Cannon County Budget Committee met Thursday, May 20. Present were Mark Barker and Bill Jennings. Greg Mitchell was absent and Mike Gannon came in late. Bookkeeper Diane Hickman was also present.
Present were commissioners, Mark Barker (also on budget committee), Rebeka Parton, Kevin Mooneyham, Todd Hollandsworth, Kevin George. Some who were running for office, Mike Grosch, Michael Nichols, Nolan Travis, among those seen by the Wire (may have been others, add as a comment if there were those missed). Also Donald Preston, Tax Assessor, was there. There seemed to quite a few there who were representing REACH.
Penny Daniels, Cannon County Veterans, stated that presently she worked twenty hours a week but she works more than that. She stated in March, 2009 to 2010 she worked on average of 92 hours per month. She stated she helps veterans with pensions and helps them obtain veterans benefits. She stated she attends quarterly meetings to Nashville to continue accreditation, and prepares veterans news releases for the Cannon Courier. She stated that there is a lot of back pay that she has helped veterans receive and there were up 1,100 veterans in Cannon County. In the budget, she asked to increase travel and postage but stated that the even though that she did not ask for a salary increase that if the others received three percent she would also take it. She received accreditation this past year in order to be better prepared to help the veterans.
SAVE was represented by Lisa Baird. She said once that they received a victim it was for the long haul which often included education, 24 hour crisis line, clothing, doctors, food, and shelter and other things as needed. To date, SAVE served 317 total to date, which consisted of 130 women, 54 children, 23 males, and 10 seniors. She stated that 80 percent of population were referrals from the Sheriff’s office. She also stated that by law the county is mandated to provide orders of protection in the circuit court clerk’s office, but at this time it is done through SAVE, which is better for the victim. Bruises and cuts are at times difficult deal with and SAVE is a fast track through the system getting the victims help quicker and more discreetly. She stated it was not fair to take and disrupt the victims lives when it was the perpetrator who did it. She presented a letter from Judge Corlew praising the program, stated it is growing and commended them for working with victims. Baird stated they had presently received $137,000 in a 2 year legal assistance grant, which would partially fund her salary and the help the program obtain attorneys to be on retainer for two years. A $49,890.00 shelter grant, which would help to rent a facility, utilities, to pay two part time or one full time staff members to be at the shelter at all times. She was asking for $10,000 which would be $5,000 insurance on the shelter, $1,000 license fee, $1,000 office supplies, $1500 printer ink copier fax, $1500 for laundry detergent and supplies.
UT Extension Service was represented by Bruce Steelman, Heath Nokes, Carla Bush, Erin Nichols. They had only asked for a three percent raise, part to be funded through the state. Steelman stated his primary job was to work with farmers and agriculture was and still is the largest industry in Cannon County. He stated that the most efficient farmers and up to date farmers were in Cannon County. He also stated that a lot of Cannon County equipment came through cost sharing between cooperation with Mike Gannon, Cannon County and UT Extension Service. He stated that there was one person in Cannon County now that was checking on soybeans and would partly be assigmed. Erin Nichols is in charge TNCEP will which deals with food stamp recipients and they also partner with schools since that 50% free and reduced lunch is in Cannon County. They teach the students to read labels and make good choices. Heath Nokes stated that he works with 4-H members and they are very active right now. He stated there were 1100 members in Cannon County now stated he and a very good relationship with the school system. The program starts in October and goes through TCAP testing. Right now they are working with Jr. High and Sr. workforce pre programming, to help with the kid’s future. They have also landscaped the Lions Club building, teaching the kids to be good citizens. Carla Bush stated she had been gone but now says that she is back, that she’s had time to reevaluate and reassess her position. She stated she is stepping back from food and switched to sustainable, which included the Farmer’s Market. The kitchen has been very well accepted (commercial food prep kitchen, licensed with the state) with many in the county using and also those out of the county. She stated that they had been celebrating the centennial and been featuring flashbacks with family, finances and food. Barker asked if the economy had forced some to look hard at alternative money making opportunities and Steelman stated that there was more AG tourism and more interest in farmers market. There was a Christmas tree farm toward Auburntown and agriculture enhancement dollars have helped. He stated there are also two new dairies in Cannon County.
