Members of the Cocke County General Committee spent some time Tuesday evening talking about issues facing the Cocke County Recreation Department.
By the end of the meeting, the committee had reached a consensus that a board of directors should be appointed to oversee the department’s operation.
Currently the department is under the direction of County Mayor Crystal Ottinger, but Recreation Director Brian Evans and Ottinger both voiced support for an oversight board.
Commissioner Forest Clevenger said a private act established the department and it likely will have to be rescinded before a board can take over the operation.
Commissioner Gayla Blazer raised the issue saying she has been approached by parents who have concerns about scheduling of games. She said parents believe the game schedule does not need to be drawn up week by week. Evans said he draws up a schedule, keeping in mind some coaches coach several teams, he considers the work schedule of the coaches and he tries to work with the schedule of Newport Recreation games.
Parents at the meeting voiced concern the rules are not applied consistently for all schools, that some umpires as young as 14 do not know the rules of the game and that the department is poorly organized.
There also were concerns the playing fields and bleachers are in poor condition at some schools.
Evans argued that the county needs a Field of Dreams. Dandridge currently has such a facility including a sports complex.
The body also heard from Gary Human, who is the regional director with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
He pointed to a 2018 study of prospective industrial sites in the county by Austin Consulting.
It found that a “big component” of the future of Cocke County will be the proposed new 841-acre industrial park situated to the west of Highway 25E and to the north of the Highway 25/70 Corridor.
“This can be a game-changing opportunity for the community,” the study found.
Human reiterated having a prepared site that can be shown to prospects is important, adding it will be difficult for the community to recruit industry without a prepared site.
“Because of time frames and speed to market with just-in-time, companies want to eliminate all the challenges to a site.” He went on to say firms want environmental and geotechnical studies and site grading to be complete, before they consider a location.
“Anything that can speed them to market makes it more attractive for a company to look at, and consider an area.”
The committee also heard from Claris Bedell who argued for a noise ordinance following noisy fireworks over July 4. She called on the community to use fireworks that are not accompanied by loud explosions, “to be considerate of your neighbors.”
County Attorney Brittany Vick said most surrounding counties do not regulate fireworks, but most cities do.
The committee agreed to continue the discussion in an effort to develop a workable solution.