Friday, May 27, 2011

The Week of May 30th


May   30 - June 3, 2011

Date   & Committee/Board                   Time                              Location
Monday   - May 30


Tuesday   - May 31

Highway   Commission                          7:00 P.M.                      Highway Offices
Wednesday   - June 1
Foster   Care Review Bd.                      9:00 A.M.                     General Sessions
Thursday   - June 2
Budget                                                        5:00 P.M.                      Finance Office
Friday   - June 3

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Our Vote Meant

County Commissioners received the following letter from County Attorney Clyde Richert this afternoon.
As always, any commentary I add will be in ITALICS.

"I write as County Attorney after your recent meeting and to follow-up my sending each of you a copy of my letter of inquiry to the CTAS legal staff last week. I have received a response from the attorneys at CTAS.

                As a preliminary matter, CTAS advises:

1.       “This is a difficult and complex issue”;

2.       “The issue has not been researched before”; and

3.       “After considerable time researching the issue, …the answer is not perfectly clear”.

I can certainly understand the sentiments expressed here since my own cursory review of the caselaw yielded little, if any , substance from which to form conclusions.

After I sent my letter of inquiry you received, the County Clerk further advised that in another
part of your County Commission Rules, , it provides that 13 votes is necessary to have a majority of the “legal membership” of the County Commission. After my own research, it became more clear that the Rules which the County Commission had adopted provided that in order to fill the vacant seat for the 4th District, 13 votes for one candidate were required. Further, CTAS has agreed with the interpretation of our Rules. Thus, the answer you received at the County Commission meeting was the correct answer based upon your Rules.

                Next, the CTAS legal staff has now had the opportunity t research the Tennessee case law and statutes. Based upon a Tennessee case decided many years ago, the CTAS legal staff believes that only 12 votes is necessary to fill the 4th District position and that no further action is necessary. The thinking is that in our situation, 23 members would be the “legal membership” and 12 is a majority vote, even though our Rules state otherwise. Generally speaking, where local Rules are in conflict with State law (or its best interpretation), the State interpretation prevails.

                In conclusion, following the CTAS reasoning, Ervin Brown has been elected by the Robertson County Commission to fill the vacant position as Commissioner from the 4th District. No further vote is necessary and I would assume he will be sworn in either at your June meeting or at such other time as the County Mayor may determine available. I would suggest the Nominating Committee meet and assign Commissioner Brown committee assignments such that he may begin his service to the County."

I will look forward to working with Commissioner Brown. I welcome the insight and expertise that he will bring to the Robertson County Commission.

And, I certainly applaud Mr. Wade for his willingness to serve. District 4 certainly presented us with a “good problem.” Of course, I mean that the Robertson County Commission faced the difficult task of choosing between two well-qualified gentlemen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Week of May 23, 2011

May 23 - 27, 2011
Date & Committee/Board                           Time                                      Location
Monday - May 23
Tuesday - May 24
Wednesday - May 25
Safety                                                                   8:30 A.M.                             County Mayor’s Office
Thursday - May 26
Zoning Board of Appeals                               6:00 P.M.                             County Office Building
Highway Commission                                     7:00 P.M.                             Highway Office
Friday - May 27

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

District 4 Vacancy: Rule 23

This is the section (Rules of Procedures & Regulations) guiding the selection for a successor to the District 4 Vacancy:

Procedure for selecting a successor to fill a vacancy in any office which by law is to be selected by the Robertson County Commission:
A.         When a vacancy occurs, each member of the Commission shall be notified to said vacancy at least seven days prior to the meeting at which a successor is to be elected.
B.         Nominations:  All members of the Commission are eligible to nominate persons to fill certain vacancies in office.  To insure the candidate is qualified to serve, the Commission member shall state the name of candidate, his or her place of residence and the length of time the person has lived in Robertson County.  No second shall be required to place the name in nomination.  The candidate shall either in writing or orally give assurance to the Commission that he or she will serve if elected.
C.           Upon the close of nominations, voting for the candidates shall begin.
               A majority vote (13) of the Commission shall be required to re-open nominations.
D.         If any one candidate receives a majority vote of the legal membership he or she shall be declared the winner.
If there are three (3) candidates for the position and none receive a majority vote, the candidate receiving the fewest votes shall be dropped from the ballot and a vote shall be taken on the remaining two candidates.
If there are four (4) or more candidates and no single candidate receives a majority vote, any candidate who received less than ten percent of the total votes cast shall be dropped from the ballot.
If on a subsequent ballot there is still no candidate receiving a majority vote, any candidate who receives less than twenty percent of the vote shall be dropped from the ballot.
If on the next ballot there is still no candidate receiving a majority vote, then forty percent would apply and that candidate would be dropped from the ballot.
E.          The County Mayor shall vote only in case of a tie when there are two candidates.

