County Commission Discusses Ag Center, Renaming of Courthouse

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   The Wayne County Board of Commissioners met in regular session on Monday, April 19th, 2021. County Executive Jim Mangubat presided over the meeting. Commissioners in attendance were Herbert Brewer, Tom Mathis, Phillip Casteel, Vickie Petty, Stephen Pevahouse, Tim Prater, Kathryn Staggs, Sherrie Powers, Mary Lauren Garner, Tim Powell, and Rickey Kelley. Also in attendance were County Clerk Stan Horton and County Attorney Andy Yarbrough. Commissioners John McDonald, David Martin, and Katherine Reeves were absent.

   Commissioner Kelley first made a motion to approve the minutes of the previous commission meeting. Commissioner Prater seconded, and the minutes were approved. Commissioner Kelley then made a motion seconded by Commissioner Garner to approve the minutes from the various committee meetings, and those minutes were approved as well. 

   County Clerk Horton presented the following to serve as notaries with approved bonds: Jeff Minatra and Theresa Parent. Commissioner Powell made a motion to approve, and the motion was seconded by Commissioner Pevahouse. The notaries were unanimously approved.

   Commissioner Mathis made a motion to approve the budget amendments presented by the Water Department, Schools, and Highway Department, which were previously approved by the Budget Committee. Commissioner Prater seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.

   Next on the agenda was an update on the Ag Center. Jeff Minatra told the commission that only one bid had come in for the Ag Center construction, and that bid was $1,082,000.00. This amount is way over what the commission had previously approved for the project. Following a brief discussion, Minatra said that he would reach out to the company that submitted the bid and see if they would be willing to reduce it, and possibly contact other companies who may be interested in submitting a bid.

  An update on the Collinwood Medical Building was next on the agenda. The commission was informed that the existing clinic will have to be demolished before the new clinic is built, which is a change in plans.

   Under new business on the agenda, Dwain Moore, a resident of Houston Smith Road, presented a petition to the commission signed by many residents in the area. The petition concerns the need to make repairs and updates to Houston Smith Road. No action was taken by the commission at this time.

   Commissioner Brewer next made a motion to put the Industrial Park mowing up for the bid process. The commissioners discussed the fact that the current contractor for mowing has expressed that they may not be interested in continuing to mow the Industrial Park. Commissioner Garner seconded the motion. After further discussion regarding the mowing contract that is already in place, Commissioners Brewer and Garner rescinded their motions.

   Next, Wayne County JECDB Director Rena Purdy explained the HOME Grant, which could possibly provide funding for home improvements in the county. Commissioner Powers made a motion to approve a resolution to apply for the HOME Grant. Commissioner Staggs seconded the motion, and it was unanimously approved.

   Ms. Purdy then inquired about the asking price per acre at the Industrial Park. She said that an industry has contacted her that may be interested in purchasing twenty acres. County Attorney Yarbrough confirmed that the original covenant has not expired, so the price of $5,000.00 per acre is still in effect. County Executive Mangubat said that this is a question and discussion that needs to be brought before the Building Committee.

   County Executive Mangubat then asked Commissioner Mathis to speak concerning the Highway 641 expansion. Commissioner Mathis said that anyone who has concerns about the expansion needs to attend the upcoming meetings.

   Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Director Christine Chapman next addressed the commission regarding questions that she had received from local citizens after the recent tornado that struck the Highway 99/Natural Bridge area. She said that some of the questions she received were, “Where can we go for shelter?” “Why haven’t we been contacted by the Red Cross?” “Where can we get things such as food and baby formula if we need it?” Ms. Chapman said that she was concerned as to why the county does not have a contingency plan in place for emergencies like this. The commission said that EMA Director Robert Farris would be the contact person for these questions.

   Next on the agenda, Sheriff Shane Fisher presented Commissioners Powers, Mathis, and McDonald to serve on the Workhouse Committee. Commissioner Kelley made a motion to approve the committee members, seconded by Commissioner Staggs. The motion was unanimously approved.

   Director of Schools Marlon Davis addressed the commission next. He said that school enrollment in the county had gone up since August 2020 from 2,164 to 2,209, and the number of distance learners had gone down from 360 to 258. He also said that funds from the SRO Grant will carry over into the next school year, and schools will continue to have the School Resource Officers in the next school year.

   Mr. Davis went on to say that there will be learning loss summer camps during the months of June and July for students who need additional help with things they may have missed during the months of COVID, distance learning, and the schools’ skip schedule.

   Mr. Davis then said that the feeding program will once again be held this summer, which will be helpful for any students who would like to participate.

   Boyd Cottages Assisted Living Director Gina Skelton then came before the commission. She first gave a brief update on the facility, stating that they have gained two new residents, bringing the number of residents up to 26. There are two open rooms at this time.

   Ms. Skelton then explained that the facility had recently experienced plumbing and flooding issues, and they have had to pay quite a bit for the repairs. She requested to defer the monthly $4,000.00 payments from the facility to the county for the months of April, May, and June. Commissioner Mathis made a motion to approve the deferral, and Commissioner Kelley seconded the motion. The motion passed on roll call vote, with Commissioner Casteel casting the only “no” vote.

