THE HUNTER REPORT
HOW MANY BLANK CHECKS $$$$
CAN TAXPAYERS AFFORD?
BY: PAT HUNTER
Feb. 15, 2011
Previously, at the January 24th Commission workshop meeting, three elderly family members (one sister and two brothers) requested Commission’s assistance to gravel a road (3/4 mile long) to a family cemetery. The family had written to Congressman Duncan and Senator Alexander for help; letters of support were sent from their respective office to Mayor Estelle Herron and Road Superintendent Eddie Simpson. The cemetery is part of the old family farm, which is located on TVA property. The original farm was taken from the family by TVA for the Tellico Lake/TRDA land deal. The request by the family members was sent to Commission for their consideration and vote.
At the Feb. 7th Commission meeting, Road Superintendent Eddie Simpson presented the County 2011 Road list for Commission’s approval with few changes including leaving off Notch-in-Hill Rd. The road was annexed by Loudon City and then de-annexed. Simpson informed Commission that there was no funding in his budget to fix the road, which he estimated to cost $50,000 - $60,000. It can be added to the list if Commission wishes. Commissioner Harold Duff made the motion to accept the 2011 Road list, which was seconded and unanimously approved by Commission.
Road Superintendent Eddie Simpson also requested an addition to the agenda, Blankenship Cemetery Road. Simpson asked for a “directive” from Loudon County Commission to gravel the road to the cemetery estimated cost $2,000-$3,000. Since the road is not an approved County Road list, State law does not permit the use of taxpayer money to fix the road according to Simpson. Chairman Roy Bledsoe requested a recommendation; Simpson replied that he had no recommendation but that he would do it.
Commissioner Shaver spoke “without sounding cold and callous”; he appreciated the historic nature and the sentimental importance but if the precedent was set to paying even a small sum for a private cemetery that would open the County to “many” other similar requests, for the short or long term. Commissioner Austin Shaver motioned to decline the request but he received no second from commissioners and the motion was declared dead by Chairman Bledsoe.
Instead, Greenback Commissioner Bob Franke motioned to take care of the road, which was seconded by Loudon Commissioner Brian Jenkins.
What other commissions’ as a whole have done is to accept those roads as county roads as a “blanket,” commented Simpson. Simpson did not disclose who he spoke to about this matter. He didn’t know of any other cemeteries that did not have access but he wasn't sure. There was some back and forth discussion as to whether it belonged to TVA or the County.
Commissioner Don Miller said that he was sympathetic but he wanted to know how many more (cemeteries) do we have? Miller wanted to know, are we writing a big blank check for the next 10-years?
Miller asked if Simpson could get that information and Simpson agreed to do so. Simpson had not researched and he didn’t know the number of cemeteries.
Franke asked to “table” his motion until Simpson could bring back information to Commission; Jenkins agreed.
Commissioner Sharon Yarbrough asked if this would be brought back to the next workshop but Eddie Simpson said that it may take some while to research the matter. Simpson said that he would check with other road superintendents to see how this addressed in other counties.
(NOTE: With a quick search, THE HUNTER REPORT found the following Loudon County Cemeteries)
LOUDON COUNTY CEMETERIES
Lenoir City Cemetery
Loudon County Memorial Gardens
Potters Field Cemetery
Reed Springs Cemetery
CHURCH & OTHER CEMETERIES
Dixie Lee Baptist Church Cemetery
Dixie Lee Junction Baptist Church
Freewill Baptist Church Cemetery
Hickory Valley Cemetery
Lenoir Family Cemetery
Martel Memorial Cemetery
Martel United Methodist Church Cemetery
Mt. Zion Cemetery
New Providence Cemetery
Pine Grove Baptist Cemetery
South Holston Cemetery
Watts Family Cemetery