This Month in the Roane County Executive’s Newsletter to the Community March 2019

Path Forward for Education

{Ron Woody, Roane County Executive}

As most everyone knows, the Roane County Commission in mid- February voted against funding the current school improvement plan. The vote for was two (2) for, eleven (11) against, with two passing. Now the question is, are we back to the drawing board? The Roane County School Board and the Commission met in a work session the end of February to discuss the issues of why there is limited support. My observation from the meeting focused on a few broad issues of why there is limited support:

1) Optimal Location
Importance of Community Schools
3) Increase Taxes
4) New Commissioners who have limited knowledge of the proposal plan

So where are we going? My office informed the school board of what we would propose as a path forward for the 2020 budget. First, a three (3) cent property tax is required for the Oliver Springs/ Midway project which has already been approved. I will propose to the Budget Committee an additional seven (7) cents in order to accumulate funds for debt service in order to help cash flow interest and principal payments. Since the school board is anticipating a successful financial year, I would recommend the school board transfer funds to their capital project fund to pay for some initial expenditures.

If approved, the County Commission shows a good faith effort to improve education. The school board shows support by putting their own investment into the capital project. We recognize that the ten (10) cent total is not enough and we would give options to the commissioners to increase their investment if they feel they have the support. Remember, the 2019 Budget gave the commissioners the opportunity to adjust the taxes if they supported the education improvement plan and no none made a motion to increase the funding.  This year a step in the right direction is being proposed by the Roane County’s Executive Office.

The math problem is simple. Currently, the 74 million dollar project has an estimated annual payment of 4.5 million dollars which requires approximately thirty-six (36) cents of property tax. The county has no current funds available to apply to the annual payment. A ten cent tax starts the accumulation of 1.3 million dollars of funds. In two years, approximately 2 million dollars of old debt will be paid off, and the current tax rate could be applied to the annual payment. The ten (10) cents plus the debt that pays off (sixteen (16) cents) is not enough for the present project, but the combined funds is a step in the right direction. Also, going forward we anticipate the successful rebuild of Oliver Springs High School. The small steps of success should help meet the educational needs of our students. We will wait and see what is approved for the 2020 budget.

Know Your Roane


2) Roses are red, violets are blue, I didn’t get vaccinated, and now I’ve got the _____.

3) Many Roane County residents remember hearing a song on the radio in the 1930s and 40s. The song was written about the murder of Thomas _________.


1) The founder of the Sierra Club once wrote, “Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator.” while hiking through Roane County.

4) This charitable Harriman club succeeded after many others failed to sponsor the opening of the Roane County Park.

5) Before the 70s in Roane County, citizen experiencing a medical emergency that required transportation, wouldn’t get a ride in an ambulance. They would ride in a __________________.

(answers can be found in past and present newsletters)

Answer HERE!

Roane County Health Department Thinks Outside of the Box to Save Lives

{Laura Conner, District Director of Roane County Health Department}

Despite aggressive awareness campaigns to communicate the importance of getting flu shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say far too many people are not getting vaccinated. As a result, influenza leads to nearly 200,000 hospitalizations and between 3,000–49,000 of flu-related deaths.

Beyond public health, the flu is an expensive drain on our community. The 2017-2018 flu season cost U.S. employers an estimated $9.42 billion in sick days. Over $10 billion is spent every year on flu-related hospitalizations, and doctor visits and nearly one-third of flu sufferers spend $250–$1,000 on treatment.

Prevention is not only a healthier option, but it is also more cost-effective. That is why this flu season Roane County’s health department held special “FightFluTN” free flu shot drive-through events. These events made it easier for our residents to pack the family up, and drive them through to trained medical providers. Thank you to all who participated!

Learn more about fighting seasonal flu at www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm

Roane County Hosiery Mills

{Robert Bailey, Roane County Historian}

The hosiery mills in Roane County provided many jobs for women and men and was one of Roane County’s most important industries throughout the years. James F. Tarwater was a major creator of hosiery mills in Roane County. In 1905, Captain James F. Tarwater and his associates established the Rockwood Hosiery Mill, which is still in existence as Alba Health. The building sits on its original location on Gateway Avenue. Rockwood was created as a Company Town, and as such, it controlled everything, including the Company Store, where the employees could only use the script that they were paid. The hosiery mill was one of the first competitors to the Roane Iron Company. In 1912, James F. Tarwater decided to open up another hosiery mill in Harriman, called the Harriman Hosiery Mill. There was another mill in Harriman at that time called the Harriman Knitting Mill which started about 1903. At one time, the Harriman Knitting Mill employed several children about the age of 11 or 12 years. Other factories also did. In 1916, James A. Huff, who was the manager of the Rockwood Hosiery Mill, came to Kingston to locate a branch site for a mill. In 1919, it moved into permanent quarters. J.C. Stinnett, was the supervisor of the plant from its beginning until it closed in 1951. After it closed the building was used as a bowling alley and skating rink. It was located behind what is now Kinser Drug Store. It employed about 200 people over the years.

