Driver Center Reinstated To Full Services. 5 County Votes To Operate Asphalt Plant. 6 Todd Smith Becomes First City Administrator. 2 Kinser Park Hires New Manager, Wrangles With Finances. 7
The Greeneville Sun March 17, 2012
THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION Saturday, March 17, 2012
Todd Smith Becomes Greeneville’s First City Administrator BY AMY ROSE STAFF WRITER
Greeneville hired its first city administrator in 2011 and is working toward restructuring its form of government. Todd Smith, 36, of Chuckey, was selected from nearly 100 applicants who were narrowed down to three finalists for the new position. His first day on the job was Jan. 3, 2012. The role of city administrator is to oversee the daily operations of the town. He serves at the will of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Smith will serve in an interim capacity until the town’s charter is changed to officially reflect a new form of government including a city administrator. The board voted Feb. 7 to amend the town’s charter. If the charter amendment is approved by the Tennessee General Assembly and then again by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the change will be from a hybrid of strong- and weak-mayor form of government to a counciladministrator form of government, according to Pat Hardy, management consultant with the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS). Hardy has been revising the charter to ref lect the change. For many years, Greeneville’s form of government placed the mayor or the town board in charge of personnel matters and other daily operations. For several months in 2010 and 2011, at Mayor Daniels’ request, Hardy worked with the board to discuss various forms of government and the possibility of a change. Having a full-time administrator will give the board more time for policy-making and strategic planning, Hardy has said.
SUN PHOTO BY O.J. EARLY
Todd Smith, at left, takes his seat in January during his first meeting as new city administrator of Greeneville. Also shown, from left, are: Aldermen Darrell Bryan and Sarah Webster; Mayor W.T. Daniels; Aldermen Buddy Hawk and Keith Paxton; and Acting Recorder Carol Susong. RETREATS AND MEETINGS Hardy and the board have attended two daylong retreats to have in-depth discussion about different forms of municipal government. Both retreats were held at Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens in Unicoi, located in Unicoi County, not far from Johnson City. The first retreat was held in November 2010; the second retreat was held in May 2011. On Aug. 4, 2011, Hardy conducted a series of three meetings in the G. Thomas Love Board Room at the Greeneville Light & Power System to explain the advantages of changing to a council-administrator form of government. About 40 town department heads, employees and members of the public attended one or more of the three lengthy meetings. Mayor W.T. Daniels and Alderman Buddy Hawk attended all three meetings, while Alderman Darrell Bryan attended the morning meeting for town employees, and Aldermen Keith Paxton and Sarah Webster attended
SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN
Pat Hardy, municipal management consultant with the University of Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service, shows an organizational chart of the council-administrator form of government. A study of the different forms of government preceded the hiring of Todd Smith as Greeneville’s first city administrator. the evening meeting. Questions from the
audience were accepted during the meetings.
A suggestion was also made at the evening
meeting to have a panel discussion on the issue, using panelists who had experience with the council-administrator form of municipal government. On Aug. 25, 2011, Hardy facilitated such a panel discussion, also held at the GL&PS board room. About 40 members of the public and elected town officials attended this event as well. Panel members were Bob Garrett, of Morristown, and Charles LaPorte and Sam LaPorte, both of Elizabethton, who discussed their respective towns’ forms of government. Garrett and Charles LaPorte are members of the their city councils, and Sam LaPorte is a former city council member and former mayor in Elizabethton. RESOLUTION ADOPTED On Sept. 6, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to create the new position of city administrator, adopting a resolution that also asked MTAS to work on changing the town’s charter. The approved resolution stated that a search should be made as soon as possible to find the town’s first administrator. The resolution stated, “The Town of Greeneville has recognized inefficiencies in the structure of their Town Government. “The Board of Mayor and Aldermen have spent many hours studying alternative forms of government.” “After much study, deliberation, discussion, public presentations and public input, and employee presentations, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen believe alterations should be made to the Town’s structure. “The addition of a City Administrator position will improve efficiency PLEASE SEE ADMINISTRATOR | 3
On The Cover FROM THE TOP, AND LEFT TO RIGHT: TODD SMITH BECOMES GREENEVILLE’S FIRST CITY ADMINISTRATOR DRIVER CENTER REINSTATED TO FULL SERVICES BY STATE OFFICIAL
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons, standing at podium, announces the reinstatement of services at the Greene County Driver Service Center in January. He made the announcement on the steps of the County Courthouse Annex. At his immediate left is Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles. Others shown in the photo are, left to right: state Rep. David Hawk, state Sen. Steve Southerland, state Rep. Jeremy Faison, Deputy Commissioner Larry Godwin, Assistant Commissioner Lori Bullard (partially visible), Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels, County Clerk David Thompson, Assistant Commissioner David Purkey, and sheriff’s Capt. William M. Carter. Sun Photo by O.J. Early. COUNTY VOTES TO OPERATE ITS OWN ASPHALT PLANT
Washington County Highway Superintendent John Deakins, in the center with ball cap and light-colored shirt, explains the operation of Washington County’s asphalt plant in August to members of the Greene County Commission’s Road Committee and a few other commissioners. The group visited the plant along with Greene County Road Superintendent David Weems. The County Commission in October approved the purchase and operation of a similar facility for Greene County. Sun photo by O.J. Early.
Todd Smith settles into his office in January as Greeneville’s first city administrator. Smith will serve as interim administrator until Greeneville’s charter is officially changed to reflect a new form of government. The change must be approved twice by the town board and once by the Tennessee General Assembly before it becomes official. Sun photo by Jim Feltman. KINSER PARK HIRES NEW MANAGER, WRANGLES WITH FINANCES
Tennessee Valley Authority official Hugh Standridge, standing at right, speaks in September to the Kinser Park Commission. Seated, clockwise from foreground, are Commissioner Keith Paxton; Park Manager Rex Oster; former commissioner Fay Byrd; Chairman Bob Schubel; Commissioners Hayden Scott, Tony Maggio and Max Cox; seasonal camper Ronnie Brown (behind paper); and Commissioners Phil King, M.C. Rollins, Brenda Grogan and Denny Wills. Standridge told the commissioners in September a proposed lease giving the Marlins exclusive use of the ballfields and practice facility at Kinser Park would not be acceptable to the TVA. In February 2012, TVA officials met with attorneys for the park and the Marlins to work toward an acceptable agreement. Sun photo by Jim Feltman.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012
THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION
Town Hall. Fire Chief Mark Foulks took the candidates on tours of the town, passing by schools, fire stations, historic sites, through downtown and on the U.S. Highway 11E Bypass.
Starts on Page 2 and allow the board to focus more time on policy-related matters. “The position shall report to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and shall serve at their will and pleasure. “The position shall be filled based on qualifications and merit.” PAXTON’S CONCERNS On Dec. 2, the board held a workshop in which it voted unanimously for Mayor Daniels to negotiate with Smith for the job of city administrator. In a Dec. 6 board meeting, however, Paxton changed his vote and questioned the legality of the Dec. 2 meeting, citing a lack of official minutes. Those minutes were approved by the board on Dec. 20, but Paxton questioned their accuracy. Paxton said he thought the Dec. 2 meeting was being held to select the top three finalists, and the negotiation of the employment agreement should be removed from the minutes. Alderman Darrell Bryan recalled that he made the motion on Dec. 2 for the mayor to negotiate the contract. The Dec. 2 motion by Bryan was seconded by Alderman Sarah Webster and approved unanimously. At the beginning of the Dec. 2 meeting, Daniels said, “Under the advertisement that we had in the paper and with the radio, we can possibly make a decision this morning, depending on how you all feel about it.” THREE FINALISTS Hardy and other MTAS officials reviewed the nearly 100 applications and narrowed them to three finalists using input from the board. The three finalists were Smith; Seth Sumner, city
SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN
Todd Smith, at right, was one of three finalists for city administrator who were interviewed by the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Shown, from left, are: Aldermen Buddy Hawk, Keith Paxton (foreground), Sarah Webster and Darrell Bryan, and Mayor W.T. Daniels.
SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN
Todd Smith, at right, who at the time was a finalist for the new position of Greeneville city administrator, speaks with town officials during a reception in November at Town Hall. Speaking with Smith are Brad Peters, public works director and town engineer; and Debbie Smith, town environmentalist. In the background, from left, are: Marty Shelton, fire captain; Craig Fillers, assistant police chief; and Aldermen Keith Paxton and Sarah Webster. manager of Clifton; and Chris Dorsey, former city manager of Red Bank. At the time, Smith was director of entrepre-
neurship/redevelopment for the City of Johnson City/Washington County Economic Development Council.
All three finalists were interviewed by the board in a group and individually, and they attended 30minute receptions allow-
ing them to meet town employees and members of the public. The interviews and receptions were held at
SMITH’S BACKGROUND Smith is a member of the Air National Guard. Si nc e D e c emb er 2005, he has served as a f light commander for the Tennessee Air National Guard at McGhee Tyson A NG Base. He also served as project manager for the Med Tech Regional Business Park in Johnson City, and research director for the Kingsport Economic Development Partnership. Smith and his wife, Rhajon, live near the South Central community. She is employed by Milligan College. He is a native of Indiana, near Anderson, and came to Tennessee to attend Milligan College, where he earned a bachelor of arts in history in 1997. He minored in economics and political science and described himself as a “history buff.” He received a master of public administration degree from East Tennessee State University in 2004, with a concentration in planning and development. He attends First Christian Church in Greeneville. After two weeks on the job, Smith told The Greeneville Sun that he had been busy meeting town employees, community leaders, and other citizens. He also had been working to upgrade the town’s website, www.greenevilletn.org, and was looking forward to development of the downtown area, he said. In other personnel changes, town accountant Carol Susong was named acting Recorder following the retirement of Jim Warner.
Business & Industry More and more people and businesses are choosing to locate in Mosheim. In Mosheim we’re ready to assist, develop and grow with Greeneville, Greene County and our industrial prospects and their projects. Infrastructure is readily available and includes water, sewer, gas, and electrical. Mosheim is a progressive community that is growing and a desirable location for families and new industries to locate. Come out! Look us over! Join us in our future growth and progress. Billy Myers MAYOR
Dave Long ALDERMAN
Claude Weems, Jr. ALDERMAN
Harold Smith ALDERMAN
Thomas L. Gregg, Jr. ALDERMAN
THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION Saturday, March 17, 2012
Greeneville Rejects New Property Maintenance Code BY AMY ROSE STAFF WRITER
The Town of Greeneville scrapped its plans to adopt new property maintenance requirements for the town after some very vocal residents pleaded their cases against the proposed changes. The town’s work toward adopting the 2006 International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) began in June, and by October, the issue was set aside. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Oct. 4 to rescind its decision on Sept. 20 to amend Title 4 of the Municipal Code by adopting the IPMC on first reading. As a result, the town elected to continue to use the 1997 Standard Housing Code, which has been in place for a number of years. Mayor W.T. Daniels and Alderman Sarah Webster said on Oct. 4 that much confusion and misinformation among citizens led to the board’s vote to rescind its Sept. 20 approval of the International Property Maintenance Code. “I don’t think we can move forward with this kind of atmosphere,” Daniels said. PAXTON’S MEETINGS Prior to the Oct. 4 meeting, Alderman Keith Paxton held two meetings allowing interested persons to ask questions and voice their opinions about the IPMC. Many of those in opposition said they did not want the town government controlling how they maintain their homes and other structures. For example, the IPMC includes regulations on such things as: flaking paint, window screens, door and window locks, house numbers, cracked foundations, breaks in walls, leaky roofs, room sizes, ceiling height, occupancy limits, passthrough bedrooms, smoke alarms, numbers of bathrooms, plumbing and electrical plugs. While some of these regulations are new, some also are found in the 1997 Standard Housing Code, which Building Official Jim Snyder said he did not have time to enforce closely. Alderman Webster said on Oct. 4 that it is not sensible to believe that the government is taking over personal property by adopting the IPMC. She said it also is not sensible to think that properties will be inspected every time ownership changes. COMMITTEE APPOINTED Webster served as chairman of a Property Maintenance Committee appointed in July by Daniels. The mayor appointed the committee after
SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN
A standing-room-only crowd attended the meeting of the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen in the G. Thomas Love Boardroom at the Greeneville Light & Power System where a final vote was scheduled on adopting the International Property Maintenance Code for the town. Several audience members spoke to the board about a proposal to change the town’s municipal code related to property maintenance requirements.
