Tag Archives: Roane County Schools

Chamber Honors Record 145 Graduating Tennessee Scholars

{Allen Lutz, Education and Workforce Development Specialist}

At the Annual Tennessee Scholars Graduation Ceremony, the Roane County Chamber of Commerce and Roane County Schools, recognized 145 graduating seniors, 31.2% of the 2019 Roane County Graduating Class, as Tennessee Scholars at a breakfast awards ceremony on April 11.

Tennessee Scholars is a Chamber-led program conducted in partnership with Roane County Schools. The goal of Tennessee Scholars is to increase the number of students graduating from high school with a rigorous academic course of study, which includes advanced math and science classes, that prepares them for higher education and the workforce.

To be a Tennessee Scholar, students must complete a rigorous course of study, maintain an overall “C” average, have 95% or higher attendance, pass end-of-course tests, have no out-of-school suspensions, and complete a minimum of eighty hours of community service during their four years of high school.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for the Class of 2019.  A record of 145 graduates and the highest percentage of seniors graduating as Tennessee Scholar Graduates,” said Pam May, President/CEO of the Roane Alliance, as she welcomed the students to the ceremony.

At the ceremony, the seniors received a Tennessee Scholars certificate and a medallion to wear at their high school graduation ceremonies. Their high school diploma and transcript will bear the Tennessee Scholar Seal letting potential employers know the graduate has worked hard and maintained the standards of a Tennessee Scholar.

Roane Alliance 2018 Annual Report

{Pam May – Interim President & CEO, The Roane Alliance}

Much of the work the Alliance does is behind the scenes or promoted outside the county, making it a challenge for residents to really know what the Alliance does or who we are. Each year the Alliance publishes an annual report, providing a snapshot of the prior year’s projects and accomplishments. In addition, this year’s report also provides details about the Alliance and its staff and how the team works to increase economic prosperity for Roane County and its residents.

The report is now available online at RoaneAlliance.org/report or for a copy call 865.376.2093

Here are just a few of the highlights from the report:

  • Roane County had the lowest unemployment since 2004, and within 0.1% of the national average;
  • There were 383 jobs grown in our industries, providing one of the largest net job growths in over a decade;
  • 143 Roane County graduates became Tennessee Scholars – a new record;
  • Every middle school teacher in Roane visited five participating industries through the Educators in the Workplace program, and not only a first for Roane but also for the state
  • Roane was awarded the Seal of Approval from the American Association of Retirement Communities (AARC);
  • Visitors spent $69.82M in Roane County, an increase of $2.33M over the previous year;
  • Chamber event attendance increased by 59%, with more than 1,500 Chamber members and customers coming out in support of other members;
  • Expansion and remodel of the K-25 Overlook – to be open very soon;
  • Watts Bar Lake was featured on Fox 43’s Knoxville Weekend and in a full-page editorial in Travel South Magazine;
  • Bradbury Community Club and the John Muir Fest were featured in Ohio Magazine; while
  • 1,474 social media posts promoted events and attractions throughout the year.

Roane County High School Band is Heading to Nashville

{Zackery Williamson, Roane County Schools}

The Roane County High School Wind Ensemble (Band) has been invited to perform at the 2019 Tennessee Music Education Association State Conference, to be held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville April 10-13, 2019. The band has also been asked to be the performing ensemble at the 2019 Tennessee Bandmaster’s Hall of Fame Concert. The band’s performance will be held in the Tennessee Ballroom CD on Thursday, April 11th at 9:00 p.m. With this performance coming up the band has had a special guest visiting their rehearsals. Colonel Thomas Rotondi retired Commander of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” in Washington, D.C.; Colonel John Bourgeois retired Commander of the “President’s Own” United States Marine Band; Dr. John Culvahouse retired Band Director Univ. of Georgia and Kennesaw State Univ.; Roy Holder retired Band Director Lake Braddock High School, Virginia; Joseph Hermann current President of the American Bandmasters Association and retired Director of Bands Tennessee Tech Univ., just to name a few. People are welcome to come and visit a rehearsal at Roane County High School as we prepare for this performance.

Path Forward for Education

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

As most everyone knows, the Roane County Commission in mid- February voted against funding the current school improvement plan. The vote for was two (2) for, eleven (11) against, with two passing. Now the question is, are we back to the drawing board? The Roane County School Board and the Commission met in a work session the end of February to discuss the issues of why there is limited support. My observation from the meeting focused on a few broad issues of why there is limited support:

1) Optimal Location
2) 
Importance of Community Schools
3) Increase Taxes
4) New Commissioners who have limited knowledge of the proposal plan

So where are we going? My office informed the school board of what we would propose as a path forward for the 2020 budget. First, a three (3) cent property tax is required for the Oliver Springs/ Midway project which has already been approved. I will propose to the Budget Committee an additional seven (7) cents in order to accumulate funds for debt service in order to help cash flow interest and principal payments. Since the school board is anticipating a successful financial year, I would recommend the school board transfer funds to their capital project fund to pay for some initial expenditures.

