ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Commission approved an agreement Monday that calls for Rogersville to pay 60 percent of the cost of replacing doors at the H.B. Stamps Public Library, despite an attempt to delay approval for one month.
Commissioner Rick Brewer alluded to possibility that a current dispute between Rogersville and the county election office over a precinct consolidation lawsuit should factor into the negotiations for this new agreement.
For more than 40 years, Hawkins County and Rogersville have had an agreement splitting the cost 50/50 for maintaining the building that houses the library, Rogersville Senior Center and the county’s EMA office; as well as the adjacent Kenner House, which is currently vacant.
The property where those buildings are located is on East Main Street just east of downtown Rogersville.
In the new agreement approved Monday, that 50/50 split continues, except with regard to the installation of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant doors at the library. The city will pay 60 percent of that cost.
The overall installation cost was estimated at $50,000 about four years ago, and it’s expected to be higher now. The county has agreed to make that facility, and other county facilities, ADA compliant within the next two years.
County Mayor Melville Bailey told the Times News Wednesday that the city agreed to pay 60 percent of the library door project because the county has been performing groundskeeping and light maintenance on that property without compensation from the city.
Brewer made a motion to table approval of the agreement until the September meeting when the new commission and mayor are in place.
“The mayor who is coming on board can maybe sit down with the city mayor and try to work out some things,” Brewer said. “I know we’ve got some issues right now with the election commission. I would like to table this until next month, bring it back next month, and see if the mayor can sit down with the city mayor and work some of these issues out.”
Brewer’s motion to table failed 8-11, and then the new agreement was approved by a vote of 16-3 with B.D. Cradic, Danny Alvis and Brewer opposed.
American Legion Post 21 Vice Commander Dennis Elkins notified the commission that that on Sept. 21 at 2-4 p.m. there will be a POW/MIA recognition service honoring those soldiers who did come home and are still living today, as well as those who didn’t make it home or have since passed away.
Elkins said there are at least 15 families that will be in attendance to be recognized, including two living WWII POW survivors, one who is 93 and one who is 96.
“Our WWII veterans, their average age is 96 years old,” Elkins told the commission. “So folks, we’re not going to have them very long. We need to tell them that, and recognize them and thank them for what they’ve done for us.”
Elkins added, “Also our Korean War vets, if you average their age, they’re 85. We’ve got to extend (appreciation) to the people who gave us the freedom we have today.”
Courtroom security grants
The commission agreed to apply for and accept a courtroom security grant form the Administrative Office of the Courts to help pay for state-mandated bulletproofing of areas in the five county courtrooms (Rogersville and Church Hill Sessions, Juvenile, Circuit and Chancery) including the judge’s seating areas and the court clerk’s seating areas.
The cost of that project has been estimated at $25,000, and if the grant is awarded, Hawkins County would be required to pay a 10 percent match.
A “Broadband Ready Community”
The commission voted unanimously to establish Hawkins County as a Broadband Ready Community.
In 2017, the General Assembly passed the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, which offers grant opportunities to companies and cooperatives across the state for establishing broadband connectivity in rural communities.
Grants are awarded on a point systems, and local communities that establish themselves as a “Broadband Ready Community” better insure applicants that want to provide broadband that they could receive a greater point needed to be awarded said grant.