Archive: November 2007

Archive: November 2007

Archive: November 2007

New Carl Perkins Center holds dedication ceremony

On Thursday, November 1, the Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse John Clinton Child Advocacy Building, located at 130 Boyd Avenue in Brownsville, was the site of a dedication ceremony culminating several years of a community effort of planning and fund-raising.

The cost of the center, which is about 3,400 square feet, came to almost $400,000. The money has been raised through grant funds, donations by the city and county, fund-raising efforts by Brownsville Exchange Club members and through personal donations ranging from $1 to $100,000. With a donation of $100,000 giving it naming rights, InSouth Bank named the center after its late President and CEO John Clinton.

Gathered at the opening were Carl Perkins Center board members, Mayors Franklin Smith and Webb Banks, Chamber Director Joe Ing, John Clinton family members, Center Director Linda Burns, Dr. Will Jones, who made the prayer dedication, and a large crowd of local donors and citizens. The ceremony and ribbon cutting was a chamber-sponsored event.

The new center provides offices for Tennessee Department of Human Services personnel, law enforcement, court officials and Carl Perkins staff members. It also has a private interview room, a playroom for children, meeting rooms for individual and family counseling, a full kitchen and a well-stocked pantry for families in need.

Governor expresses support of local Mega Site

Picture courtesy of the Governor’s office

Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith joined Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber and other local and state officials on a helicopter ride on November 1 over Haywood County’s megasite located between I-40 at Exit 42 and Stanton.

The 1,700-acre site, designated by the Tennessee Valley Authority as a megasite, was considered for a Toyota assembly plant that eventually landed in Tupelo, Miss. The location is considered quite attractive not only because of its interstate and rail access, but because of its proximity to Memphis and Jackson and most West Tennessee communities, it would provide access to an extensive labor pool.

Mayor Smith reported that the county and Stanton had received about $260,000 in funds to do some preliminary planning and infrastructure studies for Stanton and the site, but that it would take the state’s financial help to move forward with the purchase of the land and infrastructure development. He feels confident that this will be forthcoming, especially since the governor expressed his commitment to “trying to find some ways to jump-start the economy in the rural areas of the state,” according to an article by Clay Bailey in Friday’s edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Clay referred to the site as an opportunity for growth, jobs and an economic boom to West Tennessee.

House Speaker and Haywood County State Representative Jimmy Naifeh was also on the trip and says he sees the development as a “regional” thing. Mayor Smith said Haywood and Tipton counties are working together to create a regional economic and community development office.

City leaders meet to discuss industrial park funding

The city will finance its half of the cost of the new industrial park by borrowing from one of its own funds. The city’s solid waste fund has a million dollar savings account – or it did – until October 25 at a called board meeting when aldermen agreed with a proposal from Mayor Webb Banks to use the cash for the new park.

City and county governments had planned, according to Mayor Banks, to borrow the money from a bank, but they learned there are stringent laws regulating borrowing for industrial parks. With an option deadline looming, the leaders had to come up with creative ways to pay for the just over 500 acres. According to the mayor the total purchase price is just over $1.9 million. (We’ve been reporting about $1.7m)

Banks said he thinks the city might widen Windrow Road for about a mile south of the bypass “sometime pretty soon.” He said he “envisions” the roadwork to “look a lot like the bypass.”

Right now there are no immediate prospects for the park, though Banks and Chamber Director Joe Ing say there have been at least eight prospects since the first of the year that have passed stopping here because of the lack of available industrial sites.

No word yet on how county government plans to finance its half of the purchase, but county commissioners have given county Mayor Franklin Smith permission to go ahead with the deal.

Farmers market?

In a mostly casual conversation, Mayor Webb Banks and others at the October 25 meeting say there is interest in using the old Sonic Drive In as a farmer’s market. Apparently there is a private investor eyeing the property for the purpose. The old Sonic is located just east of the square.

Leaders and City Planning commission to address portable sign ordinance

The city’s sign ordinance is a hot topic these days. Specifically the use of portable signs, especially those with flashing lights. Most are in violation of city ordinance. The sign rules limit the use of portable signs both in the amount of time they can be used and the way they are lit. Lights are illegal.

