Bradley County Commission Votes Support For New Lake Forest Middle School; Gets More Flak On Brymer Creek, Animal Issue

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Bradley County Commission voted 13-0 on Monday to support replacing the academic portion of Lake Forest Middle School.

However, the projection is that the funds to cover the debt will not be available until the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

The vote was to cover $12 million, instead of the $14 million amount listed earlier for 57 new classrooms.

The motion by Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones specified that the furniture and fixtures for the school be covered by the school board.

Commissioner Jeff Morelock, who earlier sought unsuccessfully to get a tax increase passed in order to start the work now, said he was seeking a way to use excess funds in the rainy day fund to get started earlier.

However, County Mayor Gary Davis reiterated that it would not be until 2017 until current commitments are paid off and new money for bonds is available. He said excess fund balance would not be an adequate revenue stream for debt service.

The commission again heard complaints about muddying of Brymer Creek and about the lack of a place to take stray animals in the county.

Attorney Pam O'Dwyer said there has been "escalating damage from erosion and escalating cost" at the Harriman Road project to construct a new industrial park.

She said the site "should be a park, not an industrial park. It's not too late to reverse yourself."

Another citizen said he was "appalled" by the amount of erosion at the site. He said, "It's a project that's going to fall on its face."  

Commissioner Ed Elkins said he had not been aware that the grade was being changed at the site, "but now we are being asked to pay half of a change order."

Rachel Veazy, an animal advocate, demanded to know what strategy the county had for dealing with stray animals in need of a home. Vice Chairman Jeff Yarber said, "The truth is we don't have a plan."

While Ms. Veazy was at the podium, another woman in the audience said, "This is a tremendous problem and needs to be handled now."

Ms. Veazy said a non-profit animal rescue operation does not have room for more dogs and cats. She said one person currently has seven puppies and nowhere to take them.

Commissioner Adam Lowe again suggested that a local non-profit be started to meet the need. He said that would be more effective and efficient than a government operation. Ms. Veazy said that is not feasible.

Ms. Veazy said she has over 350 names on a petition urging a solution. Commissioner Elkins said many of those signing are not from Bradley County and three are "from another country."

Commission members reiterated that they had offered the city of Cleveland $180,000 to accept county animals, but the offer was turned down twice.

Commissioner Mark Hall said, "The problem is you have two governmental bodies that refuse to get along, and that's a shame. This skirmish has been going on for 30 years."

Vice Chairman Yarber termed it "a p---ing contest between the city and county."


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