Mar 16 2008

Let's look at that wonderful new firing range Blount County is getting. The DT says (link...)

The agreement between the two allows for joint use of the facilities and gives the Guard priority use to meet state and federal mobilization requirements.

Buried in the Budget Committee Package (link...) are a couple of interesting items on this contract. Now, I ain't no contract lawyer but I am still a taxpayer and on pdf page 26 the request for Budget Increase / Decrease it says the reason for the request is " The Sheriff's Office in cooration with the Tennessee Air National Guard will enhance our current target system with 100% funding for the target system from the Guard Bureau"

FREE! I love free! Who does not love FREE?

Oh, wait.. always a catch, eh?

Scroll on down to pdf page 32 and look at the Estimated County Share. Is that $2,100,000 I see? Really? Free cost two point one million? AH, I can't be reading this correctly can I?

Continuing to pdf page 33 I see under Project Scope, item C that someone has to provide 3,500 sq feet of dedicated space to the ANG in the new Operations Building.

Since the full contract is not included in this month's County Commission package I think it is fair to simply ask what the $2,100,000.00 is all about. Someone better ask!

UPDATE- version two of the CC info package is now online and this contract is now included in the package. No new data, simply the contract is now added.

Doesn't feel free

Didn't you see? The $700K "covers" the "estimated" construction cost. But as this was written in Aug 2006, you can add 20 to 25% to that.

It does make one wonder though, if the $700K covers the "cost", what is the $2,100,000 for? Two million would make for a nice 3500sq ft office/storage building.

Let's just say the reply from Bennett comes in a little something like this; "This 2.1 million is needed (for your safety) and will entail no up front cost - it will spread over a 30 yr bond."

In other words; "We are going to stick your kids with the bill."

Wonder why this wasn't publicized?

Two words

Okay, maybe 2.5 words, considering the contraction: You're kidding?

And Mello says "Somebody better ask [about it]." Who? Would that be the County Commissioner whom the TBI is supposed to be investigating for askign similar questions, or all the other County Commissioners who are telling reporters her questioning is in bad taste? Or those Commissioners who would like to ask, but who won't for fear of similar reprisal?

Lawsy, Lawsy, this county is going to hell in a handbasket.

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." -Mahatma Gandhi

I am going to guess

I am going to guess the 3,500 feet of dedicated space will be confused with priority use space and we will be told they are one in the same.

Or perhaps this was all ok'd by the prior commission in the plans for the new Operations Center.

Or that the County Commission has no say on how an elected official spends his budget.

Even if...

Even if a county commissioner has no say (and why would they have to approve something if that were the case, pardon my ignorance), one would think they'd be accurately informed. I mean, if the commission is told it is free, it should be free.

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." -Mahatma Gandhi


And here we can ask ourselves did the Budget Committee even have all this info at their meeting? Were members of the public who attended the Budget Committee meeting given this information? We know we can not rely on the county's website for this stuff as many of the documents which start off as just that- documents, are scanned as jpgs and plopped down in the file as such, you can't find the info doing a search within the pdf file... augh.

$20K here and there

Section 9.1 on page 34 has a line item for estimated construction cost. This looks like a document created by a Blount entity.

You will see an estimate for bullet trap for $350,000 and a target system for $175,000.

On page 36 you will find a quote from the supplier for $357,812.04 for the trap. On page 38 the supplier quotes the target system at $186,830.70.

This all goes back to Blounts lack of proper accounting. Frequent use of round numbers seems to often lead to $19,642.74 omissions. The numbers were there, just not included in the figures put together for the commission and public. And as stated, these numbers are probably even higher now.

Just an aside; Since when did local Sheriffs departments start supplying things for our military?

"Taxpayer's Money"

Isn't it just wonderful to know that we live in a county where our government wants to keep us safe?

Police shooting ranges, new patrol cars, higher security at the old courthouse, wireless communication systems,$300,000 mobile command centers, bullet proof vests, assault wait a minute! Is it us or themselves that they are trying to keep safe? I know why I own assault rifles........

This situation involving "free" not actually being "free" makes me harken back to an earlier time when the sheriff told us all that he wanted to build a $23 million dollar justice center to " the taxpayer's money."

Not too many years after making that statement, the sheriff was up in front of his elders again begging for "taxpayer's money" to fund raises for his "...professional,well trained" department.

