Two liquor referendums will appear on November ballot in Polk County, TN

The local election slate has been completed for the November election. Along with state and presidential candidates, city voters in Benton, Copperhill, and Ducktown will be voting for city commissioners and mayors. In Ducktown, candidates run for commission, then the commission selects a mayor. Voters will also have the opportunity to cast their vote on two liquor referendums – one for package sales and one for liquor by the drink.

In Benton, incumbent Mayor Jerry Stephens and Commissioners Joe Jenkins and Gene Pack all seek re-election. The commissioners face a challenge from Garry McDonald. Ducktown will not have much of a race, as two seats are up and two candidates are running. Doug Collins and Brad Miller are running. In Copperhill, three candidates seek the position of mayor – incumbent Kathy Stewart, Billy Brackett, and Jerry Gilliam. Running for city council seats will be Tara Akins, Scott Brooks, and Bill Standridge. Akins and Standridge.

Two petitions have been approved to appear on the ballot as liquor referendums. 352 signatures were required for each petition, and each received about 450 signatures, according to Deputy Election Administrator Nathan Hitson. He said the petitions must be signed by 10% or more of the registered voters voting for Governor in the last election. Each liquor referendum is a separate entity, and are voted on as such. For example, the referendum for package sales could pass, with the by-the-drink sales failing, or vice versa. Both could pass or fail entirely, as well.

If either of the votes for liquor passes, the school system and the county general fund will receive a percentage of the state tax levied on liquor sales. According to Tennessee Code, there are two related taxes for liquor by the drink. One is an annual fixed amount based on the type and size of the business, which does to the state general fund for state purposes. The second tax is a 15% levy based on the sales price of alcoholic beverages sold on premises.

Of the 15% liquor-by-the-drink tax, 50% will go to the state budget for education. The other 50% will come back to the county. Half of the money that comes back to the county will be expended for school systems in the same way county property tax is handled. The other half of the 15% liquor tax revenue goes to the county general fund, or to the city in which is was collected.

The last day to register to vote in the November election will be October 11, 2016.

Money found in budget for additional courthouse employees

Needed increases in courthouse office personnel were approved during a county budget committee meeting. The need to increase workers due to state internal controls regulations had been debated for several months. Pending approval of the county budget on Thursday, one full-time position has been added to the office of Budget Director, and the offices of Trustee, County Clerk, and Register of Deeds will have an additional part-time person. County Executive Hoyt Firestone told the board they had approved another person for that office eight years ago when Mike Stinnett was in office. Mark Bishop said Firestone campaigned saying it wasn’t needed. Firestone said he did, but we were six years past that. He said work had increased and that something new was added to them every time the legislature met.

Firestone said the state had put the internal controls on them. “They didn’t give us an option,” Firestone said. He said it doesn’t spell out in the statute what will happen if they don’t do it, but that there would be a separate audit for federal dollars. Kelley Morgan, Director of Accounts and Budgets, told commissioners she was having surgery on the 30th, and would be down for 10 weeks. She said she would not be able to do any work for 4-5 weeks. Buster Lewis asked who would be doing her work while she was out. “You tell me,” Morgan said.

Firestone said it was a matter of fairness to the offices. He said regardless of the surgery, Morgan needed backup. Morgan said she just wanted to be compliant. She said if they were not going to combine the Road Department with County General, she needed one person. Firestone said Morgan went back through the revenues and made adjustments after speaking with the auditors and reconciling the general fund. He said she was able to find enough to fund the full-time position as well as the position in the County Clerk’s office. Angie Sanford currently has a part-time bookkeeping position, and her request was to make it a full-time position in order to be compliant with the internal controls regulations.

Trustee Gina Burchfiel said she needed a part-time position, but that she would figure out a way to make it work in order to accommodate the needs of the other offices. She said it would be hard, but she was willing to try to find a way. Morgan suggested that $9000 could be pulled from the fund balance. Mike Curbow said if they were going to do one, they might as well do all three. Lewis asked if the current 1-day a week position in Morgan’s office would be moved to the full-time position and if Alicia would be able to do everything. Morgan said she would not be able to do everything, but would have access to certain things and could do the work while she was out.
Morgan said the internal controls were designed for different people to do different things. Sheena Gaddis said there was nothing wrong with cross-training. Firestone said they had to be familiar and capable. Gaddis said somebody needed to be able to do it.