At the October 25 city board meeting Alderman John Simmons said the signs are unsightly and a nuisance. There are a number of Brownsville businesses in violation, and the city has been getting complaints.

The signs were also a big topic at the planning board’s regular monthly meeting on the same day. Mayor Webb Banks said the ordinance is on the books but it hasn’t been enforced. And right now it’s still not being enforced awaiting further study by the planning commission. The commission decided to appoint a seven-member study group to look into the issue.

Haywood County’s unemployment rate drops slightly

The unemployment picture in Haywood County improved – slightly – in September. The September unemployment rate is 7.2%, down a tenth of a percent from last month but 1.6% lower than a year ago.

Other county rates of interest: Hardeman 6.3%, Lauderdale at 6.1, Fayette at 6%, Crockett 5.5%, and Tipton 4.9%.

Fall Fest 2007 a huge success

Fall Fest 2007 was a huge success with thousands of people attending the downtown event on October 20. More than 85 vendors participated, and the stage was full of entertainment throughout the day. These pictures are worth a 1,000 words.

Click here for more pictures

County Commission approves new industrial park land purchase

When the county commission met Monday, October 15,

Haywood County Commissioners gave County Mayor Franklin Smith permission to execute documents necessary to purchase 506 acres of farmland. The property, purchased from four landowners, will be converted to an industrial park.

The new park will border Windrow Road on the east boundary and the CSX Railroad on the west. The south property line extends about one mile south of the north property line at the bypass. Owners of the property include Dewayne Hendrix, Ricky Hollingshead, William Howse and Tommy Timbes.

The Brownsville Industrial Board will purchase the property with city and county governments guaranteeing repayment of loans or other indebtedness.

Mayor Smith said government would pay an average price of $3977.23 per acre. The total is $1,777,824.

At last week’s city board meeting Mayor Webb Banks said the development of the park would, eventually, cost an estimated $9 million.

Leaders have been looking for more industrial property because the industrial park on the east side of Brownsville is full.

Smith said governments don’t have “any immediate prospects” but the shortage of available industrial sites means Haywood County is being overlooked by prospects.

The 500-acre-plus tract is attractive because of access to major roads and the railroad. Exactly how governments will fund the purchase is unclear but the deals will be closed by mid-November, likely with short-term bank financing.

Justice complex location

Could the criminal justice complex be located in the old Wal-Mart building on East Main Street? Some county commissioners, including budget chairman Allen King expressed support for the idea.

County officials and project managers plan to begin an immediate search for land suitable for the jail and associated offices expected to include the sheriff’s office and the courts.

At Tuesday night’s county commission meeting King and others suggested the Wal-Mart location might be a good one.

Jail Committee Chairman Brad Bishop said, “It’s all going to hinge on fair market value of the building and the cost of conversion.”

A consultant hired by the county has estimated the cost of the complex at $12 million.

Bishop told county commissioners the schedule for the project anticipates site selection by the end of November, bid completion by the end of April 2008 and conclusion of construction “22 to 24” months later.

Mayor Smith spent time describing and commenting on an anonymous letter most county commissioners received. The letter is critical of government’s work so far on the justice center project, and especially about the selection of the Southfield group of architects and construction managers. Smith called the letter writer a “coward” and, point-by-point called the writer’s assertions inaccurate.

In other business

  • Commissioners confirmed the appointment of Dr. Clarice White and Ashley Dancy to the county planning commission.
  • Received information about proposed changes to the Flood Hazard Districts. Commissioners will be asked to act on the changes in November.
  • Heard a presentation from Hayden Hooper on a proposed $250,000 handicapped accessible park. The park is proposed to be located in Volunteer Park.

Parades are on

City board members approved a plan suggested by Mayor Webb Banks at its October 9 meeting requiring parade permits be issued only after parade sponsors obtain insurance.

The rule is simple. If the organization already has insurance that covers the parade, they must name the city as an additional insured. If they don’t have insurance they must buy a policy.

Banks says estimates he’s obtained suggest the parade policy will cost a little over $300. The city bought insurance for the upcoming fall fest and it cost $307.

As for the roadblock fundraisers, Banks says there is a state law protecting municipalities from liability in those cases.

We have two upcoming parades. The homecoming parade will require the schools to buy the policy, and City Clerk Jerry Taylor said the rescue squad, organizers of the Christmas Parade, plan on buying insurance.

