JCP Week in Review, April 6 - VIDEO

Jared Bentley • Apr 6, 2018 at 2:45 PM

As we move into spring, there are two things that keep popping up on our local radar, and those two things - schools and politics - give us our topics for the latest edition of the Week in Review.

Another plan for the proposed Jonesborough K-8 school is on its way to the Washington County Commission.

Called “Scheme 4” by some on the commission, the new plan is a take on “Scheme 2,” which would call for eliminating the saucer-shaped portion of Jonesborough Elementary and building a new school onto the portion added in the 1990s. Architect Tony Street estimated that the overall project would be $6 million over the allotted $20.6 million budget, but School Board member Mary Beth Dellinger proposed breaking the project down into two phases to fit within budget constraints.




The plan would build the cafeteria, gym, kitchens and bottom wing of the school first, eliminating the top two wings until a later date. That would leave the facility at a 660-student capacity and 30 classrooms, which would limit the school to housing grades K-4 until the rest of the school is built.

Dellinger included in her motion a plan to sell the old Boones Creek school properties in the future to help fund the remaining $6 million of the building. For the full story, and more details on the plan, read the article from Jessica Fuller on our website, or find it in today’s edition of the Johnson City Press.

With the county primary less than a month away, the Washington County mayoral race has plunged itself deep in the mud as candidates Mark Ferguson and Joe Grandy trade barbs while fellow Republican David Tomita appears to be sitting back and watching the show.

Ferguson has been dealing with an October 2014 video that shows him facing off with former Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe, before taking a swing and purportedly smacking his phone.

As he was leaving a 2014 meeting at the Blackthorn Club, Wolfe said Ferguson confronted him on the sidewalk about a political action committee he started and took a swing that missed, so he then pulled out his phone and started filming.

Ferguson says the video has been edited, and apologized for his language, blaming his actions on “years of bullying and abuse, slander and taking advantage of small businessmen in this little town.”

Wolfe said, “The video speaks for itself,” and Ferguson says the video is proof that he won’t back down from “the establishment.”

Candidate Joe Grandy claims he has been confronted by Ferguson in a similar manner, and the attack ads and war of words between the two have gotten worse worse every day. Voters have also reported receiving robocalls from a pro-Ferguson group accusing Grandy of being pro-choice and supportive of a mischaracterized Planned Parenthood initiative, and organizing a meet-and-greet with liberal politicians from the region.

After weeks of debate, the Medical Cannabis Act of 2018 was suddenly withdrawn Tuesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Sen. Steve Dickerson admitted he lacked enough votes in the committee to advance the measure, and the amended version of the bill, which provides a legal defense for patients with a doctor’s order to possess certain forms of medical cannabis, but not the raw plant form. Neither the amended or original version of the bill allowed the smoking of the raw marijuana plant.

Local Rep. Micah Van Huss voted against the original bill, but supported the amended version pulled by Dickerson. Dickerson says he intends to re-introduce the bill, possibly during the summer session.

Van Huss saw two of his bills progress further in the House, as his School Safety Act of 2018 permitting off-duty, certified police officers and sheriff’s deputies to work security inside schools, easily passed the House Education Administration and Planning Committee Tuesday, and a trimmed-down version of the “heartbeat bill,” requiring the results of an ultrasound be offered to mothers seeking an abortion, moved forward as well.

While Van Huss should be emboldened by his recent successes in Nashville, he’s getting ready for a fight back home, as former Johnson City Mayor Steve Darden has announced that he will seek Van Huss’s 6th District seat in the Tennessee House.

Darden, now the managing partner of a law firm, served 10 years on the Johnson City Commission, with his last two years filling the unexpired term of Phil Roe. The two will face off over the next few months in an attempt to win the August 2 Republican primary, and a chance to face Democratic candidate Justin R. Leslie and independent candidate Murphey Johnson in the Nov. 6 general election.

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