ECS eyes expansion at T.A. Dugger, task force created for Twins

Published 8:55 am Friday, October 14, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden Elizabethton City Schools Superintedent Dr. Corey Gardenhour addresses the City Council about expansion at T.A. Dugger.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Elizabethton City Schools Superintedent Dr. Corey Gardenhour addresses the City Council about expansion at T.A. Dugger.

Renovations at T.A. Dugger could soon be on the horizon following a request made by the Elizabethton City Schools Systems Thursday evening at the Elizabethton City Council meeting.

The system’s Superintendent Dr. Corey Gardenhour addressed councilmen while members of the board of education and donors, including Joe LaPorte, were in attendance to show their support for the renovations to take place at the middle school.

Dr. Gardenhour told councilmen that the price for the project would estimate between $3.5 to $4 million according to early projections.

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“What we’re trying to do is look at our current bond for the half-cent sales tax,” Dr. Gardenhour said. “Redo the bonds from a higher interest rate of four-and-a-half percent down to almost zero percent is where they are right now. In doing so, we can create money to do the T.A. Dugger work. It’s important that the public knows that we can do this project without raising any property tax.

“Based on how we structure the bond moving forward, we feel the money is there,” Dr. Gardenhour continued. “We can go ahead and start that project when the City Council shows their leadership again. We have a great partnership between the City Council and the school board. We’ve had great opportunities to work together and this would be another great chance to improve facilities for our students. We know the money’s there and we have a lot of momentum in the community.”

Expansion will go a big way for the facility, the superintendent said, noting that the rate of students entering the school system has increased by 25 percent over the past 10 years.

“We will expand directly off the back of the building,” he added. “We will increase the restroom facilities on both floors and also the eighth grade classrooms. One of the big areas we’re going to look at is our science and technology. We want to improve our science labs and classrooms. This will also connect the entire building … we have parts of the building that are inaccessible to each other so this will allow us to connect the entire building together.”

Dr. Gardenhour also provided a report of the school system’s recent activity within the community, thanking the 400 donors that have assisted with projects at the school system including renovations to athletic fields, 20 additional classrooms and work done of existing infrastructure. The superintendent added that system has been able to pump back $13 million into the community thanks to the use of the bond and other avenues.

Mayor Curt Alexander commended the effort of Dr. Gardenhour and former superintendent Ed Alexander for the work on seeing projects through and their work with the community and noted the item of T.A. Dugger expansion would be placed on the November agenda.


During the comments from citizens portion of the meeting, Joe Alexander addressed the officials and tossed around the idea of having the Council place four to five individuals on a task force for the Elizabethton Twins to help prepare a proposal for the Minnesota Twins once they make the hire for a new general manager.

The idea later carried over near the conclusion of the meeting when Mayor Curt Alexander provided an update for the city’s trip to Minnesota to speak with the Minnesota Twins’ front office to keep talks going to make sure their minor league affiliate stays inside Joe O’Brien Field, thanking the assistance of Bill Green and other representatives for being part of the discussion.

Elizabethton Twins General Manager Mike Mains also addressed the councilmen and attendees about the meeting and stated that the meeting with Minnesota’s front office went well and stressed the importance of keeping the tradition of the Twins’ within the community.

Discussion then continued by councilmen to make sure the city will be prepared once Minnesota makes a hire at the general manager position, which the Mayor stated a couple of weeks ago could take between 30 to 60 days. Mains added that the organization has already put in place a new director of baseball operations.

Attention turned back to Joe Alexander’s idea of implementing a task force and the city mayor put the idea out of getting the task force together that night. After hearing recommendations from councilman Richard Tester and Joe Alexander, the council voted to put together a task force of eight individuals with experience in baseball, accounting, the city, and architectural designs for a baseball stadium to put together a proposal once the Minnesota Twins’ new general manager is in place.

The task force is comprised of Mains, Richard Barker, Wes Frazier, Steve Hubbard, Dave McQueen, Debbie Kessler an architect with experience in baseball stadiums and a member of the Elizabethton Twins organization – both will be decided upon by the task force.

“The task force that was created tonight will only help us in our community to reach out to possible donors,” Mains said. “We want to do that and develop a short term plan to see what’s going to be the best way to address stadium needs and the relationship with Minnesota. We’re going to get everybody together and set up a meeting for next week.”

The group will report to the City Council during November’s meeting.


In other business, the City Council:

• Voted unanimously to amend the 2016-17 fiscal year budget appropriations for the Bonnie Kate Fund.

• Voted unanimously to amend the 16-17 budget appropriations for the general fund to purchase the parking lot adjacent to the Bonnie Kate on a first reading.

• Voted unanimously to award contracts recommended by McGill Associates for water system rehabilitation.

• Voted unanimously to approve a work order for the city’s mandatory stormwater program.

• Voted unanimously to approve a master agreement between the city and National Joint Powers Alliance to take in national bids to make the market more competitive.

• Voted unanimously to approve an agreement between the City of Elizabethton and Elizabethton Housing Development Agency for a recycling drop off point at Pine Ridge Circle.

• Voted unanimously to approve an ordinance to adopt the city’s employee position classification and classification compensation plan through a first reading.

• Voted unanimously to approve the upcoming events: Johnson City District of United Methodist Tweetsie Trail Event, Hayride for East Side High School on Oct. 28 and approved a road closure for the annual Downtown Halloween Trick-or-Treating event set for Monday, Oct. 31, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

• Received a check from Gov. Bill Haslam for $100,000 for the 50/50 grant the city received to created a splash pad at the Franklin Pool, with work expected to begin in the fall.

• Appointed Danny Blevins to the Housing Authority Board.