BLOUNTVILLE — Gail Pridemore is one of the “natural heroes” who sometimes just happen to be around when heroism is needed.
The Sullivan County Board of Education started a called meeting by first honoring Pridemore going above and beyond her normal bus driver duties — earlier this year she helped track down a man charged in the hit-and-run of a fifth-grader.
Pridemore is employed by Holston Bus Co., which contracts with the county school system to transport students.
As Pridemore’s bus waited in front of a student’s house near Bluff City one morning last April, an oncoming car did not stop and hit the 12-year-old boy as he went to board the bus.
Director of Schools Glenn Arwood described Pridemore as “a natural hero” for her response. First she called 911. Later, rather than driving home, she returned to the area, found the hit-and-run car (abandoned and tag-less), and called police to tell them where to find it.
Police traced the car’s ownership to James Gregory Powers, 33, 109 Meadow Lark Lane, Bluff City.
Powers was charged with reckless aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, DUI fourth offense, failure to stop for a school bus, leaving the scene of an accident with serious injuries, tampering with evidence, and driving uninsured.
The boy, now in the sixth grade, continues recovery from injuries he got that day and is a homebound student this year, school officials said.
Powers is scheduled for trial in early October, Sheriff Wayne Anderson said.
Friday’s meeting was called so the BOE could vote on a revised budget request.
Sullivan County’s school system will use $1.08 million or more of its $5 million-plus surplus to balance this year’s $90.3 million budget, the BOE unanimously agreed.
Arwood said he and other system officials met with the Sullivan County Commission’s Budget Committee twice in recent weeks to discuss the budget.
In the last such meeting there were “suggestions,” Arwood said, “on how we might be able to balance our budget.”
The school system originally asked for $2.9 million in new local money to fund the $90.3 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. That’s a $5 million increase in spending over the year that ended June 30. An increase in state funding is to cover some of the new spending.
In addition to reducing some projected spending and using surplus dollars, school system officials increased projected sales tax revenues to close the $2.9 million gap, Arwood said.
Harry Trent, system finance director, said the original budget request used the same projected sales tax revenues that were used in last year’s budget. Sales tax revenues exceeded those projections. The revised budget uses sales tax figures based on actual revenues for the year just ended, plus some projected growth, Trent said.
The Sullivan County Commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Monday on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse. A comprehensive budget plan for this fiscal year — including the revised budget request from the school system — is expected to be presented, but not voted on.