This month’s meeting of the Johnson County commission began with an address by County Mayor Dick Grayson concerning budget amendments. Because of the recent weather issues the county highway department has depleted its funds and an amendment of $116,000 had to be made to the budget to cover expenses. According to Grayson this will be the last funding that can be granted to the highway department, which has used more gravel this year than the previous seven years.
Highway Superintendent Tony Jennings was on hand to address the commission on the subject. According to Jennings, “this has been the worst continuous winter in recent memory.” The amount of snowfall and number of snowstorms has caused the department to work overtime and has resulted in $43,000 being spent in chat for the month of January alone and an additional $20,000 so far in February.
To make things worse, the two percent of the gas tax that the highway department counts on for revenue isn’t going quite as far due to the fewer numbers of cars on the highway because of the weather. According to Jennings, “We do the best with what we’ve got to do with, but if your service isn’t quite as grand as it once was, now you know why.”
Linda Fallin, Mike Long, Lisa Osbourne, Janice Russell, and Earl Howard, Jr. were approved as notaries by the commission followed by a request made from Perianne Stanley of the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce. Stanley informed the commission about an upcoming leadership class, which trains employees in various occupations for leadership roles in the county. These classes are a part of the 3-Star Program the county is currently enrolled in. The cost for enrollment in the class is $250 each year, which is paid by the employer. Typically the county sends one employee each year to the classes to maintain their status in the 3-Star Program. Other organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce also sponsor employees to send to the class and typically there are between six and 12 that go from Johnson County each year. Continuing this tradition, a motion was made to give County Mayor Dick Grayson authority to select an employee to sponsor.
Under the recommendation of the purchasing committee, the commission reviewed bid offers for two county purchases. A low bid of $648.94 was accepted for food supplies for inmates at the county jail and a bid of $285.45 per year to lease a 5.19-acre lot, for agricultural purposes, was also authorized.
ETSU medical student, Shae Connor, presented the commission with information about a program that takes World War II veterans from the county to see the WWII memorial in Washington D.C. Honor Flight, and its Knoxville hub Honor Air, provide an opportunity for the veterans to see the monument first hand. Prior to 2004 there were no World War II memorials in Washington. According to Connors research, Johnson County has at least 150 living WW2 veterans, 70 of whom she has contact information on.
Each year Honor Air makes two trips to Washington to take the veterans, one in April and the other in October. Although it costs $500 to sponsor a single veteran, the veterans themselves pay nothing. Connor is currently trying to raise money to send at least 10 of Johnson County’s WWII veterans on the April trip and as many as possible in the fall. Having presented to the city council and various military organizations including the Honor Guard, American Legion, and VFW of Mountain City, Connor has managed to secure funding for seven veterans, but she hopes to be able to provide the service to any of the veterans that would want to go.
The trip includes two nights hotel stay, meals, transportation to Knoxville, and the plane ride to and from Washington D.C. Honor Air provides for any medical needs for the trip and medical staff are on hand if a need should arise. Following Connor’s presentation, Commissioner Cliff Dunn made a motion for the county to sponsor four veterans for the program. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Emily Milsaps and carried unanimously.
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