SUN PHOTO BY AMY ROSE
Greeneville Alderman Keith Paxton speaks about property maintenance requirements at one of the public meetings he held in 2011. a number of citizens expressed strong opposition to the town’s initial attempt to adopt the IPMC. In addition to Webster, committee members were: Bob Biddle, Jeff Idell, Nellie Metcalfe, and PK Lowrey, with Snyder serving as an exofficio member. The mayor gave them three months to review the IPMC and make changes to recommend to the town board. The committee met on Aug. 3, Aug. 17, Aug. 30, Sept. 7 and Sept. 14. At the Sept. 14 meeting, the committee voted 4-1 in favor of recommending a proposed, somewhat revised version of the IPMC. REVISIONS MADE The revised version included two major changes from the original amendment that was tabled by the town board
in July. One major change stated that the property maintenance ordinance would be viewed as a complaint-based system, meaning that properties would not be inspected by the town unless a signed written complaint was submitted by a town official or other citizen. This complaint-based system also included, however, the possibility of “the code official’s own initiative based on his personal observation.” The other major change would be the use of a fivemember board to hear property-owners’ appeals to decisions made by the code official. The previous amendment considered in July would have deleted a requirement for an appeals board of at least three qualified persons. That step would have left the code official, who inspects properties, to
also serve as, in effect, the appeals board for his own actions. Also, the revisions would have removed a section of the IPMC on “Interior surfaces,” which says, “All interior surfaces, including windows and doors, shall be maintained in good, clean and sanitary condition. Peeling, chipping, flaking or abraded paint shall be repaired, removed or covered. Cracked or loose plaster, decayed wood and other defective surface conditions shall be corrected.” The amendment also would have removed three sections that already are included in the Municipal Code and enforced by Town Environmentalist Debbie Smith. These sections relate to regulations on weeds, motor vehicles, and rubbish and garbage. Also, based on previous
discussion by the committee, the ordinance would have included new language exempting swimming pools with an approved safety cover from having to be surrounded by a fence. LOWREY OPPOSES In the committee’s second meeting on Aug. 16, Lowrey, one of the members, proposed a “statement of intent and purpose” for the committee to follow, which was approved. The statement said, “This committee will prepare and recommend a town ordinance which will constitute the section of Greeneville Municipal Code dealing with property maintenance. “Such ordinance shall a) give property owners a clear understanding of what is the law, b) clearly outline the town’s method for enforcement, and c) eliminate In the
committee’s second meeting on Aug. 16, Lowrey proposed a “statement of intent and purpose” for the committee to follow, which was approved. The statement said, “This committee will prepare and recommend a town ordinance which will constitute the section of Greeneville Municipal Code dealing with property maintenance. “Such ordinance shall a) give property owners a clear understanding of what is the law, b) clearly outline the town’s method for enforcement, and c) eliminate any conflicts with other parts of the Municipal Code.” Later, however, at the Sept. 14 meeting, Lowrey voted against the revised version of the IPMC developed by the committee, stating he thought the committee had not addressed citizens’ objections to the IPMC. “Superficial changes have been considered, but the fundamental issues have been ignored,” Lowrey said. Lowrey listed what he said were three main objections to the original IPMC from citizens: • “The IPMC has such intrusive requirements that virtually every citizen is not compliant; passing the IPMC would result immediately in a town of law-breakers.” • “The IPMC has such intrusive requirements that the God-given right of citizens to steward their own property is violated.” • “The IPMC has requirements which are outside the objective of health and safety.” On Sept. 14, Lowrey made a motion at a meeting of the committee to use these three objections as a guide for amending the IPMC, changing all language to conform to the objections. His motion died for lack of a second.
Security Tightened At Courthouse With New Restrictions BY KRISTEN BUCKLES STAFF WRITER
“April Fool’s Day” in 2011 saw several new restrictions go into effect at the Greene County Courthouse that were no laughing matter. The Greene County Sheriff ’s Department announced the prohibition of some commonplace items from the courthouse. While any form of weapon has long been prohibited, additional items that may no longer find their way into a courtroom include cell phones, cigarette lighters, recording devices, any photographic devices, and any form of tobacco product. Sheriff’s deputies operating the metal detector located just inside the courthouse doors frequently turn away individuals if they locate any of these items on their person. Deputies ask the individuals to leave the items in their car and then return to the courthouse. On occasion, Sheriff Steve
SUN PHOTO BY PHIL GENTRY
Sgt. Charles Morelock scans Melissa Taylor at the Greene County Courthouse following changes to increase security and speed the lines of people entering the courthouse. Burns has said that the deputies may choose to temporarily hold an item at the metal detector station. Deputies make some
exceptions for Greene County Commission meetings, such as allowing news media representatives to bring in cam-
eras and tape recorders. After-hours events at the courthouse, such as special political meetings, do not utilize the
metal detector, and the restrictions therefore do not apply. “You always use common sense,” Burns told The Greeneville Sun before the changes took place. “People need to understand that we’ll always treat them the best we can.” At the time, Burns cited three reasons for the new restrictions: security, the reduction of delays, and judges’ preferences. Cell phones and cigarette lighters can be altered to form a dangerous weapon or to facilitate attempted escapes, he said. Judges often prefer that the public not use electronic devices, such as cell phones and tape recorders, while inside their courtrooms because they can cause disruptions. Another security issue surrounded individuals’ attempts to slip tobacco products to prisoners while they are inside the courthouse, Burns added. The sheriff also said that lines to enter the courthouse through the metal detector
station can become long, which is difficult for the public when there is little area for individuals standing outside to avoid inclement weather. Since smoking is not allowed in the courthouse, one factor in the long lines has been individuals’ constantly coming in and out in order to smoke, the sheriff said. Sgt. Charles Morelock, who oversees courthouse security, said recently that the new exemptions have improved the line situation as people become more familiar with what items cannot be brought into the courthouse. However, he said that upcoming changes and improvements to the courthouse vestibule should further improve the situation. Burns said that he and Sgt. Morelock checked procedures at a number of other Tennessee courthouses and then reconciled similar procedures to the local courthouse’s circumstances for security, efficiency and public convenience.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION
Driver Center Reinstated To Full Services By State Commissioner BY KRISTEN BUCKLES STAFF WRITER
The suspension of most services at the Greene County Driver Service Center proved only temporary this winter after local citizens and officials rallied in unison to protest through e-mails and phone calls to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Commissioner Bill Gibbons, who heads the department, visited Greeneville in late January, less than three weeks after the change took place, to announce the official reinstatement of all services at the center. “The driver service center here will continue to be the reinstatement center for Upper East Tennessee, but will also be handling all the other drivers license transactions that it has normally been handling,” he said. In addition to now being the only local center for license reinstatements, road tests for driver licenses are now only available at the center on the first Saturday of every month, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Such appointments must be scheduled in advance by calling the center at 638-2385. Gibbons urged Greene Countians to thank the center’s employees for the reinstatement of full services, as they assured him they are capable of handling the workload. “They voluntarily said to me, ‘Look, we can do it all,’” the commissioner said. County Mayor Alan Broyles declared the service reinstatement a “grand-slam home run for Greene County.” As of Jan. 1, the center became the only location in Northeast Tennessee to offer reinstatement services for those with a revoked or suspended license. But it no longer offered the majority of customary services, including license renewals, driver and gun permits, driving tests and more. LONG WAITS This change, Gibbons explained, was an effort to reduce long wait times for traditional services at centers across the state. He said that these waits often are the result of the long and complicated process required to reinstate a revoked or suspended license. However, many Greene Countians complained that this change placed undue burdens on them by requiring a trip to a full-service center in either Morristown or Johnson City to obtain a driver license and some license renewals. While Gibbons said the change was to improve wait times at other centers that were averaging just under an hour, for many in this county the change meant an average 60-to-90-minute round trip to the nearest full-service centers. The loss of services enjoyed for many years at the center on Hal Henard Road set off a torrent of citizen calls to local officials, state legislators and the commissioner himself, protesting the removal of the services and asking that they be restored. Several individuals reported traveling outside the county to find long waits at other centers, prompting frustration and, at times, anger.
SUN PHOTO BY O.J. EARLY
Customers wait to take care of business at the Greene County Driver Service Center the week following the reinstatement of all services. The local center, on Hal Henard Road, will also continue to be the regional facility for license reinstatements. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security website, during this time Greene County was the only county in the state that did not have either a fullservice center or a location for duplicates and renewals of non-commercial driver licenses. SHORT NOTICE Also frustrating to many citizens and local officials was the manner in which the department made the announcement. Gibbons informed State. Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, State Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-11th, of Cosby, and State Sen. Steve Southerland, R-1st, of Morristown, on the center’s final day of operation before the change took effect. The department informed local media through a news release sent out that same day, Dec. 29. The center was closed Friday, Dec. 30, and the change in services became official on Jan. 1. Gibbons did not inform County Mayor Alan Broyles of the impending change, however. When Broyles received word of the change, he requested that Gibbons visit Greene County to address the issue in person and hold a news conference. WHO’S WHO It was during that conference, some two-and-a-half weeks later, that the commissioner announced his decision to reinstate the services. Numerous officials were in attendance for the meeting, which became something of a who’s-who of Greene County politics. Among those present were both the Greene County and the Greeneville mayors, several Greene County commissioners, and all three state legislators who represent Greeneville and Greene County. County Clerk David Thompson, Sheriff Steve Burns, Greene County Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk, and Greeneville Chief Student Services Officer Jeff Townsley also participated. In addition, numerous officials from Gibbons’ department traveled with him from Nashville. Security details for the meeting included pooled efforts by the Greeneville Police Department, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
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THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION Saturday, March 17, 2012
County Votes To Operate Its Own Asphalt Plant BY KRISTEN BUCKLES STAFF WRITER
Months of heated debate finally culminated in the purchase of a county-owned-andoperated asphalt plant in October for $769,900 following a 14-to-7 vote — exactly the two-thirds the state required — by the Greene County Commission. The plant should arrive in the county by April 2012 and be ready for use this summer. While County Commissioner Hilton Seay said the commission had discussed the matter on and off for years, the issue came to a head in June 2011 during a public hearing to study the financial feasibility of such a plant. A state-appointed Financial Feasibility Oversight Committee officiated the hearing on June 22 in the boardroom of the Greene County Board of Education’s James W. Parham Building. Attendees filled the room to capacity. For four hours, officials and the three-member feasibility group studied and debated the merits of a financial feasibility study Greene County Highway Superintendent David Weems had requested from the University of Tennessee’s County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS). The Oversight Committee appointed to evaluate the study was chaired by Ronald Queen, a county government consultant with the office of the State Comptroller of the Treasury. Other committee members included Mike Agee, with the Tennessee Road Builders Association, and James H. Westbrook, of the Tennessee County Highway Officials Association. The purpose of the committee was to determine whether the financial feasibility study included “all appropriate ordinary and necessary capital and operational costs.” Part of those criteria included an estimate of production cost savings, the need for hot-mix asphalt over the next 15 years, the ability of the Highway Department to purchase the necessary components, and the impact on the local economy and state and local tax revenues. Following some revisions throughout the hearing, the study projected that, in June/July 2010, Greene County could have produced asphalt at $50.27 per ton, rather than the $62.20 purchase price of that time. For years, the county purchased “hot-mix” asphalt from private suppliers, mainly Summers Taylor, which has a location on the Rogersville Road (Lonesome Pine Trail, Tennessee Rt. 70) near the Vulcan Materials quarry. Following the agreedupon modifications to the study’s electric, heating, employee, spoilage and miscellaneous costs, Queen and Westbrook voted in favor of the completeness and accuracy of the study, thereby granting the state’s approval. MAJORITY REPORT Before the County Commission could take the matter to a vote, however, the members of the Oversight Committee had to first release their majority and minority opinion reports. Thirty days after the hearing took place, the members made the reports public. In the majority report, Queen and Westbrook reiterated their opinion that the study should accurately ref lect the costs the county could anticipate in the purchase and implementation of an asphalt plant and that the county could recoup its investment within an appropriate time. MINORITY REPORT However, in the minority report, Agee pointed to many issues of disagreement or skepticism
SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN
Road Superintendent David Weems, at right, addresses the Greene County Commission in August during a meeting in which the members voted 14-7 in favor of buying an asphalt plant. TENSION, ACCUSATIONS Before the matter finally came before the full County Commission, both the County Highway Committee and the County Long-Range Planning Committee took it under consideration. Commissioner Ted Hensley, who frequently referred to himself as the “spearhead of opposition” against the plant, called the Long-Range Planning Committee to meet and study the issue in July. Tension and accusations filled the meeting, which lasted almost two hours and ended without any specific decisions. However, after a tour of Washington County’s asphalt plant in August, the Highway Committee unanimously recommended purchasing the plant. By state law, the County Commission had to approve the matter through a two-thirds SUN PHOTO BY O.J. EARLY vote, requiring at least 14 Washington County Road Superintendent John Deakins, center, talks with County Commissioner Robert Bird of the 21 commissioners to while conducting a tour of Washington County’s asphalt plant. Shown, from left to right, are Commissioners approve the purchase.
