By: Marlana Ward
Freelance WriterAll commissioners were present as the monthly Johnson County Commission meeting took place on August 17, 2017. The evening’s agenda included regular commission business as well as a look at a future lighting situation for all county-run buildings and possible action to increase tourism within Johnson County.
Among regular business attended were to the actions to accept July’s meeting minutes, approval of a county bond for Willie DeBord as county coroner, approval of the retaining of two library board members, and approval of notary candidates.
County Purchasing Agent Dustin Shearin took to the podium to present the main item of discussion for the night. The county is in need of switching outdated fluorescent light fixtures and bulbs to the new, more energy efficient LED bulbs. Shearin reported that he had sent bid requests to companies that specialize in helping businesses and government agencies in making the change to more modern lighting.
Commissioners had previously been given a packet of information including the bid result from TEU Services. While the TEU proposed contract would include no upfront costs for the county’s change to LED lighting, it did come with a maintenance agreement which would be binding for seven years.
The proposal from TEU included cost and savings estimates for the court house, solid waste transfer station, county jail, election commission office, and the senior center. The price comparison given
included the total cost before lighting upgrades at $3,338,354.88 versus the forecasted cost of $2,733,468.36 that includes the monthly maintenance fee paid to TEU. These figures show a projected savings of $604,886.52 over the seven-year contract term. One caveat that Shearin shared was that any monetary incentives given to the county by the REA or other such energy provider would be paid to TEU as set forth in the terms of the contract.
Shearin shared with the commission that he had been in contact with another government agency in Campbell County, Texas, given as a reference by TEU and that they seemed pleased with their work and results. Additional inquiries made by Shearing to other past customers of the company went unanswered.
County Commissioner George Lowe inquired as to why not all county buildings were included in the proposal and Shearin assured that the additional buildings could be added to the contract and prices would be recalculated to include the additional costs. A motion was made and unanimously agreed upon for the decision to be postponed until updated estimates could be given.
From the public sector, Daniel Dugger, of Shady Valley Country Store presented commissioners with a plan to have the portion of Highway 421 that passes over Shady Mountain and Holston Mountain officially named “The Snake”. While the mountain pass has been going by the moniker for several years now, Dugger explained that an official designation by the state recognizing the popular stretch of switchbacks and mountain views could benefit not only Shady Valley but the rest of Johnson County as well.
Dugger stated that his wife had been in contact with State Representative Timothy Hill and that he had spoken favorably of the idea. Hill expressed his willingness to present the idea at the state level once Johnson and Sullivan Counties had made an official statement of support for the plan. The motion was made and unanimously approved to have County Attorney Perry Stout draft the appropriate paperwork and move forward with the naming effort.
The previously discussed EMS agreement between medical treatment providers and transport providers was discussed briefly. It was determined to again table any votes regarding the situation until further communications took place between the hospital, nursing home, prison, county officials, and EMS.
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