More On Phase I

Phase one approved on 6-4 vote

 Elizabeth Trexler: News-Herald

After months of deliberation on a tax increase and years of waiting, Loudon County likely will start soon on phase one of the building program for the Loudon County School system.

Thursday night the room at Loudon County Courthouse annex was at capacity, with people in the overflow room, as more than 130 showed up for the adoption of the budget.

Teachers, parents and Director of Schools Jason Vance implored the commission to "think of the kids" and to approve the tax increase to fund the program.

Some community members asked the commission not to pass the tax increase for various reasons, including: the bad economy, not being able to control where the money would be spent and feelings that more planning was needed.

"This is what's best for our kids," Vance said of the building program. "Our children deserve better."

Commissioner Steve Harrelson initially amended the resolution including that 16 cents would go to phase one, and the additional four would be set aside for phase two. However, that amendment failed in a 2-8 vote.

The decision on the full 20 cents came down to one final vote. Commissioners Brian Jenkins, Bob Franke, Harold Duff, Sharon Yarbrough, and  Harrelson voted in favor, with David Meers, Earlena Maples, Austin Shaver and Roy Bledsoe voting against.

The final decision came down to Commissioner Don Miller, which includes Tellico Village.

"My district has been very divided on this," Miller said of the seventh district.

"I've given it a lot of thought ... this has been going on for six years," Miller said before voting in favor of school building program. The room erupted into raucous applause, with those in favor jumping to their feet.

After the meeting, Vance said Community Techtonics, the architect for Greenback School, will possibly send out the drawings to the fire marshal's office by July 8.

He said there could be bid packages ready by mid- to late-August, and there could be excavation work started in September.

"Hopefully, if we can stay on a tight time frame, we may be able to see schools completed by 2013," Vance said.