ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Industrial Development Board will request funding from the county in 2018-19 to cover the cost of lighting the narrow, winding stretch of Phipps Bend Road that leads into the industrial park.
On Wednesday, Cooper Standard hosted an “existing industries” meeting for its neighbors at Phipps Bend to discuss their needs with IDB Chairman Larry Elkins and IDB Coordinator Rebecca Baker.
Elkins told the IDB Thursday that at the top of their wish list is better lighting on Phipps Bend Road.
From Highway 11-W south to the four-way stop at Main Street, the city of Surgoinsville has street lights along Phipps Bend Road. From there south into the park, however, it’s pitch black at night.
“When you pass through the four-way stop, you come all the way to the entrance of Phipps Bend in the dark,” Elkins said. “I mean, when the sun goes down it is dark.”
Elkins added, “They have asked us on numerous occasions to light that from the four-way stop, on into the park. We’ve had one fatality already up there this year. I’m not saying it was because it was dark, but they ran out of the road.”
Holston Electric would install the lights at no cost to the county, but someone would have to pay the electric bill. It’s a recurring expense the IDB can’t afford without help from the County Commission.
Elkins admittedly “went out on a limb” and told the existing industries he would attempt to get those funds included in the IDB’s 2018-19 fiscal year budget.
“Certainly with the new industries and the expansion ... they need a well-lit road,” Elkins said. “It’s a two-lane road, it’s curvy and we need the lighting.”
He added, “Truck traffic has increased dramatically at Phipps Bend, and at shift change time it’s unbelievable up there. It’s a great problem to have when you’ve got thousands of employees working there.”
In other business Thursday, the IDB:
* Heard a report from Elkins that he met recently with a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who indicated that due to Hawkins County’s rural setting it may be eligible for low interest industrial loans which the county can use as a recruiting tool for new industry. Elkins said that would give Hawkins County a good advantage and he will be pursuing that.
* Heard a report from Elkins that the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office has expressed an interest in opening a substation at the existing Phipps Bend fire station. Some equipment would be needed, such as a computer and possibly an Internet upgrade.
“That would be a great asset — to see a police presence there in the park anytime,” Elkins said. “Instead of running back to Rogersville to do their paperwork, they could stop there and be seen there. ... When you talk about speeding, when you see a police car you, tend to change your habits, so we feel like that might change some habits of people down there.”
*Heard a report from Baker that the IDB received a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority which will be used to purchase a smart TV for the Phipps Bend TCAT campus.
The smart TV would could be used by the school, but it would also be used by the IDB when industrial prospects visit Phipps Bend. The TCAT campus is a main attraction for industrial prospects, and they always want a tour of the school.