Nathan Holt, Robin Quillen, Bird, Road Supt. Deakins, Greene County Road Superintendent David Weems, and Commissioner Lloyd “Hoot” Bowers. APPROVAL IN AUGUST In August, after a prolonged public hearing in which numerous citizens spoke against purchasing the plant, the commission voted, giving the plant exactly the twothirds majority needed to approve the plant: 14 to 7. Commissioners Phil King, Ted Hensley, John Carter, Bill Moss, Brenda Grogan, David Crum and Jimmy Sams voted against the resolution to approve the plant, while all others voted in favor. Those in favor included Commissioners Jan Kiker, John Waddle, Nathan Holt, Margaret SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN Greenway, Hilton Seay, County commissioners, concerned citizens and representatives from Summers Taylor, among others, fill the Anthony Sauceman, M.C. boardroom of the Greene County Board of Education’s James W. Parham Building during a public hearing Rollins, Lloyd “Hoot” Bowconcerning the then-proposed county asphalt plant. The hearing allowed a three-man committee to publicly ers, Robin Quillen, Robert Bird, Rennie Hopson, Tim question and study a financial feasibility report for the plant. White, Fred Malone and Wade McAmis. these factors meant the county would produce DECISION STANDS asphalt for $4.61 a ton In September, Hensmore than the cost to ley presented a resolupurchase the asphalt. tion requesting that the “Once the county commission rescind its received this bid ($52 per decision to approve the ton), this entire debate purchase, but the resoluabout an asphalt plant tion failed 16-5, with only should have ended,” Agee commissioners Carter, wrote. Hensley, King, Moss and Grogan voting in favor of SPECIFIC POINT IN TIME rescinding. Several county commisSimilarly, a motion by sioners and Supt. Weems Hensley to form a separate argued against this, accounting system for the saying that the CTAS asphalt plant operations study conducted during failed in October with 19 2010 and early 2011 was dissenting votes, King SUN PHOTO BY KRISTEN BUCKLES intended to deal with a abstaining and Hensley Workers with the Greene County Highway Department use a crane in early March specific point in time, as voting in its favor. 2012 to lift pieces of a truck scale off the bed of a tractor. The scale was the first was stated in the majority Many commissioners of several loads of equipment to arrive at the site on Hal Henard Road where the report. noted that the accounting county’s new asphalt plant will be located. In addition, they also must be based on auditors’ pointed to the temporary requirements and that most he had with the study, June public hearing. asphalt the county could nature of the lower bid, of Hensley’s requests in the citing his knowledge of The charts showed the purchase in implement- which was related to the resolution would thereby be other plants’ operating committee’s approved ing a 2010 $5.5 million much-larger-than-usual met automatically. costs and his own years production cost num- road bond. amount of asphalt to be Since that time, no further of experience operating bers supplement ed (In the CTAS study, the purchased. resolutions have appeared, and managing asphalt with an updated cost road bond money allowed “I feel like this big and the County Purchasplants. of materials and a dis- for the purchase of the decrease in the price of ing Committee approved Agee estimated that the counted price of $ 52 per plant and the higher asphalt is a reminder of the purchase of the plant county’s cost to produce ton for the high-volume production of asphalt to how much profit there just a few days later. asphalt, with updated purchase of asphalt make its startup finan- really is for the vendor,” Weems has since completcomponent costs, would that Summers Taylor cially feasible for the Weems said after first ed the rough grading for be $62.90 per ton, if the offered the county dur- county.) hearing of the reduced the site where the asphalt county produced 37,000 ing annual bidding two The lower bid extended bid. plant will be located on tons per year. weeks after the public beyond 2011-12 for up to “This kind of tells me, Hal Henard Road and He also pointed to hearing. three years, provided the in my opinion, that the has said he expects to be charts he and Summers Summers Taylor Presi- county purchases at least county’s probably been finished in time for the Taylor produced that dent Rab Summers said 25,000 tons the prior overpaying for asphalt for asphalt plant to arrive Commissioner Ted Hens- he based the lower bid on year. many years.” in March, pending clear ley released following the the additional amounts of According to the charts, weather.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION
Kinser Park Hires New Manager, Wrangles With Finances BY AMY ROSE
site, www.kinserpark.com. The commission appointed a committee to review the applications for the position of park manager. Committee members were Brenda Grogan, Max Cox, Keith Paxton and M.C. Rollins. A total of 36 applications were reviewed by the committee. The commission also began holding public drawings to determine which applicants receive seasonal campsites at the park.
The Kinser Park Commission stayed very busy in the past year, hiring a new park manager, reviewing finances, and wrangling with lease details. Rex Oster was hired in May as the new park manager. The leases discussed at length by the commission were with the Greeneville Marlins youth baseball organization, and Gary Ricker, manager of the park’s golf course. In the commission’s Feb. 28 meeting, the resignations of commissioners Tony Maggio and Denny Wills were announced. Wills resigned because of his devotion to the Greeneville Marlins, according to City Attorney Ron Woods. Woods recalled a Feb. 8 meeting with Tennessee Valley Authority officials to work toward finalizing a lease agreement between Kinser Park and the Marlins. Wills wanted to attend the meeting to represent the Marlins, but Woods told him it would be illegal for him and Chairman Schubel to attend a closed session at the same time to discuss business. As a result, Wills resigned so he could represent the Marlins in the meeting. The Marlins have been working for months on renewal of their lease for use of ballfields and a batting facility they built at the park. The lease would give the Marlins priority for use of the ballfields and exclusive use of the batting facility, which TVA does not allow. TVA owns the property where Kinser Park is located, and leases it to Greeneville and Greene
FINANCIAL MATTERS On Oct. 11, the commission met in a rare financial workshop to review salaries and other expenditures. The workshop was held in the board room at Greeneville Town Hall. Longtime commissioner Dr. George Scott died May 9 at age 86. Scott’s son, Dr. Haden Scott, now serves on the commission. The senior Scott was known for his focus on the park’s monthly financial statements and his work to make sure the statements were accurate. Following his death, Wills was elected treasurer and began providing detailed financial reports for the commission. Phil King is the other member who serves with Chairman Shubel, Cox, Grogan, Paxton, Rollins, and Scott.
SUN PHOTO BY AMY ROSE
The Kinser Park Commission toured the park manager’s residence in a called session in June. Shown, from left, inside the residence, are: Rex Oster, park manager; and Commissioners Brenda Grogan, Keith Paxton, M.C. Rollins and Chairman Bob Schubel.
County. TVA’s policy calls for all facilities at the park to be open for public use. On Feb. 8, TVA officials met with Woods, attorney for the park, and Kenneth Hood, attorney for the Marlins, to work toward an acceptable lease agreement. Woods said Hood is optimistic that an agreement can be reached. The Marlins will create a proposal that complies with all TVA standards and present it to the commission, Woods said. Schubel said he hopes that, when “the dust settles” on the Marlins lease issue, Wills will rejoin the commission. The Kinser Park Com-
mission appointed Wills as an at-large member in January 2010. Maggio was appointed to the commission by the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen in December 2008. Maggio contacted Schubel on Feb. 27 to say that personal demands on his time prevented him from continuing to serve on the commission, Schubel said. Schubel told the commission he would meet with Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels to get a successor appointed to the seat vacated by Maggio. GOLF LEASE Also on Feb. 28, the commission voted to give Gary
Ricker 30 more days to manage the golf course at the park, then open the management position for public bids. During that 30 days, the commission would inspect and closely monitor the golf course, the motion also stated. Ricker will be allowed to submit a bid, it was noted. Schubel cited inadequate bookkeeping and lack of regular monthly payments by Ricker as the reasons for the change. Ricker’s lease with the park calls for him to make monthly payments to the park in an amount equivalent to 10 percent of green fees and cart fees.
NEW MANAGER Oster succeeded Johnny Gregg, who retired April 30. Also leaving was Joel Bowman, who had served as assistant manager. Oster is being assisted by his wife, Shari, who has revamped the park’s web-
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THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION Saturday, March 17, 2012
Greeneville Water Dept. Renews Contract, Scores Well With State BY AMY ROSE AND KRISTEN BUCKLES STAFF WRITERS
The Greeneville Water Department had a busy year, renewing a contract, installing new water lines, and planning equipment upgrades. In February, it was announced that the Water Department is planning approximately $250,000 in clear-well upgrades at the Water Treatment Plant. The project will correct a flaw in piping that is preventing the plant from operating at capacity, according to Water Superintendent Laura White. The Water Department has applied for a grant that could cover the entire cost of the clear-well upgrades. The Greeneville Water Commission voted in February to accept bids for the project. In November, it was announced that Greeneville received $500,000 in state Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for sewer plant improvements. Greeneville’s project, totaling $657,900, will include $157,900 in local funds. The project involves replacement of the head works at the Water Department’s wastewater treatment plant, according to Doug Carver, water department engineer. The head works are located in the area of the plant where wastewater enters and is screened to remove paper and a variety of other large items, Carver said. The existing head works are approximately 30 years old, which is resulting in larger items bypassing the screening area, Carver said. NEW WATER LINES The Water Department has been working recently on installing new water lines in two areas of town. At Marshall Lane, off the Newport Highway, the department completed an estimated onemile extension of 12-inch ductile iron pipe. The purpose of the extension was to provide Glen Hills Utility District with more water and to reduce turnover in the Water Department’s water tanks. The cost of the project was $300,000, paid out of the Water Department’s capital improvement budget.
