Community improvement projects get wrapped up in "game of politics"
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -
A project to repaint baseball diamonds in Lookout Valley is moving forward, despite a lack of support from Hamilton County commissioners.
The community raised enough money to cover the project's cost.
Lookout Valley's baseball fields are popular with kids, but they need some fixing up.
Commissioner Joe Graham says he was hoping to help.
"It's been many, many years since they've had the money to paint these facilities," said Commissioner Joe Graham, District 6.
Graham tried using up to $2,500 from his personal expense budget to fund a project to repaint the facility, but support fell flat at a recent commission meeting.
So the community rallied together. People from across the county donated $2,500 so the project could move forward after all.
"It was just unfortunate we didn't have enough votes," Graham said.
Two commissioners were absent from the meeting. Commission Chairman Chester Bankston and Vice Chair Randy Fairbanks only voted "present."
Fairbanks said it's after a history of Graham doing the same thing.
"I've had six projects that I've brought forward to the Commission, and every single one of them passed 8-1, with Commissioner Graham voting present," said Fairbanks. "So he hasn't supported any of my projects up here in District 1."
The commissioners admit that it appears to be a "game of politics."
"I've never gone against anything that a commissioner wanted in their district, and I hope going forward, yes, we will work better together," Graham said.
But Fairbanks said that's not the case, now feeling a need to prove a point.
"The rest of the commission members are really just tired of being bullied," Fairbanks said. "I'm just being honest with you, we're tired of being bullied. We're going to stand up for our district and our constituents in our district. And that's what we've decided to do."
Volunteers plan to paint the ball fields this weekend. The next commission meeting is Wednesday.