Commission approves sale of Workforce Development Complex

Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2023

BY ROBERT SORRELL
Star Correspondent
The Carter County Commission unanimously approved an option agreement with the state of Tennessee regarding the sale of the Workforce Development Complex.
Last month, the commission deferred action on the project when commissioners asked for more information regarding the inclusion of county students at the future higher education center.
Gov. Bill Lee has included $40 million in his proposed budget for the Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s Elizabethton campus. The state would transform the Workforce Development Complex, which is located along State Highway 91, into a higher education center. The center would include career and technical education for high school students, county and state officials have said.
TCAT President Dr. David Hicks and Northeast State Community College President Dr. Jeff McCord reiterated Monday that the new site will include Carter County students.
“We’re very excited about this,” Hicks said.
TCAT is working with Northeast State and Carter County Schools to develop the higher education center.
“It is for Carter County students first and foremost,” Hicks said.
TCAT and Northeast State don’t often work together, McCord noted, but they will in Carter County.
The new site will be an asset for local employers and for future generations in the county, McCord said.
Mayor Patty Woodby, who has worked on the project since taking office, said the state’s investment in the project is the largest one-time investment into a Northeast Tennessee county.
If the project for the renovation and construction of facilities for the higher education center, including space for dual enrollment programs, is not approved and funded by the state, the property will automatically revert back to the county, according to the agreement.
Commissioner Robert Acuff said he was pleased with the additions to the agreement and learning from McCord and Hicks that Carter County students would be involved in the center.
“The revisions have a lot of weight,” Acuff said.
Woodby said, “We are about to see something really remarkable come to Carter County.”
The commission also approved a motion from the Building and Grounds Committee to purchase six additional automated external defibrillators for the courthouse and annex and refurbish four others. Costs will not exceed $6,500, according to the vote.
The Carter County Rescue Squad will assist in maintaining the AEDS, which committees have been discussing for months.
Members also approved a motion to authorize the completion of a playground project at Eric Anderson Park at a cost not to exceed $30,000.
Commissioners also approved a SkyLine/SkyBest proposal to use the county-owned Sluder property in the Little Milligan area. Earlier this month, Commissioner Acuff told the Buildings and Grounds Committee that SkyLine/SkyBest is in the process of bringing fiber optic internet service to the remote area of Carter County and requested to use the property to construct a 12-foot-by-12-foot building to house equipment.
The one-acre property was donated to the county in 2017 by Bob and Carroll Sluder. In the deed, the property is to be used for a public service.
County Attorney Josh Hardin told the commission he believes the company’s plan would provide a public service to the county.
Commissioners unanimously approved a motion from the Highway Committee to designate the bridge on Danner Road in Stoney Creek as the Loretta Colbaugh Memorial Bridge.
The commission also approved a Highway Committee motion to increase the speed limit on the portion of Old Bristol Highway from 35 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour. Six people voted against the increase.
Chairwoman Ginger Holdren asked the county highway superintendent if the motion came at the recommendation of his office. Roger Colbaugh said no.
Commissioners also passed a resolution recognizing March as University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Month in Carter County. Several UT Extension employees and local farmers were in attendance for the resolution.
Rachel Dean, who heads the department’s Family and Consumer Science programs, shared information on what the UT Extension office does in Carter County. The office not only provides assistance for local farmers, but also oversees the popular 4-H program, Family and Consumer Science programs and others.
Greg Whitehead, an agricultural law enforcement officer for the state of Tennessee, complimented the UT Extension office for their work.

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