SUN PHOTO BY O.J. EARLY
This $300,000 water line project near Marshall Lane and the Newport Highway in February provides Glen Hills Utility District with more water and reduces the turnover in the Water Department’s water tanks. In March, the Water Department replaced 300 feet of two-inch galvanized line with sixinch ductile iron pipe on Cherry Street, because the galvanized line was having frequent breaks. The Water Department also installed a fire hydrant on the line. The work is being done inhouse for an approximate cost of $10,000, White said. CHUCKEY CONTRACT The Water Commission spent much time in 2011 working to renew its contract with the Chuckey Utility District. After months of debate, a 20-year contract was approved, as opposed to a previous version that included a 10-year term. The shorter term had caused some concern for Greeneville because of the possibility that Chuckey, a major water customer for the Greeneville Water Commission, might build its own water treatment plant in the next several years. The Chuckey Utility District has taken steps to make that possible in the future if its board should consider it necessary or desirable, but the utility district board has also said that there are no plans to do so at this time. The Greeneville Water Commission had also pointed out that all of its other water contracts with other rural utility districts were for 20-year terms, and the commis-
sion said it would be unfair not to require the same term for the Chuckey contract. In addition to the length of the term, the only other major revision, according to Collins, is a “Minimum Purchase” section that says, “Chuckey agrees to purchase a minimum of 300,000 gallons of water per day averaged over each monthly billing period. “Chuckey agrees to pay GWC for this monthly minimum purchase amount regardless of whether Chuckey actually accepts delivery of this minimum purchase amount during the month. “In the event GWC cannot supply Chuckey with the minimum daily purchase amount, Chuckey may purchase or acquire water from an alternative source to supply in such quantities of water as GWC is unable to supply. “In the event of such purchases, Chuckey shall take adequate precautions to prevent any backflow or other cross-contamination of GWC distribution system with alternative water.” A previous draft of the contract stated that Greeneville would be the sole supplier for Chuckey, Collins said, except for the Town of Jonesborough, which has provided water for a small portion of Chuckey’s customers. CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS In November, the Water Commission voted for the Water Department
to start accepting credit card and debit card payments. The transactions will be made at the Water Department office only, because of additional costs for online payments, according to White. Customers using credit cards or debit cards to pay their monthly bills will have a 2-to-3 percent transaction fee added to their payments, White said. HIGH TDEC SCORE The Water Department scored a 99 on the Sanitary Survey by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Water Supply. The survey takes place every two years and requires between three and four days for the state to complete. In 2009, the Water Department scored a 98 on the TDEC survey. An update on the emergency operations plans, improvements to standard operating procedures, and submission of all records helped the commission move another percentage point forward, according to White. The survey included an inspection of the water plant, the monitoring system, water storage tanks, distribution system, and general recordkeeping, among many other items. “The lab facilities at the Greeneville Water Plant are in excellent
condition,” the inspector commented in the report. “They provide all of the necessary equipment for daily analytical testing and were very clean and organized.” There is, of course, that one percentage point that the system still lacks, which is a result of not having “blow-offs” on all of the dead-end lines, White said. The superintendent added that most systems lose points in this area because it is difficult to locate all the dead-end lines. Such lines occur when, for example, the line ends at the last house on a street, White said. A “blow-off” at the end of the line is a device that helps ensure the water properly flushes through the entire line to stay fresh, she said. There are 602 such dead-end lines in the system, and the commission is working to install 25 blow-offs every year, White said. With only this one item at issue, the superintendent said that the commission is “really proud” of the system and the employees whose hard work helps them make improvements. OTHER WATER NEWS In the Town of Baileyton, a dispute with North Greene Utilities, Inc. (NGU) prompted a water-related lawsuit that resulted in a $40,000 mediation agreement. The Town entered into mediation with NGU on
Dec. 7, following which NGU proposed the settlement to Mayor Tommy Casteel “to resolve the controversy.” “There’s no winners in this lawsuit,” Casteel told Baileyton’s aldermen in their December meeting. “Everybody loses when you have a lawsuit.” The board voted unanimously to approve the mediation agreement for the $40,000 amount, which was significantly less than Baileyton originally sought. The lawsuit included damages of $300,000, plus interests and related expenses for what the suit referred to as the “illegal” dumping of water into the town’s sewer system. Baileyton had alleged in the lawsuit that NGU was in breach of its contract “as a result of the unauthorized and surreptitious discharge of thousands of gallons of water over an extended period of time” into the Town’s wastewater system. The plant’s “sporadic excess flows for which it could not account” first began in late 1999, and in 2004, the town “started an exhaustive effort to determine the source of increasingly large, but unaccounted-for flows,” the allegations stated. A flow meter reportedly installed in April 2008 near North Greene’s water plant “determined that the plant was dumping approximately 9,642 gallons of water per day into the Baileyton wastewater sewer system.” The complaint alleged that, based on 2008 sewer rates, this level of discharge would have resulted in $33,929 in annual revenue. NGU replied to the lawsuit in 2011, saying that the utility has always operated under an agreement calling for the minimum charge for sewer services and that the Town “had knowledge that from time to time [NGU] would pump additional water into the sewer system but nevertheless accepted the mutual agreement that [NGU] would pay the minimum bill for sewer services at the water treatment plant.” Among other replies against the lawsuit, NGU also pointed out that the Town was aware that the water treatment plant did not monitor the amount of water discharged and that Baileyton had chosen not to install a meter.
Airport Authority OKs Bid For Third Phase Of Runway Project BY AMY ROSE STAFF WRITER
The GreenevilleGreene County Airport Authority voted Oct. 3 to accept $834,153 as the low bid for the third phase of the runway realignment project. The GreenevilleGreene County Municipal Airport’s runway realignment project, which began in 2009, is designed to correct a “hump” near the middle of the runway surface elevation that for years has caused a line-of-sight problem for pilots. The slight rise in the runway has made it difficult for pilots in planes on the ground at one end of the runway to see planes on the ground at the other end of the runway. A second safety concern the project is designed to correct involves inadequate safety areas on
both sides of the runway and the ends of the runway. The project is designed to bring the airport into compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for safe airport operations. The bid approved in October from SummersTaylor Inc. was the lowest of six bids, according to information presented by Janet Malone, Airport Authority chairman. The third phase of the project includes stream mitigation and road relocation on Whitehouse Road, according to Malone. 4TH PHASE IN SEPTEMBER Earlier this month, Malone said the fourth and likely final phase of the runway realignment project is planned to begin in September. Malone said the next phase will cost approxi-
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Saturday, March 17, 2012
THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION
GL&PS Plans $3.5M In Upgrades, Starts Online Bill-Paying BY AMY ROSE
options menu, and pressing 2 will go directly to the option for making a payment. Customers can store their information in the system to make it easier for future payments. The only types of credit cards that will be accepted are MasterCard and Visa.
The Greeneville Light & Power System plans to spend $3.5 million for improvements, according to action taken in November by the utility’s board of directors. The improvements are planned in two phases: • $1.2 million for construction of a new substation near the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park, with $800,000 for new transmission lines; and • $1.5 million for new transmission lines from the Mt. Pleasant substation to Pottertown Road. The improvements were recommended in October by General Manager Bill Carroll and Operations Manager Chuck Bowlin. In October, the board delayed action on the improvements, instead voting to spend $65,000 to hire a consultant to develop a five-year system improvement plan. Fisher & Arnold, Inc., of Memphis, was the lowest bidder to develop the plan at $50,900. The firm confirmed the recommendation by Carroll and Bowlin, placing the $3.5 million in improvements at the top of the utility’s priority list. In September, the board voted to spend $217,000 for property where the new substation will be located. The site, slightly more than one acre, is at the corner of West Andrew Johnson Highway and Mt. Pleasant Road, across from the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Park. The commercial site was owned by local businessman Sonny Marsh,
SUN PHOTO BY PHIL GENTRY
The Greeneville Fire Department used a controlled burn in April to demolish the small house behind the Greeneville Light & Power System headquarters at the corner of Academy and East Church streets. The department used the house for training exercises earlier in the week. During the controlled burn, the Fire Department kept water on the magnolia trees near the house to protect them from the fire and heat. The house had been unoccupied for several years and was reportedly not in livable condition. according to Carroll. The new substation is needed primarily because of expansions planned by three companies located in the industrial park, Bowlin said in September. GL&PS has 23 substations across the county. It has been four years since the utility’s newest substations, the Pioneer and the Crossroads substations, were built, Bowlin said in June.
ONLINE, PHONE PAYMENTS The utility made billpaying more convenient for its customers by adding options to accept payments by Internet or telephone. The services began in July, allowing customers to pay using a credit card, debit card, or checking account at no charge to the customer, according to Jim Glaze, director of customer services. Online payments can be made at the utility’s
website, www.glps.net. To use the option, customers must register online by providing their account number, last name or business name, e-mail address, and their own password. Once customers are registered online, they can sign in with just their e-mail address and password each time to pay their bill. Customers receive email messages reminding them to pay their bills and allowing them
to view their statements online. The online and phone payments can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Phone payments can be made by calling toll-free to 1-866-999-4581. Customers must provide their account number, credit card or debit card information, or bank routing and checking account numbers. Pressing 1 will give customers a billing
HOUSE BURNED The board tabled plans to redesign its drivethru area where GL&PS burned a residential structure it previously purchased. The delay of the redesign was suggested by Carroll because of an expected decrease in drive-thru traffic related to the addition of online and phone payment options. The small house behind the GL&PS headquarters was burned in April in a fire controlled by the Greeneville Fire Department. The fire department and the Greeneville Police Department used the structure for training purposes before it was burned. Burning the house saved GL&PS $4,000 to $5,000 in demolition costs, Carroll said. Because the house was located in Greeneville’s Historic District, the demolition was considered and approved by the Greeneville Historic Zoning Commission. A number of items in the house were donated to charity. In July, the board reelected Willie Anderson as chairman and Sam Miller as secretary. Other members are Jim Emory, Shane Hite, and Greeneville Alderman Sarah Webster.
Airport Starts on Page 8 involve construction of the southwest threshold and taxiway, and relocation of the airport access road, she said. Baker Construction is the general contractor. Ba rge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon is the engineering firm for the project. STREAM GRANT In September, it was announced that the local airport received an $88,695 grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), Aeronautics Division, for stream mitigation. Rerouting of the stream in the Whitehouse Road area is required by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC),
SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN
Sunny, dry weather in June provided good operating conditions for the continuing construction work on the runway realignment project at the Greeneville-Greene County Municipal Airport.
Malone said. The grant requires a local funding match of $9,855, making the total amount for the stream mitigation project $ 98,550, accord-
ing to a TDOT news release. LEASE ABATEMENT In October, the board approved a request for lease abatement through
the end of 2011 for the airport’s fixed-base operation, Greeneville Aviation Services Inc. Pam Smead, president, presented a comparison of the amounts of fuel
pumped during August for the past four years. The amounts were: $23,772 in 2008, $20,330 in 2009, $14,230 in 2010, and $7,429 in 2011. The Airport Authority
has abated the monthly lease payments for the past year because of lower-than-normal fuel usage. The monthly lease payment is $500.
