School Nurses, Telemedicine Lauded in Polk County, TN Schools

Polk County Coordinated School Health recently celebrated School Nurses Week and providing information on programs in the Polk County School System. The school nurses are a vital part of the school program and are available to help students who get sick at school or who might be injured. One of the major benefits in the Polk County School System is the Tele-Medicine Program that allows students to be seen by a physician at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger using the equipment in our schools.
Telemedicine
A child who is sick or hurt can get medical care without the parent having to pick them up and take them to the doctor. Parents who want to take advantage of this program must fill out a consent form.
This program allows a child who is sick or hurt to be seen by having the nurse to connect with the center in Chattanooga by using technology she has available. The physician can make a diagnosis and call any prescription into the pharmacy indicated on the application.
Telemedicine2
Shannon Allen is the nurse at Copper Basin Elementary School and has a very successful program going there with fourteen students using the program last month. Kathy Silvers is the new nurse working with Tele-Med at Benton Elementary\Chilhowee Middle School, and South Polk Elementary School. Two students have been seen at Benton Elementary School this month. This program is funded by Children’s Hospital of Erlanger, Ronald McDonald Charities, Tennova Healthcare and grants from the United Way. Ocoee Regional Health Corporation generously donated a telemedicine site for Polk County Schools.
Telemedicine3
The program spans 3 school systems including Bradley County, Cleveland City, and Polk County Schools. Students from Pre-K-12th grade and school staff members are eligible to be treated at the clinics via telemedicine during the school day in Polk County Schools or visit the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in Cleveland. Enrollment in our school system is not mandatory. Students from Pre-K to 12th grade are eligible. Insurances are accepted. This program is a free service for Tenncare and the uninsured. Staff members of the school systems are also eligible for services. Telemedicine applications must be completed and signed by the students’ parent/guardian and returned to their teacher/nurse.

Parents are welcome but not required to be present at a visit. This is convenient for parents that work. No payments are due at the time of service. The practitioner will contact the parent directly when the visit is completed. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile has been available to Polk County School students for a few years. The addition of telemedicine will help us provide quality healthcare coverage to the students in the school setting and provide services through the school nurses. The partnerships represented will continually help to increase school based health service programs for Polk County schools.

Savannah Oaks hosts Agri-Tourism Sampler

Tourism partners in Southeast Tennessee gathered to celebrate agri-tourism in the region with an Agri-Tourism Sampler on Tuesday, April 12, at Savannah Oaks Winery in Delano, Tenn. The Sampler took place prior to the quarterly meeting of the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association, part of the Southeast Tennessee Development District working to promote tourism within the 10 counties of region.
Agritourism Sampler-Kacie Fiber
The Sampler was open to agri-tourism partners working in the region to merge agriculture and tourism through experiences, produce and products authentic to Tennessee. Individuals and businesses were invited to set up displays and provide samples to showcase their projects and venues to other tourism partners within the region.
The following agri-tourism businesses participated in the event:
Julie Walker, AgCentral Co-op (Athens)
Diane Ravens, Appalachian Bee (Ocoee)
Andrea Jaeger, Crabtree Farms (Chattanooga)
Kacie Lynn, Fiber Farm (Tracy City)
Bill Collins, Hiwassee River Weddings (Delano)
Mayfield Dairy’s Visitor Center (Athens) – ice cream sandwiches donated
Mack Haynes, Rafting Goat Cheese (Old Fort)
Jim & Jeannie Ruthem, Pathways Studio Harps
Sandy Hood, Sannie Mae’s Heirloom Foods (Benton)
Betty and Bruce Davis, Savannah Oaks Winery (Delano)
JD Dalton, Tsali Notch Vineyard (Madisonville)
University of the South at Sewanee, University Farm (Sewanee)
Claudia Walker, artist (Sweetwater)

Bruce and Betty Davis, owners of Savannah Oaks Winery in Delano, Tenn., donated the use of their event pavilion for the event. Nearly 50 people from across the region were in attendance, including Polk County Mayor Hoyt Firestone, Sequatchie County Executive Keith Cartwright, and Beth Jones, Executive Director of the Southeast Tennessee Development District. Polk County Mayor Hoyt Firestone welcomed the group to the county and offered his support of agri-tourism in the region.Agritourism Sampler-Jenni

To learn more about tourism in Southeast Tennessee, visit www.SoutheastTennessee.com or contact Jenni Veal, Tourism Coordinator with the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association, at jveal@sedev.org.

