Jail addition gets greenlight

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By Jennifer Caldwell

The addition of a $1.3 million kitchen and laundry facility to the county’s jail invoked a lively discussion at Monday’s meeting.

“The jail committee has not done a complete analysis of what it would take to remodel the old jail,” Commissioner Adrion Baird said during debate of Commissioner Rusty Orick’s motion to proceed with the project.

Baird called the jail committee’s failure to wait for the recommendations from a pending feasibility study on possible uses for the old facility “irresponsible.”

“Don’t you think we ought to wait for the recommendations of the feasibility study so we can spend tax payer dollars responsibly,” Baird said offering his remarks.

Orick defended the committee’s recommendation arguing the state of disrepair in the current kitchen and laundry facility makes forging ahead with the project a necessity.  Orick also pointed out those responsible for ordering the feasibility study had not yet done so and because time is of the essence the county can no longer afford to wait.

The commission voted in favor of going forward with the project in a 10-5 vote.

Debate continued to wage over the fate of Archery Lane  as well.

During a December 2008 meeting commissioners voted to tar and chip a portion of Archery Lane owned by Bill and Sandra Goss in exchange for the deed to the section of the roadway in question.

At a January meeting Jeff Marlow, county finance director, presented the group with information regarding the legality of the improvements.

Marlow said a portion of the property included in the tar and chip project lies below the 1044’ line and is controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  As a result, Marlow maintained TVA would have to issue a land use permit to the county highway department before any improvements could legally be made.

The quagmire deepened last week when Marlow again approached commissioners with stipulations to moving forward with the project.

TVA has no record of the road, according to Marlow.   As a result the county is faced with the option of proving abandonment by TVA at a cost of approximately $15,000 or proving that it is a TVA property at cost of around $3,500.

On Monday Sandra Goss appeared again to voice her frustration with the situation.  Goss indicated information she received from TVA representatives regarding the fees for establishing the road for TVA purposes were $5,000 at the high end and $250 at the low end.

As the commission began discussion of the matter, Goss offered a solution.

“Give us our road back.  This is crazy and has been going on for three years,” Goss said of the county’s alleged taking of their private road without offering compensation for it.

County Attorney Joe Coker interjected that simply giving the road back to the Goss’ was not a viable option.

“The county cannot gift a road to someone.  You would have to abandon the road and go through a process,” Coker explained.

“Don’t you have to pay for the road that you took right out of the middle of our property…property that Melvin Boshears owned?” Goss questioned Coker and the commissioners.

Commissioner Melvin Boshears, from whom the Goss’ purchased the property, weighed in on the matter.

“I want to explain something to this commission.  When I sold the property to those people I told them that was a county road,” Boshears declared.

“That’s an outright lie,” Goss fired back.

Commissioner Lynn Letner attempted move things along by making a motion to pass the issue to the ways and means committee for analysis. However the motion failed.

Following Letner’s failed motion Commissioner Bobby White made a motion that would allow the county to start the abandonment process for the road.  

This motion carried.