The McNairy County commissioners meet at 7:00 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the McNairy County Justice Center.

The county mayor is Jai Templeton, whose four-year term expires in 2010.

The county has 21 commissioners, three each for seven districts, who serve four-year terms.  They next come up for election in 2010.  They are:

First District: Ronald Henry, Kenneth Amerson, David McCullar                  
Second District: Otis Freeland, Larry Browning, Jeff Lipford
Third District: Carol Ann Woods, Joe R. Henry, Troy L. Moore
Fourth District: Tammy Dillon, Keith Jernigan, Jay Weatherford
Fifth District: Stevie Clark, Stan Wheeler, Brenda Cauley
Sixth District: Neal Burks, Wilburn Gene Ashe, Anthony Knight
Seventh District: Charlie Garrison, Anthony Smith, Jim Rickman
County Commission Meeting

23 June 2008

The McNairy County Commission held its June meeting with eighteen of the twenty-one commissioners present (Larry Browning, O.H. Freeland and Charlie Garrison did not attend).

The minutes of the May meeting were unanimously approved on a motion by Anthony Knight, seconded by Kenneth Amerson.  There being no comments, presentations, or official’s reports, County Mayor Jai Templeton moved directly to committee reports, calling first on Jim Rickman for a report on the Economic Development Commission.

After calling on EDC Director Ted Moore for some remarks, Rickman summed up thusly: “We’re still moving on getting some site work done at our industrial park to make it shovel ready for any prospects we might have.  As Ted said, American Meat Company is in the process of moving in.  United Stainless is still in the process of their expansion.”

Templeton then called on Troy Moore for a report on the airport authority.

“You have in your packet a copy of the airport budget plan for ‘08-’09,” Moore said.  “You see in there where there’s a $55,000 budget transfer from the county commission.  Last year the county commission approved $70,000—”

“I think seventy-one five,” Templeton interjected.

“—seventy-one five,” Moore corrected.  “And twelve thousand of that thirty thousand that was approved in May, the airport authority is not, they’re not going to need it.  And we’re going to turn that back in to the county general.  At this time, the $55,000, if approved, is still going to leave the airport with a shortfall of $2,300, and hopefully we can raise some funds from some other sources to cover that.”

“Education Committee,” Templeton intoned.  “Commissioner Jernigan.”

Keith Jernigan reported that “The education committee met Monday night at 6:30 along with the budget committee.  Mr. Frank Lacey, chairman of the school board, addressed the group, that some repairs need to be made to the schools, and some classrooms built, and maybe some new schools later on, and basically wanted to know if the county commission would stand and back the school board.  And what it boils down to, is they’re wanting to put a twenty-five, a quarter percent tax increase on the referendum, election, to accumulate the money for the additions and repairs and stuff like that.  We told him we’d stand behind them the best we could.  We’ve always stood behind the school board.  Mr. Templeton told him they’d have to go through the cities, get their approval, to be put on the referendum.  We asked that a plan, a strategic plan, be submitted to the county commission, and see that the plan would be followed.  So right now we’re waiting on a plan to be presented.”

Templeton next called on Carol Ann Woods for a report from the solid waste committee, and the next thirteen minutes were devoted to solid waste matters.

“The solid waste committee has met,” Woods began, “and we have four items for your consideration tonight. You have in your packet, there are two contracts in the packet.  I hope you’ve had time to look at those.  They’re divided up into two. One is for transport and one is collection.  The first of the four resolutions that we’d like to recommend to you tonight is to extend, for your approval to extend the contract which ends August 12, and have them go just to August 30th, so that for bookkeeping ease everything can start September 1st.  So I’ll put that in the form of a motion.”

“Motion by Commissioner Woods,” Templeton said, “to extend the current disposal and collection contracts from August 12 to August 30.”  The motion was seconded by Jeff Lipford and passed by a unanimous voice vote. 

“Okay,” Woods continued, “the second recommendation for your approval tonight are the contracts themselves.  There have been some changes to the contract, not the one for transport but the contract for collection, and if you’ll look in there I’ll tell you what’s been changed on that.”  She explained some minor changes, and then county attorney Craig Kennedy addressed one change that gave the county the same right that the contractor has to revise the customer account on 30 days notice.

“And with these changes, then,” Woods said, “the solid waste committee would like— I’ll make a motion that we accept those contracts.”

The motion was seconded by Weatherford, but before calling for a vote Mayor Templeton recognized “Mr. Marty Duncan with ASCO.  Marty, is there anything you’d like to say to the group?”

“Well,” Duncan began, “I’d just like to say it’s really an honor to be able to serve the citizens of McNairy County.  We’ve tried to put a proposal together, and we believe we have, that is both cost effective and has many improvements in it.  We’ve worked through, with the solid waste committee and Cindy, to— I think the service will improve, especially in the area of bulk.  I know that’s always an issue, and going forward the new system will be they can put out, your citizens will be able to put out that bulk waste at any time.  We think that alone will cut down almost 90% of any issues we’ve had.  And we just appreciate the opportunity, and we’re so honored to be able to continue to serve.  We just thank you so much.”

After the motion passed by a unanimous roll call vote, Woods continued. “The third item for your consideration, the solid waste committee has discussed the consumer price index, and we would like to waive that increase for this coming year, or for 2008-2009.”

“This is in relation to the ticket fee at the landfill,” Templeton explained.  “As you may recall, two or three years ago, instead of raising the rates periodically, this body approved raising them according to the consumer price index.  This is a concern with one of the large customers and users of the landfill.”  The reference is to Hardin County, which has suggested that it will find another landfill if the rate is increased.

“So I make a motion that we do waive that for this coming year,” Woods said, and the motion, seconded by Moore, passed by a unanimous voice vote.

“And the final recommendation,” Woods continued.  “After a lot of discussion the committee has decided that we would eliminate the reduced-rate policy.  We were concerned about litigation and the difficulty of execution and getting the particulars, so I make a motion that we drop the reduced-rate policy.”

Her motion was seconded by Jeff Lipford, whereupon Ronald Henry asked to be recognized. “I’d like to make an amendment to the motion,” Henry said.  “Instead of eliminating, change it back to the way it was originally, the way it was when we set it up to start with.  At that time, I believe it was $12,000.  Sixty-five years old, if you make less than $12,000 and you was on the tax-relief list.  That’s not exactly what they called it, but if you got the use taxes, you didn’t have to pay but half of it.”

Templeton restated Henry’s amendment: “Motion by Henry to amend the motion that reduced-rate policy be in effect for those sixty-five and over, with a proven income not to exceed $12,000.  Is that correct?”

“Well,” Henry responded, “twelve thousand, or whatever the tax-relief rate it.”

“It’s twenty-four thousand this year,” Templeton said, “but if you go original—” Templeton was interrupted by some crosstalk, during which someone (Henry?) said, “That will be fine.”

Jernigan seconded Henry’s motion to amend, but as Templeton moved toward calling for a vote he was interrupted by several voices, one of which said, “Let me ask a question about that.  I’m not opposed to it, but in our discussion we had some people talking to us about” possible legal problems arising out of singling out one group for special treatment.  “Am I right, Craig?”

“Yeah,” Kennedy responded, “and that’s what they said to us as well, that there’s that possibility we’ll run into issues about are we discriminating against some if we do that, versus others.  And I think that’s the reference that Carol Ann made to the possibility of litigation.  And I understand there’s very few counties or systems that offer any kind of reduced rate.  That’s what I was told.  That we’re one of the few.  And their recommendation was that we do away with it.  But that’s a risk you run if you pass it.”

When a voice vote on the amendment to the motion was not unanimous, Templeton called for a roll call vote.  Seven voted for the amendment (Burks, Clark, Rickman, Jernigan, Dillon, Ronald Henry, and Amerson) and eleven voted no (Joe Robert Henry, Ashe, Woods, Wheeler, Lipford, Smith, McCullar, Moore, Knight, Weatherford, and Cauley), so the amendment failed.

Templeton then called for a roll call vote on the original motion, which passed by twelve yeses to six noes, the six no votes being cast by Burks, Clark, Jerinigan, Dillon, Ronald Henry, and Amerson.

Templeton then called on Rickman for a report from the budget committee.

Rickman began by saying, “I’d like to thank the budget committee for all their hard work and all the meetings that we’ve made.  And the mayor and his staff and all the work they’ve put into it.  I guess the first thing we need to do is fix the tax revenue.  I think all of you received a copy of the—  The tax rate is still $2.40; general’s eighty-five [cents], highway’s ten [cents], general purpose school is $1.14, and general debt service is thirty-one [cents].  I move we adopt a resolution fixing the tax rate at two forty [$2.40].”

Moore provided a second, whereupon Templeton called for a vote on the motion “to adopt the tax levee of $2.40 for each $100 of taxable property” and it carried by a unanimous voice vote.

Rickman continued: “The next resolution that I propose would be making appropriations for the various department, institutions, and offices for the year beginning July 1, 2008, and ending June 30, 2009.” After being seconded by Knight, the motion carried by a unanimous roll call vote.

“I guess the next order of business,” Rickman said, “would be to adopt the budgets of the various departments, general fund, public works, general purpose schools, and debt service.  I move that these budgets be approved.”  His motion was seconded by Amerson, but before the vote could be taken, Rickman said, “I forgot.  I need to make one correction.  The budget committee met tonight at six o’clock, and the election commission had presented a request to amend their budget.  They had proposed two or three things, but the only amendment that we propose to make to that budget was an increase of $2,860 for a satellite voting site for this August, early voting site for the August election.  That would change their budget by $2,860, and the budget committee votes to recommend it.”

One commissioner asked why “you you need a satellite voting at Eastview for early voting and nowhere else?”

“They said that they had—” Rickman began, before saying, “I don’t know, Mr. Lipford is not here.  He said that they had, in the past, had early voting at Eastview, up at Bethel Springs and Adamsville, and the one at Eastview was by far the heaviest turnout.”  

After some further discussion the motion was seconded by Amerson and passed by a unanimous roll call vote.

“What else is there?” Rickman then asked.  “Did I miss—”

“The non-profit resolution and budget amendments,” Templeton prompted.

Rickman then proceeded. “I think all of you were sent a copy of the non-profit budget in you packet, and I move that list be approved.”

“Motion by Rickman, second by Knight, to approve the non-profit resolution,” Templeton said.  “I would point out that the contribution to Quinco and Teen Challenge, according to officers, can be taken from” the Drug/Alcohol Treatment Fund.  The motion carried by a unanimous voice vote.

Rickman continued.  “The various amendments that you received in your packet, the budget committee has reviewed those with the recommendation they be approved, and I move that the budget amendments be approved at this time.”  Moore seconded the motion, which passed by a unanimous roll call vote.

“Since we’ve taken care of this decision tonight,” Rickman said, “the budget committee we didn’t feel like we need to meet in July, so I move that the July meeting be suspended and we meet in August.  [To Mayor Templeton:]  You want to tell them about the early—”

Templeton said, “We will plan to have a meeting with the budget committee beginning at 5:45 on August 11 to have a presentation from County Technical Advisory Service in respect to central purchasing in the county.  As you all know, that’s an audit finding with us, and has been for several years.  We don’t propose to fix it in the very near future, but it is the feeling of CTAS and others that that’s something that we will be left with one day having to deal with.  The budget committee requested that we have that meeting.”

Weatherford seconded the motion to suspend the July meeting and it passed by unanimous voice vote.

“I want to say that I appreciate the budget committee,” Templeton said, after Rickman concluded.  “I appreciate the county officials and all others who appeared before the budget committee.  I’m grateful, once again, that we were able to live within our means and even build, in some instances, the fund balances in preparation for the future.  There were many good requests that were made.  Quite honestly, the funding opportunities just weren’t there for us.  Which is no different from any other year that this body needs to appropriate money for.  We do feel it’s a good budget.  I think the budget committee put a lot of time and effort into it and I appreciate the service that they gave, beginning about mid-April up until this point, so I do thank them.”

The mayor then turned to old business.  “Last month you were presented the name of Jim Stackhouse to be considered for appointment to the Selmer/McNairy Industrial Development Board.  That is to be a joint appointment with the city of Selmer, and I think that, it is my understanding that they have already approved Mr. Stackhouse.  I would entertain a motion, or a nomination from the floor of others to be considered for this position.”  Stackhouse’s appointment was approved unanimously on motion by Moore, seconded by Dillon.

“Under new business,” Templeton continued, “the airport has requested that you transfer a 2000 Crown Victoria to the airport for use as a courtesy car.  They have one that was acquired several years ago, I think maybe through similar means, that has developed many mechanical problems.  They will sell the current courtesy vehicle and transfer those funds to the county general.  This 2000 Crown Victoria is a former Sheriff’s Department patrol car.  What would be the wishes of this body?”  Ashe moved that the transfer be approved and his motion, seconded by Knight, carried by a unanimous vote.

“The next item on the agenda is a ComCast cable franchise agreement,” Templeton said, “and I would ask Mr. Kennedy if he has anything for us to speak of in respect to this.  It came to attention a couple of months ago that ComCast, that they do operate in our county, I think there’re about 150 customers in the southeast part of the county.  They have not had a franchise agreement.  You all know that the law has changed in Tennessee, and there are two options.  One, a company can pursue a franchise agreement with the locales in which they operate, or they can wait and go through the process with the state of Tennessee.  They have asked to approve this agreement.  My understanding, and I think Mr. Kennedy’s understanding, it’s essentially what would occur if they waited and went through the process with the state of Tennessee.  It does levee a 5% gross receipts on the cable bills, is what will be the case with the state agreement.  And they have asked, they want to begin operating, legally, I guess, within our county, which they have not for some time.  Apparently, it’s just been an oversight.”

Rickman moved “that the franchise agreement be approved.”  After some brief discussion the motion was seconded by Weatherford, and then it was discussed further.

One commissioner asked “Craig, this is not going to preclude any other, BellSouth, anything?  Because we have no service at all.”

“No,” Kennedy responded.  “It says it’s non-exclusive,” whereupon the motion carried unanimously.

Templeton then moved on to the next agenda item, the 3-STAR Strategic Plan.  “As you know,” he said, “this is something that comes to the county commission on an annual basis.  It is a requirement of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development that the county commission approve a strategic economic development plan.  Mr. Moore, if you would like to address this body in this respect.”

“That’s a plan we have to adopt every year,” Ted Moore responded, “and we have a group that got together that we advise the citizens of McNairy County, to talk about our priorities and so forth, and set the top five priorities, and action plans, and then there are to be accomplished, and this is just off a guide from my job description.”

The plan was approved by a unanimous vote on a motion by Rickman, seconded by Jernigan.

Templeton then offered the commissioners “a twin set of Knox County resolutions.  They asked they be there for your consideration.  It’s pretty straightforward.  I’m not sure that they will mean a lot in the future, but it does ask that the state of Tennessee urge the legislators to comply with the same legislation they impose, and also give local governments the option of implementing unfunded state legislation.” Ronald Henry made the motion to approve, which was seconded by Dillon and passed unanimously.

“The next item on the agenda,” Templeton continued, “is an amendment to our county fixed assets policy.  This is GASB 34 [Government Accountability Standards Board Statement 34], and it’s my understanding and belief … we are now compliant with GASB 34.  But we did need to define what a ‘new road’ was, this was their suggestion.  And also, I think in the original fixed assets policy for the purpose of accounting the building for the minimum value of fifty thousand were included, and they suggested that we lower that to twenty-five thousand, because we did have some buildings that were not counted in our other policy, so I present that to you as an amendment to our fixed assets policy, that it be approved.”

[Here is the complete text of the “Amendment to McNairy County, Tn.’s Fixed Assets Policy”:

“1. Definition of ‘New Road’: Any road that is included for the first time on McNairy County, Tn.’s Official Road List or any current McNairy County, Tn. Road that is paved for the first time.

