Friday, December 31, 2010

Audit Committee [?]

As the Budget Committee meeting I have discussed draws closer, one thing that continues to come to the forefront of my mind is the entire premise and agenda for this meeting.

It is what I have discussed before, the premise that the solution will have nothing to do with analyzing our budget expenditures. The solution will be a determination with whether we will re-structure our debt and/or raise our taxes.

By most principals involved, we are being told that we must do one of the two, or both. We are told there are no other options.

Yet, no one has explained to me, and I have not heard why we cannot even look into other options.

Well, coincidentally, I came across this post by TCCA Executive Director David Connor on commission a memorandum received on "Audit Committees" for local governments. This post is interesting in its entirety and I would encourage you to check it out. I have also pulled the Tennessee statute is referenced for my own review (if you would like a copy of the text, e-mail me).

I am very interested in this form/type of committee. Here's why: This seems to address the very concerns that I referenced in my opening paragraphs – fiscal responsibility. This issue was one I ran on and it is one I heard time and time again in my walks through District 10. Many of my fellow commissioners have expressed the same that they have heard from their own districts. An "Audit committee" could
conceivably address the very items brought to my attention during my door-knocking throughout District 10: fiscal responsibility - "transparency" and "accountability."

Here is what jumped out to me from the Tennessee statute:
(b) The governing body of the local government shall create the audit committee. The audit committee members shall be external to management and may be members of the governing body, citizens from within the boundaries of the local government, or a combination of both. Members of the audit committee shall be selected by the legislative body. The audit committee shall establish responsibilities and duties that are stated in a resolution approved by the legislative body. The responsibilities and duties, at a minimum, shall address financial and other reporting practices, internal control, compliance with laws and regulations, and ethics. The resolution creating the duties and responsibilities of the audit committee shall be submitted to the comptroller prior to approval by the legislative body. The comptroller shall review the proposed resolution and report back to the local government on whether the resolution follows recommended guidelines for an audit committee. The resolution adopted by the legislative body must conform to the report issued by the comptroller. (Tenn. Code Ann. § 9-3-405(b) (emphasis added)
And, there it is, I think that would be the most effective way to be "transparent" and "accountable," instead of the status quo of telling you the way it is, and the way it will be. This General Assembly encourages local leaders to defer and cooperate with "citizens from within the boundaries" by encouraging them to be a part of the process.

Instead of just going back to the same modes and means that got the County into this fiscal position, it is time to think of other modes and means. An "audit committee" may be part of the solution, and it may not be the solution. It is just a different an idea. I just know that the same old solutions applied to the same old problems is what I got the County in this position in the first place.

Maybe it is time to think of other options like this instead of running first to re-structure and tax increases.
It is what you, the "citizens from within the boundaries," do with your own family budgets.
It may be worth looking into this year, this new year, since it is a new idea. For as the memorandum goes on to state:
We believe well structured audit committees can improve the financial management and overall governance of governmental entities in Tennessee. Our office (County Audit) has encouraged the establishment of an audit committee in local governments for many years. However, very few local governments have an effective audit committee. We believe in today's environment of fewer resources and increased demand for transparency and accountability, it is time to focus on the audit committee as an effective tool to improve the operations of local governments.
Maybe this new idea is ripe for this County? If not this, then there should be others out there…

The Week of January 3, 2011

Here are some of the Committees and/or Events that I will be apart of this coming week.
Below, I attach the schedule for the Robertson County Commission.

(And, yes, I almost forgot to change the year from 2010, to 2011!)

January 3 - 7, 2011
Date & Committee/Board            Time                        Location
Monday – January 3
Nominating                                      4:00 P.M.                 County Mayor's Office
Building and Grounds                       5:00 P.M.                 County Office Building

Tuesday - January 4
911 Board                                       9:00 A.M.                911 Office

Wednesday - January 5
Foster Care Review Board              9:00 A.M.                General Sessions

Thursday - January 6
Animal Control                                6:00 P.M.                County Mayor's Office
Planning & Zoning                           7:00 P.M.                County Office Building

Friday - January 7

Meetings of Import: RCC Budget Committee Meeting

I received a Memo from our Finance Director, Jody Stewart about the upcoming RCC Budget Committee Meeting. This was the meeting that was discussed at the December Meeting I referenced here.
This should prove to be most informative, and as it is a crucial juncture for the County, I hope that each of you can find time to attend.
Here is the Memo:
Tom McAnulty will present the debt options for Robertson County during the Budget Committee meeting on January 13, 2011 at 6:00 PM in the Juvenile Court Room.
All Robertson County Commissioners are urged to attend this informative meeting.
Remember, our Financial Advisor is presenting the RCC options so far as debt re-structuring is concerned. This has nothing to do with any proposed audits, cuts or re-structuring of spending…as I have said before, this does not address our own spending, and immediately addresses whether, and to what extent we should re-structure our debt and/or raise taxes since we are deficit spending.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On My Mind II

This piece was one that I alluded in "On My Mind." A resident of RC and reader of FTB passed this piece along to me in follow-up to the RCC Regular Meeting last week.

This piece does a very good job of breaking down the national concern over municipal bonds.

Though, as I have said, RC is not in immediate crisis mode, we are deficit spending at this time. The RCC has been told by our own Financial Advisor that there "is no other way" but to raise taxes or re-structure debt.

I continue to discuss these matters for they are obviously concerns that the citizens of Robertson County have….I am hearing about them weekly, if not daily.

As well, what directly concerns us is the fallout if others do default….

On My Mind

From one source or another, I have come across several stories sharing this same message:

Check out this video.

It may just be that this has been on my mind as the RCC moves forward to January 13, 2011 in considering what direction we may be taking related to finances.

In this video, I am not so much focusing on politics or the governor for it is not a matter of casting blame on who got us where as much as it is fixing what is broken….

This story namely focuses on state government, but if you hang around until 11:30/12:00 mark of the video, there is a healthy discussion of what these issues mean for local governments since these governments, in turn, rely on the state governments for significant portions of their budget.

Robertson County does.

