NEEDS VS WHIMS -
By: Pat Hunter
In the last year, much has been said and written about the Mayor's costly renovations. Part of these renovations included replacing all of the ceiling tiles in the entrance and hallway at the Loudon County Office Building, at the urging of county officials, which work for the Mayor.
Look at the pictures, do you think the entire ceiling needed replacing, not hardly?
While missing ceiling tiles are a fairly simple maintenance concern, they are potentially very dangerous for fire safety reasons, a loss of fire barrier and potential asbestos exposure especially in older school buildings and structures. Many of our Loudon County schools require new ceiling tiles to replace water damaged or moisture problem ceiling tiles. What about our county students needs? The ceiling tiles in the first picture are wet soiled tiles from a Loudon County school.
After the Mayor's old ceiling tiles were removed for disposal, school administrators made a mad dash to the County Office Building to pick up the old ceiling tiles so the tiles could then be re-cycled in their respective school buildings.
This year’s proposed school board budget included replacing ceiling and floor tiles and roof repairs and roof maintenance for several county schools. Its very bothersome when the Loudon County School Board must also justify teacher pay raises, new social study textbooks or visual arts and general music positions, or whether leaky roofs and ceiling tiles get fixed or replaced, while county commissioners reward themselves with a ten percent (10%) pay hike and other things in the proposed budget, which require trimming.
Will commissioners approve the necessary funding to address the needs of our county students and school personnel? One thing is for sure when Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp desired new spacious offices with wooden floors, his every wish seemed to be granted. Sturdy utility metal doors were replaced with expensive new wooden doors with glass, a new break room with tile replaced the old, another meeting conference room with new furniture and plush comfortable chairs and regal pillars as the crowning touch.
But when it came to the Mayor’s wishes there was little debate amongst the Budget Committee and Commissioners about the need or justification of the cost! When will county officials learn to prioritize and spend public monies for the public good and the needs of the students instead of the whims of bureaucrats?