The Polk County Commission, and the city of Ducktown, continue to explore ways to recoup some of their investment in the now-closed Copper Basin Medical Center.At Thursday evening's Commission …
The Polk County Commission, and the city of Ducktown, continue to explore ways to recoup some of their investment in the now-closed Copper Basin Medical Center.
At Thursday evening's Commission meeting at the Copper Basin Community Center, commissioners approved a motion to possibly obtain some payback from six acres of property belonging to the former Copper Basin Medical Foundation.
This tract of property along Highway 68, in front of the Medical Center's main hospital building, three adjacent buildings, and 18 additional acres, was not a part of the promissory note the medical center authorities were unable to pay.
Polk County assumed three-fourths of that note ($600,000) from the bank, and Ducktown took the other fourth ($200,000).
The city of Copper Basin initially had a fourth, but was financially unable to assume its share when the note was purchased from the bank to detour foreclosure proceedings. That $200,000 is a portion of Polk County's indebtedness.
Polk County Executive Hoyt Firestone and Polk County Attorney Eric Brooks attempted to find a buyer for the property, seeking another medical provider who might be interested. That search was in vain.
With the failure, a foreclosure sale was held on the front steps of the Polk County Courthouse steps in Benton on Monday, June 11, seeking a minimum $650,000 bid for the real property, and $150,000 for personal property.
There were no bids, and no registered bidders. Therefore, ownership of the property went to the county, and Ducktown.
But, the acquired property and assets did not include the six acres now in question.
Commissioners approved a motion for Cleveland Attorney Jim Logan to ask the courts to declare the six-acre tract surplus property, and put it up for sale. Proceeds from the sale will be used to satisfy creditors of the Copper Basin Medical Foundation, which includes Polk County, the city of Ducktown, and others.
Firestone said the six acres should have some commercial value with its Highway 68 frontage, but added, "It's a rough piece of property."
Ducktown city officials must still approve the proposal at a meeting next week. Brooks said that appears to be positive, since "they also want to sell the property."
Brooks emphasized that the possible sale of the six acres is a completely separate issue of wanting to sell the main hospital property, and the other 18 acres. He and Firestone are still on a quest to find a buyer for the former medical facility.
The commission unanimously to approve Thursday's motion, although commissioners Karen Bracken and "Buster" Lewis were absent.
Voting for Logan's involvement were Chairman Daniel Deal, John Pippenger, Mark Bishop, Greg Brooks, Daren Waters, Mike Curbow, and Sheena Gaddis.
In other Commission business:
• Commissioners are also requesting Logan's assistance in another matter.
Commissioner Mark Bishop made a motion that the attorney launch an investigation into the availability of Judge Billy Baililes to the Polk County General Sessions Court.
Judge Baliles had been forced to step down due to health concerns, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Brooklynn Townsend of the 10th Judicial District Attorney General's Office as Baliles's replacement for a "temporary" period of time.
Bishop emphasized that Townsend has served ably, despite some challenges and sacrifices. He said the General Sessions Court issue needs to be resolved.
He added that the lack of such a decision is a financial liability for the county.
Townsend had provided administrative leadership and managed day-to-day functions of the district attorney’s office in Polk County since 2015, prior to her appointment by the governor. This included appearances in Criminal Court, General Sessions Court and Juvenile Court.
The commissioners approved Bishop's motion Thursday.
• A number of budgets amendments were approved by commissioners, a vast majority being clean-up for end-of-year matters.
Some amendments involved election workers, communications, maintenance, supplies, utilities, and insurance.
There was also positive action taken for the Road Department, Food Service, the General Purpose School Fund, and Federal Projects.
• Commissioners were told of a special recognition ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday morning at the West Polk County Library for Cleveland veteran William "Bill" Norwood.
A Polk County native, Norwood was a Korean War POW, suffering 28 months in a Chinese Communist prison camp.
He passed away after a brief battle with cancer in February, and had previously been honored with a granite monument in Cleveland's 1st Street Square.
• Five notaries were approved by the Polk Commission. They include Natalie F. Cross (Benton), James V. Hammock Jr. (Turtletown), Sally C. Love (Ocoee), Bryan William Taylor (Madisonville), and Dewey Ellis.
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