But, make no mistake, I do not want this story to sound as though Robertson County is is on the verge of economic collapse, and we are going to be in default in some way…..but, we must shift course from the analysis and decisions made in the past.

Though, Robertson County is deficit spending, and we have been told that there is no other option but to re-structure our debt, and/or raise our taxes…..

Friday, December 24, 2010

Montgomery County: Unemployment Figures

The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle takes a look at local employment/unemployment figures like we did a few days ago.

In taking a peek around to our neighbors, it looks like all our neighbors are backsliding so far as unemployment figures goes over the last couple of months.

Here is a breakdown of the surrounding counties that the article cites:
[Stewart County with 11.4 percent unemployment, up from 10 percent the previous month;
and 10 percent for the two neighboring Kentucky counties of Christian and Trigg — actually down 0.1 percentage point from the month before;
Houston County has 10.5 percent unemployment, up 0.4 from October;
Dickson County is at 9.9 percent, up 0.5;
Cheatham County's rate is 9.1, up 0.5;
Robertson County is at 8.5, also up 0.5.]

It would look as though that Clarksville's slide comes from a direct source or two, which has me somewhat curious regarding where our slide is coming from.

I know of no recent rounds of layoffs or cutbacks from any of our local, larger employers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Sense for the Census II

A story I came across in passing that speaks on the Census, and what it means for Tennessee. Just following up from this post.

Apparently, not much for our congressional delegation.

Mayor, and now: Chairman

Great to see Mayor Bradley recognized for leadership within and outside the County:
Nashville, Tenn.—Centerstone, a not-for-profit organization providing a wide range of mental health and addiction services, today announced Mayor Howard Bradley of Robertson County has been elected as the new chair of the organization's Advisory Board of Trustees.
Comprised of county mayors throughout Tennessee, the Advisory Board of Trustees advises Centerstone on local issues and concerns, offers recommendations and assists in solutions. Members collaborate on identifying new programs and initiatives relevant to their counties and work to enhance community support for behavioral health issues.
"Our Advisory Board of Trustees is critical in maintaining open and productive two-way communication between Centerstone and the communities we serve," said Bob Vero, Ed.D., CEO of Centerstone of Tennessee. "We are confident that Mayor Bradley, who has been one of our strongest advocates, will provide the insight and guidance necessary for us to better fulfill our mission and help Tennesseans with mental health and addiction disorders lead healthy, full and productive lives."
Mayor Bradley, an Advisory Board of Trustees member since 2002, will replace Mayor Bill Orange of Cheatham County, who has served as chair since 2006.

CONFIRMED: The Logo for the Highland Crest College Campus

To follow-up from "My Minutes" posted earlier today.

I heard Springfield Mayor Billy Paul Carneal in a conversation on "Page 2" this morning on WDBL confirm that the Board of Mayor and Alderman voted to confirm the same logo on Tuesday evening that the RCC voted to approve on Monday evening.

Bottom line: (as many of you have asked to see) Here is the new logo for the Highland Crest College Campus.

Again, many thanks to Tom Trapp of Bear Brook (Bear Brook's website can be found here) for the donated hours in collaborating, designing and meeting to produce this logo.

(On a personal note, I know Tom from our days in Leadership Robertson County, and he has a very interesting personal story of recently
hailing from Cedar Hill, Tennessee / A tremendous asset for our community and if you see Tom please thank him for his service)

My Minutes: Special Called Meeting of the RC School Board (RC Education Committee) 2010.12.20

The RC School Board's Special Called Meeting will prove to be the beginning of a discussion on several issues:

The bid was announced for the Alternative School project at the recently purchased Water Bonnet property. As well, an architect was chosen for the re-design and re-location of the Central Office.

The immediate bottom-line is that the GUARANTEED MAXIMUM PRICE for the Alternative School now stands at roughly $1,500,000.00. I know that many of you will immediately recall that this is a greater number than that which was bantered about just a couple of months ago when the Water Bonnet property purchase occurred.

Well, what coincides with this increase is the School Board's decision to escalate the timetable for the relocation of the Central Office to the Water Bonnet property.

I do not know exactly how long this has been discussed, but it does not come as such a surprise, because some of the thought with the federal grants received that made the Alternative School that much easier to digest may be used to assist getting the Water Bonnet property "ready" for consolidation of offices from around the County.

I think what will be a surprise to many of you is the timetable. This was the first the RC Education Committee had heard of this effort, as well.

As an Education Committee, we will have firm numbers before our January meeting that I hope to pass along.

My Minutes: Regular Robertson County Commission Meeting – 2010.12.20

My re-cap (and commentary) from the Regular Meeting from Monday, December 20, 2010.

"My" Agenda –
Earlier this past week I shared with you the agenda, our Commissioners Packet. Immediately below were the matters I had my eye on for the meeting.

I was particularly interested to see the direction the RCC would take with Mass Transit project / Relax-and-Ride Program. In discussions with Commissioners before the vote, it appeared that there would be some moderate, if not significant opposition to the vote based upon the sectarian nature that still permeates the mindsets of many leaders throughout the County.

I was enthused to see to the results for, and the approval of the logo for the Robertson County-Springfield Learning Center.

I was pleased with the direction taken on the issue of the proposed part-time Maintenance Department employee. Though, I was that much more pleased by the arguments and discussion had during the consideration of this resolution.

Senator Ferrell Haille –
Senator Ferrell Haille introduced himself to Robertson County, and the RCC. He was gracious for the opportunity to serve through March, and pledged his commitment to fulfill the same standard set by Senator Black. He will retain her office number in Nashville throughout his term, and will be happy to field inquiries from Robertson County.

Election(s) Funding –
On that note, the RCC took up a resolution for funding the special elections both for the primary as well as the general election for this very seat. Interestingly enough, the elections will cost Robertson County approximately $70,000.00. Though, the State of Tennessee will be reimbursing the County for ALL these expenditures since it is a special election.


Planning Commission –
Alright, if you perused the December Commission Packet, you may have even trudged through the resolutions proffered by the Planning Commission.
These resolutions passed.

