Votes to block
By MIKE WEST/ Courier Editor
County Commissioners OK'd plans to establish Cannon County's own probation program and vetoed a proposed gun range near Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital.
It was a busy session for Cannon County's Board of Commissioners during a meeting which included a presentation from Brooxie Carlton, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Rural Development.
Lengthy discussion was directed on the probation issue which was the result of PCC (Providence Community Correction) withdrawing from the business in Tennessee and two other states.
"Our goal will be _ we're not interested in making a profit _ to give inmates a chance to improve their lives," said County Executive Mike Gannon, who said he was initially against the plan for the county to assume control of probation.
"It may cost us something to provide this," said Commissioner Brent Bush. "There's nothing free."
Bush said he was backing the switch "as long as everyone understands."
Gannon said projections call for the program to generate $69,700 in revenue while costing $62.980 in expenditures. "If all the projections come true," he said.
"I'm advocating _very much _ that this happens," said Judge Susan Melton, pointing out that "the revenue will start immediately."
A committee including Gannon, Judge Melton and Commissioners Jim Bush, James Holloway, Karen Ashford and Richie Hunter drafted a plan for the county to assume the responsibility of handling probation cases from Cannon County's judicial system.
"There was some discussion to allow the sheriff's office to handle probations," said Commissioner Glenn Steakley, who expressed concern about the possible cost of the program.
"It's a conflict of interest for the sheriff's office to handle this according to CTAS (County Technical Assistance Service)," Gannon said. The sheriff would also have to hire additional employees to handle probation.
It is also a conflict of interest for Judge Melton's office to administer it, he said.
Ultimately, it was decided the process should land under the County Executive's purview.
"We will monitor revenue versus expenditures very closely," Gannon said.
Under the plan, the county will hire PCC's current officer Jessica Duncan to run the office using equipment donated by PCC. "We are getting free furniture, the computers ... everything," explained Commissioner Richie Hunter.
Ultimately, the Commission voted 7-2 in favor of the Probation Committee's recommendation. Voting yes were Commissioners Mark Barker, Karen Ashford, Jim Bush, James Holloway, Brent Bush, Richie Hunter and Adam Melton. Voting no were Russell Reed and Glenn Steakley.
In other action, the Commission passed a resolution blocking plans to build a gun range near Roach Hollow Lane due to concerns about homes and public areas like Saint Thomas Stones River Hospital, Dillon Park and the Cannon County Jail.
"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this is a bad site," said County Executive Gannon.
The site is 4/10s of a mile from the Woodbury City Limits.
Commissioner Hunter moved to block construction. Commissioner Adam Melton seconded.
The measured passed 7-2 with Commissioners Russell Reed and James Holloway voting no. Voting yes were Mark Barker, Karen Ashford, Jim Bush, Glenn Steakley, Brent Bush, Richie Hunter and Adam Melton.
During her presentation to the Commission, TNECD's Carlton outlined funding for various state programs including Rural Task Force block grants, Tennessee Downtown, the Main Street program and various tourism grants that are available.
No action was taken by the Commission, however, it did unanimously approve a resolution for the 2016-17 litter grant.
"They require us to approve this every year," Gannon explained.