Money Woes discussed - Gatlinburg Retreat Planned,
BOE to Hire Firm, Concerns Aired!
By Pat Hunter 

The Jan 15th Loudon County Board of Education (BOE) Workshop agenda was packed with an array of subjects. Chairman Bobby Johnson, Jr., opened the meeting but then School Director Edward Headlee and Leo Bradshaw, Maintenance and Purchasing Director, led the discussion and Q & A.

First on the agenda was a proposed contract for professional services with Upland Design Group, an architectural firm located in Crossville. According to Mr. Headlee, Upland’s fees would be more because proposed renovations would be a small project. But in the past, other firms charged 5½% for architectural fees for larger projects.

Headlee commented that a tour took place with Upland personnel at the Loudon High School to discuss Phase 2 Life Safety upgrades. The auditorium remains closed pending completion of required renovations by the State Fire Marshall. Upland will meet with the State Fire Marshall to go over the list of Life Safety issues so only one plan is submitted for work.

Headlee checked references and he and Leo Bradshaw, seemed satisfied. Upland designed several schools in Middle Tennessee, in the last 5-years. Bradshaw said that over half of Upland’s work was schools.

Several other Board members questioned why Upland was selected without first looking at other firms. Vaughn Melton’s name was discussed, that's the previous architecture firm, which was hired to prepare plans for the renovations and subsequent problems, arose with the State Fire Marshall’s office.  Loudon County continues to do business with Vaughn Melton on other projects.

D-1 Scotty Newman inquired as to why three other firms used in the past were not considered? Community Tectonics Architects involved with the Greenback School Feasibility Study and Weeks Ambrose and Cope and Associates were the other groups named. D-5 Freddie Walker agreed and thought that selecting one company without considering other firms was not a fair process.

Freddie Walker questioned current and previous selection process. Walker felt that there was a “discrepancy” in how the previous firm was selected resulting in problems. He did not want to repeat the same mistake.

Bradshaw mentioned that the Board could consider hiring other firms but he was looking for a firm with a good track record of building schools and a good relationship with the State Fire Marshall’s office. Walker inquired, what other firms were considered? Bradshaw said that they could look at others. Pick another firm and you deal with it as far as I’m concerned, Bradshaw said.

Who Said What?  

Leo Bradshaw commented how he had seen in the paper that the State Fire Marshall had recommended Upland but the Fire Marshall had not! But at the Jan 7th Capital Projects Committee meeting with county commissioners, the public was led to believe that Upland Design's name came from the Fire Marshall.

Ball Park Figure Cost?

Leroy Tate requested a ball park figure about the cost. He commented about the poor economy and anticipated shortfall in state revenue funding and that the BOE was about to write a blank check. Tate asked if proposals could be sent to the other firms and Headlee agreed to do so. D-2 Larry Proaps was concerned about the time factor and the use of the auditorium.  

Bradshaw did not have cost information but he gave estimates for the county-wide HVAC school system estimated at $2.1 Million. Bradshaw urged Board approval because many units were old and did not work and parts were not available and students were without heat!

Headlee mentioned that he had revised his earlier cost figures from $400,000 to $300,000 for the Loudon High auditorium repairs. He also revised the $100,000 figure to $200,000 for other repairs, for a total of $500,000 in Phase 2. Upland’s fees will be based at 6½% of the total cost of construction and an additional $5000 lump sum for the Facility Evaluation plus travel expenses.

BOE officials acknowledged that legal counsel did not review the contract, which was prepared by Upland.

Travel would be yet another cost depending on the frequency of trips from Crossville to Loudon County. Considering all the time spent on the Life Safety deficiencies nobody appeared overly concerned about this extra cost.

David Hemelright was noticeably missing. He is the Facilities Coordinator for county schools. Leo Bradshaw is the maintenance director for all county public buildings including schools.

BOE Money Woes

Leo Bradshaw commented that the Board of Education did not have money in the school budget to pay for services or repairs. This and other matters will be discussed at the Capital Projects Committee meeting on Jan. 28 (Mon.) 3:00 PM at the Loudon County Office Bldg., River Rd.

Gatlinburg Retreat Planned

BOE members also discussed plans for its annual Board retreat in Gatlinburg.

Chairman Bobby Johnson, Jr., mentioned that he had been asked by some people about the cost of the mountain retreat. Some had questioned about the cost and how that money could go elsewhere and Johnson was relaying those concerns to the Board and he requested input. D-5 BOE member June Klinestiver commented that the retreat didn't have to be in the mountains for them to get together to discuss matters. D-3 (Greenback) Larry Bass offered his opinion. Bass favored the retreat because more was accomplished during that time. But in the end, the Board decided to go ahead with its plans for a Gatlinburg retreat, despite its money woes.

BOE Special Called Meeting Notice

A Special Called Meeting will be held on Jan. 22, (Tuesday), 7:30 PM at the BOE conference meeting room at the County Office Bldg. 100 River Rd. The Board will vote on many of the matters discussed at the workshop meeting.