Bishop said they should look at other ways to save money and suggested an outside company to collect hours. Morgan said the sheriff’s department was the only one to turn in hours. Firestone said payroll was farmed out when he came back into office and it was a mess.Daren Waters asked how much was in the undesignated fund balance. Morgan said there was about $3.8 or $3.9 million. Bishop said if they started using the fund balance the courthouse would fall apart. Firestone said there was $180,000 earmarked for courthouse repairs. Bishop said he didn’t know if that would fix it. Firestone said said it might not but saying they wouldn’t be able to fix it was a big jump.
Sanford said she had increased services in her office and the county took the money for them each month. She said she would have to cut services if she did not have enough people in her office.

Curbow made a motion to pay for two half positions in the Trustee and Clerk’s offices out of the fund balance. Morgan said it would be about $26,000 depending on insurance. She said between $100,000 and $200,000 went into the fund balance each year. Pippenger said that meant they were overfunding. Bishop and Gaddis voted against the motion; all others voted yes. Greg Brooks and Karen Bracken were absent. Curbow motioned to pay for the position in the budget office and half position in the Deeds office through the cuts Morgan found in the budget. Bishop and Gaddis both voted no; all others voted yes. Bishop said he preferred “pay as you go” instead of using the fund balance. Waters said a 2¢ tax increase would enable them to do that if that’s what they wanted.

Polk County, TN School Board discusses air conditioning, spring water for Basin fields, lights at South Polk

Polk County’s School Board met at Chilhowee Middle School for their regular August meeting. Agenda items included the election of James Davis as Vice-Chair, purchase of several air conditioner units, and amending a lease with the Township. Board members also discussed possibly using a spring to water fields at Copper Basin High School, and the need for lighting at South Polk. Jason Bell told the board state testing will be done with paper and pencil this year.

Board members agreed to pull about $70,000 from the fund balance for the purchase roof air conditioner units at Benton Elementary, Copper Basin Elementary, South Polk, and Copper Basin High School. A hotel type unit will be purchased for Polk County High School. Joel Cox told the board they’d hoped to get by with just replacing one at Benton Elementary, but once school started up, they discovered otherwise. Stan Howard asked if bids were taken, or if there had not been enough time. Cox said it was an emergency situation, but that Dr. Jones said they had a service contract with Higdon Heat and Air. LW Smith pointed out there was a $175 travel fee when Higdon went up to Copperhill. Shawn Pritchett suggested revisiting the service contract and taking bids since it had been so long. Pat Suits said the bidding process wouldn’t be fair because the other companies would know what Higdon was charging.

Smith told the board the 4th Fractional Township property line ran through the middle of the new ballfield at Copper Basin High School. He said he had talked with the Township about adjusting the land lease to add 1500 feet on the south, and 1000 feet on the east and west. Howard asked if it might be possible to trade footage from another section if they did not want to add to the lease. Smith said he didn’t see where there would be a problem adding the extra footage. Mark Williams asked if there would be a right-of-way to access it. Smith said there already was. Cox said the Township would most likely enter into another 50-year contract with the board.

Smith also suggested the board utilize a spring to water the Basin sports fields. He said there was spring below the practice fields that would give them free water. Smith said the only field that currently had a water meter was the football field, and it cost them $1500-$3000 a year. He said using the spring for all the fields could save them $5000 a year. Smith said he’d spoken with Randy Collins, who suggested it would cost about $16,000 to set the system up, install a pump, and get everything ready. Suits asked if they knew whether or not the water was good, and if they were going to use it for anything other than the fields. Davis said they used the spring when he worked in the mines. Smith said they would use the water for the fields. he said if there could be some sort of filtration system put in they might be able to utilize it in the restrooms. He said if they staggered and alternated the use of the spring on different fields, they would make their investment back in a few years.
Williams asked where they would be able to pull the money from. He suggested tabling the idea for a month since they just had to pay so much for air conditioners.

