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Surgoinsville may buy old 'Country Store' property

Jeff Bobo • Dec 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM

SURGOINSVILLE — Town leaders hope to someday purchase the old “Country Store” building on Main Street but first will investigate whether there are grant funds available to pay for the building and accompanying four acres.To be more specific, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed Monday to investigate the possibility of investigating whether there are grant funds available to purchase the property.Tom Nornhold addressed the BMA Monday about taking on the job of seeking out these grant funds for the town. His contract would call for a $1,000 retainer for one year of services, and he would also receive 5 percent of any grant funds he acquired up to $150,000, and 10 percent of any funds after $150,000.With two new aldermen being sworn in Monday, the board agreed to delay the vote on seeking funds and approval of Nornhold’s contract until after it can meet in a workshop session later this month and discuss its options.Mayor Johnny Greer explained that he’d like to acquire the acreage and building — which was originally constructed as a school — for multiple uses including town offices, storage, recreation and for use as a community center. The goal is to acquire at least $150,000 in grants for the project.A purchase price was not discussed, but there would also be a lot of expense to renovate the building, make additions and possibly remove asbestos if it exists — which Greer and Vice Mayor Tim Hoss admitted is a strong likelihood.“We’ve been renting storage buildings, and our maintenance building is out of room,” Hoss said. “We’ve just run out of room to store equipment and safely secure it.”During the discussion there was one lone voice of protest from the audience from a local resident who expressed concern that the building would become a money pit and end up causing taxes to increase. “We’re not talking about added cost to the taxpayer. We’re trying to see if it’s feasible to do,” Hoss said. “If it’s not feasible, don’t do it. But at least let’s look into it. Doing nothing is unacceptable.”Greer noted that Nornhold’s contract would be for a full year and that same $1,000 retainer would pay for him to seek grant funds for other projects as well. The biggest one on the table now is the construction of a new fire station.The BMA is scheduled to resume discussion of the property purchase and grant applications when it meets in a workshop session Dec. 18 at City Hall.In other business Monday the BMA:•Welcomed two new aldermen during swearing-in ceremony presided over by Municipal Judge Chris Raines. Among those sworn in were newly elected Aldermen Marc Borghetti and Joe McLain, who replace John Sandidge and Ralph Bass, both of whom opted not to seek re-election. Also sworn in Monday was incumbent Alderman Don Thurman, who was re-elected in the Nov. 4 election.•Agreed to pay for code enforcement officer Eddie McNally to be trained for the building inspector position, and for him to be hired for that position upon his certification.•Approved a Christmas bonus for town employees to include $100, a turkey and a ham. •Announced that the annual Christmas parade will be Saturday, with lineup at 10 a.m. downtown, and the parade beginning at 11 a.m.

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