A resolution asking for a statewide change in telephone surcharges for 911 emergency communications to include all lines at the same price was endorsed by the Grainger County Commission.
“In 2017, the state in all of its wisdom decided to cut the telephone surcharge rate from $1.50 to $1.16. The surcharge on cell phones prior to this going in was $1,” said Randy Holt, director of Grainger County E-911. “Landline phone rates were $1.50 and business lines were $3. They passed a new bill and said it had to be revenue neutral, meaning the new bill couldn’t add more revenue. Somebody’s math didn’t match Grainger County math. I told them they were wrong when they started it. When it was dropped from $1.50 to $1.16, our district took a $250,000 to $300,000 cut in revenue.
“My phone money came in the same, but they took away all of the grants,” Holt said. “In Grainger County, we made a living off the grants. In 2014, the county realized $460,000 in grants alone. Those don’t exist anymore.”
Holt is asking the state to reinstate the previous rates.
“In 2015, it used to be $1.50. We want it to be $1.50 for everything, cell phones, home phones, and business phones. For us, it would be an increase of $75,000 to $100,000 in state money. Since they put that bill in, I’ve been having to come to the county and ask for more money to stay in business. We’re asking for the TCDB to go back to the legislature to change the bill, then we’ll send the resolution back to our state representatives for them to get behind it and push it through.”
All of the 911 districts in Tennessee are behind the resolution, according to Holt. He said that the county commissions and the mayors’ association carry more weight than the 911 districts. He asked for the commission’s support.
The resolution passed unanimously.
The metal truss bridge at German Creek on Lakeshore Road in Bean Station has been the scene of many accidents over the years due to the narrowness of the bridge, built in 1941.
“We have to cross it every single day,” said resident Sandra Collins, who lives next to the bridge. “It is very unsafe to me. We have to completely stop sometimes and have to fold our (rear view) mirrors in every time. My boyfriend has been hit three or four times on the bridge, my neighbor say that she’s been hit, her husband and parents have been hit on the bridge.
“I know that you may not have the money to build a new bridge, so I’m proposing a red light be placed there and having a single lane bridge,” she said.
Collins called the area traffic office and a study was performed. However, a representative with the office stated that there is nothing that can be done.
“However, if you look, having a clear roadway with less than 16 feet or less than 18 feet when commercial vehicles constitute a high proportion of the traffic, or if it’s a width of 18 feet or less where the sight distance is limited on the approach to the structure,” Collins said. “If you’ve been across that bridge, you know the sight distance is limited. You can’t see what is coming on the other side unless they stop. They are proposing to put up new signs to make the speed limit 30 miles per hour. Nobody is going to pay attention to that.”
She said the bridge is a “no fault” structure.
“If I come through there, if I’m stopped and I get hit, I’m still the one who has to pay for the insurance,” she said. “I’m still the one who has a damaged vehicle. Something needs to be done about it. I don’t find it safe at all.”
Commissioner Rodney Overbay said that when one crosses the bridge, they’re “playing with inches.”
Commissioner James Acuff suggested that the bridge is one of the few truss bridges remaining in this area and suggested a letter to the Tennessee Department of Transportation to institute temporary traffic safety measures and to ask for funding to eventually replace the German Creek Bridge.
County Mayor Mike Byrd, along with the Rutledge City Council and the county commission made a suggestion to try to get Dollar General Stores to build two “Dollar General Market” in Grainger County.
“Mayor Sykes and myself are asking for your support for asking that the Dollar General Store officials consider putting a Dollar General Market in Rutledge,” he said.