'Rusted Out' Line
Along College St.
BY O.J. EARLY
Meeting Monday morning with a light agenda, the Greene County Commission voted 15-5 to authorize County Road Superintendent David Weems to assist the Town of Greeneville in upgrading a storm drainage system.
The commission spent nearly half of the morning in closed session, however, meeting in private for about an hour in the Criminal Courtroom of the Greene County Courthouse.
When County Mayor Alan Broyles called the meeting back to order, Commissioner Nathan Holt immediately presented a resolution to the commission.
Holt said in his resolution, "I move that we authorize the county mayor and the county attorney to negotiate with the State of Tennessee complaint No. 0471."
The measure passed unanimously with no discussion.
In a brief interview after the meeting, Holt declined to comment on the purpose of his resolution. He also said he could not comment on what was discussed during the closed session.
Broyles echoed similar sentiments.
"There is not anything that we can legally disclose," the mayor said.
ABOUT CLOSED SESSIONS
Under the state Open Meetings law and court cases relating to it, a governmental body is allowed to meet in closed session to hear from its attorney about a pending legal matter, and ask the attorney questions about it, etc.
The governmental body is legally required to return to open session, however, to discuss the legal matter among themselves and/or to take any action about the matter.
STORM DRAINAGE SYSTEM
Brad Peters, the Town of Greeneville's engineer and public works director, was present for the meeting and outlined specifics of the drainage system project on College Street.
Peters also answered various questions from commissioners, ranging from issues of liability to what the role of the County Highway Department would be.
He explained that a main storm sewer line on College Street -- which collects water from the Oak Grove area and Tusculum Boulevard and goes through the property that will eventually be the expanded Walters State campus -- has "rusted out and has to be replaced immediately."
He said that the issue was discovered by surveyors and engineers doing design work for the Walters State expansion project.
The Town of Greeneville will fund the project through revenue generated from the state fuel tax, Peters said.
Since the town is using money from the fuel tax, Peters noted, the town is permitted to enter into an agreement with the Greene County Highway Department.
"We are just trying to do this as cheaply as possible," Peters told the commission. "Even though it's money we get from the state, it is tax money, and we try to be prudent with that money and try to spend it as economically as possible."
County Commissioner Robert Bird asked Peters to clarify what exactly the county's role in the project would be: Would the county be in a partnership with the city? Would the county be assisting the city? Would the city be assisting the county?
"Any storm sewer inside the city is our (Town of Greeneville) responsibility," Peters said. "We have asked the county to assist us."
Peters said the situation is similar to the Town of Greeneville's work with the county on the Greene County Sports Complex on Hal Henard Road.
"We will reimburse the county any expenses they have for labor, equipment, fuel," Peters said. "The Highway Department is not going to be out anything."
Peters explained that, under most circumstances, the Town of Greeneville would handle a drainage project in-house.
This time, however, the Public Works Department doesn't have the equipment or expertise to do it, Peters noted.
48-INCH DRAINAGE LINE
"We are talking about a 48-inch line that is going to be in some places up to nine feet deep -- we don't have the equipment to do that," he said.
Commissioner John Waddle asked both Peters and County Attorney Roger Woolsey who would assume liability for the project.
Waddle detailed several potential situations, like flooding or work-related injuries, that could result in the Town of Greeneville or the County Highway Department -- whoever assumes liability -- being sued.
"I don't know that I have the authority to answer that," Peters said. "But as far as I'm concerned, we [Town of Greeneville] will."
Peters, along with Woolsey, explained that potential liabilities would have to be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Weems told the commission that his department will likely send two or three employees to work on the project, in addition to machine and equipment operators from his department.
The Town of Greeneville will also provide labor when needed, Peters said.
Near the close of the open session, Bird suggested changing some of the language of the resolution to show that "we [county] are just assisting the Town of Greeneville."
Bird put his suggestion in the form of an amendment, and the measure passed 17-2. Ted Hensley and Waddle voted against amending the resolution. Rennie Hopson abstained.
The amended resolution then came to the floor for a vote, passing 15-5.
Voting in favor of the amended resolution were Fred Malone, John Carter, Bird, Robin Quillen, Lloyd "Hoot" Bowers, Phil King, M.C. Rollins, Hilton Seay, Margaret Greenway, Holt, Bill Moss, Bill Dabbs, David Crum, Jan Kiker and Jimmy Sams.
Voting no were Wade McAmis, Tim White, Hopson, Hensley and Waddle.
Early in the meeting, Broyles read a proclamation recognizing the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812.
In addition, the commission discussed property that was sold on the Courthouse steps. No action was taken.
The commission also had a moment of silence for the victims in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting last week.