County OKs study for ag facility

Elizabeth Trexler-News-Herald
Loudon County Commission agreed Monday to give $6,000 toward a feasibility study for a proposed multiuse agriculture facility.

Commissioners Don Miller and Sharon Yarbrough made it clear they were voting for the study, but they weren't ready to support the facility.

The study, paid for in a 60/40 split with the City of Loudon, will guarantee matching funds from the USDA Rural Development Agency. The study will look at the market feasibility and economic impact of a multiuse agricultural facility in Loudon County.

Donna Eason-Pile, assistant director of development at the UT Extension office, explained to get the grant from the USDA the community needed to show it was interested in the center.

"We're trying to be careful in choosing the study," Eason-Pile said. "We don't want anyone who has a vested interest. We want this to be objective."

The study should be completed by mid-summer.

Eason-Pile told the commission that a local   group involved in the effort has looked at two sites for the center, but there may be more they haven't considered that the study would examine. One of the sites considered is in Centre 75 at Interstate 75 exit 72.

She added that the agriculture extension offices in Knoxville and Blount County support the project. "Adjacent counties are out of land," she explained.

Commissioners voted 8-1 to support the study, with Commissioner Austin Shaver being the lone "no" vote. Chairman Roy Bledsoe was absent.

The commission also supported a resolution asking the Tennessee General Assembly to investigate and reject any legislation that placed new financial obligations on county governments.

"The fiscal cost to county governments is rarely considered and, if passed, burdens Tennessee counties with millions of dollar of required duties and obligations," the resolution states.

In other action, the commission:

● Passed a $2,000 Pettway grant for the Lenoir City Library, which had no matching funds.

● Passed a $1,500 technology grant for the        Loudon Library, which required a $1,500 match.

● Amended several funds by way of line adjustments, including increasing funds for pauper funerals. The county normally allots $3,000 annually for pauper burials, but according to Tracy Blair, Loudon County director of accounts and budgets, the county has exhausted those funds. The commission approved an additional $2,000 for the rest of the year.

● Amended the Highway Capital Projects Fund 176 to free up funds to repair pavement damage.

● Approved Howard Luttrell to be on the Board of Zoning Appeals and for Jimmy Brooks to fill out his deceased father's term on the Regional Planning Commission.

● Approved bonds and notaries for Starlet Rene Summitt, Whitney Edwards, Diane Link, Jacqueline E. Trice, Timmy L. Tallent, Hannah Dewsen, Brittany R. Monger, Yurisan Cornejo, Deborah R. Baker, Kimberly L. Gage, G. Keith Alley and Lisa P. Packett.

Loudon County Commission will hold its monthly workshop at 6 p.m. March 19 at the Loudon County Office Building.