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THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION Saturday, March 17, 2012
Nuclear Fuel Services On Brink Of 25-Year License Renewal BY KEN LITTLE STAFF WRITER
There were some bumps in the road during 2011 at Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. (NFC) in Erwin, but also many positive developments, company officials said. NFS and its predecessors have been major suppliers of fuel for decades to the U.S. Navy’s fleet of nuclear-powered ships and submarines. NFS, a subsidiary of the Babcock & Wilcox Company, signed a new contract in November 2011 to continue the arrangement. The NFS facility, located near the Nolichucky River 28 miles upstream from Greeneville, also processes weapons-grade uranium into nuclear reactor fuel. NFS is also in the midst of a three-year, $60 million renovation and expansion project, company officials said. NFS employs more than 700 people full-time and is in the process of getting its operating license extended, against the opposition of critics who contend that the plant is not safe and has already negatively affected the health of many people in the community. ‘NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT’ In October 2011, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a final environmental assessment that finds no significant impact “on the quality of the human environment” in connection with a renewal of the plant’s operating license. NFS had first sought a 40year renewal of the license. NFS changed the request to 25 years late in 2011. NFS’ Erwin plant has been operating on a 10-year license that expired in July 2009. “When the current (NFS) president, Joe Henry, came on board, one of his early actions was to review the content and status of our NRC license renewal application,” said company spokeswoman Lauri Turpin. “Given that the longestissued license term for an NRC license Category 1 fuel facility to date is 20 years, he concluded that a 25-year license term would be sufficient to support NFS’ business and financial needs,” Turpin said in a recent email response to questions about the license. All necessary information has been submitted by NFS, said Joey Ledford, a spokesman for the NRC. “Now it’s up to us to make a decision on the license extension,” Ledford said. NRC staff is currently conducting a safety review of the NFS license renewal application. PRESENT LICENSE The present license authorizes NFS to receive, possess, store, use, and ship special nuclear material enriched up to 100 percent. Under the proposed action, NFS would continue production of reactor fuel for the U.S. Navy and for commercial domestic operations. NFS also must receive the approval of the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC), through its Division of Water Pollution Control. A TDEC hearing on the proposed license renewal was held in May 2011 in Erwin to obtain public comment. Another meeting was held in March. If granted, the renewed license would allow NFS to continue operations and activities at the site for a 25-year period. In November 2011, company officials commented after the new contract for the manufacture and delivery of fuel support activities for the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program was awarded. “Manufacture of fuel for the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program is a process developed by and unique to NFS,” company Henry said in a news release. “We have been powering the submarines and aircraft carriers of our nation’s Navy for over half a century. It is a great source of pride to our employees and to me that this contribution will continue,” Henry said. Turpin, the NFS spokes-
SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN
Barbara O’Neal, at center, a member of the Erwin Citizens Awareness Network, asks a question during a public meeting in August hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at Erwin Town Hall. Looking on at left is Trudy Wallack, of Greene County. At right is Linda Modica, of Jonesborough, a Sierra Club representative. woman, said the company looks forward to a continuation of its longstanding relationship with the U.S. Navy. “We are proud to be continuing our work as the sole provider of fuel for the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion program in 2012,” Turpin said. Meanwhile, NFS is progressing with various construction projects involving facility upgrades and improvements, with an investment of about $60 million over a three-year time span. These projects include a new employee entrance and warehouse. The company emphasizes safe operations. “A top priority at NFS is always safe and secure operations, and this will continue in 2012. Our 700plus full-time employees are highly trained, and dedicated to maintaining the most stringent level of safety and compliance every day on the job,” Henry said. In October 2011, NFS announced that it completed the transformation of weapons-grade uranium into a low-enriched form suitable for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to use in its commercial nuclear reactors. The Blended LowEnriched Uranium (BLEU) project began with an interagency agreement between TVA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). “The BLEU project created a partnership between government agencies and companies with specific nuclear expertise in a true ‘swords to plowshares’ initiative,” Henry said. “Completion of this project illustrates NFS’ role in contributing to our nation’s nuclear non-proliferation initiatives, while at the same time supporting the TVA’s need for economical nuclear fuel.” NFS and its predecessors have been part of the Unicoi County landscape since the 1950s. 2009 ‘PROCESS INCIDENT’ In 2011, the NRC concluded that NFS satisfactorily completed all commitments made in a “confirmatory action letter” (CAL) dated Jan. 7, 2010, in connection with a “process incident” at NFS two years ago. The incident on Oct. 13, 2009, in which a stronger-than-expected reaction caused safety vents at the plant to heat up and become deformed, caused no injuries at the plant, but the NRC considered it serious enough to intervene. The NRC ordered all process lines at NFS to cease operations in December 2009. The federal agency gradually allowed NFS to restart each process line. The uranium hexafluoride line, given approval to restart in July 2011, was the last production line at NFS to remain shut down as a result of the 2009 incident. Following the incident, NFS made commitments “to ensure that the root causes of the process upset have been adequately evaluated and appropriate corrective actions have been implemented for all potentially affected processes” before operations resumed, according to an October 2011 letter to Henry from an
NRC official. NFS continues to make improvements in internal “safety culture” procedures under earlier scrutiny from the NRC, company officials have said. TAINTED SOIL EXCAVATED In April 2011, an NRC official acknowledged that plutonium-contaminated soil was being excavated from a site on the NFS property. Kevin M. Ramsey, NRC Project Manager of the Fuel Manufacturing Branch of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards, said during a public meeting where NRC officials met with NFS management to discuss results of a license performance review, that the excavation had been ongoing over the first several months of 2011 at “Site 234” on the NFS property. The excavation took place at a location paved over in the past and covered by “a big tent” as the soil was
being dug, Ramsey said. The plutonium contamination being excavated was below ground level, Ramsey said. The acknowledgment of the below-grade plutonium at the NFS plant has a potentially significant bearing on a study released in November 2010 that reported traces of highly-enriched uranium as far downstream on the Nolichucky River as Greene County. Plutonium is a metallic, radioactive chemical element similar to uranium that is found in trace quantities in nature. One form, or isotope, of plutonium is used in the production of nuclear weapons. Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia, states that it is also “a regular byproduct of a [nuclear] reactor’s splitting a uranium atom in two.” According to information on the NRC website, NFS started the cleanup of the
contaminated soil beneath the building footprint in 2011. NFS removed the physical structure of Building 234 as part of past cleanup activities in 2003, according to the NRC. “The materials removed were sent to off-site disposal sites during the time frame of 1999 to 2003 in various phases of facility decommissioning. “In 2003, the licensee erected a large tent over the building footprint. As of 2011, the licensee has begun the cleanup of the contaminated soil beneath the building footprint,” the NRC website states. Building 234, the Plutonium Building, stopped operation in 1973. “NFS continues the process of decommissioning an area of its facility around the former Building 234. This project is being conducted within regulatory requirements and with conservative safety measures in place to protect NFS workers, the public, and the environment,” Turpin said. CIVIL LAWSUIT FILED NFS officials deny all allegations made in a lawsuit filed in June 2011 in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. Among those representing plaintiffs in the civil action is prominent Greeneville lawyer John T. Milburn Rogers. The lawsuit contends that releases of “radioactive, hazardous and toxic substances into the surrounding environment” by NFS and other defendants caused cancer and other diseases in the surrounding population. The suit also alleges “reckless and grossly negligent” operation of the facility and asks for a jury trial. NFS and six other companies with previous ownership interests in the Unicoi
County facility are named as defendants. The case is pending in federal court. NFS released a statement after the lawsuit was filed that the company “firmly believes that its operations have not harmed anyone in the community, and the company will vigorously defend itself against any lawsuit alleging otherwise.” Turpin later added that NFS “maintains its position that our operations have been safe and continue to be safe. We will answer any allegations claiming otherwise vigorously and through the appropriate legal channels.” NFC officials downplayed an incident on Jan. 9 of this year at the plant, where an equipment failure caused about 750 gallons of nitric acid to leak into a dike at the facility’s Outside Bulk Chemical Storage Area. No injuries resulted, the company said. There were no sanctions by the NRC or the state in connection with the spill. “There were no radiological hazards associated with the event,” according to a report filed in February by the NFS and provided to the NRC, TDEC, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Unicoi County Emergency Management. There were “no actual safety consequences” to employees, the public, or the environment associated with the event, the report added. The NFS plant has some vocal critics in the area concerned with potential environmental effects. But as a major employer in Unicoi County, the operation is a major economic contributor to the county and region, officials have said.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012
THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION
Rocky Fork Likely To Reach Full U.S. Ownership This Year BY KRISTEN BUCKLES STAFF WRITER
Images of babbling brooks, undeveloped land and abundant wildlife capture the essence of Rocky Fork — an almost-10,000-acre tract of land that the state and federal government have spent years working to conserve. The United States Forest Service purchased another 1,429 acres of the land this past September. With the addition of a recent grant and funds retained by the United States Forest Service, officials expect to see the land under full governmental ownership during this year. Conservation Fund Field Representative Ralph Knoll has described the tract’s location as adjacent to the Sampson Wildlife Area and visible on the right for drivers on Tenn. Rt. 107 (the Erwin Highway) as they head toward Erwin from Greeneville. Approximately twothirds of Rocky Fork is located in Unicoi County, with the remaining onethird in Greene County. Before 2008, a privately-owned company owned more than 9,700 acres of the pristine area. The land includes about a mile-long stretch of the Appalachian trail and also features about 16 miles of native brook trout streams, which biologists say are among only a handful of such habitats remaining in the Eastern U.S. The tract gets its name from the Rocky Fork stream that runs through it, which is home to such trout spe-
SUN PHOTO BY PHIL GENTRY
Thousands of pristine acres compose the scenic landscape of Rocky Fork, a large tract of land under the protection of The Conservation Fund and the United States Forest Service. cies as the Appalachian wood trout, wild rainbow trout and brook trout. Moreover, Knoll has said that the land is a significant habitat for wildlife and fauna. For example, Rocky Fork is a part of the Unicoi Bear Reserve. In addition, professors from East Tennessee University have spent several field seasons studying the area and have collected and identified more than 1,000 plant species. “They’ve identified some pretty fascinating plant species,” Knoll
said. Hoping to conserve this valuable resource, the Forest Service and a non-profit organization, The Conservation Fund, consulted with the private owner, New Forestry, LLC. At that time, Rocky Fork was said to be the largest undeveloped tract of privately-owned mountain land in the Eastern U.S. After considerable discussion, the Forest Service was able to pay $8.4 million for a 2,237-acre tract of Rocky Fork. Meanwhile, The Con-
servation Fund obtained a $6 million state grant and another $3 million from private sources, and added $31.6 million of their own funds. Altogether, the millions purchased 9,624 acres of the pristine forests, with the private company retaining about 100 acres of mountaintop property. Conversations remain ongoing for the purchase of this remaining small portion, Knoll said. Over the years, The Conservation Fund has provided their part of the purchased land to
the Forest Service in portions as federal money became available, with the eventual goal of complete federal or state ownership and protection. The most recent $6 million purchase, in September 2011, included 1,429 acres, all but about 19 acres of which is located in Greene County, Knoll said. Since that time, the Forest Service retained $5 million through the Federal Land and Conservation Program for the purchase of the remaining acres of land
in the 2012 federal budget, he said. The Conservation Fund also obtained an additional $250,000 in grant funding from the Acres for America program that will benefit the conveyance of the final 1,200 acres. About half of this remaining section is in Greene County and half in Unicoi County, Knoll has estimated. “[The final acquisition] process has just begun,” he said in January. “The optimistic part of me hopes that we can get all that taken care of sometime this spring.” The federal government also purchased 1,278 acres for $5 million in 2009 and 1,533 acres for $6 million in 2012 from The Conservation Fund. Utilizing the grant provided by the State of Tennessee, the non-profit hopes to provide the majority of the remaining 1,965-acre section, known as the “entrance to Rocky Fork,” to the state. Knoll said The Conservation Fund would like to see Tennessee create a state park with recreational facilities in this area. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency also continues to make the land available for such public activities as fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and hiking. Conservation work has already begun, with the Appalachian T ra il Conser va ncy working to design a relocation of a section of the trail that Knoll said has prompted some environmental concerns.