New site will welcome industrial prospects

A new industrial park seems pretty close to a done-deal. Mayor Webb Banks told aldermen Tuesday he and county officials are trying to figure out how to finance the near $1.9 million purchase of nearly 500 acres located south of the bypass. Windrow Road borders the east boundary – the railroad the west. The city and county have options on the property that expire in mid-November.

Banks said Tuesday planners say the park may ultimately cost $9 million to develop, but the mayor says it will be developed as industry locates here. The purchase will likely be financed with bank debt or bonds.

The mayor says access to the park will be from Windrow Road. He expects Windrow to be widened from the bypass to the south property line, which is about 9-tenths of a mile from the bypass. Traffic would then be routed back to the bypass.

Group dreaming of new park

A local group of citizens led by Hayden Hooper wants to develop a $250,000 handicapped accessible park to be located in Volunteer Park.

The new facility will be “all inclusive” meaning it’s ideal as a play-place for all kids but will be handicapped accessible.

Socially, Hooper told the city board, it means kids with varying degrees of disability and kids without disability get to play together.

The design also includes Haywood County historical tidbits including a color-coded map of the county with relevant landmarks.

How to pay? Hooper hopes to raise a lot of the money privately.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Hayden Hooper at 772-3031 or Goldie Harwell at 772-9340, or mail a donation to P. O. Box 1091, Brownsville, TN 38012.

Grant request in to expand sewer service

The city has applied for a $750,000 infrastructure grant to expand sewer services to Haywood Company. City Board members approved the application Tuesday night.

Mayor Webb Banks says the project will provide the necessary sewer services for an expansion Haywood Company plans that will add about 50 new jobs.

Brownsville Utility will provide matching cash needed to obtain the grant.

Board discusses horses and property zone

Equestrian events will likely be approved for any property zoned General Commercial in Brownsville.

The city board approved first reading of a recommendation sent to them by the planning board allowing equestrian events in the zones.

The change comes as the result of a proposal by developers who want to put a horse track on property located on the bypass near Jefferson Street.

The measure must pass second reading and a public hearing next month.

City to expand Delta Heritage Center

The city of Brownsville recently received a TDOT Enhancement grant for $470,000 with a $99,000 match from local government. The grant will be used to construct a 5,200 square foot addition to be used as a West Tennessee Conference Center. Pictured during the presentation in Nashville are: State Senator John Wilder, Governor Phil Bredesen, Brownsville Mayor Webb Banks, Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely, and Chamber of Commerce Director Joe Ing.

City Mayor Webb Banks and Chamber of Commerce Director Joe Ing traveled to Nashville recently for the presentation of a $470,000 Tennessee Department of Transportation Enhancement grant. Local government will supply a match of $99,000. The grant will be used to build a 5200 square foot addition on the south side of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center at I-40 and Highway 76.

Currently the center offers video presentations for visitors to watch during their visit. However, because of the popularity of the Center in showcasing many towns and industries in West Tennessee, there is no auditorium-type room for the visitors to sit and enjoy the video. The addition will include an auditorium/conference room to seat approximately 100-150 people. The Center will also be able to accommodate conference sessions or lectures related to certain tours in the area. The facilities may be used by organizations in the public, private, and government sector thus becoming a West Tennessee Convention Center.

The addition will not only help to better accommodate visitors, but also make the Welcome Center more visible to the Interstate traveler. Currently the Welcome Center is located at the end of a cove. A Welcome Center sign, located on Highway 76 at the exit ramp, captures the traveler’s attention but visibility of the center is unclear. This extension of the building, complete with “old Southern” columns at the rear exterior facing Sunny Hill Drive, will make it more visible from the Welcome Center sign that is located on Sunny Hill Drive just off Highway 76.

General Manager of Brownsville Utilities to retire

John Sharpe, Sr., General Manager of the Brownsville Utilities Department, announced his retirement plans at a utilities board meeting Tuesday, October 2. Sharpe is retiring on January 1after more than 40 years of service with the department. The board immediately voted to fill the position that will be vacated by Sharpe’s retirement, selecting Regie Castellaw, who has been employed with Brownsville Utilities since 1981.


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