Bedford County Board of Commissioners approved new county commission districts drawn as a result of 2010 Census figures.
The "one person, one vote" rule, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1960s, means that in a district-based legislative body, each district should be as close in population to the others as possible. Otherwise, citizens in underpopulated districts would have a greater say in government than those from overpopulated districts.
As populations move, some areas grow faster than others, and every 10 years, the districts must be redrawn to try to bring them back into balance. Tennessee's constitution requires that districts must be "reasonably compact" and that each one be contiguous.
The 9th commission district, in the western part of Shelbyville, had grown the most since the 2000 Census and had to be reduced in size. The 4th, 5th and 6th districts (southwestern Bedford County, southeastern Bedford County and southeastern Shelbyville, respectively) lagged the furthest behind the target number, and had to be increased in size.
Voters will be notified if they have been moved into a new district. Administrator of Elections Summer Leverette told commissioners last night that the county will publish maps of the new district as a newspaper advertisement, but will wait to do so until the county election commission has made its decision about any changes in voting precincts, so that both changes can be publicized at the same time.
The redistricting had not appeared on the published agenda for the meeting but was added by means of a rules suspension, a common method for adding items to the agenda. The state only requires that redistricting be complete by Jan. 1, 2012, but Commissioner Jeff Yoes, who served on the redistricting committee and made the motion to suspend the rules, said that if the redistricting were not approved by mid-August, the election office would have to pay $1,300 to renew its license on the computer software used to help prepare the new districts.
In other action last night, commissioners voted to prohibit oversize vehicles from using the inside rows of the courthouse parking lot. Lines will be painted parallel to the flow of traffic, and any vehicle which extends over the line (or which pulls up onto the curb) will be in violation.
The rule will be enforced during business hours, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Commissioner Linda Yockey originally moved that it apply 24 hours a day, but commissioner Bobby Vannatta said parking and traffic flow aren't as much of a problem after hours.
Yockey agreed to have the rule apply only during the day. It's yet to be determined whether the county will attempt to enforce the rule itself or work out an arrangement with Shelbyville Police Department, which already has a parking officer on the square.
The spaces within the L-shaped concrete curb on the north and east sides of the courthouse, the ones to which the new rule would apply, are under county control, and do not have any time restrictions on parking. Anything outside the concrete island is controlled by the City of Shelbyville, and is limited to two-hour parking. Some county employees use the inner lot while at work during the day.
The measure to prohibit overlength vehicles passed by a 14-2-1 margin. Commissioners Bobby Fox and Mark Thomas were opposed, while Jimmy Woodson abstained. Billy King was absent.
* Commissioners approved appointments to Shelbyville & Bedford County Library Board. Amy Mitchell will succeed Donald Stephens, while Rheaetta Wilson will succeed Margaret Eakin.
* Commissioners approved declaring a Chevrolet Blazer owned by Bedford County Fire Department as surplus.
The commission deferred action on several items:
* Action was deferred on a resolution asking Bedford County's representatives in Congress to return the remains of Tennessee war dead who fought in the 1846 Battle of Monterrey to the Mexican War monument in Gallatin for burial. County Mayor Eugene Ray said that Gallatin officials are currently talking to U.S. Rep. Diane Black about the issue.
* Action was deferred on bids to paint the courthouse clock tower and repair the clock. Bids were not received until the day of the meeting and will be reviewed between now and next month's commission meeting.
* Action was deferred on endorsing the concept of "drug court" pending further discussions with judges.
Drug court is an alternative sentencing program for those whose crimes relate to drug or alcohol abuse. Offenders go to a rehabilitation program and then must participate in an intensive form of probation including a curfew; three drug screenings a week plus the possibility of random screenings; GED classes if applicable; self-help or 12-step meetings; and a weekly court appearance to review their compliance.