By MIKE WEST, Courier Editor
County Commissioners voted unanimously Saturday (Jan. 18) to approve $16,800 to replace defective light poles at Woodbury’s Fairgrounds.
The vote meant that repairs will be done before the start of spring baseball practice at Cannon County High School.
However, the vote was preceded by considerable debate with Commissioner Kevin George reminding officials repeatedly about the impending start of the season.
“They start practice Feb. 10,” George said.
But Commissioner Jim Bush expressed concern about the wiring and lights on the poles.
“Wouldn’t it be more energy efficient to put up less poles and better lights,” Bush asked, pointing out that federal grants could cover the costs.
County Executive Mike Gannon said checking into the grants would needlessly postpone the project. He also expressed doubt that the energy efficiency grants could be applied to lighting issues at the park and ball fields.
“Even if the grant isn’t available for this, it would be worth checking it out,” Bush said.
“We’re going to lose a high school baseball season,” Gannon said.
Bush questioned the delay in making the repairs which was triggered by the falling of a light pole last Halloween night and repeated questions about the condition of the wiring and the existing lights.
“S&W (lighting contractors) told me the lights are fine. There’s nothing wrong with the lights,” Gannon said.
Moving back to the question of grants, Bush cited instances where the City of Knoxville, Hardin County, Oak Ridge and Cleveland, Tenn. Had obtained funding for lighting projects.
“This clean energy grant program takes in roofs, energy efficiency and lighting,” Bush said. “I don’t understand why these other counties had the option of getting these grants. They got the money.”
“You’re talking two different issues,” Gannon said.
Commissioner George then moved to replace nine poles on county property, beginning at the baseball field.
“First things come first. We’ve got to get the poles up and then go after the wiring,” Commission Chairman Mark Barker said.
When these nine poles are done they will be done correctly, Gannon said. The bid is for poles, crossbars and wiring.
“If it’s not in the bid, its not going to happen,” Bush said.
However, the Commission did approve George’s motion unanimously with the funding to come from the county’s debt service account.
In other action, the Commission approved Edward Sissom to replace the late Jerry Pelham as Zone 1 Road Commissioner.
Registered Nurse Emily Elrod was nominated and approved to serve on the county’s Homeland Security Committee as recommended by Tim Bell, committee chairman.