What most people and our county commission tend to forget is that anytime that you build something, you have to maintain it also. That costs money........"...taxpayer's money".

Now, even though the Lambert Camp makes money when something is built, constructed, paved, demolished, hauled off to jail or to the county landfill, educated or indoctrinated, etc., etc., etc.........the taxpayer's are left footing the bill for maintainance and up-keep of what is really just another private business connected to the Lambert Camp.

I'm just glad the we still live in a county where "WE the PEOPLE" get to check out their paperwork.........not just because our mayor is all about "openess" these days either. Trust me, their latest propaganda concerning the "missing cars" didn't answer anything, it just created more questions.

Looks like "The Jewel" Bennet and his accounting practices of the "taxpayer's money" is at the heart of a controversy again in Blount County where the Lambert Camp would be the only benefactors to the proposed spending of the "taxpayer's money".

One more case that proves the point that the Lambert Camp of local politics is very much in charge of the "taxpayer's money".......just not in a very responsible manner or at the very least, a manner in which they aren't trying to steal it to keep the family businesses profitable.

"There is no doubt who has the power now.................."
-Hunter S. Thompson

a manner in which they

a manner in which they aren't trying to steal it to keep the family businesses profitable.

That's a pretty serious charge. Why don't you take it to the proper authorities instead of yammering about it on blogs? You've been asked to tone this shit down. Twice now...

More hypocrisy..............

"You've been asked to tone this shit down."

I thought that we weren't supposed to cuss?

You're correct, that it is a pretty serious charge and one that is obvious to most people. One that the Lambert Camp cannot deny. Are you seriously under the impression that this is not going on? Are you denying that anyone has broken the law from the Lambert Camp?

C'mon now Rneal...........

The "proper" authorities aren't acting on our behalf anymore whether on a state or local level so there's really no recourse but "free speech". You know that, otherwise you wouldn't have started this website.

I haven't threatened anybody or placed anybody at risk nor have I spoken on any topic that has not been reported on in the Daily Times or in Blount Today.

I have not "blogged" on any "blog" that wasn't already an existing "blog". LOL

I have stayed away from using profanity and anything that I have accused anyone of, I have proof that they have done as do many other folks in this county and yes, the authorities have been approached but will do nothing to resolve any accusations of criminality within our local government. You know that.

I'm not real sure what your personal problem with me is, but I would appreciate it if you'd be a little more open about why you have singled me out to attack. Are you "politically motivated"? LOL

It doesn't help your cause nor does it make the liberal, progressive side of things look very upstanding.

This is too good of a website for the editor to single someone out who knows about what is going on in local politics more than most and obviously more than most are willing to admit.

"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author."
-G. K. Chesterton

When a reporter want answers, where does he go?

To the office of Bennett, of which the State admonished by stating this office has; "“significant deficiency in internal control over financial reporting”

Lets review the article: (link...)

Air National Guard to purchase a new targeting system, worth about $700,000 including installation, for the Blount County Sheriff’s Office firing range.

Had the reporter read the actual documents, he would know using "about" is a waste of ink. It's $357,812.04 for the trap and the target system is $186,830.70 for a total of $544,642.74 per quotes from the supplier. The fencing ($50,000) and baffle system ($125,000) referenced on page 34 however don't have formal quotes supplied in the package. I'm sure the reporter was able to obtain these tangible, current documents from the Finance Director but must have forgot to add them all up. Maybe the DT can "clear" those totals up in tomorrows edition. At any rate, we are left with a total of $719,642.74 assuming this would all happen in the next 60 days (Action Target states their quotes are valid for 60 days). Past 60 days, the suppliers may have to adjust their quotes and I couldn't blame them. Delivery from Provo, UT will cost considerably more in gas the longer this takes. Not to mention the rise in cost of all metals rising.

The Guard would fund the purchase in exchange for use of the range and dedicated classroom space in a planned new facility at the location.

No where in the documents does it say the Guard is "funding" the building. They are obligated to the range as spelled out by the contract. Nothing else.

Some figures in the fine print of the agreement may be subject to misinterpretation.

Why is this usually the case with Bennett's financing?

Although the agreement document lists the county’s contribution to the project as $2.1 million, which is the estimated cost of construction of the proposed new facility, it does not mean the county is obligating itself to finance the building, according to County Finance Director Dave Bennett.