Ducktown Basin Museum to get Interpretive Signs, Brochures via USDA Grant

The Ducktown Basin Museum is among several organizations in the region to receive Rural Business Development Grant Money. USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode visited the Museum last Wednesday to award the grant, which includes funds for interpretive signs, maps, and brochures. Rural Development funds will be used to support targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in designated rural areas.

The Ducktown Basin Museum received a $14,630 RBDG grant and $7,130 Community Facilities grant to install interpretive signs and print maps and brochures that will be used to guide visitors on a trail along museum grounds as they view historical artifacts. Because tourism is a major industry in Polk County, this project will benefit surrounding businesses in the area.

The Ducktown Basin Museum is located on the historic Burra Burra mine site, which was the headquarters for Tennessee Copper Company and Cities Service mining operations from 1899 through 1975. The 16 structures remaining on the site include virtually all of the original mine buildings and outbuildings except for the headframe, which was demolished after the closing of the mine in 1958. Museum Director Ken Rush said he thought the signs would enhance the experience for people who visit the museum, but would also be useful if someone comes when the museum is closed.

Touring the "mine" at Ducktown Basin Museum.

Touring the “mine” at Ducktown Basin Museum.

“If they come when we are closed, they can walk the grounds and learn a little about things from the signs, then come back again when we are open,” Rush said. Rush said the Museum Board had discussed doing the 33 signs themselves, one at a time, but it was not something they were able to afford.
While on site, Goode, along with Area Director Joe Woody and other members of Rural Development, toured the Museum and spoke with Rush about how it came into being. Rush explained how a grassroots organization started the Museum in 1978. He said their first location was in downtown Ducktown.
According to Rush, the Company had abandoned the property where the Museum now sits, and the Museum Board approached Cities Services about utilizing it. He said they moved onto the 17-acre site in 1982.
The site was acquired by the state in 1988 and became a state-owned historic property. The land and buildings are owned by the state, and the non-profit Museum administers the Burra Burra Complex. Rush said the Tennessee Historical Commission provides a portion of their annual budget, and have to approve anything done on the property. The site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983.

Rush said 4800 people had come through the Museum last year during regular work hours. He said a little under 7000 visiter all together, including those who came during special events and festivals, customer appreciation days, or the annual yard sale. USDA Rural Development is moving investments to rural America with housing, business and infrastructure loans and grants to create jobs and strengthen rural economies with an emphasis to assist areas of persistent poverty.  Since 2009, the agency has assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 230 communities in all 95 counties of Tennessee, investing more than $6.6 billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees, and grants.
For more information on USDA Rural Development programs available in Southeastern Tennessee contact the Chattanooga Area Office at 423-756-2239.  Visit us online at www.rd.usda.gov/TN.
 dtown  basin meseum presentation

$2.50 raise requested for Polk County, TN government employees

Polk County’s Budget Committee met Tuesday, April 12 to begin work on the county budget for 2016-17. Multiple county employees were on hand to discuss the county’s pay scale and request a $2.50 raise. County Budget Director Kelley Morgan said office holders had not turned in their budgets yet because they were waiting to see if they should input the raises. Morgan said raises had been talked about last year, but commissioners opted to give a one-time bonus. She said the county’s pay scale had gone up only $2856 in the last 20 years. County employees currently start at $8.08; the requested adjustment to the pay scale would start employees at $10.58. Part-time employees would get a 75¢ raise.