“2. For purposes of accounting fixed assets all buildings with a minimum value of $25,000 will be included.”]

Rickman moved that the amendment be approved, and it passed by unanimous vote after being seconded by Smith.

The final item of new business was approval of  collection agreement with a company confusingly named “Solutia Health Care.”  Templeton asked County Clerk Ronnie Brooks to present it to the commissioners.

“Basically,” Brooks began, “what this says, it’s a agreement for Solutia to collect any old fines that you have on the books.  They’ve gone all the way back to the mid-nineties, all the way up to present.  Now, this is supposed not to effect anything with our local probation.  If anyone’s on probation, obviously it’s nixed from this particular company.  They don’t deal with that.  It is a temporary, we can terminate it at any point.  We can turn the funds back over to us, and we can do our own collections.  To date, I think we, the figure that was given to me is at least $2,800 that we have collected on old fines and fees.  So we’re really working hard to try to get that taken care of.  It’s working well.  The only problem we’ve had is maybe some of the executions, or the money, for some old fines, on dismissals, was incorrectly posted.  So we’ve had to correct some of those.  And we do that, usually it’s no problem.  But we’re doing very well on collections so far.”

In response to questions from the commissioners Brooks explained that the program was begun about three months earlier and that the collection company collects a $50 fee from each person, on top of the amount each person owes the county.

After the agreement was approved unanimously on motion by Weatherford, seconded by Moore, Brooks explained about the peculiar name. “They bought out another company.  They just bought out another one and they just kept the ‘health care’ name.”

After the notaries were unanimously approved on a motion by Jernigan seconded by Dillon, Mayor Templeton gave Education Director Charles Miskelly the last word.

Miskelly said that he’d just like to add “a couple of things” to the education committee report presented by Commissioner Jernigan.  “The board did meet last Tuesday night and did not take action to pursue the sales tax issue.  Mr. Smith [Larry Smith] is here with the board, so if I say something wrong I wish that he would correct me.  But did not take action to do that.  Did take action to pursue a master plan for the development of schools and some repairs.  Have met with Mr. Jeff Vaughn who is serving as architect for the school board at this time, and he is in the midst of developing some of the plans that the board discussed that night.  And so I will be communicating those to you over the next few weeks and months, whatever, and I do apologize if there’s been any lack of communication from the school board, because it certainly rests on my shoulders, it’s my fault.  But we did discuss those two things and did not take action on the sales tax, but we did take action on developing a master plan for improvements in our school system.”


County Commission Meeting

12 May 2008

The May meeting of the McNairy County Commission proceeded with its accustomed smoothness, coming in at right at 24 minutes.

After the unanimous approval (on a motion by Anthony Smith, seconded by Charlie Garrison) of the previous month’s minutes, County Mayor Jai Templeton called on Ted Moore, executive director of the McNairy County Economic Development Commission/Chamber of Commerce, for some comments.

“First of all,” Moore began, “I’d like to say thank you for the support from Mayor Templeton and from this body.  It takes all of us working as a team to be successful.  And you know, recently we had an announcement that the California company we’ve been working with since January has now acquired the Schefenacker building.  Hopefully will start moving in in the next thirty days or so and be in place by September.  They have sixty to eighty loads of equipment to move from California.  They have, a couple of them has been in looking at houses, and they’re getting ready to make an offer on a house, on a couple of houses, I think, one in particular.  So that’s moving forward, and I just hope that when they’re here, in the near future, that we can have a little reception for them and invite all of our elected officials to come and welcome these people to McNairy County.  

“Also,” Moore continued, “Midwest Woodworking is starting to move a few things in.  There’s been a little bit of an issue with dust control and so forth.  That’s a requirement that they’ve got to get through, and on to get everything moved and into place.  You’ll be looking at some resolutions later relating to United Stainless, their move.  They’re moving their operations from Wisconsin to McNairy County.  And, again, I hope we continue to build our community and making it a place that businesses want to come to, and I think businesses—  Had an opportunity to go to Detroit, to the Society of Automobile Engineers Congress.  Seven hundred exhibitors.  Anybody, just about, that makes a car part.  Luckily, the Tennessee booth was right next to Toyota, and we have a list of about ninety suppliers now, that we’ll soon start working that list.  

“First of all, we need to get some work done in the industrial park, and I would like to say thank you for your resolution, the fast-track application for us to level about thirty acres.  These people are wanting sites that are what they call shovel-ready, ready to put in the foundation, and it seems that McNairy County is either a hill or a holler or a flood plain, so possibly we can start work on that as soon as our fast-track application is approved.  We do have a local company that’s wanting some acreage in the industrial park to build a building and create a few new jobs.  Two of the three that we’ve been talking about all have been, both of those have been existing companies.  Seventy to seventy-five percent of the jobs in Tennessee are created by existing industries.  We’ll be working, in the future, very hard on setting up a retention program, and a plant-managers association, so we can work more closely with our existing industry, and have quarterly meetings and address any issues that they might have.”

Moore also informed the commissioners of a potential international connection.  “I have a gentleman that is from, Mr. Iino, that is from Japan.  He works through the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.  The organization that he actually works for is JETRO, which is a Japanese government owned organization.  He’s over here trying to recruit businesses that want to do business in Japan.  Help them get set up and find new markets and so forth.  I’ve already been talking to some of our local industries about meeting with him, seeing if there’s an interest there, to look at the Japanese market and see if we could be off assistance to them.  So, I hope to have him in in the next couple of weeks and start some of those meetings.”  He then asked for questions.

Tammy Dillon asked about possible tax incentives for plants which relocate to McNairy County.

“No, ma’am,” Moor replied, “not at this point.  They have discussed that with us, but we haven’t addressed that yet.  The actual transaction of that building [the Schefenacker building] will not, proposal will not go in his name until the end of this year, so he’s got to own it before the industrial board can deal with that.  He has to hold title to it.”

“What level of hourly rate are we looking at with this company?” Dillon asked.

“It’s not public yet,” Moore replied, “but you’re going to be talking about machinists, welders, so forth.  I had a gentleman in today that was a machinist that had worked for Shefenacker and was making $20 an hour in Jackson now.  He’s looking to come home, and the thought, you know, having to make that drive, and hopefully that will be an hourly rate that’s going to be fairly close that will allow him to do that.  I’ve had two of them the last couple, today and Friday.  So maybe it will give him an opportunity to come back.  I want to do a survey.  We have 3,800 people leaving this county every day to go to work, and I’d love to know what their skill levels are, what they’re doing.  That would be a great tool in recruiting, to say, you know, we’ve got people that’s skilled in this, this, and this that live in this community that’s working outside the community now that might be available.  Not all of them would be available, because some of them may have twenty years in, and they’re looking at retirement issues and those type of things.  But it’s something no other county’s done.  And I think we ought to figure out a way to do that.  May ask Mr. Miskelly, if he would help us out on that with the kids, taking some note home to their parents, in the newspaper, and other ways of communicating and getting it out.”

Templeton then called on Commissioner Carol Ann Woods for a report from the solid waste committee.  Woods advised that the committee had been working on a garbage contract, “but we’re not ready to put it before the full commission in terms the full contract has not been finalized.  It will be ready for the June meeting.”

Templeton added that“We had hoped that that could be ready to be mailed to you, but many of you may know that our county attorney has had some serious illness and he has not been able to prepare those contracts.  So in the meantime, if you have any questions please feel free to call or come by.”  The committee would meet again, Templeton said, at 6:00 p.m. on June 9.

Templeton next called on Highway Committee Chairman David McCullar, who reported that “we had a request to close a road called Tucker Lane in the Michie area, and there were three families call Tucker that lived there, in that road.  And in investigating, some more information about it, and Mr. Smith, who happens to be a member of the road board, and also the city council of Michie, and we asked him.  He made us aware that the city limits go a quarter of a mile each side of the highway in that area.  So he went and looked at it after that meeting that night, and it looks, right now, it looks like it’s not in the county road even deal with it in the first place.  So we’re going to do a lot more research before we ever do anything with it.”

McCullar also advised the commissioners that “you might notice around the county, we’ve had the first spraying.  We took a contract for 200 miles of road to be sprayed with herbicide.  Banks and guardrails, and it’s going to be sprayed three times, and the first 200 miles has done been completed on that.  So if you look around and see a lot of dead vegetation in certain areas, that will be what that is.  They will continue to do a lot of work on shoulders and ditches around the county, which I’ve been out and seen a lot of work on in that area.”

Budget Committee Chairman Jim Rickman then spoke.  “The budget committee has been meeting at seven o’clock on Monday nights.  We’ve started putting together this year’s budget.  As usual, we’ve got just a little bit more in requests than we do in anticipate revenues, so we probably will be meeting and working on it for a little bit longer.  Some of the actions that the budget committee has taken thus far, and these recommendations [several unintelligible words] action tonight, the highway department and law library amendment, I think those were mailed out in the packet.  We need to move the June 9 commissioner meeting to June 23.  We need to declare [the sales tax placed in county general situs-based].  We need to amend the library budget.  They’re $2,050 short to complete this fiscal year, and the budget committee is recommending that we fund them the balance that they’re, to get them through the end of the year.  The mayor has come up with a way to save us some money on our telephones.  We can change the phone system, to AT&T, and lease a phone system from Weaver Telephone for a 36-month lease-purchase, will save us $460.35 per month.  So I’d put these five things in the form of a motion, recommendation of the budget committee.”

Mayor Templeton then summed up Rickman’s motion, after it was seconded by O.H. Freeland. “In favor of these recommendations to approve the highway department and law library amendments as mailed, move June 9 commissioners meeting to June 23, declare the sales tax placed in county general situs-based, that is to help alleviate somewhat our audit findings with fire protection, grant the public library fund, amend the public library fund $2,050 in order for them to complete this fiscal year, to change our phone service to AT&T, Inc. phone system that would allow a $460 monthly savings over current costs.  If you’re in favor of those five recommendations, please vote yes.  If you’re opposed, please vote no.” The motion passed on a unanimous roll call vote.

Templeton then asked Commissioner Troy Moore if he had “a report from the Airport Authority.”

“Just an announcement,” Moore responded.  “This Saturday, they’re having a fly-in and a barbeque out there.  Everyone is invited, all commissioners as well as the audience.  The meal will be served about twelve o’clock, but you’re welcome to come out any time during the day from nine until four.”

After the commissioners unanimously confirmed the appointment of Ted Moore to the Airport Authority (on a motion by Wilburn Ashe, seconded by Troy Moore) and Paul Estes to the Shiloh Regional Library Board (on a motion by Moore, seconded by Anthony Smith), Mayor Templeton turned to an item of “old business that failed to be placed on the agenda but it should have been mailed in your packet.  Last month you approved the resolution that would allow the county to apply for the grant, site-improvement grant for the Selmer/McNairy County Industrial Park.  You all should have a certification before you requesting current costs prior to contract execution under the fast-track infrastructure development program.  Actually, you should have two in your packet.  This one is for industrial site improvement, with the Selmer/McNairy County Industrial Development Board.  What this does it simply to allow, you’re giving me permission to sign it, that any costs incurred prior to the awarding of the grant, that McNairy County would stand good for that.  The industrial development board has already approved it.  Again, it’s in the original resolution, they will pay any cost.  But it does have to go through McNairy County for this to be pursued.”  The application was approved unanimously, on a motion by Jay Weatherford, seconded by Keith Jernigan.

Templeton then turned to new business.  “You should have a resolution, 501-08-03, that would authorize McNairy County on behalf of United Stainless to apply for a fast-track grant.  Again, there in the third paragraph it signifies that the local funding will be provided by a total amount of $806,450 by United Stainless.  I would entertain a motion that that be approved.”  The motion was provided by Neal Burks, seconded by Tammy Dillon, and passed unanimously.

“Also,” Templeton continued, “you should find the certification that would support that request.  Again, it is spelled out that the, well, you should have found on your desks a letter, or, actually a cost-reimbursement agreement that signifies that United Stainless will incur any costs, should the grant not be awarded.  They would like to see the survey work done.” Templeton asked for a motion to authorize him to sign the certification,  It was provided by Smith, seconded by Jernigan, and unanimously approved.

Lastly, Templeton said that it was the wish of United Stainless that the TLM engineering firm be retained.  “This is done through McNairy County government.  You would need to approve a resolution, that’s resolution 512-08-02, that TLM Associates be engaged as the engineers to administer this project.  I would entertain a motion that that resolution be approved.”  The motion was made by Rickman, seconded by Dillon, and carried unanimously.

“Next,” Templeton continued, “you should find, this is at the request of the UT Martin/McNairy/Selmer Center Higher Education Committee, that TLM be engaged as engineers to administrate the project, the expansion project at the UT Martin/McNairy County Center.  Tomorrow night it is my understanding that the Selmer City Board will take this up, a similar resolution.  As you know, McNairy County and the City of Selmer are joint owners in that facility, and certainly whatever plans are developed as a result of this engineering firm’s activity will have to come before our building committee, which will then recommend it to this body for approval, as well as the Selmer City Board would have to make approval for those expansion plans.  But the next step to move forward is to engage an engineering firm, and it is the recommendation of the higher education committee that TLM Services be awarded that project.”  A motion to that effect was made by McCullar, seconded by Dillon, and passed by a unanimous voice vote.

“For your consideration next month,” Templeton then said, “Mr. Jim Stackhouse has been recommended to serve in a vacancy on the Selmer/McNairy County Industrial Development Board.  And also you should have before you the proposed 2008-2010 Board of Equalization members: J.D. Wilkerson, Mr. Glen Rankin, Mr. Terry Crabb, Mr. Preston King, Mrs. Effie Carrie Woods.  These were supposed to have been approved by you at the April meeting.  It was brought to my attention last week that we failed to do so.  These individuals have agreed to serve, and I would entertain a motion that you would suspend the rules and elect these Board of Equalization members as they will have to begin their work in June.”  Ashe provide the motion, which was seconded by Weatherford and passed by a unanimous voice vote.

After the notaries were unanimously approved (on a motion by Dillon, seconded by Weatherford), Templeton announced that “the budget committee will meet again next Monday night beginning at 6:30 at the courthouse.  They will not meet on Memorial Day.  They will resume again the first Monday night in June.  The education committee has been asked to meet with the budget committee and the school board at 6:30 p.m. at the courthouse on June 2nd.  You will receive, we will mail a reminder notice to you, and the solid waste committee meeting is on June the 9th, and we will also mail a reminder notice to those committee members.”

The meeting was then adjourned on motion by Dillon, seconded by Weatherford. 
County Commission Meeting

14 April 2008
Clocking in at just over sixteen minutes, the April meeting of the McNairy County Commission was brisk, orderly, and a model of decorum.  Not that there were no dissenting votes (there were).  Nor was all the news good (it wasn't).  Still, the tone and tenor of the meeting was a refreshing change from the rancor that has characterized other government meetings recently.

After the minutes were unanimously approved (on a motion by Anthony Knight, seconded by Kenneth Amerson), Mayor Jai Templeton departed from the agenda.  "We have a group of people who have done quite well by our county.  You should have found a copy of a resolution on your desk this evening that commemorates McNairy Central High School FFA and … I would entertain a motion that that resolution be adopted."  The motion was make by Jay Weatherford, seconded by Jeff Lipford, and passed unanimously.

Templeton then called on David McCullar for the highway committee report.  McCullar advised the commission that the highway committee had recommended the addition of seven roads to the county road list: Chris Lane, in Eastview; Arrowhead Trail and Timber Creek, in Adamsville; and Cooper Cove, Carter Cove, Red Oaks Cove, and Shelter Cove, all in the new subdivision near McNairy Central High School.  McCullar made the motion that the roads be added, and his motion, seconded by Troy Moore, passed unanimously.

