Kmart building proceeds continue to dwindle

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By Jennifer Caldwell


Commissioners chipped away at the remaining $350,000 in proceeds left from the sale of the Kmart building on Monday night.

On the heels of a discussion in which Jeff Marlow, county finance director, advised the commission requests for expenditures should be accompanied by a funding mechanism, Commissioner David Goins made a motion to make an estimated $200,000 in repairs to the bridges in the Bethlehem community.

During last week’s workshop Goins reported on the dire condition of the four box culverts located on Bethlehem Road near Forks Grove Baptist Church.

According to Goins, the state of disrepair he found the bridges, located on the road acting as the main feeder to the Norris Pointe area, in was nothing short of dangerous.

“My findings were shocking. It is very dangerous to the point that I think it is an emergency that we fix them,” Goins said at the workshop.

To warn the public of the state of the bridges commissioners voted to allow Dennis Potter, road superintendent, to place signs limiting the weight of vehicles on the road to 10 tons.

While Goins agreed the action was needed he urged his colleagues to go a step further and vote to make the necessary repairs to the bridges.

Potter reported he had received estimates that replacement of the two worst bridges would cost approximately $150,000. He continued by telling the group his department could make the necessary repairs to the other two culverts.

As Goins made a motion to begin the project Commission Chairman David Young reminded him of Marlow’s request.

“I think we need to follow the previous statement that these projects need to be presented with a way to fund them,” Young said.

When Goins suggested the money come from what was left of the Kmart proceeds he was met with opposition.

Commissioner Lynn Letner attempted to head Goins’ motion off at the pass by making an amendment to empower County Mayor William Baird to enter into negotiations to purchase industrial property located at the 141 exit.

“If we hadn’t already given away $500,000 free and clear I would support this project,” Letner remarked about the money given to the Children’s Center and Community Health of East Tennessee (CHET) earlier in the year by the commission.

“I’m not against industrial property, but right now there is industrial property sitting everywhere in this county,” Goins said in response to Letner’s comments.

Undeterred by Goins’ comments, Letner continued to argue against dipping into the funds set aside to purchase industrial property again.

“We weren’t worried about the infrastructure six or eight months ago when we gave away $500,000 free and clear,” Letner said. “What we’re going to say to the people is we don’t want jobs in this county.”

In an attempt to move the discussion along Young suggested the matter be taken to the budget and finance committee for review. However, Goins maintained postponing the action was not an option.

“Mr. Young you don’t have that kind of time,” Goins said of the safety issues present as a result of the bridges’ condition.

Letner’s attempt to table the motion failed and the commission followed up with a vote in favor of taking $200,000 from the Kmart building proceeds to make the repairs.

The $150,000 the remaining from the original $700,000 paid to the county for the commercial property was reduced further for the sake of a waterline extension in the second district.

Although Commissioner Bobby White did not set out to fund the project that will provide water to an Ivey Hollow Road residence, he did not argue when the plan was suggested.

After a lengthy discussion on how to fund the waterline extension, that will cost an estimated $15,000, commissioners voted to tap into the Kmart money for a second time during the evening.

“We’ve done it for everybody else so why not spend some in the second district,” Commissioner Adrion Baird said.


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