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Norris BZA, Planning Commission reject Covenant church RV park requests

Covenant Life Church attorney Daniel Sanders addresses the Norris Planning Commission on the church’s application for rezon- ing for its Solid Rock RV Park on Monday evening at the Norris Community Building. - G. Chambers Williams III
Covenant Life Church has one more opportunity to gain city of Norris approval to operate a recreational vehicle park/retreat on its property after both the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission rejected the church’s request Monday evening.

Votes against the church’s requests were unanimous in both of the meetings, the first of which was an appeal to the BZA to overturn the city’s denial of a certificate of occupancy, followed by an application to the Planning Commission for rezoning part of the church’s property to commercial (C2) status.

While the BZA’s decision is final, the Planning Commission’s denial of rezoning must still be considered by the full City Council, which Mayor Chris Mitchell said will have on its agenda for the next regular meeting, Monday, July 8.

The Planning Commission voted 7-0 against the rezoning, citing documents from 1937 and 1959 in which the Tennessee Valley Authority required that the land along Norris Freeway from Andersonville Highway to beyond Norris Dam be preserved as a greenway, and not be used for commercial purposes.

Mitchell, who supplied the Planning Commission with the documents, led the discussion Monday night in his dual role as a member of the commission.

“The city and TVA have valued this as a special area,” Mitchell said before the vote on the rezoning request, adding that the “intent is to keep the area beautiful.”

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Broadband grant could allow for internet hot spots, music in Historic Downtown Clinton

Katherine Birkbeck, director of the Historic Downtown Clinton organization, talked to Clinton Mayor Scott Burton after the June 24 City Council meeting. During the meeting, she discussed the possibility of bringing broadband and loudspeakers to downtown Clinton. - Ben Pounds
In the future, loudspeakers could fill downtown Clinton with melodies. 

Katherine Birkbeck, director of the Historic Downtown Clinton organization, spoke to the Clinton City Council at its June 24 meeting about the city applying for a state of Tennessee Broadband Ready Communities Grant. 

She said the grant’s broadband could help set up a public service emergency alert system, but the speakers for that system could also play music in the downtown area.

The grant will be for 100% of the cost, she said.

The council took no vote, and Birkbeck said didn’t need an answer on the proposal until November.  

“Some of it is adding life to downtown,” she said. “If there’s music playing, people are happier. They’re more likely to buy things and shop, so that’s a whole part of it as well.” 

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Citizens say Ridgeview Drive dangerous

Concerns are rising regarding traffic issues in South Clinton.

Citizens Jerry Graham and Melinda Williams brought up issues around the intersections Ridgeview Drive has with Melton Hill Drive and Unaka Street at the June 24 meeting.

City Manager Roger Houck said the city needed the traffic engineers’ recommendation before acting.

Graham, a South Clinton resident, recommended four-way stop signs at those intersections, while admitting that wasn’t a popular idea.

“I know there will be a lot of people probably pretty mad, but I’ll take the blame for it if it passes,” he said.

Houck said Clinton had a traffic-engineering study done about 12 weeks before that June 24 meeting and said Public Works had already done several improvements in general. He said he would refer Graham’s comments back to traffic engineers.

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Waiting game

Grade-reporting error discovered, Dragons hopeful TSSAA will reverse decision

A copy of a letter that was submitted to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association was released last week by Anderson County Schools. The letter from new Clinton High School Principal Robbie Herrell states that the previously self-reported ineligible student athlete was actually eligible to play football. He had been declared ineligible due to a grade-posting error.
It turns out a Clinton High School football coach didn’t play an ineligible player after all.

Darell Keith, who led the Dragons to a 6-7 record in 2024 and into the third round of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association playoffs, did not have his contract renewed for the 2024-2025 school year after it was determined he had allowed a player to participate who did not have enough credits to be eligible to participate.

The student in question played in 13 games.

His transcripts showed he had only completed five courses for credit.

He needed six.

CHS self-reported the “violation” May 17.

TSSAA vacated all CHS wins for the 2023 season, required the school to notify the schools they had beaten of the vacated win, and fined the school $250.

But the student was eligible. A credit recovery course taken for government and economics was placed in the wrong year of the student’s transcript.

The Oddeseyware Credit Recovery Program course was successfully completed during the 2023-24 school year, meeting the requirement to be eligible.

However, credit for the course was placed under the 2022-23 school year.

A letter dated May 10, 2024, (though it should have been June 10, 2024) from CHS Principal Robbie Herrell to the TSSAA explaining the error was released last week.

“As you can see from the attached transcript, the student had five credits listed for the 2023 school year. This is what the self report was based on,” the letter said.

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CHS timeline, fallout of alleged grade changing

Former CHS Principal Dan Jenkins left a handwritten resignation letter in April 2024. The date of resignation was presumed to be April 12, 2024, even though the note listed May 12 as the effective date..
An investigation into Clinton High School that began in March by Anderson County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Parrott and “Central Office administrators” resulted in the eventual dismissal of two teachers, the resignation of the principal, and the head football coach not having his contract renewed.

In a 17-page document outlining the process for the termination of tenured teacher Rachel Jones and non-tenured teacher Clay Turpin, and the resignation of CHS Principal Dan Jenkins, Parrott said he and central office staff began the investigation because, “something was amiss at CHS.”

The document does not outline what first brought the situation to the attention of the superintendent.

However, once the investigation began, it showed CHS students coded for credit recovery did not have end of course testing, yet those students did show up in credit recovery codes as complete.

The investigation found that “multiple” CHS students were on track for graduation but had not completed the required course work.

The investigation also noted that “a number” of CHS graduates from the previous school year (2022-23) may not have completed or passed required testing.

All of the issues were self-reported by the Anderson County School System to the Tennessee Department of Education.

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Clinton City Council approves new barn at Jaycee Park to assist with health emergencies

The Clinton City Council last week unanimously approved construction of a new barn at Jaycee Park that the Tennessee Department of Health will use to store equipment and handle health emergencies.

City Manager Roger Houck said the department will “conduct on-site drive-through points during a health emergency.

“It’s actually tearing down the old barn, from what I understand that’s been there forever,” he said.

David Queener, a council Member and member of the Anderson County Fair Association’s board, said the barn was in disrepair and needed replacement regardless of the Health Department’s plans.

Council member Wendy Maness made the motion, and Councilman Rob Herrell seconded to approve a memorandum of understanding for the project with the Anderson County Fair Association and Tennessee Health Department.

The barn proposal needed this approval because the city owns the property.

However, the council’s vote did not include funding. Houk said he believed the Anderson County Fair Association was looking at a grant to fund the project.