County OKs grants after veterans debate
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Feb 20, 2013 | 804 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bradley County Commission approved the Healthy Community Initiative Committee’s recommendation for funding projects after much discussion as to why the Cleveland-Bradley Veterans Home was not included.

“I’m very disappointed that the veterans home is — not only are they not at the top of the list they are not even on the list,” said 7th District Commissioner Mark Hall.

Larry McDaris, director of the Bradley County Office of Veterans Affairs, said although actual construction is set for 2015 there will be other costs before the project reaches that point.

“This body ... has in the past said that the veterans home was a priority. In the HCI documentation, it was the only priority listed,” McDaris said. “We could certainly use the money now.”

Projects approved for funding were Bradley County Emergency Medical Service ($25,500), the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society ($23,700), the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway ($35,500), Farmers Market North ($4,750) and Prospect Elementary School ($3,000).

“There were a lot of projects that did not get funded simply due to lack of funds,” said 4th District Commissioner and HCI committee member J. Adam Lowe.

The recipients were approved by an 11-3 vote. Sixth district Commissioner Robert Rominger was absent.

The veterans home had requested $30,000.

Hall made a motion that the Commission ask the committee to add funding to the veterans home to the list.

“I have my eye on the price. I have my eye on jobs. I have my eye on the veterans,” Hall said. “I ask this Commission to vote your conscience.”

The final decision for funding is the Commission’s, not that of the committee, Lowe said. Lowe said if the Commission wanted to give money to the veterans home from HCI funding it could.

Hall pointed out the veterans home had been listed as a Commission priority when awarding HCI funds.

Hall withdrew his motion so 4th District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones could make a motion to take the proposed funding for the Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society and fund the vets home instead. This motion, and one to take proposed funding for the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway, both failed.

Lowe said an HCI grant had never been previously awarded to a project in Charleston.

First District Commissioner Ed Elkins and 3rd District Commissioner Jeff Morelock said the veterans home has Commission support and will be funded with or without HCI funds.

Also during the meeting:

The Commission voted to renegotiate the animal control contract with the city of Cleveland. The Commission had until March 1 to make a decision. Otherwise, the current contract would automatically renew.

Peak-Jones said under the current contract Bradley County has no input in how the money is spent.

“The problem with these expenses is we have no say on where anything goes,” Peak-Jones said. “There are things on here like cellphones, dry cleaning, laundry, and we have no say over that. We need some leverage.”

She said she particularly wanted to know what memberships the itemized cost list referred to.

A motion by 3rd District Commissioner Jeff Morelock to renew the current contract and have a committee study the issue did not pass.

“I just don’t see any reason right now to rock the boat on this,” Morelock said. “I think if we gave a committee time to study this we could get some of these questions answered.”

- A motion was made to eliminate the Commission legislative assistant position since Amy Moore has resigned.

“We’re not taking away anyone’s job. It is a resigned position,” Peak-Jones said. “I just feel it’s in the best interest of the taxpayers if we put that $40,000 back in the budget.”

The duties of the position could be carried out by a current employee in the Mayor’s Office. Elkins asked the mayor if he wanted the position in his office.

Bradley County mayor D. Gary Davis said he would do whatever the Commission decided. He said he did not want to be a part of the decision.

The Commission voted to keep the position by passing a substitute motion made by 3rd District Commissioner Brian Smith to keep the position.

“I think this helps us be more efficient as commissioners,” said 7th District Commissioner Bill Winters.

- The Commission also voted on a resolution urging state representatives and Gov. Bill Haslam to support legislation removing the financial responsibility for inpatient mental evaluation of those arrested on misdemeanor charges from the county. Legislation is being considered that would have the state take over these costs. However, Lowe said there was concern from local legislators that this would pass. If that legislation fails, the Commission urged legislation limiting the number of days the Commission can be charged to five days for evaluations needed to determine if a person is competent to stand trial and 10 days for inpatient treatment.

“The Bradley County Board of Commissioners further requests that the legislation include that any costs to the county shall cease upon the dismissal of the criminal misdemeanor charges,” according to the resolution.