Mayor Templeton then called on Building Committee Chairman O.H. Freeland.  "The building committee met this afternoon," Freeland reported, "and we took a look at architect and engineers for the Latta Building, and we are going to present to the group here TLM, for an engineering fee to do the design, bid, and construction observation, a total of $90,000.  I make that in the form of a motion," which was seconded by Carol Ann Woods.

"That is a $90,000 fee," Templeton explained, "but that is reimbursable through the T21 grant.  That will be part of the total project cost.  So that will not be money that McNairy County will have out of pocket.  Are there any questions?"

"Will that money be spent before we get the grant approved?" Wilburn Ashe inquired.

"No, sir," Templeton replied.  "Actually, the grant has been approved.  This is the next step in moving forward."  When the voice vote indicated some dissent, Templeton called for a roll-call vote and the motion carried by a vote of 18 to three, with the no votes being cast by Tammy Dillon, Kenneth Amerson, and Ronald Henry.

Next up was the budget committee report, presented by chairman Jim Rickman. "The budget committee met this afternoon, or this evening," Rickman began.  "The airport has met and requested that we take up a slight shortfall that they're going to have between now and the end of the year.  They're projecting the expenses in the amount of about $28,000 between now and June 30.  They're only projecting income through that period of about $10,000.  That's going to leave them short 18,000, and then they need some additional funds to install the [unintelligible word] fuel system.  The balance of that will be from a grant.  They've also got several maintenance issues out there, as far as tractors, mowers, that sort of thing.  That was not included in their request.  Mr. Freeland made a motion, and the airport committee approved it, that the commission amend their budget and fund them additional $30,000 this year.  I put that in the form of a motion."

When Mayor Templeton asked if there were any questions, Commissioner Ashe inquired, "Have we been knowing this for some time that there's going to be this, have this shortfall?  I mean, here we are all of a sudden with $30,000—"

Bob Sibley, representing the airport, rose to his feet and replied. "Mr. Ashe, we knew about three or four months ago that we were going to be short, but through the advice of Mr. Moore, that sits on our Airport Authority, he wanted us to go as far as we could possibly go the rest of this fiscal year until we absolutely, positively, had to have some money.  We just paid an insurance premium of $5,000 this past week, and we're at the point right now where we've just got to have it.  So we met last week and came up with the exact numbers, of exactly what we're going to have to have.  All of our expenses on one side, all of our income on the other.  And it was Mr. Moore's recommendation to the Airport Authority that we wait this long."

The vote to grant the airport's request was divided.  Sixteen commissioners voted yes, but Dillon, Jernigan, Amerson, and Stevie Clark voted "pass" and Ronald Henry voted no.

After the motion passed, Ashe addressed Mayor Templeton. "Mr. Chairman, do we need to amend the budget to that effect, to keep the auditors off the case?"

"We can do it now, or later," Templeton replied, whereupon Ashe made a motion to amend the budget accordingly, which was seconded by Knight and passed unanimously.

The balance of the commission's business was dealt with swiftly.

"Under new business," Templeton said, "you were mailed a copy of some surplus property that the library board of trustees has deemed surplus, that they would like to advertise for sale."  Ashe made a motion to declare the property surplus and give the library authority to sell it, and the motion, seconded by Richman, passed unanimously, as did a motion by Knight (seconded by Rickman) to declare two of the fire department's old pumpers surplus and solicit seal bids for them.

Turning to the next agenda item, Templeton advised the commission that "The Association of Tennessee Valley Government has sent and asked that you approve a resolution commending Tennessee Valley Authority and its contribution to our region, and I enclosed that in your packet for your consideration."  Rickman moved that the resolution be adopted and his motion, seconded by Jernigan, carried unanimously.

"For your consideration," Templeton continued, "next month the Airport Authority, this is to fill the unexpired term of Don Seeley, whose term was to end in August, 2012.  The Airport Authority has asked that Ted Moore be appointed for that position.  Unless you suspend the rules, that will be taken up at the May County Commission's meeting.  In addition to that, Mr. Paul Estes has been nominated by the McNairy County Library Authority to fill an unexpired term on the Shiloh Regional Library Board of Trustees.  That as well will be considered at the May County Commission meeting.  You all should have also found a resolution authorizing the submittal of an application to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Grant Program at your desk.  I apologize.  That was not included in your packet.  I did not get a copy of that until Friday afternoon.  It was too late to send that to you.  The matching funds would be provided by the Selmer/McNairy County Industrial Development Board.  This is a similar resolution that was passed a few years ago for the dirt work at the Midwest Woodworking site.  Commissioner Rickman, step in if I misspeak.  This is to, there's a 15-20 acre block just adjacent to that, that the IDB board would like to have a certain site work performed on that, and they are making application for this fast-track grant.  It does have to come through the county, therefore you do have to approve authorizing the resolution to make application.  And Mr. Moore is in Detroit tonight, along with some others from the state of Tennessee and could not be here, but he asked that I present that to you for your consideration tonight."

Addressing Jim Rickman, Wilburn Ashe said, "You and the Industrial Development Board are going to do the math [or map?] aren't you, yourselves?"

"Yes sir," Rickman replied, "the Selmer Industrial Development Board, what we're trying to do is just get it basically shovel-ready, or site-ready, for any industry that might want to come and locate in the industrial park.  The way it is now, it would take several months, or, probably, well, the weather, if we do it now while the weather's good, it probably won't take as long, but, depending on the time of year they decide they want to come, it would take quite a while to get that site ready for construction, and if we can go ahead and prepare that site for them so that construction can begin immediately, we think it would give us an advantage in trying to recruit some of these industries."

"I make a motion that we adopt this resolution," O.H. Freeland said, and his motion, seconded by Jernigan, passed unanimously.

After the notaries were unanimously approved (on a motion by Dillon, seconded by Anthony Smith), Mayor Templeton made several announcements. "May 1st there will be a county prayer breakfast at the Selmer Community Center at 8:00 a.m.," he began. "On May 2nd, at 10:00 a.m., Southwest Human Resource Agency Housing Development Corporation will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the property there on Sixth Street that you all donated last year for the construction of the development center houses.  They have been completed.  My understanding, the residents have moved in, and that will be May 2nd at 10:00 a.m."

And finally, "For those of you who attended the Rural Tennessee Economic Development Roundtable Discussion today with the Governor, I appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule, and hope that you found that to be worthwhile."

The meeting then adjourned on a motion by Amerson, seconded by Rickman.

County Commission Meeting

10 March 2008

There was a surfeit of reports at the March meeting of the McNairy County Commission.  Besides the regular committee reports, which we'll get to in a moment, the commissioners heard from Sheriff Ricky Roten about his department, from James McNeal and Shirley Clark regarding McNairy County's First Responders, and, briefly, from 911 Director Ruth Travis.

Roten reported on the county's Highway Safety Grant program, which provides funding for overtime for his officers as well as for equipment, the most recent acquisitions being three new digital cameras for the county's patrol cars.  He also reported that the jail had received "a good grade" on a surprise inspection on March 6.  "We had an inspection last Thursday.  The jail inspector just popped up.  He walked up and he's tapping me on the shoulder, and I turned around and of course your blood pressure goes up.  There he is, and he's going to go in the jail.  But he gave us a good grade on it.  Every thing looks good.  He was well pleased with the way everything looks.  You know, we've got all three blocks painted now, which he told me last time we needed to do some painting.  We did that.  He said, he told me that he'd never seen it as good a shape now, it's in better shape now than we've seen it in a while.  So he was well pleased with what was going on."

Roten also provided a segue [he typed, with a straight face] to the next report when he informed the commissioners that James McNeil "just got Paramedic of the Year for the state of Tennessee.  If y'all didn't know that, it just happened, what, week before last?" he asked McNeil.  "What makes me proud is that he works for us," Roten continued.  "He's doing a good job for us.  He's going to be an asset to the department, and we need somebody like that." 


McNeil and Shirley Clark then addressed the group at some length regarding McNairy County's First Responders, with Clark providing the good news that the county had received a four-year, no-match $178,868 SAFER Grant through the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.  "This is for the recruitment and retention of all the volunteer firemen in the county, so I work with all of the fire chiefs, municipal and county.  This is paid for, recruitment, it pays for the class expense for first responders, the tests, the renewal fees, state fees.  Everything, every eligible expense, including immunizations and physicals, can be paid for from this grant.  Again, I'm the one who basically administers this grant through my work.  We have a program coordinator to oversee it, and I've just started a monthly newsletter to all the fire chiefs and most of the first responders.  So, again, this is something where we tried to unite the county, and unite the firemen, with something that can be used to help them.  If there's a small department that doesn't have the budget, for example, for first responders, this grant will pay for all of their expenses.  One of the other things we're trying to implement, since I'm on the first responder board for the county, is we're trying to get incorporated.  By getting it incorporated, we'll be eligible for grants and for donations.  So we're hoping to be able to get this done.  We've started out trying to get the state charter done, then it will be getting your EIN number, and then the articles of incorporation by-laws, which are already drawn up.  Then we have to request the 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, and use the form 5813 to show we're going to be getting in less than ten thousand a year, which means basically we don't have to be listed as a charitable organization, we would be a private charity, public charity not a private foundation.  But by doing that, we don't have to pay the fee.  We're trying to find more ways to improve our efficiency in the county, because we do have, we are a necessary and vital link for safety for everyone all around everywhere."


"Also," McNeil added as Clark concluded, "one shameless plug I will put in there.  We are planning our first big fund raiser for first responders, and it's going to be April 19th.  Any of y'all that like barbeque, barbeque chicken all that stuff.  It's going to be at Selmer Civic Center.  Bring your families out, bring the kids out, we're going to try to have all the fire departments set up with booths that tell what their specialty is, whether they have jaws, whether they have AEDs, what they have at their fire department, so you know what's in your community, in your area.  You can walk around and look at all the booths, look at the things they have, so you can get ideas on what you'd like to promote them to get next.  And then get you some barbeque and some chicken."


Ruth Travis's report came toward the end of the meeting, when County Mayor Jai Templeton asked if she had anything she would like to say regarding "an inter-local cooperation agreement for emergency communications dealing with our 911 board."  Travis, who is the director of the 911 board, responded briefly.  "What this is, this is an inter-local agreement which is required by the state 911 board in Nashville, that I have one on file, saying that that the sixty thousand you are paying us now to dispatch, you will not go below that.  I have to have one from you, and from the city, and if I don't have them they can refuse some of the grants that I get."


The agreement was unanimously approved on a motion by Commissioner Wilburn Ashe, seconded by Commissioner Neal Burks.


* * *


The meeting had begun, as usual, with the approval of the previous month's meeting (on a motion by Commissioner Troy Moore, seconded by Commissioner Tammy Dillon).  At the conclusion of Sheriff Roten's remarks, Mayor Templeton updated the commissioners on developments regarding the February 5 tornado. "I mentioned last month that we had been approved in McNairy County through the Mississippi declaration as a disaster area through the FDA.  Congressman [sic] Blackburn called late this afternoon.  FEMA has also made that declaration for McNairy County.  As of today, I think there may be two or three individuals that that will specifically help.  If you know of someone that you think that was involved in the February 5 tornado, or related weather, let me know if they are not made aware of that in the coming days.  We certainly do appreciate Congressman [sic] Blackburn's office taking some extra steps, and causing that process to be reevaluated about a week ago, and I think it did make a difference for us in McNairy County."  He also thanked the sheriff and his staff for their efforts.


After McNeil and Clark concluded their presentation, Mayor Templeton then moved on to committee reports.  Commissioner Carol Ann Woods reported that the Solid Waste Committee had met and discussed a number of matters but had taken no action.

Highway Committee Chairman David McCullar began his report by informing the group that "Commissioner Dillon approached the committee about naming the bridge on Hwy 225 in honor of the late commissioner Glen Maynard, and we voted, made a motion to pursue that, and at this time I would like to put a motion to the county commission to, as far as the paper work and whatever has to be done with the state to get the signage and all to dedicate that bridge to the late county commissioner Glen Maness."  Dillon provided the second, and the motion passed by a unanimous roll call vote.


McCullar then listed a number of roads which the committee was proposing as "additions to the county road list for the thirty day time period for next month," then, turning to the subject of weather damage, he said that highway department head Harvey Neal Smith "has had a FEMA rep with him going around about debris removal and it's looking maybe, what, thirty-five to fifty thousand dollars—"


Smith responded.  "We're in the forty to fifty thousand dollar range, I'm speculating, when we get finished.  We've removed approximately fifteen hundred yards, about eight hundred yards remaining to be picked up, and hopefully we'll be finished up this week with that and get all the numbers in we'll know for sure what we're looking at.  They are going to reimburse us for this."


McCullar observed that not all the damage was due to the tornado.  "We had that heavy rain and a lot of ditches all over the county were stopped up.  There was a lot of flooding, and incurred a lot of damage from stopped-up culverts and washouts around ditches and such, and I think they are still working on trying to—"


Smith agreed.  "We probably had more damage from the floods than we did the tornado, on the roads.  We've got probably eighty percent of it repaired and we're going to try to get that finished up in the next couple of weeks.  It's been too wet to repair.  We're still working on it.  All the roads were passable," he concluded.


"And," McCullar said, moving to another subject, "we sold the surplus equipment, which netted $34,000, and we contracted out 200 miles of herbicide spraying on county roads.  Spraying to keep down the weeds and a lot of the ditches so they won't have to be mowed, and actually save the county money.  It's cheaper to spray than it is to mow them.  It's going to be 200 miles of that.  And probably the most worrisome thing was when they shared what the cost, what the cost of asphalt and gravel have gone up as far as blacktopping your roads.  I don't know if you want to elaborate on that or you want me to read off what you told us," he said to Smith.


"If anybody asks you," Smith replied, "we're probably not going to do any asphalting this year.  The state's not giving us much money, and with what little they are giving us and the price of asphalt, it's really not worth us trying to do it.  And we're going to hold that money until next year, and hope to have enough to do one whole road.  But we're not going to do any asphalting other than patching, and probably very little chipping and sealing until we see what these prices do."


Lastly, McCullar reported that the highway commission had changed its meeting night to Tuesday, 8 April, at 6:30, because one commissioner had a conflict with Thursdays.


Mayor Templeton then called on Building Committee Chairman O.H. Freeland, who reported that "the building committee met this afternoon, and we discussed the old nursing home roof back here which was damaged in the storm.  Had the insurance people take a look at it, and the amount of insurance money they have awarded to us is enough to have the work done, and we're recommending to use Mr. Hawkins.  And he's going to repair the roof and all, and there'll be no cost to the county.


"Another thing that we discussed was the Latta building, which we've been looking at, and we have TDOT working with us and we're ready to apply for a development loan.  The first thing we need to do is get the building appraised there, so we're making a motion tonight to the commission that we approve the chairman to look for an appraiser and come back and let us see if the cost is going to be within the money that we've been promised on the grants and all.  And we have put a ceiling of $5,000, plus or minus, for the paying of an appraiser.  And we put that in the form of a motion to let the entire sum of money."


Commissioner Stan Wheeler provided the second, then Mayor Templeton restated the motion. "Motion by Freeland, second by Wheeler, to authorize the mayor to hire a TDOT-certified appraiser to give us an appraisal on the Latta building.  This is something necessary for us to do if we are to continue to pursue the purchase of that building."  The motion carried by a 19 to 2 vote, with Commissioners Kenneth Amerson and Ronald Henry voting no.


As the last item of old business the commission unanimously approved the appointment of Shawn Pitts to the Selmer/McNairy County Industrial Development Board.


Then, after hearing from Ruth Travis and approving the 911 inter-local agreement, Templeton turned to the one other item of old business,"a resolution that gives your agreement to the terms set forth in a proposal by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  You should have in hand a copy of that proposal.  Basically, it deals with two projects with TDOT.  They're going to do one over Lick's Creek on Hwy 224, which is in the Hickory Flat area, and one on Owl Creek, also on 224 between Stantonville and Pebble Hill.  This is something that we do on a normal basis when they have such a project, and they do need your approval so that they can proceed."


