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February is National Career and Technology Education Month

The Johnson County Commission met for its regular monthly session Thursday night. One of the hot topics of the evening was an item on the agenda to discuss the removal of Constable as an elected county position. Although Johnson County has had constables for most of its existence, legal trouble concerning a constable who recently resigned has led to questions of county liability. Although in the past Constables had more prominence in the various communities around the county, in the modern setting they are primarily of assistance to the sheriff’s department in serving papers.
County Mayor Larry Potter addressed the issue by informing the commissioners that if the county votes against having constables any longer, those currently serving would still finish their terms and then could become private processors so that they would still be able to serve papers. If the commission decids to keep the position, however, candidates would be able to run in the upcoming August election to fill the current vacancy, and would then serve the remainder of the term until 2014.
To abolish constables in the county would require two individual votes by the commission with two-thirds approval each time. As a result, a decision would have to be made before an April deadline to allow the election commission time to get names on the August ballot. Both Potter and county attorney Bill Cockett seemed in support of doing away with constables in the county, citing the archaic nature of the position, and potential liability to the county for having untrained individuals in potentially dangerous situations.
For these same reasons many other counties across the state have already eliminated their own constables, but several members of the commission also voiced their concerns that Johnson County might need to consider keeping theirs. Although there have been some instances of trouble coming from irresponsible constables, there have also been good, longstanding records of service for others. There were also questions about the opinions of those currently serving as constables. As a result of these doubts, Commissioner Jerry Grindstaff made a successful motion to table the issue until the next month’s meeting, allowing time to gather some more information before making a final decision.
Also addressed at the meeting was an ongoing issue concerning the city animal control and its relationship with the county. Several months ago the city requested the county relinquish their title to the deed for the city’s animal shelter, after discovering that the land had been given to both the city and county jointly. Currently the city handles much of the county’s animal control through an agreement where the county pays for the city’s services. Because of a high volume of animal control cases in the county, which goes through the sheriff’s department, several of the commissioners have voiced concerns about turning over the county’s position on the deed.
City officials have stated that they are unwilling to do much more than their current agreement, but some of the commissioners are looking to the future and the possibility of the county having to establish its own animal control. Because there has been much misunderstanding from both sides on the issue, Commissioner Jack Proffit requested that the county’s animal control committee meet with city officials to try and come to a conclusion. The topic has been tabled by the county since it was initially brought before the commission by the city, but following Proffit’s request, Mayor Potter agreed to organize a meeting.
Mayor Potter also brought up a new piece of legislation that the state has passed for the county to consider. In the hopes of being able to utilize the 8,600 acres of Doe Mountain for a possible multiuse trail system similar to those in surrounding states, Potter asked the commission to look at the state’s Adventure Tourism Bill, which gives the county the authority to establish adventure tourism districts.
As one part of the bill recreational tourism businesses such as rental cabins, zipline companies, and bike rental shops that are established within this district would be eligible for limited liability and tax incentives. Although there is still much unknown about the situation, Potter feels that Johnson County may be one of the first in the state to utilize the bill.
The commission looked at a request by the Johnson County Farmer’s Market to relocated from their current home in Shouns to somewhere on the courthouse grounds. Organizers are hoping to follow the trend of some of the bigger and more successful markets by moving into the downtown area. Currently there are approximately 10 vendors but there are hopes that the numbers will increase.
The market would be held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until around 2 p.m. Commissioner John Brookshire suggested that the large parking lot at the back of the courthouse would be the best place for it to be held, citing potential problems with parking and damage to the property if it were to be held on the front lawn. With several other commissioners in agreement, Bill Adams made the motion to allow the Farmers Market to locate in the parking lot pending that County Attorney Cockett check on liability issues and reserving the right to move the market if any problems start to occur. With no major concerns, the motion passed unanimously.
The county also passed a motion to approve a resolution honoring the late Clint Howard. A master fiddler and local music personality as well as a former county commissioner and member of the Johnson County highway commission until his death, Howard left a lasting legacy in Johnson County. Reading the proposed resolution, Mayor Potter gave a brief history of Howard’s life and accomplishments calling him a person who distinguished himself. Commissioner Dean Stout made the motion to accept the resolution, which passed unanimously.