District 4 Vacancy: How the Votes Fell

I have been asked throughout the day just how the votes broke on filling the District 4 Vacancy (Thank-you, Ms. Atchley for providing the breakdown).

Here are the respective totals for the two nominations submitted at Monday's Regular Commission Meeting.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

April 12th Joint Meeting - Response Letter

Following the meeting of Tuesday, April 12, 2011, Dan Whitlow, Director of Schools for Robertson County Schools submitted this response letter to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. It was copied to all County Commissioners. (I appreciate Mr. Whitlow providing me an electronic copy for posting).

Mayor and Board of Alderpersons:
This letter is in response to the joint meeting of the office of Mayor and Aldermen and the Robertson County Board of Education April 12, 2011. It is important to the Board of Education and to me and my staff that you know we are grateful for the opportunity to discuss openly issues that are of vital interest to our students and to our community. We appreciate the occasion to make this group aware of immediate and long-term measures we currently have in place to address these concerns.
Acknowledging the need for continuous and on-going improvement, the Board and staff have aggressive measures in place in Springfield schools. These modifications have included increased instructional personnel, with the addition of reading coaches, interventionists, teaching assistants, special education instructors, teacher training, and strong administrative staff, all representing our desire to provide the maximum educational opportunities for students. Over three-hundred thousand dollars have been invested in enhancing technology at Springfield Middle School, alone. Approximately one million dollars in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars were allocated to Springfield Middle School to increase programs, personnel, and technology.
Our projects span academic disciplines and address all aspects of school management—including projects focused on professional development for administrators and teachers, curriculum development and implementation, student health and safety, technology integration, school/community/university partnerships, educational policy, and research and evaluation.
Significant facility improvements in Springfield schools have been made to revitalize cafeterias, libraries, H/VAC, additions, and renovations, along with the 20 million dollar investment in Springfield High School (Five-year Facility Plan available).
It should be noted that Robertson County ranks 22nd of 95 counties in ability to pay for educating its children, placing it in the top one-third of all districts; yet, actual expenditures for education place Robertson County in the bottom one-third in actual payments. There is no doubt that improvement is needed and growth is essential; however, we remain comparable to the state in achievement scores and exceed many districts in ACT scores and numbers of students who matriculate into college. Scores that rarely make the headlines are the consistently high indicators of success of students in Career and Technical classes and the numerous awards and scholarships given to students in extra-curricular areas.
We feel that Mayor Carneal is absolutely correct when he calls for the need for a new   elementary school within the city area, which would result in necessary redistricting. The Board and staff have supported that concept since the 90s; yet, extraordinary population growth in communities outside of Springfield, coupled with the dissolution of the educational affiliation that Robertson and Sumner Counties shared, necessitated the use of available building funds for other areas of the county. We continue to press this need in our current Facility Plan.
We sincerely believe that your board and the public at-large are interested in making decisions based on factual information and, first, would like to address some statements that concern public perception of the operation of schools in Springfield. Public perceptions of the school district’s performance will also influence a community’s ability to progress. If the school or school district is perceived to be failing or dysfunctional, a self-fulfilling prophecy is likely to occur. If the public perceives Robertson County Schools to be strong, yet, improving and responding to need, then positive growth can take place.
Springfield Middle School was characterized as a failing school, yet, when TCAP scores are evaluated by grade level and by subgroups, SMS equaled or exceeded other schools in the district in many areas. For example, 6th grade math scores among economically disadvantaged students equaled those of
the state and exceeded all schools in the district except those of White House 6th grade. Additionally, all Springfield elementary schools are in “good standing” as defined by the state report card. A comparison of Robertson County scores with those of surrounding counties shows that all districts in the state are being subjected to increased negative publicity as they struggle to meet the demands of new state guidelines and tests and increased rigor of school curriculum requirements and assessment standards. Scores across the state experienced significant decline with the implementation of new tests in 2010.
It was noted that Springfield teachers spend a disproportionate amount of time on discipline. A review of the district discipline report indicates that office referrals of students at Springfield Middle School, for example, as compared to office referrals of other county middle schools are very similar. Additionally, office referrals of 6th grade students at SMS were reduced by 50% over last year, which the administration feels is a direct result of the implementation of gender-only classes in the 6th grade. We feel that Springfield Middle School, under the leadership of Dr. Mike Morris, protects instruction as well as, if not better than, any middle school in the district.
Springfield Middle School is the only school in the district having achieved the National Point of Light Award, having completed eight of the nine criteria toward becoming a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School.
It was reported that 24 students availed themselves of the option to change schools. Of the 24 who expressed interest in the school choice option, only 15 chose to transfer and only 10 students are being transported. This number represents only .06% of the total school population and supports the research that families prefer a neighborhood school concept.
In considering transporting large numbers of students, educational research concludes that (1) in the first 6-8 months of any facility move student scores drop significantly, (2) there is a significant drop in parent involvement, (3) there is a significant decrease in student involvement in extra-curricular activities, and (4) students tend to cling to the familiar peer group, creating a “school culture within a school culture” mentality. Busing students to achieve proportionate economic ratios is not an educationally sound solution to improving achievement scores.
It is important for me to articulate the values that my office holds toward the education of children in its care. There is economic diversity among students and families in our various communities and neighborhoods. District Free and Reduced Lunch numbers range from 21.36% to 90.91%. No school is exempt from having students in need of special services. As educators, we do not believe that economic indicators are equated with ability to achieve, and income will never be a final measure of success or excuse for poor performance. Explicit in our approach is the obligation to improve academic outcomes for all children in the district.
We ask your aid in creating the perception of Robertson County Schools as “strong, responding to need, and improving.” Certainly, school improvement cannot be accomplished in isolation.
Again, we welcome the oppurtunity to join forces with all community agencies to a create a partnership that will result in solutions for the county as a whole. We are one school district, equally concerned about all students.