Troy Moore provided the motion, which was seconded by Commissioner Jim Rickman and passed by a unanimous roll call vote.


After the notaries were approved unanimously on a motion by Knight, seconded by Amerson, Mayor Templeton said "I would ask if you would to put on your calendar, those that can attend, April 14.  Gov. Bredesen will be in Adamsville at the community center from 11:30 to 12:30 for one of his rural Tennessee economic development roundtables.  That will be held in conjunction with Hardin County, and certainly we'd like to have good attendance at that session if it's at all possible."


The meeting was then adjourned on a motion by Commissioner Stevie Clark, seconded by Dillon.

County Commission Meeting

11 February 2008

Commissioners O.H. Freeland, Brenda Cauley, and Charlie Garrison did not make it to the February meeting of the McNairy County Commission, which was—to this reporter's relief—short and sweet.

After the minutes of the January meeting were unanimously approved on a motion by Anthony Knight, seconded by Tammy Dillon, County Mayor Jai Templeton introduced McNairy County's new Economic Development Director, Ted Moore, who spoke briefly about his plans and hopes for the county.

Ted Moore
Economic Development

"I appreciate the opportunity.  This is the first time I get to talk to this body.  I appreciate the opportunity I've been given to try to make a difference in this county.  As you read in the local paper, I did this once before in another county, and I guess it's more lucrative to be in the banking business, but I saw an opportunity to really make a difference, and by us all working together I hope that we'll be able to do that.  I left a little sheet on each one of the tables about the Toyota plant down there in Mississippi, some of the background on that.  If you haven't had a chance to read anything about how all that took place, but three counties came together, put up about ten million dollars apiece to buy land that the options on were about to go out, and they knew if they ever lose the options on the land they'd never be able to put it back together.  So three counties went together with ten million dollars each to go ahead and purchase that land, and of course they took a lot of abuse, the commissioners, in doing that, but as it turned out it was the right thing to do.

"We have an opportunity here.  Being on 45 and 64 is good, but that's just part of the story.  We've got to do some things to get ourselves better prepared for economic growth and taking advantage of the Toyota plant down in Mississippi, which is only one hour south of here.  And one of the Tier One suppliers I think announced to put a plant in Baldwin, Mississippi, which that means is just that much closer to us.  But in order to take advantage, we've got to be prepared, and being prepared means that we've got to have sites that are what they term now, 'shovel ready,' and we really don't have that.  So we've made a move to work with an engineering firm and also with the state of Tennessee in being able to apply and get some funds, or get some funding we hope, to get a site in the industrial park, about a twenty acre site that will be shovel ready.  So we've started that process, and I hope we will be able to move pretty quickly on that, because in about another month or two things, I think, are going to start picking up.  But in the meantime, we want to look at other opportunities.  We're not going to put everything in one bag, just looking at Toyota.

"We have had some prospects that’s been in the community.  We have a prospect we're working with right now from California that looks good on the Schefenaker building.  Hopefully, they'll be back in town, maybe this week.  We also have an opportunity this week with an existing industry on an expansion, and next week we will have one of the suppliers from Toyota that's supposed to be in town looking.  But, again, they're going to be looking for a building that's already built, and we've got a little bit of a challenge with that, but we're working towards getting prepared for that, too.

"So, I just say all that, that in the future there are going to be opportunities we'll have that I might come to you with certain projects and I'll not be able to tell you who the company is, or I may have a project name.  I may not even know myself.  Hopefully, we'll get one big enough that that would be the case.  So we'll have to learn to work with each other and trust each other in going forward and trying to do this recruiting.

"There's a lot of incentives out there.  I was in Jackson the other day, and there's a county just north of Jackson that's offered $2.4 million to a company over a fifteen year period to come to their county.  There's some surrounding states that's got personal income tax, that will do a bond issue to pay for a building and some of the equipment for a company to come, and then when they deduct the payroll, for the payroll tax, the state income tax, instead of that going to the state it goes to retire the bond.  So there's a lot of incentives out there that are very tough to deal with.  And in addition to that, there's 30,000 organizations in the United States that are either economic development or chambers, those type organizations, that's out there fighting for every job.  There are 30,000 organizations, and between two and three hundred projects that have 250 to 500 jobs to compete for, so it's tough, but we have some opportunities to work with our neighbors to the south in Alcorn County, work with Hardin County.  In fact, our county and Alcorn County already have a grant to do some work in economic development as it relates to doing some information we can do to present to elected officials, to bring you up to date on what's going on in economic development, how it's changed, and where we are today.

"But I also want to say a word about Jana Hellums for the great job she did for this county before she took a job in Jackson.  You go and sit down in an office and start pulling up all the information that she's put in, it's just tremendous, just a tremendous job, and I appreciate everything that Jana did.  Also Tom Cauley, with the Chamber of Commerce, the good job that he did before Tom left.  So that's a big plus.  And now that we're putting things together, both economic development and the chamber, it's going to help with funding, it's going to allow the chamber to do something besides just constantly trying to raise money to survive.  It was good last week to sit in a meeting and watch them organize their committees and be ready to start, to go to work to do certain things in this community.

"But look for us to be a lot more active with existing industries, since 70% of the jobs in Tennessee come from existing industries.  Hopefully, we'll organize a plant-managers association, so we can have regular meetings.  Look for us to do more things in work force development, working with the local school system to try to get kids to understand and connect the dots between learning and earning, and preparing for the future.

"Again, I really appreciate the opportunity to work with you, and I think we've got some good things ahead of us in McNairy County if we all work together.  And we've already started.  And again, I appreciate being selected to do this.  So if any of you have any questions, come by the office any time.  We'd be glad to try and talk with you."

Julie Harstin

After Moore concluded, Mayor Templeton called on Julie Harstin, McNairy County's new 4-H Agent, who also addressed the commission.

"I thank you for the opportunity to speak before this group.  I have met a few of you already.  I'm thankful not to be among only people that are new, but I'm glad to meet all of you.

"Just a word about me, since you don't know me yet.  I grew up in Knoxville, but I have family in west Tennessee and that's the reason for coming to this area, to be closer to my family.  I'm a former 4-H member and really believe in the 4-H program.  One of the things we're doing, and I'm skipping a head a little bit, is we're doing work force preparation.  There's something that I think all of us agreed on.  I learned part of that from that advisory group meetings that have been held in the last month.  I have five years experience as a 4-H agent, combined from a couple of different counties.  I've been married to my husband, David Harstin, for twenty years.  He's a part-time pastor and a Schwan sales person, and I have three daughters, Danielle, Rickie, and Lily, and the older two are at Bethel Springs Elementary.

"To talk about the 4-H program, I just want to tell you where we are now.  I was hired in December.  There was a vacancy all the way through the fall, and so we couldn't get started in 4-H meetings until January, but we're into it.  We've done it.  In this county we have good participation from the teachers, and I've been very pleasantly surprised how excited the students and the teachers have been to have 4-H back.  So that's been a real blessing for me.  We have monthly meetings during class time with all fourth-through-eighth grade students except Selmer Middle School seventh and eighth grades.  The grades nine through twelve have had a chance doing it on their own voluntarily during their lunch time at McNairy Central, and I'm planning to do that at Adamsville for those grades tomorrow.

"We have a program called STARs, which is Special Teens Accepting Responsibility, where seventh and eighth grade students go and help me with the 4-H Club meetings for the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, and that goes on at every, at the three schools where we have grades four through eight.  So at Bethel Springs and Ramer and Michie we have the STAR program.  That was something that Rita Casey came up with.  You all, many of you probably know Rita.  She was the 4-H agent here for years, as you probably know, and she came up with the STAR program.  Bethel Springs really liked it, so we put it back in.

"We have a strong, punctual 4-H Club in the county, and I'm establishing relationships with teachers and the community.  And that's one of the reasons I'm here tonight, is to try to meet you all and let you know who I am.  We have held advisory group meetings and have a plan for the year drafted now, and one of those things, as I was mentioning is work force preparation.  Work force preparation includes public speaking and financial management, and I'm going to be a lesson that tomorrow with the eighth graders at Bethel Springs.  So some of the things you all are interested in, I've heard that, and I'm working on them.

"I'll be encouraging a service project at each in-school club, and that so far has been met with a lot of enthusiasm, especially since the tornados last week.  Went out to Adamsville, and every club I talked to in the sixth grade at Adamsville said, yes, they were going to do a service project, and about half of them were going to provide some relief for tornado victims.  So I think I'm going out there in my pickup next month to get all the whatever it is that they gather up.

"Where we're going, the plan for the year includes judging teams in several areas.  A judging team is a group of kids that meet together over a period of two or three months, once or twice a week, and they study in depth a particular subject.  And then they go to a contest and compete with other kids who have studied that.  Mr. Henry knows this extremely well because he's been a judging team coach in the past.  Wildlife judging is one of the ones that of course we'll do this year.  Mr. Rick Mathenia, along with Mr. Henry at times, has been judging and coaching that for years.  The livestock judging team we will definitely have this year, and I'll be coaching it.  We will have soils judging, coached by Rod Barnes, and I'm going to help him recruit some younger kids.  He's being doing the high school level judging time in that, and he's even 4-H and FFA together in soils judging, and competing in two contests at a time.

"I would love to offer judging teams in more areas, and we have options to offer them in probably ten other areas that I didn't mention.   If I have a coach, a volunteer coach, and a group of interested kids, I will be glad to offer that judging team.  That's one of the things that I would like to grow in.  I want to energize the Honor Club by inviting current and potential members.  The young people have been recognized as Honor Club members, that means they have a certain level of participation in 4-H up to this point, and they have filled out an application and been recognized as, yes, you've done enough to be an Honor Club member.  They're not meeting regularly, and in this county I want to really see that start.  That's going to start as soon as I can get to it, and it may be this month, if I can get my letter out in time.

"We want to publicize 4-H camp in March (1437) and a camp will be in June.  We have one for six through eight grade, and one for four through six grade, and our kids will be participating in summer events that are regionwide and statewide.  And I would like to attempt to reinstate the in-school club meetings at Selmer Middle School seventh and eighth grade."

"What we need to make the program better, and make it grow, we need more volunteers, adult volunteers.  Adult volunteer leaders, we can use them to attend junior camp, especially junior camp, and especially we need males.  Because boys have an easier time getting moms to go than getting dads to go.  For a lot of guys, that means they give up their whole week's vacation to go be with kids.  If it's their kid, they might do it, but it's a big sacrifice, and we have a hard time getting dads to do that.

"I need volunteers to train judging teams, which I've already mentioned.  And we need volunteers to lead project groups.  Right now we don’t have any project groups, but that is a group of young people that meet together once a month or so, and a minimum of three times a year is what I have on my little job description for that, to learn about a particular subject in depth.  And that's where it goes with whatever your interest are and whatever you feel like you can share with a young person.  And not only just you, but you all have contacts throughout the community and will know people that might be able, and willing, to do some of this."

"The other thing that we need is opportunities to raise money for general programming.  It's not too difficult to a potential sponsor and say, 'We have a wildlife judging team that is just about to, that just won at regional level, and we need sponsorship so that they can go to the state contest.'  It's not all that terribly hard to get a sponsor for that, whenever that level time.  But what it's harder to get is sponsorship to buy awards, and to have ribbons for the monthly meetings, and trophies and plaques for the public speaking contest.  Which we've done one of two public speaking contests this year already.  We'll have the second one Thursday night, on Valentine's Day.  We also need money for other things, like buying refreshments for county-wide meetings, and thank-you gifts for volunteers, and supplies for hands-on lessons, and curriculums for judging teams, and prizes for county public speaking and then miscellaneous things.  So pretty much if it comes up kind of off the cuff, then it becomes kind of a struggle for us in the office.  But things that are bigger and easily defined we can usually get private sponsorship for.

"But that's kind of where we are and where we're going and who I am, and I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you.  I'm at the extension office.  I think most of you know where that is, but if you don't I'll be happy to let you know.  And I have business cards for anybody that wants them and I'll be happy to answer any questions that anybody might have."

Tornado Update

When Harstin concluded, Mayor Templeton updated the commission on the county's request to be designated a disaster area because of the recent tornado. 

"Just to update you, I spoke late this evening with Rudy Moore, our emergency management director.  FEMA personnel will be back in the county tomorrow.  They were here several times last week along with TEMA officials.  Right now it appears that we're looking, with the knowledge of damage that we have, a little more than $4.25 million, and that could very well go up if we learn of more.  We asked for, and the governor agreed to request from the federal government, that we be declared a federal disaster area.  That declaration has not been made yet, but out neighboring Hardin County was declared as such and, historically, contiguous counties are included in those declarations, and we're hoping that will come to us soon.  Particularly due to the fact that we did have one of our industries in the county that was destroyed during that tornado.  But I'm real proud of the folks who responded that night.  I'm real proud of our emergency management agency.  FEMA and TEMA were very cooperative.   Our state elected officials, and national officials, were calling the very next morning.  Congressman Blackburn and Representative Rinks came down last week and took a look at the damage.  I know the governor flew over, I believe on Thursday.  So I think that, all things considered, we were very blessed in this county.  I've been to Hardin County and met with their mayor and emergency management director on Friday, and I told him that we lived through that situation about seventeen years ago in this county, and we do understand.  And we have a lot— For those of you who may have stood outside like I did and watched the clouds pass over us, you understand how close we did come to some real devastation."

Budget Committee

Templeton then reported that, "the highway committee did not meet this month.  Law enforcement committee met along with budget committee.  Commissioner Wheeler is absent, the elected chairman.  Commissioner Garrison could not be here tonight, and he has deferred his portion of the report.

He then called on Budget Committee Chairman Jim Rickman, who reported that "the combined law enforcement and budget committees did meet last week to consider the victims assessment fee that the legislature approved last year.  Not last year, but 2006.  The end result of those meetings was that those bodies decided that they would take no action until further clarification could be determined on the disposition of those funds.  We had, as you know, at the last meeting Carl Perkins had come and requested that it be designated as the receiving agency for those funds.  At our meeting last week we had, I think there were four different agencies there requesting those funds.  The attorney general's office was asked for clarification as to whether or not more than one agency could receive those funds, and they have received an answer to that question, and it appears as though his opinion is that only one agency can be a recipient of those funds if the county elects to adopt that resolution.  But it also goes on to say that, in subsection eight, that a county legislative body is authorized to establish a program, or fund an existing program, designed to assist victims of crimes.  Then it goes on to say that it's designated the program for which the assessment may be used.  In their opinion, the language is clear and unambiguous, is the way they put it.  So, these committees have no recommendation at this point."

Other Matters

Templeton advised the commission that it would be asked, at the March meeting, to approve the appointment of Shawn Pitts to the Selmer/McNairy County Industrial Development Board.

The commission then unanimously passed, on a motion by Troy Moore, seconded by Sandy Dillon, "a resolution honoring the memory of our late county commissioner Glenn Maness."

Templeton then informed the commission that "the Register of Deeds Association of Tennessee has a resolution that they would like for each county legislative body to consider that was mailed to you along with an explanation.  A further explanation from our Register of Deeds [Brian Dickey], and I call on him if he would like to make any comments, if you have any questions."

"Well, Mayor," Dickey said, "just short comments.  As the association met, as you saw in the packet, back in December, they decided that it would be good for us to be a part of the solution come budget time, instead of being a thorn in the body's side.  So we hope that you can support this.  And we do have a house bill number and a senate bill number, and just because, as you all are familiar with, we've still got a long road to get this passed in the senate and the house, but hopefully we can.  I'll answer any questions, or try to get you an answer to the question if there is one."

Wilburn Ashe asked, "I guess this means we're going to get to keep more money, does it?"

"Yes, sir," Dickey replied.  "In 06-07 budget year we retained $9,391.  And so with this increase for 06 and 07 if we retain the full 5% that would have took us to $19,564."

