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Property Committee Meeting Minutes – March 16, 2023 (Approved)

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16 MARCH 2023


The Chair Commissioner Tracy Wilburn opened the meeting asking Commissioner Matt Rubelsky to offer a prayer and lead the pledge.  The Minutes of 16 February 2023 were moved for approval by Commissioner Gayle Jones, seconded by Commissioner Joyce Woodard, and were approved unanimously.


Second Agenda Item – Review of property leases (moved within the agenda to discuss first) The use of the county’s Campbellsville spring property was discussed due to the current contract for cutting hay expiring in April.  Commissioner David Adams said several citizens had contacted him asking about the property’s use.  The current contract was for four years at $750 a year, and used only a portion of the approximate 20 acres.  Commissioner Adams said one of the individuals asking has horses and would like to clear the upper part for pasture and fence that area.  The advertising timing of a bid request was made, with the County Executive (CE) Graham Stowe noting the law doesn’t specify, only that there be a public notice.  Commissioner Adams noted they would have to have insurance coverage, with Commissioner Roger Reedy commenting most farmers would have liability insurance.  Commissioner Evan Baddour questioned on what is a reasonable price per acre, with Commissioner Reedy noting depends on property.  A motion by Commissioner Gayle Jones, seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins, to put out for bid was made and was approved unanimously.  An additional question by Commissioner Adams on the Agri-Park and the property in the Frankewing area being used for hay was answered with the CE saying he would ask the Financial Manager to provide an updated listing of all county properties to then be available at the next meeting.


First Agenda Item – Ambulance site selection update.  The Chair asked the CE to provide that update, who said his intention at the last meeting was not to drive toward a decision thinking only of the three options mentioned, there being several other options.  He mentioned those additional options and that they had been vetted with both Bill Myers, Director Emergency Management Services, and Roy Griggs, EMS Director.  Those options are:  Land adjacent to the OEM building on Hgwy 31, but in discussions with the owner, that land is not for sale; 39.2 acres in Dollar Hollow, but exiting that property  is problematic and is residential; 14 acres on Columbia Highway not available; West College where GiveMeFive is located with a $4.9M cost;  54 acres adjacent to airport at $550K which has challenges in crossing the bypass, no sewer and on solid rock; 1.08 acres at $1.3M where the Brooks Auto Repair building is located but the building itself would not work; establishing a “duty ambulance” within the city and placing the main ambulance service further outside the town, but not considered a good long-term option.  These were some of the options considered, and the CE said they would be using a soil scientist on the 22nd to look at the airport property, but there is significant rock in that area.  Commissioner Gayle Jones mentioned the Agri-Park for the main ambulance service, that being a good location given there is sewer already, having three other locations for smaller stations providing good overall coverage and the recycling portion could be moved to the airport.  Commissioner Mathew Hopkins questioned if there would be enough personnel to do that given the staffing shortage challenge.  Commissioner Gayle Jones said she had asked the Sheriff about his staffing and with that coming back up to normal, then perhaps the ambulance staffing would be also.  Commissioner James Lathrop mentioned the property behind Hardy’s and Dr. Fite spoke on that as well, calling it a great location being near the hospital, nursing homes, given they are the source of most of their calls and with city access.  They both endorsed the property and suggested that it be considered.  Commissioner Reedy asked if that would be the entire complex, including the parking lot, and Dr. Fite said yes although Hardy’s owns their spot.  Dr. Fite noted that the strip of stores in that location aren’t bringing in a lot of income and Commissioner Shelly Goolsby said there would be 9.6 acres currently showing appraisal of $1.07M.  Commissioner Erin Curry noted Hardy’s and the old bank building are not included in those numbers.    The discussion continued with remarks about location so important and if not right location, not a good investment; use of existing county buildings and/or resale; and assessment of properties, resulting in the CE noting a “good brainstorming session”, and that he would call on some of the proposed sites, but can’t be in a real-estate search for three years, so will need to pick one.  The Chair thanked all for their input, and moved on to the next agenda item.