The one I would like to center in on for discussion was the "small animal boarding resolution."
From what I have learned, it is my understanding that this was derivative of an issue that first arose a few years back over a project for an animal shelter. It is further my understanding that this was a very heated topic in its day, and this was confirmed by a fellow commissioner who pointed out that several of her constituents were present at the meeting in order to see firsthand the direction of the discussion, and the vote. Obviously, this was an issue of special interest.

With that said, the specifics of what we were considering had to do with an effort to prevent this from being a reality faced by citizens of the County should a neighbor decide to erect such a structure or if some third-party entity decide to relocate. What I mean by this is that the regulations would now thwart the ability of a property owner to move forward with such a project without first complying with the specifics set forth by this resolution. Owners of residential and agricultural zones are now limited in their ability to construct such "small animal boarding shelters" on their property. As it stood before Monday's meeting, owners virtually had unfettered ability to just that.
Now, this resolution would do much to thwart such an effort from occurring, and assures fellow property owners and neighbors any neighboring property owners that this would not be allowed.

Part-Time Employee in Maintenance Department -
The creation of this part-time position was sought in last year's budget. It was turned down by the previous Commission.

This position was requested shortly after the new Commission was sworn-in.

After being withdrawn last month, it was back on the agenda.

Monday, it was voted down.

I was pleased that it was voted down. And, I will quickly state that this should by no means be construed as disparaging anyone in the Maintenance Department, Joe Fort or any one person having to do with the Maintenance Department.

For me, it comes down to what means we have as a County, and adding employees is not how I would prefer to begin such a discussion. Commissioner Gregory articulated this point well in her argument (which I will paraphrase) in which she set out that hiring is not appropriate when the County cannot even adequately consider raises for County employees.

As we move into a crucial time for considering our finances, I am very encouraged that the Commission is considering matters in this way. Fiscal Responsibility was and is the most prevalent issue on the minds of the citizens of Robertson County. Going into the January 13, 2011 meeting in which we will consider the direction of our budget, this is the type of analysis that the citizens asked for back in August.

Logo –
If you had a chance to look through the December Commission packet, I am sure that you have come across the logo for the Highland Crest College

All voted YEA for the logo, and I personally like it.

Some folks that were in on the decision making process that narrowed the search down to a few for our consideration expressed that they had other logos that they preferred, but I have not heard a one say that they just do not flat out like it, they just prefer other designs.

Regardless, many, many thanks to Tom Trapp for the hours and scores of designs put forth for consideration.

Relax-and-Ride / Mass Transit –
I have probably discussed this to a greater extent over the past few weeks, so I want take up too much of your time regarding he merits.

My thoughts are fairly well-developed on this issue.

I will say that this, though, and it speaks on a higher level than just this project. In the discussions with other commissioners on this issue, it became a concern with me that this issue may end up falling on the wayside due to sectionalism of the County leadership. Meaning, that many of the Commissioners I spoke with were looking at it that "this project does not come through my district" or "why aren't the routes rolling through our area?" I am not going to be a half-full-glass on this, since the vote overwhelmingly came through for this project, but the mindset of sectionalism is still an ever-present concern.

Overall, I thought this was a very productive way to end the year. There were several other issues discussed, and if I have not covered those, and you have questions, concerns or comments on those then please let me know.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Sense for the Census

I came across this story today regarding the census results, and this story particularly skims through the analysis of the results. The story mainly discusses what this means across the country from state-to-state.

I have not seen many stories trickling out that discuss matters at the Tennessee level, much less on our County level.

But, as these numbers become a little more concrete, the RCC will begin its own analysis and consideration.
This was not an issue that was discussed by many folks as I knocked on doors throughout District 10. As memory serves, I do not even think the issue came up at any of the forums or events, either. Yet, it is one that will affect us all at a County level.

The census comes at a very opportune time for Robertson County in that it will give us that much more perspective on the allocation of our resources as we evaluate the needs that come from the growth we are experiencing now, and that which we expect to see in the years ahead.

TCCA Executive Director David Connor shares a link that I found useful, and you may as well.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I came across this article from the Hendersonville Star-News. It looks like our Sumner County neighbors are considering and implementing the same/similar type of project we are considering here in Robertson County on Monday night (at the RCC Regular Meeting of December 20, 2010).

I have discussed mass transit as relates to Robertson County here, here and here.

The Week of December 20, 2010

Here are the meetings, events and happenings for the second-to-the-last week of 2010.

As you will see below, this week will prove to be a busy week for the County.

Just in case you have not had the oppurtunity to see the agenda/Commission Packet for Monday's Regular Meeting, here is my post from earlier this week.

This notice has been posted for some time, but I thought I would pass along to the each of you:
The Robertson County Board of Education will hold a Special Called Meeting on Monday, December 20, 200 at 5:30p.m. The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss and possibly act on the Guaranteed Maximum Price for the construction/remodeling of a potion of the Water Bonnet building for the required Alternative School. And, to discuss and possibly act on the selection of an architect for the planning and design of a Central Office facility also located in the Water Bonnet property. The meeting will be held in the Board room of the Central Office located at 2121 Woodland St.

The RCC Education Committee will meet following this Special Called Meeting.


Date & Committee/Board Time Location

Monday - December 20
Special Meeting: School Board                                     5:30 P.M. Central Office

Nominating                                                                   6:30 P.M. Juvenile Courtroom

County Commission                                                      7:00 P.M. Juvenile Courtroom

Tuesday - December 21

911 Board                                                                    9:00 A.M. 911 Office

Health and Safety                                                         5:30 P.M. Finance Office

Wednesday - December 22

Safety                                                                          8:30 A.M. County Mayor's Office

Highway Commission                                                  10:00 A.M. Highway Offices

Thursday - December 23

HOLIDAY - Offices Closed

Friday - December 24

HOLIDAY - Offices Closed

Saturday, December 18, 2010

18th District State Senate Race

A few weeks ago, I posted an update "OUR New Senator." I thought I would follow-up on this with a post this week.

I have been slow (could be this season we are in!) in posting the announcement of Kerry Roberts, of Robertson County, who will be seeking Congressman Diane Black's old senate seat, the 18th District State Senate seat (encompassing Robertson and Sumner counties).

