UT Agencies Had
Roles In Asphalt
Plant, Town's Shift
BY LAUREN HENRY
Dr. Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee, made two stops in Greene County on Wednesday: at the county asphalt plant and Greeneville Town Hall.
The university president wanted to see first-hand how UT is assisting communities across the state.
UT has a mandate to do more than educate young adults.
"You know my view of how great universities like the University of Tennessee work," DiPietro said.
"They are in the businesses of doing three things: they educate, which everybody gets; they do discovery, which most people get from the standpoint of research; and they do this thing called outreach and connectivity."
Greeneville and Greene County have been the recipients of outreach and connectivity.
The UT Institute for Public Service (IPS) allows communities to access the expertise of the university. Leaders in government, business and law enforcement across the state receive assistance from IPS.
IPS is made up of five divisions: Center for Industrial Services; County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS); Law Enforcement Innovation Center; Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS); and Naifeh Center for Effective Leadership.
CTAS and MTAS have had a strong presence in the local area over the last few years.
DiPietro visited Greeneville Town Hall to meet with Greeneville governmental officials to see first-hand how MTAS has assisted the town government.
Mayor W.T. Daniels, Alderman Buddy Hawk, state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, and City Administrator Todd Smith sat down with DiPietro and other UT officials to discuss the change in governmental structure that created Smith's City Administrator position.
MTAS played a key facilitation role in the transition although decisions in the process were left totally to the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
At the board's request, Pat Hardy, of Knoxville, a management consultant with MTAS, has worked with the town throughout the two-year process of analyzing the pros and cons of various governmental structures.
The analysis resulted in a change, and the creation of Smith's position.
"After 109 years of operating under a weak mayor form of government, Pat led us through the process to change our form of government to the city administrator," Mayor W.T. Daniels said.
"He led us to change our government, and this is the result of the change. We are better for the process."
DiPietro said of Hardy's and MTAS's role in communities: "It provides solutions that change communities' lives and their ability to have the kind of government, in this case, that is very effective and efficient, and having professionals that help you do that is a key role we play."
According to what Hardy told the town government in November 2010, the purpose of changing to a council-administrator form of government was to increase efficiency of town government and clarify supervisory relationships.
More recently, the town is utilizing UT expertise through participating in the Tennessee Municipal Benchmarking Project (TMBP).
Smith referenced the decision made in the Aug. 21 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting to participate in the Benchmarking Project. He thanked DiPietro for the expertise of the university.
TMBP was started 10 years ago by MTAS to provide towns and cities in the state with information about performance and best practices that improve efficiency and effectiveness.
"We are using the benchmarking program to understand how our programs are running, where are we efficient, where can we use some help, and how we can tap into other communities across the state to help us," Smith said.
Before DiPietro's visit to town hall, he toured the Greene County-owned-and-operated ashphalt plant on Hal Henard Road.
The County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) assisted the Greene County government with a study to help determine whether buying and operating the county's own asphalt plant would be financially beneficial and desirable for the county.
"The main thing [President DiPietro] was wanting to see was the finished product of one of the studies. He can look at the paperwork and the study itself, but it is different to see the finished product," said County Road Superintendent David Weems following the UT president's tour.
The CTAS Study concluded in 2011 that it would be financially feasible for the county to buy and operate its own "hot-mix" asphalt plant. Previously, the county purchased asphalt from a private supplier.
The county-owned-and-operated plant went into operation in June after more than a year of discussion and debate within the county government and in the community.
Since that time, Weems indicated that the plant has produced 29,000 tons of asphalt and is saving $25 per ton by producing it rather than purchasing from private suppliers.
"We will pay for the plant with the savings," he said. "And a question is, where is the savings going? We normally would resurface 12 to 14 miles of road a year. And this year we have already resurfaced 30 miles of road.
"That savings goes to buy material to pave more roads. We are able to double the number of roads paved."
DiPietro was shown plant operations from the raw materials stage to the loading of the trucks, and the success of the plant was explained to him.
"Great institutions are in the business of bringing solutions to counties and county industry," DiPietro said following his visit to the plant.