Library Expansion: "Revised Project Budget Projection"

These are the numbers I spoke of recently.

Earlier, I had pointed out that we the Gorham-MacBane Public Library Board had met to hear from the architects with regard to the Library Expansion project. Specifically, we received some preliminary figures.

I had hoped to provide you with a cost breakdown. Here is that breakdown through Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris Architects:

Revised Project Budget Projection
Addition & Renovations at Gorham MacBane Public Library
May 5, 2011

A. Construction

1. Building Construction Cost                                                 $          4,261,225.00
(Based on estimate provided by R.G. Anderson)
2. Computers/Technology                                                                   90,000.00
3. Library Furniture Allowance                                                           300,000.00

Subtotal Construction & Allowances                        $          4,651,225.00

B. A/E Fee
(per article 3.4.19, 10.2.1 & 11.2.1 of Owner Architect Agreement)
1. Basic services 5% (remaining)                                                $              70,500.00
2. Civil Engineering including landscape
architect required by Springfield Planning                             $              17,000.00(1.5) 25,500.00

3. Reimbursables (renderings & interiors mock-ups)                            6,500.00

4. Reimbursables (printing bid documents)                                            5,000.00

Subtotal Fees & Reimbursables                                                $              107,500.00

C. Survey                                                                                                    $              1,300.00

D. Geotechnical Survey                                                                           $              2,360.00

Total Project Projection                                                                         $             4,762,385.00

Please note that the Library Board will be scheduling a meeting with the City of Springfield and the Robertson County Commission to present these plans. That meeting will hopefully be scheduled sometime in June.
The capital campaign has kicked off, so it will be great to hear the amount of progress that has been made towards this project.  

