t mark ‘yes’.” Hensley replied, “Well noted. We’re not infringing on anyone’s freedom of speech. You have the right to check that box.”

• Also in public comments, Hensley offered remarks in remembrance of 9/11, with the anniversary of the event on Wednesday. “Please remember those who perished that day,” said Hensley, “and please thank every veteran that you see for protecting our liberty and our rights. Please do that this coming Wednesday. Take that moment to remember.”

• The town council debate starts this Saturday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. According to Hensley, the location of the event has changed from the depot to the Rocket Building. The nine questions for all candidates will be available for pick-up at Town Hall any time after 3 p.m. on Thursday. Old Fort resident Terry Wilson will moderate.

• The Gospel Festival takes place Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Mountain Gateway Museum, starting at 2 p.m.

• Oktoberfest is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 5, lasting all day.

• The Christmas lighting ceremony takes place Saturday, Nov. 23 at the Old Fort Depot, starting 6 p.m. The Christmas Parade is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7. Light-up starts at 4 p.m., the parade starts at 5 p.m. Also scheduled on Dec. 7 is an open house at the Gateway Museum from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

• There was no old business or new business items discussed in Monday’s meeting.

The next Old Fort Board of Alderman meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 21 at Town Hall.

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