Third Agenda Item – Courthouse and Grounds Use Policy.  The Chair asked the CE to provide the discussion information.  The CE said since September he had been asked about the availability of the courthouse and the grounds for weddings, photography availability, and other events, and found we had no policy guidance.  He had asked the county attorney Chris Williams to look at what other counties are doing, develop a draft which he then took to the Sheriff for input, as law enforcement would be responsible for  to enforce the policy.  He also called another attorney who had defended counties with issues on use.  He further referenced an email from Pulaski City Alderman Ricky Keith on the potential for infringement during approved city events.  While the county attorney stated the courthouse is county owned and the county maintains jurisdiction of its property, the CE said he believes the communication between the city of Pulaski and the county can be improved.  One of the factors that cross over both entities is the law enforcement and security, with good communication being of paramount importance.  The CE said he wanted a policy in place to assist in making those type decisions but given how the proposal was being politicized by developing events, suggested moving the decision to July.  A member of the public, Tyler “Happy” Hamlin representing the Giles County Inclusive Coalition, asked the CE how has the determination been made on any requests recently.  He understood others had been granted but they were told they could not reserve because there was no policy in place.  His Coalition is hosting the upcoming Pride Parade approved by the city of Pulaski.  Happy listed three points those being told no policy in place they couldn’t use the gazebo (and that he had an email supposedly showing that was the reason for the refusal), and on the description of special events was that “have to meet all three or is it [or]” with the CE stating it is “and/or.”  Happy further said it reads like a lot of legalize and stops us from using our courthouse.  Happy further stated the proposed guidelines give the CE the right to veto any request and that all decisions are final.  Commissioner Evan Baddour noted that would mean “no appeal” and with lots of attention on this right now, that is concerning.  Happy said he knows who rented the gazebo on the same day, and he is concerned about the potential for conflict.  Commissioner Joseph said this seems to be a legal issue and would encourage Happy, county attorney and CE meet, and now to move on from the discussion.   Commissioner Roger Reedy commented that for events, don’t know if you can separate grounds from those events, e.g. using power and/or rest rooms.  He mentioned the KKK event who had a permit to march, and the Outlook that needed the courthouse to power their tent.  All of which required so much coordination between the city and county.  And he cautioned we needed to avoid a situation of conflict.  The CE said all policy proposals were being routed through a lot of entities, mentioning the city mayor and city/county attorneys, and that was being done to avoid conflicting policies.  Commissioner Woodard mentioned that while she represented Pulaski Tourism, they charged $5 more for electricity, and had a set of rules for cleaning up.  Commissioner Erin Curry mentioned that the electricity usage is probably not a lot, but that the courthouse is vulnerable, and in talking to the Chamber of Commerce for the Chili Cookoff, were told to bring own burners.  The CE mentioned caution in gauge of extension cords connecting to courthouse electrical outlets.  In addition, the “big green box” lots of outlets there (so no need for entry into courthouse.)  And there are also several attached to the building.  Attorney Lucy Henson asked if PES might have generators for rent, or from another place, if don’t want to use courthouse.  Commissioner Terry Jones mentioned that at events of which he is familiar that having permits from the city, never allowed use of county electricity.  The Chair noting all the discussion, said this needs to be written down (in a policy).  Another suggestion from Commissioner Shelly Goolsby was to place an outside meter.  Commissioner Woodard said in the past she used placement next to the courthouse for those needing outside outlets; others used generators.  A commissioner said we don’t own the courthouse – (implying the public does) so he would like to see the bathrooms left open.  The CE mentioned the security issue, e.g. the Assessor’s office being located near the public restrooms, so someone would have to be there at each event.  And he mentioned the Chamber of Commerce has bathrooms.  Both Happy and Katie Whitfield (who chairs the Touch a Truck event) said generators are too costly a burden for small organizations with limited funding, so she (Katie) wouldn’t be able to have that event.  Commissioner Judy Pruett talked of how difficult it is to separate city and county ownership and that all enjoy the festivals for our community.  She sees this as very important for the CE and Pulaski Mayor JJ Brindley to work together, including the Gazebo in the discussion/rules; CE acknowledged and agreed.  Commissioner Evan Baddour said we can’t call it an island; that he commended the CE for improved communication but need to pump the brakes so no voting on Monday.  The CE agreed – said we’d gone for decades without a policy, it won’t hurt to push the decision out to July.  General concerns per the CE have the county attorney answer our questions, and questioned “better to not having a policy”.  The upcoming parade, per Happy is putting our law enforcement in difficult situation.  Commissioner Baddour pointed out that each individual can be liable in discrimination challenges.  A motion by Commissioner Shelly Goolsby seconded by Commissioner Evan Baddour to strike this as an agenda item for next full commission meeting and continue work to revise and improve draft policy.  Motion approved.


Other Business.  A handout from Matt Rubelsky to rescind COVID-19 protocols was provided.  He stated he had talked with Tony Risner about removing some of those protocols and he was in favor of doing so.  Discussion ensued on did that leave the option of leaving them (signage, partitions and barriers) in place if desired.  A motion by Commissioner Joyce Woodard and seconded by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins was made to approve the resolution.  This motion was approved after more discussion on does that imply the option to leave in place if desired and the general consensus was that it did.


Bill Myers was asked for an update on discussions from the 911 Board, i.e. in purchasing land together with the county (for more centralized county functions, e.g., ambulance service).  He said the 911 Board of Directors (BoD) had said yes to enter into such a discussion and to also ask the county to use the OEM building for the 911 Center location, temporarily at this time (add to building in back.)  This requirement being based on the upcoming equipment purchasing and no desire to put into current building.  That equipment would then be put into the future building.  Questions on selling the current 911 building, combining with the OEM (not enough room to do both) were asked.  The Fafnir property was mentioned since the county had considered buying and did not.  However, there is still considerable acreage not being used by the current owner, and might be a possibility for county service building.  However, Commissioner Terry Jones said he had discussed with the current owner and that person doesn’t want to sell since he has future plans for the property.  Bill Myers said he would take back to the 911 BoD, seeking range of prices.  A motion by Commissioner Evan Baddour and seconded by Commissioner Shelly Goolsby as a notional approval to move forward, and to appraise the EMA building.  Questions about the use of grants to purchase the OEM building and could the county then sell, with Bill Myers saying no ties to the grant.  A question also from Dr. Fite on legal to use the 911 funds with Bill Myers discussing interlocal agreements and how other counties have used similar approaches.  A question on who does appraisals now was asked, with Commissioner Evan Baddour saying he would like to use local capability.


Motion to adjourn was made by Commissioner Mathew Hopkins and seconded by Commissioner Shelly Goolsby and was approved unanimously.


Attendees:  Members of the Committee – Commissioners Chair Tracy Wilburn, Annelle Guthrie, Gayle Jones, Joyce Woodard, Mathew Hopkins, Evan Baddour, Shelly Goolsby  Other Commissioners – Roger Reedy, Joseph Sutton, Brad Butler, Matt Rubelsky, Dr. James Lathrop, David Adams, Terry Jones, Erin Curry,  Judy Pruett, David Wamble  Other County Executive Graham Stowe, County Medical Examiner Dr. Joe Fite, Bill Myers Director Emergency Management Services,  Happy Tyler, Attorney Lucy Henson and other members of the public