Commission saves money, names bridge for Matt Hayes

Friday, December 2, 2011

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

The repayment schedule for some $3.95 million owed by Marshall County was changed Monday to comply with new federal regulations and it's going to save the county money.

How much hadn't been calculated, according to County Budget Director Freda Terry, but the savings are a result of 12 monthly payments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture instead of one annual payment.

The U.S.D.A. loan through the department's Rural Development Agency was made to pay for installation of water pipes for the extension of potable water service to county residents served by the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities. This is the third phase of the major project.

"It's a correction to one we already passed," Terry explained after the commissioners' monthly meeting on Monday. "It makes you pay monthly. That way you pay less in interest."

Another way of looking at the new monthly repayment schedule is to think of it like a bank offering a mortgage holder the opportunity to make a payment every two weeks instead of monthly. The effect is to pay off the debt sooner than later and with 26 payments annually instead of 12.

The county borrowed money from the USDA's Rural Development office so as to qualify for a grant that lowered the county's pipeline construction costs.

Also Monday, commissioners unanimously voted to ask state lawmakers to name the Cornersville Road bridge over Rock Creek as the Matt Hayes Memorial Bridge in honor of the 2001 Marshall County High School graduate. While working as a surveyor for Wilson and Associates, Hayes was killed near Morristown on July 14 as a result of an accident at a highway construction project.

The late surveyor's mother, Helen Hayes, received a resolution presented to her by Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett. She said naming the bridge after her son will serve as a permanent reminder that he was here. She was surrounded by relatives during the presentation.

In another unanimous vote Monday, commissioners rezoned 1.7 acres on Horton Highway so that Tony Harris may move his auto repair shop from its location in Chapel Hill to a place at Holts Corner that's closer to the Williamson County line. The move will probably be in the spring, Harris' wife, Tammy, said at the commission meeting.

Commissioners also unanimously voted to authorize donation of an old sheriff's patrol car to Marshall County Schools for vocational education purposes.

Sheriff Norman Dalton said he was contacted by community advocate Craig Blackwell who asked if there was an old patrol car that could be donated. Dalton then called Spot Lowe Technology Center Director Lyn Stacey.

"They had another vehicle to work on," Dalton said, "but they'd taken it apart and put it back together again so much it was wore out."

Stacey confirmed the need, explaining that students are taught basic auto mechanics, steering, suspension, brakes and automotive electronics including power windows and door locks.

"They take the door panels off," Stacey said, describing that as requiring skill without breaking the panels. "Once the panels are taken off several dozen times, the panels fall off. The cars we have now were donated by Saturn. They're Saturn cars.

"We really appreciate them helping us out," Stacey said of Blackwell and Dalton.

Also Monday, commissioners authorized the building inspector to hire a contractor to mow or bush-hog high grass to resolve health and safety issues. County Commissioner Dean Delk has spoken up for his Chapel Hill-area constituents saying this is needed badly.