Sullivan County Commission defers action on cities/county schools panel

J. H. Osborne • Jul 15, 2013 at 8:51 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County Commissioner Baxter Hood deferred action on two resolutions Monday, postponing their consideration by the Sullivan County Commission.

One resolution proposes creation of a joint study committee to look at how to best use education resources. Hood has been its lead sponsor of record since its introduction.

The second resolution asks the County Commission to declare itself the authority over the historic Sullivan County Courthouse. It does not mention weapons possession in the building, but its original lead sponsor, Commissioner John Gardner, said last month that it would ultimately leave the commission firmly in charge of making the decision whether or not to make the building a weapons-free zone. Hood had been listed as co-sponsor.

Until Monday morning.

When the resolution’s turn came on the commission’s monthly agenda, Gardner said he wanted to withdraw it from consideration.

Hood asked if he, as co-sponsor, had any options to keep it alive.

County Mayor Steve Godsey and County Attorney Dan Street each indicated Hood could express a willingness to become the lead sponsor, seek a co-sponsor, and leave the resolution on the agenda.

Street said actually once a resolution is on the commission’s agenda, it no longer “belongs” to the sponsor, but instead “belongs” to the whole legislative body.

Hood said he wanted to become the lead sponsor, but needed a co-sponsor. Commissioner Ed Marsh agreed to co-sponsor.

Hood then said he would defer action on the resolution, meaning a commission vote won’t come for at least another month.

Gardner said he wanted to withdraw the resolution, in part, because of a letter he’d received in answer to questions he submitted to a lawyer working for the Tennessee General Assembly.

Gardner said the letter indicated state law would support parts of the resolution, but left a lot of gray areas.

At least half of the commission’s 24 members spoke for or against Hood’s other resolution — the one on a joint committee between the county and its cities to look at how to best utilize educational resources — before Gardner suggested it be deferred, and Hood asked that it be deferred.

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