June Election Brings Many Familiar Faces, Some Newcomers BY AMY ROSE AND KRISTEN BUCKLES STAFF WRITERS
In a very close race for 1st Ward Greeneville Alderman in June, incumbents Buddy Hawk and Keith Paxton defeated challenger Janet Malone. Hawk received 447 votes, just four more than Paxton’s 443, with Malone receiving 393. A total of 1,289 ballots were cast in the municipal election that included races in Greeneville, Mosheim and Tusculum. With a total of 11,774 registered voters in the three municipalities, the turnout equaled 10.95 percent, according to unofficial results from Donna Burgner, Greene County administrator of elections. This compares with a turnout of 11.6 percent in 2009, the election in which Hawk and Paxton were elected to their first term as aldermen. “I’d just like to thank all the voters and all the citizens in our fine town,” Hawk said shortly after learning the vote totals. “We fully intend to work as hard as we can to do the very best we can for our citizens,” he said of the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Two “very important” issues to be addressed by the board included job recruitment and restructuring of the town government, Hawk said at the time. “These things will be done with the public’s input,” he said. Hawk is a semi-retired small business owner and developer. In early-voting totals, Hawk led with 274 votes, Paxton had 241, and Malone had 229. Paxton received the most votes in two of the four 1st Ward precincts — Highland-Roby and EastView. Malone came in second in three of the precincts: High School, HighlandRoby and Tusculum View precincts. As a result, none of the totals in the individual precincts matched the order in the total vote of Hawk first, Paxton second, and Malone third. Paxton thanked the
voters for giving their input into who will represent them. “I look forward to serving the city two more years,” he said. Looking ahead, Paxton said the city board should address issues relating to the economy, specifically, attracting businesses to downtown and other areas, and filling empty homes. Paxton, owner/operator of the Little Top D r i v e -T h r u Restau ra nt on Nor th Ma in Street, sa id Gre enev i l le shou ld work with other cities and counties to get ideas for recruiting business and industry. OTHER GREENEVILLE RACES The Greeneville races also included uncontested bids for Greeneville Water Commissioner at-large and the two 1st Ward seats on the Greeneville Board of Education. Brandon Hull, who serves as chairman of the Water Commission, received 813 complimentary votes. For school board, board member Craig Ogle received 528 complimentary votes, while board member Mark Patterson received 628. MOSHEIM In Mosheim, Billy Myers returned for his eighth consecutive term as mayor, and Claude “Junior” Weems Jr., 275 Main St., returned as
2nd ward alderman. Dave Long, 115 Meadowview Road, began his first term as 1st ward alderman. All were unopposed. In June, Myers celebrated 30 years as Mosheim’s mayor. “ I ’m pretty well pleased,” he said at his re-election. He pledged to focus his term on bringing new business to Mosheim, including US Nitrogen. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to run for office, and hope that I can be worthy of the support that I’ve received at this point,” Long said. TUSCULUM In Tusculum, Alan Corley was re-elected to a third four-year term on the Board of Mayor and Commissioners, receiving 176 votes. He was joined by Barbara Britton, of Richland Road, who received 135 votes. Britton unseated James Seip, who tallied 115 votes in an unsuccessful bid for a full four-year term. Seip was appointed last year by the board to fill the unexpired term of Mark Easterly, who resigned. Corley, of Shiloh Road, is president of Corley’s Pharmacy, Inc., which operates three pharmacies in Greeneville. He has served as a Tusculum city commissioner since
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THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION Saturday, March 17, 2012
Increased Police Presence On Bypass Cuts Accidents, Injuries BY AMY ROSE STAFF WRITER
The Town of Greeneville is seeing results from enforcing speed limits “the old-fashioned way,” according to statistics provided by Police Chief Terry Cannon. In November, Cannon told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that the addition of two patrol officers in a new traffic unit on U.S. Highway 11E has reduced the number of traffic accidents by 15 to 25 percent. The traffic unit was recommended by Cannon in February 2011, two weeks after the town canceled its plans to use speed cameras along the Bypass. The speed-camera plans were canceled because of the high amount of opposition from the community. At that time, Mayor W.T. Daniels said, “We’re going to get aggressive about speeding, but we’re going to do it the oldfashioned way.” In November, Cannon reported that since the new traffic unit began its work, well over 1,000 speeding tickets had been written to drivers on the Bypass.
SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN
Greeneville Police Lt. Steve Spano operates radar on North Main Extension as part of a new traffic unit designed to stop speeders. Approximately half of those tickets were written to drivers who were from out-of-town, he said. The new traffic unit is now operated with two unmarked cars that recently were acquired by the police department, Cannon said. The unmarked cars use radar to identify speeders.
TOTALS COMPARED Cannon provided statistics that showed a reduction in traffic accidents citywide. He said the current reporting system does not provide a separate total for the Bypass. His statistics are for the months of July through October, comparing 2010 with 2011.
In July 2010, the city had 65 crashes with 29 persons injured, compared with 48 crashes and 14 persons injured in July 2011. In August 2010, the city had 67 crashes with 34 injured, compared with 59 crashes and 22 injured in August 2011. In September 2010, the city had 65 crashes with
24 injured, compared with 56 crashes with 23 injured in September 2011. In October 2010, the city had 75 crashes with 36 injured, compared with 63 crashes with 19 injured. Cannon noted that the number of crashes had been down all four months, and some by
large numbers. He emphasized that the number of injuries was also down, a change which he attributed to slower driving speeds. Cannon recently provided updated numbers, showing a 10.5 percent reduction in traffic accidents. He compared the time frames of July to December 2010 with July to December 2011. In the earlier time frame, the town had 410 wrecks, 108 of which had injuries involving 158 injured persons, he said. In the later time frame, the town had 367 wrecks, 88 of which had injuries involving 120 injured persons, he said. These comparisons show an 18.5 percent reduction in the number of wrecks with injury and a 24.1 percent reduction in the number of injured persons, Cannon noted. “It’s helped tremendously,” Cannon said. Implementation of the new traffic unit has saved the drivers of Greeneville and Greene County from a lot of injuries and made the Bypass a lot safer, Cannon said. “I can tell a big difference,” he summed up.
Crowded, Aging Detention Center A Dilemma For The County BY KRISTEN BUCKLES STAFF WRITER
An aging county detention center located in downtown Greeneville with few, if any, options for expansion, prompted repairs and concern for the coming year. In July 2011, Sheriff Steve Burns appeared before the Greene County Budget and Finance Committee to request a $150,000 increase in his overtime budget in order to keep more patrols on the streets in high-crime areas. He also reported that the Greene County Detention Center hit a record occupancy during the summer with 481 inmates. The increased population meant an increased need for staff to be onhand in order to continue maintaining the jail’s state-certified status, Burns said. As with all discretionary salary increases requested in the 20112012 budget, the committee denied the overtime request. The committee did, however, approve $176,064 in increases for equipment and supplies largely associated with the increased jail population. The County Commission also approved a $52,400 new roof for the Sheriff’s Office and
SUN PHOTO BY O.J. EARLY
Construction workers begin work on replacing the roof of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department in August following approval of the expenditure by the Greene County Commission. a $311,640 heating and cooling system for the office and detention center from the county’s Capital Projects fund. The previous rubber roof was about 10 years old and full of leaks, Burns said. He added that the officers had spent the cold winter of 2010-11 in offices with “zero heat.” Further capital projects expenses arose in December, when the commission approved a $6,330 allocation for emergency repairs to the sewer line
and grease trap at the tions Institute (TCI) was detention center. approved for 2011 under probationary terms. KEY REVENUE SOURCE “Quite honestly, I However, the jail anticipate that that’s remained a source of rev- what we’ll experience enue for the county in [removal of certifica2010-2011 and helped to tion] come next year,” maintain the county’s Burns said. healthy fund balance, The sheriff stated that thanks to higher-than- he is proud to have mainanticipated revenues. tained certification for In addition to the 2011- so long, but will address 2012 financial hits, how- the pending removal if, ever, Burns reported to and when, it occurs. the Courthouse/WorkProblems with a high house Committee that the inmate population have jail’s certification from plagued the center since the Tennessee Correc- 1997, just 10 years after
it was originally built, he said. TCI placed the jail under probation in 2011 due largely to the high population, according to a notification from TCI inspector Melody Gregory. County Mayor Alan Broyles requested that Gregory provide a letter detailing the consequences related to a jail’s losing TCI certification. “Meeting certification for these statutory standards is the very least responsible government entities should do to operate a safe and secure correctional facility,” Gregory stated in the letter. “In summary, the noted areas of general concern are less defensibility in any pending or future litigation; possible loss or increased cost of insurance coverage; and the financial impact or effect on the county if the designated money for housing state inmates is no longer available,” she wrote. The letter also included a caution that loss of certification could mean cancellation of insurance or “astronomical” increases in insurance premiums. FINANCIAL IMPACT Also at issue, Burns told the committee, would be the $35 per prisoner per day that the county receives for housing state inmates, and the $48 per
prisoner per day that the county receives for housing federal inmates. “If the county loses the state and federal contract for inmates, it could potentially create a loss of approximately $2 million per year,” according to Gregory. In her letter, she recommended that the county contact the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) to request a staffing analysis. Burns said that the variety of responsibility, including transporting prisoners, meeting court dates and other challenges including the multiple levels of the jail, factor into the staffing problem. Trying to expand the jail, building a new detention center or increasing staffing are all expensive solutions that the committee briefly touched on as something the county may face in the future. Despite the year’s challenges, Burns said that the 2011 inspection was one of the best the detention center has received in other areas not related to the overcrowding. “We run a tight facility,” he said, describing it as clean and able to offer “excellent” medical and food services. Evaluation for the center’s 2012 certification will likely take place in early summer, Mayor Broyles said.
Health Clinic Opens For County Employees At Courthouse Annex BY KRISTEN BUCKLES STAFF WRITER
New health care options have been available for county employees this past year with the implementation of the Greene County health clinic in the lower level of the Courthouse Annex. The clinic, which offers basic medical services, officially opened on July 6. The Greene County Insurance Committee has so far deemed the venture a success. TransformRx, a Georgia-based company, operates the clinic three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nurse practitioners, who work in consultation with an off-site doctor, are available for six hours on Monday and Wednesday. A licensed practical nurse is available on Thursday. The Greene County Insurance Committee will consider adding an additional day to the clinic’s schedule, pending further figures surrounding the clinic’s utilization. Greene County Mayor
SUN PHOTO BY O.J. EARLY
Nurse Tyann Jones, LPN, works at the County Clinic, where employees can receive treatment and generic prescriptions. Alan Broyles said that the Cutler Street location of the clinic will also come under review after a year has passed to determine if the space and parking are sufficient for the clinic’s needs.
