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Grindstaff to serve on Doe Mountain Board

Former Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons came before the Johnson County Commission this month to formally introduce himself and declare his intentions as a candidate for 3rd district State Representative. Parsons pointed out his background both in politics and in business and went on to state that he had first hand experience with difficulties, including unfunded state mandates, that come with the red tape of state legislation. Comprising portions of Sullivan and Carter counties as well as all of Johnson County, Parsons has been putting in nearly 500 miles a week in an effort to meet with the people of the district.
Undaunted, Parsons went on to say that he not only wanted to try help the individual communities in this area, but desired to work toward making the state a better place to live as well. Furthering that idea, Parsons went on to say, “I’m mainly doing it for the kids. We have to think of what we are leaving for the next generation.”
County Mayor Larry Potter made an announcement to the commission that with the formation of the new 15-member board of authority to govern the Doe Mountain project, a member of the commission would have to be nominated and approved to fill one of the required seats. Potter stated the Chamber of Commerce had already submitted a candidate for their seat and many of the state positions including those from TDEC, the TWRA, the state tourism department, among others had been filled as well. The board will meet once a month, most likely in the Knoxville area.
Commissioner Dean Stout stood to nominate Jerry Grindstaff to fill the two-year term, and was seconded by Commissioner John Brookshire. Grindstaff, who is very familiar with the mountain and its background went on to accept the nomination stating, “I believe in the project, and I have been involved with the discussions about it for a long time. It will take a lot of hard work and it’s not going to happen overnight, but I am glad to do the best I can.” With no other nominations the commission voted unanimously to accept Stout’s motion.
Stout also gave a very positive update on the Mountain Youth Academy which occupies the old county hospital building in the Cold Springs area. Stout informed the commission that the academy now has 57 children and 25 employees and has just completed some excellent remodeling on the old building to make it what Stout calls one of the nicest facilities in the county. Agreeing, Commissioner Bill Adams explained that the renovations are not only to the main building but also the addition of ball fields on the grounds and the renovation of one of the smaller adjacent buildings to include an exercise and weight lifting room. Both Stout and Adams went on to give praise to the academy’s administration citing the success of their program and work with the children.
Johnson County Purchasing Agent Doug Hammons presented this month’s purchasing committee recommendations which primarily involved the acquisition of a new loader for the County Solid Waste Transfer Station in Doe Valley. The old loader was essential for packing the trailers for transfer to Johnson City, but unfortunately was put out of service because of motor trouble. Bought used in 1996, the machine would require an expensive motor rebuild to be operational again, at an estimated cost of $90,000. Alternatively, Hammons put out bids for a new loader, with the committee recommending the low bid from Stowers Machinery Corporation at a cost of $119,000. To make the purchase Mayor Potter informed the commission that they would need to approve a capital outlay note for a three-year term, essentially borrowing the money with zero interest. Potter emphasized the need for the equipment, highlighting the expense of renting a loader in the short amount of time since the old equipment broke down. Following a detailed discussion of the situation and the financing of the new loader, the commission agreed unanimously to follow the recommendations of the purchasing committee, and approved the capital outlay note.
Mayor Potter also asked that the commission approve a resolution to request the unclaimed balance of accounts remitted to the state treasurer following a tax sale at the county courthouse held in 2010. Having waited the required two years, the county can now request the funds from the unclaimed portion of that sale to be returned from Nashville. Commissioner Mike Taylor made the successful motion to approve the resolution and was seconded by Commissioner Jimmy Lowe. Pending further claims, the county hopes to see approximately $63,000 returned from the sale.
With work continuing on the budget for next year, the commission also approved a resolution to allow the county to continue operation under the current year’s funds. Several portions of the budget, including the school system, are well underway, but the continuing resolution was required to continue normal operation past the June 30th deadline. One of the biggest items for this month’s budget amendments was the approval for a lease which will allow the school system access to 130 Apple IPods for the county’s sixth grade classes. Although the lease with Apple was more expensive than some of the other standard equipment leases it also comes with an option to buy the IPads for $1 once the required three years are up. With no further business on the agenda, Commissioner Dean Stout made the motion to adjourn.