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Archives 04-22-2009


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Matt Eldridge picked for school director
Legislative Body meeting held Monday evening
Unemployment rate rises to 9.6% in March
Revenue $106 million under state budget

Matt Eldridge picked for school director


Dewain E. Peek photo
Matt Eldridge and Harold Watson await the convening of the Tuesday, April 14 School Board work session.

By Dewain E. Peek,
OCN staff

Matt Eldridge will be the next Overton County Director of Schools. The decision was made during the Monday, April 20 regular monthly meeting of Overton County Board of Education, with all members present.

The School Board took two votes before either of the two remaining candidates, Eldridge and Harold Watson, garnered the requisite seven votes on a third vote.

Watson was nominated first and received yes votes from School Board members Lenard Ledbetter, Houston Robbins, Dolphus Dial, and Mark Peek. Board members Howard Miller, Kelly Hill, Sam Pendergrass, Ray Smith, Larry Looper, and David Sadler Sr. voted no.

Eldridge was then nominated and received yes votes from Miller, Hill, Pendergrass, Smith, Looper, and Sadler, with Ledbetter, Robbins, Dial, and Peek voting no.

Board member Peek made a motion for a 10-minute recess, with Pendergrass seconding the motion and all approving. After the recess, Miller made a motion to hire Matt Eldridge, which was seconded by Smith, and this time Eldridge received seven votes. The voting was the same as the first round, except Peek voted yes.

Before the last round of voting began, Peek said, “Both of these guys have done a good job for years in the Overton County School System, and we’ve done a lot of things in my two and a half years here, and Dolphus has done it several times, this is the hardest hire I could ever ask to do.”

The new school director’s contract will begin on July 1, and details of the contract will be worked on in a School Board work session at 6 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5.

Eldridge later addressed the School Board, saying, “I promise I will try to work with every one of you the best I can. I’ll try to make you proud and not sorry that you put me in. I’ll be honest with you and truthful with you and try to keep you informed.”

The vote on choosing a new school director had been delayed from a work session on Tuesday, April 14, which was recessed without a vote because of the absence of Board member Sam Pendergrass.

Chairman Dial said, “It’s no fault of his. He’s been called to Georgia to do emergency work on power lines. That’s what he does for a living, and we don’t want to hold it against him. He’s a part of this Board, and a decision like this, we want every School Board member here.”

So, final interviews for Watson and Eldridge were postponed to the work session prior to the regular meeting on Monday.

In other business, the School Board approved purchasing two buses, with a third bus being bought through Special Education. Two are 2010 77-passenger buses at $71,277, and the Special Education bus costs $72,333. Bluebird had the low bid. Stimulus funds through Special Education allow for buying that program’s bus, according to Director of Schools Mike Gilpatrick.

The 2009-2010 Overton County School Calendar was approved as follows:

July 31 – Teacher in-service;
August 3-5 – Teacher in-service;
August 6 – Teacher in-service (countywide mandated);
August 7 – Students register (Abbreviated #1);
August 10 – Discretionary administrative #1 (no students);
August 11 – First full day for students;
September 7 – Discretionary #2 (no students);
October 12-16 – Fall Break;
November 25 – Discretionary administrative #3/PT conferences (no students);
November 26-27 – Thanksgiving holiday (no school);
December 18 – Abbreviated day #2;
December 21 to January 1 – Christmas Break;
January 4 – First day back after Christmas Break;
January 18 – Discretionary administrative #4 (no students);
February 15 – Discretionary administrative #5 (no students);
March 15-19 – Spring Break;
April 2 – Good Friday holiday;
April 5-9 – TCAP;
May 24 – Last full day of school;
May 25 – Teacher work day;
May 26 – Abbreviated day #3. Last day of school.

The calendar has 13 snow days built in.

The Board approved the Proposal for Serving Displaced Workers, which is a program conducted through Adult Education.

“That’s not a cost to the county,” Director Gilpatrick said.

General Purpose School Budget 2008-09 Amendment #1 was approved.

Livingston Middle School Dance Team was recognized as a component of the extracurricular athletics program, with the understanding that no supplement will be attached to this program.

Hilham Elementary School’s eighth grade class received approval to take an overnight field trip to Pigeon Forge from May 1 to May 2.

Rickman Elementary School’s third grade class received approval to take a field trip to Cumberland Science Museum on May 14.

Livingston Middle School’s eighth grade class received approval to take a field trip to Pigeon Forge from May 7 to May 8.

The following field trips were approved for Rickman Elementary: fourth grade class to Crossville on May 13; eighth grade class to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge on May 8; kindergarten class to Nashville Zoo on April 22; and fifth grade class to Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge on May 12.

A request to build a covered picnic area on the lower grade playground at Allons Elementary, with the funding provided by Allons PTO, was approved, with the stipulation that information on the materials and who will do the building and their insurance be provided to the School Board for further approval before construction begins.

Board member Robbins said, “The Board’s got to approve it before they can build anything.”

The school building program was tabled until the economy improves.

A release of claims between Overton County Board of Education and CHC Mechanical Contractors Inc. concerning heating units that were incorrectly installed was tabled.

Director Gilpatrick said, “This was for the heating and cooling units at Hilham on the roof of the gym, They had a fire. That was replaced and the others were corrected.”

He explained further, “The exhaust and the regulator were sort of facing one another. So they replaced, without cost, one unit that was destroyed and they corrected the problem on the other four.”