Amy Ledford in The Clerk of Courts office told commissioners it was hard for them to find two people to fill recent vacancies. She said Connie Clark interviewed four who turned down the job because of the starting pay. “I have been there since 2006 and my bring home is $503 every two weeks. It’s hard to make it on that,” Amy said, adding, “Thank the good Lord above my husband has a good job.”
Amy said they get talked to like they are dogs and recently had a man threaten to shoot them. She said they may be in the justice center, but there is not always a deputy there. She said they were all willing to come to work because they love their jobs.

Karen Bracken, 2nd District Commissioner, said they did not know what the total impact would be on the budget. Morgan said it would be about $300,000. John Hoyt Pippenger, 1st District Commissioner, said when he did the math it looked more like half a million. William Bracken said that did not include FICA or contributions to retirement, and another 15% should be added.

On Wednesday, Morgan said the discrepancy in her amount and Pippenger’s amount was due to the difference in pay scale for Sheriff’s Department employees. She said they had a higher pay scale to begin with, and the Sheriff was asking for $1.25 raise. Morgan said her numbers were correct.
Road Department employees are not included in the raise, as they have their own pay scale.
Daniel Deal, 3rd District Commissioner, said they definitely needed to figure out the right number, but that he was for giving raises. He said it would be hard for him to make it for that amount of money, adding the commission had to make sure they could do it. Deal said he was in support of raises last year. Pippenger said he wished they had done it last year.

Bracken said there was an additional $56,000 for sanitation in this year’s budget. She said there would be $89,000 in debt service for the roof loan, as well. She said they could save about $100,000 by dropping to a level 2 calculation for the schools, which were down 2.3% in membership. Pippenger said they still had to deal with Maintenance of Effort; Bracken said they would not have to.
Pippenger said new regulations on internal controls in county offices also meant the county had to add 3-4 employees. He anticipated the addition of new employees and raises would mean a potential property tax increase of 18¢. Morgan said she was going to have to take over the accounting for the Road Department, pointing out they would not get the salary from the Road Department to do it. She said there were two employees there and she did not mind taking one but she would not take both.

“I’m not going to be over someone that makes more than me,” Morgan said. She said there were all kinds of issues to hash out, but a plan had to be in place by June 30th. Morgan said the county no longer had the option not to do it. Buster Lewis, 1st District Commissioner, said a meeting with Gary Hayes to explain the changes was a waste of time because he did not give them the correct information.
Morgan said she would need at least two full-time positions added to her office to do the segregation of duties. She said there was talk of moving that office downstairs in the courthouse to make more room.

Kandi Bramlett, Register of Deeds, said she would not have to add a position because she was already budgeted for a part-time position that was not filled. Connie Clark said they would not need to hire someone right now. The Trustee’s office would likely need at least one additional part-time worker.
Mike Curbow, 2nd District Commissioner, said he was in support of a raise but did not know if they could do that much. Deal asked if the employees would be against $2.00; Amy said it was a slap in the face to not get raises. She said the 35¢ they had gotten over the years was actually a loss considering increases in insurance. Pippenger pointed out that 80% of insurance increases were paid by the county.

Amanda Hill in the County Executive’s Office said being a single parent at Level 2 was hard. She said she could barely cover the bills and felt like the employees were worth the $2.50.
Bracken said she did not think they were in disagreement, but commissioners had to look to see where the money would come from. She said giving them a raise would mean they have to pay more in taxes. Curbow said they were also looking at people who were low-income and potentially faced a 19-20¢ increase.

Deal said he was for the raise and they would have to work it out. He said he had never voted for a property tax increase, but there will come a time when they have to do it. He said he was not worried about getting re-elected and he wouldn’t do the job the county employees did for the money they got.
Lewis said he had been talking for years about kicking the can down the road, and it looked like they were about at that pile of cans.