Since Kerry hails from Robertson County, I thought I would pass this story from the Robertson County Times along.
"I was approached by many after losing to Diane, asking if I'd run for her seat if she won the Congressional race," said Roberts. "My answer then was that I needed time to focus on my family and business before making that decision. After much thought and discussion, I'm now ready to say 'yes' to this opportunity and challenge."
With a background as a certified public accountant, business owner, and small farmer, Roberts says his strong fiscal and social conservatism are both needed commodities in today's blend of politics and economics.
See more of Kerry's thoughts here. Also, his website is here.

Without delving into the politics of this race, and/or the merits of one candidate over the next, my concerns will be who will best represent Robertson County.

I would love to see more from the candidates hailing from Sumner County.

Shopping Local: Why? / Next Year!

Marcus Washington, of NewsChannel5, covered Robertson County this past week with a story on the importance of shopping locally:

Succinctly, because it benefits the community in which YOU live.

It is almost a companion story to the piece Jim Bellis had in the Robertson County Times earlier this week.

Anecdotally, this piece asks local leaders and businesses what their thoughts are of the economic outlook for 2011. "Cautious optimism" seems to be the theme here in Robertson County.

As relates to both stories, it so good to see Robertson County in the news in positive ways.

On a side note, whenever I see Springfield's downtown/courthouse square on the news, it always goes to show me how fortunate we are to have such a proactive group of downtown merchants, businesses and professionals who have worked so hard to maintain and preserve such a vibrant and beautiful square. Time and again, when I see other communities on/in the news, we shine that much more.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tennessee Economic Outlook

David Connor, Executive Director of the Tennessee County Commissioner's Association, shares an update on the outlook for our state economy.

Succinct, but informative read.

Of course, this effects our budget....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December Commission Packet

I would like to pass along a link that you may want to bookmark for future reference.

Each month, the week before the RCC meeting, our Robertson County Clerk, Susan Atchley, has begun posting the meeting agenda on the Robertson County website.

Scroll down and look on the right sidebar for the "Commission Packet."

It is her effort to "go green," but from my perspective, it is a fantastic opportunity for everyone in Robertson County to see the agenda before the meeting.

Looking ahead, here is the agenda:

1.     Certain Changes to the Official Maintenance Road List and Map (Annexations
of Various Cities)
2.     Making Changes to the Official Maintenance Road List and Map
3.     Adopting the Official Maintenance Road List
4.     Amending Budget for Year Ending June 30, 2011(Maintenance Dept.)
5.     Changing Name of Industrial Development Board
6.     Highland Crest College Campus Logo
7.     Amending Budget for Year Ending June 30, 2011 (Misc.)
8.     Amending Budget for Year Ending June 30, 2011 (Schools)
9.     Amending Budget for Year Ending June 30, 2011 (Election)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Week of December 13, 2010

Here are some of the Committees and/or Events that I will be apart of this week. Below, I attach the schedule for the Robertson County Commission.

Relax and Ride -
On Monday, December 13, 2010 at 10am a "Relax and Ride" bus will be on display at 104 7th Avenue West (Springfield, Tennessee – right next to the current Alternative School) to generate interest and prpvide an example of the buses to be used in the program I have discussed in previous posts (here, here & here).

Alternative School Project -
On Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 2pm, the "Bid Opening" for the Alternative School project will happen at Bell & Associates Construction, L.P. at their offices in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Recall that this project is the one in which the "Water Bonnet Property"/Acme Boot Plant will be re-modeled and re-furbished. As described:
…[t]he project consists of the demolition and build-out of a new Alternative School located in an existing building at 800 Water Bonnet Blvd. The scope of work includes a complete interior build-out including drywall, interior finishes, flooring, mechanical/electrical, millwork, plumbing and fire protection.
Education Committee / School Board –
The RCC Education Committee meets on Monday, December 13, 2010 at 6pm, and the RC School Board will meet at 7pm.

RCC Schedule –
December 13 - 17, 2010
Date & Committee/Board Time Location
Monday - December 13
EMS 5:00 P.M. EMS Building
Education Committee 6:00 P.M. Central Office
School Board 7:00 P.M. Central Office
Tuesday - December 14
Joint Meeting:
Law Enforcement & 5:00 P.M. Sheriff's Office
Workhouse Board
Solid Waste 6:00 P.M. County Office Building
Wednesday - December 15
Thursday - December 16
Finance 1:30 P.M. Finance Office
Friday - December 17

My Minutes: Gorham-MacBane Public Library Board (2010.12.7)

I wanted to follow-up with you regarding the Library Board meeting I had informed you of earlier this week.
This meeting was called by the Chairperson Cindy Sneed as a follow-up from the request that the County Commission fund the project. I had discussed this in a previous post.

There had been several informal meetings amongst members of the Library Board and the Board's Capital Campaign Committee since the RCC considered the funding request several weeks ago. Yet, this was the first Library Board meeting since that time, and thus my first opportunity to sit down with them as a member of the Library Board.

The LB heard from David Brown, a representative of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones, Morris Architects, Inc. in order to hear what the "next step" would be for the design process of the Library Expansion Project.

Thus, this presentation being called with the purposes as to how the project is to move forward.

"Bid Ready" -
Succinctly, the next stage would be getting "bid ready" plans together which would allow for a better realization as to how much this project will cost. (Recall: the plans as proposed were not complete enough to determine a realistic figure and they were some 2-3 years old)

Part & Parcel -
Further, these plans will take the project part and parcel. Meaning that that the several areas of expansion will be separated into individual groups. What this will do will allow for certain part and parcels to be determined needed, wanted and the like. It will allow for the project to be assessed in whole or part. I thought that this was crucial because I did not want these poor economic times in which we live to dictate what we wanted to do when the economy picks up.

Mr. Brown said this phase would take approximately 2-3 months in order to put together these plans. It was generally understood that when these plans were put together that a presentation would be coordinated setting out the consultant's recommendations for these plans, a formal presentation of the plans as well as a joint-meeting of the City of Springfield and Robertson County.