If approved, the County Commission shows a good faith effort to improve education. The school board shows support by putting their own investment into the capital project. We recognize that the ten (10) cent total is not enough and we would give options to the commissioners to increase their investment if they feel they have the support. Remember, the 2019 Budget gave the commissioners the opportunity to adjust the taxes if they supported the education improvement plan and no none made a motion to increase the funding.  This year a step in the right direction is being proposed by the Roane County’s Executive Office.

The math problem is simple. Currently, the 74 million dollar project has an estimated annual payment of 4.5 million dollars which requires approximately thirty-six (36) cents of property tax. The county has no current funds available to apply to the annual payment. A ten cent tax starts the accumulation of 1.3 million dollars of funds. In two years, approximately 2 million dollars of old debt will be paid off, and the current tax rate could be applied to the annual payment. The ten (10) cents plus the debt that pays off (sixteen (16) cents) is not enough for the present project, but the combined funds is a step in the right direction. Also, going forward we anticipate the successful rebuild of Oliver Springs High School. The small steps of success should help meet the educational needs of our students. We will wait and see what is approved for the 2020 budget.

What’s up for the New Calendar Year? – Jan 2019

What’s Up for the 2019 new calendar year (Jan-Dec)? We are halfway through our 2019 budget year (07/01/2018- 06/30/19). The six-month offset between our calendar year and our budget year allows us to evaluate the county and understand what is needed to keep Roane County on the right trajectory. For the next several months our Accounting Department with the County Executive’s Office will be working with our departments putting together our capital plans and capital budgets. We are now working out our 20-year capital plans.

The Capital Plan proceeds accordingly: During the first of the calendar year, we began focusing on our capital plans: 1) To understand what assets need to be purchased, maintained or replaced according to local, state, and federal legislation and objectives. 2) Next, we incorporate the capital need with our county operational budgets which are implemented on the first of July. 3) Finally, the Capital and Operations Budgets are adopted.

Here are a few of the capital issues under consideration. You can learn more about them in previous newsletters or read about them in upcoming issues here:

  • Schools (replacement or consolidation of physical assets)
  • Jail Expansion (property is purchased and preliminary designs are being reviewed)
  • Poplar Creek Rd (funding is approved and plans are being designed)
  • Recreation Programs (currently working with a 17-year-old master plan)
  • Caney Creek Bridge Replacement (TDOT project with local impact)

Additional Plans in Development:

  • Riley Creek Campground future plans and operations
  • Courthouse/Jail Parking
  • Ambulance Service Expansion into service area of Rockwood
  • Enhancement of County Fire Services (study underway)
  • Industrial Certified Site Development (reviewing inventory)

Through the planning process, we have identified a few matters which will impact our path forward:

  • Kingston TVA Ash Spill
  • Involvement with the DOEs plans of reindustrialization, future federal missions, community, business, industrial impact on Watts Bar Reservoir
  • Roane Academy, now known as the Youth Opportunity Center for Success and Independence or Youth Opportunity found in the Roane County Industrial Park
  • Asian carp and aquatic weeds
  • Accounting issue with Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) – See “Impacts of Accounting Regulation” 
  • US Census (Roane County must start initial work in February 2019)
  • More to come…

So buckle-up, Roane County ’s, $100,000,000 budget works begin now.

November Was Another Busy Month for County Government – Dec 2018

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

The first week of the month had many County Commissioners at the Roane Alliance Gala. The Roane Alliance is the county’s economic development organization. This year’s Gala was once again well attended and supported by our local business and city governments. The Alliance was established in 2001 and has been led by four CEOs over the years. The Alliance is once again in search of a new leader as Wade Creswell has taken a position at Oak Ridge National Lab. Best wishes to Wade and thank you for your public service. The second week the commissioners honored a group of eight new Roane County Treasures. Roane County Treasures is a program started in 2007 that honors men and women who lived and contributed to the betterment of Roane County. A list of Treasures can be found on a plaque on the first floor of the Courthouse.

In the third week, County Commissioner Charlotte Bowers and Executive Ron Woody joined Oak Ridge Representatives at an intergovernmental meeting. They met with the Department of Energy (Oak Ridge Office and Washington DC Office), Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and State Legislators to discuss the environmental clean up of the Oak Ridge Reservation and the challenges of cleaning the legacy DOE site.

The commission met the fourth week of November to approve a significant resolution that starts capital improvements for our county schools. For the first time in eight years, the county approved issuing debt. The debt may only be issued for large projects, and school building project qualifies as a large project wherein 7.1 Million in bonds were approved. We anticipate construction will start on the Oliver Springs Middle School conversion to a Middle and High School will begin in late Spring early Summer. This project is estimated over 5 million and another one million was approved for a new sewer plant to service the Midway elementary, middle and high schools. Part of the bond’s proceeds will be shared with the Oak Ridge School system for their county projects.

The County Commission further discussed possible legislation regarding the TVA ash spill at the County Commission meeting. More to come on these issues as a special meeting will be held on December 4th. The commissioner’s plates are full with the TVA Kingston ash spill issues, potential jail construction, and further capital education improvements. Stay tuned.

