Metro Council meets as planned on March 16

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Moore County Council will meet in a regular session meeting on Monday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m. There will be a Metro Budget Committee meeting at 5 p.m.

In new business, the Council will be presented with the resignation of a fourth district council member, Shawn Adams. Adams previously decided not to run for re-election, according to Mayor Lewis. Mayor Lewis also confirmed that four individuals have stated their intention to run for that office in August.

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC) Electrical Engineer Chad Pinion will also address the council. Sheriff Hatfield’s asked to speak to the Metro Council about jail repairs. Wayne Hawkins has also asked to address the council concerning the Jack Daniel Barrel Tax, the Lynchburg Music Fest, and a car show in the park.

Metro EMA Director Jason Deal will present Moore County’s Coronavirus Plan to the Metro Council on Monday night. The Mach Tenn Running Club has also asked to be added to the agenda to seek approval for the new October date for the Oak Barrel Half Marathon. That event was originally slated for April 4.

All Metro County meetings are open to the general public and take place at the American Legion Building beginning at 6:30 p.m. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Moore County … covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, the Lynchburg Music Fest, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Utilities Board meets March 10

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Utilities Board will meet in a regular session meeting on Tuesday, March 10 at 6 p.m. Meetings take place at the Metro Utilities Department (MUD) Building located at 705 Fayetteville Highway.

There are two new items to be discussed: 1) a system-wide meter replacement program, and 2) the rehabilitation of the wastewater treatment plant head works. Both items will require financing and thus will be presented for approval to the Metro Council at a later date.

For more information, contact the Metro Utility Department offices at 931-759-4297 or learn more at their website by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Council meets Feb. 17

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Council will meet on Monday, February 17 at 6:30 p.m. in a regular session meeting. There will be a public hearing at 6:20 p.m. to consider the rezoning of the Eakins property in the second district from agricultural to industrial.

In new business the Highway Department will submit the 2020 Roads Improvements List. Metro Public Safety Director Jason Deal will also give an Emergency Management Agency report.

Mayor Bonnie Lewis will also make public announcements about the Moore County Health Department and announce that Moore COunty will receive a Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Traffic Signal Modernization Program Grant.

All Metro County meetings are open to the general public and take place at the American Legion Building beginning at 6:30 p.m. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Utilities launches new website

LOCAL NEWS — Wanna learn how to read your meter, view the most recent Water Quality Report, or see the agenda for an upcoming Metro Utility Department (MUD) meeting? The new MUD website’s got you covered.

Launched in November, the site offers customer service options, online forms and reports, and information about public meetings. It also allows you to subscribe to email updates about current projects or get text alerts in case of a utility-related emergency. They also offer conservation tips to help locals enjoy lower water bills. To check out the new site, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

General Assembly considers legalizing, decriminalizing recreational marijuana

STATE NEWS — On Friday, State Sentor Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) introduced a bill (SB 1849) that would legalize recreational marijuana in Tennessee. If approved, the legislation would create a 12 percent tax on the sale of regulated weed up to half an ounce. According to the bill, 20 percent of that money would go to the General Fund, 30 percent would fund state infrastructure, and the remaining 50 percent would go toward public education. To read that bill, click here.

Under the bill, sellers would need a registered business and a license from the state to legally sell weed. Additionally the bill would apply to the growing, processing, manufacturing, delivery and sale of marijuana. Those licensed would also be able to sell only at locations zoned for sale.

A corresponding House Bill (HB 1610) sponsored by Representative Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) would allow each county governments to hold a referendum vote to decide whether the legal marijuana industry is right for their county. That bill would also decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession statewide. To read that bill, click here.

Proponents of the bills say they could reduce Tennessee’s opioid epidemic, create jobs, free up law enforcement resources, and add billions to state coffers. Opponents claim legalization will lead to increased teen use, more pot-related traffic accidents, and harm the environment.

According to state figures, more that 2,600 farmers are already licensed to grow hemp in Tennessee. It’s similar to marijuana but does not contain THC, the chemical that causes individuals to feel high. Hemp can be used to make cloth, rope, construction materials, and produce cannabidiol or CBD.

