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JEDB Executive Committee meets for last time in 2014

The Unicoi County Joint Economic Development Board (JEDB) Executive Committee hosted a meeting on Friday, Dec. 19, to discuss a large agenda of items.
The first order of business was to approve the minutes from the following meetings: August 15, September 19 and November 20. No quorums were held at those meetings but discussion was facilitated regardless, thus the need for an approval of the minutes.
Tish Oldham, of the JEDB and ETSU Center for Community Outreach and Regional Development, discussed comments and proposed bylaws and the ongoing audit. Oldham suggested changing to a fiscal year schedule that matches the ARC Fund and the state. The audit has also been moving along, said Oldham.
“It has continued to progress and as soon as we know something, we will let you all know,” said Oldham.
Under new business, Oldham notified the board that officer elections are coming up at the beginning of the year. Oldham also discussed the submission of Cocke, Greene and Unicoi counties into Gov. Haslam’s LEAP Grant for a total of $1,000,000. The grant benefits small, two-year institutions. Oldham said that Walters State was the only school that received funding in the nearby region. Oldham said that all of the grant approvals went to “Walters State and westwards” and she was “very disappointed” that the eastern counties were generally left out of receiving the grants.
On the topic of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Grant 2015, the board discussed the pre-application process involved. Oldham said that East Tennessee State University has pledged $30,000 cash to help out in requesting the ARC Grant.
The board also set the first 2015 Budget Committee Meeting for the first full week of January.
In other business, the area’s LEGO Robotics League Update (ages 9-14) participated in a regional competition and has advanced to the state competition at Tennessee Tech University. The JEDB has been providing mentoring and guidance to the young participants.
The Unicoi Unites Through Fitness Grant wraps up at the end of December. Joe Ebarb, Tonia Cook and Ashley Davies of the YMCA, Clinchfield Senior Adult Center and the Unicoi County Health Department, respectively, have been overseeing the grant and the projects associated with it. Oldham said that the grant had $1,000 left over and those funds will be put in a reserve for a 5K in the future. The grant allowed for the inaugural Unicoi Unites Through Fitness 5K back in November.
Oldham reported that the Downtown Clinchfield Christmas put on by the Erwin Downtown Merchants Association was a big success. Oldham said that the work being done by Dr. Ron Roach’s Documenting Community Traditions class, to chronicle the stories from former railroad workers of the Clinchfield and CSX, has received very positive feedback.
“It is important to the soul of the county,” said Oldham. “If we look at this from a cultural tourism standpoint, the railroad is why a lot of people are here … these students want to continue the project.”
Erwin City Recorder Glenn Rosenoff gave an update on the town’s recent projects. Rosenoff said that the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved Phase III of the downtown revitalization project. Work should begin on Jan. 5.
Rosenoff also said that the overpass is expected to be completed by May 2015. In addition, the new Bojangles being built on Second Street is going up “very quickly”, according to Rosenoff.
The town has also received the initial concept plan for the Taco Bell which will be constructed adjacent to the new Bojangles.