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News 6-23-99

Commission Raises Litigation Tax
Cub Mountain Residents Concerned About Being Cut Off From County
Condemn, Manslaughter, Wreck

Commission Raises Litigation Tax
By Dewain E. Peek

The Overton County Legislative Body, in its monthly meeting held Monday, June 21, adopted a resolution to increase the litigation tax to the maximum amount allowed by the state. All commissioners were present at the meeting.

The litigation tax changes are as follows: civil cases in general sessions change from $8.25 to $23.75; criminal cases in general sessions change from $13 to $35.50; civil cases in courts of record change from $8.25 to $23.75; and criminal cases in courts of record change from $15 to $29.

Overton County Executive Richard M. "Ossie" Mitchell said, "We are having so much expense with the courts and all, I think we ought to get the maximum."

A resolution was adopted to enact a new addressing and mapping policy. Under the new policy, E-911 will issue electrical permits. New houses must have a 911 address before electricity may be turned on.

In giving the Highway and County Property Committee report recommending the measure, Commissioner Stanley Carter Jr. said, "All new houses will have to have their addresses before the electricity is turned on. This will be enforced by the electrical inspector. All existing houses, it will be on a voluntary basis."

The Commission approved a budget amendment in the amount of $56,000 and accepted the low bid of H&C Asphalt of $56,000 to pave the convenience centers at Livingston, Rickman, Hanging Limb, Independence, and Hilham, and a part of the parking lot at the Senior Center in Livingston.

A resolution was adopted approving a waste tire contract with Tennessee Tire Recyclers Inc., the tire haulers who furnish waste tires to Signal Mountain Cement. A grinder had been visiting the recycling center and grinding the tires up for the county to haul to a landfill, at a cost to the county as other county waste.

Executive Mitchell said, "When you figure the tonnage, it's cheaper to get them hauled than it is to put them in the landfill at the rate we're paying now."

The estimated savings of the measure is $200 per load.

Executive Mitchell said further, "Another issue, by the year 2002 I think it is, the regulation says no more tires will go into landfills, period."

A resolution requesting the state to change the designation of Standing Stone State Park from a rustic park to a resort park and that an effort be made to improve the park accordingly was presented to the Commission. Executive Mitchell said the Chamber of Commerce requested the resolution.

"The reason behind this is economics," Executive Mitchell said.

The resort designation would presumably create new jobs and generate more tax dollars from tourism and the new businesses associated with the change to a resort park.

Commissioner Gregg Nivens pleaded with the Commission to vote against changing the designation.

"What you've got in your rustic type are the ones that cater to the hikers, the picnickers, the hunters, the fishermen, the bird watchers, and the campers," Commissioner Nivens said. "When they designate it as a resort type park, you're talking about your tax dollars going to be funded for a golf course. I'm dead set against this."

Commissioner Nivens asked that the park be left as it is to preserve its close to nature feel, less disturbed by civilization.

"What I'm talking about is quality of life," Commissioner Nivens said. "Folks, you can't put a dollar value on quality of life.”"

The resolution was adopted with an 8-7 show-of-hands vote. Voting for the resolution were Alan Atnip, Randall Boswell, David Dorminey, Wayne Ferrell, Frank Martin, Tom Montooth, Billie G. Phipps, and Wayne Sells. Voting against were Johnnie Webb, Billy Sullivan, Grant Pennington, Gregg Nivens, Stanley Carter Jr., Donnie Bull, and Gail Reed Arney.

The Commission approved of selling the old road bed on State Highway 136 at Flatt Creek, which the county received when the new bridge was built. The adjoining land owners will be given an opportunity to bid, with it being sold to the highest bidder.

Year-end budget amendments were approved.

Gregg Nivens and Stanley Carter Jr. were approved to be submitted to the Livingston mayor for placement on the Airport Authority.

Bond was approved for Dolphus Dial.

Approved as notaries at-large were Luann Hannah, Christie Sidwell Sells, Marty Maynord, David Winningham, Kathy Winningham, and Marla Kay Etheredge.

The Commission voted to suspend the rules and approve the School Board's year-end budget amendments.

A called meeting of the Overton County Commission will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 1 at the Overton County Courthouse to consider approval of budgets, an appropriating resolution, the first reading of a resolution on non-profit organizations, and to set the tax rate.

In giving the Budget and Purchasing Committee report, Commissioner Wayne Sells said, "I think we'll probably recommend no new taxes."

The meeting adjourned.

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Cub Mountain Residents Concerned About Being Cut Off From County
By Dale Welch

Families from Crawford, Twinton, Vines Ridge, Cravenstown, and Hanging Limb areas have felt isolated from the rest of the county for several years. They feel even more isolated now that one of their routes down the mountain to Livingston, via Highway 85, has been cut off.

The state transportation department closed the highway after a massive landslide in mid-May destroyed a section of the road at Cub Mountain. It is thought that water had been trapped in the ground beneath the highway and caused the ground above to slide.

Concerned mountain residents are anxious to know when, or if, the road will be fixed.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has been paving three miles of the Sunk Cane road as an emergency measure to help mountain residents.

