Full house at Chester County Commission meeting

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The Chester County community filled the Chester County Courthouse to listen and participate in the quarterly county commission meeting in which plans for the COVID relief funds were to be discussed.

By Kendall Patterson
Editor

The Chester County Courthouse was filled with people of the community on Monday with the county commission to discuss the spending of the ARP funds (COVID-19 relief funds).
Chester County Mayor Barry Hutcherson explained the fund expenses must have 1) purpose 2) a purpose in the relationship with the spread of COVID-19, 3) administrative reporting and 4) possible partners that will help with the expenses.
Mayor Hutcherson limited discussion to four individuals who had spoken with him earlier with intentions to speak before the commission and community on ideas of how the county should spend their funds.
Mayor Hutcherson read a letter from Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation Vice President of Technical Operations, Billy Gordon, which expressed Gordon’s wishes for the county to use the money to help fund establishing internet access to the entire county regardless who their electric provider is.
His letter states: “The State of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has released preliminary guidelines for their upcoming Broadband Grant Opportunity. I wanted to keep you informed regarding the opportunity for matching with your local ARPA funding. Currently, I estimate that Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation has approximately $8,700,000 worth of eligible expenses in Chester County to completely serve the remaining areas of the county. We have submitted our Notice of Intent with the State of Tennessee requesting $4,800,00 in grant support.”
“Currently, the structure for the grant is 70% TNECD and 30% STEMC. TNECD is allowing your local ARPA funds to go toward the 30% portion of the project. Local entities that match with a portion of their ARPA funds give STEMC additional points on its grant application.”
Gordon, on behalf of STEMC+Aeneas, asked if the county would consider paying 20% of STEMC’s 30% for the project.
The grant application will open January 18 and will only remain open until March 15, which is why he is reaching out to the county now; there is little time until the application has to be completed.
The next community member who suggested plans for spending the funds was Carlos Schmidt, owner of the newly opened Keestone Academy. Schmidt expressed wishes for the county to help pay for the daycare in which Schmidt and his daughter paid for with their own money in order to be able to support 180 children, which is an additional 110 children from their current enrollment. Schmidt explained this request was due to his being informed two weeks before opening that he would not be eligible for the grants for which he had planned to apply as he was already set to open.
He also had the hope for the county to consider using the funds to expand the technology school to the size it was originally designed to be in 2006.
Lastly, he asked the county to consider helping him have a method of travel for students that will travel from school to Keestone for after school.
Kirbi Fahs, the director of the Carl Perkins Center of Prevention of Child Abuse, addressed the commission to expand the space of the center in order to meet all the needs to children in the community who need the center’s services.
Fahs said that COVID has really limited all that the center can do in their current location along with COVID canceling some of their fundraising events.
The last person to speak to the community about the ARP funds was Chester County Library Director, Savannah Gilbert.
She stated that her wish is that the county uses the funds to expand Chester County Library.
Gilbert said that due to COVID, the library has seen an increase in their one meeting room which is used for meetings, interviewing, tutoring, proctoring tests and more. Thus, she is asking for an expansion that will include more meeting rooms.
Mayor Hutcherson told the audience that the discussion will continue over the next few months, and if anyone else desired to speak to the commission about their ideas, they could meet with him.
Additionally, on Friday, January 14, Chester County government will release a survey on their website https://chestercountytn.org/ and on the county’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ChesterCountyMayor so that the community can express their thoughts. The survey will close on January 31.
“We would like to hear the public input,” Hutcherson said.
When Jerry King of the Highway Department gave his quarterly reports, he informed the public that the construction of Plainview bridge began January 3 but was stopped by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. TWRA was concerned with a species in the creek. Construction is expected to continue Jan. 18 and is to be complete in 90 days.
During the trustee reports, Commissioner Kevin Faulkner asked Lance Beshires about how owners of multiple properties, such as duplexes, will be charged for the solid waste fee in the future. He believes the county citizen should know how much they will owe before tax season.
Beshires responded saying he does not have an answer to that at this time. The private act committee will have to discuss that.
Chester County Fire Department Chief David Harwell was approved to go forth with applying for an AFG grant for the county’s fire station communications equipment. For the total grant of $553,279, the county only has to match 5% which will come out of the Fund balance.
The 2021 audit report for Chester County was also announced. There were three findings which were all reported to be simple errors. They were not fraudulent.
The commission then approved for the purchase order requirement increase from $100 to $300.
Following the commission meeting, the beer board approved Savrin L. Patel to sell packaged beer for off-premises consumption for 4630 State Route 100 East, Henderson (Frog’s).
Commissioners absent were Sandra Highers, Tim Crowe, Terry Bell and Todd Lewis.

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