Frank Brown addressed the board about putting up lights at South Polk. He said the new walkway and playground had no lighting at all. Brown said they could get with VEC about putting up some dusk-to-dawn lights for just a few dollars a month.Cox said he had spoken with Aaron Hood at VEC, who gave him two options for lighting. 70-watt LED lights would be $20-25 a month and 400-watt metal lights would be about $32-38 per month. Both options would have a 1-time transformer charge of $400. Pritchett said having lights would be good for folks who want to use the walking track in the evenings after work. Brown said if people are out there trying to walk and unable to see, they could step off the walkway, fall, and break a leg, then sue the school system. He said there were also kids out there at night climbing all over the school. Brown said lighting up the school would help that. Brown was instrumental in getting a donation from the Railroad to put up an awning and handicap ramp at PCHS. Cox asked if there was railroad money for the lights. Brown said whatever was left from the handicap ramp project could be used for the lights. Howard asked if they would be able to use solar lights. He suggested investigating that option.

A soccer supplement for Chilhowee Middle School soccer coaches was approved. Several board members said they thought it had already been done. Cox said the middle school had never had supplements for soccer. He said it would be about $1200.

Cox addressed the board about the Read 20 initiative. He said the purpose was to improve reading. Cox said within 10 years they wanted to have 90% of all third graders reading at or above their grade level. He said it is now about 48-49%. Cox said the teachers were beginning to get excited about the initiative, and they wanted to get the community excited now. He encouraged anyone who has a baby to read to the 20 minutes a day. Cox said it may not seem like they are listening when they are young, but it makes a difference. Cox also told the board Copper Basin Elementary and South Polk Elementary were the recipients of a McGraw Hill research grant that would send trainers in for 1st grade teachers. He said there was no charge to the school system, and they would come in and work with teachers all year long. Cox said it was a proven program with a 30-year track record.

Jason Bell gave the board a testing update. He said after the online testing debacle last year, the state would be doing paper and pencil tests this year. He said there were two parts to testing last year, with one earlier in the year. Bell said that would not happen this year, and there would be only one testing window. Bell said testing time had been reduced, and he was glad the state had listened to complaints and made changes. Testing will take 2 1/2 hours less this year. Bell said the state was looking at a 3-year window to get back to online testing, and might phase some in next year. Williams asked if students were being re-trained to take written tests this year since they had put for so much effort to train them to do online testing. Bell said they were.

Daniel Kelly convicted in 2011 bank robbery in Delano, TN

Daniel Kelly has been found guilty of the Aggravated Robbery of First Volunteer Bank in Delano in August, 2011. Kelly was tried in front of a jury on July 26, 2016. According to Captain Brian Fields of the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, Kelly was done in by the fact that he knew details about the crime that only the robber would know. He and Detective Kevin Cole both testified that Kelly gave them a confession, and he made statements that only the robber would know. Fields said certain details were withheld from the press and the public at the time of the robbery, and Kelly hit on those details.

Bank Teller Misty Burgess testified to seeing Kelly enter the First Volunteer Bank armed with a handgun. She said he was holding the weapon near his face, and told her to give him all the money. Burgess testified that she gave him the money and he fled the bank headed north through the wood line of the parking lot.
Dickson City officer Zack Donegan testified to making contact with Kelly in Dickson County in 2014. He said Kelly made statements about the bank robbery in Polk County.

John Fortuno, Kelly’s attorney, argued that his client had not made a true confession and that his client did not resemble the video footage of the robber taken by bank security camera. District Attorney Andrew Watts and Drew Robinson prosecuted the case with Defense Attorney John Fortuno representing Kelly. Judge Andrew Freiberg presided.

Following the testimony and closing arguments the jury deliberated and then returned a verdict of guilty for Aggravated Robbery to Kelly. Judge Andrew Freiberg said the sentencing range for Aggravated Robbery is 8-12 years and moved sentencing to November this year.

2016 Polk County Fair Coming

FairDaysHeadingC0407_L_300_C_YThe annual Polk County Fair is just around the corner. Cows shows, talent contests, pretty babies, and the crowning of the Fairest of the Fair will take center stage again this year. The Fair will be held September 5-10th. Exhibits can be entered September 3 & 4.

Organizers are encouraging more folks to come out to enter exhibits this year. A full listing of categories for entry will be listed in the Polk County Fair catalog, which will be published next week. Categories include vegetables, fruit, plants, pictures, artwork, sewing, quilting, honey, eggs, and much more. All are welcome to submit entries, and there are categories for youth and adult.

This year, the newly-formed local AmVets Post 911 will be performing the fair’s opening ceremony. The flag will be raised at 6 p.m. on Monday, September 5th. Also on Monday will be the first night of the Pretty Baby contests. Pretty babies finish up on Tuesday Night, when rides will open up at 6 p.m.