Bennett, referencing the Statement of Work included with the agreement document, said the county has the option to design and construct an operations building on the project site, but the agreement does not obligate the county or the Air National Guard to do so.

So, Bennett is just going through the motions of pretending the sheriff is going to build it? This seems odd, as a couple of times in this same article, the sheriff and Bennett sound like it's inevitable. It's seems like from what the reporter had written above, the Guard is expecting in exchange for the range a building with dedicated classroom space. One might think that guard members showing up for ballistics studies would notice they're sitting on the ground instead of a "classroom".

The sheriff’s office envisions using funding from several sources, including the Guard, the County Emergency Communications District Board and drug funds, to pay for the construction of the new facility, according to a spokeswoman.

Guard - paid for by taxes. County Emergency Communications Board - paid for by taxes. Drug funds - all drug funds are investigated, seized and collected by people paid using tax dollars. Drug funds are the peoples funds, that's the reason for this;

“That will have to come back to the commission (for approval), but that’s not tax money,” Bennett said.

Why the hell would the commission need to approve something that "belongs" to the sheriff? Because it's not his damn money! They are TAX dollars, thus the need for the Commissions involvement.

“Ultimately, in my opinion, there will be a facility constructed there. As part of this agreement, the sheriff’s office has agreed to allow some space in that facility for the Air National Guard.”

“Though that building is incorporated into our long-range plans, it doesn’t commit us to anything,” Sheriff James Berrong said.

Maybe the reporter will think next time to ask for the exact schedule of "Ultimately" and "long-range". We know the Animal Shelter had a salvo fired across their bow for "moving" to slow.

Look for "long range" to break ground somewhere around this summer. That's assuming the County Commission will again blindly give our sheriff what he wants. Maybe at least the commission can ask beyond the $2.1 million, where will the money to staff this facility will come from? Or at least ask why it is the sheriff and Bennett can't be up front with their costs and plans. Is the ambiguity by design or lack of ability?

with disgust at the whole lot of 'em

I am not sure who I am most disgusted with.

The reporter
who failed to ask about the importance and enforceability of the Statement of Work ( SOW ) in this contract.
Or the 25 year clause that BC will have to make sure that the system works for the ANG for all those 25 years. Dang! What a warranty!
Or the lovely clause the County will hold harmless the NGB from any future environmental actions in regard to lead abatement.

Or the anointed official who can't offer straight talk.

The estimated cost of construction of the proposed new facility, it does not mean the county is obligating itself to finance the building, according to County Finance Director Dave Bennett.

As part of this agreement, the sheriff’s office has agreed to allow some space in that facility for the Air National Guard.”

Dude, either you agree to the SOW or you don't.

OR is it our BobbleHeaded County Commission? Those 11 folks who will sit up there and vote AYE without ever reading the fine print. They won't ask any questions tomorrow night and they won't ask questions when they are called upon to ok the funding for the new Operations Center complete with 3,500 square feet of space for the ANG. The commission won't even ask questions 15 years from now when the not yet built Operations Center needs massive repairs. By then it will all be just another MOOT point and they will point back to this contract.

Now I am going to get personal with my new title of Miss-Interpretation. I am sick and tired of being screwed by the powers that be. I am sick and tired of the press who think the public's right to know is limited to the answers the press feels will insult the powers to be the least- damn the truth, full speed ahead.

It is not just this crap happening on a local level. It happens at the State and federal level. So what, we are just after all, poor schmucks of taxpayers who are not capable of reading the fine print and expecting honest answers.

Post Mortem

Last night we obligated ourselves to $2.1 million for the sheriff. We did this by allowing the Guard to proceed with putting in a firing range (Never mind the residents who were there first). The Guard expects classroom space in a building the sheriff and Bennett claim we don't have to build, but are part of the "long term" plans. Do the commissioners really think the Guard is going to fork over $700K, and expect nothing in return?

Between the 16 commissioners voting yes and two local papers, one might think someone would have thought to ask what "long term" means. Is "long term" six days, six months or six years? What "term" is the brass at the Guard going to find acceptable? Asking for forgiveness instead of permission is an old business philosophy that often works. I guess I was mistaken in thinking Blount County was supposed to run as a government - not a business.

Is there already a range there?

I seem to recall that shooting ranges need to go before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." -Mahatma Gandhi


But the current range, like four year old cars, just aren't good enough for the BCSO.

