Funding for eight new school buses received the approval of the Greene County Commission on Monday, in a meeting dominated by discussion of slaughterhouses.

The commission also heard from residents of Chuckey and Sunnyside, who complained about large numbers of dogs running loose, with little being done about that problem.

In addition, a resolution was approved by the county commission agreeing to let the state proceed with construction of a proposed bypass road around Tusculum.

Approval of the resolution authorizing issuance of capital outlay notes for $423,276 to purchase eight school buses came with almost no discussion in the commission meeting.

The resolution and the bus purchase had already been approved by the county Board of Education, as well as by the commission's Education Committee and its Budget and Finance Committee.

The funds will be used to purchase five 78-passenger buses, one 84-passenger bus, and two 14-passenger buses, using bids already obtained by the School Board.

The purchases are part of an ongoing school bus replacement program.

County Executive Alan Broyles said the funding mechanism for the buses is the same as in previous years.

White Pine Farmers' Market

The commission also approved a resolution to allow the East Tennessee Agribusiness Center at White Pine (also known as the farmers' market) to be run by a board of County Executives from the counties it serves, or their designates.

Commissioner Bill Moss, one of the sponsors, said that the new committee will continue to give counties control over their investment, but is designed to make the board more active.

Besides Greene County, the farmers' market serves Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties.

Tusculum 107 Bypass

The commission also approved a resolution allowing the Tennessee Department of Transportation to go ahead with the proposed bypass around Tusculum.

According to a TDOT letter accompanying a legal agreement, the state cannot begin buying rights of way for the project until the county commission has accepted the proposal.

Commissioner Alex Edens, one of the sponsors, said no cost to the county government is involved.

The route of the proposed bypass would be from state Route 107 near Tusculum Place subdivision, following Moon Creek behind Greene Valley Developmental Center, and then intersecting with U.S. Highway 11E.

Another resolution sponsored by the Budget and Finance Committee was approved to let the Register of Deeds' office use $10,610 from fees already collected through a new state law to purchase or lease data processing equipment and software. Currently, the Register of Deeds' office does not have its records on computer.

New 9-1-1 Roads

The commission also approved a list of roads added to the official 9-1-1 county road list in the past year.

Jerry Bird, 9-1-1 director, pointed out to the Republican caucus that the roads need to be added to a new county road map. It was noted that the 9-1-1 map list is not the same as the official county road list.

The commission also approved a resolution to let the county Health Department retain $24,500 in additional state grant funds. Bill Smith, director of the health department, told the commission that the money was "a bottom-line adjustment" to the department's operating grant.

A resolution to add Cooter Lane to the official county road list was also approved, on second reading. It is an existing road, and was approved by the county commission's Road Committee some time ago.

Vaughn Wicker, an official with Southern Building Codes, from South Carolina, was to have addressed the commission at the invitation of Leon Bird, the county's building commissioner. Bird said, however, that Wicker could not attend because of a death in his family.

Concerns About Loose Dogs

Three people came before the commission to express concerns about dogs running loose.

Elizabeth Smith of Nolichucky Overlook addressed the commission to talk about animals running loose near her home. Smith said she was concerned about the safety of neighbor children because of the "wild dogs in our area," but had not been able to get a satisfactory response from the county.

She said that she had talked to several people, including Bill Smith, director of the county health department, and been told that the county does not have an animal problem.

Smith said she had been taking in stray dogs and cats, and, "I'm up to 13 animals right now."

Robert Peterson of the Sunnyside community also spoke about stray-animal problems he is experiencing.

Peterson said he had had "nothing but animal problems" since moving here from New Jersey three and a half years ago.

He said a neighbor lets pit bulldogs run loose. As a result, he said, "I now keep a loaded gun at my house."

Peterson said that, in addition, his home "seems to be a dropoff point" for unwanted dogs, and said his wife "now takes care of over 30 dogs" that have been dropped off. He later said that she also feeds about 30 cats.

He said that he and his wife have now spent more than $700 to have animals spayed or neutered.

In addition, he said, he has shot several dogs, and indicated that he will do so again "if that's what it takes."

Commissioner Jim Eagle asked Peterson, "Why do you take these animals in and feed them?" since doing so will probably attract more.

Peterson said he does so because they are "dumb animals looking for food" and that if they are not fed, they will turn into wild animals.

Later Marge Peterson came to the witness stand and said she feeds the animals because they are defenseless.

She said that the county government needs to consider some way to raise funds, perhaps with pet tags, to do something about stray animals. "The Humane Society needs some help," she said.

She said that orphanages are provided for children and that similar arrangements need to be made for animals as well.

"If you'd seen these animals, you wouldn't ask why."

Then she said, "All we can say is, for right now, we're not going to shoot the animals; it comes down to their vehicles, or the individuals. That's not a threat, it's just a promise. Keep them away."

Contacted this morning by telephone, Peterson said that, when his wife made that statement, she was upset about not being able to find a solution, or to get a response from officials about the problem. He said she did not mean the comments about shooting.

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