Press Releases

Haslam Announces Nearly $600K in TDOT, TDEC Grants for Hardin Co

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 23, 2014:

SAVANNAH – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced three grants totaling $585,517 to fund phase II of the Pedestrian Sidewalk Project in Savannah, improve the Hank DeBerry Complex, and make Savannah’s City Hall more energy efficient.

“These types of projects strengthen our communities,” Haslam said. “Increasing energy efficiencies saves taxpayer dollars. Making our cities and towns more pedestrian friendly and improving our recreation areas improves the lives of Tennesseans. We want Tennessee to continue to be the very best place to live, work and raise a family, and projects like these are key to making that a reality.”

A $243,913 transportation alternative grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will fund phase II of the Pedestrian Sidewalk Project in Savannah, including construction of sidewalks on the east side of Tennessee Street from the southwest corner of the new Tennessee Street Park to Main Street. Sidewalks will also be installed along the north side of Main Street from the downtown district to Hogohegee Drive, which will connect the historic Cherry Street Mansion and the Tennessee River Overlook.

The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally funded program formerly known as transportation enhancement and is administered by TDOT. A variety of activities, such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $306 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.”

A $250,000 Local Park and Recreation Fund grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) for Hardin County and the city of Savannah will be used at the Hank DeBerry Complex to remove existing poles and fixtures at the ball fields and make upgrades to underground wiring and electrical panels to accommodate new energy efficient lights.

A $91,604 Clean Energy Grant from TDEC will be used to make Savannah’s City Hall more energy efficient by installing energy efficient ceiling lights, replacing 10 HVAC units with an energy efficiency of SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) 13, reconstructing a 4,600 square foot section of flat roof with energy saving materials to reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling purposes, and constructing vestibules at the main three entrances to City Hall. The total estimated annual energy usage reduction is estimated to be 27,601 kWh, which is equivalent to 19.5 metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions. The estimated yearly savings for the upgrades will be approximately $3,126.

“From land acquisitions for new municipal parks to renovating and improving existing facilities, these grants help expand recreational opportunities for Tennessee citizens,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “We are always looking for ways to promote environmental awareness and energy efficiency, and these investments in our local communities help improve the quality of life for all Tennesseans.”

The Local Park and Recreation Fund is a 23-year-old state program that provides local governments with resources to support development and improvements to local parks, greenways, trails and recreational facilities. Grant recipients were selected through competitive scoring with careful consideration given to the projects that met the selection criteria and expressed the greatest local recreation need. All LPRF grants require a 50 percent match by the recipient.

Clean Tennessee Energy Grants were established by the Haslam administration in 2012 to fund energy efficiency projects for local governments and municipalities, utilities, and other private and public organizations across Tennessee. These grants support projects designed to reduce air emissions, improve energy efficiency and create cost savings.

Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) and Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah) represent Hardin County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Liberty and Justice NewsTracker

Public Officials In Trouble

Winchester City Councilman Cheyne Stewart, a former aide to former Gov. Phil Bredesen, has been charged with a series of sex crimes including aggravated rape. Stewart said Tuesday he won’t resign his post and that he is not guilty of any crime, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.

A Rutherford County sheriff’s deputy got into an argument over the weekend with his ex-wife, who says he reached for his weapon, according to the Daily News Journal. The deputy was put on paid administrative leave but no charges have been filed “because police have so far been unable to determine who was the primary aggressor.”

According to Murfreesboro Police, Deputy Joseph Clay McCool’s ex-wife, Marcy McCool, accused him of reaching for his gun during an argument at a Green Meadow’s apartment complex and threatened to “blow (her) (expletive) head off” in the process.

A dispute last week involving a Hardin County commissioner has been referred to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the county sheriff told the Savannah Courier. County Commissioner Jimmy G. Grisham called 911 to report a truck on his property and said the passengers were “verbally offensive.” The passengers have accused Grisham of pulling a gun on them, which Grisham denied to authorities, the Courier reports. The story does not note any charges filed and says Grisham, who also works for the county trash department, has not been suspended during the investigation.

News NewsTracker

Hardin Co. Accounting Troubles

Expenses in Hardin County’s highway and public trust fund exceeded appropriations by about $310,000 at the end of the last fiscal year, according to an audit by the state comptroller’s office.

Two schools funds had a similar problem. Spending in the general purpose and school federal projects funds outpaced appropriations by a total of almost $26,000.

The schools employee insurance fund had a cash overdraft of $5,700 and a fund deficit of $13,600, based on having incurred more claims than the premiums could cover. Auditors said that money from the general purpose fund was later used to cover the deficit.