The Blount County Sheriff’s Office is moving to add a few more acres to its training facility, buying a home at 1148 Honeysuckle Road, Friendsville.

A memo from Sheriff James Berrong to the Blount County Budget Committee and commission said he wants to purchase the property adjacent to the facility “in order to expand training space for future academy and training purposes.”

BCSO officials said this week they have no immediate plans for the additional 2.74 acres, but it would “square up” the property lines. Buying the property had been a long-term goal of BCSO, and Deputy Chief Jarrod Millsaps told the Blount County Commission that property owners Ronnie and Dorothy McGhee approached BCSO about selling at this time.

During Blount County Budget Committee meeting Tuesday, Jan. 11, the BCSO finance manager, Angelie Shankle, said the home might be used for training before demolition and in the long term the BCSO may want to add dormitory lodging for trainees, but not necessarily on that section of the property.

The committee approved allowing BCSO to use $330,500 from its training reserve fund, currently about $759,000, to buy the property and demolish the home and other structures on it. Later that evening during the Blount County Commission’s workshop the commissioners agreed to put the item on their agenda for Thursday, Jan. 20.

Three other budget items also received approval from the Budget Committee and the workshop meeting to be on next week’s agenda.

Eagleton ballpark design

The Budget Committee OK’d paying $384,8860 to S&ME Inc. of Knoxville for engineering and design work, as well as construction administration, to turn Eagleton Ball Park into a regional sports complex.

Documents submitted with the proposal say construction is expected to begin in spring 2022. The plan calls for relocating three of the seven ball fields, adding artificial turf to four, and building a new press box, field house and pavilion.

The money would come from Blount County’s $25.8 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The county expects to spend about $6 million from ARPA on the Eagleton project.

The Budget Committee also approved a request to spend $392,272 from ARPA funding to hire someone for five years to administer and oversee those federal dollars.

A request from Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher to move $15,650 from his office’s part-time salary budget to the full-time salary budget was approved by the committee, too.

County Budget Director Randy Vineyard noted during Tuesday’s meetings that the county had repaid a loan to itself faster than expected. In May 2020 the county agreed to loan $2 million from its debt service fund to the Employee Health Insurance Fund, which was tight on cash, for a two-year term, and it was paid back in 18 months.

Education Reporter

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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