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Time for county ‘redistricting’

Committee meets Tuesday

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Redistricting of voting precincts in Bedford County and Shelbyville occurs every 10 years after final U.S. Census figures are released. A City-County Redistricting Committee meeting— open to the public—is scheduled for 2 p.m., Tuesday in the Duck River Room at Bedford County Courthouse.  

A representative of Tennessee’s County Technical Advisory Service will be present, members of Bedford County Commission’s Rules and Legislative Committee were told Tuesday.  

“Population numbers are crushing in towards Shelbyville,” Commissioner Greg Vick said. “It’s going to be an interesting work that we have to put together to make sure everyone’s properly represented and meet statutory and legal requirements. We are presenting a resolution to be voted on excluding inmates from being counted. It doesn’t take away their franchise rights.”  

The resolution is being presented to commissions and city councils across Tennessee. The intention is to prevent inmates from being listed both as living in the jail’s district and their home district. Bedford County Jail is in District 8.  

If the redistricting committee approves the resolution, it will be brought to the Rules and Legislative Committee, along with the suggested district changes, for a full discussion before proceeding further, Vick said.  

The Rules and Legislative Committee will vote on the changes before passing the finished document on to the full commission for final approval.  

Also at Tuesday’s committee meetings:  

Gym declared surplus  

The gymnasium behind Bedford County Alternative School on Elm Street, known by many as the old Central High gym, was declared surplus by the Courthouse and Property Committee.  

The mid-1950s vintage building has been used for records storage for the past few years. With those cleared, the building will be put up for bid soon following a site survey. An adjacent mid-1970s building that was once Central High’s football field house will also be sold.  

Concerns were expressed about school bus access to the alternative school. The buses require space to turn around, Commissioner Linda Yockey said. A large parking lot lies between the school and the surplus buildings.  

Courthouse delays  

Renovations in progress at Bedford County Courthouse are behind schedule, Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham told the Courthouse and Property Committee.  

“We thought we’d be much further along by this time,” Graham said. “We were able to get the financial piece of that restructured correctly with some construction management… So now maybe four months, where we’d hoped [to be finished] by November, certainly by December. That’s four months, starting in October.  

“We think we’ve got a solution. Of course, everybody else’s projects in the country are coming in higher than expected but we were able to renegotiate and restructure some things.”  

Architectural changes will give the Commission more personal space during meetings, allow better air circulation and improve the public’s ability to have social distancing and access, Graham said.  

Annex acoustics  

Unexpected acoustics problems continue in the first floor of Bedford County Courthouse Annex on the west side of the Shelbyville square, Graham told the Courthouse and Property Committee.  

“We had an acoustics engineer study that and a report is expected soon on potential changes, Graham said.  

“It has become pretty difficult to hear, especially when you’ve got people with masks on. That’s been a chronic problem ever since we’ve been there and we kept thinking it was going to get better, but it’s just not.”  

Veteran population  

Approximately 20 percent of Bedford County’s veterans are receiving government benefits for their service, according to numbers given by Veterans Service Officer Mike Ruess at Tuesday’s meeting of Bedford County Commission’s Rules and Legislative Committee.  

The county has 2,936 veterans, of which 624 bring in approximately $3.5 million yearly in those government benefits.  

Those not receiving benefits fall into one of four categories; they are unsure if they can, don’t care, don’t want them or are unable due to income restrictions or their type of service, Ruess said.  

The veterans service office is continuing to compile more statistics at the request of the County Commission. 

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