Commissioner wants TDOT to reconsider route
Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 10:22 pm
By DONNA RYDER
Messenger Associate Editor
The direction of the future four-lane Highway 45 is of much concern to the Obion County Commission.
During Monday’s county commission meeting, commissioner Danny Jowers asked his fellow commissioners to support a resolution requesting the Tennessee Department of Transportation to reconsider its route of the roadway around Kenton.
“Town after town is not benefiting from four-laning,” he said, adding the state doesn’t have enough money to maintain the roads it has and doesn’t need to build more.
Jowers said although he is not for Highway 45 being expanded into a four-lane, he wasn’t there to debate the matter, only to request the county support the City of Kenton in its request.
TDOT presented two proposals for the four-lane roadway — No. 1 goes through a residential area and No. 2 is through the flood plain. TDOT held a meeting to discuss the plans and reportedly took a vote of those present, most of them the affected residents, and it was decided to use plan No. 2.
Because the planned four-lane runs through the flood plain, it offers no opportunity for Kenton to expand and could cause drainage problems. It was noted that since much of that land is not located within the municipality, it would be the county’s responsibility to fix the drainage problems the new roadbed would create.
The City of Kenton has asked the state to reconsider and find an alternate route, but TDOT sent a letter to Kenton saying there is not enough money to study alternate routes.
“This is the survival of one of our towns (we’re talking about),” Jowers said, adding the state has said it does not want to go through downtown Kenton.
Comissioner Jimmy Seals said the four-lane would also cause problems for Hornbeak and Samburg because it would essentially cut them off as well.
“People who draw up these plans think they have all the answers, but they don’t,” Seals said.
The four-laning of Highway 45 would be done in three phases — the first from Walker-Tanner Road to Morning Star Nursery, the second in Kenton and the third being the river bottoms.
Jowers said he is not trying to override what the city wants to do and is actually supporting Kenton by making the same request of the state. He added he was told by a state official that if the county made the request, TDOT would look at it again. However, he said they may receive the same answer.
In other business, the commission:
• Passed a resolution setting the tax levy for the county for fiscal year 2008-09 at $1.9491 outside Union City and $1.5095 inside Union City. The resolution revises the rate to four decimal figures as required by the State of Tennessee.
• Approved a resolution to support the Obion County Joint Economic Development Corp. in its quest to seek 501c3 status. OCJEDC executive director Jim Cooper said the entity will operate the same as always. This just gives those individuals and businesses donating to the organization the ability to count their donations as tax deductions, he said.
Despite repeated questions, Cooper said nothing will change and he was not at the meeting Monday to request any money. “I’m not asking you to obligate funds,” he said, adding “We will go through the same channels as before.”
Several commissioners said more representatives from out in the county should be represented on the industrial development board, especially from Troy and South Fulton because those cities have industrial parks.
When asked for an update on projects, Cooper said TDOT has completed a bridge over Pursley Creek. It was 100 percent funded by the state.
The roadway is almost complete at the new industrial park in Union City. Union City paid the county to do the road bed and the state came in to complete the project. He added TDOT will bring that roadway to Highway 51 and build a new road down to Goodyear. A grant has been obtained to build a railroad crossing in the area.
TDOT will also signalize the intersection of Highways 51 and 21 near the entrance of the industrial park. It will also add a pedestrian crossing at the intersection. Cooper said the county and city started requesting that project four years ago.
A grant for $500,000 has also been awarded to place a water storage reservoir at the industrial park. Cooper said this would help with water pressure in the area.
An alternative transportation grant is also in the works, Cooper said.
He said the county has been receiving a lot of requests from businesses and organizations that want to spend three to five days in the county, but the county currently has no location to seat 500 or more people for dinner. He said a convention center for that purpose was added to the Discovery Park of America, with Union City to pay the $3 million to build it. Because of financial problems in the city, the city can no longer afford to build the convention center. Cooper added Robert Kirkland has agreed to keep it in the plans, with his foundation paying for it.
The new spec building in the industrial park is almost completed and there are four solid prospects — two from Canada and two domestic. Another company’s officials are also coming to look at the building. He said the building is getting coverage on several Web sites.
One of the commissioners said South Fulton is not getting looked at, but Cooper said he has talked with officials there.
• Honored three residents who have served as jury commissioners for the Obion County Circuit Court. Judge Bill Acree told the county commissioners the jury commissioners will no longer be needed after December because the jury pools will now be selected by computer. The newest member is Stella Lake. She has served for two years. She is joined on the commission by John Wade, who has served for four years, and Billy Clark, who has been on the commission since 1968.
• Approved a resolution supporting the regional health department’s request for a grant for a medical reserve corps. Keith Curlin said there is no expectation of funds from the county and that the organization needs a fiscal agent for the grant.
• Held a public hearing on the Obion County flood maps and approved the Flood Damage Prevention resolution to maintain eligibility in the National Flood Insurance Program. It was noted Hornbeak is the only municipality which does not have a flood plain.
Seals asked about a resident who has a home with one corner in the flood plain. He said a recent planned sale of the home did not go through because of that reason. He was seeking help for the resident. County attorney Steve Conley said it is the responsibility of the resident, not the county, to petition the Federal Emergency Management Agency to resolve the matter.
• Approved a right-of-way easement at Ridgemont Elementary School for Highway 45. County Mayor Benny McGuire said it will T-bone the new Highway 45. It will be 1,887 square feet and nine or 10 feet wide. He added he thinks it follows the current easement on the property. McGuire said he could have approved it himself but would feel more comfortable getting the approval of the county commission.
• Learned during a recent meeting at Paris Landing of the possibility of the state legislature’s granting boards of education taxing authority. “We’re opposed to taking the authority away from this legislative body,” Jowers said, adding the residents would be better served by the county commission setting the rate because it requires 11 people to approve a tax levy, instead of only four votes should the Obion County Board of Education have that authority.
The commission passed a resolution opposing boards of education being given this right.
• Authorized the mayor to apply for a $44,800 grant to replace sidewalks around the courthouse. He said many women complain to him about getting their feet wet when it rains because some of the sidewalks are lower than the grass. The county would be responsible for a 20 percent match or $8,960.
• Approved paying off a $1,535,000 jail note with money borrowed from county debt service and the hospital fund. Commissioner Tim Doyle said the company which holds the note decided to increase the interest rate to 6.75 percent. He said the county can pay the note off in January after a $206,000 payment is made by Tyson. The county will pay a 4 percent interest rate on the amount to be borrowed from the county funds over the next three years. He stressed the county is not “paying off” the note and will have to pay the county fund back. “Technically the county is buying the note and we will pay back the note,” he said.
This procedure, which was brought to the attention of the finance committee by McGuire, will save the county about $82,000 over the three years in interest.
The county attorney will draw up a note for paying back the fund.
McGuire told The Messenger they county cannot afford any new expenditures for new projects for the next three years, because this note will have to be paid off.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 10.21.08
Obion County Commission