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Carter Budget Committee seeking fix for private cemetery roads

John Thompson • Jan 8, 2018 at 9:41 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Will the Carter County government continue to make old cemetery roads passable for funerals on private property?

It has long been the tradition of the Carter County Highway Department to make improvements to the roads whenever a burial took place. The county has stopped the practice because it is in violation of state law, which makes it illegal for the Highway Department to operate on private property.

In an effort to continue to provide the service to grieving families and stay within the law, the Budget Committee of the Carter County Commission is seeking to contract with a private contractor to do the work of upgrading a cemetery road when a funeral party is going to use it.

The committee voted to recommend that $20,000 from the fund balance to cover the costs of cemetery road upgrades for the rest of the fiscal year. The recommendation will be considered by the County Commission next week.

This isn’t the first time the county has tried to get a private contractor to do the work. Mayor Leon Humphrey said an attempt has already been made to get requests for proposals from contractors. He said there was no response the first time it was tried.

Humphrey said upgrading a cemetery road on short notice was not difficult for the Highway Department, because it had lots of equipment standing by. It would be different for a contractor, who would have to marshal equipment on very short notice.

On other matters, the committee voted to recommend the expenditure of $25,000 to gut the old jail on the second floor of the Carter County Justice Center. Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said the old jail was simply abandoned when the new jail was opened several years ago. He said the old jail continues to deteriorate.

Plans are to eventually use the space on the second floor for storage and office space.

The committee also approved a budget request from the school board to use $112,000 from school funds as a one-time bonus for the system’s nonprofessional employees.

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