Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Road department faces multiple budget problems

Linda Frei, owner of Cherokee Springs Dog Grooming in Laurel Bloomery, gave a presentation to the county commission at Thursday’s meeting concerning animal control in the county. Frei has recently been dealing with several loose pit bulls that have attacked and killed her livestock, including show breeds of rabbits and a blue ribbon horse and colt. Frei passed around grisly pictures of the damage that the dogs had done to her animals and posed the question of “What if these had been your animals or even your children?”
This danger proved to be Frei’s central argument for the creation of animal control in Johnson County, citing the need to protect citizens and the pets they love. Frei suggested the implementation of required dog licensing as a means of funding animal control in the county along with state and federal grants. Listing the benefits of animal control Frei explained new microchip technology that allows pets to be returned to their owners when found and which could be utilized by animal control officers.
Several concerns were raised by commission members including County Mayor Larry Potter who informed Frei that he had been looking into animal control and trying to find funding since he had taken office. Representatives from the state have not been cooperative with Potter’s efforts and so far nothing substantial has turned up.
Currently the county uses the Johnson County sheriff’s department to handle animal control cases. The county also has a contract with the city animal control to handle emergency situations and to house animals that have been picked up. Frei finished her presentation following a discussion concerning the details of her specific case with the sheriffs department.
Also presenting at the meeting were Hugh and Loretta Slemp who addressed an issue with houses that are quarantined following the discovery of a methamphetamine operation. The Slemps currently live near such a home and were curious if the county had anyway to push the cleanup of these residences.
Currently if the homeowner continues making payments the house can stand in a quarantined condition indefinitely. A house that has had a meth lab cannot be entered until the appropriate authorities have swabbed and disposed of all contaminated material. County attorney Bill Cockett informed Mr. and Mrs. Slemp that this is a state issue where the county really has no power. Cockett went on to say that the best course of action would be to get in touch with State Representative Scotty Campbell and Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, which he volunteered to do.
Road superintendent Tony Jennings presented several pieces of bad news when he informed the commission that his department was facing vast financial shortfalls in several key areas. Currently the road department has 36 miles of road that are in need of repaving, a number that has the potential of rising to 50 miles over the next year. At the same time, the state has competed inspection of the various bridges around the county and have found 10 to be in poor shape. On top of all this the federal government is now mandating that all street signs have to be changed to a new retro reflective look, at a cost to the county of approximately $300,000.
Jennings cited the huge increases in the cost of materials as a big problem for the department, which now faces these large projects with little to no funding currently available. No specifics were discussed, but Jennings provided the commission with a packet detailing the individual bridges and roads in need of repair. If the bridges are not brought up to standard the state has the right to close them.
The commission also approved two resolutions at the meeting. The first motion established a committee to oversee redistricting for the county. The committee will be made up of Larry Potter, Mike Long, Freddy Phipps, Bill Adams, John Brookshire, Darlene Atwood, and Tom Reece and will handle any changes that may be made to the current layout of commission districts for the county. Although no major changes are expected, several years ago there was a reduction in the number of county commissioners from the maximum 25 down to the current 15. Discussing the issue of whether to increase or reduce this year, the commissioners agreed that 15 were a suitable number for the county.
The other resolution of the night was for the authorization of an application for a litter and trash-collecting grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. This would be a renewal of the grant that keeps the litter control position open in the county from year to year.
Approval was also granted for several appointments on the library board. Many of the board’s members will be the same this year with the notable loss of Todd Eastin and the consequential appointment of Belinda Kiener in his place.
The last event of the night was a presentation on economic development by Millie Calloway with TVA. Coming all the way from Nashville, Calloway gave a brief version of the economic development class that she presents to various governing bodies around the state. The meeting adjourned following the very informative workshop.