My Minutes: Budget Committee (2010.12.9)

A brief, but important meeting this past Thursday, December 9, 2011. Though I am not on the Budget Committee, I consider this committee worth attending since it obviously trickles down in its influence.

Final Advisor's Proposal -

It appears that the citizens of Robertson County should mark their calendars for January 13, 2011. I pass this along because this will be the day in which the County's Financial Advisor will share with the RCC the plan addressing the budgeted shortfall, and what he proposes the RCC do in order to address the budgeted shortfall.

Details of this anticipated meeting were sparse, and lacking in details, but it appears that some of the principals involved are anticipating that this means the RCC should consider a property tax increase. Needless to say, I find this disconcerting.

(Candidly, I feel that the progression of the discussion is misplaced. Meaning: the progression started with discussion of a tax increase, a re-structuring of our current debt….and lastly, the potential for discussions of cutting costs and spending. My position is that such discussions should be inverted.) But, I digress…
Remember, I would encourage any and all to attend the meeting of January 13, 2011.

Federal Education Grant –
The RC School Board requested an amendment to their annual budget due to their receipt of a grant from the federal government.

The amount was $72,000.00. Details were somewhat sparse in that there was no one from the School Board there in attendance, and Jody Stewart conveyed the information along to the Budget Committee.

I will be curious to see some of the details on this item since it would appear that the School Board is not returning $72,000.00 and that this grant represents an additional $72,000.00 that they are receiving from the federal government.

Mass Transit –
The proposal I have previously discussed in a post (here & here) was on the table for discussion. It was approved.

Interestingly enough, apparently there was a credit/refund from the County's worker's compensation insurance premium that will allow this to be funded without additional expenditure from the budget.

UPDATE: Highland Crest College

Here is an update from my post last week on the Highland Crest College (Robertson County-Springfield Learning Center).
In the Robertson County Times, Margot Fosnes (Executive Director, Robertson County Chamber of Commerce) discusses some of the particulars from the visit, and what is in store in days, weeks and months ahead:
Volunteer State will take the lead role in operating the new learning center with an on-site director, faculty and staff. Vol State classes will include general education requirement courses that apply to most of the degree and program options at the College. Austin Peay will provide upper level courses in areas of study identified to have appeal in the community. A number of specific academic programs are under consideration for Highland Crest and course offerings will begin to take shape in the spring.
Two full-time administrative staff will be employed by Volunteer State, an on-site director and an administrative assistant. Volunteer State hopes to have both of these positions filled by late winter in order to have representatives in the community, spreading the word about the opportunities that will be available in the fall.
One more thing that Margot said that I will definitely echo:
For those who visited the construction site last week, the level of enthusiasm and excitement about the future of higher education in Robertson County was high.
Highland Crest College Campus is obviously going to be a source of pride for our community and a visible symbol of our community's investment in its future.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Meetings of Import: Library Board & Budget Committee

I received an e-mail just the other morning that the Library Board will be meeting on Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 5:00pm.

(Recall that I am a member of the Library Board as apart of my committee assignments with the RCC)
The agenda will include discussion on which way for the Board to proceed in seeking funding for the library expansion project. I will keep you posted as to the direction the Board is choosing to go.

The Budget Committee is also meeting this week, on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 4:30pm.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Robertson County-Springfield Learning Center “Walk-Thru / Construction Progress Update”

Yesterday, you may have seen my updates regarding the "Walk-Thru / Construction Update" at the Robertson County-Springfield Learning Center. If you did not have that opportunity, here are some of the photographs I was able to take yesterday afternoon. Also, I have posted these to my Facebook account.

Exterior construction will be imminently completed, and what that means is that workers will be able to concentrate on the interior. Obviously, this is particularly important since we have entered the winter months. This should keep the project on track with completion and readiness for Fall 2011.
I do not know if the pictures accurately portray, but what struck me is the magnitude of this project.
I drive by this structure each and every day on my way to and from work, and I have been steadily keeping track of the progress. From Batson Boulevard, it is impressive. I am sure many of you have observed the same, or have heard of the same. Yet, when you drive up to, and walk up to, the magnitude of the project is fully appreciated. We truly have something to be proud of here in Robertson County.

Animal Control

The Animal Control Committee.

This is definitely a committee assignment that is discussed the least amongst businesses, professionals and others within my peer groups in Robertson County. Yet, this committee has generated the most consistent discussion amongst constituents and has proven to be one of the more time-intensive committees I am apart of on the RCC. Make no mistake, I am not complaining, but I just find this interesting.

Hey, what other committee assignment would I get to discuss African Wildcats?

Not surprisingly, as you can imagine, we generally oversee Robertson County Animal Control. As with anything in government, it is not as simple as discussion and generating a budget. We were immediately immersed in some areas that I will be discussing in the coming weeks since we have been asked to tackle the task of sorting, sifting and formulating a plan of action based upon the safety of Animal Control employees while weighing enforcement of ordinances and laws in Robertson County.

Monthly Meeting -

At our Thursday, December 2, 2010, we were presented an interesting opportunity by Donna Wilkins and a collaborative effort by the Robertson County Players. Mrs. Wilkins is pursuing an effort with the PetSmart Charities "Rescue Waggin'" effort. From their website:
Our Rescue Waggin' program is comprised of three parts:
A pet transport program: We relocate dogs and puppies from areas of high homeless-pet overpopulation (where they face almost certain euthanasia) to shelters in areas where adoptable dogs are in demand. This program operates under professionally-developed industry standards for originating and receiving shelters, spay/neuter and animal health practices and humane transport.
Capacity-building grants: This funding helps expand local spay and neuter services for dogs and cats and improve shelter facilities, operations and adoptions for agencies that send dogs and puppies on the transport vehicles.
Funding and professional consultation: This support helps improve shelter facilities and operations for participating animal-welfare agencies.
Our Animal Control struggles with finding a balance between meeting the needs in the community versus the need to foster adoptions of the animals. Meaning, far too many of our animals are euthanized.

This effort will help! Essentially, the effort is to private raise funds, labor and resources from the community to build additional kennels for this project since the requirements set forth would require animals eligible for this program to be set apart while being tended, and made ready for transport. What a tremendous opportunity we have here for this program, and it is such a great effort when private and public efforts work in a collaborative way.