Morgan asked if the office holders should put the $2.50 in their budgets or not. She said she was not going to go back and forth putting raises in and taking them out over and over like they did last year. Pippenger said he was not against it, but wanted to make sure the county could fund it. He said in the past commissioners got budgets that showed amounts with raises and without. Keith Barker with the Sheriff’s Department said they were all making less money now than ever because of insurance increases. He said they would gladly take anything the county could afford. Hill said she was told last year the employees did not fight for raises and that’s why they got bonuses. “That’s why we’re all here,” Hill said.

Bramlett told the board they had a difficult job and appreciated them. Deal made a motion to allow the $2.50 to be added to the budgets so they could see if it would work. Curbow said they would hope for the best. Mark Bishop, Greg Brooks, Sheena Gaddis, and Daren Waters were absent. Buster Lewis was re-elected Chairman of the Budget Committee at the beginning of the meeting.

Haynes named Teacher of the Year

tch of yr-haynesPolk County School Board members met Monday night at PCHS for their regular monthly meeting. Along with the approval of school handbook changes and adoption of textbooks, the board discussed a contract for internet services. Teacher of the Year plaques were presented for each school, and Sarah Haynes from South Polk Elementary School was named Teacher of the Year for the county, as well as the Southeast Tennessee Region.

At Copper Basin High School, Keith Millard was named Teacher of the Year. tch of yr-millardDr. Jason Bell said Millard was humble, but very deserving. Melissa Fugate was named Teacher of the Year for Polk County High School. tch of yr-fugateBell said he was blown away by Fugate’s enthusiasm and said she had gone above and beyond for the drama program.

tch of yr-maughanAt Copper Basin Elementary, Gena Maughan was named, and cited for her ability to successfully teach math to elementary school students. Courtney Pippenger was named Teacher of the Year at Chilhowee Middle School. Pippenger was lauded for spending nearly 24/7 at the school and for caring for the students.tch of yr-pippenger Benton Elementary did not namr a Teacher of the Year..

A banner presentation was also made to Ron German, Principal of Polk County High School, in honor of PCHS being named a Reward School. German said it was not his award, it belonged to the teachers and staff. Ryan Goodman presented the banner, commenting that he was proud to have attended and taught school at PCHS.

School Board members agreed to join a Nashville Metro consortium for internet service at all the schools. Director of Schools Dr. James Jones explained that the school system was previously in a Sweetwater consortium, but it has now dissolved. According to Jones, in order to get government funding for internet at the schools, it is necessary to be in a consortium. He said the Nashville Metro consortium contained 137 school systems and had never been turned down for funding. A problem arose last year with the Sweetwater consortium not getting funding, resulting in a lawsuit that is now at the federal level. Jones said the cost for the internet would be about the same, but the services would be upgraded.

The board also heard from Jeff Burchfiel, who talked about recent victories by the auto mechanics team during a competition held in Athens. Burchfiel said the school always participated in the Ford AAA competition, but it no longer exists.

Springtown Precinct may be next on Chopping Block

Election Commissioners met Monday, April 11 in Ducktown to talk about budget needs, the cost of an upcoming seminar, and the possibility of combining Springtown and Greasy Creek voting precincts. No decisions were made. Another meeting will be held next Monday to decide what to do.

Election Administrator Steve Gaddis said the fees for an upcoming training seminar have gone up. He said the cost would be $325 per person. Gaddis said he had been ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ in his budget already because the county commission cut it last year. He said he could not see any way for all the members of the election commission to attend the seminar, but they could afford four people.
Freeman Curbow said the gripe with the county commission was that they all go to the seminars. Mac York said he had talked to several of the county commissioners, and believed the problem and the reason for budget cuts was the extra office personnel. Gaddis said that had been cut, too. He said he didn’t think county commissioners had the authority to control either one.

Gaddis said he submits a budget every year and says if cuts need to be made to call him and he will come down to do it, but they never do. He said Mike Curbow and Kelley Morgan got together when they knew both he and Sheena Gaddis were not there in order to cut his budget. Pete Davis asked how they could cut election workers when they legally had to have them for the election. York pointed out the office workers were coming out of that same line.

