Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Latest News

The third time may be the charm. After twice rejecting a proposal that would have had schools in Putnam County using a staggered starting schedule, the school board Thursday night will take up the issue once again. This time, the staggered start schedule is being proposed ONLY for Cookeville and Algood schools and is being described as a "pilot project." Proponents of the move say it could save the school system half a million dollars in transportation costs in a time when budgets are tight, but opponents are skeptical of those cost savings and say the confusion and inconvenience of a staggered schedule would not be popular with the public.

Yet another work session has been scheduled for Thursday as the Cookeville city council tries to put together a budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Like most local governments, they are dealing with declining tax revenues. City officials are also considering a change in the rate structure for water department customers, which would cause a price hike for most folks next year, but could give a price break to individuals who use less than 2000 gallons a month. The budget work session -- the second one this week -- will be held at the city's gas department building.

The city manager was fired, and now the city attorney has resigned. Algood city attorney Steven Randolph submitted a letter of resignation just hours after a specially called meeting in which the council voted to terminate Freddie Maxwell as the city manager. He did not cite a reason for the resignation, but said that he had enjoyed working for the city. Steven Randolph is the son of Bobby Randolph, one of three Algood council members who voted to fire Maxwell. Meanwhile, those organizing a recall petition against Randolph, Mayor Patt Judd and council member Ruby Hawkins say they should have enough signatures in a couple of days to be able to turn those petitions in at the county's election commission office. According to the Algood city charter, at least half of the people who voted in the last election would have to sign a petition for removal to force the issue onto a ballot in which the entire population could vote for or against a recall.

Monterey's Hilltop Express newspaper reports that the town of Monterey is officially "past due" on a $300,000 loan that was used to pay for the interstate lighting project. According to the paper, Monterey Mayor Richard Godsey is working it out with the bank to stretch out payments. He says a former board used money intended to pay off the loan to instead pay for construction of the Farmer's Market and a new garage. The Bank of Putnam County holds the note on the lighting project and would have to approve any extension of time to pay it back.

Congressman Bart Gordon has announced that the City of Algood will be receiving $2.98 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a sewer line extension project. The USDA’s Rural Development agency awarded the $2.98 million in the form of a loan/grant combination. The city will use the funding to construct 37,000 linear feet of sewer lines and install two new pumping stations that will serve an estimated 373 Algood residents. As things stand, about 650 residents do not have access to the City’s public sewer service. The sewer line extension project will provide sewage access in and around the Bear Creek community north of State Highway 111.

Tennessee Tech University is organizing several local service projects in counties close to campus throughout the summer. Officials say a program called "Get Back with Tech" allows students and people from the surrounding counties to team up over the summer. For example, in Warren County, volunteers will work with Rotary Friends of the River on a clean-up of Barren Fork River. Work begins on May 16. In Putnam County, volunteers (including high school students from Governor’s School) will work at the Happy Haven Home for Girls. They will do maintenance, landscaping, trail building, and other jobs working directly with residents. Work will begin on June 13. In Cumberland County, 10-17 volunteers are needed to conduct tourism surveys for economic development. The surveys will help the community set realistic tourism goals for the future. Work will begin on June 27. And in Macon County, volunteers will help the Post-Secondary Education Team with basic computer training, resume building and job applications.