Highland Crest Update // Community Colleges Growing?

Highland Crest College is still on schedule. Many folks have asked for updates. Check out the “Vol State at Highland Crest” website located at the Vol State Community College site.

The following story is from the latest Vol State press release:
Volunteer State Community College has released the class schedule for Vol State at Highland Crest classes in Springfield. Nearly 60 courses are coming up this fall in subjects ranging from accounting to philosophy. The college is encouraging people interested in taking classes to view the schedule now to plan for registration, which will start in June for new students and is open now for current students.
The “Vol State at Highland Crest” site has much more information regarding classing offerings, admissions and all the information you need regarding Highland Crest. I would definitely bookmark the page.
In light of the vision of everyone who supported this endeavor…..I thought this piece from The Daily Herald (Columbia, Maury County) was particularly timely: “State’s Community Colleges Grow.”

CHATTANOOGA — State leaders’ plans to push community colleges into a more prominent role in Tennessee higher education is working, according to a recent study released by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Read the story in its entirety. It is a breath of fresh air for our community to be one the forefront of something.
I have always said that this project galvanized the optimism I have in this community’s potential. It just shows what can be done when this community pulls together to accomplish what it sets its mind to…the collaborative effort of the City of Springfield, the County of Robertson, leadership of NorthCrest Medical Center and countless private citizens made this such a worthy endeavor.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A New Neighbor to District 10

Thank-you to Jim Bellis at the Robertson County Times for this story on our soon-to-be-new-neighbor.
Many of you have asked, and thanks to Mr. Bellis I can share the answer!
District 10 will definitely welcome Holman Jewelers:

District 4 Vacancy: Upcoming Vote (II)

Here is a letter each County Commissioner received from RobertsonCounty Clerk Susan K. Atchley regarding the meeting Monday, May 16, 2011:
Dear  Commissioners,
At the County Commissioners’ meeting to be held on May 16, 2011, at 7:00 PM, the vacancy of the 4th district County Commissioner’s seat will be filled.  Nominations will be accepted at this time from Mayor Bradley, current Commissioners, letters submitted to County Clerk or from persons in the audience.  Oral roll calls will be taken for this election.  For any questions regarding procedures, please direct them to my office at the above listed number.
Best regards,
Susan K. Atchley

The Week of May 16, 2011


May 16 - 20, 2011
Date & Committee/Board                Time                                    Location
Monday - May 16
County Commission                           7:00 P.M.                             Juvenile Courtroom, RCOB
Tuesday - May 17
911 Board                                            9:00 A.M.                             ECC Building
Health and Safety                              5:30 P.M.                              Finance Office
Wednesday - May 18
RTA                                                       10:00 A.M.                           400 Charlotte, Nashville
GNRC                                                    11 A.M.                                400 Charlotte, Nashville
Thursday - May 19
Friday - May 20

General Assembly Update

We receive updates from Tennessee County Services Association weekly in the form of the “TCSA – Capitol Update.”
It is an update on bills being considered in the General Assembly with an eye towards bills that affect county government.
Since education has been such a big part of the discussion here in Robertson County, this week’s “Capitol Update” caught my eye:
Charter schools: The Administration’s charter schools bill, SB1523/HB1989 (Norris, McCormick), has now been set for May 17 in Senate Finance and May 18 in House Finance Subcommittee after being tied up for weeks in those committees because of the bill’s fiscal impact on local governments. As amended, the bill removes the cap on the number of charter schools operating in the state and opens enrollment in those schools, among other reforms.
As students leave the general public school system and enroll in a charter school, their state/local funding goes to the new facility. The general public school system is then left with continuing overhead costs such as debt service, utilities, and staffing mandates. Having fewer students does not necessarily mean less mandated costs for the public school system.
County associations remain concerned about this potential fiscal impact on local governments that operate traditional public schools. You should contact your legislators and let them know that the fiscal impact should be addressed so local governments are not further handicapped in meeting their mandated funding  requirements for K-12 public education.
Capital outlay for schools:  SB1916/HB1132 (Woodson, H. Brooks) has been deferred until 2012 in Senate Education and House Finance Subcommittee. The bill would have allowed school boards to enter into capital leases and build-to-suit capital leases for the renovation of school buildings and facilities. The bill included provisions that require the county legislative body to approve such agreements.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Taste of Country Website