  Commissioner Mathis next made a motion to approve a resolution presented by Clerk and Master Chassity Kelly. Commissioner Powers seconded the motion, and it was passed unanimously.

   Sheriff Fisher came before the commission, informing them that TDOC had recently taken 20 state inmates from the Wayne County Jail in order to raise the population in state facilities. He said he expects they will take more away in the future. He explained that the removal of the state inmates will greatly reduce the amount of money coming in from the state to the county, which has been approximately $1 million per year in recent years.

   Sheriff Fisher then presented a grant for approval that would fully fund the purchase of an x-ray machine with no match from the county. Commissioner Garner made a motion to approve, and Commissioner Powers seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

   Commissioner Powers next made a motion to approve the bidding process for fence installation around the Wayne County Jail. Commissioner Garner seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.

   Next was further discussion regarding the EMA Director position. Commissioner Powers suggested that a job description should be itemized and put in order when the time comes to fill the position if and when Mr. Farris retires.

   Highway Superintendent Chuck Moser then gave a brief report on his department, including bridges that are under repair now and those that will be repaired in the near future. Mr. Moser said that wanted to thank every agency who gave assistance after the recent tornado. He said that everyone, including his department, put forth an outstanding effort.

   Solid Waste Director Robert Hayes next presented his departmental report via virtual meeting. Lindsay Ross from Solid Waste was present at the meeting, and informed the commission about the upcoming cleanup days at the Tennessee River in Clifton.

   Commissioner Powers spoke to the commission regarding the Kid’s Place Child Advocacy Center looking to expand here in Wayne County. She said that this would be presented soon to the Building Committee.

   Commissioner Mathis next made a motion to change the name of the Wayne County Courthouse to the Wayne County Administrative Building. The commission discussed the confusion that has occurred since the courtrooms have moved to the Criminal Justice Center. Commissioner Prater seconded the motion. Following further discussion, Commissioner Mathis rescinded his motion in order for more research to be done regarding the building being listed as a Historical Landmark. Commissioner Prater also rescinded his motion.

   Commissioner Mathis told the commission that the county needs to make sure the contracted mowers do a presentable job as they mow along the sides of state routes while in Wayne County.

   Commissioner Powers made a motion to recess the meeting and reconvene on April 27th at 7:00 p.m. Commissioner Garner seconded the motion, and the motion passed with Commissioner Kelley casting the only “no” vote.

   The meeting reconvened and was called to order by County Executive Jim Mangubat on Tuesday, April 27th. Commissioners present in person were Herbert Brewer, Mary Lauren Garner, Tom Mathis, Stephen Pevahouse, John McDonald, Phillip Casteel, Tim Powell, Vickie Petty, Sherrie Powers, Kathryn Staggs, and Katherine Reeves. Commissioner Ricky Kelley was present virtually. Commissioners David Martin and Tim Prater were absent.

   County Executive Mangubat began with a statement concerning the budget preparation “as was passed in the March 2021 meeting of the Governing Body of Wayne County.” It was voted on and passed to hire an outside person to prepare the budget document, although he and his staff have presented a proposed budget to the Budget Committee and full commission to review.

   County Attorney Yarbrough briefed the commission concerning the resolution which was adopted in March concerning the plan to hire an outside person to prepare the Budget Document. Commissioner Garner made a motion to rescind the resolution as voted upon on March 15, 2021. Commissioner Reeves, who seconded the previous motion, stated that she wished to rescind her second as well. The motion to rescind the resolution passed unanimously on roll call vote.

   Next, Commissioner Reeves made a motion to approve County Executive Mangubat to prepare and present the budget to the commission. Commissioner Brewer seconded the motion. Commissioner McDonald stated that he would like to amend the motion by adding that should the need arise to hire an outside person to prepare the budget due to unforeseen issues, the commission would be prepared to do so. Commissioner Brewer seconded the amendment. Following further discussion, Commissioner McDonald made a motion to rescind the amendment. Commissioner Brewer seconded the motion to rescind. County Clerk Horton called a roll call vote for the original motion to approve County Executive Mangubat to prepare the budget. The motion passed on roll call vote with Commissioner Casteel casting the only “no” vote.

   Jeff Minatra then spoke to the commission regarding the reduced bid for the Ag Center. The bid that was previously submitted was reduced by removing and scaling back some expenditures. The bid now stands at $865,000.00. This bid would not include a paved parking area or a pavilion, and other costs such as flooring would be sealed concrete in place of finished flooring. Commissioner Kelley made a motion to reject the bid due to the inflated cost. Commissioner Brewer seconded the motion, and the motion passed on roll call vote with Commissioner Powell casting the only “no” vote.

   Commissioner Powell then made a motion to waive the cost for a water/tap meter at the Ag Center site. Commissioner Reeves seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.

   With no further business to come before the commission, Commissioner Garner made a motion to adjourn. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Reeves, and the meeting was adjourned.