Archive: July 2007

Archive: July 2007

Archive: July 2007

Relay for Life raises $81,806.01

According to Brownsville-Haywood County Relay for Life co-chairman Carolyn Flagg, the fundraiser netted $81,806.01 for the American Cancer Society (ACS). More than 40 teams and hundreds of volunteers joined together to make the annual event another success by surpassing the goal of $81,500. The ACS uses the funds for research and programs that benefit victims of cancer.

Former Mayor Jimmy Halbrook remembered

Jimmy Halbrook

Family members present for the dedication of the Jimmy Halbrook Room at the Brownsville-Haywood County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, June 21, were (from left, front row) his wife, Mary Ann; his mother, Mary Neil; his sister, Sheila; and his daughter-in-law, Denise; (back row) grandson Jim and wife Alexis; and his son Mark. Not present were his son, Mike; his wife Sharon and daughter Rachel; and granddaughter Sarah.

Friends, family members, and community leaders came together Thursday, June 21, and remembered the late Brownsville Mayor Jimmy Halbrook, when officials named the Brownsville-Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Board Room “The Jimmy Halbrook Room.”

Halbrook began his career as a public servant when he was elected as a city alderman in 1964. He became vice mayor in 1978 and was elected Mayor of Brownsville in 1990.

Halbrook opted not to seek re-election for a second term and after making the announcement, he said, “Thirty years is enough for anybody.” He retired at the end of his first term as city mayor.

Mayor Halbrook passed away August 31, 2004, at the age of 74 years.

His contributions to the City of Brownsville were numerous. During his tenure as mayor, the I-40 interchange at Highway 70 was lighted, the new city swimming pool was built as well as the Elma Ross Public Library and the Wyatt-Duke Tennessee Army National Guard Armory, which were both completed in 1992.

Mayor Webb Banks, speaking at the dedication service, said he felt that Mayor Halbrook would be extremely proud of “this honor since he worked so diligently to rescue the former library facility.” Halbrook was one of the major players in convincing the state that the Carnegie Library Building was “too valuable to fall in disrepair.”

Pete Boyd, a life-long friend of Halbrook, spearheaded the efforts that led to the events of the day. Boyd said, “I did this because of my deep admiration for a man of total integrity.”

Among the accolades paid to Halbrook, Cristy Smith, former editor of the Brownsville States-Graphic, wrote in January 1994, “Jimmy Halbrook was not a “political” mayor. How fortunate for us. But it would have been easier for him to grease the political wheels than to take the chosen path of doing the right thing. He wanted so much to do the right thing that he was forever at the mercy of strong-arm pressure tactics. Not political enough. What a strange world.”

County residents benefit from Emergency Repair Program

Annie Reed

Leonard Jones

Helen Harwell

Lucy Morning

Luella Lewis

Mary Sanders and Clifton Watson

Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Johnson

Mrs. Ridley Taylor

Southwest Tennessee Development District (SWTDD) Executive Director Evelyn C. Robertson, Jr. and Fiscal Director Martha Alford joined Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith Monday, June 18, to visit nine county residents who will benefit from the Emergency Repair Program. This program is a partnership between the Tennessee Housing Development Association and the SWTDD that will provide assistance in home repair for elderly citizens in Haywood and Hardeman counties. The grant is for $300,000 and includes $200,000 THDA funds, and a match of $100,000 in cash and in-kind services that SWTDD has received from area banks, First South, BanCorp and Merchant’s and Planters Bank in Bolivar, and other contributors.

“The SWTDD Executive Committee chose to target two counties for this grant, Haywood and Hardeman,” Robertson said. “These counties have the largest elderly populations in our district, and the highest unemployment and poverty rates,” Alford added.

The criteria for receiving these funds include need, and recipients of the improvements have to be 60 years and older. Citizens were invited to a public hearing about the grant in February and were able to make applications to receive the repairs to their homes. County Mayor Franklin Smith said they received 57 applicants, and from those, the committee selected nine homes in Haywood County that met the criteria and were the most in need of repair. No more than $15,000 can be spent on each home.

Generally the repairs that were considered for the Emergency Repair Program included roofs, electric, septic, plumbing, heating and air systems, and structural repairs to walls or floors. Properties were inspected for suitability for the program.

“We had to prioritize the needs to make the selections,” Alford said. “This program is definitely a benefit to the community, and it allows these elderly citizens to be able to remain in their homes.”

“We certainly appreciate the opportunity this grant affords us to help some of our citizens who wouldn’t be able to have their homes repaired otherwise,” County Mayor Smith said.

Recipients of the funds for repairs are Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Johnson, Annie Reed, Helen Harwell, Leonard Lee Jones, Luelle M. Lewis, Lucy Mooring, Mr. and Mrs. Ridley Taylor, Jr., Mary Sanders and Clifton Watson, and Fred Cooks (not pictured).

Jail committee’s recommendation in hands of commissioners

There was spirited discussion Monday night, June 18 after, as expected, Jail Committee Chairman Brad Bishop delivered the news his committee voted four to two to recommend the county commission consider the $12 million-plus criminal justice complex as the option for resolving issues with the county jail.

The committee has studied the issue for months and hired a consultant to help. Bishop made his brief presentation at June’s regularly scheduled meeting of the county commission.

