Confehr: Exercise free speech or work on your golf

Friday, February 26, 2010

One of the great things about this country is the freedom to say whatever you like and we're hearing a lot of it now that the silly season is in full bloom. Pollination continues through Halloween.

Nationally, there's been a lot of unmasking of exaggerations, although some folks will decide to believe what they want, regardless of what other folks say. Government bashing is in fashion. Some people still wear zoot suits when it's not Halloween.

So when a call came in the other day it was remarkable to hear about reconstruction of the golf pro shop at Henry Horton State Park. The caller was Isaac Zimmerle, a builder best known in the northern park of Marshall County.

He bid on the project, didn't get it, but became aware of the plans. He's not miffed, but he says the building has a slab foundation. That concrete had to be cut and a trench excavated to move the bathrooms.

Old kitchen equipment was replaced. The roof got new shingles. The building got new paint, insulation and a heating, cooling system.

Zimmerle estimated the building was probably more than 30 years old.

He has some other comments, but a routine contact with the spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation resulted in the following.

The Henry Horton Pro Shop was renovated in 2008. It was the first major maintenance on the Pro Shop since it was built in the mid 1960s. The new building was made accessible for handicapped people as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It says when there's extensive renovation, accessibility should be included. Minor changes remain protected by what's known as grandfather rights.

Accommodations required extensive work in the restrooms such as moving fixtures for required clearances, along with work on the side entrance, according to Meg Lockhart, spokeswoman for TDEC.

Because the locker rooms were no longer used, they were removed. New and more efficient equipment was installed, including HVAC, lighting and kitchen appliances.

All exterior wood, which was badly deteriorated, was replaced with low maintenance materials and a new roof was installed. Temporary facilities were made available during the project so golfers could continue to play.

The contractor was Baron & Dowdle of Nashville. Construction cost nearly $625,000. It was funded and approved by the state Building Commission in Fiscal Year 2006-07.

We're now in FY 2009-10.

Meanwhile, Lockhart also wants Tribune readers to know more about the expenditure of $966,553 for 386 acres near the park's campground.

"This acquisition closed late last year," according to Lockhart's statement published in the Tribune on Feb. 17, "but it was approved by the Building Commission in 2005 and was funded in fiscal year 2005-2006.

Most folks remember those days before the housing bubble burst in the fall of 2008.

Marshall County may have fully recovered from the closure of ICP, although some folks were concerned for continued operations at Sanford's pencil factory.

Now, you might want to go play golf to forget your troubles, even if you're a duffer and can afford the clubs. or you might exercise your freedom of speech.