Ashe then moved that the commission approve the resolution, and the motion, seconded by Anthony Knight, passed by unanimous voice vote.

Templeton then moved on to "the next item on the agenda.  K-12 Lottery Capital Outlay Special Account Resolution.  This is a resolution that was sent for your consideration from members of the legislation.  I think Mr. Miskelly [Director of Education Charles Miskelly] and the members of the board of education may have discussed this last week at their board meeting, and from my understanding they were in support.  Basically, what this will do, certain monies in excess in the lottery program would be put into a special account, made available for the county for a capital projects fund of I believe $180 per student.  Is that— Do you remember how much that would mean to us, Mr. Miskelly?"

"My math's not real good tonight," Miskelly replied, "but approximately four thousand students times that.  So—"

"A little over seven hundred thousand," volunteered Templeton, whose math was fully functional.  "What would be the will of this body, for a resolution to be sent to our two state legislators asking them to consider supporting?"  Anthony Smith made the motion, which was seconded by Rickman and passed by a unanimous voice vote.

"Next item on the agenda," Templeton continued, "is Southwest Tennessee Development District—Tennessee Housing Development Agency Resolution.  This will authorize the filing of the 2008 Tennessee Housing Development Agency's home program.  This is something that we do almost on an annual basis.  We have already begun the process and held the public hearing at the courthouse.  That was done last week, and we need you to approve this resolution so we can continue filing for those home grants.  I'll entertain a motion."  The motion was made by Rickman, seconded by Keith Jernigan, and passed by unanimous voice vote, after which the notaries were approved by unanimous voice vote on motion by Dillon, seconded by Jay Weatherford.

Before finally adjourning, Templeton announced that the courthouse will be closed Monday and Tuesday, February 18-19, for electrical maintenance, and that all county offices, even those which are normally closed on Wednesday, will be open on Wednesday, 20 Feburary.  Regular office hours will be resumed on Thursday, 21 February.

And with that the meeting was adjourned on motion by Jernigan, seconded by Weatherford.

County Commission Meeting

14 January 2008

The McNairy County Commissioners began the new year with an unusually long (but amicable) meeting January 14.

McNairy County Health Council

At the invitation of Commissioner Carol Ann Woods who introduced him, Kevin Morris gave a Power Point presentation on the McNairy County Health Council.

"I'm very proud of this organization," he began, "because this is a group of community leaders that come together on their own time strictly because they care about the people that live in the community that they serve."

The council, which was formed in 1996, serves as an advisory board to the McNairy County Health Department.  "When the Department of Health comes into some extra money, like this last year with the change of the tobacco laws and the increase of the cigarette tax, the governor passed the money down to the county.  Well, when that happens, the first thing they do is turn to the local community health council and say, 'We've got this money.  How would you guys like to spend it?'"

"There's also a regional health council," Morris said, "which consists of one member of each county health council, and they make the same decisions on a regional basis.  So if the governor wants to give some money to West Tennessee, this group of county representatives gets together and figures out how to divide it amongst the counties, and then the county health council will decide how to spend that money best within the county."

Also, Morris said, "Each year we do an assessment of the county's health status.  We study the community's health problems.  And we look at the data every year to make sure that we understand what's making people sick and what's killing people in McNairy County.  We advocate for services programs and legislation to address local needs.  The Health Council might pass a resolution, for example, encouraging the legislature, or members of our legislative delegation, to support anti-tobacco legislation, for example.  Things like that."

Morris said that the council's members "are all people that come together, that are constantly talking in the community health aspect of this community, trying to come up with innovative strategies for dealing with problems  and trying to find money to support those efforts." He added that an advantage of working with "local folks" is that "they sort of intuitively know that parenting problems are related to teen pregnancy, to the kids drinking and driving, and to all these other kind of things, and so, when you put that, you can design a strategy that affects multiple problems, and they're really good at that."

Among the group's successes, Morris cited The Mississippi River Delta Grant, which he "wrote seven years ago, half a million dollars for sixteen counties in the region.  McNairy County gets their slice of that.  We've been able to take that money and with the health council develop these programs.  Dining with Diabetes, that's an intensive program for diabetics.  It helps them learn how to manage their condition.  Everything from cooking to testing their blood-sugar levels.  Search Your Heart is a cardio-vascular health program, it's based in African-American Churches.  Lace up for Good Life is a wellness program, exercise program for school, for the schools, and for the teachers and the students.  FYI is a food and youth initiative to try to teach young kids how to eat healthier, eat better, and exercise.  Steps is an intensive exercise instruction program, because our data told us that the kids at Adamsville were heavier than the other kids.  So we developed a special program to try and address that issue.  Tennessee Shapes Up is a program for seniors.  I hope you're seeing that we're doing something for kids, for adults, for seniors, trying to reach the whole spectrum of the population….  We're trying to work in churches, community organizations, schools, places of business, anywhere that we can go that we can make a positive impact on people's health care."

Also, he said, "we support the Chamber of Commerce, part of the Three Star Program, you have to have a local coordinating health committee.  The Health Council serves that function and serves it very well, and to be supportive of the Chamber.

"We've got two current projects that I want you to be aware of.  One is the tobacco project that I mentioned earlier.  The governor had some extra money from the cigarette tax.  He gave each county a little over $15,000 and said 'We want you to spend this on trying to keep kids from starting smoking.  Don't let the kids get started on tobacco.'  So we developed a strategy to do that.  And the mayor has agreed that the county will serve as the physical agent for the Health Council to figure out a strategy to do that.

"Another thing that we're working on is something that Carol Ann, the mayor and I have partnered on is an application for Rural Health Works Technical Assistance.  That's a funding opportunity from NACCHOS, National Association of County and City Health Officers, and we've applied for $18,000 in technical assistance, and they're going to come down and do an assessment for us.  They're going to explain the patterns of health care, that's something I've always wondered about in McNairy County.  We know people go to Memphis, to Mississippi.  I'd like to understand how those patterns break down.  They are also going to help us understand the economic impact of the health care delivery system, and they're going to help us put together a complete directory of heath services for the region.  And all that won't cost us anything, and their principal requirement to apply for that money is you have to have a county group that will serve as the advisory body.  Well, there we are.  That's one of the reasons we got organized in the first place. We already have that now.  Almost all federal grants require a community group now, and we already have that.  So if we see a funding opportunity, we can jump on it quickly, because we're already organized.  We don't have to call the superintendent of schools, or call the mayor to get all these people together, because we're meeting next Tuesday, that kind of thing."

Morris concluded by listing the council's current priorities: "Obesity, cardio-vascular disease, diabetes, and cancer are the biggest killers.  And that's one of the reason we focus on these problems."

FFA Parliamentary Debate Team

County Mayor Jai Templeton next called on McNairy Central teacher Rod Barnes to introduce a demonstration by the school's FFA Parliamentary Debate Team.

"Let me get something straight right off the bat," Barnes began.  "I've already had three commissioners ask me tonight, 'What are y'all asking for?  How much money do you want?'  No.  We're not asking for money.  If you have any spare money, we'll take it, but we're not asking for anything other than a moment or two of your time to show you something that some really outstanding young people have done.  The front page of the paper tells us what some of the other kids do.  We want you to know what some of the good ones are doing right now.  Many of you in here were in FFA, competing in various events.  Mr. Ashe probably knows more about what I'm going to tell you tonight than I do.  Parliamentary procedure is one of about seventeen events that we compete in with these young people.  Everything from judging soil, to trees, horses, public speaking.  You name it, we do it.  And most of you have heard of parliamentary procedure.  You operate all of your meetings under Robert's Rules of Order, and you know how complicated and complex it can be.  It is probably, no, it is the most complex contest that we enter.  And every school seems to have a team.  So to place highly or to win in this contest is almost beyond our opportunity to do so.  These young people right here I would like to introduce as a team.  Matthew Kennedy, Teddy Whitley, Latrice Davis, Anna Coln, Audrey Reed, Brandon Duff, and Colton Teague.  These young people, I didn't draft them, they volunteered to compete in the contest this year, so I told them they had to do the work to get themselves ready.

"Mr. Ashe," Barnes said, addressing County Commissioner Wilburn Gene Ashe, "twelve years ago the national changed the contest, made it extremely difficult.  They take a very lengthy written exam on their knowledge of parliamentary procedure.  Then they walk into a room in which each seat has an index card on it with five different motions.  They don't know what they're going to be until they walk in the room.  They pick up the card, see what it is, they're not allowed to talk to each other.  They have one minute to decide how they're going to handle this.  At the end of one minute, the contest starts.  They have to do those five motions, plus each of them has to come up with an additional motion, and they handle it all in ten minutes.  That's extremely difficult.

"Now tonight they're going to give you a small sample of what they did in the competition.  But let me tell you, we are in a five-county district that have seven schools that offer FFA.  These young people not only won their district, but they made it all the way to the regional finals.  They had the third highest score in West Tennessee.  Now I can only find records back twenty-five years, so I'm not going to be stepping on your toes, Mr. Ashe, but in the last twenty-five years no kids from our high school have ever made the regional finals, nevertheless been third, in all of West Tennessee."

"So I'm very proud of them," Barnes concluded, and the Debate Team then put on a seven-minute demonstration of its skills.


Fire Chief Darrell Goodrum advised the commissioners that the county department made a total of 252 runs in 2007, and that that it had received a $64,731 grant "to buy pagers and radios and turn-out gear and smoke detectors."  Also, Goodrum said, "we applied for a grant to buy two thermal imaging cameras.  We didn't get the grant, but they let us turn around and reapply for it, and we're waiting to hear on it."

Mayor Templeton then referred the commissioners to a list of properties the county had sold recently.  "I do want to thank our county attorney, Craig Kennedy.  He worked quite a bit, and diligently, on that, and I think made it a success.  I want to thank the committee, Commissioners Dillon, Garrett, Browning, Ronald Henry and Stevie Clark for the two sessions that they sat to make those decisions.  And we did have a successful sale.  There was one piece of property, I think, that was acquired in the 'sixties for the 'fifty-eight taxes, if I understood the county attorney correctly, so hopefully we're out of the land-ownership business, at least until the next Chancery Court sale.  And at the appropriate time we'll be back for the same purpose."

Templeton then called on Economic Development Committee Chairman Jim Rickman. "As many of you are probably already aware," Rickman said, "EDC has selected a new executive director, Ted Moore, who came on board January 1.  So we're excited to have that prospect complete and have him on board.  We're still going through the process of getting the Chamber and the EDC organizations combined, and those other two personnel selected.  Hopefully we'll have that accomplished very shortly.  Mr. Moore is already actively working.  We've got one prospect lined up to start doing business with us, I think, toward the end of this month."

Highway Department

Highway Committee Chairman David McCullar began his report by advising that the final pieces of new equipment had arrived, and the department needed to "surplus out two tractors with side mowers and one John Deere road grader," with the proceeds from their sale going into the debt-service fund to be applied to the cost of the newly acquired equipment.  His motion, seconded by Jay Weatherford, passed by unanimous voice vote.

McCullar then called on Highway Department head Harvey Neal Smith to bring the commissioners up to date on the status of bridge replacements.

"We did receive two grants for some bridge repair," Smith began.  "One on Bud Long Road and one on Beauty Hill Road, in the amount of $6,250 each.  Most of you know that's not enough money to build a bridge, but the plan is to replace these bridges with large culverts, and that is enough money to do that.  So that will be two bridges we'll have taken care of that are on the repair list.  And the other item we talked about is a bridge on Sulfur Springs Road.  We've discussed these before.  We have five of these bridges left on the CRD Bridge Program, and they're quite expensive, and there's no way that I know of, or that the mayor has found out, we've discussed, to get out of this, so we have no other choice but to proceed.  And they have sent me a letter, asking for $72,000 for the bridge on Sulfur Springs Road.  We had an over-payment on the bridge that we built on Granite White Lane of $18,000.  That was simply because the bridge came in contract for a lot less than the state appropriated the money for on the bridge, so we've got a surplus of $18,000 on that bridge which we still have in our possession, and they are willing to take that off of this money, so we will be looking at a total of $54,000 for the completion of this bridge on Sulfur Springs Road.  I know that's a lot of money, but that's probably going to be a $300,000-plus bridge.  That's a pretty low price tag to pay for that bridge, which is in dire need of repair.  And I have put in a couple of calls to Van Stovall with the State of Tennessee, and he has not gotten back with me as to whether or not we're going to have to pay the full amount out as one lump sum, or if we can split it up, maybe in a couple of payments.  But we are going to have to come up with this money soon, probably by the end of next year, and I'll let you know at the next meeting when I talk to him how soon we're going to have to come up with it and how much.  The total is $54,000 we're looking at, and hopefully we can pay it out in several payments and not the full amount at one time.  But that is the next DRB bridge that's on this program, and with the completion of this one we still have four more.   Hopefully, they all won't come up at the same time.  That was my biggest fear.  Two or three of them might come up at the same time and we'd have to be out several hundred thousand dollars, but at this point that's the only one I'm aware of."

Smith added that, "We've already been out approximately $25,000 on this bridge, because this bridge has been in the program for a little over five years, and every year we have to pay out a certain percentage on the bridge, and of course, every year it goes up.  So the sooner we get it off of this program, you know, the less money we're going to be out, because if this carries over another year, next year it's going to be more expensive, so we're going to be more behind.  We have one bridge that has been completed in the DRB bridge program.  This will be the second one."

Mayor Templeton said, "I might add we do appreciate Mr. Smith applying for two state grants to replace the bridges on Bud Long and Beauty Hill Road.  Would ask each of you, if you have an opportunity, to thank Governor Wilder.  He's a big help to us here in the county, securing those two grants as well as work with on courthouse renovation.  I just want to publicly make that statement.  We appreciate his efforts as well."

Building Committee

In his report, Building Committee Chairman O.H. Freeland harkened back to the evening's first presenter.  "We had a presentation by Mr. Morris, a presentation pertaining to our Health Center, here.  They're very interested in asking our commission to recommend to them permission to apply for a grant.  We discussed grants, and the grant that we have been applying for, for the water line from Leapwood to Enville has been turned down, and has been turned down three times, so we did not feel like it would be wise to resubmit that.  So we have a grant for the county open, and after listening to Mr. Morris, when he showed his presentation, we're looking at something like $300,000, I think, for the building he's planning on building that they've got drawn up.  But he's run out of space, he's run out of a lot of things that he needs, and he explained to us if we pass the resolution to give him permission to apply for the grant, the chances are that this grant will not be approved until maybe '09-'10 budget area, which would give us time to maybe take a better look at it.  To make a long story short, we had a motion from David McCullar, second by, I mean Charlie Garrison made the motion, second by Mr. McCullar, that we, that the budget committee recommend to the commission that we give permission to Mr. Kevin Morris to request a grant to work on this building.  I think you have that resolution, a copy of it, on the table here, do we not?  So at this time it is the recommendation of the building committee that we grant them the authorization to file for this development block grant."

Freeland's motion was seconded by Brenda Colley, then Mayor Templeton asked Morris, "would you like to say anything briefly before we vote?"

"Well," Morris said, taking the floor again, "I just want to thank you for the opportunity.  The commission has always been great to the health department, and we're grateful for that, and we know you guys will do anything you can to help us.  This is necessary because we started doing primary care last year, and at the health department we don't usually see sick people, but we do it here in McNairy County because be see people regardless of ability to pay.  We're the only folks that will.  And we're a little bit, we're getting overwhelmed by the number of sick people that have the need, so we've reached our capacity, and if we're going to be able to help more people, I've got to have some more floor.  We'd appreciate anything you can do.  The state kicked in $77,000, already wrote the check.  It's in the bank drawing interest.  We're going to take that money, the federal money, and as little as possible as required from the county and add another wing to the health department on the side by the library.  We want to separate the sick people from the babies.  That's my primary concern.  Right now, all these sick people are sitting in the waiting room.  The health department wasn't designed for sick people to be in there.  We keep people from getting sick.  Now I've got all these sick people sitting there next to newborn babies waiting on shots, and it's just not a good situation.  I want to separate the sick from the babies, put the sick on one side, and see the babies on the other side."