Bishop, who was one of two dissenting votes from the committee, said whatever the commission decides to do the final result will likely be a modification of the committee’s work. He says estimates of actual space needed – from the number of jail cells to the space required for offices and the courts might be modified.

At issue is the looming state decertification of the current early 1970s jail. A jail inspector put the county on notice nearly three years ago significant changes must be made to keep the jail in compliance with state standards.

The jail committee has been studying three options including renovation of the existing facility, building a new jail or the construction of a criminal justice complex, complete with offices for law enforcement and the court system.

The commission meets to vote on the issue on July 16.

(See additional stories on the county jail in our news archives.)

Jones reappointed to Library Board

Local educator Ray Jones will serve another three year stint on the county’s library board. Jones was appointed to his second term Monday, June 18.

The rules limit a board member to two terms.

Brownsville to chip in funds for megasite grant

Brownsville’s city government has agreed to cover a $60,000 shortfall in a county grant match.

The county commission has applied for a $100,000 grant to pay for infrastructure engineering and planning for the megasite and the city of Stanton. The $100,000 grant must be matched by another $100,000. The county commission agreed to supply $40,000 in matching funds from local coffers but the balance, $60,000, expected to come from another grant, has been refused.

The Brownsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen are supplying the cash from their industrial development funds.

County seats ethics panel

Judging ethics. That’s what a new panel appointed by the Haywood County Commission may have to do – if called on.

Monday, June 18, Ann Medford, John Gorman, Becky Booth, Charles Wills and Rev Rick Rouse were appointed to the county’s new ethics committee. The panel is required by the ethics policy adopted by the commission last month. The committee’s job will be to review ethics complaints placed against a county worker, elected or appointed official.

Committee recommends criminal justice complex

The Haywood County Commission’s jail committee has worked for months, hired consultants and held a public hearing on the subject of the county jail.

Thursday, June 14, the committee voted four to two to recommend that county commissioners build a criminal justice complex.

The current proposal would put a 195-bed jail, offices for court clerks and courtrooms and the sheriff’s office in a building encompassing an estimated 1.5 acres under roof.

The building will cost more than $12 million according to the consultant’s estimate.

The county commission will hear the committee’s recommendation Monday, June 18. They will be asked to vote on the measure when they meet in July.

The jail committee includes Brad Bishop (chairman), Bob Hooper, Ronald Woods, Robert Green, Kathy Chapman and Chris Lea. Bishop and Woods were the two members who were not in favor of the complex.

City grants workers nice raises

A pay raise plan for city workers may cause the city to hike property taxes for the first time in many years.

The announcement came when the City Board met June 12.

City Clerk Jerry Taylor told the City Board that he’s predicting Brownsville will have to raise taxes when the new fiscal year begins next month.

The cost of city government’s operations rises each year, but of special note this year are substantial raises granted all city workers. Aldermen and the mayor agreed to the raises during a city board meeting earlier this year. The city’s pay scale plan is also being amended to set higher salaries.

At the June 12 meeting aldermen approved Taylor’s $7.1 million budget on first reading but the spending and tax document isn’t finalized.

The board plans to meet in special session between now and July for the purpose of working out budget details, and that could mean the tax rate proposed by Taylor could change. They hope to hold a public hearing and final vote when they meet in July.

Certified rate

The city’s current tax rate is $1.50.

City fathers say, though, that since property in Brownsville has undergone a state-mandated reappraisal, they must certify a new rate that would send taxpayers approximately the same total bill. That rate will be lower because the reappraisal dramatically increased the reported value of property.

The county assessor estimates Brownsville’s certified rate will be $1.39, but that is not official. The city’s early proposal is to raise that in fiscal 2007-2008 to $1.65, or 18.7 percent.

County hosts public hearing on jail decision

A number of Haywood Countians turned out for a two-and-a-half hour public hearing on the subject of the proposed new county jail Monday June 11.

Jail consultant Jim Woodrum explained the three possibilities; renovate the jail for about $6 million; build a new jail for a little over $7 million or build a criminal justice complex to include a jail, sheriff’s office and space for the court system for over $12 million.

County leaders concur with a state jail inspector that it’s a certainty millions of dollars have to be spent on the county jail.

Along with County Mayor Franklin Smith, 16 of 20 county commissioners attended the meeting.

Budget Committee Chairman Allen King said, “I’m not happy” over a suggestion that the project be financed with 20-year bonds. King wants that term shortened to save interest cost.

None of the county commissioners present expressed a preference for any of the three plans, though the plan to renovate the jail seems dead.

Quick facts

The jail that’s proposed includes 195 beds. The current jail houses 132. The current average population is 116.

The sheriff’s office proposed in the criminal justice complex would be over 8,300 square feet and cost more than $1.2 million.

The court system space included in the justice complex model would include 20,000 square feet and cost $2.9 million.

County Mayor Franklin Smith says he estimates we’d have to raise property taxes 30 cents to the most costly option.

There have been no estimates for the cost of land. The county may opt to build on the 100-acre county farm where the jail is currently located.

If the court system moves out of the courthouse some renovation would be required of the historic downtown structure. There are no estimates of courthouse rehab costs.

What’s next?

The county commission’s jail committee will meet and make a recommendation to the county commission when it meets June 18. The commission will be asked to vote during its July meeting.

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