Appointments at the clinic remain highly utilized by county employees, according to reports by TransformHealth Rx. However, employees are not required to utilize the clinic’s services and may
continue to visit their regular doctor. Generic prescriptions are available at the clinic at no cost to the employee. In February, TransformHealth Rx provided
the Insurance Committee a report on how many employees are using the services at the clinic. At the end of 2011, the clinic staff had recorded a total of 977 appointments since their midJuly opening. In that same period, there was a total of 472 individuals that visited the clinic. Utilization of the clinic, calculated by the number of actual appointments out of the number the clinic has time for during the hours it is open, has averaged about 90 percent. According to the report, the county has invested $116,326 in the clinic, including startup costs. However, the company estimates that the clinic has saved the county $265,474 above the clinic’s costs. The company calculates this number based on what care, lab and pharmacy costs would have been if billed through a traditional insurance plan. However, the clinic has not been without its growing pains. Since the clinic’s open-
ing, county employees have complained that the clinic does not offer certain seemingly-common medications. Wait times have at times also been a source of complaints, as the clinic staff works to balance appointment times with the county employees’ desire for the clinic to also accept walk-ins. The emphasis of the clinic is on appointments, Kristen Rivers, regional account manager for TransformRX, told the county’s Insurance Committee in July. Rivers assured the committee, which oversees the clinic’s operation, that the clinic would not turn away any walk-ins with major issues needing immediate attention. She added that walkins may also receive treatment if the clinic staff has time available. First-time visitors’ appointments account for 30 minutes, while return visitors receive 15 minutes per appointment. Patients should call 1800-920-4185, ext. 89, to schedule an appointment.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION
Greeneville Adopts Policy On Who Can Participate At Meetings BY AMY ROSE STAFF WRITER
Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels ruffled some feathers in 2011 when he changed the procedures for meetings of the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen. One of the primary changes stated that only those who have voting rights within the town are allowed to speak at board meetings. He thus barred county residents from speaking unless they own property in the town and therefore have voting rights. In November, the board, by a vote of 3-1, adopted a resolution to establish a policy on who is allowed to participate in board meetings. Aldermen Keith Paxton voted against the policy, questioning its constitutionality. TEXT OF RESOLUTION The resolution said the changes are “to maintain efficiency and order.” The changes are: • Only citizens who are “entitled to vote in Greeneville municipal elections” may address the board, “provided such person has been placed on
the agenda.” [Those entitled to vote in municipal elections are Greeneville residents and/or those who own property in the town.] • To be placed on the agenda, a citizen must call or e-mail the mayor’s office “no later than 5 p.m. on the immediate preceding Thursday” before the Tuesday board meeting. • Before addressing the board, the person must state “his/her name, address and the issue upon which the person intends to comment. Comments are limited to three minutes.” “The mayor shall have the authority to revoke the remaining time of a qualified person for making derogatory remarks of a personal nature, using vile or offensive language, or for any other behavior deemed inappropriate by the mayor.” • Exceptions to this policy can be made through a majority vote of the board.
of her speech, in which she accused the board of breaking the law by not providing a time for citizens to speak on the agenda. “Elected officials are elected to represent all the citizens and not just a few people,” Sexton said. “The politicians are not elected to make up just any kind of policy and expect the public to adhere to it.” She also said that Daniels had refused to allow her to speak during an Oct. 4 meeting since she lives in the county and he is a representative for the citizens of Greeneville. Sexton said that the mayor’s action was a violation of her rights. In August, a group of seven protesters against the new meeting procedures, organized by Sexton, gathered before a board meeting and demonstrated their opposition. They stood outside the Greeneville Light & Power System headquarters building on College Street, where the regular meeting of the board was to take place. The protesters held numerous signs, some of which asserted that the new policy violates their First Amendment right to free speech.
NON-RESIDENT OBJECTS Several minutes prior to the start of the Nov. 15 meeting, Judith Sexton, who lives a short distance outside the Greeneville town limits, addressed those present and provided a handout
OTHER OBJECTIONS Since the changes were adopted, Alderman Paxton and citizen PK Lowrey have spoken repeatedly against the new procedures. In December, Lowrey listed eight “inconsistencies” he said exist between the town’s Municipal Code and the way the board conducts its business: • “Board meetings are held in the Light & Power building, which is not one of the two meeting places [Town Hall or Courthouse] required by 1102. • “The pledge and prayer are not orders of business as specified by 1104. • “The requirement of ‘no citizen participation in called meetings’ is not part of the Code. • “The requirement that ‘citizen participation is limited to three minutes of speaking’ is not part of the Code. • “The requirement that ‘citizen participation must be scheduled in advance’ is not part of the Code. • “Minutes of the previous board meeting are not read by the Recorder, as required by 1-104. PLEASE SEE GREENEVILLE | 15
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THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION Saturday, March 17, 2012
William Casey Goes To Prison; Ginger Turnmire Is Released BY KEN LITTLE STAFF WRITER
There was no shortage of attention-grabbing legal cases locally in the past year. Two of the more controversial involved a former Roman Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing a teenager from his parish more than 30 years ago, and a woman released from prison after serving 25 years for killing her parents. WILLIAM CASEY Former Roman Catholic priest and Camp Creek resident William Casey, 78, is now an inmate in the state prison system. Casey was convicted on July 14, 2011, by a Sullivan County jury of one count of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct and two counts of aggravated rape. In November, Casey was sentenced to serve a prison term of 35 to 40 years by Sullivan County Criminal Court Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr., on convictions of first-degree criminal misconduct and two counts of aggravated rape. Casey could be eligible for parole consideration after about 101/2 years, but for now, he’s an inmate held at the medium-security Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, 114 miles west of Greeneville. The victim, Warren Tucker, is now 46 and living in Indiana. Tucker first went public with allegations against Casey in April 2010 after speaking with authorities of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville. According to trial
SENTENCE IS 35 TO 40 YEARS
PAROLED FROM PRISON
testimony by diocesan officials, Casey told Knoxville Bishop Richard F. Stika very soon afterward that Tucker’s allegations had “credibility.” Casey, a longtime resident of the Camp Creek community of Greene County, was immediately removed from priestly duties by Stika, and has been permanently suspended from the ministry. Tucker was 13 and 14 years old and an altar boy at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Kingsport when the crimes occurred between 1978 and 1980. Casey was the priest in charge of St. Dominic Parish at the time. Tucker moved to Kentucky to live with his father when he was 15, but in the five-year period before that, Tucker lived with his mother in Kingsport. Tucker testified at the sentencing hearing following Casey’s conviction that the sexual abuse by Casey began when he was 10-1/2 years old and continued
until he was 15. Casey was prosecuted for three specific incidents, but Tucker testified that Casey sexually abused him more than 50 times. According to his testimony, most of the instances were in Kingsport, but some of the acts occurred at Casey’s Camp Creek cabin, and others occurred in North Carolina and in Virginia, when Casey took Tucker on trips approved by his mother. Tucker told prosecutors the effects were devastating. “ T he immed iate effects were numbing, emotionally-void feelings of shame, guilt, fear,” he said. Later, Tucker said, he felt “despairing pain ... so deep it will double you over and cause you to grit your teeth until they chip and break.” Tucker said it took 28 years before he detailed the sex abuse to police. Prosecutors reminded Montgomery that Casey used his position of power in the communi-
ty to commit “multiple acts” against Tucker, and was able to live nearly 30 years without having to answer for them. “He not only abused the private trust, he abused the public trust,” prosecuting District Attorney General Barry Staubus said. “He was able to maintain the facade of a respectable cleric when he was a pedophile.” Laws that existed before 1982 and those in effect now both call for lengthy prison terms for sexual abuse of minors, Judge Montgomery said. Casey was scheduled to go on trial last year in Scott County, Va., in connection with additional sex abuse charges involving Tucker. Casey pleaded not guilty at an August 2010 arraignment on the Virginia case to charges of forcible sodomy and indecent liberties with a child dating to 1978. Prosecutors in Virginia have said they will hold off, perhaps until Casey is done serving his Tennessee prison time. Casey was convicted in July 2010 of “crimes against nature” in McDowell County, N.C. Tucker was the victim of the abuse. Casey received a three-year suspended prison sentence in that case, along with two years of super vised probation. He has appealed his Sullivan County conv ic tion. K i ngspor t lawyer Richard Spivey filed a motion Dec. 22 in Circuit Court claiming Casey’s conviction violated the statute of limitations and was based on insufficient evidence.
The appeal is pending.
last year that the alibi she initially gave detectives was not true. Turnmire had told police that a man she only knew as “Papa Smurf,” whom she met at the Horse Creek Recreation Area, had killed her parents, James Walter and Velma Jean Turnmire. “I am not the person I am today [that] I was when I killed my parents when I was 15,” Turnmire said at her parole hearing, which was conducted at the Mark Luttrell Correctional Center in Memphis and transmitted to relatives in Johnson City via a video conference setup. “I was not involved in a satanic cult. They were not a satanic sacrifice. There were rumors back then,” Turnmire said. She said she no longer saw herself as a victim, and had come to understand the wide-ranging effects of her crime. “I now see the impact the crime had on the community and the impact it had on my family,” she said. She was released from prison, and moved to Colorado several months ago. Turnmire must meet all parole conditions to remain out of prison. That includes reporting regularly to her Colorado parole officer, not owning any firearms, and keeping a clean criminal record. T ur nmire emphasized before her release from prison that she will never return to Tennessee. “You have nothing to fear,” she told relatives watching her parole hearing by video from Johnson City.
GINGER TURNMIRE This entire area was shaken when 15year-old Ginger Turnmire shot her parents to death on April 27, 1986, in the house she shared with them and an adopted sister in the Milburnton community. She was subsequently tried as an adult, convicted, and sent to prison. Following a parole hearing held in September 2011, the decision was made to release the 40-year-old Turnmire on parole from state prison, where she spent 25 years. At her parole hearing, Turnmire said that she plans to live in Lakewood, Colo., with the man she met online and married about five years ago, Terry Fritz. R elatives opposed to Turnmire’s release expressed relief to hear her say she will never return to Tennessee. Remaining out of the state is one of the parole conditions, parole board member Ronnie Cole said. The crime and Greene County trial in early 1987 attracted widespread attention amid rumors that Turnmire was involved in cult activity and satanic worship. She was convicted by a Greene County Criminal Court jury of two counts of first-degree murder and received two concurrent life sentences. She remained in state custody until her release from prison several months ago. Turnmire denied the allegations of satanic worship, and admitted
Greeneville Fire Dept. Now First-Responders For Medical Calls BY AMY ROSE STAFF WRITER
The Greeneville Fire Department became first-responders on July 1, 2011, cutting in half the response time for life-threatening emergency medical calls in the town. “It’s been a tremendous help,” said Robert Sayne, director of Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services (EMS). In July, the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen authorized the GFD to be first-responders to any life-threatening medical emergency within the town limits. The action was taken in an effort to save lives of the citizens of Greeneville. Under the agreement with the town and EMS, the fire department can be a first-responder to an emergency to provide lifesaving measures until EMS arrives for transport of a patient. This is of great assistance in cases when EMS is out of ambulances because they are being used for other calls or for transports to out-of-town hospitals, according to Fire Chief Mark Foulks. Likewise, the fire department will not respond to medical emergencies if the department is low on units being used for fire response, Foulks said. Chief Foulks recently explained the procedures of the new program. An ambulance may respond in “emergency” mode to a call without the fire department responding on certain types of calls, Foulks said. An example would be someone having an extremity injury such as an ankle injury that would be an emergency but not life-threatening. The fire department’s emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) and paramedics operate from the same protocols that EMS utilizes, Foulks said. They carry much of the same equipment, with
the exception of transport equipment such as cots or stair chairs, he said. Among the equipment the firefighters carry are defibrillators used to start the heart of a patent who is experiencing cardiac arrest. FASTER RESPONSE TIME Sayne said the goal for response time is eight minutes, and the average before adding the fire department was six minutes. Now the average response time is less than three-and-a-half minutes, Foulks said last month. In addition to the shorter response time, a benefit of the program is having more personnel on the scene, Sayne noted. “Just having that extra set of hands goes a long way,” Sayne said. He added that the extra staffing is helpful when lifting and treating obese patients. MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS Through a cooperative program of Walters State Community College, the Laughlin Memorial Hospital volunteers, and the Laughlin Health Care Foundation, 19 firefighters that were trained to the first-responder level are now licensed emergency medical technicians. The fire department’s current level of certification or licensure is: five paramedics, 31 emergency medical technicians, and six first-responders. Three of the six firstresponders will begin EMT classes in August. The EMT’s can start IV’s and admini st er nu mer ou s medications, and the paramedics can administer more medications and provide advanced airway techniques. INCREASED CALL VOLUME The first responder arrangement has led to a busier fire department. From July 1, 2010, to Feb. 23, 2011, the fire department responded to 407 incidents, Foulks
said. From July 1, 2011 (when the fire department became first responders) to Feb. 23, 2012, the fire department responded to 1,328 incidents, Foulks reported. EMS calls now com-
prise approximately 73 percent of the fire department’s call volume, the chief said. “We have encountered almost zero problems with the integration of this program,” Foulks stated.