$2.1M, $671k, etc.

I got lost in all of the Fuzzy Math, last Night. The Men-of-Measure Guy, with his foot propped up on the deck--was that Bennett?

I tried to follow the Math, but I think the $2.1M - 3500 ft^2 Building, comes next Month--I think. The $671k was for concrete, steel, 20 shooting lanes, paving an alternate entrance, and sound-abating trees.

Why was Jerry really quiet last night? Everyone seemed to be in a pensive mood. After Dr. Walker said that the economy doesn't look too good, you could have heard a pin drop. It IS good, and it makes me proud, that at least verbally, a commissioner sees the coming Neo-Con Induced economic horror over the horizon.

viva Evo Morales

Face saving add-on

paving an alternate entrance

I'm pretty sure this came as late "lip service" from those in the room embarrassed after a citizen living on Honeysuckle got up to speak about living in what I'm sure sounds like a war zone. From what she stated, not only is it bad when this facility is being used in the "allowed" times, there is also use of this facility on Sundays and at night. Maybe if Vulcan wins their case, the folks on Honeysuckle can sue the BCSO using the "we were here first clause."

At any rate, this road is not part of the $671K that was discussed. But hey, it doesn't matter if the road costs $10,000 or $10 million, apparently all that needs to happen is for the sheriff to say he wants it. It's not like anyone is going to question it. So, we should all just pay our taxes and shut up.

Also, I would like to point out the number of shooting lanes is not changing. The new ones will just be more cool. Like upgrading from a tube to a plasma TV. Like the plasma's in the conference room of the sheriffs $350K mobile command RV; (link...)

One of the most frequent crimes is theft. Maybe the sheriffs plan for keeping us from being robbed is to make us all broke. Again, just pay up - or you won't be "safe".

so where was the funeral?

Oh, I thought the alternate entrance would have been part of the $671k--my bad. So, Dr. Ground, didn't you notice how glum and quiet the whole evening affair was? There were no arguments, slurs, or hollering. I kept scanning the Commission bench, looking for a Johnny-O nametag, but couldn't find it--surely he sits in that arc of chairs.

viva Evo Morales


Bobble Heads go all over the the place. The heads of the 11 you mention only make a nodding motion.

Jimbo's Empire


Sheriff's deputies used to use the Alcoa PD firing range for FREE! It's not like Alcoa has a huge force, so there was/is plenty of room for them to share the range with the county. But, that wasn't good enough for sheriff berrong. (It doesn't seem right using capital letters on his name or title.)

The sheriff has long planned on building his empire next to the dump. No pun intended. So far, his dream is rising from the neighborly stench of our rotting trash and a few stray plastic supermarket bags. Again, no pun intended.

He has a driving track and a firing range out there. Now, he wants an operations center. That way, when he EXPANDS his "police school" they can just hold classes right there! Yep! It will be an entire campus dedicated to training cops paid for by Blount taxpayers. Sure, they will "charge" a fee for outsiders coming here to train. But, do you think that money will be used to fund the building and pay the instructors? Naw. That would be too logical. And, logic is something you can't find in berrong's empire plan. His plan is written solely in smoke and mirrors.

Cadet Academy

Don't forget about the Cadet Academy that "jimbo" said we all need to be "safe".

All this keeping the county "safe" sure does take a chunk out of the "taxpayers money". Why is it that the taxpayer never gets a fair return on his investment but the Lambert Camp always remains profitable?

I guess ol' jimbo thinks we all believe in his war against the imagination.

The Lambert Camp?

"Taxpayer's Money"
Submitted by rebeldog72 on Mon, 03/17/2008 - 14:12.

I just read the above posting and I am puzzeled. if rebeldog72 is suggesting that the money being spent by the county is making the Lambert Family more wealthy then He knows nothing about what he is talking about. I can only assume he is talking about the families relationship with Vulcan Materials, Vulcan is a World wide company with over 4 billion dollars in sales the money EARNED in Blount County is nothing compaired to the over all earnings of the company. To suggest that any money spent by Blount county with Vulcan as a material effect on the Lamberts dividend income is just stupid. Blount County needs Vulcan much more than Vulcan needs Blount County. rebeldog72 sounds like a disgruntled employee or just jealous of the Lamberts good fortune

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