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Revitalization takes center stage at county meeting

By Bethany Anderson
Freelance Writer

On Thursday, August 15, the Johnson County Commission met to discuss this month’s issues and make necessary decisions. The only absent member was Joey Norris, but because they had the needed quorum, the meeting continued.
The meeting was dominated by public comments from a resident disappointed with the current state of Mountain City who pleaded with the commissioners to bring more stores to town.
The main issue was that due to health concerns, some older residents cannot go out of town to get some of the items needed. Since such items are not available at local stores, the council was urged commission was urged to work on bringing more shopping options to the region.
County Mayor Mike Taylor replied, “I share those sentiments and agree with those comments.”
Taylor also added that he has been “in talks” with several retail chains about the possibility of coming to Johnson County. According to him, most retail outlets will only consider coming to the area if traffic significantly increases in the area, but Dollar General is currently “looking” at Shady Valley as a possible location for an upcoming store.
When asked about the revitalization of downtown and support for current businesses around town, Taylor replied, “I know there’s a grant for downtown revitalization, but as far as the city and downtown area goes, that’s in the hands of the city government.”
As it continued, the meeting shifted to talk of needed repairs for the courthouse building.
Taylor mentioned that he had met with Tom Shanks and “his crews” to conduct tests on the roof. It was decided that the building will need 3,300 square feet of new roofing. Estimates were given to replace the roof both in keeping the current skylights and with removing them.
To repair or replace the existing skylights would cost roughly $2,000 peach, so the recommendation was to remove them.
Taylor also mentioned that he had met with Johnson Controls to go over the courthouse’s HVAC system. There are various repairs needed to get the systems functioning optimally, but not as many as initially thought.
There will be meetings at Mayor Taylor’s office on August 29 at 11 a.m. and September 10 at 2 p.m. for further discussion of the matters.
Commissioner Megan McEwen shared some thoughts about her recent trip to Washington DC where she met with the federal level of commission directors. She talked of an app that would help to show areas in need of better broadband service more accurately.
McEwen mentioned a bill under consideration that would make it necessary for pre-conviction inmates’ medical needs to be paid for by their own insurance providers until a conviction was imposed.
The commission then went on to discuss the approval of a Jail Construction
Committee. Members include Scott Mast, Rick Snyder, Jerry Gentry, Bill
Adams, Jerry Grindstaff,
and Tommy Poore. The
proposal passed unanimously with the first meeting
is to be announced at a later date.
Mayor Taylor said, “We’re not ready to turn dirt just yet, but we need to have a committee in place for future projects.”
Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester was to
present an update on possible ankle monitoring in the county. Although he was pulled away for another matter and unable to attend, Johnson County Bailiff Key was there to give the update in his place.
Key said, “He (Sheriff Tester) is in talks about ankle monitoring and will get a report put together for
County Attorney Perry Stout replied, “Unless the criminal court judges are willing to take that leap with us, I don’t know if we have it in the budget.”
McEwen asked, “How accurate are they really?”
Stout answered, “They’ve come a long way, but ultimately, it’s up to the judges.”
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