If approved, the new proposed bills would be scheduled to go into affect on July 1, 2020. To let your representative know how you feel, contact Representative Iris Rudder at 615-741-8695 or Senator Shane Reeves at 615-741-1066. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Council member asks for legal “blank check” to revisit barrel tax issue

In November 2011, the Metro Council decided by a 10-5 vote. Back then, the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce unanimously opposed the proposal. In April 2018, the General Assembly decided by a 78-12 vote. But on Monday night, Metro Council member Tommy Brown asked his fellow council members to a approve a legal “blank check” to get clarification on the “constitutionality” of the Moore County Barrel Tax issue.

Brown asked Chairman Denning Harder to add the item into old business just before the January meeting. As such, no information about the issue could be added to the informational packets that each member receives prior to each meeting.

Brown asked for a motion empowering Property Tax Assessor Darrin Harrison to pursue a “administrative or judicial review” of the 2018 decision … using public funds to do so. Brown said he was asking the Council to revisit the long-decided issue due to a new opinion by Murfreesboro Administrative Judge Mark Aaron in September 2019.

“I think we owe it to the the people of this county,” Brown stated.

The Lynchburg Times acquired a copy of that legal opinion. In it, Judge Aaron states that “the administrative judge is earnestly unable to see the assessor’s argument as anything short of a claim that the recent amendment is facially invalid due to constitutional infirmity” … meaning he declines to make a ruling on the constitutional questions surrounding the state legislature’s approved whiskey barrel tax exemption. He further state that he’s “highly skeptical of his authority to usurp the Legislature’s clear directive.”

In Brown’s motion to the Council, he asked that they green light public funds to pursue an administrative or judicial review of the case. He received considerable push back. Mayor Bonnie Lewis cautioned that a legal “blank check” could result in a large, unintended line item.

“I can’t see it costing much,” Brown retorted.

Fellow Metro Council member Amy Cashion stated her unwillingness to vote on Brown’s motion out of the blue. “All of this was decided a long time ago,” she stated. “I’d need to refresh my memory before I felt comfortable voting.”

It’s a sentiment several other members also addressed. Several asked Brown to table his motion until the February meeting to give members time to review the facts … an idea Brown rebuffed.

“It was decided in September,” he replied. “You’ve had time.”

Instead he asked for a roll call vote in the matter. Yes votes were Adams, Millsaps, Brown, and Hawkins. No votes were Moses, Lewis, Burnett, Boyce, Harder, Cashion, Lindsay, Bailey, Moorehead, and Taylor. The motion failed 4-10. Arvis Bobo did not attend the meeting.

Judge Aaron’s appeal ruling took place on September 13, 2019. According to the document, interested parties had 75 days to file any further appeals. That deadline expired in late November.•

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Council meets on Monday

LOCAL NEWS — The Metro Moore County Council will meet on Monday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the American Legion Building. There will be a Public Zoning Hearing regarding the Davis Property at 6:20 p.m.

The public hearing will address the rezoning of 1.74 acres of land in Moore County’s District 2. The requested rezoning would allow the owner to change the current zoning from agricultural to residential. The Metro Planning Commission recommended this rezoning on Dec. 17. Any interested parties should attend the public hearing.

In new business, the Council will be presented with a rezoning request from Donald Eakins in the Second District. He’d like his property rezoned from agricultural to residential. If approved, this would be the first reading. The measure would then need a public hearing and two more readings before it receives final approval.

The council will also discuss a $3 million bond to complete renovations at Moore County High School. This bond was originally approved in the fall of 2018, according to Mayor Lewis. In similar business, Director of Schools Chad Moorehead will present his final budget amendments for 2019-2020.

According to Director Moorehead during the Jan. 13 Metro School Board meeting, only minor changes will be made. The school system added a $19,000 school safety grant to the budget. That money will be allocated to School Resource Officer (SRO) line item as well as fund upgrades for the visitor check in system at both schools. That new system will scan visitor driver’s license and instantly run background checks.

Metro Schools will also add $8,000 in insurance recovery money to the budget. This covered a lawn mower that was stolen from this school system last year. The cost to replace that mower was $15,000, according to Director Moorehead.

All Metro Council meeting are open to the general public. The American Legion Building is located at 119 Booneville Highway. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}