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Finance Committee: county projects, opioid settlement

Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 8:00 am


During the November Finance Committee meeting, county architect Jeff Sweeney gave an update on major county projects.

The Community High School addition, a project that was contracted for $5,691,000, has been completed. As of the last week in November, the hallway, cosmetology and art room floors had to be redone but at no expense to the county.

But Cascade High’s floors have a different story. The county is currently in litigation about improperly stalls floors.

“Even though the project has been completed for over four years, Tennessee has a late defect rule that we gave proof of the issue in year one so we will be covered under that,” said Sweeney.

As for the Cascade Ag Center, construction is planned to start in mid-March.

The Ag Center at Community High will have plans completed by the end of February.

Sweeney said they are two weeks ahead of schedule for Cartwright Elementary with about $100,000 of the design contingency going back to the county. Some $20,000 in the design contingency will be left until the fire marshal makes his final inspection.

Schools superintendent Tammy Garrett added that they estimate about 250 students coming additionally to Cartwright from outside the county due to the subdivisions being built. Because of this, the State of Tennessee recognizes Bedford County as a “Fast Growth District,” which will provide the district with extra state funds.

“That just shows you what we have going on — great things,” said Garrett.

Cartwright is expected to open for school in August 2024.

Plans for the Liberty and Thomas School additions will be finished in December. According to Sweeney, these two projects are being combined to get better bidding.

Construction will begin in early spring.

New bathrooms at the Ag Center will cost an estimated $100,000 but Sweeney said they are working with the State of Tennessee’s grant to cover the cost.

For the Juvenile Center, they have also awarded the contract to Bell Construction.

“We have started our design drawings and our value engineering,” said Sweeney, who said he met with Judge Charles Rich, Commissioner Linda Yockey, Kelly Smith [Juvenile Detention Director], and Rick Bruining from Bell Construction to shave off a 1,000 square feet off the design drawing.

Hard drawings should be completed this spring with bids in July and start construction in early September of 2024.

“So we’re busy,” said Sweeney.

Opioid settlement committee

As the national Opioid Settlement heads to the Supreme Court of the United States, the state will be distributing money from the settlement to municipalities and counties across the state.

Following successful state sign-on and subdivision sign-on periods, the defendants (which include pharmaceutical companies like Walgreens and CVS) started releasing funds to a national administrator in April 2022. Money started flowing to state and local governments in the second quarter of 2022, according to information released by Attorney General and Reporter Jonathan Skrmetti.

Now it’s up to the county to determine how that money will be spent, which is the reason they will be creating a committee.

“The state says we need to have a designated committee that will monitor that or process the request,” said Graham. “Nonprofits have the opportunity to submit what they can do to make a difference in the community related under that umbrella.”

Graham added that there will be some funds that the county can use for their own discretion outside of the opioid settlement program, but there are restricted funds that have to meet program guidelines.

Graham submitted himself, Fredia Lusk (who will serve as chair), Mark Potts, Janice Brothers, Ysenia Garcia, Johnny Poff, and Dr. Michael Talbot to serve on the committee.

They will create a budget which will be presented to the County Commission for how the money should be spent.

“Then we will allocate those funds. They’re going to interview people and determine how this money needs to be spent,” said Daniel. “They’ll just look at requests and see where the greatest needs are.”

For more information about Tennessee’s Opioid Settlements, see