There were only a handful of items on the agenda at last Thursday nights County Commission meeting but that didnt mean there was any lack of discussion. The evening kicked off with a guest address from State Representative Timothy Hill, who came before the board to introduce a few details that will likely come up in the next general assembly.
Aside from the more encompassing issues such as education reform, a potential state gas tax increase, and Medicaid expansion, the biggest item that Hill discussed concerning Johnson County specifically involved the potential future of the Tennessee Valley Authority spec building located in the Doe Valley Industrial Park. Basically a metal shell, the building has sat unused for years but now may find life as one of the first hybrid education and vocational training facilities in the state.
Envisioned as a partnership between the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) and Northeast State Community College, the facility could see substantial expansion of the programs already being offered by the two institutions. Hill did caution that the process of working out an agreement and fitting the project into the states budget would take time, but there was a strong sense of optimism about the proposals future.
With programs like the states current Tennessee Promise already underway, local students could use the new learning center to earn training and credentials in a variety of programs. The size of the building would provide ample room for vocational labs that could be shared by both TCAT and Northeast. Rep. Hill was also excited to explain that TCAT, in particular, actively approaches businesses in and around the community to help train, fill, and expand the local workforce, a factor that can go a long way in strengthening employment in rural areas like Johnson County.
Following that announcement, it was the commissions turn to pose questions to Hill, mainly involving the new state law which will no longer allow the county road department to do even basic maintenance on cemetery roads at the time of a funeral. A service that the county has provided for decades, the commission has been exploring every avenue to work with the state but have come up with no solutions thus far. Passing a private act to exclude the county is not a possibility, leaving an amendment or alteration to the state law as the only course of action.
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