Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

July 15, 2013

BOE to negotiate sewer line ownership

By Heather Mullinix
Assistant editor

— The Cumberland County Board of Education wants out of the sewer business and is hoping the city of Crossville will take ownership of the sewer line serving South Cumberland and Brown Elementary schools.

The city provides sewer service to several schools that are located outside the city limits, including Homestead, South Cumberland, Brown and North Cumberland elementary schools. The school system bore the cost of installing those lines and, at least in the case of the Brown Elementary line, has retained ownership of the sewer line.

However, the board has offered the city ownership of the line several times since 2002.

Letters dated Sept. 7, 2005, and March 17, 2009, express the interest of the school board in turning the line over to the city and relieving the school system of responsibility for liability and maintenance of the line.

"As you may recall, the lines were constructed at no cost to the City, according to the specifications required by the City, and to the standards required for approval by the State Health Authorities," BOE attorney Earl Patton wrote in 2005. "The Cumberland County Board of Education does not have the time, money or man-power to educate our community's children and effectively participate in the sewer business."

Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III assured the board that any memorandum of understanding or transfer in ownership of the line serving Brown Elementary would include protection of the school's capacity for wastewater treatment.

Richard Janeway, 2nd District representative, said, "We've discussed this at least once a year as far as trying to get rid of the sewer lines."

He moved to approve the city work with Patton to negotiate an agreement. David Bowman, 7th District representative, supported the motion that was approved.

Gordon Davis, 5th District representative who previously served as a principal at South Cumberland, thanked Graham for the city's assistance.

"You guys really saved us," he said of the situation at the school prior to tying into the city's sewer system.

Sandy Brewer, 3rd District representative, questioned if the line along Dunbar Rd. would serve additional customers in the future, adding the firm that designed the line had told her it was not designed for grinder pumps.

Graham said, "I assure you the capacity will remain in full force and effect. Whatever happens to that line, you will still be able to have capacity."

Brewer, who is employed by South Cumberland Utility District, abstained from the vote.

Graham also told the board the city had left an unused six-inch water line in place along Hwy. 70 N. when the water line was replaced to serve Cumberland Cove. That water line would be available to the school system to use for sewer service should it build a school at the Baker's Crossroads property in the future.

In other action, the board approved an agreement to allow outgoing Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle to continue to assist legal counsel on three cases of ongoing litigation. The agreement allows VanWinkle to sit in on depositions of other witnesses and assist counsel by taking notes and gathering documents and witnesses. She left the position of director of schools June 30. The agreement calls for her to be compensated $1 per month, plus any travel expenses.

Janeway objected to the $1 per month payment, suggesting a rate of $100 per day in payment, plus expenses.

Bowman said attending court proceedings was part of the position of director of schools and that, should VanWinkle be needed in the cases, she could be subpoenaed. He added he had heard VanWinkle would continue to be an employee of the school system and would be compensated as other employees were compensated when needed to testify in court cases.

VanWinkle said she did have a recommendation for a teaching position at South Cumberland Elementary, but that position did not begin until August.

Patton explained the manner VanWinkle would be working under the agreement was not as a witness but as an assistant to counsel in the cases, primarily Ken Williams of Cookeville who has been retained by Tennessee Risk Management League in several cases of pending litigation. The cases are Stone verses the BOE, Kemmer versus the BOE and Hoskins versus the BOE.

Davis said, "In litigation, you need somebody there with an understanding of what went on."

VanWinkle added that, should the board choose to compensate her more than $1 a month, she would like that money to go toward school library supplies.

Josh Stone, 4th District representative, moved to approve the agreement, supported by Charles Tollett, 1st District representative. The motion passed with Stone, Tollett, Janeway, Davis and Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative, voting in favor. Voting against were Brewer, Bowman, 8th District Representative Jim Blalock and 6th District Representative Vivian Hutson.

The board also approved a request to compensate former Business Manager Cindy Randol for 10 days of unused personnel time.

Randol has been unable to use her accrued personal time before the end of the year due to her job duties and she will not remain in the position in the coming fiscal year.

School policy does allow for up to 10 days of personal leave to be compensated upon termination of employment.

Randol has a recommendation to work as bookkeeper for Brown Elementary in the coming school year, but that position will not begin until August and is not a 12-month position. Her employment as business manager ended June 30.

VanWinkle recommended the board compensate Randol $2,274 for the unused personal time.

"Tomorrow is her last pay day because she's central office staff," VanWinkle told the board at the June 27 meeting. "It's so busy in May and June she couldn't take her time."

She added this was a standard request for non-certified staff.

Schlafer moved to approve the request, supported by Davis. The motion was approved with Schlafer, Stone, Brewer, Janeway and Tollett in support and Blalock, Bowman and Hutson opposed.

The board also approved the Cumberland County Archives taking possession of the old school registers for preservation. This would not include individual student records.

Schlafer moved to approve the archives request, supported by Bowman. The motion was unanimously approved.