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Jonesborough official proposes combining forester, parks and rec position

BEN INGRAM • Jan 31, 2007 at 11:48 AM

JONESBOROUGH - The decision not to fill one position within the town of Jonesborough could possibly lead to the elimination of another.

This according to Jonesborough Urban Forester Patrick McCammon, who believes that a proposal from Town Administrator Bob Browning that would combine the duties of the town's unfilled athletic coordinator position with the duties of the urban forester could eventually do away with his current position.

"I have been encouraged to apply for the position, which has 20 specific duties - five of which are forestry-related and 15 that are not," McCammon said.

"There would also be a pay cut, so if I took the job I'd be doing twice the amount. In the end, I believe that both jobs would suffer and forestry would eventually go by the wayside," he said.

Tuesday, members of the town's Tree and Townscape Committee voted to table their recommendation on the proposal until all parties affected by the position change could be brought together for their input.

"I don't think that Patrick's thinking is a lot different than ours," said committee member Terry Countermine. "I think that Bob is trying to figure out how to make it work. Bob's original proposal was to try and find someone to replace (former athletic coordinator) Dale (Ford)."

In November, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 3-1 to not fill the vacant athletic coordinator position in the Parks and Recreation Department when Ford was elected 6th District state representative. Aldermen billed the move as a way to save the town $30,000 in expenses. Countermine was the lone dissenting vote.

"The bottom line is, something's going to suffer with this position, and I can guarantee that it's going to be forestry," said McCammon, citing his lack of knowledge on the rules of Little League baseball, soccer and softball.

"This job is not mine, either. I have only been encouraged to apply for it. So this could mean there is someone else out there with more knowledge than myself," McCammon said.

Others wanted to know what would become of the town's Tree City USA ranking if the two positions were combined.

"There is no requirement that says a town must have an urban forester on staff in order to be a Tree City," McCammon said.

Countermine thought Browning's proposal needed to be reiterated before any action was taken.

"Bob's proposal ... it basically says that if we are going to operate with one less position, which right now we are, then how are we going to handle this, and do we support this proposal?" Countermine said.

"I just don't see how forestry can be a viable component (under this proposal)," McCammon said.

Besides a combination of duties, the proposal also calls for someone with turf management and landscaping skills.

The duties of the athletic coordinator involving fund raising, program development and communication enhancement with supporting organizations like the Little League Association could be moved to the two remaining Parks and Recreation supervisory positions held by Melinda Copp and Tallie Shelton.

Under the proposal, the planning and design activities of the urban forester would be undertaken by Browning or a combination of people providing support for townscape planning activities.

"In looking at our current situation, if we are going to operate with one less position, the proposed new role gives us the best chance of achieving our goals," Browning said in the recommendation.

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