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CUMBERLAND CO. BUILDING/GROUNDS COMMITTEE DISCUSSES SEVERAL ISSUES

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The Cumberland County Building & Grounds Committee discussed several issues at its June meeting yesterday afternoon.

Potential Disposition of VORP Building

The deterioration of the VORP facility has worsened, according to commissioners Tom Isham and Rebecca Stone. Leaks in the structure’s flat roof, sheetrock failure and ivy growing into the building were some of the issues they noted. VORP Director Rita Young said the building is really only used to house filing cabinets because the group’s volunteers “work out of their briefcases.” Young said they have in excess of 10 filing cabinets on site.

The organization started storing its files electronically this past year, and has been working toward converting its older files for cloud storage. “We really appreciate the storage,” Young said. “We’re an older group of volunteers and it’d really be a hardship in this heat and humidity to move this stuff.”

The committee decided to give VORP 30 days to find a place to house its remaining files so the building may be put up for sale.

Lower Restrooms @ Community Complex

Donnie Moody from the Community Complex reported on the condition of the men’s room at the complex. He said the floor has settled, walls have cracked and the restrooms are unsafe, which will be problematic, considering fair time is approaching and there will be an influx of people coming through the complex grounds. Maintenance supervisor Adam Nail said they’re awaiting an estimate on getting the repairs made. The estimate is scheduled for July 29.

Moody said he is also addressing the issue of leaf cleanup along the fence at the farmers’ market.

Election Signage

As the August election approaches, the topic of political signage on the courthouse lawn cropped up again. With early voting due to start July 13, the board decided there wasn’t time to make a change before the impending election. The committee discussed the issue of free speech versus restriction of the people’s access to a public building by politicians’ vehicles (or their supporters’) being parked all day in front of the courthouse draped in political banners or with posters plastered across them. The committee decided it would take up the possibility of restricting the number of political posters allowed per candidate at a future meeting.

Railroad Property: The Issue That Wouldn’t Go Away

In the latest snag in the ongoing unresolved railroad-property issue, Cumberland County has been informed the railroad does not wish to sell the property on which part of the Art Circle Public Library sits. One recommendation was that the county condemn the property and take control of it through eminent domain. County attorney Randal Boston said it was safe to say “the railroad is not coming back through here ever again.” Further discussion will be undertaken at an executive-committee session prior to the July building and grounds committee meeting.

Archives Building

The committee discussed adoption of a possible user fee for the Archives facility, to help defray costs of upgrades and maintenance. Besides ongoing mold, masonry and drainage issues with the building, the facility needs improved storage capabilities.

County Archivist Joyce Rorabaugh presented a proposal regarding T.C.A. 10-7-408, which would allow for a $5 fee to be assessed on county records for duplicating, storage and upkeep of records required by law to be permanently maintained. She said among counties who implement a user fee, $5 is the recommended rate.

Stone praised Rorabaugh’s efforts and said the county needs to step up to take care of the Archives building. “She has restored our records, they are in great shape. We need to have a fireproof vault for our records,” Stone said. “It’s a beautiful building [and we] need a plan for restoring it.”

And the recent rains haven’t helped matters at the Archives building. “I’ve got three lakes in the basement now, instead of one,” Rorabaugh said.

Stone moved that the building and grounds committee recommend the budget committee appropriate funds to address the existing exterior issues and to consider T.C.A. 10-7-408. The motion narrowly passed, with commissioners Sonya Rimmer, David Gibson and Woody Geisler opposed.

Rimmer said she didn’t want to pass anything without first having adequate information on what its potential financial implications could be.

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