If you would like to help, or would like to know more of this effort, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Educating on Education

On Monday, November 29, 2010, the RC School Board, the RCC – Education Committee & the Robertson County Education Initiative (REdi – through the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce) met in a collaborative meeting to essentially introduce the various entities to one another by putting faces with names; and to generally have a discussion of topics that the three entities share in interest: Education in Robertson County.
On a brief side note, many of you may know, but if you do not already, "REdi" is an effort spawned from the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce – Education Committee. It is headed by Director Danny Atchley. Here is a brief description from their Facebook Page (
Created by the Education Committee of the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce to form a unique partnership between the business community and local schools to challenge, support and improve local public education.
The Robertson Education Initiative strives to initiate and sustain an ongoing dialogue between business people and educators about workforce needs and the resources required to meet those needs. REdI seeks to achieve broad-based community support and investment in public education at all levels.
Some of the projects that REdi is a part of, or has generated:
Renaissance Program
Robertson County Teachers Mini Grants
L.I.F.E. ( Local Industry for Education)
Tennessee Scholars Program and Dinner
Youth Leadership Program
Pep Rally on the Square
Education Awards(Teachers and Students)
Education Surveys: Parents, Teachers, and Industry
I thought that this meeting was a success, and I was frankly energized by the discussion had between the various entities. Many of the topics that were discussed - you could probably guess since folks generally know the challenges that Robertson County Schools face in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. What I found energizing is not the discussion of the concerns, but the frankness, and the willingness of those that were there to be part and parcel of the solutions to these concerns. I think someone even opined my sentiment precisely in stating that he had a concerns before the meeting that "this would be just another committee that meets to discuss" but after hearing the discussion that he will look forward to the next. I will, too. I find that too many times that generally all folks are willing to do is point out the concerns without taking that next, crucial step. And, I am not just speaking of folks in general as much as I am speaking of business and governmental leaders.
Here are some of topics of import that we discussed:
  • Robertson County Schools are in the process of hiring a Public Relations Employee;
  • The perceptions/reputation of Robertson County Schools outside of Robertson County;
  • Springfield schools as the flagship of Robertson County;
  • "We are losing" & "How do we stop losing" folks to Davidson Academy and other private schools;
  • Businesspersons & Professionals who send their children to private schools and the lack of willingness of businesses to support Robertson County Schools.
I will definitely look forward to the next of these meetings, and will be looking forward to hearing from the each of you and your concerns that should be addressed. District 10 is unique in this effort since we encompass both Springfield, and of course, Robertson County.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thus far, this year has proved to be a year that I shall give Thanksgiving. Yet, I almost hate characterizing it in such a way for each and every year I have to thank my God for how much I am blessed in life. I am truly humbled by what, and how much I have been given…with, each, I am thankful:
With my Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ, who saved a wretch like me. It is certainly well with my soul.
With my ladies – Jillian, Aubrey & Zella, to immediate family and beyond, I have everything to be thankful for and have been given much, much more than what I deserve.
With my friends, I am truly blessed by those that I can call, do consider and cherish as friends.
With my professional relationships, and the community in which I practice law, serve the County and choose to live and raise my family. I am blessed to work, practice, serve, socialize, worship and live in Robertson County, Tennessee and the United States of America.
It is with such, that I cannot articulate as well as our First President George Washington, who said in the First Thanksgiving Proclamation:
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Transportation Alliance of Middle Tennessee: Revisited & Discussed

The other day I shared with you a RC Commission topic for discussion at our last Monthly Meeting regarding the Transportation Alliance of Middle Tennessee.

Jim Bellis with The Robertson County Times has since published an article regarding the same topic. Recall that I opined that this is a topic that likely will be brought back to discussion before the RC Commission ("RCC") sometime in January. The topic will be whether to allocate funds for support of the effort.

Here are several items that stuck out in the article, and some of the key factors the RCC must consider in January:

#1 – The Need

"We've got at least 14,600 people commuting to Nashville every day from Robertson County," said Bradley. "We need to address transportation needs both current and future. Mass transit is part of the answer."
Though I do not know exactly where those numbers come from, they would not come as surprise to you, me or any of our neighbors. It seems in my walk that amongst those that I go to church with, sit on boards with or socialize with outside of my professional responsibilities…folks commute to and from Nashville. With the growth that is coming (whether we like it or not! - And, I know that this comment is initially harsh sounding, but the conversation has to be moving towards managing the growth that is coming. The conversation has to center around what we will do, and not if…) to our County, we must keep it in mind, and we must plan for the best way to ensure that Springfield and Robertson County stay in front of ideas and means to manage this growth.

This is an effort that does just that. Whether it is successful or not should not be the focus, it is forward thinking and a way in which we may gauge the needs of our County, and what direction those needs may take the County.

#2 – The Route

Beginning in January, the Regional Transport Authority will initiate a two-month sample of services from the Relaxing Ride program. Consisting of two 55 passenger busses, the service will offer transportation to and from Nashville, originating in Springfield.
Bradley went on to explain that the route will leave Springfield on Highway 49 W. and make a stop in the Coopertown/Pleasant View area before continuing on to Nashville. He said there are options to increase the number of busses serving the county if the need exists.
This should give those a sample size of just what is involved with the project. Something that I did not entirely know was that the route would pass through the Coopertown and Pleasant View areas.

I can immediately hear those in the White House area clamoring for their own or wondering why they are left out of the effort. Yet, this is just what I would like to hear, a discussion about what need may be out there for what and whom. This effort could be just a start, and a sign of what we could put together.

#3 – The Costs

"People who work for Vandy or the state ride free. The rest of us, it's $3.50 each way."

If implemented on a permanent basis, the cost to the county and the city of Springfield would be about $24,000 annually. The state and federal governments would pick up the remainder expenses.
The bottom lines saved for the bottom point.

I would almost say that they speak for themselves, BUT…

…I could not leave it at that for in the community in which we live, mass transit may not be seen as a "need" or a fruitful endeavor.

