Commission approves nonprofit funding, jail gets perfect score

Published 8:45 am Tuesday, July 18, 2023

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Star Correspondent

Nonprofit organizations that serve Carter County residents will soon receive funding from the county after a commission vote Monday evening.

The Carter County Commission approved a motion to provide $174,809 for outside nonprofit agencies.

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“This is what the Budget Committee intended from the beginning,” said Commissioner Aaron Frazier.

During budget discussions this year, the committee decided to take nonprofit agencies out of the annual budget, but promised to reconsider requests during the new fiscal year, which began July 1.

Frazier said the committee never intended to not fund outside agencies.

Brittany Shell, director of the Elizabethton Senior Center, told commissioners during public comment on Monday that she is going to fight for the organization to keep it open. She has said the center will likely struggle or close if the county phases out funding the center.

The Budget Committee has discussed phasing out funding for some outside agencies.

“It is our responsibility to come in and take care of the elderly people,” Shell said.

Shell said the county has provided funding for the center for 40 years, which she said has “kept us alive.”

Following the vote, the Elizabethton Senior Center will receive $26,500. The Carter Compassion Center will receive $5,000; the local Boys and Girls Club will receive $25,000 and the American Red Cross will receive $25,000. Other recipients include the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation, Loaves and Fishes Ministry and others.

The commission received some good news from Carter County Sheriff Mike Fraley. The Tennessee Corrections Institute, which previously threatened to decertify the jail due to understaffing issues last year, visited the facility on June 22 to complete a thorough inspection.

“We got a perfect score,” Fraley said.

After last year’s inspection, the commission approved a pay raise for jail employees, which helped Fraley fill vacant positions at the facility.

Fraley said the good inspection was the result of the commission’s support and the jail staff’s hard work.

Mayor Patty Woodby shared an update on three major projects in the county.

The mayor spoke about the recent ribbon cutting at the Northeast Tennessee Regional Recovery Center at the former prison in Roan Mountain. She said the facility expects to have 45 patients by December and they will likely be introduced to the facility in intervals of five.

Several organizations and businesses, including the Roan Mountain Pharmacy, Roan Mountain Medical Center and the Roan Mountain Utility, are expected to see a boost in business due to the new drug recovery center, Woodby said.

The $25 million facility is being funded by the state and opioid lawsuit funds.

“It was a great moment,” Woodby said of the ribbon cutting, which included the presence of Governor Bill Lee.

The mayor also informed the commission that the Tweetsie Trail, a biking and hiking trail along the old railroad bed from Johnson City to Elizabethton, is expanding.

“$6.3 million is ready to be deposited in Carter County,” Woodby said.

Lee is directing millions of dollars into the trail’s expansion in Carter County. Woodby said a groundbreaking ceremony will soon take place for phase 2 of the ongoing project.

Woodby also told the commission that work will soon begin on the $40 million Carter County Higher Education Center. The first building at the former Great Lakes site will soon be torn down.

Once a new building is constructed, Northeast State Community College will move in and work will begin on the second.

“It is going to be absolutely beautiful,” Woodby said.

Commissioners also selected two men to serve as constables for the second district. Samuel Pearce and Michael Mason will serve as the new constables.