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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Newport City Council
The Newport City Council meeting Tuesday evening ok'ed a resolution asking the state to approve the establishment of a Commercial Development District on West Highway 25/70, from Thinwood Drive to the new Highway 411 interchange. Cocke County Partnership President Lucas Graham asked the council to approve the resolution to allow for participation in the recently renewed state law which allows for Tax Anticipation Financing (TIF)for that corridor. The law allows for local communities to issue bonds for needed infrastructure improvements such as roads, utilities, telecommunications etc. Then after the project is completed, the portion of the sales tax that is earmarked for the state, will instead be used to pay off the bonds. Graham said the plan is to use such financing in a number of areas but this is the first of three planned projects to have infrastructure upgrades funded with TIF financing. The city previously has used TIF funding for Cosby Highway projects. Graham said he could not divulge specifics on the impending project however he said, "this is a major project for us and it will really brighten up the 432 exit, and give us a major sales tax boost coming in from this project." He said the TIF money will go primarily to upgraded roads and lighting that the firm has requested, and then be paid back with state funds. City Manager James Finchum said state officials say they are trying to get other governments in the state to use such funding. "Our guys, Gary(Carver) and Lucas(Graham) are on top of it. I've lost track on how many projects we are working on, four or five. The state doesn't know why people are not taking advantage of it, but we are ahead of the curve on that. This is a game changer, if that plays out and unless we get a snag, I'm very hopeful about it." City Planner Gary Carver said the city has been approved for an 80 percent state grant for the necessary engineering services to establish such a West End Corridor. The body spent some time talking about the current infrastructure upgrades on East Broadway by Newport Utilities(NU) and the resulting impact on businesses. Council member Jeff Fancher pointed out that the city has little control over the project because East Broadway is a state highway. He did express concern that the base of the road is not firm and if the state repaves the roadway in the Spring it won't last long. But state highway officials say the instability of the roadway stemmed partially from the 100-year-old piping that is being replaced. They say TDOT has promised to compact the roadway before it is re-paved. Alderman Mike Hansel brought up the issue of the utility forgiving the utility bills of businesses impacted by the work. NU Board Chair Roland "Trey" Dykes said there is no provision for such a rebate. He said other utilities do not have such programs in place to reimburse businesses for their losses. He suggested the only alternative would be filing a claim with the firm's insurance carrier. And Finchum said there is no mechanism for granting property tax relief to affected businesses. City Manager Finchum said the Rhythm on the River concert series is part of the effort to bring in more visitors to the downtown area. He also said firemen are painting hydrants around the city with paint donated by Newport Utilities. The body approved a modified city ordinance reducing the allowable size of political signs. Because the Newport Planning Commission often has a problem having enough members in attendance for a quorum, the body agreed to reduce the nine-member body, to seven members. The body will be reduced through attrition. Cecil Gilland was re-appointed to the Planning Commission and Jeff Fancher was re-appointed to the Cocke County Library Board. The council presented Carlene Robinson of Cocke County Senior Center with a proclamation, naming June 15 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Vice Mayor Mike Proffitt recognized the police department which has been spending time downtown directing traffic detoured around the East Broadway street work. He also recognized City Planner Gary carver who has been instrumental in obtaining a number of grants, and Proffitt thanked Clint Hammonds of Newport Utilities for the continuous work of the crew that is upgrading piping. Carver announced that the city has received an 80 percent grant for street work downtown. The city will pay $84.85 per ton of salt for this winter through the state bid, and two firms submitted bids for paving in the city however, Street and Sanitation Manager Ben Hicks said only Newport Paving met the bid specs, and so the council awarded the bid to that firm.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

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  • Gardner convicted of aggravated sexual battery of a child
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    Thursday, February 14, 2019

  • Cocke County schools closed on Friday
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  • TennCare expansion
  • STEM initiative
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    Wednesday, February 13, 2019

  • Newport receives $950,0000 state grant
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    Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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    Monday, February 11, 2019

  • DCS investigations
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