“The personnel from EMS and the fire department are working extremely well together, and the patients are definitely benefiting from this program. “I would also like to commend the 911 dis-
patchers for their efforts with this program. We are dispatched simultaneously with the ambulance, which involves a couple of extra steps for the dispatcher,” he added.
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THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Loss Of State Planners Is Remedied With Transition To FTDD BY KEN LITTLE STAFF WRITER
For a while, it looked as though municipalities in Greene County would have to hire their own planners. That’s no minor matter to the smaller towns in the county that depend on planners for advice on subdivisions, zoning, development and related issues. The dilemma was solved when the executive committee of the First Tennessee Development District (FTDD) voted May 18 to broaden its existing range of functions to include community planning services provided for years by the State of Tennessee’s Local Planning Assistance Office, based in Johnson City. Gov. Bill Haslam announced on April 20, 2011, that the state would terminate all local planning assistance offices. Tennessee policy-makers decided that community planners provided
non-essential functions. Officials such as Tusculum Mayor John Foster see things differently. “The planners are extremely important to each community, not just Tusculum. They’re experienced, and they help us with things like subdivision regulations,” Foster said. The expertise of planners who assist municipalities such as Tusculum goes beyond zoning advice, Foster said. “It’s very valuable to the town to have a planning commission that is guided by the planning office,” he said. “They keep us up to date on regulations.” Twenty-one local governments entered into planning advisory contracts with the FTDD for fiscal year 2011-2012. The state’s Local Planning Assistance Office was a community development agency under the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
FTDD is comprised of member governments in Northeast Tennessee, said Glenn Rosenoff, FTDD director. “The transition has been a success for municipalities and counties served. They are receiving the same services they did by the state Local Planning Assistance Office,” Rosenoff said. He reiterated the importance of planners who provide assistance to local municipalities. “For many of our contract communities, FTDD Local Planning is the only local professional staff to assist the community in addressing all planning-related matters and problems,” he said. Rosenoff said communities are provided with a full range of planning services, which include comprehensive long-range planning, strategic planning, land use controls planning, continuing education and training, flood management, GIS mapping and coor-
dination with local, state and federal agencies. FTDD also advises local planning commissions and boards of zoning appeals. “There has not been a reduction in services [with the transition], nor are any foreseen,” Rosenoff said. The FTDD was able to employ a director and two planners, and the secretary in the Johnson City office was employed by the FTDD as the executive assistant/office manager, Rosenoff said. One state planner retired, and another accepted re-assignment to another state department, Rosenoff added. Foster, who is also a Tusculum planning commission member, said recently that adequate planning “is critical if you want to have a nice community.” “The bottom line is, a city our size cannot afford a professional planner,” Foster said.
Honors And Retirements Of Note In Government BY O.J. EARLY STAFF WRITER
Among honors, awards and retirements for government officials and employees during the past year were the following. • Greene County Sheriff Steve Burns was named Sheriff of the Year for Tennessee in July 2011. Burns, who was the outgoing president of the Ten ne sse e Sher i f fs’ A ssociation, received the honor during the 40th a nnual conference of the association. The award, selected by a committee of sheriffs, was presented to Burns for his legislative efforts toward stricter drug laws, specifically in his fight against methamphetamine. Burns also assumed the role of past-president on the association’s board of directors. Burns, a law enforcement officer since 1977, was first elected sheriff in 1998. He has held numerous law enforcement leadership positions across the state. • Detective Capt. John Huffine, who had nearly 34 years of experience with the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, retired in December. Huffine began his Greene County law enforcement career in 1978, and had been promoted multiple times during his tenure. He was promoted to detec-
Greeneville Starts on Page 13 • “Roll is not called by the Recorder, as required by 1-104. • “Ordering of business is not followed as required and specified by 1-104. “ The Town of Greeneville should be governed in a lawful manner,” Lowrey said. In response, Mayor Daniels read the order of business, or agenda items, listed in the Municipal Code: • “Call to order by the mayor. • “Roll call by the Recorder. • “Reading of minutes of previous meeting by the Recorder and approval or correction. • “Grievances from citizens. • “Communications from the mayor. • “Reports from committees, members of the governing body and other officers. • “Old business. • “New business. • “Adjournment.” A typical agenda for the current board includes: • “Invocation. • “Pledge of Allegiance. • “Approval of minutes. • “Mayor’s Comments. • “Citizens Request to Speak.” • Then, specific agenda items for consideration by the board. CITY ATTORNEY COMMENTS City Attorney Ron Woods said the issues at controversy are matters of procedure, and there should be no question
SUN PHOTO BY JIM FELTMAN
Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles presents Charlotte Waddell, who served as chief deputy register of deeds for 50 years, with a proclamation from the County Commission that declared Oct. 17, 2011 “Charlotte Waddell Day.” tive captain in 2003. Huffine plans to spend his retirement spending more time with his family, and pursuing an interest in film documentaries, something he will be doing with son. • Detective Capt. Terry L. Webb retired in December after a 32-year career with the Greeneville Police Department. During his time with the police department, Webb climbed the ranks. He started as a patrolman, was prom oted to dispatch sergeant in 1993 and detective sergeant in 1994. And in
about the legality of the board’s actions. For example, he said the board took action to have its meetings at the Greeneville Light & Power System G. Thomas Love Board Room, which is much larger than the Town Hall board room, in order to accommodate the needs of the public. “Those procedural matters do not impact whether what you’ve done here is legal or not legal,” Woods said. Instead, he said, the board must comply with such state laws as requiring public notice of meetings, which it does. “I have reservations that a previous board can tie a future board’s hands as to how they act,” Woods said. “Simply because the order says ‘Grievances from Citizens’ doesn’t give a citizen — even an aggrieved citizen — the right to run the meeting and speak as long as they want to,” Woods said. In November, Woods called speaking at a public meeting a privilege, not a right. “You are a representative government,” Woods said to the board. “So, as a voter, I don’t have the right, unless you give it to me, to come up here and talk to you at all.” “You can’t keep me out, but you can keep me quiet within the parameters of this meeting,” he added. Paxton questioned this, saying that it is his understanding that voters have a constitutional right to speak. Mayor Daniels has said that he will be the one who runs the board meetings.
2005, he was promoted to detective captain. Webb, along with his wife, Lisa, purchased Artistic Printers in June 2011, and much of his
SUN PHOTO BY KEN LITTLE
SUN PHOTO BY KEN LITTLE
Detective Capt. Terry L. Webb retired from the Greeneville Police Department in December 2011. He served 32 years, and had been detective captain since 2005.
Detective Capt. John Huffine, a 34-year veteran of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, retired in December 2011. He had been detective captain since 2003.
time will be spent running the business, he said. • Charlotte Waddell retired from the Greene County Register of Deeds office in September 2011 after a career spanning 50 years. During her half-century tenure with the office, the former chief deputy register worked under six
Registers of Deeds and helped train five of them. By the time of Waddell’s retirement, she was training new employees and leading the office on days that the Register of Deeds wasn’t there. • The Mosheim Volunteer Fire Department observed its 50th anniversary in 2011. The volunteer fire com-
pany formed in 1961 with one truck. Today, the fire department has six trucks, 35 members, and 25 active members, according to Assistant Chief Harold Williamson. The fire department covers 96 square miles in the communities of Mosheim, Greeneville, Bulls Gap and Midway.
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Great Values with Fast & Friendly Service Gifts and Greeting Cards • Photocopier & Fax Service • Kodak Photo Kiosk • Key Making • Flex Cards and Most Insurance Accepted • Family Owned & Operated Pharmacist/Owner - Bradford S. Campbell 272 Hwy. 11-E, Bulls Gap, TN 9:00-6:00 M-F • Closed Sat. & Sun. • Phone 235-6263 • Public Fax 235-4792
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2012 RACE SCHEDULE March 17 — “Spring Thaw” - $10,000 to win Super Late Model, plus Fastrak Racing Series Pro Late Model April 7 — Regular Weekly Show April 14 — Regular Weekly Show April 21 — Fastrak Racing Series Southeast Touring Pro Late Model, plus Support Classes April 28 — Regular Weekly Show - Double Points May 5 — Ultimate Super Late Model Series, plus Support Classes May 12 — Regular Weekly Show May 26 — Regular Weekly Show (Double Points) June 2 — Regular Weekly Show June 9 — Ultimate Super Late Model Series, plus Support Classes June 16 — Regular Weekly Show June 23 — Regular Weekly Show (Double Points) June 30 — Regular Weekly Show (Fireworks) July 7 — Regular Weekly Show (Double Points) July 14 — Regular Weekly Show July 21 — Regular Weekly Show July 27 — Schaeffer’s Southern National Series - $5,300-to-win Super Late Model, plus Support Classes August 4 — Southern Regional Racing Series Super Late Models, plus Support Classes August 23 — Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series (Scorcher” - $10,000 to win Super Late Model, plus Fastrak Racing Series Pro Late Model ***Regular Weekly Shows will consist of Fastrak Racing Series Pro (Crate) Late Model, Open Wheel Modiﬁed, Hobby Stock and Road Warrior. Super Late Models are tentatively scheduled for six special events.
Volunteer Speedway (Recording Only): (423) 235-5020 www.VolunteerSpeedway.com Volunteer Speedway Ofﬁce — Weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (423) 378-5942
THE GREENEVILLE SUN BENCHMARKS EDITION
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Wate r: Celebrate
the Essential. Lately there’s been a lot of talk about g etting back to what’s im por tant, retur ning to the essential elements o f our lives. And reall y, what is more essential th an water? It is our most precious natural re source, playing a vit al role in our daily lives. We are all benefic iaries of this magn ificent network of treatme nt plants, pump sta tions and pipes that wa s handed down to us by generations before. When you consider th e critical needs addr essed by water service, ta p water will always be a tremendous value. In fact, it will be a barg ain. You simply cannot p ut a price on a servic e that delivers public healt h, fire protection, eco nomic development and qu ality of life. We are so for tunate to have such a rema rkable resource. We at the Green eville Water Commission take pride in supplyin g the best quality produ ct that we can fo r our customers.
Greeneville Water C ommission
516 N. Main Street • Greeneville, TN 423.638.3148 www.g reenevillewa ter.org
Published on Apr 6, 2012