Morris explained that "the maximum commitment required by the county" for the project would be $113,000, and Templeton then restated the motion: "Per recommendation of the building commission, Commissioner Freeland moves that the county mayor be authorized to file a 2008 community development block grant.  It was seconded.  Any other questions?"  The motion was approved by a unanimous voice vote.

Budget Committee

Budget Committee Chairman Jim Rickman had some good news for his fellow commissioners, and for McNairy County. "The budget committee met this evening prior to this meeting.  The county attorney presented some findings to this committee.  Apparently, from the old McNairy County Hospital there were some assets that were not transferred to Methodist when Methodist purchased the hospital from the county.  These assets were in the form of some employer contributions to an employee benefit plan.  None of these assets were the property of any of the employees [unintelligible words] to the plan.  As the hospital was again transferred to CHS, since Methodist did not purchase these specific assets, those assets were not transferred.  The assets consist of about sixty-two hundred shares of the Principal Financial Group.  We have now been able to get those assets transferred to the county's name.  There's approximately sixty-two hundred shares.  The last price we had was $66.23.  The motion of the budget committee was for the committee to perform some more due diligence to find out just exactly what we had.  Whether we ought to keep them or dispose of them.  And if we should dispose of them, what the cost would be of doing that.  I think the company that's managing these assets at this time is by the name of Compushare.  And we're receiving dividends, based upon these assets, and the budget committee intends to look into this and see how best to handle this sudden windfall."


Turning to Old Business, Templeton said, "last month you were given the name of Maurice Hamm to serve on the Selmer/McNairy County Industrial Development Board.  It's my understanding that Mr. Hamm was approved by the Selmer City Board this past week.   I would ask what the will of this body is."

"I move we appoint Maurice," Ashe responded.  The motion was seconded by Freeland and passed on unanimous voice vote.

"Last month," Templeton continued, "you were given the names of Tammy Hollingsworth and Steve Tidwell to be appointed to the Adamsville/McNairy County Industrial Development Board.  I was told by the city manager this morning that it is still their desire.  I think they will be on the city agenda this month, and I would entertain your will."  Freeland made the motion, which Jeff Lipford seconded, and it passed on a unanimous voice vote.

Carl Perkins Center

Mayor then called on Luke Delevergne, the McNairy County Director of the Exchange Club/Carl Perkins Center, who began by harkening back to the debate team presentation earlier in the meeting.

"You all got to see several high school students a few moments ago in a very impressive manner, and I was very impressed to watch these kids too.  Getting to watch a teenager who is well developed and healthy in their family life, you can see what a teenager can become, and what they can develop into.  Many of the kids that we work with at the Carl Perkins Center don't have that privilege.  They don't have that opportunity.  Many of the children have their innocence stolen at a very young age, as many of you are, I'm sure, very aware of. 

"This public code that was passed on the state level in 2006 is one that several counties in West Tennessee, eight other counties have already passed this.  It's something that is just a wonderful opportunity for every county to be able to appropriate funds for the neediest of their own society.  What the code does is it adds on fees of $45 to convicted criminals in McNairy County.  And of that $45, three dollars will be appropriated for the county clerk and his office, and then forty-two of the remaining dollars will be appropriated for an agency that works with victims of criminal acts, such as the Carl Perkins Center.   The reason why this would be so beneficial is because the Carl Perkins Center has been here serving for years in McNairy County.  We have several programs, like our VOCA program, which stands for Victims Of Crime Assistance, where we work with kids who are sexually abused.  And that program stays full.  In fact, we have a waiting list of kids in McNairy County that don't get the services that they need.  And the big reason for that is because, as a non-profit agency, we struggle continuously to be able to have enough funds to continue operating and serving all the people that we possibly can.

"We have several other programs.  We have the relative caregiver program, where we work with families, whether it's a grandparent, and aunt and uncle, some relative who takes in a child in their family, to, uh, their own biological parent is in crisis and so they can no longer take care of the child, so the grandparent or the relative takes that child in.  We provide support, financially.   We provide support groups.  We provide several other support networks for these people to be able to function as a family, even though they've been given this circumstance that they weren't prepared for.

"We conduct forensic interviews at the Carl Perkins Center, where we have children who have been severely sexually abused, or physically abused.  We have professionally trained forensic interviewers who come in and conduct this interview with law enforcement, with legal professionals, with the advocacy center professionals, who are observing in another room.  We conduct these interviews to make sure that the prosecution of perpetrators of children holds up in court.

"We are serving McNairy County in several ways, and this an opportunity—I'm not asking for any funds, I'm simply asking for you to pass this legislation for our county to begin taking from the perpetrators and providing justice for children who absolutely need it.

"There's several ways that we can expand, and we would love to see our center progress in McNairy County, and continue to provide these services in the future and expand in different ways.  But in order to be able to do so, we're going to have to have the support of our county.  And this is one small step in the direction of providing a tremendous amount of justice for kids who desperately need it.

"So I just implore you to consider that as you consider this motion that's about to be presented.  Thank you."

County Clerk Ronnie Brooks then explained that the money raised by additional fee would remain in McNairy County.  "It would be set up in the trustee's fund, just like you would anything else.  It would be a designated fund.  It would have to be accessible, now from what I understand it would be, if the Carl Perkins Center was the designatee, would come before the county budget committee and say, 'We would like to do this,' and then they would have to go before the body in order for it to be approved.

"Basically, it's not very difficult for us to put together, because our vendor for our software, all it takes is a phone call, because there are several other counties obviously that do this, and they could set it up to where it would automatically be adjusted to each case execution, it would be withdrawn [unintelligible word] court time.  So it's not that difficult to set it up."

Commissioner Woods asked, "It's my understanding that there's only one entity that can have access to these funds?  So, if we say Carl Perkins is that entity, then no other entity in the county can access it?"

"Right," Brooks confirmed, and in response to a question from Commissioner Freeland Brooks says the funds would be disbursed quarterly.

After some further discussion, Commissioner Ashe said, "I'm not opposed to this.  Don't get me wrong.  But there's been so many questions raised here in my mind, I've got to have some more answers before I can in good conscience vote for this.  I think we need to know a little bit more numbers.  I'll just put it this way—I need to know more about it, so I move we put it off until next month.  And let some committee, the budget committee, or law enforcement committee, some committee look at this thing a little more in detail and tell me what I'm supposed to do, because I'm not real comfortable with it."

Ashe made a motion to that effect, which was seconded by Troy Moore, then Freeland moved that the law enforcement committee also be included in the motion.  This was seconded by Anthony Knight and unanimously approved, as was Ashe's now amended motion to table a decision on Delavergne's request until next month.

"Mr. Delevergne," Templeton then said, "we will set a time and notify you, and any members of the board as well, we will find a listing of other entities in McNairy County that might be interested in this as well, but we appreciate you bringing it to our attention.  Mr. Brooks, we thank you for your time in preparing some answers to some questions."

Finally …

Mayor Templeton then called on Tony Brewer to address the Probation Court Education Contract, but when Brewer proposed that the contract be approved for five years he ran into opposition from Commissioner Ashe. "How much problem is it to do this year-to-year contract, other than this document you just sign and come and ask us to do it.  How much effort is it to it?"

When Templeton acknowledged that there was very little effort involved in doing it  annually, Ashe responded, "I don't like to obligate ourselves no five years for a contract…  I'm opposed to a five-year contract."  Ashe eventually suggested a compromise: "We're going to be either coming back or leaving in two years from now.  This body.  I move we make it for a two-year contract." Commissioner Freeland seconded the motion, which passed by a unanimous voice vote.

As did the approval of notaries on motion by Smith, seconded by Kenneth Amerson, whereupon the meeting adjourned.

County Commission Meeting

10 December 2007

"I'm happy to report that we've rented Hanger 1 to I.S.R. Group out of Savannah," Airport Authority Director Chris Tull told the McNairy County Commission Monday night, starting the 10 December meeting off on a positive note.  Tull, who had advised the Commission at its November meeting that Hanger 2 had been rented, said that, "Right now we stand nearly 100% occupied. We have a little room in Hanger 3 for a few more general aviation aircraft, but not very many.  We may lose one or two, but I think that probably two or three aircraft will probably put us at capacity at the airport."

Tull reported that the lease on Hanger 2 was for an initial period of six months, but he hoped it would be extended for a longer term by I.S.R. Group.  "They're a government contractor," he explained.  "We're really excited about it, and it could mean a lot of good things for the county. They fly an aircraft, better known as a drone, it's an unmanned R.O.V.  They're currently training the U.S. military and certain people how to operate this aircraft.   We're excited about that."

Tull also confirmed that the airport had received a $50,000 grant from the state.  "I applied for this grant to continue with our fencing project around the airport.  We're a little bit over half way fenced around the entire facility, but there's a little less than half of it that remains unfenced."  He explained that "it's actually a 90/10 grant, and we've got to come up with $5,500 to get the $50,000.  However, I know that money's tight right now, I got on the phone last week and through the private sector I managed to raise, hopefully I'm correct, about $3,000 so far, of the fifty-five hundred needed.  And this is just people being generous and wanting the airport to move forward."  Tull said the grant might not be enough to fence in the whole airport, "but next year I've got another $50,000 grant that I can apply for."

Grants were pretty much the order of the day at the December meeting.  Emergency Management Director Rudy Moore provided the commissioners with a brief written report "on the '05 Homeland Security Grant that we're about to finish up," explaining that it was indeed the "'05" grant, saying "that's the grant we're working on.  The time tables are a little bit off."

Commissioner Jay Weatherford reported on recommendations from the budget committee regarding several other grants, including one for $77,300 "from the Tennessee Department of Health, a CDBG grant, and we've had it since February or March.  It has been in the general fund, and it needs to have a reserve put on it.  Also, there's $15,789 for tobacco grant fund; it is for an awareness campaign for the schools, and we have it, it needs to have a reserve put on it, so I'll put that in the form of a motion."

After Weatherford's motion was seconded by Kenneth Amerson, County Mayor Jai Templeton explained that "the $77,300 is money the Tennessee Department of Health has given McNairy County to use to provide the match for a CDBG [for] an expansion to the McNairy County Health Department.  And that is money that we do presently have.  It's in our funds.  We need to create a reserve account for that.  The tobacco grant is state money that is coming to the health department for the health department to spend."  Weatherford's motion passed on a unanimous voice vote.

"And," Weatherford then continued, "we discussed grant money to upgrade the courtroom security.   It's a 10% match, and my understanding is we cannot use that anywhere except for courtroom security.  Is that right?" he asked Mayor Templeton.

"That's correct," Templeton replied, before adding that the grant would also cover the purchase of audio-visual equipment for the courtroom. "By the estimates that we have, our cost would be $1,361.  We have, in a reserve account that can only be used for courtroom security, $1,127."  He said there would be more money in that account "by the time we spend this money, but it’s a 90/10 state grant, reimbursable.  I mean, we have to provide them with documentation that we've spent the money to buy a metal detector, and also bulletproof the benches, as well as audio-visual equipment for the courtroom.  And that money will come, with the possible exception of a couple of hundred dollars out of the general fund, would come from the reserve account for courtroom security."

Weatherford's motion that these grants be pursued passed on a unanimous roll call vote after being seconded by Keith Jernigan.

"All right," Weatherford then said, moving on to the next grant item, "we discussed the Edward Birnham grant, which is for the sheriff, for a new patrol car.  It's a 25% match, which, we've already bought two patrol cars this year, but we saw this grant come up and we can basically, we can buy a patrol car now for $5,350 versus, if we wait until next year, it will cost us $21,400.  That's the price of a car, what they're bid out, and that would be the 25% match, would be fifty-three fifty.  And we will still probably buy another car out of the drug fund next year, but we won't have to buy one out of the general like we did this year.  And so I would make a motion to approve the $5,350 to buy a patrol car."  The motion, seconded by Troy Moore, passed unanimously.

Mayor Templeton indicated that grants would be a topic of discussion in the commission's January meeting as well.  "The next item of new business will be for your consideration in January.  You all should have in your hand a copy of the minutes of a public meeting held by the Southwest Development District.  It's been some time ago, and I have forgotten the month, it was in the fall.  [A report of this meeting, which took place on 13 August, appears below.]  We just received word today that we did not receive the CDBG grant application for a waterline extension in the Leapwood area.  We have applied for the same grant for three years, and to my understanding for basically the same reason we have been denied" each year because "there aren't enough low-income households in that area.  That was the reason this year, and I think in years previous that has been the case.

"At that public hearing," Templeton continued, "there were two other projects that were suggested by those in attendance.  One from the city of Bethel Springs, the mayor was there, requested that consideration be given to the county applying for a CDBG to help them with their sewer project.  The people from the Tennessee, our local health department, were there as well, requesting that our eligibility for CDBG, once we were eligible again, and now we are, be used for the expansion of the local health department.  Obviously, they're pretty well committed to that idea, and they have secured the match for it, we've had in our hands for several months now.  Also, I guess, to reconsider the water line extension, but I'm not sure …  that we're going to be any more successful in future years in that area than we have been in the past three.  But those will be for your consideration at the January commission meeting.  I would imagine that representatives from those groups will be here to make those requests."

* * *

But the December meeting wasn't all about grants.  Weatherford reported to the commission that "We have two reserved funds that are actually in the county general that nobody knows what they're for.  One's for fire protection, and it's $44,191, and the other one is listed as 'other purpose,' it's $3,953.  And we need to discontinue those, because they're not, they haven't been touched, they're not doing anything.  So I'll put that in the form of a motion to discontinue those, just take the reserve off of those funds in the county general."

Mayor Templeton explained that the two reserved funds "were created at some point in time by the county commission in previous years, and the auditor suggested that we remove those since we are not using those funds in those reserve accounts….  These reserve accounts are in the general fund, and they'll just be absorbed into the fund balance account."

Weatherford's motion passed unanimously after being seconded by Troy Moore.

Highway Committee Chairman David McCullar reported that the last of the department's newly purchased equipment had come in earlier that day and it was all being put to use, and he gave the commission a heads-up on Dixie Lane. "We do need to put into consideration for next month to accept Dixie Lane on the county road list.  This is the one we talked about a couple of months ago."  McCullar said that half a dozen families live on the lane, which is about two-tenths of a mile long.  "It's one of those roads that have been kind of lost.   The county had worked on it over the years, put gravel and maintained it, but it's never been on the county roads list.  People's always assumed it's always been on the list.  It's one of those roads that should have been on there a long time ago.  So we'd like to put in for consideration next month to add Dixie Lane on the road list."

McCullar observed that there were several other pending requests to put other roads on the county list, but he said that the individuals making the requests have not completed the necessary steps.  "They've been told they need to do to get on the road list" and they haven't done it, McCullar said, "so they've just been put on hold."

Mayor Templeton presented the new U.T. Martin Selmer/McNairy Center Lease Agreement, advising the commissioners that the city of Selmer had already approved the agreement, which he said "is considerably better than the one that we have operated under in the past."

Templeton explained that "the State of Tennessee appropriated half a million dollars for an addition to the U.T. Center, and this provides a mechanism for that half a million dollars to come back to McNairy County in the form of rent.  After the first year, the rate will be $5.75 per square foot.  It's quite a bit less than that now; we're generating about $24,000 a year in rent.  The second year it will be $86,250.  After that, a 2% c.p.i. index is used for the next ten years….  As you all know, we presently pay for the services of the janitorial staff.   Once the addition is complete, as you all read in there, they will take care of the custodial duties.  I think it is a considerably better agreement.  Not that there's been anything wrong with the ones in the past.  But U.T. is doing very well, and they recognize that the city of Selmer and McNairy County made quite an investment several years ago in this, and they need to share the wealth, so to speak, to ensure the continued survival of the facility."  The new agreement was approved by a unanimous roll call vote on a motion by Wilburn Ashe, seconded by Tammy Dillon.

