published Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Bradley County approves redistricting plans

By Paul Leach/Correspondent
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    Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins, chairman of the redistricting committee

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County commissioners this week worked out the last obstacles to their redistricting plan, ending three months' work on the project.

They approved redistricting plans for the commission and the board of education in a pair of 12-0 votes. Commissioners Connie Wilson and Jeff Yarber were absent.

Every 10 years, after each U.S. census, the state requires the county to draw new lines based on population shifts and minority concentration. This year's redistricting plan is due Jan. 1.

A 2000 census map error presented the last challenge to redistricting, said Commissioner Ed Elkins, chairman of the redistricting committee.

The 10-year-old mapping error misplaced some 6th District residences on Fox Ridge Trail in the 5th District, but that has been corrected with the 2010 census map, according to Wayne Owenby, Geographical Information Systems manager for the county.

Elkins recommended the committee forgo any more changes to the redistricting maps because they were based on the best information at the time. That requires a few voters on Fox Ridge Trail who cast ballots in the 5th District "to agree with map lines," he said.

The election commission would be responsible for notifying the voters who would vote in the 5th District, Elkins said.

In regard to the school board redistricting plan, Commissioner Adam Lowe questioned whether the commission should withhold its vote to give the board a chance to review the possibility of electing two members per district instead of one.

"I'm operating from the assumption that I don't think the school board wants to change its makeup," Lowe said, adding that he wondered if anyone ever asked school board members.

"It's a once-every-10-years discussion," he said.

Elkins said he was not aware of any desire by the school board to increase its numbers.

He also told the commissioners they were behind schedule regarding redistricting and faced a January deadline to get the plan to the state.

Other commissioners said that, with the looming deadline, the school board would have little time to address the issue fully.

The matter was not brought to motion, and the school board retains a membership of seven representatives, one for each district.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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