If I were King - 


Fire Access road to learning cottages.

  Don't Speak to the Fire Marshal!      

Life and safety issues are very important!

By: Pat Hunter

Seventh (7th) District Commissioner Don Miller, retired Exxon executive and Tellico Village resident, seems to think that he is royalty and some local residents are his lowly surf's subject to his will. I have news for Commissioner Miller, he's not the King of Loudon County even though he may wish to be so. The day of royalty and subjects to the throne have long since passed with the tyranny of King George III of England and the Declaration of Independence by the colonists.

The United States Constitution ensures the basic right of knowledge and of keeping government accountable to the people. The people have a right to be informed and participate in government. 

Last year, Loudon Elementary added more trailers to its campus and a fire access road was required in order to access the units in case of an emergency. The Office of the State Fire Marshal has a job to perform and that's to enforce state regulations to ensure the safety and welfare of our students. Some times regulations seem to get in the way of local officials and personnel who think otherwise. When the public has questions or concerns about life safety issues, fortunately, the public has access to public servants in the Fire Marshal's office that take their jobs very seriously and do not consider taxpayers or concerned citizens, a pesky nuisance.

The School Board knew since last year that a permanent fire access road was required by the State Fire Marshal's office and for whatever reason the cost of the road was not included in last or this year's school budget.

It would seem like the School Board has to show justification for expenditures while commission's pet projects sail through with great ease. Recently, the Loudon County Budget Committee recommended paying $390,000 for a millionaire developer's road to a gated community. Commissioner Don Miller commented repeatedly that paying off the debt was the "moral" thing to do. During Budget Committee discussion it was disclosed that an agreement was signed in 2005 by former county mayor George Miller, which was not authorized by commissioners! The definition of "moral" - "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical <moral judgments> b: expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior." How do you figure that paying off a debt for an official who wasn't authorized to do so is the "moral" thing to do? 

Rubber stamping a millionaire's boulevard was an easy task while the same Budget Committee poured over the school board budget with a fine tooth comb. And when the matter of an emergency road came up for discussion, it was key to share certain information about the access road since paving the fire access road was necessary if children were to attend school by the start of school. If the children could not attend school, what then?

However, Commissioner Miller's reaction was not of thanks or appreciation but a verbal reprimand with a condescending and accusatory tone. Whatever happened to making a well-informed decision? 

The five trailers a/k/a "learning cottages" will house 10 classrooms with a student population between 160 -200 est., which would represent a large portion of the student population of Loudon Elementary School.

County officials may expect lots more scrutiny from concerned parents and taxpayers about the timely completion of the fire access road to ensure the health, safety, welfare and protection of our students while attending school in the "learning cottages."