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Donation to TWHNC is denied

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bedford County Board of Commissioners, meeting Tuesday night, failed to approve a $1,500 allocation to the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration to support bringing a quarter horse show to Calsonic Arena.

The measure received 8 votes in favor, with one opposed and six abstaining. Even though three of the 18 commissioners were absent Tuesday, it always takes a 10-vote majority of the full commission to take action.

$1.5K request

Tenneseee Walking Horse National Celebration chief executive Doyle Meadows, in a letter to County Mayor Eugene Ray, had asked the county to contribute $1,500 to support a quarter horse show in late March and early April which will be conducted by the West Tennessee and Central Tennessee Quarter Horse Associations.

Meadows wrote that the Celebration is trying aggressively to regain the quarter horse business after some years without a show here. He wrote that Calsonic Arena has been operating at a loss for more than 20 years and the Celebration wants to market it better for both equine and non-equine events.

The county's financial management committee had voted to recommend the Celebration's request.

Criteria questioned

But when the request came before the full commission on Tuesday, there were questions.

Commissioner Bobby Fox asked what the criteria would be for deciding which horse shows to support. Ray responded that the commission could make its own decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Commissioner Billy King then moved to amend the motion to also contribute $1,000 to an annual horse show held by Liberty Lions Club.

Ray, as chairman, refused to accept that amendment since the Lions Club horse show had not been on the commission's agenda and said that request either needed to go through the finance committee or else the commission needed to suspend its rules to add it to Tuesday night's agenda.

Voting in favor of the motion were Jimmy Patterson, Janice Brothers, Jimmy Woodson, Jeff Yoes, Tony Barrett, John Brown, Ed Castleman and Mark Thomas. Fox was opposed. Abstaining were King, Don Gallagher, Tony Smith, Linda Yockey, J.D. "Bo" Wilson (who declared a conflict of interest due to his involvement with the Celebration) and P.T. "Biff" Farrar.

Commissioners Bobby Vannatta, Joe Tillett and Denise Graham were absent Tuesday night.

Board expansion

The commission voted to approve adding two seats to the Emergency Communications District (E-911) board, to represent public safety agencies.

Commissioner Linda Yockey said the commission didn't have the power to do that on its own, since the size and makeup of the board had been negotiated between the county and the E-911 board when the county contracted with the E-911 board to operate the communications center.

Ray, however, said the lawyers for both the county and the E-911 board had agreed to the change.

The motion appeared to pass by voice vote, but then a roll call vote was taken. The vote was 13-1-1, with Yockey opposed and Barrett abstaining.

Currently, the board has nine members, one from each of the nine commission districts. Under the motion, Curt Cobb and Dixie Parker would be reappointed to their existing seats as citizen members of the board, while Bedford County Emergency Medical Services director Chad Graham and another public safety representative, not yet decided upon, would be added to the board, increasing its size from nine to 11.

Group's history

When the com center was first started, the E-911 board was composed primarily of public safety department heads. But at one point, several department heads had little interest in participating in the board, and there was a problem getting a quorum of members to meet and conduct business.

The board was reorganized to include private citizens representing the nine commission districts.

Originally, there were two separate boards, with overlapping membership: a com center board to run the center, overseeing a budget funded by county property tax revenues, and the E-911 board, provided for by state law and overseeing a budget funded by telephone surcharges, to run technology such as the "enhanced 9-1-1" system which identifies 9-1-1 callers.

But the county did away with the com center board and signed a letter of agreement with the E-911 board to run the com center as well as the enhanced 9-1-1 system. Yockey's position was that the letter of agreement needed to be revised and agreed to by both sides in order to make any changes to the makeup of the E-911 board.


Commissioners voted to amend the minutes to last month's meeting as submitted to them by County Clerk Kathy Prater.

In January, the commission held a closed attorney-client session, without Prater, the press or the public in attendance, during its regular meeting.

After that session, the commission made a motion related to a lawsuit against the county by sheriff's department employees. Both Prater and a Times-Gazette reporter in attendance heard the public motion as being to settle the lawsuit; Prater included that in her minutes and the Times-Gazette reported it in a news story.

But commissioners say they only made a motion to authorize settling the lawsuit if it could be settled for no more than a particular dollar figure mentioned during the closed attorney-client session. That figure wasn't stated publicly Tuesday night.

"The lawsuit is not settled," said Wilson during Tuesday night's meeting.

The minutes were revised and then approved as amended.