Now that the “Taste of Country” website is up and running, I thought I would take the opportunity to share it with you (since Robertson County is one of the sponsors).
For those of you who may not remember, and do not know just what I am talking about… is a description from the “About” page:

Quick Library Expansion Update

Just a quick update on the Library Expansion:

There was a meeting with the architects on Tuesday, May 3 at 4:00pm. This meeting was with KBJM architects. Recall that they were going to go back to the proverbial and literal drawing board to develop plans that would provide better analysis of costs estimates.
We heard back from them on Tuesday.
When I am able to obtain those estimates, I will post those here. The price estimates for this project are coming in the $5,000,000.00 range. I hope to provide more details as they become available.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day, Robertson County!

Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous; is not proud; is not conceited; does not act foolishly; is not selfish; is not easily provoked to anger; keeps no record of wrongs; takes no pleasure in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)

So, love is….a Mother.
Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers!
I am so blessed to have my wonderful Mother, a beautiful Mother of my Wife and a beautiful Mother of all my children.
Blessed? Yes, I am. Blessed of the "Mothers" that surround me in my life. Without them, I could not be the Son, Father and Man that I am. Thank You!
Cherish the Mothers in your life, not just today, but every day.

District 4 Vacancy: Upcoming Vote

We will be voting on a new Robertson County Commissioner on Monday, May 16, 2011.

There are three formal candidates that have “applied” for this seat: Donna Fike, Dennis Wade & Ervin Brown.
I have spoken to each “candidate.” Of course, there will be nominations taken right up and until the roll call vote.
You may have missed my earlier post on the processes & procedures in my earlier ‘District 4 Vacancy.’
I must say that I would love to hear from folks in District 4 – this is your district.

The Week of May 9, 2011

The EMS Committee will be a particularly important meeting. Also, I have had several folks inquire with me with regard to the Solid Waste Committee - I am not apart of this Committee, and it does not meet all too frequently. I have it on my schedule to attend.


May 9 - 13, 2011

Date & Committee/Board                 Time                           Location

Monday - May 9

EMS                                                   5:00 P.M.                    EMS Building

Education                                           6:00 P.M.                    Central Office

School Board                                     7:00 P.M.                    Central Office

Tuesday - May 10

Law Enforcement/Workhouse        5:00 P.M.                    County Jail

Solid Waste                                        6:00 P.M.                    RCOB

Wednesday - May 11


Thursday - May 12


Friday - May 13


2011-12 Operating Budget: Budget Approval Schedule

Last Thursday, May 5, 2011, the RCC Budget Committee met.

The agenda included several 2010-11 budget amendments. Further, Chariman Billy Ray introduced a “Budget Adoption Schedule” for the 2011-12 Operating Budget. Please make a note of this schedule. (Thanks to Commissioner Faye Stubblefield, member of the Budget Committee, for providing me an electronic version of this schedule // Also, if you would like this in a document form, please e-mail me).

2011-12 Operating Budget: Links & Contacts of Interest

As we enter discussions regarding the 2011-12 Operating Budget discussions, I thought each of you may find the following information beneficial.

On the Robertson County, Tennessee website, Robertson County Clerk Susan Atchley posted the 2010-11 Operating Budget. As particular items come up for discussion, I hope this link will be helpful as a point-of-reference.
Many of you have asked who is on the RCC Budget Committee. The RCC Budget Committee is comprised of Commissioners Billy Hugh Ray (2nd District), Faye Stubblefield (8th District), Billy Vogle (7th District)  and James Bowens (12th District). (Note: Commissioner Polen was also a member of this committee). Your county commissioner contact information can be found here.
As always, should you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them, or point you in the direction of someone who can.