Roane County Legislative Body is Changing – Sept 2018

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

Roane County Legislative Body is Changing: Seven new commissioners will join eight incumbent commissioners to lead our county for the next four years and beyond. We are also welcoming a new Trustee, and County Clerk. A profile of the incoming commissioners and new officials will be in the October Roane County Newsletter. Upon initial review, the freshmen commissioners lower the average age of the Commission. We anticipate a fresh perspective and vision for our community. Our new Commissioners have recently attended County Officials Orientation Program through the University of Tennessee to help their understanding of government functions and operations. A county orientation will be presented to our new and existing Commissioners. The public is invited to the orientation on September 6th at 6pm. The presentation will be available on RoaneCountyTN.gov under the County Executive’s Summaries under the Executive Summary 61. The orientation will address the function of government, responsibilities, and the authority of the legislative body, challenges, and opportunities for the future.

Roane County Planning Commission Looks at a New High School site location: County Executive Ron Woody formally requested the Roane County Planning Commission to use all available planning tools such as census data, traffic patterns, growth patterns, utility availability, and any other pertinent tools for planning in order to ensure the most optimal location for a potential Roane County investment. (County Executive Letter to the Planning Commission 7.31.18)

Roane County P&R Citizens Advisory Board – Feb 2019

Our Parks and Recreation (P&R) services are not mandated statutorily but by tradition. Since 1961, the TVA RLR-35188 and other resolutions have directed the path for Roane County P&R. As we approach sixty years of P&R services, the County Commission created the Roane County Parks and Recreation Citizens Advisory Board (RCPRCAB) to bring a citizen’s perspective on the development of various Roane County P&R policies, priorities, and objectives.

This RCPRCAB is designed to ensure a diverse development of health and recreation offerings for our citizens. Its formation brings the experience and knowledge of six P&R Directors, three private citizens, six student representatives, and two county commissioners to the drawing board. The RCPRCAB convened for the first time on January 24th, fulfilling a Tennessee Local Parks and Recreation Grant (LPRF) requirement for public input and communication. The newly formed board recommends the development of a new master plan.

Mike Beard, the Roane County P&R Director, is enthusiastic about the recent appointment of the RCPRCAB, “Roane County’s potential is as abundant as its beauty. It is vital to seek wise counsel, to effectively wield its charm.” He believes, “Each P&R director’s unique perspective and knowledge will lead us to a more cohesive and complementary master plan.” Furthermore, “The high school students are given the opportunity to partner with community leaders and older generations to learn how to be a positive and effective force in the community. In return, their elders and community leaders are given a chance to be invigorated by the unbridled creativity and enthusiasm of youth.” To learn more see Executive Summary 17h.

A Path Forward Make Roane County Better – July 2018

We are finishing the 2019 Budget with hopefully an adoption by Commission on July 9th. A new Commission will be elected on August 2, 2018, which will consist of at least five (5) new commissioners. We welcome two (2) new commissioners who are running unopposed: Shannon Hester will be replacing Carolyn Granger, and Ben Gann will be replacing Todd Fink. Not seeking re-election are Peggy Collier, Renee Kelley, and Chris Johnson. With a number of new commissioners, a new fiscal year and a number of initiatives the staff has been working on are some of the items we are going to be addressing. We hope to have an orientation and planning session in mid-September for the newly seated Commission.

Briefly here is a list of items we are working on:

  • Jail Phase II
  • School Improvement Plan
  • Old Caney Creek Campground
  • Riley Creek Campground
  • Ambulance Stations

Operational Issues/Concerns/Consideration of Policy:

  • Property and Liability Insurance-Market or Pools
  • Health Insurance State Plan or Market Plan
  • Workers Compensation – Self Insurance Performance
  • Opioid Crisis
  • Back Tax Property Management
  • Ambulance Department
  • Consolidation on Partnering of Municipal Services
  • Potential Impacts of School Consolidation
  • Management of Swan Pond Sports Complex
  • Asset Management (Back Tax Properties)
  • Solid Waste Collections and Disposals

We are pleased to have put into place a financial infrastructure that helps us have a long term planning process. The planning of making County government begins with a “Vision,” and twice a year internally we aspire to create or refine our previous visions. We encourage you to help us in the process. Give us a call or send us an email of what you think can make our communities better.

Understanding County Government – Feb 2018

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

As many of you know, I periodically will write articles for our local newspaper regarding County Government. I recently wrote an article, which after editing and rewriting, I decided not to send to the newspaper as most of the general public would not see interest in the subject matter. On the other hand, readers of our monthly newsletter may have some interest; we published the article “Trying to Understand,” on the county website under County Executive’s Published Articles and Speeches.
A portion of the article deals with engagement. My January newsletter article mentioned the Department of Energy activities. I will say the last month we have been consumed with the DOE. I am sure you will read in the Roane County News in the next several issues more about a serious issue we are dealing with concerning sales tax exemptions. Stay tuned. We must work to solve a legislative problem that is causing Roane County and our school system financial concerns.