Wednesday night is church night at the showbarn, and local churches are invited to participate. Gospel singing and preaching will welcome all. For more info, contact Joyce Stafford at 423-715-3975.

Copper Basin Medical Center’s Board of Trustees looks to update bylaws

The Copper Basin Hospital Board of Trustees members talked about the bylaws, payment for Dr. Siddiqui, and possible replacements for out-going member Randy Collins duirng their July meeting. Following the meeting, CEO Anna Clark responded to comments made at a county commission meeting that she was leaving the hospital. Clark said it was not true, and that if she was going to resign she would not do so via the rumor-mill.

A bylaws committee made up of Frank Shinpaugh, Jack Collins, and Doug Collins was formed during the meeting. Clark told the board the attorney said they could continue to operate as a district board and committees, but there were things that needed to be added to the bylaws. She said there were things like performance meetings that could not be done publicly. Shinpaugh asked if the attorney was going to tell them what changes needed to be made, or if they told the attorney what to do. He said they were taking over for the corporate board, and asked what happened to their bylaws. Jack Collins said the District Board was a standing board before the corporate board existed and their bylaws couldn’t conflict with the Private Act. He said it was up to the board to go look over both of them any eliminate any conflict.

Clark said they needed to decide if they were going to use Roberts Rules of Order or how they were going to conduct meetings. She said that needed to be included in the bylaws. Jack Collins suggested they collectively come up with ideas. He said Executive Assistant Carina Walker could come up with what was required by federal law.
Shinpaugh asked about attendance requirement for meetings. He suggested someone needed to “hold the bucket” of ideas. Shinpaugh made a motion to form a committee to meet to go over everything.

Doug Collins asked if that was a committee he could set up, or if they needed to utilize the executive committee. Shinpaugh said that was something else that should be in the bylaws. Collins read through the Private Act, which indicated there could be special committees. Mitchell Hicks suggested ideas from other board members could be sent to Walker to keep everything together.

“We’ve got to make progress,” Shinpaugh said. “We’re doing more things than we used to do. We need to have rules to protect ourselves,” Shinpaugh said. Shinpaugh asked if Walker could come to the bylaws committee meeting. Bea Tallent suggested Walker had information the board members did not.

Hicks asked if there had been a determination from the attorney in regards to questions brought up last month about the ER contract. Doug Collins said the attorney had the material but had not made a determination.
Collins said he spoke to Dr. Mahmood Siddiqui, asking him if he would want the ER contract back if something happened with the new contract. Collins said Siddiqui said he would not. Hicks said he thought Siddiqui wanted to get paid for the work he had already done.
Clark said she had spoken to Siddiqui, and an arrangement had been made. She said Siddiqui would be paid when they received TennCare money in September. Hicks said Siddiqui’s contract said it could not be amended unless agreed to by both parties, so it stood. Jack Collins said it had given them a black eye to lose Siddiqui. Doug Collins said he was still there, but was not referring anyone to the hospital. “Think about it Doug, do you blame him,” Hicks asked. Doug Collins said no, but that they needed to move forward for the sake of the hospital and people.

Jack Collins asked about the new ER contract and whether or not they were paying more now. Ron O’Neal said they (the new ER staff) were in the same boat as the hospital now. Clark said the hospital was coming out ahead.
Clark said the pro fees were $25,000-$30,000 a month from Dr. Siddiqui, and that the new ER staff had “skin in the game.” She said with the new ER staff, transfers were down by half and admits had gone up. Hicks asked if Clark could provide a report for the last twelve months to see how much came in; Clark said yes.
The board also discussed potential replacements for Randy Collins, who has turned in his resignation from the board. O’Neal said he had spoken with James Talley, who said he would come on the board. Jack Collins suggested Raymond Allison. Doug Collins asked Kathy Stewart to join. Stewart, who was on hand at the meeting, said Copperhill was part of it and she would be glad to serve. The names will be submitted to the county commission.

Sinpaugh told the board the financial committee had heard from the Tennessee Justice Center. He said they worked with other hospitals who were facing the same issues as CBMC. Doug Collins said they learned about what other hospitals had done and what not to do. He said when hospitals got desperate, folks are like wolves.
Sinpaugh said they learned that 1200 Polk citizens could be insured if Tennessee had participated in the Affordable Care Act. He said it all stemmed from the state not wanting to do it just for the sake of not doing it. Clark said she thought it would come up again in January.

