Budget Committee provides updates on several county projects Monday

Published 8:47 am Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Having decided to delay the Budget Committee meeting to 7 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. so commissioners could attend Ronnie Trivette’s funeral services Monday night and interact with his family, the commissioners in attendance faced some criticism from the public over their decision to meet anyway.

“It is hard for me to believe what I am looking at here,” community member Roy Livingston said. “I have never seen such disrespect in my life.”

Commissioner Trivette died over the past week, and commissioners took time to attend the service and social gatherings from 5 to 7 p.m. that evening.

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Ross Garland said this was their motivation to postpone the meeting in the first place.

“This was ultimately my decision to make,” Garland said. “This was done without any disrespect to him or his family.”

Garland said they need to focus on celebrating his life, and that the majority of people in the room were with him while interacting with the family.

“Most of the people here I saw last night at his home,” Charles Von Cannon said. “Therefore, I think that is out of order.”

In other business, Isaiah Grindstaff discussed the new metal detectors for the courthouse, saying they only detect “full body” signals.

“If you have a bracelet on, it alerts full body,” Grindstaff said. “If you walk through and have something on your ankle, full body.”

He said he wanted to pursue a way to exchange the metal detectors, which come from grant money, for a different model that will not slow down the security process as much.

Progress towards the absorption of leases under Carter County Tomorrow continued during the meeting with Finance Director Brad Burke’s report.

“We should have that budget ready for next month’s Budget meeting,” Burke said.

He said two maintenance workers there have expressed interest in coming over to become county employees, prompting Patty Woodby to suggest considering the formation of a formal maintenance department.

One concern the committee brought up was the workers at the county jail work under much different conditions than buildings like the courthouse, and so having workers go between the two environments might not be the best idea.

The committee also discussed the county Parks and Recreation Department’s request to have the county contribute $25,000 to the Roan Mountain Recreation Foundation for the purchase of a trailer package.

Garland said the county already set aside money for this in the past.

“What they are wanting to do is take that allotment we gave them, […] they will take ownership of it, maintain it and store it,” he said. “It can be used for the county as needed, but it will be under their ownership.”

Garland said part of this motivation, according to a conversation he had with Parks and Rec Chairman Ken Gough, was due to insurance and liability concerns.

The motion passed unanimously.

Before the committee adjourned, Garland also discussed the possibility of seeking ways to provide treatment for the county’s Christmas tree ahead of its lighting in a few weeks.

“The Chamber of Commerce has been taking care of it,” he said. “They have been lighting that tree every year.”

He said the county should try to find ways of investing money in a tree that is at least 100 years old and is one of the tallest of its kind in the country.

He said moss and other insect problems are threatening its health, and so the committee discussed the merits of either hiring a professional to treat it or look at obtaining the materials to treat the tree themselves. No formal vote took place on the matter.