Gaddis said the issue with Springtown Firehall as a voting precinct was the cost for the phone. He said they pay about $1500 a year to have phone service. He said they leave the phone on year-round rather than turn it off and on for each election, and the firehall has access to it but they still charge him a commercial rate to use the building. Anna Clark said they didn’t have phone service at Greasy Creek, either, but she was corrected. There is cell service at Greasy Creek. Clark asked why they didn’t just move Springtown to Greasy Creek. Freeman Curbow said that was a long way. Commissioners talked about the possibility of using the building at the Hiwassee River bridge near Webb’s.

York said the Turtletown precinct should now be considered a county building and would be paid by the county so it would not cost anything. He said they could also just use a cordless phone that was plugged in at the firehall next door. Gaddis said they had other issues with that building. York said he didn’t see anything wrong with it and that Gaddis was trying to disenfranchise the voters. Ron Oneal asked if they could put all three Basin-area precincts at Ducktown School. The commission will decide about the precincts and their budget on Monday, April 18 at 5 p.m.

$2.50 raise sought for Polk County, TN employees

Polk County’s Budget Committee met last Tuesday to begin work on the county budget for 2016-17. Multiple county employees were on hand to discuss the county’s pay scale and request a $2.50 raise. County Budget Director Kelley Morgan said office holders had not turned in their budgets yet because they were waiting to see if they should input the raises. Morgan said raises had been talked about last year, but commissioners opted to give a one-time bonus. She said the county’s pay scale had gone up only $2856 in the last 20 years. County employees currently start at $8.08; the requested adjustment to the pay scale would start employees at $10.58. Part-time employees would get a 75¢ raise. Amy Ledford in The Clerk of Courts office told commissioners it was hard for them to find two people to fill recent vacancies. She said Connie Clark interviewed four who turned down the job because of the starting pay.

“I have been there since 2006 and my bring home is $503 every two weeks. It’s hard to make it on that,” Amy said, adding, “Thank the good Lord above my husband has a good job.” Amy said they get talked to like they are dogs and recently had a man threaten to shoot them. She said they may be in the justice center, but there is not always a deputy there. She said they were all willing to come to work because they love their jobs.

Karen Bracken, 2nd District Commissioner, said they did not know what the total impact would be on the budget. Morgan said it would be about $300,000. John Hoyt Pippenger, 1st District Commissioner, said when he did the math it looked more like half a million. William Bracken said that did not include FICA or contributions to retirement, and another 15% should be added.

On Wednesday, Morgan said the discrepancy in her amount and Pippenger’s amount was due to the difference in pay scale for Sheriff’s Department employees. She said they had a higher pay scale to begin with, and the Sheriff was asking for $1.25 raise. Morgan said her numbers were correct.
Road Department employees are not included in the raise, as they have their own pay scale. Daniel Deal, 3rd District Commissioner, said they definitely needed to figure out the right number, but that he was for giving raises. He said it would be hard for him to make it for that amount of money, adding the commission had to make sure they could do it. Deal said he was in support of raises last year. Pippenger said he wished they had done it last year.

Bracken said there was an additional $56,000 for sanitation in this year’s budget. She said there would be $89,000 in debt service for the roof loan, as well. She said they could save about $100,000 by dropping to a level 2 calculation for the schools, which were down 2.3% in membership. Pippenger said they still had to deal with Maintenance of Effort; Bracken said they would not have to. Pippenger said new regulations on internal controls in county offices also meant the county had to add 3-4 employees. He anticipated the addition of new employees and raises would mean a potential property tax increase of 18¢. Morgan said she was going to have to take over the accounting for the Road Department, pointing out they would not get the salary from the Road Department to do it. She said there were two employees there and she did not mind taking one but she would not take both.

“I’m not going to be over someone that makes more than me,” Morgan said. She said there were all kinds of issues to hash out, but a plan had to be in place by June 30th. Morgan said the county no longer had the option not to do it. Buster Lewis, 1st District Commissioner, said a meeting with Gary Hayes to explain the changes was a waste of time because he did not give them the correct information. Morgan said she would need at least two full-time positions added to her office to do the segregation of duties. She said there was talk of moving that office downstairs in the courthouse to make more room.