Clark said representatives from Erlanger did an on-site visit and would likely want another round of data. She said she thought there was still interest. Clark said Erlanger fit well in Bledsoe County and she hoped for the same thing here. Clark also told the board a new surgeon, Tom Ross, would begin working at the hospital on August 9th. She said patients were already lined up. Clark said Dr. Ross was from Ellijay, where a hospital had closed. She said Surgical Associated from Cleveland would not be coming anymore.

Polk County Budget Committee finalizes 2016-17 budget

Periodic outbursts marked the last two budget meetings, but the 72¢ raise for county employees is still in place, and no tax increase is slated. Mark Bishop said Polk County’s growth depended on our neighbors, and pointed out their tax rates were lower. He said $2.40 didn’t sound really bad, but when you add on city taxes it got pretty high. He said it would cost 30% more to get industry in the cities and that was hindering economic growth.
John Pippenger asked about the collection rate. Budget Director Kelley Morgan said they collected 98% of the 90% rate set in last year’s budget.

Commissioners voted to adjust the pro-ration on the sanitation, leaving them with a little more than $20,000 to cut from the budget. Pippenger made a motion to take that amount from the fund balance to balance the budget. Daniel Deal seconded the motion, but the motion failed. Bishop said they needed to get the budget finished and get it in the paper. He said if the State sets it, it won’t be pretty. Karen Bracken said if they dropped the raise down to 60¢ it would cover the amount left to cut. She also said the school system could be dropped down to a level 2 funding. Pippenger asked why Bracken didn’t make a motion if that’s what she wanted to do.
Brett Nelms asked Bracken if she had kids in the school system. Bracken said no.

“But you want to cut $76,000,” Nelms asked, adding that Bracken also wanted to bump down the raise. He asked if Bracken knew what the poverty level was and if she had ever had to live on $16,000 a year. Bracken said she had; Nelms asked what year that was. Nelms asked Bracken to explain why the employees only deserved 60¢ when they hadn’t had a raise in 15 years. Bracken said it had not been 15 years. Nelms asked if cutting education was really the right thing to do. He also asked what would happen if everyone walked out because of the low wages. Nelms asked Bracken how long she had lived here, and that he hoped people remembered this at the next election. Bracken said she didn’t base her decision on re-election. Pippenger said when Bracken was talking about Administration, she was apparently including people who were paid with grant money.

Bracken talked about the cost per pupil of the Director of Schools and Principals; Morgan suggested it be talked about when someone from the school system was there. Pippenger said he wanted to see a vote on dropping school funding and seconded Bracken’s motion. He asked for a roll call vote. The motion failed with only Bracken voting in favor.

Jail Administrator Teresa Hammons said the Sheriff authorized her to offer $26,000 in increased revenue from the jail budget in order to balance without cutting education or lowering the raises. Bishop made a motion to add that money to balance the budget.

Pastor David Smith from Living Free Community Outreach was on hand at the meeting. He said they opened in Ducktown a year ago and the biggest thing they have run into was that there is no place to live. Smith said they had a 96% ratio of getting out of addiction and they could find their clients jobs, but not housing. He said they acquired a van to go back and forth to the doctor. Smith said there was money going elsewhere for drug prevention and suggested some of that be given to them to help with rehab.

Ledford pointed out they had to want to be rehabilitated for the program to work. “You can give this man all the money you want, but they have to want it,” Ledford said. Cheryl Buehler asked what it was they actually did and if they were trained counselors. Smith said they were a non-resident rehab. He said they did 12-step programs, anger management, and family counseling.

Pippenger asked what drug prevention money Smith was referring to. He said the drug fund was used for maintenance of drug dogs and to pay for drug officers. Karen Bracken said it could be used for rehab. Pippenger said that was up to the sheriff. Hammons pointed out that everything mention was also done in the jail currently. She said they have had 13 graduates from their GED program, as well.

Jury in Waters triple homicide to come from Monroe County, TN

The trial date for George Steven Waters has been changed, and jurors will now be selected from a Monroe County jury pool. An order was filed July 11th by Criminal Court Judge Sandra Donaghy that set the trial to begin January 23, 2017. Waters faces murder charges for the August 17, 2012 triple homicide of Wanda Waters, Doug Waters, and Willard Waters. The State is not seeking the death penalty.