Templeton advised the commissioners that at the January meeting they would be considering several names for appointment to the Industrial Development Board: Maurice Hamm from Selmer, and Steve Tidwell and Tammy Hollingsworth from Adamsville.

After notaries were unanimously approved (on a motion by Weatherford, seconded by Dillon), Templeton reminded the commissioners "that all elected officials according to state law must file an annual conflict of interest statement by January 31 of 2008.  State law requires that it be filed on-line."

And with that the meeting was adjourned.

(Commissioners Stevie Clark, Anthony Knight, and Jim Rickman were absent from the December meeting.)

County Commission Meeting

12 November 2007

The November meeting of the McNairy County Commission November 12 was unusually short, and would have been even shorter except for progress reports from Bonnie Young of PETRA Ministries and Patsy Pearson of the county's Adult Education program.

The meeting's most interesting item, in light of last week's meeting of the McNairy County School Board at which several board members argued at some length about funding a new field house for Adamsville High School while other schools in the system were suffering from a shortage of classrooms, was Commissioner Joe Robert Henry's report of the Education Committee's recent tour of McNairy County schools.

"We visited Bethel Springs School, Selmer Elementary, Adamsville High School, and Michie School," Henry said, and observed "a lot of good things going on, good teaching, learning going on."  Henry reported that the schools' principals and Education Director Charlie Miskelly were "pleased to inform us of some of the things they're needing—which was in buildings."  At Bethel Springs, Henry said, "they claim they need two classrooms, and one of the problems they are having there is space to build these classrooms.  One of the problems, seems like they've about got all the campus filled up with buildings.  And there is a need for it, because the band was meeting in one of the dressing rooms in the gym.  There is a need for some more buildings there.

"Then at Selmer Elementary School their complaint was more cafeteria space, as well as some more classrooms.  Another problem there, of course you all know where Selmer Elementary is, is grounds for building there, so it looks like they may have to acquire some more land there to build at Selmer Elementary School."

"And at Adamsville High School, they claim they need another gym for their P.E. classes.  And that's another thing, there's a shortage of land over there, so I don't know what we're going to do with all this shortage here."  Henry also observed that some things at Adamsville "need immediate attention, the bleachers in the gym, they're saying they might be a little bit dangerous, and that's some of the things they are needing there."

Henry said that at "Michie Elementary School, they need two classrooms now, and maybe two more.  With all of that, then, you can see we're headed for a pretty good chunk of money here some of these days."

In other matters, for the Agriculture Committee, Commissioner Ronald Henry reported that Julie Harstin had been hired as the new 4H agent and will begin work on December 1.

Economic Development Committee Chairman Jim Rickman reported that the committee had received "some impressive resumes" from applicants for the position of director and would "begin to narrow those down and begin the interview process."

Commissioner Stan Wheeler reported that "the building committee met briefly before this meeting and Mayor Templeton notified us that he had applied for a grant for renovation of the courthouse for $100,000, I believe, and we were awarded $25,00, so he asked that we look at some of the suggestions that he had on the courthouse, such as electrical work, a little sidewalk work, and the phone system, and the committee approved those expenditures at his discretion."

In other business, County Mayor Jai Templeton informed the Commission that the audit has been completed and, "the best I can determine it's pretty much the same thing that it's been in the past."

Under old business, Templeton reported that the vacancy in the 3rd District Constable position occasioned by the death of Thomas Coruther's had been advertised as required, and he asked if there was anyone present who wished to be considered for the position.  The only person who presented himself was Dennis Miller, and on a motion by Joe Henry, seconded by Anthony Knight, the commission voted unanimously to appoint Miller to the post.  Templeton observed that the appointment would last "until the August 2008 election, at which time the voters of the 3rd District will select someone to fill the remainder of Mr. Thomas Coruther's term."

Finally, after unanimously approving the appointment of notaries on a motion by Sandy Dillon, seconded by Ronald Henry, the meeting was adjourned.

County Commission Meeting

8 October 2007

In his report at the beginning of the October meeting of the County Commission, airport general manager Chris Tull "spill[ed] the beans" about a new company coming to McNairy County.  "Have y'all heard about Whistler?" he asked.  "I've been told it's okay to say that we've attracted a major company to Selmer that's looking at 300 jobs in Selmer."  He explained that when representatives of Whistler Worldwide "came to McNairy County, one of the first places they went is the airport, and they saw it and, boom, they said 'We'll take Hanger 2.'  They made a decision in, probably, about five minutes.  They looked at it and said, 'Have a contract for us next week.'"

The hanger had been vacant for three months, costing the airport authority about $10,000 in lost rental fees, and Tull told the commissioners that Whistler has signed a three-year contract to rent Hanger 2, which "will be enough money for us to make our bank note to pay for Hanger2."  He added that "we're still looking at leasing Hanger 1."

Tull also reported that the county had for several years wanted to get "a survey to get a GPS approach" for the airport, but hadn't done so partly because of the cost.  "This survey costs about $60,000, and we've been wanting it for three or four years.  Low and behold, the phone rang the other day and our survey's been done.  It didn't cost us a dime.  No matching funds.  The FAA did it, and they did it for use and two other airports in Tennessee."

Tull also told the commissioners that he had attended an airport conference a couple of weeks earlier, where the airport "received the Front Door."  He explained that the airport "is the 'front door' to our community.  This is the welcome mat to our community and we've gotten it [the Front Door Award] almost ten consecutive years in a row.  I think there's one year we didn't get it."

Budget committee chairman Jim Rickman reported the receipt of a "Homeland Security grant that the county got for civil defense" in the amount of $46,587.81, which the budget committee recommended be added to the county's general budget.  He made a motion that the budget be amended accordingly, which was passed unanimously after being seconded by Troy Moore.

Rickman then stated that as a result of the recent theft of a backhoe, trailer, and truck from the highway department, the road committee had met and recommended that the previously approved capital outlay note for $400,000 be increased to $470,000 to cover the cost of replacing that equipment.  The budget committee concurred with the recommendation, and Rickman moved that the capital outlay note be increased accordingly.  This motion was also seconded by Moore and passed on a roll-call vote, with only Commissioner Tammy Dillon dissenting.

Regarding the capital outlay note, Rickman reported that five financial institutions had submitted bids, the lowest of which was for 4.43% from Regents Bank.  The committee's recommendation was that the Regents bid be accepted.  Rickman made a motion to that effect, seconded by Otis Freeland, which passed unanimously.

"As a result of the capital outlay note and the purchase of new equipment," Rickman said, "the road department will now have some surplus equipment," and the budget committee recommended that that equipment—a 1993 International dump truck, a John Deere grader, a tractor with mower, and a 1989 Ford tractor with a bush hog—"be declared surplus and put up for sale and that the proceeds of the sale be used to apply to the debt service on the purchase of the other equipment."  He made a motion to that effect, which was seconded by Troy Moore and passed unanimously.

Rickman also reported that the highway department wished to purchase half an acre of land along Purdy-Bethel Springs Road "for the installation of a new bridge so that the highway department can straighten the road.  That's a cost of $690, and I believe the highway department is going to take that $690 out of their budget.  Because it is purchasing property, we have to approve that, so I put that in the form of a motion."  The motion was seconded by Keith Jernigan and passed on a unanimous roll call vote.

Highway Committee Chairman David McCullar also commented on the proposed new bridge, saying "that's a bridge they've been waiting on about two years, and by buying a half acre they can build a new bridge beside the existing bridge and not disrupt traffic and have to build a temporary bridge."  He added that the bridge, which will be funded by "state road match money," has not "gone out for bid yet."

McCullar also reported that no action had been taken on several pending requests to add roads to the county road system, since the people making the requests had not complied with all the requirements, and he said that the highway committee has been talking about drawing up an updated set of requirements and has asked the road superintendent to work up a draft that the committee can consider.

Commissioner Freeland remarked that there had previously been "a set of specifications drawn up and approved by the county commissioners, and it just gradually faded away, and I'm glad to see that you're attempting again because, to me, I think it's something the people like to see when they go to opening up a subdivision, or something.  Treat everybody the same way.  The specifications that we drew up ten or twelve years ago were very good, but they finally faded away."

McCullar, harkening back to the theft of equipment which Rickman had mentioned, said "And also we asked the highway department to get a quote for a security camera system to be put in, similar to what they've got up there at the jail, so they can keep an eye on stuff."

Moving on to new business, County Mayor Jai Templeton said, "most of you know that one of our constables passed away last week, Thomas Caruthers of the third didstrict.  We will adequately prepare a notice in the county paper of record before the November meeting for those individuals who wish to seek that position to appear before you at the November meeting.  I have placed before you a resolution, as this body has done in the past, to commend those in our service who have passed away, and I would entertain a motion that that resolution be approved."  The motion was offered by Dillon, seconded by Neal Burks, and passed unanimously.

Templeton then advised the commission that the one-year lease on the old nursing home property on Sixth Street was about to expire, and he said that PETRA Ministries would like to renew the lease for five years on the same terms as the present lease.  "They could not be here tonight to discuss with you their projects, but they are planning on coming to the November meeting."  Templeton added that, "To my knowledge, they have provided the services that they told us they would.  They have done an enormous amount of work on that property."  Commissioner Stan Wheeler made a motion that the lease be extended for five years, which was seconded by Kenneth Amerson and passed unanimously.

Finally, the list of new notaries was approved on a motion by Dillon, seconded by Stevie Clark, and the meeting adjourned.

County Commission Meeting

10 September 2007

What a difference a month makes.

At the county commission's August meeting a proposal to authorize the county highway department to purchase $400,000 worth of vehicles (two dump trucks, a road grader, and a backhoe) had produced considerable heat but little light, causing the proposal to be tabled after prolonged and generally unproductive discussion.  Commissioner Keith Jernigan expressed the sentiment of many of the commissioners when he said the question was not whether the department needed the equipment but what was the best way to finance the purchase.  He said, "You know, you get it thrown at you in one meeting and then call the roll and you vote on it.  I mean, we haven't had time to think about it, and I think we ought to be finding out before we go spending that amount of money."

By the time the commission convened again for its September meeting Monday night the highway committee had met (on September 6) and approved the purchase of the equipment with a loan to be paid back over six years (both principal and interest), instead of the interest-only loan with a balloon payment which had caused such consternation at the August meeting.  This recommendation was considered and approved by the budget and finance committees, which met just before the full commission meeting Monday night.

Budget committee chairman Jim Rickman announced the news.  "The budget committee met tonight to reconsider the purchase of equipment for the highway department and the issuance of a proposed capital outlay note in the amount of $400,000….  The budget committee did recommend this, so I'll put this in the form of a motion," which was seconded by Commissioner Troy Moore.

The motion was swiftly approved with only two dissenting votes (cast by Commissioners Tammy Dillon and Stan Wheeler).

Other items on the meeting's agenda were disposed of with similar smoothness and dispatch.

Budget Committee Chairman Rickman reported that the committee had agreed to recommend that the county apply for a Rural Development Loan for the purchase of the Latta Building, with an eye toward renovating it for use as an information center, performing arts facility, and public meeting facility for the county.  The committee had previously recommended making the application once an amount had been agreed on, and Rickman advised that loan request would be in the amount of $175,000.  Rickman moved "that the mayor be authorized to go ahead and make application for that rural development loan for the purchase of that building," and his motion, seconded by Commissioner Jay Weatherford, carried unanimously.

Rickman also reported that the sheriff's department had received an insurance settlement of $8,700 for one of its patrol cars which had been totaled in an accident.  The department had bought the car back (for parts) for $500, and the sheriff had asked to be authorized to use the remaining $8,200 to purchase a truck for the service department, passing the old maintenance truck along to the litter grant program.  Rickman put the request in the form of a motion, seconded by Weatherford, which passed unanimously.

Highway Committee Chairman David McCullar reported that "There's been some discussion about improving our highway standards," and to that end "we have requested and gotten copies of highway specs from Chester, Hardin, and Henderson Counties.  A lot of it was close to what our county has.  One difference was that Henderson County requires hot mix on all their roads," McCullar said, and "Chester County still chips and seals their roads."  McCullar said the committee would be looking at these and other possible modifications to the county highway specifications.  Finally, he informed the commission that no action had been taken on "the roads that we brought up last month" [Chris, Neighbors, and Purdy Cemetery] because "the individual have not done what they were supposed to do on those roads."

In old business, the commission unanimously approved the appointment of Jeff Lipford and Charles Lee to three-year terms on the McNairy County Library Board (on a motion by Anthony Knight, seconded by O.H. Freeland) and the appointment of Don Seely to a three-year term on the McNairy County Airport Authority (on a motion by Weatherford, seconded by Jernigan).

The airport's new general manager, Chris Tull, was at the meeting and provided the commissioners with an overview of airport activities since he took over earlier this summer.  As was to be expected, he had some good news and some bad news.

In the bad news department, Tull reported that the airport, which had earlier lost its tenant for Hanger 1, had recently lost its tenant for Hanger 2 as well, resulting in a significant loss of rental revenues.  And then "about three weeks ago we lost the pump on our jet fuel pump.  We called several people trying to find somebody to fix it, and nobody would go in the tank.  That's amazing.  It was going to cost thousands of dollars.  And we took it on ourselves and we probably got this thing accomplished for less than $1,800, and we're pretty sure we've got it licked."  He also reported a snag in the airport's land acquisition efforts.  "We're planning our future expansion on parallel taxiway three-five," he told the commission, but "it's currently on hold, for lack of a better word.  Ownership of that land, as I understand it, has changed," and the new owners are asking about twice the appraised value of the land.  The acquisition effort is now on hold, Tull said, pending a decision on whether to proceed with condemnation efforts.

On the good news side, Tull reported that when he had been unable to get anyone to come and repair the jet fuel pump, he and the airport staff had managed to repair it "in house," assisted by the volunteer efforts of Rodney Murray, "who spent all day on Monday in the fuel tank with me."  Tull also publicly thanked Ralph Gage, another McNairy County volunteer who had provided substantial assistance at the airport.

Tull also had good news to report about the airport's fuel situation. "We're talking to Ascent Aviation, out of New York, they're a Phillips 66 fuel supplier, and they're really on our page, and on general aviation page as far as supplying fuel and oil.  We couldn't get anyone to talk to us at all about self-service fuel or giving us some reasonable prices on fuel, and these people have bent over backwards working with us.  Not only are they going to lower our air jet fuel prices by over 50 cents a gallon so that we can be competitive, they've agreed to put in a self-service card reader, so that we can have twenty-four hour a day fuel, lower the price of Jet A as well. Our problem has been in the past that when I buy a load of av gas, or jet fuel, I buy 300 gallons at a time, yet I pay by 7,000 gallon shipments.  I pay for a tanker that holds 7,000 gallons to come down here and drop 300 in the ground, and we can't afford to do that.  And the shortest load I can pay for jet fuel is 2,000 gallons, and that costs about $5,500.  So this company is going to put it in the ground and hold the credit card for us until the load is paid for, and this is going to take a tremendous burden off our backs."

"One final thing is that av gas and jet fuel are getting increasingly hard to get, and they've assured us that they can supply the fuel.  They're currently supplying the fuel at the Tupelo Airport, [which] has agreed to share the trucks with us.  They're buying so much fuel, they're buying loads every week.  They're stocking a little.  If they have 2,000 left over on their av gas truck" we can buy it here without having to pay the additional transportation."

In other good news, Tull reported "We do have a possible tenant for hanger 2.  There's a company, they've been to the airport twice and called numerous times, looking at some land in Selmer to base here, is my understanding.  They're currently flying a Citation 5, which is a substantial jet that burns a lot of jet fuel, and we're hoping that we can get them to take up residence in Hanger 2, as well as locate here."