Board member Robbins asked if the company had installed any units at other schools.

Maintenance Supervisor Dennis Barsness informed the Board that the company had installed units at Wilson and Allons.

The Board voted against the claim release because the wording did not appear to limit the claim release to the Hilham units.

Approving a supplement scale for the negotiating team was tabled until the next Board meeting.

Reduced term contracts for the 2009-2010 school year were tabled until next month, with Sadler, Ledbetter, and Smith voting against tabling the contracts.

The following science textbook adoption was approved for the 2009-2010 school year, as recommended by the textbook committee: Section III Primary Science Grades R/1-2; Elementary Science Grades 3-5; Middle School Science Grades 6-8; Secondary Science Grades 9-12; Elementary Health Grades R/1-8; Lifetime Wellness Grade 9-12; Family and Consumer Sciences, Agricultural Education, and Physical Education.

In executive action, lawn care bids were approved as follows: A.H. Roberts – Murphy Lawn Care for $114.29; Allons Elementary – Murphy Lawn Care for $125; Hilham Elementary – James Dishman for $100; Livingston Middle School – James Dishman for $150; Livingston Academy – Murphy Lawn Care for $171.43; Rickman Elementary – Murphy Lawn Care for $171.43; Wilson Elementary – Kevin Smith for $150; old Central Office – Emerton Lawn Care for $40; Central Office/bus garage/soccer field – Emerton Lawn Care for $50 during soccer season and $125 without soccer.
Board member Sam Pendergrass asked how many mowings the schools will receive, and Director Gilpatrick said the schools will get a maximum of 14, that it will usually be from 12 to 14.

Director Gilpatrick issued the Director’s Report to the School Board. (This Director’s Report will be published in next week’s Overton County News.)

The meeting adjourned.


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Recent storms form funnel clouds over area

Zach Turner photo
Recent storms in the area have produced damage to trees and some buildings. Zach Turner snapped this shot on his cell phone of what appears to be a funnel cloud on Monday, April 13 around 4:30 p.m. from his front porch in the Livingston area about two miles down Terrapin Ridge Rd. on Duke Lane. Although there were tornado warnings for the area there were no reports of a tornado touching down.


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Unemployment rate rises to9.6% in March
Tennessee’s unemployment rate for March was 9.6%, up 0.6 percentage point from the revised February rate of 9%, according to Tennessee Commissioner of Labor & Workforce Development James Neeley.

The March rate a year ago was 5.7%. The national unemployment rate for March 2009 was 8.5%, up from the February rate of 8.1%.

“The unemployment rate continues on an upward trend, and economists predict Tennessee will face difficult months ahead,” Commissioner Neeley said. “For the first time in several months, however, we are seeing increases in retail trade and leisure and hospitality employment, which are encouraging signs.”

According to the Business Survey, 2,700 job gains occurred in food services and drinking places, 1,300 in general merchandise stores, 700 in building material and garden supply stores, and 600 in nursing and residential care facilities.

Major employment decreases occurred in transportation equipment manufacturing, down by 2,100, fabricated metal manufacturing declined by 900 jobs, plastic and rubber products was down by 600, and transportation and warehousing jobs decreased by 500.

Transportation equipment was down 11,900, transportation and warehousing lost 7,400, accommodation decreased by 5,100, and finance and insurance decreased by 4,700.

Year over year increases occurred in hospitals, up by 6,200, ambulatory health care services increased 4,300, and nursing and residential health care facilities gained 1,400.




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Revenue $106 million under state budget

Tennessee revenue collections continue to fall short of budgeted estimates. Overall March revenues, which reflect February sales, came in $106.2 million less than the state budgeted for, with collections totaling $779.5 million.

Commissioner Dave Goetz said, “March is the eighth consecutive month this fiscal year in which sales taxes and corporate income taxes have recorded negative growth over a year ago. March also becomes the thirteenth negative growth month for sales tax collections out of the last fifteen months, starting with January 2008.”

On an accrual basis, March is the eighth month in the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

The general fund was undercollected by $100.4 million, and the four other funds were undercollected by $5.8 million.

Sales tax collections were $57.7 million less than the estimate for March. The March growth rate was negative 8.94%. For eight months revenues are undercollected by $392.4 million. The year-to-date growth rate for eight months was negative 6.32%.

Franchise and excise taxes combined were $34.8 million below the budgeted estimate of $166.5 million. For eight months revenues are undercollected by $201.4 million.

Gasoline and motor fuel collections for March decreased by 5.82%. For eight months revenues are undercollected by $36.8 million.

Tobacco taxes collections were $4.3 million under the budgeted estimate of $28.0 million. For eight months revenues are undercollected in the amount of $8.9 million.

Year-to-date collections for eight months were $698.0 million less than the budgeted estimate. The general fund was undercollected by $643.6 million, and the four other funds were undercollected by $54.4 million.

The budgeted revenue estimates for 2008-2009 are based on the State Funding Board’s consensus recommendation adopted by the second session of the 105th General Assembly in May 2008.

The revised estimates for this fiscal year as presented in the 2009-2010 budget document assume an undercollection in total taxes in the amount of $1.1 billion. The General Fund under collection is projected to be $1.03 billion.

By tax source, the assumed undercollections are as follows: sales tax $544.2 million; F&E taxes $336.1 million; privilege taxes $80.6 million; income tax $58 million; highway fund road user revenues $48.6 million; and a net undercollection of $40.0 million from all other tax sources.

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