Board names school design committee member; approves industrial grants

Robert Houk • Nov 25, 2019 at 8:48 PM

Washington County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to appoint Commissioner Jodi Jones to serve as their representative on the design committee for the $32.75 million K-8 school and sports complex to be constructed in Jonesborough.

The commissioner will join Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy as the two county members of the design committee. Jones said she will likely give up her slot on the Johnson City Development Authority to make time for her new duties.

Other members on the design committee include Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest and Town Administrator Bob Browning.

The school board will be represented on the design committee by its three members elected from the Jonesborough school district — Mary Beth Dellinger, Todd Ganger and Phillip McLain. Phillip Patrick, the school system’s maintenance supervisor, will also serve on the committee.

A ceremonial signing of the inter-local agreement for the K-8 school project was held last week. The commission voted on Oct. 28 to approve a 40-year lease-purchase agreement with the town to finance and construct the project.

In other business, commissioners approved an application for a grant through the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s State Industrial Access Program to extend a road in the Washington County Industrial Park to a cul-de-sac near Blalock Road. The $3 million road construction project comes at no cost to the county.

The project includes installing a traffic signal and making improvements to the entrance of the industrial park at Precision Boulevard off U.S. Highway 11E in Telford.

Alicia Summers, vice president of business development for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, told commissioners that landing German fan manufacturer Ebm-pabst earlier the year has helped pave the way for state funding to expand the industrial park. That project was made possible by a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.

Summers said three PILOTS in Johnson City alone — Silverdale Properties, Mullican Flooring and LPI Inc. — have added more than 350 employees and generated as much as $13,500,000 in payroll during the past year.

Commissioners also approved a resolution Monday to spend as much as $40,500 to do the preliminary work needed to qualify for a site development matching grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The matching grant will help the county to prepare a master plan for a 37-acre tract in the industrial park near the road extension.

Commissioners also voted 8-4, with three commissioners absent, to approve a resolution “supporting the investigation” of the county partnering with United Way of Washington County and the city of Johnson City to create a position to help local nonprofit organizations obtain grant money for their work. 

The “nonprofit support specialist” would focus on grant writing and helping local charities meet their marketing, communications and networking needs.

Kristan Spear, the president and CEO of United Way of Washington County, told the Press earlier this month the grant writer’s position would be co-funded by the city and county (at a proposed $40,000 each), with her organization providing office space and related support. The nonprofit specialist would work with all of the 290 non-profit organizations in Washington County — not just the 22 agencies currently funded by United Way.

Commissioner Phil Carriger, who joined Commissioners Greg Matherly, Steve Light, and Mike Ford in voting “no” on the measure, told his colleagues that while he “didn’t want to sound like the Grinch at Christmas,” he had concerns about spending taxpayer dollars to fund the position.