Tull also pointed out that traffic is picking up at the airport (one day last month four planes flew in, and the passengers and crew of two of them stayed over night, contributing to the local economy).

In other business, the commission unanimously approved the 2007-2008 Standing Committees (on a motion by Ashe, seconded by Freeland).

The commission also voted unanimously (on a motion by Rickman, seconded by Moore) to lower the threshold on the county's Fixed Assets Policy from $250,000 to $25,000.  "The concern was that we could possibly have some roads and bridges that would not meet [the existing] threshold," Mayor Templeton explained, and this "lower[s] that threshold in order to include more of our highway department roads and bridges in our fixed assets inventory."

The commission unanimously approved (on a motion by Ashe, seconded by Knight) an agreement with Correctional Risk Services, to "review our medical claims for inmate costs."  Under the agreement the county will pay Correctional Risk Services a percentage of any savings that result directly from that review.  "We won't be paying them anything if they don't save us anything," Templeton explained.

In a related matter the commission also unanimously approved the Caremark Prescription Drug Care Agreement (on a motion by Knight, seconded by Jernigan).  Templeton explained that "there are counties in Tennessee that are using these to further help manage their inmates' prescription drug costs."  Additionally, that program, which is a benefit of the county's membership in the National Association of County Officials, makes a discount prescription drug card available at no cost to all citizens of the county. A toll-free number will be made available for individual citizens to call to sign up for the program.  

County Commission Meeting

13 August 2007

Financial concerns dominated Monday night’s meeting of the McNairy County Commission, held at the justice center.  After approving, without significant dissention, the expenditure of nearly $200,000 on sheriff’s vehicles and bushhogs, the commissioners reacted with noticeably less equanimity to a proposal that the county purchase $400,000 of equipment for the highway department.  The objections were not to the department’s proposed purchases themselves, which were generally acknowledged to be needed, but to the plan proposed to finance them.

The purchase of police cars and bushhogs was proposed by Wilburn Gene Ashe, during his finance committee report.  At the finance committee’s meeting the previous Monday [August 6] the committee considered a request by the sheriff’s department for approval of a capital note in the amount of $40,300 to buy two automobiles.  Ashe said that the department “had about eight bids, and the finance committee voted to accept the low bid of Hardin County Bank for 4.45%” on a three-year loan. 

The committee also considered a request from the road committee to purchase two bushhogs “for $135,000, to be paid back over the next three budget years, including this year.”  The loan, from Bancorp South, would carry an interest rate of 4.5%.  Ashe explained that “the road department is going to pay that back out of their operating fund, out of their equipment fund,” and that by making monthly payments the department would save about $7,000 in interest over three years.

Ashe’s motion that the commission approve these purchases was seconded by Otis Freeland carried, with only one nay vote (from Keith Jernigan) and one “pass” (from Tammy Dillon).

It was the report of budget committee chairman Jim Rickman that introduced the contentious subject of highway department equipment purchases.  Rickman’s report began smoothly enough, with the commissioners unanimously approving his motion (seconded by Jay Weatherford) to classify some property as surplus “so that we can dispose of it,” and another motion (seconded by Anthony Knight) to approve the county’s school budget.

But there was nothing smooth about the way the commission reacted to Rickman’s next proposal.  Rickman explained that the budget committee, acting on the recommendation of Charles Overman of Morgan Keeton Company, was recommending that the commission authorize borrowing $400,000 to purchase highway department equipment, on which the county would pay “interest only for the first four years, and then principal and interest for the next six years.”

“The budget committee did vote on this and pass it,” Rickman said, “so I’ll put that in the form of a motion,” which was seconded by Troy Moore.

The first discordant note was struck by Joe R. Henry.  “It’s another one of them projects where we’re going to borrow money and start out paying only interest,” Henry said.  “I don’t like it.  I can’t help it, I just don’t like it.  It’s no way to do business.  I think it should have been dealt with in the regular business a month ago, like everything else.”
Henry emphasized that he was not disputing the need for new equipment: “I feel like Harvey [Harvey Neal Smith, of the highway department] needs the equipment, or he wouldn’t have asked for it.  He’s always been truthful with me.  But I have major problems with the way that it’s being done.  I have major problems with not being able to see it before right now—and not being able to see it right now.  It hurts me to see us going down that road again.”

“Speaking in terms of …?” inquired County Mayor Jai Templeton at this point.

“Speaking in terms of balloon payments,” Henry replied.  “I just don’t think it’s no way to do business.”

Otis Freeland agreed.  “Mr. Chairman, I feel the same way,” he said.  “On the finance committee we passed on taking any action at this time,” he continued.  “I just don’t think it’s the time to do this particular thing.  I made that statement in the budget committee, and I stay with it tonight.”

Henry then asked whether the purchases could be paid for out of the general fund.  Mayor Templeton and commissioners Freeland and Ashe expressed some doubts that that could be done, and then Ashe joined Henry in saying that his problem was not with Smith.  “And Harvey Neal, I want to commend him.  He came with a list for us, and we did see that list, but it was just a priority list, as we understood it.”  Ashe stated that the first item on that list was bushhogs, and he observed that the commissioners had dealt with that item that evening by approving the $135,000 request.  He then discussed the other items on the list, saying that Smith “had them in priorities.  And when it came to the finance committee, we didn’t understand that it was a request, at the present time.  We were looking at it down the road.  And as Commissioner Henry has said over there, I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind, and I don’t think anybody else has any doubt about it, that the equipment is needed.”

“I think we’re going to have to bite the bullet and do something about the trucks pretty soon,” Ashe said.  However, he continued, “I’ve made this statement before, that I’d never vote for a bond issue that we didn’t pay anything but interest for the first several years.  Cause we’ve got on on the books like that now.  And I’m like Ronny [Henry]; I don’t like it when we do a bond issue and I don’t know where we’re coming from.”

Mayor Templeton observed that there might be other options that the county could pursue, then he said, “Let me speak to what Mr. Overman [of Morgan Keeton] did.  You know, we have for many years, I guess, relied on him for advice for structuring our long term debt.  I think when he made this suggestion, that Mr. Ashe made the statement that in 2012 we’d receive quite a bit of debt relief, and he’s making the payments as easy on the county as they could possibly be.  I think that’s why he made the recommendation that he did.  But there are other opportunities, avenues to pursue.  There could be.”

Commissioner Carol Ann Woods then asked, “Why do we have to do this tonight?  This is the first that some of us have heard about it,” which prompted Freeland to suggest that the commission table the motion “and let the road committee take a look at the equipment out there and come back with a recommendation to the budget committee and take a look at it.”

Road committee chairman McCullar responded that “we know the equipment is needed.  We spend a lot of money on maintenance and repairing on equipment that is wore out.  We need more.  We have neglected items the last several years.  If we want to catch up, things are going to have to be done.  There’s been a lot of money spent on roads, you can see a lot of work being done on roads, and eventually we’re going to have to have some equipment to keep on doing it.  As far as how to finance it, you know, I’m not the world’s greatest one on financing.  It may be we may want to think it over for about thirty days.

Keith Jernigan added his support for tabling the motion.  “I don’t think it’s any question whether they need it.  I think the question is, is this the best way to go about financing it.”  He said he was concerned about being rushed to make a decision regarding so much money without proper consideration.  “You know, you get it thrown at you in one meeting and then call the roll and you vote on it.  I mean, we haven’t had time to think about it, and I think we ought to be finding out before we go spending that amount of money.”

Freeland then remarked that when the equipment issue “came before the finance committee it was prioritized.  Now, part of this maybe needs to be prioritized, instead of the entire amount of $400,000.”  Also, he continued, “we have just now approved a budget for the year, and the first thing you know we are wanting to borrow $400,000, pay interest on it for four or fine years, and we don’t really know exactly what our fund balance is going to be.  Now I think this group, as far as I’m concerned, I think we should take a look at it for at least another thirty days and let everybody look at it and think about it and see if that is what they want to do.”  He added that he thought that the list of requested equipment should be prioritized in the order that the equipment was most needed.

Mayor Templeton then asked if there was a second to Freeland’s motion to table Rickman’s motion, which was provided by Woods, and the motion barely carried.  Commissioner Charlie Garrison passed, and there were “no” votes from eight commissioners: Neal Burks, Anthony Knight, David McCullar, Larry Browning, Joe Henry, Troy Moore, Jay Weatherford, and Brenda Cauley.

But that was not the end of it, and the discussion continued even after the motion to table passed.  Highway department employee Stacey Ray, who was in the audience, asked for permission to speak.  “Mr. Freeland is talking about a priority list.  These are items that Harvey felt that we could not leave out.  I mean, there are many items that aren’t on the list that we just left off because we knew that there was no way we could get them.  As far as priorities, I think everything on there is really, really high priority.  We could make a list much longer, and those would be the top items.”

Freeland replied that “I think those things should be put on that list and be prioritized, too.”

Commissioner Ashe interjected a bright note.  “We’ve taken care of one item.  We’ve done that tonight.  We’ve approved the bushhogs tonight.  They’re history.”

Commissioner Rickman, whose motion it was that had just been tabled, then added his support for the delay.  “I didn’t realize that everybody had not had an opportunity to look at this, and I think that everybody does need an opportunity to look at it.  We need to look at what it is we are buying and how we propose to finance it.  I agree that Harvey Neal does need the equipment, and maybe we can look at this thing and find another way, but we do need to find a way, some way.”

“I think we can come up with an option,” Ashe said.  “I don’t know what the fund balance is in debt service.  I know it increases substantially.  We might be able to pay the principal, starting the next year after the bond issue, and not have that, nothing but interest.  We might be able to do that, and I support that idea.”  He concluded on a positive note: “I think it could be done.”

Harvey Neal Smith then informed the commission of the extent of the equipment problem.  “Probably the newest equipment we’ve got out there are the trucks that we’re running every day.  The two road graders are seventeen years old.  The tractors are anywhere from twelve to fifteen years old.  We’re running three of those, and most of the time one out of three of those is in the shop.”  Smith said he had five dump trucks that were being used for road work.  “The oldest one is, I think, thirteen, fourteen years old, and the newest one is nine years old.  And the last time that we ran all five of them on a daily basis, before the week was out three of them was in the shop.  And we wound up spending over $4,000 on one of them for a transmission.  We’re to the point that it’s costing more to keep them up than it would cost to make the payments on new equipment.  And that’s not good business.”

Smith also emphasized that it would take some time to acquire the equipment even after the commission approved the purchase.  “Part of the problem on this equipment is that it’s not just something that you can walk out onto the lot and pick it up.”  He said that on some of the equipment “if you are ordering today it would probably be mid to last of November before I would get them.  Sometimes it takes that long.  It’s a pretty long wait when you really need something.  I’d appreciate, the sooner the better is what I am trying to say.”

* * *

Although the highway equipment question consumed most of the time and the energy at the meeting, other matters were also discussed and acted on.

Economic development committee chairman Rickman reported that the committee met two weeks ago with “one of the suppliers for the Toyota plant” down in Mississippi, which is considering locating in McNairy County.  “They’re still requesting information and we’re still sending it to them, so I guess we are still under consideration.  They looked at three sites in Tennessee, some sites in Alabama, and some sites in Mississippi, so we’re not sure where they’ll end up locating.”

Rickman reported also that “We’re still in the process of developing criteria and advertising for the EDC position.  Our plans are still to combine the EDC and the Chamber of Commerce” positions.

Airport authority committee chairman Troy Moore told the commission that Chris Tull, the new airport general manager, was unable to be present because one of the jet fuel pumps went out the day before and he was out there waiting for someone to arrive to fix it.

“We are going to be in need of another member for the airport authority,” Moore said.  “David Landers has moved, or is in the process of moving, to Florida.  His term of membership on the airport authority expires this month.  The airport authority would like to nominate Don Seeley.”  Moore said that Seeley rents a hanger at the airport and “he knows a lot about the airport and is really interested in it.”  Moore said that “it’s been the procedure when you nominate someone for a committee like that, you wait thirty days to appoint him, to give anybody else who might have somebody in mind that they would like to nominate” time to do so.

Insurance committee chairman Jeff Lipford got a laugh when he rose to give his report and said,  “I have good news.”  The good news was that the county has been able to save $19,000 on workman’s compensation insurance.

County attorney Craig Kennedy reported that progress was being made on the Brownfield Agreement regarding the old Brown Shoe property, which is co-owned by the county and the city of Selmer.  Testing had been done because of some concern about the soil, Kennedy said, “and it came back that there was some things out there that might be a problem.”  But, Kennedy said, if the state signs off on the Brownfield agreement, “and if the city and county both agree to it, basically we get a clean bill as far as the county is concerned.  Nobody can come back against the county.”  Kennedy said he just wants to make sure that there is no way that the county can be held liable for anything, but “I just don’t see any down side to us approving it.”

Commissioner Ashe moved, seconded by Ronald Henry, to authorize signing the agreement, subject to the county attorney’s concerns being addressed, and the motion carried on a unanimous voice vote.

In the last item of business the commission voted unanimously, on a motion by Rickman, seconded by Moore, to approve the appointment to the Property Tax Sale Committee of Ronald Henry, Larry Browning, Tammy Dillon, Stevie Clark, and Charlie Garrison.

CDBG Public Hearing

13 August 2007

Two proposals were put forth at a public meeting held on the second floor of the courthouse in Selmer at 6:00 Monday evening for the purpose of “discuss[ing] McNairy County’s intent to submit an application for a FY 2008 Community Development Block Grant identifying community needs and how CDBG funds can be used.”

The first was presented by Kevin Morris, McNairy County Health Department director, who stated that since the governor had last year given county health departments the responsibility for providing primary health care in addition to the department’s traditional functions, the department has had to add practitioners as well as nursing and clerical staff, and accommodating them has taken up all of the space in the existing health department building.

“We are absolutely at our capacity,” Morris said.  He stated the department has no space to store clerical records, that supplies are stored in bathrooms, and that there is not sufficient clinic space.  “We have patients who have to walk outside of a laboratory and go across the hall to give a urine specimen and walk back down the hallway to the clinic carrying a urine specimen.”  What is worse, “We’re very concerned because we are in a situation now where we have people sitting in that waiting room that have active infections.  Flu, and things like that.  They’re sitting in that waiting room with new-born babies.”

Jane Ashe, who also works at the health department, observed that “We have two clinic rooms that we can see our sick patients in.  One is a nice-sized clinic room that there is enough room to operate out of.  The other room that we see our sick patients in, there’s barely room to turn around.  It’s extremely cramped.  There’s not enough electrical outlets to plug in equipment.”

Morris said that they had communicated their problems to the Department of Health in Nashville last year, and that the state department had provided $77,000 for use toward solving the local department’s problem, which money is now in the county’s possession.  “We really do desperately need a new health department building,” Morris said.  “We have met with an architect at our own expense to figure out what we can do with the space we’ve got and what are the possibilities, and they have put together a plan which involves adding a new wing down the side of the health department, going out 32 feet on the side where the library is,” which would be used for providing services to sick people.  “We very definitely need to separate those very sick people from those new-born babies.”

The other proposal was made by Bethel Springs Mayor Norma Smith, who said “I’d like for the county to consider applying for a CDBG grant, using their eligibility on behalf of the city of Bethel, to go toward the installation of the new sewer project” in Bethel Springs.  (For more information, see the report of the Bethel Springs town meeting on 6 August 2007.)

The hearing was conducted by Linda J. Higgins, grant writer and special projects coordinator for the Southwest Tennessee Develop[ment District, who said she would provide minutes of the public meeting to the county mayor and that the county commission would then decide what to do.  Higgins said that the deadline for applications was at the end of February and that it would probably be late summer before the county would know what grants have been approved.