By Heather Mullinix
The city of Crossville wants to make the community the top choice for a proposed veterans cemetery to serve veterans in the 14-county Upper Cumberland region. At a special-called meeting Jan. 2, the Crossville City Council directed its city manager to offer a portion of a 200-acre parcel off Peavine Rd. to the Tennessee Veterans Administration and add that the city's cemetery crews would offer grave opening and closing services.
"The cemetery will address the lack of cemeteries for our military in the Upper Cumberland area," explained Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III.
The property is about a 200-acre tract behind the Holiday Inn Express and former Bean Pot property.
Graham envisions the cemetery will help draw veterans from across the region to Crossville, and hopes to see further development at the site, including flags, a replica of the Vietnam Memorial or even a group home for veterans.
"We can certainly see what they envision before a final gift is made, but we have to be chosen first," Graham said.
Councilman Pete Souza cautioned Graham the state Veterans Administration likely wouldn't look for much involvement from the city after a decision on the location was made.
"They will do everything themselves," Souza said.
He disagreed with the need to provide sewer service to the site, saying a septic system would be adequate for the needs of the cemetery. He also noted the site would not be an "attraction," but was a memorial.
Graham made the motion to direct City Manager David Rutherford to offer a donation of the land and the contract for grave services. That motion was supported by Councilman Jesse Kerley. It was unanimously approved.
The council also approved the second reading of a budget amendment for engineering services for sections two and three of the Northwest Connector, including utility relocation and section two design work.
"We're plunging into an area where we're going to spend a lot of money at the same time we're deciding the downtown project. I have great concerns over that," Souza said.
Souza questioned bidding engineering services for the work, which totals upwards of $600,000. It was explained engineering services are a professional service and not subject to bidding rules, though the city does sometimes issue a request for qualifications. The engineer for the project is the same engineer involved with earlier phases of the road project.
It is being paid for with city funds, as the city has an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Transporation to pay for engineering and right-of-way acquisition and the state will pay for construction costs of the road that will, when complete, connect Genesis Rd. to Hwy. 127 and over to Hwy. 70 W in the area of the Cumberland County Playhouse. Section one is currently under construction from Hwy. 70 N. to Hwy. 70 W.
Souza said he was waiting on additional paperwork on the project and would have additional questions before the third and final reading of the budget amendment.
Graham moved to approve the amendment, supported by Councilman Danny Wyatt. The motion was approved with Graham, Wyatt and Councilman George Marlow voting in favor and Souza and Kerley voting against.
In other business, the city council approved sponsorship of the Crossville State Team Championship and Golf Capital High School Invitational golf tournaments.
Also approved were third and final readings on budget amendments for improvements to the Snodgrass Building and section one of the Northwest Connector; adding an ordinance regarding public records to the municipal code; and second reading of budget amendments for Airsoft training equipment, a tree clearing grant and Baisley land conservation settlement.