I probably would have fallen in the category several years ago, but the more I have thought about this topic, the more I have liked the idea. During law school (in Birmingham, AL), Jillian and I lived in a community 20-25 miles (Alabaster, AL) outside of where we both worked and went to school. Traffic was terrible, and the commute was horrible, but we were absolutely happy with where we worked and went to school while simultaneously being happy with the community in which we lived. What was terrible: the means to get to and from both places. We tried each and every way to avoid the troubles with that commute, from waking up and timing, to alternative routes, etc. Nothing worked, and it effected decisions for where we would reside and what we would do if given the chance to stay in Birmingham. Now, I do not want to paint a picture that I think that the commute into Nashville is anywhere near that of what it was for Jillian and I in Birmingham. Anecdotally, my law practice takes me into Nashville several times a month.

Look at what is cited in the article:

Davidson County and the surrounding counties are expected to expand by one-million people within the next 15 years, according to the Metropolitan Planning Organization's (MPO) projections. MPO also says that now is the time to be planning in order to avoid a crippling gridlock then.
This could be something that folks consider when they consider where they would reside, and that "could be" is why exploring these options, and opening up to new ideas is imperative.

In moving forward, I would be curious to hear your thoughts on the issue, and where we must go, and what we should consider for this topic. (Routes? Needs? Costs?) I know that we are in the initial stages of discussing this, but what do you not know that you need to know?


Thanksgiving Day: Today & Tomorrow

A little late on my part, but nevertheless something I wanted to share with the each of you:
In her weekly column with the Robertson County Times, Robertson County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Margot Fosnes discusses some of the goings on for Thanksgiving Day. But, not in the usual sense, what she highlights has to do with those in our County in need the most, and those in our community willing to take time from their day to share their own thanksgiving blessings.
The Great Faith Community Action Community Action through the Master's Table & Springfield Baptist Church both will be hosting activities and facilitating outreach today, Thanksgiving Day.
Check out Margot's column here, if you are not able to help those today, she cites groups herein our Robertson County where you can help tomorrow.

OUR New Senator

I knew that this was being discussed, but did not readily know that the decision was imminent. The Sumner County Commission has voted, and elected an interim senator for the 18th district to fill the void left by the election of Diane Black to 6th Congressional Seat.
Our new State Senator: Ferrelle Haille –
Gallatin pharmacist Ferrell Haile was named interim state senator of the 18th District in a unanimous vote by the Sumner County Commission on Monday.
A lifelong Sumner County resident, he is co-owner of Perkins Drugs in Gallatin and a cattle farmer. Haile, who lost his bid for state Senate in 2000 to Jo Ann Graves, has no plans to run for the office in the upcoming special election.
Note I say "our" because lest we forget, this is not all to do with Sumner County. The 18th district is our seat, as well. I trust that Mr. Haille, and soon to be Senator Haille will show the same time and attention shown by Senator Black in representing her constituents of Robertson County.
The timeline is as follows: the primary election for this seat will be held on January 20, 2011 and the general election is to be held on March 20, 2011.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Transportation Alliance of Middle Tennessee

At the November 15, 2010 County Commissioners Monthly Meeting, the Gorham-McBane Library Expansion Project took center stage, and in the days following, it was/is the most heavily discussed topic taken from the meeting.

Yet, there was a video presentation (video found here) made by the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee.

What a bold vision!

All in all, Nashville has always benefited from bold vision and good leadership in thinking 5, 10 and 20 years ahead. This project seems to be just the latest example of leadership and ensuring that Nashville/Middle Tennessee remains one of the best places to live.

It is a must that Robertson County aggressively participate in these projects encompassing our region. Middle Tennessee and Nashville are on the move, and we need to position ourselves as leaders in this move.

Mayor Bradley shared with the Commission that the County Commission will be asked to join the City of Springfield in funding a trial project involving mass transit to and fro Nashville.


For those interested, here is a link to the Robertson County Times coverage on the Library Funding effort.
This is the first story I have seen that has the break down of YEAs and NAYs.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Verdict

Well, as you have probably heard by now, the resolution of floating $2,000,000.00 in bonds (debt) for the Library Expansion Project failed this evening at the Robertson County Commission Meeting.

I must say that I am not happy in the outcome.

Yet, I am happy that the leaders of Robertson County are forging forward in a new direction. A direction in which debt and taxation are NOT the first and second options for funding projects.

I do not want to belabor the point that I have made in prior posts, but there is a third option here, and it must be found.

It will be found:

I was already encouraged by the discussion held immediately after the vote wherein the process of coming back to the table to find a way to make this project work is already taking form. The discussion is not over, and it should not be.

As I said to Robertson County, I look forward to these challenges. These are the same challenges that you and I face each and every week, each and every month when we take a look at our family budgets. Our first option is not to immediately mortgage our future, or look for other income, it is finding a way to make what we need work within our means….

If this project is worthwhile, and it is…then there is another way in which to make it work.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Library Expansion: Heading Into Monday

The proposal on Monday's agenda is for a $2,000,000.00 request submitted at the Robertson County Budget Committee Meeting.

Due to several of the questions posed, and the overall sentiment of Commissioners of the Budget Committee – in my humble opinion, it was not a vote of confidence as much as it was allowing the full body to be involved with the decision whether to fund the expansion project.

In this post, I hope to provide you what I have learned "Heading Into Monday."

City of Springfield

It has been an understanding that the City of Springfield would match what the County Commission allocated.

Recent discussion has indicated otherwise.

It would look as though the City of Springfield may not be in a position to contribute an additional $1,000,000.00 so that their total contribution reaches $2,000,000.00.

It has been understood that the City of Springfield ("City") would match the effort of the County Commission ("CC") and the Gorham-McBane Public Library ("GMPL").

It would appear that the City is holding firm with the initial commitment of only $1,000,000.00.

Robertson County

There is simply no cash on hand for this project. This was known well before the Budget Committee Meeting. And, with what was reported/discussed by the Financial Advisor at the CC Budget Committee Meeting, Robertson County MUST address one, if not more, of the following options (Much of this discussion will be reserved for a future post, but here is a summary):
  • cuts to the overall budget;
  • a re-financing / re-structuring of the current debt;
  • a sizable property tax increase.
Robertson County is deficit spending.

