By Steve Woodhouse
Marion County —
The condition of the Marion County-owned Memorial Hall in Bussey is deteriorating to the point the Board of Supervisors is considering its closure.
Among the concerns are the roof and the basement. The hall is currently used by the American Legion post in Bussey, and for Senior Nutrition. Senior Nutrition meals could be moved to the City of Bussey's new community center if the supervisors choose to close the Memorial Hall.
Marion County owns Memorial Halls in Bussey, Knoxville, Pella and Pleasantville. Several discussions have taken place in recent years, largely focused on the one in Pleasantville, regarding the County's role in maintaining the buildings. Each year, the County provides money to each Memorial Hall Commission for the building, but it is not a substantial amount.
The supervisors have sought information regarding with whom responsibility for Memorial Hall maintenance lies. County Attorney Ed Bull believes this is the cities' responsibility.
"It's up to the cities those Memorial Halls are in to maintain the buildings," Bull said.
Voters in the City of Pleasantville voted last November to approve a special levy on property within city limits, to be used for a fund to maintain the building. The other three cities have that option, but have not taken action.
Board Chairman Sam Nichols stressed that the County is not trying to undermine the importance of these buildings, nor the service of the veterans who built them. The condition of the Bussey Memorial Hall, specifically, could be a potential liability for the County, however.
For Bussey residents, losing the Memorial Hall would be another loss to the community.
"Every time you lose something, the town is just deteriorating," Teddy Spaur, with the Bussey Legion, told the board. Veterans feel let down by the state of disrepair.
The hall is not used as much as it once was, since the City completed its new facility.
"The new facility has taken the burden off the memorial building," Bussey Mayor Larry Pinegar said. "It's a pretty nice facility for a small community."
In addition to the previously mentioned purposes for the Memorial Hall, items such as bedding and emergency supplies are stored in the building as well. The County offered storage space inside another building it owns there, but that space is already occupied by Twin Cedars School buses. Twin Cedars lost its bus barn to a fire several months ago.
Monday's discussion included one whether or not to pay approximately $3,000 to a structural engineer to look at the Memorial Hall to make a recommendation. Board members feel more comfortable making a decision after a professional had inspected the building. Cal Stephens, Marion County Maintenance Supervisor, intends to accompany the engineer during the inspection. Stephens does not believe it will take long or cost that much.
Other supervisors' notes:
-Approved Work Beyond Right of Way agreements between the Secondary Road Department and Donna Rankin and Randall Haag.
-Approved Sandy's Haven Minor Subdivision as requested by Bill D. and Beverly J. Vande Kamp. This is within the City of Knoxville's two-mile jurisdiction, and the City requested board approval.
-Approved the site plan for the Geeting's, Inc. expansion at 100 North Godfrey Lane, Knoxville.
-Adopted the Marion County Hazard Mitigation Plan of 2012-16. This plan has been drafted by a grant-funded writer over the past three years. By adopting the plan, Marion County will be eligible for disaster funding if an event occurs. This plan was not in place during the floods and tornado of 2008.
-The County will soon run a public notice of its intention to liquidate lots owned on Lakeside Drive in Knoxville, as well as the annex building (formerly the home of Marion County Public Health). The law dictates the steps the County must go through to dispose of property. The lots will be sold together, with a minimum bid of $500. The minimum bid for the annex building will be $150,000. Bids will be collected and an auction will be held once bids are received.
-Approved an amended courtyard special events agreement and permit application. Nichols said problems arose at a recent event, which the County felt needed to be addressed at this level. The new application, he said, will mirror the City of Knoxville's permit request.
-The next regular board meeting will be held Monday, Oct. 8, at 8:30 a.m.