According to the filing, the court will request a jury pool of 400 jurors to be summoned from the residents of Monroe County. Two hundred will be required to appear at the Monroe County Courthouse September 15th, and another 200 will be required to appear September 16th. Those who qualify to serve as potential jurors will be required to fill out juror questionnaires previously approved by the court, and copies will be distributed thereafter, the judge’s order says.

Individual Voir Dire of jurors having filled out questionnaires in September will be conducted November 21 and 22. General Voir Dire will be conducted January 17 at 8:30am at the Monroe County Courthouse. All those chosen as jurors will receive strict instructions from the court regarding discussion of and research into the case, and will be allowed to return home to make arrangements with employers and families. They will then report for jury service January 23 at the Polk County Justice Center in Benton. They will remain sequestered for the duration of the trial.

Hearings for all outstanding motions will be conducted September 20-22 at the Justice Center in Benton.

Polk County, TN employees could see 72¢ raise if budget passes

Polk County Budget Committee work included a motion to eliminate all additional employee requests and reduce the raise for county employees to 72¢ decreased the budget’s cut number from $905,000 to just over $52,000. Money added to the election budget on Monday raised that number a bit. Commissioners still need to eliminate $60,000 to avoid a tax increase. Mark Bishop motioned to set the county’s funding levels back to what they were at the beginning of 2015-2016, then add a 60¢ raise. Bishop said employees had not had a rise in a long time. He said the state gave 3% last year, but if they did a percentage it would keep broadening the gap. Sheena Gaddis asked if the Election Commission would go back to 2014-2015 levels.

Karen Bracken asked what the raise would cost. Bishop said 60¢ would be roughly $1248 per year for each employee. He said the commission should still look at the some of what the road department was asking for, and that the bridges could be paid for as a one-time expense. Bracken said it wouldn’t make sense to give up those matching finds and not take care of that. Hoyt Firestone asked about part-time workers. He said they did not always get the same raise in the past. Bishop said it would be the same increase but less hours. He said they should treat everybody the same. John Hoyt Pippenger made a motion to amend Bishop’s motion to a 75¢ raise. That motion failed. Mike Curbow made a motion to amend it to 72¢. That motion passed.

Bracken told the board they needed to add $18,000 to the budget for the Office of Elections. She said they could not give less money than they gave two years ago, the last time there was two elections. Election Administrator Steve Gaddis said he was good with what he got last year. Bracken said it didn’t matter what he was good with, it was what the law said. Gaddis said he was not showing a major difference in the two years. He said his figure was different than Bracken’s. Firestone pointed out there was a capital project for the Election office last year. Bishop said the budget for the election office was $243,304 in 2014-15. He said last year’s budget was $213,854 and this year was $215,177. He said it would be wise to go ahead and add the money for the second election, pointing out it was brought up when he made the motion for raises at the previous meeting. Pippenger asked if there would be any reimbursement from the presidential election. Firestone said that only came from Super Tuesday, not the November election. Gaddis asked if a new line item would have to be put in for liability insurance, which was brought up during the regular monthly commission meeting. Firestone said the premium was $3326, and a line would have to be added to that budget. Bishop asked how they would need to spread the money being put into the election budget. Steve Gaddis suggested putting it under contract services and election workers.

Bracken said the Sheriff’s Department line for guards had been amended last year for more than $60,000, but was set at the same amount this year. She said the line was being underfunded and they would pay the price at the end of the year with amendments from the fund balance. Bishop pointed out the sheriff’s office had exceeded what was budgeting for revenue, and brought in $100,000. He said they may have hit the fund balance, but the amount of revenue brought in covered the guards.
Bracken said 2.5 employees had been brought on at the sheriff’s department that were not budgeted. She said she looked at it ever different way possible, but the difference was $65,000, which was equal to 2.5 employees. Amanda Maples said they never added those employees. Bracken said unless Maples could show her differently, they were added. She said she asked Maples to sit down with her to review information she sent, but Maples never followed up. Maples said she sent Bracken a list of employees. She said some had been moved to part-time. Joe Price suggested Bracken should speak to the Sheriff since it was his department. Bracken said Maples never told her to talk to the Sheriff. Price said he was telling her now. Firestone said the county had added close to $3 million to the fund balance this year and they should leave the pennies alone. He suggested the commission give them a chance to follow their budget.

