Bell County election workers get raise

Published 2:40 pm Friday, March 15, 2024

Bell County election workers will be getting a raise after the Fiscal Court approved increasing their pay from $125 per day to $170  at Tuesday’s meeting. Their pay for election training remains at $30 per class.

“We’re one of county’s that has kept all its precincts open and I thank (County Clerk) Debbie (Gambrel) for doing that. It’s hard to get a precinct worker,” Judge Executive Albey Brock said. “The election commission has asked us to do this and I feel like it’s something we should do. This gets up to where some of our neighbors are in paying their election workers.”

Gambrel said there are 30 precincts in Bell County and every Election Day there are four people working at each of them.

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“That’s 120 people who are working on Election Day from 5:30 in the morning to probably 7 that night so it’s a long day for them,” she said.

The total cost for the pay increase is $11,000.

David Gibbons from the Bell County Conservation District spoke to the court at Tuesday’s meeting.

He announced that the annual Tree Giveaway will be on April 27 starting at 10 a.m. at the Bell County Bus Garage.

“We will be giving away apple trees, wild cherry, persimmons, rough leaf dogwood and pine trees. We always look forward to seeing everyone,” he said. “I want to say this: 10 o’clock is when we open the gates. Before that we’re getting everything set up and lined out inside and the gates will be opened at 10 o’clock.”

Gibbons said that about 10,000 trees are given away each year. People can pick one of each type of tree and as the day goes on if there are extra trees they can come back and get more.

He also thanked the court for their financial support.

“We just want to thank you for all you’ve done for us in the past,” he said  “The money we receive from the Fiscal Court each year is turned back into the community through scholarships.”

The district partners with Claiborne County to provide a $2,000 scholarship each year. Gibbons said this year the scholarship will go to a high school student in Bell County and next year a Claiborne County student will be selected to receive it.

“A thousand dollars isn’t a lot, but $2,000 is quite a bit to help a student out,” Gibbons said.

Also, this year two schools participated in the district’s writing and arts contest  with 26 students, the district works with the Extension Service to put on a farm field day at the Bell County Fairgrounds every year on the Friday before Labor Day weekend and the organization works to assist area farmers.

The conversation district office is located on U.S. 25E on Log Mountain and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Board members include chairman David Thompson, vice chairman John Brock, treasurer Chuck Blank as well as Gibbons, Hannah Browning, Aaron Lewis and Bill Partin. Charlotte Hatfield is the administrative secretary.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting the court held a public hearing on having Petra Lane removed from the county road system. Two women in attendance said they were opposed to having the road removed.

Brock appointed a committee made of magistrates Glenn Webb and Junior Maiden along with the county road superintendent. He said that committee will check maps at the PVA’s office and the state map of accepted county roads. They will also consider the objections raised to removing Petra Lane as long as it is verified that the women against the change own property adjacent to the road.

“That will all be noted in their report and at our next meeting we’ll get their findings,” he said.

Petra Lane is located in District 2, it had been in District 5 before last year’ redistricting.

The court approved Emergency Budget Amendment #4. Brock explained that this is to show revenue from  New Market tax credits for Flash Steelworks and include it in the budget each time those receipts come in.

Several payments were approved for work at Flash Steel to be paid when funds become available. Those include $528,949.55 to Green Construction Company for Payment Application #12, $71,647.95 to DelMae, LLC for Invoice #6, $8,155.00 to JMT for Invoice #11, $2,075.00 to CSI for Invoice #0020301, $15,955.00 to Community Ventures, $45,700.41 to Dakotas America and $44,421.00 to Clotfelter-Samokar for Invoice #2105-06.

Magistrate Eddie Saylor asked about the progress being made at Flash Steel and at the Boone’s Ridge Wildlife Center.

“Flash Steel is going good. We’re probably going to get a little delayed with the electric substation — supply chain issues. Theirs is apparently there’s a high demand for electrical steel, switches and all of that stuff,” Brock said. “It’s the same way at the wildlife center.”

It was revealed at an earlier meeting that the opening for Boone’s Ridge was pushed back to 2025 due to a delay in getting parts needed for sewage treatment at the facility.

Saylor said he had concerns that the project had been delayed another year.

“Since that place started construction back in 2019 there have been six delays in the opening and the last two have been a year at a time,” he said. “This is why there are people in this county questioning this project and a lot of people say it will never open — I’m kind of getting on that fence myself.”

Brock said he wasn’t there yet and that a lot of people questioned whether work would ever start on the project.

“I know they’ve spent over $30 million there. There’s power there, there’s water there, there’s an 85,000 square-foot facility that is up there done,” he said.

In a separate matter, Brock said the road department is working to patch potholes all around the county.

“They’re out there right this minute patching holes as we speak. We’ve got a lot of potholes,” he said. “That type of winter storm that we had with such a hard freeze, the sheer tonnage of salt we put down and all of the scraping, we’ve got potholes everywhere. They’re working on them every day the blacktop plant will give them anything.”

In other business, the court:

  • Approved payment to Trace3, LLC for the amount of $40,746.28 for video arraignment equipment for the Bell County Detention Center. Brock said the county will be reimbursed through a grant from the Department for Local Government.
  • Gave Judge Brock permission to advertise for bids for electrical work at Flash SteelWorks.
  • Accepted Ogle Lane, Ogle Lane #2, KB Road, and Lambdin Lane into the Bell County Road System.
  • Hired Gary Kelly as full-time employee at the Bell County Road Department at $13.00 per hour effective March 14.
  • Hired Jacob Bower as part-time dispatcher at $11.25 per hour effective March 14.
  • Hired Jennifer O’Neil as part-time worker at the Bell County Animal Shelter at $9.00 per hour effective March 14.
  • Hired Tammy Allen, Birchel Blevins, Tammy Moore, Kara Scearse, and Kenny Stewart as part-time deputy jailers at $9.00 per hour effective March 14.
  • Accepted checks in the amount of $193,187.11 from Sheriff Mitch Williams.
  • Accepted 2023 Annual Settlement and Excess Fees in the amount of $58,000.00 from County Clerk Debbie Gambrel (subject to audit), as well as checks in the amount of $30,961.58 and the January ad valorem tax payment in the amount of $16,852.76 from Gambrel.