The April meeting of the Campbell County Commission started out on an upbeat note, but steadily declined to a series of disagreements, sniping and exchanges between Mayor E. L. Morton and some commissioners.
County officials started the evening by gathering in a separate room to give retiring commission secretary Peggy Henegar a farewell party complete with cake and sandwiches.
Returning to the courtroom, Mayor E. L. Morton then recognized the CCHS Lady Cougars basketball team for their 13-1 record as district co-champions, breaking Oak Ridge’s 46-game district winning streak and advancing to the regional tournament as district runner-up. The commission proclaimed Friday, April 20 to be Lady Cougar Day in Campbell County.
Morton and the commission then honored the CCHS Junior ROTC Women Raiders team for their success at the national championships, where they won the rope bridge competition, finished in the top ten in several other events and seventh overall at the meet.
The commission’s agreeable mood began to fade shortly after the honored guests left the room, as Mayor Morton brought up his proposal for using the $59,000 gained by the recent sale of delinquent tax property.
Morton repeated his proposal to use $45,000 of those funds to match another $45,000 from Community Health of East Tennessee, setting up a ophioid treatment program with a nurse practitioner/counselor, treatment drugs and expenses.
Rusty Orick repeated his contention that the expenditure should be delayed until the upcoming fiscal year budget is reviewed but after a long discussion, Morton called for a motion on a budget amendment to appropriate the money.
Forster Baird made the motion, and accepted a qualification suggested by Orick to require written confirmation from CHET about the matching $45,000. The commission then passed the amendment 9-5, with Orick, Ralph Davis, Marie Ayers, Carl Douglas and Whit Goins all voting “no.”
Morton’s next proposal, to give several thousand dollars from the sale to various volunteer fire departments and the Rescue Squad, received no resistance, passing 14-0.
Finally, Morton’s request to use the remaining $10,314 for a second litter control officer was met with several questions about whether supervision would rest with the Sheriff’s Department or Environmental Services, and whether this new officer would be empowered to supervise jail prisoners and have access to a vehicle.
Finally, Orick made a motion to table the budget amendment until the next meeting in order to answer those questions. Morton responded that there was already a motion to pass the budget amendment on the floor. Dwayne Kitts resolved the impasse by withdrawing his second to the motion and action on the litter officer was delayed.
Orick had yet give up on his efforts to sidetrack the $45,000 to CHET. He then asked to allow a couple of speakers from the audience to address the commission. Morton ruled that no audience input is allowed after the commission workshop, but Orick made a motion to suspend the rules.
After that motion passed 14-0, a nurse in the audience was allowed to speak and criticize the decision to allow CHET to implement the drug program. At the end of the meeting, Orick again tried to block that expenditure, making a motion to rescind the earlier appropriation.
County Attorney Joe Coker pointed out that rules require that a two-thirds majority, or ten votes, are necessary to overturn a previous vote. This time, with Robert Higginbotham having been forced to leave the meeting earlier and Cliff Jennings absent due to sickness, Orick’s motion received nine votes but Morton ruled the motion failed.
Lonnie Weldon, Johnny Bruce, Forster Baird and Charles Baird all voted “no” on Orick’s motion.
In addition to the maneuvers from Orick, Morton also found himself in a verbal sparring match with Scott Stanfield over the Sanitation Department and decisions to buy equipment from outside vendors when it could be purchased locally. At one point Morton gaveled Stanfield down, but Stanfield replied, “I’m not finished.”
“You are,” Morton angrily responded.
The angry exchange finally ended when Orick moved to proclaim May as “Clean Up Month” inCampbell County.
“I’ve talked to Ron Dilbeck and if residents will bring their brush to a public road right-of-way, the Highway Department will haul it off for them,” Orick added. His motion to proclaim May 1-31 as Clean Up Month was passed unanimously. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/17/2018-6AM)