County OKs building demolition

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 3/25/20

After many discussion sessions spanning months, approval was recently given to move forward in the process to demolish four former school buildings.

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County OKs building demolition

Posted

After many discussion sessions spanning months, approval was recently given to move forward in the process for demolishing four former school buildings.

At its most recent meeting, the Bradley County Commission approved a motion to authorize Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis to proceed with bidding the demolition of three old Lake Forest Middle School buildings and one old Waterville School building.

The issue has come up for discussion over the past several months in the county commission, Finance Committee, and Building and Land Committee meetings. The recommendation to put the projects out for bid came from Building and Land, but not before that committee discussed the possible merits of keeping at least one of the buildings.

Commissioner Dennis Epperson had championed the cause of maintaining Building 7 at Lake Forest. Epperson asked why they would tear down a $400,000 building that needs $100,000 in repairs, and could continue to be used.

However, no one offered a use for the building.

Last month, the county commission sent a letter to the Bradley County Board of Education, asking that group to reconsider finding a use for Building 7. In a letter from Bradley County Schools Director Dr. Linda Cash, the response was a firm no.

“A vote was taken by the Bradley County Board of Education at their regular meeting of February 13, 2020, returning building 7 at Lake Forest Middle School back to the Commission,” the letter stated. “The Bradley County Board does not have a use for the building and does not see it being financially beneficial to the students of Bradley County Schools.

“Thank you for allowing us to reconsider this option,” the letter concluded.

Commissioners also approved several budget amendments pulled from the consent agenda because the dollar amounts were too large and required individual approval. They were:

• A $300,000 budget amendment request by the Bradley County Road Department to move funds for equipment into line items for paving, garage overtime, other contracted services and liability insurance (deductibles).

• A $1 million budget amendment request by Bradley County Schools to move funds from the undesignated fund balance to cover architect fees on the Lake Forest Middle School gym and resurfacing of cafeteria ($300,000), and additions at North Lee and Black Fox elementary schools ($700,000).

• A $1,172,045.50 budget amendment request by Bradley County Schools, to move funds from multiple revenue line items to cover architect fees on the Lake Forest Middle School gym and resurfacing of cafeteria ($300,000) and additions at North Lee and Black Fox Elementary schools ($700,000), as well as PIE Center lease revenues.

• A $160,098 budget amendment request by the Bradley County Mayor’s Office, on behalf of Bradley County Schools, to move funds from the budget committed for capital outlay to education capital projects for “school’s locks.” According to the description of the amendment, this amount is the balance of the $250,000 that was obligated in the 2018-19 budget for locks, but was not requested.

“This went into fund balance and is now being requested to pay the attached bill,” the budget amendment form stated.

• A $103,070 amendment requested by the Bradley County Clerk to move funds from the Library/Archive Fee to the clerk’s office to cover pay and benefits for three deputy clerks.

• Accepted a donation of hand-sanitizing gel from local attorney Jimmy Logan, who recently told commissioners his law firm, Logan-Thompson, P.C., had placed a $1,000 order for hand-sanitizing gel that will be donated for use in Bradley County’s criminal courtrooms.

• Approved a motion to send a letter to the judges and decision-makers regarding electronic monitoring and the Workhouse at the Bradley County Jail.

“We don’t have the participation we were expecting,” Vice Chairman Thomas Crye said.

• Approved a resolution to rezone from Forestry/Agricultural/Residential (FAR) district to Highway Commercial (C3) district property located at 1727 Spring Place Road S.E. A public hearing was held during the meeting, with no public comments.

• Approved a motion to ask the mayor to solicit bids to build cages for storage facilities for various departments at the Church Street building that currently houses the University of Tennessee Extension Office.

In other business, the county commission:

• Approved a motion to enter into the minutes the March 6, 2020, resignation letter submitted by Judge Daniel Swafford.

• Accepted a letter from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. Davis said every five years Bradley County is asked to update its basic emergency operations plan and "this is a letter where they show you they've approved that updated plan."

Davis said it includes plans on how to handle a health pandemic.

• Approved a request by Commissioner Milan Blake to pull a motion for the mayor to put in his 2020-21 budget proposal $25,000 in Fund 172 for a Volunteer Energy Cooperative grant for broadband extension.

Commissioner Erica Davis said the Finance Committee discussed this item and voted to send the request to the mayor. She asked why Blake wanted to send it back to the Finance Committee.

“To discuss it,” Blake said.

The motion was approved 12-1, with Davis voting against it. Commissioner Charlotte Peak was absent from the meeting.

• Heard from Bradley County Commission Chairman Mull who said he has appointed an HCI ad hoc committee with members Commissioner Cindy Slater, Blake, Louie Alford, Patty Hunt with Bradley County Schools, and Lindsay Hathcock, executive administrative assistant to the mayor. Slater will serve as chairperson.

• Appointed Kyle Hooper to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

• Heard from Edna and Elmer Earls, who live near the Bradley County Landfill, and are concerned about the health effects from the odor emanating from the landfill. Both said the air freshener being used to mask the odor is causing breathing issues including smothering.

Kenneth Roarke said the Earls have shared their concerns with him about the “toxic smell.” He said he believes not enough attention is being paid to the landfill and it is contributing to sickness of residents in that area.

“There’s some serious matters,” he said.

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