VERNON — Michelle Cook is unopposed in her bid for re-election as mayor of Vernon.
The Vernon City Council approved the list of certified candidates seeking the two open council seats. No one applied to run for the mayor’s position, said City Clerk Dian Hendrix on Monday.
Council member Byron Biddle is stepping down from the council, and the seat left vacant by the death of Oscar Ward last year is also up for grabs. The election will be held March 12, with the polls being open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Eligible candidates for the election include Tina Sloan, John W. Hawkins III, Shawn Sanders and Gary Owens.
The council also approved moving the WIC office from the Vernon Library to the City Hall, and moving the Feb. 18 workshop to Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. since Feb. 18 is President’s Day and the City Hall will be closed for the national holiday.
Vernon resident Annette Lanham also approached the council about the possibility of reopening the Washington County Canning Center in a different building in Vernon.
“I took on this project because I felt that it would be a great public resource, not only for Vernon, but the neighboring areas as well,” Lanham said of the canning center.
The canning center, once operated by the Tri-County Community Council, was closed when the boiler became inoperable and the repairs were too expensive. The city has since sold the building and property to the DOT as right-of-way.
Lanham asked the council if they were not willing to reopen the canning center in Vernon, if the equipment from the canning center could be moved to a new location and used there.
Mayor Cook suggested the old high school cafeteria building could be transformed into a new canning center, but council member Gwen March balked at making any decision at that time.
“I think we should table this for a workshop,” March said. “We would need to know how much it would cost to make that building fit to use.”
Lanham asked if some of the money the city received for the sale of the old canning center could be used toward renovating the cafeteria.
Biddle said he was under the impression the canning center was required by the state Health Department to have a boiler to operate, but Lanham said that was the first she had heard of such a requirement.
Amanda Baker, environmental health specialist with the Washington County Health Department, said on Tuesday that the canning center would not be under the auspices of the health department, but said the Department of Agriculture would be the agency overseeing canning center operations.
The Department of Agriculture media office was not able to immediately answer the question of whether or not a boiler was required, but is now researching the subject at the request of the Washington County News.
The canning center discussion was tabled until the next city council workshop, which will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19.