Not just changes, drastic changes will be addressed in moving forward.

For the project to move forward as it is proposed right now, Robertson County would be forced to borrow $2,000,000.00.

What is NOT Known:

Here are the questions that need answers before a vote on Monday, November 15, 2010.

These questions are many of the questions commissioners have asked, and my own constituents have asked over the last several weeks. The "answers" in italics are the partial answers I have heard thus far.
  • What are the operating costs once this project is completed? The presentation at the Budget Committee set out that there would be a 20-30% increase. I have heard estimates of it even tripling.
  • What entity is going to pay for the operating costs?
  • Is there a third option?
  • Who actually uses the Library? There is a healthy balance between County and City and figures reflecting this will be provided on November 15, 2010.
  • What if the full $6,000,000.00 is not there?

What is going to happen?

More importantly, what should happen?

As it stands, the City's apparent twist definitely throws that many more variables and questions into the discussion.

Further, with the posture of the presentation of this project: the proposition of it being "either/or" - there is not much room as it stands for compromise, or my "third-way." This "third-way" was what I alluded to in my prior post. I am afraid that the "either/or" has caused much of the reservation in fellow commissioners for any momentum moving forward.


We cannot ignore our economic environment.

We cannot ignore our financial outlook.

Many, if not all, of the constituents that I have spoken with have started their statement with one of the following phrases: "Jonathan, we have GOT TO do this project, BUT…
  • ….we do not need more debt."
  • ….if the money is not there, then we can't."
  • ….we cacan't afford it right now."
  • ….the timing is just not right."
I agree.

Without question, this is a worthy endeavor. It is an endeavor that is long, long overdue; BUT, we cannot ignore the financial prognosis of Robertson County.

So, we must forge a way to make this work.

I know this because my family uses the GMPL on a weekly basis. Your family uses the GMPL on a weekly basis.

BUT, this "way" is going to be different than that which is currently proposed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Library Expansion: At a Glance

On November 15, 2010, the Robertson County Commission will likely vote on funding the expansion of the Gorham-MacBane Public Library.

This proposal moved through the Budget Committee for further discussion by the entire County Commission.


What we have before the County Commission is a $6 million project for upgrade and expansion. The project encompasses much more than just brick and mortar buildings and expansion. The project encompasses much more than more shelves for more books. The project encompasses so much more in that it is boot-strapping the Gorham-MacBane Public Library from a facility that was last substantially upgraded decades ago.
Many of the concerns that have been shared with me have to do with the "need" of the expansion and upgrade. Candidly, I think this is out of the question in that the expansion and upgrade is long overdue. Whether Robertson County "needs" this expansion is an entirely different question.


The project will require $2 million from the County. The remaining $4 million being matched by funds raised by the Gorham-MacBane Public Library, and the City of Springfield, respectively.
Though, it is not as simple as allocating the funds. For the County to contribute, it would first be required to borrow more money since we are currently operating on a deficit.
Also, the City of Springfield has not completely guaranteed that they will match. Likely, it will be the County's leadership that will determine what the City of Springfield will do in this regard, though this is not guaranteed.


What I would like to see is a tiered plan that would allow this project to be undertaken over some length of time.

This question was posed at the presentation to the Budget Committee on Thursday, November 4th. It was discouraged since it would pose difficulties in operating the library during protracted construction projects over periods of time.

Candidly, I can sympathize with representatives of the library since this project has been discussed and bantered about for the better part of ten years. Nevertheless, many smart people failed to predict or see this economic downturn that is affecting us all. I think with the resources we have, we have to develop some responsible means through which we approach this or any other project.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The “alternative” to the Alternative School

Monday, October 18, 2010

The biggest item on the agenda Monday evening was an "alternative" proposal for the Alternative School.

This was a carryover item from the previous commission, as the previous commission had considered purchase of 10.41 acres in Springfield's North Industrial Park and constructing a freestanding building for the Alternative School.

Yet, what the County Commission actually ended up voted on was property near Bransford Elementary, the Water Bonnet Building, a 70,000' building that has multi-use potential and offers the opportunity for more out of the alternative school, and the versatility to do much more for Robertson County Schools later down the road.

Details "aside," I think that this effort was the best with what which we have to deal:

  • Is it a good time to spend money on an Alternative School?
  • Does anyone want to spend money an Alternative School?

The answer to both of those questions is "No." In this economic environment, the definition of "need" is narrowed that much more, and building an alternative school is like building a jail, no one sees the need. Yet, we must.

That being said, that is where the Robertson County Schools and Robertson County are in the "here and now."

Things came together over the past several weeks in that a federal grant will assist in paying for the entire project, and the building's availability opened in the last couple of weeks. This, after waiting to consider the project long before the current commission took office.

I think we have much to work with and I will look forward to the Education Committee's work with the School Board as this project continues to unfold.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Robertson County Highway Department Raises

This piqued my curiosity the other night at the Budget Reading. I know that many non-Highway Department employees left feeling a little confused, and feeling unsatisfied with the explanation as to why the Robertson County Highway Department is allowed to decide if they are entitled to raises.

I took a look and found the actual opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General.

If you are like most folks (and don't worry, most lawyers do not know either!), and do not know just what an "Attorney General's Opinion is…this page explains a little more about the process.

You can read it here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I started "From the Blackpatch" because I wanted to continue the discussion I had with you on the campaign trail.

For anyone running for public office, I recommend doorknocking. Yes, doorknocking is the most effective way of seeking and securing votes, but what I found over this past summer was that it is the most effective way to really get to know your neighbors. It is the most effective way for a public servant to genuinely realize his or her constiuents' concerns, thoughts and ideas.

I heard everything from concerns about spending, the jail, the library and countless number of other concerns and ideas that you have about this county.

I want to continue that discussion.

That is what I hope to do with "From the Blackpatch." Of course, I want to share with you my thoughts and ideas, my vision of what is to be for all of us. But, this district, and this county would not be what it is without you.