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Commission doles out donations

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By Jennifer Caldwell

The purse strings were loose on Tuesday night as commissioners voted to dole out money for a number of causes.

During last week’s workshop Dennis Potter, road superintendent, made the group aware of the certain doom facing the county quarry’s aged crusher.

Parts for the antiquated equipment are virtually impossible to find, Potter said.

The county is able to produce its own crushed stone at a cost of $2 per ton. However the cost if purchased from another supplier would jump to $10 per ton.

“We can’t afford to buy it (crushed stone).  We’ve got to make it,” Potter said in a previous meeting.

Voicing their agreement with Potter, the commission voted to allocate $150,000 for a new crusher from proceeds from the sale of the Kmart building.

This latest expenditure from the $700,000 that was once earmarked for the purchase of industrial property brings the balance to $350,000.

In an effort to salvage the remainder of the Kmart building proceeds Commissioner Lynn Letner pushed his colleagues to adopt a measure that would allow the $350,000 to be used solely for the purpose of industrial development.  

The motion failed in a 10-5 vote.

The commission continued it benevolence with a sizeable donation to Community Health of East Tennessee’s (CHET) House of Hope domestic violence shelter.

During last week’s budget and finance meeting Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton appealed to the group for $300,000 toward the purchase of a new location for the shelter.

According to Sexton, the facility, which has provided respite and services for victims of domestic violence and their families for the past 13 years, will soon find itself without a home.

Since its inception House of Hope has been located in a property owned by First Baptist Jacksboro.  Now, in order to expand the ministries offered by the congregation the church finds itself needing to take the property back.

On Tuesday Ed Wheeler, CHET board member, continued to stress the necessity of a new location for House of Hope.

“If they don’t have a building I don’t know what you (the commission) are going to do with these people,” Wheeler said of the families that would likely be left without services if the shelter was forced to close.

Commissioner Ann Smith attempted to make a motion to allocate the money for the center, however the action stopped short when she failed to name a funding source.

After some discussion about possibilities for funding, David Young, commission chairman, cut to the chase.

“Ladies and gentlemen there’s no need to beat around the bush.  We all know the only funds available are the Kmart funds,” Young said.

Jeff Marlow, county finance director, corrected Young, by pointing out the other alternative would be to take money from the county’s $2.2 million undesignated fund balance.

When Young asked if this was a viable option, Marlow said he felt comfortable with a $300,000 reduction in the fund balance, but doing so would leave very little money for future capital projects.

As discussion continued Commissioner Bobby White questioned Wheeler about the shelter’s proposed location near LaFollette Middle School.  

“I have received calls from concerned citizens and residents of the property who say they don’t want this,” White said.

In response, Wheeler stated the agency was looking at a number of properties, including the LaFollette area for the shelter’s new location.

Following the lengthy debate on the matter commissions settled on giving the House of Hope $300,000 allocated from the undesignated fund balance.

The four Campbell County libraries were also recipients of the commission’s generosity.

After losing state funding used to make best selling books available in each of the library’s, commissioner’s agreed to kick in the $7,200 needed to keep the program in place for the remainder of the year.