County Commission approves grant; names bridge after Sgt. Davis

By Megan R. Harrell

   County Commission Chairman Truman Clark's vote broke the tie in a home grant decision made at the Carter County Commission regular session meeting yesterday. Commissioners were split on the grant that could bring as much as $500,000 to the county. The money will go towards the repair of low income homes.
   Carter County is required to match every $500,000 of the grant with $25,000. The trade off is a good one, but the initial $25,000 is hard to come by in a county that has revenue shortfall issues to deal with.
   The home grant will go toward fixing up substandard homes in the county. The First Tennessee Development Committee will be in charge of choosing where the funds will go. Homes will be surveyed by a team to determine whether or not they meet the guidelines for the grant. "I allow the administrators and engineers to make the recommendation list of homes," Clark said. "I believe that Stoney Creek, Happy Valley and Central are not eligible for the grant."
   Even though Clark is concerned about where the $25,000 will come from, he still voted in favor of the home grant. He stated that he had earmarked the contingency fund as a source of the money, but is not sure whether there will be finances available in it when the time comes.
   Commissioners in favor of the grant saw the possibility of increased revenue through property taxes. The improvements made on the homes will increase their value considerably, and the homeowners will have to pay more in property taxes.
   A three-person committee was formed to oversee the home grant. Lynn Tipton, Joann Blankenship and R.I. Miller will serve on the committee.
   The Commission also adopted a resolution tribute to honor Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald "Donnie" Davis. The resolution requested the State of Tennessee, Department of Transportation name the bridge on Hwy. 400 South, known as the Bristol Bridge, after Davis. The Commission voted unanimously in favor of the resolution. Members of the Davis family were present to see the resolution adopted.
   Davis died on Dec. 5, 2001, in friendly fire near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
   In other business, the Commission passed a fee for dealers that dump tires at the county landfill. The fee is the result of the state cutting the county's tire disposal grant to $22,000 for the year. That amount has already been used for shredding the tires that were at the landfill. The remainder of the funds used to dispose of tires will come from the dealers.
   Dealers will be charged $75 per ton of tires that they dump at the landfill. The Commission is requesting that dealers keep that manifest given to them by the state, in case the tire disposal funds are reinstated. "If the state grant money goes up from $22,000, then we will take it and reimburse the tire dealers that are being charged," Clark said.
   Ed Buckles, Solid Waste Director, has been charging dealers since Jan. 1 for dumping tires.
   The Commission also approved the modification of a leasing agreement the county has with the First Tennessee Private Industry Council. The original Lease Agreement was drawn up in June of 1995.
   The modification passed yesterday removed the option for the Lessee to purchase the property from the agreement. It also reduced the amount of rental payment from $82,000 to $41,000 until the Lease Agreement ends in July of 2011.
   The rental payments were decreased because the Lessee needs to make major repairs on the building that would make rental payments more difficult.