Today is Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Source of rodeo security funds debated

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Drug Court Coordinator Jeff E. Dickson gets a handshake from Commissioner Gary Keith (District 17) as the Wilson County Commission retroactively proclaimed May as Drug Court Month, noting that drug courts “save up to $27 for every $1 invested” and that “75% of Drug Court graduates will never see another pair of handcuffs.” Looking on, from left, are Drug Court Judge John D. Wootten, Jr., County Mayor Randall Hutto, case manager Rachel Duch and public defender Shelley Thompson. JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post
Sgt. Don Witherspoon, left, addresses Debbie Paré, director of the Senior Citizens Action Network (SCAN) and Sheriff Robert Bryan as the county commission declares June to be Elder Abuse Prevention Month. Paré told the commission, “Elder abuse does happen in our county, but it’s very under-reported, and we need to understand that elders are the foundations and historians of our county.” She also said that just like child abuse, state law requires the public to report elder abuse, and absolute proof isn’t necessary – that’s the job of investigators. JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post
Watertown Fire Chief John Jewell, at the podium beside Commissioner Sara B. Patton (District 9) thanks Auburntown Fire Chief Chris Singleton (left of Patton) for mutual aid at a Memorial Day house fire on Clever Creek Road as the Wilson County Commission resolved to express its appreciation to both volunteer fire departments, Rehab 23 and WEMA Director Joey Cooper. JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post
Addressing the county commission which honored him upon his retirement after 40 years at Wilson County Schools is Terry Thompson – assistant principal and former agriculture teacher at Watertown High School – as Commissioner Sara B. Patton (District 9) looks on. Thompson gave kids the knowledge he directly learned by working on his family dairy and hog farm and “gardening with the best of them,” as well as entertaining his students with “back in the day” stories, according to Patton’s resolution. JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post
Former sheriff and Commissioner Terry Ashe (District 12) gives a big hug to longtime Blue Devils volunteer Raymond Lasater for receiving an honorary diploma from Lebanon High School at Monday night’s county commission meeting as Lasater is helped away from the ceremony by his son Myron, right. JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post
“Once a Blue Devil, always a Blue Devil,” says Raymond Lasater, receiving an honorary diploma from Lebanon High School presented by Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright as applauding behind him are County Attorney Mike Jennings, left, and County Mayor Randall Hutto. Known as Lebanon’s “Iron Man” in the Guinness Book of World Records for golfing 1,530 consecutive holes – and a longtime volunteer at LHS, where the football field is named for him – Lasater dropped out in the 11th grade to help support his family and also soon married his wife of 66 years, Sarah. JOHN BUTWELL / The Wilson Post

Wilson County commissioners debated Monday night over who should pay for the overtime at the Sheriff's Department caused by activity at the National Junior High Rodeo Finals. The Sheriff's Department and Lebanon Police Department are jointly providing security for the event.

District 8 Commissioner Frank Bush made a motion to amend the request by the Sheriff's Department that $50,000 be transferred to the department budget from the general fund.

Bush's amendment stipulated that the funds be transferred from the Ag Center budget instead. However, District 14 Commissioner Jeff Joines - who also chairs the Ag Center Committee - disagreed.

Joines said he wanted to make another amendment to take the money from Solid Waste or Emergency Management, since they were as responsible as the Ag Center for the Sheriff's Department's overtime.

'Not an Ag Center issue'

Likewise, former sheriff and District 12 Commissioner Terry Ashe described the overtime pay as a community security issue, not an Ag Center one. Bush's amendment failed 21-3, with Commissioners Bobby Franklin (District 3), John Gentry (District 11) and Bush voting in favor of it - and Commissioner Mike Justice (District 15) absent.

At which point the original motion to transfer the $50,000 from the general fund passed 22-2, with Bush and Gentry opposed.

After the meeting, District 6 Commissioner Kenny Reich said he doesn't understand why there was any issue, since the rodeo benefits the entire county by bringing in people from all across the country who spend tourist dollars here.

"It's the best thing that ever happened to this county," Reich said, "even better than the fair."

Rodeo sold out Sunday

The rodeo has 1,100 participants and - as of Monday - there were 950 campers at the fairground for the event, according to Reich, who added that the event sold out on Sunday.

"And it's not just for this event," he said. "People were telling me they had never been to Tennessee before, but they would be back."

Bush also opposed a transfer of $500,000 within the Wilson County Schools budget, amending the proposed appropriation to defer it until the 2016-2017 budget is approved. The funds will be used to repair and improve the Wilson Central High School track and to repair and replace floors in eight sets of the school's restrooms.

Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright told the commission's Education Committee earlier this month that the track is now 14 years old and has problems which developed over time.

WCHS bathrooms 'deplorable'

"There are problems with eight sets of bathrooms which are in deplorable condition," Wright added.

The goal is to do the work before school begins again in August, she said, and the committee voted unanimously to recommend transferring the half-million dollars now.

Bush's amendment to defer the transfer failed, 18-6, but then the original motion to transfer the money now passed 22-2 - with only Bush and Gentry opposed.

County Finance Director Aaron Maynard also had some good news for the commissioners. He said the changes they made to the county insurance plan last fall are working.

"We have spent $760,000 less this year than we spent in the same months last year," Maynard reported. The savings are partly the result of a change that restricts which hospitals are covered by the plan, he explained.

Rezoning on 231 gets nod

A request by David and Brenda Rahrer to rezone an 18,000-square-foot lot at 1952 Murfreesboro Road/US 231 between Smitty's Bar and Grill and Surefire Fireworks - from agricultural (A-1) to highway commercial (C-1) - also was approved by the commission.

Planning Director Tom Brashear said the request had been approved by the Lebanon Planning Commission since it is within the city's planning zone.

Meanwhile, a second request from Fleming Homes to rezone 2.37 acres from A-1 to rural residential (R-1) at 1250 Riverview Road was withdrawn.

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