JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – Animals seem to be dominating much of the Campbell County Commission’s attention these days. Last week the commission was deciding how to keep the animal shelter going without a tax increase. At its workshop Monday night, much of the commissioner’s early discussion centered on the annual Norris Lake fishing tournament.

The problem comes down to money. Since its beginnings, the annual Norris Lake tournament hosted out of Lonas Young Park has been funded by the Joint Economic Community Development Board (JECDB), the county’s independent economic and community development board. This year however, the board has decided not to provide the $10,000 needed to hold the tournament.

The county commission provided seed money to hold the first tournament, but JECDB has funded it every year since then, Mayor E. L. Morton pointed out. He added, “I’ll ask again,” but emphasized that JECDB did not vote to fund the $10,000. Several commissioners were quick to express their concerns. “The fishing tournament is a huge success for Campbell County,” Commissioner Scott Kitts observed, with Commissioner Rusty Orick adding, “We may lose the tournament to Anderson County.”

“The tournament brings in a quarter million dollars,” Morton said, with Orick replying, “It’s not just the money. It brings in people and attention.” “Did they give a reason for not voting to fund it?” Commissioner Sue Nance asked. “Not really,” Morton said.

It was left to the mayor to follow up, and “ask again” before the commission looks for other solutions. The question of the animal shelter was also left to the mayor, as he agreed to approach the mayors of the county’s four municipalities or address their councils about helping to fund the shelter. The commission hoped to get a commitment from the municipal leaders at last week’s animal control meeting but as reported earlier, nobody from the cities showed up.

A few items on the agenda for next week’s meeting are more positive, including adoption of a policy that will enable county employees at the health department to qualify for funding to cover educational leave and tuition assistance for college courses, from associate to doctoral degrees, with the costs provided from federal funding.

The commission will also vote to approve the 25- year lease agreement with Highland Telephone for a site on the grounds of White Oak Elementary for Highland’s broadband service expansion into Duff and White Oak Commissioner Ralph Davis will have several agenda items including building and grounds projects and his recognition of Jellico Middle School and High School basketball teams. Nance will offer a motion to surplus the mayor’s county vehicle after his new vehicle is delivered, to go to Ridgewood Volunteer Fire Department as a fast responder vehicle.

Early in the workshop, Chairman Johnny Bruce paused to recognize those commissioners who are running for re-election, and especially three who are stepping down. Whit Goins and Butch Kohlmeyer do not plan to run again, while Robert Higginbotham is leaving the commission to run for county mayor. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 04/13/2022-6AM)