TAZWELL, Tenn. - Claiborne County Commissioners contemplated a resolution recently that would have ensured they are paid each month, regardless of whether or not they attend the monthly meeting. The resolution, sponsored by James Hatmaker and Juanita Honeycutt, was somewhat controversial with strong feelings on both sides of the issue.
“We are elected officials whether we attend or not and we are county commissioners 365 days a year,” said Honeycutt.
Hatmaker added that hardly a day goes by without someone calling him about a problem or asking who he can see about a problem.
“The other 29 or 30 days we’re not here I’m still a commissioner,” he said. “Doggone it, if we ain’t worth $250 I don’t know who is.”
After some discussion about the issue, the motion was called to vote. The motion was defeated at a vote of 8 for and 13 against. The following commissioners voted for the resolution: Barry Thomas, Juanita Honeycutt, Ann Bowling, Rosemary Barnett, Shawn Peters, Danny Longworth, David Mundy and James Hatmaker. The remaining 13 commissioners voting against it were: Bill Brooks, Charlton Vass, Bill Keck, Jerry Arnwine, Mike Campbell, James McAnally, Dennis Estes, Hugh Singleton, Mitchell Cosby, Steve Mason, Joan Cosby, Ken Clark, and William Jessie.
In other business, the commission heard from William Kane, with the Tennessee Corrections Institute. He brought several recommendations to the commission regarding the overcrowding problem at the jail. First, he suggested a County Correctional Partnership, which would “put all the players in the same hat” and make sure communication is clear between the various law enforcement agencies.
“That way everyone is on the same playing field,” he said.
The other suggestion he had was to take the initiative to address the overcrowding issues at the jail. The jail, certified for 192 inmates, has an average daily population of 241 - with the overcrowding being mainly in the male population. “You have three or four inmates in a two-inmate cell in some instances,” he said, adding, “You have a wonderful facility; it just happens to be overcrowded.”
Kane added that might cause security concerns for the staff and citizens of the county eventually.
He explained that his organization’s role is inspecting facilities that house pre-trial inmates. The standards are minimum mandatory human rights and human needs standards.
The commissioners voted to approve both resolutions unanimously.
The commission heard once again from the Claiborne County Historical Society, who requested money for basic funding. The commissioners approved $5,000 for the society.
Also heard by the commission was a resolution sponsored by Hugh Singleton, who asked that the roof on a voting precinct building in Howard’s Quarter be repaired. After confusion was cleared up as to what the building is actually used for - which is only a voting precinct - the commissioners approved the resolution.
Shannon England was selected by the commission to fill the unexpired term of Dr. Roy Ellis on the Claiborne County Board of Education. There were no other nominees. England will fill the term until the August election.
Mayor Jack Daniels asked the commissioners to approve the grant application for a new boiler system that would require matching funds. If approved, the grant would be for $50,000 which the county would have to match. The commissioners voted to submit the grant application.
The commissioners heard from Robin Mason, Director of Economic Development, about the upcoming Keep America Beautiful Cleanup Day on March 31. They also heard a request from Shawn Peters that each commissioner think about donating something to one of the high schools’ Project Graduation program.