Kandi Bramlett, Register of Deeds, said she would not have to add a position because she was already budgeted for a part-time position that was not filled. Connie Clark said they would not need to hire someone right now. The Trustee’s office would likely need at least one additional part-time worker.
Mike Curbow, 2nd District Commissioner, said he was in support of a raise but did not know if they could do that much. Deal asked if the employees would be against $2.00; Amy said it was a slap in the face to not get raises. She said the 35¢ they had gotten over the years was actually a loss considering increases in insurance. Pippenger pointed out that 80% of insurance increases were paid by the county.

Amanda Hill in the County Executive’s Office said being a single parent at Level 2 was hard. She said she could barely cover the bills and felt like the employees were worth the $2.50.
Bracken said she did not think they were in disagreement, but commissioners had to look to see where the money would come from. She said giving them a raise would mean they have to pay more in taxes. Curbow said they were also looking at people who were low-income and potentially faced a 19-20¢ increase. Deal said he was for the raise and they would have to work it out. He said he had never voted for a property tax increase, but there will come a time when they have to do it. He said he was not worried about getting re-elected and he wouldn’t do the job the county employees did for the money they got.

Lewis said he had been talking for years about kicking the can down the road, and it looked like they were about at that pile of cans. Morgan asked if the office holders should put the $2.50 in their budgets or not. She said she was not going to go back and forth putting raises in and taking them out over and over like they did last year. Pippenger said he was not against it, but wanted to make sure the county could fund it. He said in the past commissioners got budgets that showed amounts with raises and without.

Keith Barker with the Sheriff’s Department said they were all making less money now than ever because of insurance increases. He said they would gladly take anything the county could afford.
Hill said she was told last year the employees did not fight for raises and that’s why they got bonuses. “That’s why we’re all here,” Hill said. Bramlett told the board they had a difficult job and appreciated them.

Deal made a motion to allow the $2.50 to be added to the budgets so they could see if it would work. Curbow said they would hope for the best. Mark Bishop, Greg Brooks, Sheena Gaddis, and Daren Waters were absent. Buster Lewis was re-elected Chairman of the Budget Committee at the beginning of the meeting.

Brad Waldroup pleads guilty to 2006 kidnapping charges

A jury re-trial was avoided last week when Brad Waldroup pled guilty to aggravated kidnapping and especially aggravated kidnapping in criminal court. Waldrop was facing charges from a brutal attack in Greasy Creek in 2006 against his estranged wife and her best friend, who went to his house to drop off their kids.

Waldrop returned to court because an Appellate court reversed the 2009 aggravated kidnapping and especially aggravated kidnapping convictions against him in light of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s decision in State v. White. In White, the court set a new analysis to be undertaken when a defendant is indicted for both a form of kidnapping and another felony.

Waldroup’s plea agreement for the kidnapping charges netted him 23 years total – 8 years for aggravated kidnapping and 15 years for especially aggravated kidnapping. Especially aggravated kidnapping is a Class A felony, while aggravated kidnapping is Class B. Waldrop will serve 100% of the sentences, according to court documents.

A jury trial was held in March, 2009, where Waldroup faced charges of First Degree Felony murder, attempted first degree murder, and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping following events that occurred in October of 2006. His convictions were for voluntary manslaughter, attempted second degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and especially aggravated kidnapping. In 2009, then-Judge Carroll Ross sentenced Waldroup to 12 years for the aggravated kidnapping of Bradshaw, 20 years for the especially aggravated kidnapping of Penny Waldroup, 12 years for the attempted 2nd degree murder of Penny Waldroup, and six years for the voluntary manslaughter of Bradshaw.