Senior Citizens Center was represented by Connie Rigsby, two directors and a staff member. Barker stated that the county did the bookkeeping for REACH in order that there would be no question by United Way and others. She stated that there was a $15,000.00 request with the county. She stated that they had received a Susan G. Coleman grant and was partnering with the Stones River Hospital for breast exams for men and women, and most of the money will go to Stones River Hospital. She stated that Jackie Head wrote a grant for $25,000, her first one. She stated that some of their income that the senior citizens center they received were from fund raisers, and rentals from the building to UCHRA for meals program, rental for weddings, veterans, trips, thrift store, newsletter, silver sneakers, and preventive health program. They received federal assistance that helps with electricity, utility assistance program, and they assist in determining eligibility. Barker stated that they had in their budget estimate a profit from good old days to be $6,000.00 but Rigsby stated they would only receive about a $5,000.00 each. She stated it had been a tough year. She stated that they had asked for $10,000.00 from the city but only got $5,000.00. Stephanie Coleman was introduced in the crowd as being from United Way. Echols stated when Rigsby was hired there were only 100 total members of the senior citizens center and they served approximately 35 to 40 people per day with lunch. Now there are 165 that come through the door each day. She stated that Rigsby is only scheduled to work 35 hours a week but they know that she puts in more than that. They wanted to increase the hours from eight to three to eight to four which would be really important to the seniors. To she stated that there would be no increase of funds to go to staff, but would allow the program to go from a level two to a level three in order to serve more seniors. It was stated that they fundraise people to death. It is currently staffed that five people serve 165 seniors a day. Deborah, on the board of directors, stated that she was shocked to know how much fun raising they have to do. She has really been involved. She stated that she teaches Aging Studies at MTSU and students are sent to the senior citizens center in the area to work and gain experience as part of class. She stated that one student who was sent to Woodbury was impressed and said they do so much more than food and bingo. Connie is also the president of the Federation on Aging. She states that money is being cut across the state and they can’t continue to fund. She stated that senior citizens centers do a lot of the work and only get a small portion of the funding. She stated that there were senior citizen centers in every county of the state, some were fully funded and some partially funded and some independent.
REACH was represented by Linda Bedwell, Marion Campbell and Henri Weller. Barker stated that the county did the bookkeeping for REACH in order that there would be no question by United Way and others. They stated that REACH received a 21st Century grant in the amount of $100,000 but that grants were drying up. The sliding sale is in effect and students pay up to $25 a week based on income and some don’t pay anything. REACH food budged is $40,000, they used to serve supper but don’t anymore. They are getting a criminal justice grant for $85,000, the JAG grant is gone. It was pointed out that Food is a blanket category. Barker stated that the letter Angela King wrote at the commission meeting explained everything perfectly and was good to Barker. It was stated that the reason why King couldn’t attend the commission meeting last time was that she was at an event. It was not explained why King was not at this budget meeting. Kevin Halperin of Cannon Courier asked if there would be a deficit and Mike Gannon stated that it was hard to tell but could be. Linda Bedwell stated that steps had been taken to make sure even more so that they were complying with audit recommendations and bookkeeper Diane Hickman agreed. Henri Weller stated that the credit recovery at the high school saved 15 seniors from failing the first year and 32 this year. When they started out, they fed 115 per day and now was up to 180. They closed Auburntown because they didn’t have the attendance. A boy spoke on behalf of the program. He was from West Side where Campbell was a teacher and stated how much he appreciated the program and Campbell, King and others. Campbell stated that there will be a summer program. Employees and tutors will volunteer, no one would get paid. Weller stated that REACH was the only one in the state of Tennessee that had an afterschool program in every school in the county. Commissioner Kevin George, Commissioner, spoke highly of the REACH program and of how many people it helped.
There were more covered but other budget items discussed at the end of the video.