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County creates workhouse commission

The Claiborne Commission adopted a resolution last week to create a board of Workhouse Commissioners to oversee Tennessee governor Bill Lee’s new program to reduce recidivism rates of inmates in the state prisons and county jails.

According to Resolution 2019-080, the program will allow prisoners to access vocational training, education and employment while still incarcerated – much like the program created by Appalachian Promise director Sherri Hoskins.

The Workhouse Commission will be made up of four members and one ex officio, who will be the county mayor. The board will include two individuals who are directly related to the judicial system, one county commissioner and one community member.

Tennessee codes mandate that the initial terms be staggered. Two-year appointments will be instituted thereafter – on the first Monday in January.

The board will meet monthly and its members will receive no salary for their services.

The four individuals appointed to the Workhouse Commission are Matt McClung, Jackie Hurst-Rosenbalm, Nathan Epperson and Sam McCollough. McClung is an assistant D.A. and Rosenbalm is the circuit court clerk. Epperson is a county commissioner. McCollough will be seated as representative of the community.

An amendment to the resolution was adopted that allows an appeal process before the Claiborne Commission in the event that any changes to policy or procedure by Appalachian Promise (or any other 501(c)3 organization) is not agreed upon by the Workhouse Commission.

In other action, the commissioners adopted resolution 2019-078 allowing funds from a $5,000 grant to be moved into a line item designated as “deputies.” The money is earmarked to help elevate visibility in the enforcement of state traffic safety laws. The extra funds will be used to help pay officers’ overtime.

The commission adopted another resolution that effectively pulls some $12.35 million in revenue bonds and other obligations from The Health & Educational Facilities Board of Greeneville, apparently requested by the owner/owners of the Tazewell Village LLC.

A portion of these funds (approximately $2.2 million) are earmarked for use in financing the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation and equipping of the Tazewell Village Apartments – the 44 unit senior housing facility for low and moderate income individuals.

“This approval shall not in any manner obligate Claiborne County, Tenn. for the payment of any bonds, and the issuance of the bonds shall in no event affect the ability of Claiborne County, Tenn. to issue bonds or other obligations or affect in any manner the tax-exempt status thereof,” reads Resolution 2019-068, in part.

In another matter, the commission approved a $500 donation to the Claiborne High School Golf Team, who is expected to advance to the state level of competition. The money will be used for travel and green fees.