Commission makes moves for buying land for new school
by Ben Pounds
Anderson County Commissioners Tyler Mayes, first district; Phil Yager, eighth district; and Denise Palmer, second district, chat before an Anderson County Commission meeting. - Ben Pounds
The Anderson County Commission has taken steps towards building a new school in Claxton.
The votes took place during the commission’s meeting on Monday, May 15, at the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton.
The new school will replace the current Claxton Elementary School, which is at 2218 Clinton Highway in Powell.
The commission voted to purchase 105 Fellowship Lane in Powell, the Crossroads Christ Fellowship site. Commissioners also voted to appropriate $3.2 million to purchase the land. However, the commission did not commit any funds yet for the school’s construction.
It instead voted to have the Budget Committee, which will meet Thursday June 1, take up the issue of additional funding for the new school. Director of Schools Tim Parrott said he could sell land at the Life Development Center to raise some of the funds.
“Claxton (Elementary) may look aesthetically pleasing to some, but what’s bubbling underneath the surface?” said First District Commissioner Tyler Mayes, regarding the current school and the reason for moving. The school lies within his district.
Parrott listed several problems with the current Claxton school, including its older plumbing and electrical systems.
He said the multiple buildings led to security issues with students traveling between locked buildings.
He said the Crossroads site includes room to expand. He said he also plans to work with the Tennessee Valley Authority on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) facilities for the school.
Rocky Top City Recorder Peggy Watson, right, swears in newly appointed Councilwom- an Stacy Phillips during last Thursday’s City Council meeting. Looking on, from left, are Mayor Kerry Templin, Councilman Zack Green, and City Manager Mike Ellis. - G Chambers Williams III
Rocky Top’s City Council last Thursday voted 4-1 to name interim city manager Michael Ellis to the post on a permanent basis, but did not offer him a contract for the job.
Ellis, a former Anderson County High School teacher and girls’ basketball coach, and former Anderson County road superintendent, was appointed in March to serve as the interim city manager as of April 1, taking over from Michael Foster.
Also during last week’s meeting, lifelong Rocky Top resident Stacy Phillips was appointed by Mayor Templin and approved by the council to take the former council seat held by Richard Dawson, who resigned in April.
The city manager job advertisement listed the salary for the position at $60,000 a year. It made no mention of benefits or a car allowance. Foster was receiving medical and retirement benefits, plus a $5,000 a month car allowance.
According to the job posting, the qualifying candidate must live “within five miles of the Rocky Top community.”
That was a new requirement, as Foster lived in Clinton during his nearly seven years in the position.
Ellis lives within less than three miles of the city.
At its meeting Monday evening the Clinton City Council passed on first reading two ordinances, one dealing with the budget — without a tax increase — for the coming fiscal year and another revamping the city’s fee schedule for inspections and other building services.
The new $14.6 million budget is slightly larger than the current estimated budget.
The proposed budget contains an 8-percent minimum increase in salaries for city employees.
Chris Phillips, the city’s finance director, noted that some employees might receive more than an 8-percent increase in order to bring them up to a required minimum. City manager Roger Houck noted that this was the biggest increase in some time, adding “We have to stay competitive.”
The property tax rate stays the same at $0.8646 per $100 of assessed property value.
As for the current budget, Phillips announced that the fiscal year was 83-percent completed and expenditures were at 91 per cent of the budgeted amount, while projected revenues were over 100 per cent.
As for the revised fee schedule, building official John Householder informed the council that some fees have not increased since 2009.
He said that there are also mandatory federal and state inspections for which the city currently has no fees.
“We compared with other cities and tried to stay in the middle,” he said.
“I think they are very fair and needed,” Mayor Scott Burton said of the new fees.
The mayor announced that food truck rallies would begin the next day and would be held downtown each Tuesday through the end of June from 4-8 p.m.
He also announced that the Historic Downtown Youth Board won the Club Madness Challenge, and the $5,000 prize money will be used for planting trees and placing art works downtown.
Oak Ridge resident Aaron Wells will be taking the seat formerly held by resigned Anderson County Commissioner Catherine Denenberg.
He will serve for the Sixth District, which includes the Oak Ridge Senior Center, Robertsville and West Hills voting locations. His seat will be up for reelection in August 2024.
Anderson County commissioners appointed him on Monday (May 15).
He beat applicants Regina K. Guy, Carolyn Hahs Fogelman, Joel Pelham Hewett, Ebony Capshaw and Steven Mead.
His resume, submitted to the commission, stated he has been proprietor of Lizz’s Wine and Spirits since 2015.
“When I say I live and breathe District Six, that’s my day,” he said at the meeting, listing his job, home and the Boys and Girls Club of Oak Ridge at which he’s held various positions, as all in that district.
In response to questions, he said education is a big concern for the district’s residents, but as the district changes with new people and new concerns, adaptability is a concern in general.
He also said public safety, including Anderson County Emergency Medical Services, volunteer fire departments and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, was a top priority.
He said the Clinch River is the county’s most important resource.
“We can’t live without water,” he said.
His votes came from county commissioners Jerry White, Michael Foster, Denise Palmer, Robert Smallridge, Robert McKamey, Shain Vowell, Sabra Beachamp, Tim Isbel, Shelly Vandagriff and Tyler Mayes, giving him 10 of 15 votes.
Commissioner Anthony Allen voted for Fogelman, while commissioners Phil Yager and Joshua Anderson voted for Hewitt.
Commissioners Steven Verran and Tracy Wandell voted for Capshaw.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.
It’s difficult to prove the origins of this day as over two dozen towns and cities lay claim to be the birthplace.
In May 1966, President Lyndon Johnson stepped in and officially declared Waterloo, N.Y., the birthplace of Memorial Day.
Regardless of the location of origins or the exact date, one thing is crystal clear: Memorial Day was born of the Civil War (which ended in 1865) and a desire to honor our war dead.
On May 5, 1868, Gen. John Logan, who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed it in his General Order No. 11.
• Headquarters of the Grand Army of the Republic, General Orders No. 11, Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868:
“1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.
“In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
“2. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades.
“He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.”
This is an excerpt from Logan’s General Order No. 11. It can be read in its entirety at usmemorialday.org/.
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