Overton County Road Superintendent Joe Garrett said, "TDOT is just paving the three miles of the Sunk Cane road that hasn't been paved before. The state is also putting a cap, or binder and seal, from Highway 164 down at least to the cave at Three Forks."

Garrett explained that while the state is paving the Sunk Cane road, they are not making it any wider.

Residents are concerned about a "band-aid" approach to solving the problem. They worry that the state will use the excuse of paving the Sunk Cane road as a reason for completely abandoning Highway 85. They are also afraid that once the Sunk Cane road is paved, traffic will speed up on the narrow road, increasing the chance of an accident.

The mountain residents were upset at remarks by TDOT officials who were quoted in the Cookeville Herald-Citizen as saying that it is just absolutely not feasible for the state to fix the existing highway.

Crawford resident Judy Vaughn said, "I was so angered at what that man at TDOT said about only a few farmers used that road that I called him in Nashville and told him what I thought."

She said the official, a TDOT district manager, admitted that he had not been in the Cub Mountain area for several years.

Vaughn said that for the first time in her life last week, she had to be taken to the hospital. She said she had to travel all the way through Monterey and down the mountain to Livingston Regional Hospital for treatment.

Overton E-911 Director Chris Masiongale said that it is taking emergency equipment about 15 minutes longer to respond to emergencies. For instance, he said that one ambulance run took 40 minutes traveling through Monterey into the mountainous region.

"With Highway 85 closed, it will put a little extra responsibilities on the Mountain First Responders ‘til we can get there.” Masiongale said once the state gets paving the Sunk Cane road, emergency equipment will be able to use that road.

Crawford resident Ronnie Matthews said, "A lot of people used Highway 85 to get to Livingston. A bunch of people work in Livingston too. Now they have to go about 22 miles out of the way from the junction of Highway 164 and 85; all the way to drive down Sunk Cane Road and farther to get to Livingston."

Phyllis Matthews, Ronnie' wife, said the residents had to go a long out of their way just to go to the grocery store, drug store, pay their taxes or register their automobiles or get to the doctor or hospital.

Mrs. Matthews' sister cleans houses for a living. One house she cleans, toward the Allred Community, used to take her 15 minutes to reach. It now takes her 45 minutes.

State Representative John Mark Windle has talked with TDOT officials and has written Governor Don Sundquist to try to help the mountain residents.

Rep. Windle said TDOT officials have told him they have no plans at this time of abandoning the road.

Rep. Windle said, "It's a state road. The state needs to fix it. It's just that simple."

Rep. Windle and State Senator Lincoln Davis are sponsoring a public meeting about the road situation at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 24. The meeting is to be held at the Crawford Community Center. Rep. Windle and Sen. Davis and others will be on hand to listen to concerns and attempt to answer residents questions. Everyone in the mountain communities are urged to attend.

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Condemn, Manslaughter, Wreck

Condemnation Suit Filed By Livingston
The Town of Livingston filed a condemnation suit in Overton County Chancery Court on Monday, June 14 to take over electrical service within the city limits from Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (UCEMC). The suit also asserts that a Tennessee law governing condemnation proceedings of cooperative-owned electricity infrastructure is unconstitutional.

The state-mandated formula for taking over by condemnation requires a town to pay the cooperative 25 percent of its gross revenue for 10 years and recreate electrical infrastructure.

The suit asserts that the requirement does not apply because the statutory formula was created to deal with situations where a municipality annexes new territory where the electrical distribution properties to be condemned are located.

The suit also asserts that as members of the cooperative the costs of purchasing, construction, and installing of equipment has already been borne by the citizens of the City of Livingston and that they should not have to pay it again.

The Town of Livingston seeks a fair market value to be set for the electrical assets.

 

Randy Loftis Pleads Guilty To Lesser Charge
A Cookeville man who was charged with murder in the March 10, 1998 shooting death of Jeff Voss pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Putnam County Criminal Court on Tuesday, June 15.

Randy Loftis, 36, of Cooke-ville, will serve one year in the Putnam County Jail and five years on probation as a result of a plea agreement to the lesser charge. A reckless endangerment charge against Loftis for placing his wife in danger during the shooting was reportedly dismissed as part of the plea agreement. Loftis is to begin his jail term on July 15.

Assistant District Attorney David Patterson reportedly told Judge Leon Burns that the plea agreement was what the Voss family wanted.

Restitution from Loftis to the Voss family is reportedly expected in a wrongful death civil suit settlement.

The shooting occurred in the parking lot of El Tapatio in Cookeville when Randy Loftis found his wife, Kristi Loftis, and Jeff Voss together in Voss' vehicle. Voss was shot in the head and died a few days later.

 

Jason Street Dies Of Auto Wreck Injuries
Eighteen year-old Jason R. Street, who was injured recently in an auto wreck on Standing Stone Highway, died Wednesday, June 16 at Erlanger Hospital.

The Cookeville teen was flown to Erlanger on Monday, June 7 after the 1988 Mazda RX-7 he was a passenger in left the road and overturned, throwing him from the car.

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Overton County News
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Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486
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