TBR Chancellor Tydings: “We know how to do this and make it work. We have a lot to sell.”
Published 12:26 am Tuesday, April 19, 2022
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The Carter County Commission on Monday agreed to deed the Workforce Development Center property to the state for development as an educational center.
The decision came after a presentation by Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings and Dick Tracy, executive director of Facilities Development, who flew from Nashville to attend the meeting.
Tydings asked the commission to consider deeding the property and the Workforce Development building to the state to turn into “a shining showcase” that would house the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Northeast State Community College and the Carter County Schools middle college system for career technical education called the Carter County Higher Education Center.
The potentially $40 million project has gained support from state leaders, but Tydings said the first step in the process would be for the state to take ownership of the property since it cannot spend money on property it doesn’t own.
“It will take some time as we would have to take the project to the legislature and governor to get approval this next year as we cannot start anything until it is approved,” Tydings said. “The governor was very interested in this project and you have two area state senators as well so when you have that type of support its always a good thing.
“We know how to do this and make it work. We have a lot to sell.”
The county had planned to invest $20 million dollars into renovations of the facility. However, should the state take over the project, all of the money that the county has put into the project to date would be returned, and the current Workforce Development Complex expenditures that totaled $189,009 in fiscal year 2020-2021 would be absorbed by the state.
“This will help create a workforce and give children an education where they can get a high-paying job right out of school,” said Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby. “New programs have also been discussed and all the partnerships will still exist.”
Joining Tydings and Tracy were Woodby, Interim President of Northeast State Community College Connie Marshall, Lucas Hitechew and Betsy Oliver with Carter County Schools, and TCAT President Dean Blevins to show their support of Tydings request.
District 7 Commissioner Daniel McInturff made a motion to donate the land to the state with two caveats. If the state uses the facility for anything other than education and if the TBR cannot obtain the funding to complete the $40 million project it is proposing, then the building and property will be returned to the county.
The motion was unanimous in favor of deeding the land to the TBR.
Two potential radio communication partners also appeared before the commission to answer questions in regards to bids submitted.
Both Communications International and Motorola representatives took their allotted time in providing answers to the commission, first responders, and the public in regard to their respective systems.
However, the commission was still undecided on what to do with the radio project which is expected to cost the county nearly $3.7 million. Commissioner Willie Campbell asked his fellow commissioners “How many of you understand this project” to which 18 hands raised.
Commissioner Gary Bailey then made the motion that the newly hired Communications Director be asked to attend a specially called commission meeting to discuss the project and have all the major players present including fire, police, EMS, and 911 to give support to the system they wanted since they will be the ones that ultimately use the system.
That meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6.