The kidnapping convictions were reversed in October, 2013. The convictions for voluntary manslaughter of Leslie Bradshaw and attempted second-degree murder of his estranged wife Penny were upheld.
During the 2009 trial, evidence was presented to show Waldroup shot and killed Bradshaw. Penny Waldroup was shot, stabbed with a pocket knife, beaten with a shovel, and hacked with a machete before Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Price arrived on scene. Trial testimony showed Penny and Leslie had told a friend to call police if they did not return at a certain time after dropping off the Waldroup’s children to visit their father.

According to a mandate from appeals court in light of the White decision, “the question now becomes whether or not the ‘confinement was not essentially incidental to’ the murder of Ms. Bradshaw and the attempted murder of Mrs. Waldroup.” The facts in the Waldroup case showed that shortly after the Penny and Leslie arrived the Waldroups began to argue. Brad Waldroup took the keys out of the ignition and threw them into the woods. Penny Waldroup and Leslie Bradshaw were then unable to leave. In addition, as alleged in both the indictment and the bill of particulars, Waldroup was aiming a gun at the victims. Penny Waldroup testified she feared for her life and felt she was not free to leave. Evidence presented at the trial showed the nearest neighbor was about a quarter mile away and running for help was not feasible.

The plea, signed off by Judge Andrew Freiburg, calls for the two sentences to run consecutively. Waldrop has already served about 9 1/2 years of his sentence.

Picnic Table Project Puts Food on the Table and Provides Invaluable Lessons

On any given day, you can find the teens at the Benton Boys and Girls Club outside on the covered pavilion, building and sanding kid-sized picnic tables. It all started at the beginning of February, when park ranger Angelo Giasante approached the unit director with an idea. b&G tables-building picnic tables 3

“I wanted to give kids the opportunity to know what it takes to grow their own food. The problem is, the Club doesn’t have the money to just build a garden,” Giansante explained. Giasante decided to create an opportunity in the form of a business proposal, offering to loan the teenagers the money for supplies and teach them how to build and sell picnic tables. He buys and pre-cuts the pressure-treated wood himself, commenting, “I don’t want the kids chopping their fingers off,” and comes to the Boys and Girls Club once a week to work with the teenagers for about an hour.

b&g tables-building picnic tables 4Giansante makes sure every student has a chance to work on at least one table, but he admits that some like building better than others. The students who do not enjoy building have the opportunity to advertise, distribute money, and keep up with finances and materials. In this way, every teen is involved as they work together on their business. Beyond the carpentry skills the teens are developing as they build, they are learning financial skills of managing money, repaying loans, and running a small business. As they work to build the tables, deliver them, and slowly earn money toward their goals, the teens learn patience and the value of hard work.
b&g-The Teens delivering a picnic table
When the tables are finished, the teens personally deliver them to their buyers. They will use the money first to pay off their loan from Giasante, then the leftover profit will pay for materials to build a raised bed garden in which to grow food. They have built and delivered two tables, and people are already lined up to buy several more. If you would like to purchase a picnic table, contact us at 423-299-9057.

Softball field eyed for Boys and Girls Club

The Boys and Girls Club may be getting a soccer and baseball fields. Al Pierce told the board they would be turning in a grant application as part of a program to curb the diabetes epidemic. He said they wanted to add recreational fields on the south of the property. Pierce said they could get up to $450,000 for four years to put it soccer and baseball fields.

Pierce said the fields would be available to the community on weekends or during times when the Boys and Girls Club was not in session. He said they fields would be maintained by the Boys and Girls Club, but they needed commitment for the land to include in the grant proposal.

Mark Bishop said the land had already been set aside for soccer fields once before. He said they would just be changing the designation. Bishop said an AYSO soccer program had started, but it was a requirement that someone go to California to get certified, and that was not done.

Pierce said they would do it right and it would be something good for the county. He said the club was having a huge impact on the county and that they could easily fill a facility twice the size of what they had.
Commissioners voted to allow the Boys and Girls Club to have the land, which will revert back to the county if the Boys and Girls Club ever left. Sheena Gaddis said she supported the club, but wanted to stress that it would be great to see one in the Basin area. Pierce said they were working on narrowing down facilities.