The Cumberland County Commission approved authorizing Mayor Allen Foster to sign a proposal with Tennessee Department of Transportation accepting a portion of the Hwy. 127 N. expansion project during last week’s meeting.

Acceptance of the project proposal by the county is a routine part of the TDOT highway improvement project process.

“… This proposal should be accepted as soon as possible in order to keep the project schedule from being delayed. If you have any questions or anticipate any delay in the acceptance of this proposal, please feel free to call me,” TDOT Regional Right of Way Manager Brad Scott wrote in a request letter to Foster.

The portion of the project proposal includes Hwy. 127 near Potato Farm Rd. north to Hollow Lane.

The portion is roughly 3.5 miles.

Foster told the county’s environmental committee that both county attorney Philip Burnett and Road Superintendent Scott Blaylock reviewed the proposal, which states states the county will maintain any sidewalks, road frontage, traffic signals and right-of-way. 

It also states once completed the county will not alter the completed project by cutting into curbs or pavement or adding crossovers.

The county has previously accepted other portions of the project.

TDOT is scheduled to award construction bids on the first phase of the project in mid-2019.

Once complete, 127 N. will be an improved, widened road from Interstate 40 in Crossville to Clarkrange in Fentress County. 

The first phase includes a five-lane road from Interstate 40 to Tabor Loop, where it will become a four-lane, divided highway to just north of Potato Farm Rd.

Other sections of the project include a new crossing for Clear Creek near Lowe Rd. in Cumberland County, 3.3 miles north to Little Rd. in Clarkrange, with construction letting scheduled for 2020; from Potato Farm Rd. to Hollow Lane, 3.5 miles, scheduled for construction letting in 2022; and the final segment from Hollow Lane to Lowe Rd., 3.1 miles, with construction letting set for 2023. The Potato Farm Rd. to Lowe Rd. sections are set to be improved two-lane sections. 

The county commission unanimously approved the request after Charles Seiber, 4th District commissioner, moved to accept the proposal. Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, supported the motion.

In other areas the county commission approved a resolution for a four-year lease agreement with the Cumberland County Fair Association to lease the Community Complex for the county fair. 

The contract was reviewed by members of the county’s fair board, Burnett and Donnie Moody, Community Complex manager.

According to the new agreement, the fair board will be charged a flat-rate $15,000 for the use of the facility. The board previously paid the utilities and a percentage of the gate fee for admission.

Moody said it’s a good contract for both parties.

Under the contract, the fair board will pay $15,000 per year for 27 days in 2019, 34 days in 2020 and 27 days in both 2021 and 2022.

The fair board must pay the fee by Sept. 30 of the year, or the county will have the authority to charge a $100-per-day late fee each day past that deadline.

The new contract extends the lease of the large 40-by-80-foot storage building to house its equipment on the grounds of the Community Complex during the dates of the fair.

Needed facility improvements that will cost more than $1,000 are to receive prior approval from the complex manager.

Other contract terms remain the same or similar as in the past, including no alcohol sales, no sub-leasing, liability insurance coverage, and approval of parking charges by the county commission. The lessee shall not deface or damage the property.

A weather clause in the proposed contract was dropped after the fair board requested its removal.

The contract was unanimously approved after Rebecca Stone, 3rd District commissioner moved for approval. Stone’s motion was supported by Wendell Wilson, 6th District commissioner.

The county commission also approved a resolution recommended by the environmental committee to name the bluebird the official bird of Cumberland County.

The request was originally made by Fairfield Glade resident and Tennessee Bluebird Society Vice President Don Hazel.

Earlier this year the city of Crossville named the bluebird the official bird of Crossville.

Hazel worked with Crossville City Manager Greg Wood and Cliff Wightman, director of Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and students at the school were making bluebird boxes.

“I think that naming the bluebird the official bird of the county is a positive thing that can only add to the great things we have going for us in Cumberland County,” Hazel said.

He said the Cumberland County Bird Club will monitor more than 220 bluebird nest boxes in the county. The boxes are at all five golf courses in Fairfield Glade, Bear Trace Golf Course and in Pleasant Hill.

He said Crossville had added 20 boxes in three of its parks last year and are adding 50 more at Meadow Park Lake, Roane State Community College, City cemetery and Cumberland County Community Complex.

Hazel said the Tennessee Bluebird Society monitors 850 bluebird nesting boxes in the state, and 256 of them are in Cumberland County.

He added 26% of the Tennessee Bluebird Society members live in Cumberland County.

The resolution was unanimously approved after Kyle Davis, 2nd District commissioner, moved for approval. Davis’ motion was supported by Deborah Holbrook, 8th District commissioner.

Commissioners Chad Norris, 1st District; and David Gibson, 4th District, did not attend the meeting.

Gary Nelson may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com

Crossville Chronicle senior staff writer