Just the Facts

SCC projects front and center at commissioner meeting

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Dan Finnerty

In February, Macon County Commissioners entertained presentations on two different Southwestern Community College (SCC) construction projects: A new fire rescue training center and an extension of the Groves Center. On March 12, commissioners again heard from SCC President Don Tomas concerning the projects. County commissioners were asked to formally ratify approval of funding for both.

Regarding the new fire rescue training center, SCC’s Dean of Public Safety Training Curtis Dowdle, advised commissioners that due to the high priority the state puts on public safety, any regional facility that offers training can make it available to local and surrounding communities, and county public safety employees and personnel. While the new facility would be focused on and intended for Macon County personnel, others can also take advantage of its merits for their public safety advancement as well. 

Commissioners also received a capital improvement project approval form for the Groves Center expansion project. Again, commissioners were asked to ratify certification already drawn up and signed by County Manager Derek Roland.

Funding for both projects was ratified.

New business topics included discussion and consideration of an indoor firing range. The new facility would comprise approximately 11,000 square feet of building space and be located on SCC’s Public Safety Training Center property in Macon County. The structure would be a single-level indoor firing range consisting of 12 firing lanes, a weapons cleaning/repair room, two classrooms, a staging area, and ammunition storage. 

“It’s going to cost us, but think what it’s going to save us to not have our [law enforcement officers] crossing over the mountain [to Dillsboro for training]; it’s going to be here,” Commissioner Josh Young.

The total project cost is estimated to be $10 million, paid for through a grant at the state level, with a Macon County commitment of $54,714.89 in average annual operating costs, once construction is complete – expected sometime in fiscal year 2027.

Commissioner Danny Antoine, board liaison for Macon County first responders, motioned for the indoor firing range project to move forward; commissioners unanimously approved the motion.

Quarter-cent sales tax revived

In 2022, a one-quarter-cent sales and use tax referendum was forwarded for voting in that year’s election process but was soundly defeated. At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners again discussed adopting a resolution for a referendum to November’s general election to levy a one-quarter cent county sales and use tax. The resolution stated in part that while acknowledging the recent $62 million grant received in support of the Franklin High School (FHS) project, overall capital improvement costs for Macon County are expected to be in excess of $130 million. The resolution further states the county’s intention to use proceeds realized from the tax to fund those county school capital improvements. 

The resolution passed unanimously.

A special meeting to approve a contract for pre-construction services for the FHS project along with a public hearing to consider entering into a private agreement to sell county-owned property is scheduled for March 25, 5:30 p.m., in the Commissioner Board Room at 5 West Main Street, Franklin.

The next regularly scheduled Macon County Commissioner meeting is April 9, 6 p.m.