Harriman Hosiery Mill

Rockwood Hosiery Mill

Rockwood Hosiery Mill – Inside

Kingston Hosiery Mill

Roane County Highway Report

{Dennis Ferguson, Road Superintendent}

Things have been busy, but good at the Roane County Highway Department. We have hosted Roane Leadership and a utility forum. We always enjoy getting to speak to and answer questions that people in the community have for us. We have had productive meetings with the Road Committee. We have had the opportunity to tour the county with them and allow them to see the roads that have been brought before the committee during recent meetings. We also had a small round of winter weather come through, and as always, we are prepared for whatever the weather might bring us.

Census is Coming. Are We Ready?

{Bonnie Angus, Roane County Executive’s Administrative Assistant}

Not only does the data collected in the 2020 Census determine how many congressional seats will represent our way of life; it is the deciding factor in how much of the 675 billion dollar budget the Federal government will spend on Roane County. The 2020 Census will affect highway construction, public education, emergency services and so much more. If Roane County isn’t accurately represented, we will lose funding to other counties and states.

In preparation for this massive data gathering project, the Roane County Census Committee (RCCC) was formed on February 12th during a two-hour training and strategy session. The RCCC’s purpose is to ensure every Roane County resident is accurately represented.

The RCCC members are nominated from a wide, diverse group of Roane County Community leaders:

  • Government Subcommittee – Carolyn Granger, former Roane County Commissioner
  • Education Subcommittee – Allan Reed, Roane County Schools Data Management Assistant.
  • Media Subcommittee – Corinne Shaw, United Way Community Impact Coordinator, and Hugh Willett, Editor of Roane County News
  • Faith-Based Subcommittee – Joe Eskridge, NAACP President
  • Business Subcommittee – Chamber of Alliance
  • Community-Based Subcommittee – Laura Conner, District Director of Roane and Morgan County Health Departments

Things have changed dramatically since the first census in 1790, but the need for accurate data remains constant. One major change and a potential challenge for this decennial’s census is the decision to shift to a predominantly online self-response system. Considering how great it is to retire in Roane County the RCCC will need to focus on helping our retired community navigate the new online process. Keep an eye out for future articles in the Roane County Newsletter to the Community and the Roane County News for pertinent information.

Roane County’s Certified Sites Still Top Prospects

{Pam May – Interim President & CEO, The Roane Alliance}

Since the program began in 2012, 55 sites across the state have become Select Tennessee Certified Sites. Out of those 55 sites, only nine sites have sold in the program’s seven years. 

Roane County has three certified sites out of the current inventory of 46: 

  • the 44-acre Cardiff Valley Road Site located in Roane County Industrial Park;
  • the 40- acre Jones Road Site located in Roane Regional Business & Technology Park; and
  • the 110-acre Development Area 6 Site located in Oak Ridge’s Horizon Center Industrial Park. 

The program was created to help communities prepare industrial sites for private investment and job creation.  By setting rigorous standards, Tennessee can ensure these sites are prime for development and can provide companies detailed and reliable information about those sites to help with the selection process.  In addition, opportunities have been available through grants to update these sites.  One of those was the Jones Road site that now has a newly constructed industrial grade road leading directly to the site and approximately 11 flat, pad ready acres that were graded to support the buildout of a facility up to 200,000 square feet. 

Having a certified site in your community does not guarantee the success of landing a prospect.  Qualifications for certification require at least 20 acres of developable land for industrial operations, documented environmental conditions and geotechnical analysis, existing onsite utilities or a formal plan to extend utilities to the site, and truck-quality road access.  But much more goes into selecting a site – location, community demographics, quality of life, workforce initiatives, and business climate are some of the most important. 

The Roane Alliance is optimistic, having seen an increase in interest for all three sites, since achieving certification.  The three sites have collectively been receiving around 15 prospect visits each year.  And interest in the Jones Road site continues to gain even more interest because of the addition of the road and pad ready acres.

Interest has also increased because of the relationships built with our economic development partners such as TVA and the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (TNECD).  Since many prospects and leads come through them, the Roane Alliance has been using the certified sites as a way to stay at the forefront of their minds.  Each quarter, those sites are highlighted in an email that has resulted in some quick replies about potential prospects.  One such prospect is currently considering Roane County, and though the business does not qualify for the Jones Road Site due to jobs and wage requirements we have set, it has led to interest for other sites, including Cardiff Valley. 

Standards for the sites have to be maintained and re-evaluated every three years to receive recertification.  This process ensures the most current and accurate information is available to prospects.   All three sites are due for recertification this year, and the Roane Alliance has begun the process for Cardiff Valley and Jones Road, while Oak Ridge City will submit for Horizon Center. 

To learn more about the Select Tennessee Site Certification Program, please visit https://tnecd.com/sites/certified-sites/.

Small Fire Department Operations Training

{Tim Suter, Director of Office of Emergency Services}

The Midtown, Rockwood, Kingston, Blair, East Roane County, Sevier County, Fire Departments and Roane County’s Office of Emergency Services completed a 2-day course designed to impart foundational tools and skills needed to coordinate training in small fire and emergency medical service organizations like our own.

Trainees left with a better understanding of:

  • Why and how the local training officers must be a catalyst for change
  • Standards of care according to OSHA and NFPA
  • Safety considerations in training
  • Marketing training internally
  • Identifying ways to justify training needs
  • Resolving training conflicts using
  • Selecting and evaluating training curriculum and materials from outside sources.
  • Effective delivery and evaluation of training