Jonesborough school now at design phase

Robert Houk • Oct 30, 2019 at 8:00 AM

With the Washington County Commission’s approval of a lease-purchase agreement with the town of Jonesborough on Monday to build a new K-8 school and sports complex, the project now moves to its crucial next phase.

Representatives from Washington County, Jonesborough and the county‘s Board of Education will soon be appointed to serve on a design committee for the $32.75 million project. Their work will outline the construction parameters of the school and athletic facilities.

Attorneys for the town and the county were working Tuesday to clarify the multiple amendments county commissioners approved to the lease agreement during a five-hour debate. Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said he was “pleased with the commission’s actions” to move the project to the next step.

“We are sorting through all the amendments, making sure all that paperwork is correct,” the mayor said.

Commissioner Jim Wheeler, who is the town’s attorney in the lease deal, said he is “excited” to see the Jonesborough school finally reach the next phase. He said that includes receiving approval from the state’s office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency.

That work will require getting all the lease documents finalized and submitting a written application to rural development before Dec. 31 to help lock in a favorable interest rate. Wheeler said that paperwork will also include an environmental assessment and other supporting documents needed to secure a loan from the agency.

The stakeholders in the project will be meeting in the coming months to appoint its members to the design committee. Grandy is one of the county’s two members of the committee. Another will be appointed from the County Commission.

Commission Chairman Greg Matherly said he hopes to take up that matter at the board’s regular meeting in November.

“We’ll open the floor for nominations,” Matherly said. “I’ve heard interest from at least one commissioner, Jodi Jones, about serving on the committee.”

The town of Jonesborough will appoint two members, one being a parent from the Jonesborough school district. Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest will also serve as member of the design committee, as well as Town Administrator Bob Browning.

The school board will have four representatives on the design committee. They will be the three board members representing the Jonesborough school district, and one appointee that is a teacher or school administrator from the Jonesborough school district.

In addition to the work outlined by the inter-local and lease agreements for the school project, Grandy has been given an additional job by the County Commission. The board voted Monday night to approve a resolution asking Grandy to negotiate with Johnson City officials to “to identify the terms that would resolve dispute over the interpretation of the Jonesborough proposal.”

Grandy said he will “reach out to Johnson City and continue discussions on ways to help on their school capital needs.”