By Gary Nelson
The Cumberland County Commission unanimously approved a resolution to transfer the operation and management of the Gateway to the Big South Fork Visitor's Center to the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce once the facility is completed.
Brad Allamong, president and CEO and Ashley Allen DeRossett, senior vice president of the Chamber, attended the county's building and grounds committee meeting earlier this month and explained that in addition to one full-time employee from the county, the National Park Service would supply a part-time employee at 16 hours per week, or two days, allowing the center to be open seven days per week.
The resolution and four-page agreement specifies it will be for a five-year and six-month period and the Chamber will provide management of the facility, which includes all scheduling, staffing, vendor relationships and all other aspects of managing the facility under exclusive control. The costs of operating the center will be split between the city of Crossville and Cumberland County at an annual budgeted amount of $85,000.
Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. explained the Chamber requested the first six months of payment, $45,000 up front for purchase of equipment and opening costs.
"The remaining will be paid quarterly, but this is to help cover up-front and opening costs," Carey said.
The Chamber will furnish all information to the county and will supply an annual report to the county 30 days prior to the end of the fiscal year.
The agreement will automatically renew for five-year terms, unless either party provides written notice to the other party within 90 days prior to the termination.
At the county's building and grounds committee meeting, Allamong and DeRossett cited the Chamber's experience in successfully operating its office on Main St., which serves as a visitor center for the county, training experience for tourism staff and economic development backgrounds and working with volunteers, which would be vital to the new center.
Carey said he felt the Chamber was better positioned to run the facility and that it was the purpose of the Chamber's business.
Both the building and grounds committee and Carey recommended the Chamber be the group to run and operate the Gateway to the Big South Fork Visitor's Center.
The agreement and resolution 11-2013-12 was approved after a motion was made by Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner. Hyder's motion was supported by Sonya Rimmer, 8th District commissioner.
The county commission also approved a $600,000 housekeeping budget amendment resolution in order to transfer funds into the capital projects fund to facilitate the Gateway to the Big South Fork Visitor's Center project.
Resolution 11-2013-10 — transfer of the $600,000 to facilitate the BSF project was unanimously approved after a motion by Rimmer was supported by Dave Hassler, 3rd District commissioner.
The following budget amendment resolutions were also approved by the county commission:
• Resolution 11-2013-5 — $2,997 for the General Purpose School Fund for the school system's early childhood education program to receive funds from the state for the Pre-K program.
• Resolution 11-2013-6 — $25,120 for the General Purpose School Fund for the school system to receive a grant in order to purchase a portable computer lab for Cumberland County High School.
• Resolution 11-2013-7 — $1,540 for the Election Commission in order to receive a federal through state grant for data processing equipment. It is a 100 percent funded grant and no local match is required.
• Resolution 11-2013-8 — $7,250 for juvenile services to pay fees for a juvenile that was held in Putnam County at its juvenile center. The cost exceeded the budgeted amount and additional funds are included for the remainder of the year. Caroline Knight, 2nd District Commissioner, abstained from the vote.