Pippenger said if they raised the percentage of collections to 91% they could cover the amount left to cut in the budget. Bracken suggested lowering the raise to 60¢ would compensate for the difference. Pippenger asked if there was a request for Parks and Rec. Bishop said Diana Burris had asked about one, but he told her it was too tight this year. He said he thought with the walking trail coming in there would be more traffic at the ballfields and it might cut down on the vandalism. Bishop said work needed to be done on both sides, and suggested the area around the pool in Ducktown needed work.

Pippenger made a motion to raise the percent of collections to 91% to cover the $60,000 needed for the budget, and give $19,800 to Parks and Rec. Cheryl Buehler asked what percentage of collections had been coming in. Pippenger said a little more than 90%. Buehler asked if the $19,800 would cover the requested library position; Pippenger said no. Jenny Rogers said money for Parks and Rec was great, but that public libraries give people opportunities to find jobs, improve their skills, get training, and achieve a better financial situation. She pointed out that Polk ranks 95th in the state for funding. She said the county that ranked 94th spent almost double what Polk spent.
Rogers reminded the commission they had two library facilities the county did not pay a dime for. She said Friends of the Library paid for maintenance, and the only thing the county had to pay for was salaries.

Nicholas Lewis said the library request was a minute number compared to the rest of the budget. He asked when the last time the Governor’s wife rolled in to the county, pointing out she came to visit the library. Lewis said the county had held stagnant and it was time to move forward. He said he came back to the county after college and wanted to fix things. He said it was time not to just hold the tax rate the same. Lewis said the county needed to build education and build industry. He said more education meant more productive people. Bracken asked what advantages there would be to having a library director. Rogers said they would be able to take the time to apply for grants. She said the two part-time librarians now were too busy checking out books and doing their jobs to do anything more. Rogers said they ask year after year for help with the libraries and that we could not improve if not given opportunities.

Rogers said the library was losing patrons because they did not have anyone there to work with people one-on-one. She said people struggle every day with computers and they could offer classes to teach them. Rogers said she wished the board would go into the libraries and see who all came in.
Rogers said the two libraries had four part-time librarians. She said a library system can’t be run that way. Lewis said Polk spent $4.83 per capita, and surrounding counties spent $10.48 per capita. Both Rogers and Lewis said they understood Polk would never be able to afford that, but that the library was the life blood of every county. Bishop suggested there were teenagers who needed service hours who could teach classes at the library. He said the county needed to bring in industry.
Kayla Curbow said she used to worked at the Cleveland Public Library and had seen how much people love their library. She said teenagers were not reliable and would stop as soon as they got their hours. She said coming from college there were people who don’t know programs like Microsoft Word, and couldn’t learn from their parents because their parents didn’t know. Curbow said libraries helped more than just kids.

Pippenger pointed out his motion to give money to Parks and Rec was because the county could give one-time funding, and the library position would have to be included continuously. Rogers said industry would look at the adequacy of public libraries, pointing out that the third question asked by Saturn when they moved to Spring Hill was about public libraries. Sheena Gaddis asked if the raise could be adjust to 60¢ to fund the library position. Rogers said she didn’t want to take from the raises and the employees needed a living wage. Gaddis said she didn’t like the gap in pay or want to have to do a huge increse, and thought doing multiple small increases would be better. The motion to raise collections to 91% and fund Parks and Rec failed. Buster Lewis made a motion to increase the tax 4¢ and give 3¢ to the road department and 1¢ to the libraries. That motion failed. The committee is slated to meet again Tuesday, July 26th.

Yates, Thomason win countywide races

Randy Yates will hold onto the job of Property Assessor after defeating a challenge from Bill Trew. Yates received 1420 votes to Trew’s 1237.

For Road Superintendent, Roy Thomason, Jr. defeated Alley Bruce by a margin of 1491 to 1131.

David Green and Jayson Lamb were the victors in First District School Board.

Shawn Pritchett will hold his 2nd District School Board seat.

David Goode, Robbie Cole, and Mush Davis will represent the 3rd school district.

Seth Bishop, Shawn Lewis, and Jeremy Tipton will be constables.

Top vote getters in the 4th Fractional Township were Daren Waters, Ronnette O’Neal, and Dennis Trantham.

More information and precinct totals will be available in next week’s Polk County News.