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March Commission Meeting

Posted on Friday, April 12, 2024 at 2:00 pm

TRACY HARRIS – Staff Writer

The regular session of the Board of County Commissioners was held on March 25 at 6:00 p.m. at the Courthouse Annex. There were 16 commissioners present- Anna Childress and Sheldon Davis were absent. Matt Judd from Mt. Moriah Baptist Church led the invocation and Commissioner Debbie Gilbert led the Pledge of Allegiance. The minutes from March were approved.

Mayor Mike Keny advertised the open position of Register of Deeds prior to the meeting. The Register of Deeds position had been vacant since Weaver passed away on March 5. Craig Blackwell made a motion to hold a moment of silence for Doris Wayne Weaver. Prior to the meeting, the following four people submitted their names to fill the interim position until Sept 1, 2024: Jennifer Neill, J.J. King, Keith Hollingsworth, and Curtis Johnson. Mayor Keny read the names to the commissioners with a letter from Hollingsworth withdrawing his name. The Mayor asked if there was anyone present who wanted to be considered for the appointment. No other names were submitted.

The Mayor asked for the commissioners’ nomination(s). Commissioner James Hopkins nominated Jennifer Neill. No others were nominated. Commissioner Hollingsworth made a motion to cease nominations and Commissioner Ken Lee seconded. The motion to cease nominations passed 16-0. Since no one else was nominated by a commissioner, Jennifer Neill was the only person to go to a ballot. She received a unanimous vote, was appointed as Register of Deeds, and was sworn in by Daphne Girts.

All agenda items (24-03-01 through 24-03-13) passed by a vote of 16 – 0 with the exception of 24-03-03. Resolution 24-03-03 was withdrawn. The following appointments were made: Sheriff Billy Lamb appointed Anthony Garrett as Deputy Sheriff. Juvenile Court Judge Lee Bussart appointed Laura Utter as Assistant Director of Youth Services. Leon Finley was appointed to Civil Service Board Chairman until 2/2025 by Mayor Mike Keny.  Steve Calahan, Mark Chandler, and Drew Hawkins were appointed to 911 Board until 4/2028 by Mayor Mike Keny.

Resolution 24-03-03 “A Resolution to Rezone 912 Highway 99 Lewisburg TN 37091 from A-1 to M-1 for the Expansion of the Rock Quarry” was withdrawn by Volunteer Materials LLC. An email sent to Commissioner Hollingsworth dated March 22, 2024 read as follows, “Volunteer Materials would like to officially pull our request from the County Commission meeting. We would like to reserve the right to bring it back at a future date. Chad Swallows President.”

Resolution 24-03-11 “Opposes the Education Freedom Scholarship Act” was discussed by some of the commissioners. Some of the key points listed in the resolution about Governor Bill Lee’s controversial school voucher plan were that it:

  • Diverts public dollars away from public schools
  • Undermines public schools’ ability to fulfill their mission of providing comprehensive and equitable education to all students
  • Disrupts local control of education
  • Jeopardizes the stability of public education

The Board of Commissioners say in the resolution that they are committed to providing quality education for all students in the Marshall County School District. The Board recognizes the importance of accountability when dealing with public funds and believes that public funds should be used exclusively for public education. “Public schools are uniquely positioned to serve students with diverse needs and learning styles,” according to the Resolution.

Marshall County Schools System serves over 5,000 students and employs 774 people. The Board of Commissioners sent a copy of Resolution 24-03-11 to State Senator Joey Hensley and State Representative Todd Warner urging them “to vote and advocate against passage” of the Education Freedom Scholarship Act.

Resolution 24-03-23 opposes another bill in the Tennessee General Assembly. This resolution says that the bill, if amended, would cap the amount a local government could raise property taxes at a certain percentage over the previous year’s collections and would put pressure on county commissions to raise taxes up to the cap every year.

Resolution 24-03-23 says the county’s property tax rate has only been increased once over the past ten years – five cents in 2019, a 2% increase. The Board also sent a copy to State Senator Joey Hensley and State Representative Todd Warner urging them “to vote and advocate against passage” of “a cap on a property tax increase especially if it would force a referendum if specific thresholds were exceeded.”

Commissioner Mickey King said the following, “This has to do with the property tax cap at 2% yearly and we’re saying no to state interference with counties. Davidson County made a monumental increase of more than 30% percent recently and we have never done nothing like that and aren’t trying to now but at the same time, we don’t want the legislature regulating what we do down here.”

Resolution 24-03-14 approves the naming and dedication of bridges in Marshall County in memory of citizens who have made significant contributions to the county, state, or nation. The four individuals are Loyd Chunn-bridge over Bear Creek Road, 1.80 miles from Mooresville Highway, Jamie Elaine Drenkhahn-bridge in the 2300 block of Mt. Lebanon Road over Opossum Creek, Frank Edwards-bridge over Belfast Creek on Polly Adams Road in Belfast, Carrel Farler-Bridge on Talley Road next to Farler Farm.

Their family members will be recognized at the April meeting and presented with a copy of the resolution along with individual proclamations honoring their loved ones. The meeting adjourned at 6:32 p.m.