published Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Proposal to close Taft Youth Center in Bledsoe County raises opposition

  • photo
    Pre-season football practice at Taft Youth Center.
    Staff File Photo

NASHVILLE — A proposal to close Taft Youth Center in Bledsoe County is drawing bipartisan objections from area state lawmakers.

They say the secure facility is filled with older juvenile offenders that other centers “have been unable to control.”

State Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Kathryn O’Day today made the proposal to shut down the facility in her presentation to Gov. Bill Haslam, who is conducting public budget hearings.

“It’s our most expensive place,” O’Day said, also noting the facility’s age and location makes it difficult to operate.

In a letter to the governor, two senators and three representatives called closure of Taft “drastic” and said closing it is not in the interest of the state, Bledsoe County or offenders.

The facility “is the most restrictive facility for juvenile offenders,” they wrote. “Taft’s population is compromised of the more serious and older delinquents. The sentences are more adult oriented or they are serving a third commitment.”

The letter was signed by state Sens. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, and Charlotte Burkes, D-Monterey, as well as Reps. Bill Harmon, D-Dunlap, Jim Cobb, R-Spring City and Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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whatsupwiththat said...

Heard they got rid of the supervisor over the place that staff and students liked and respected and sent some guy from Nashville up there that had been in trouble for filing thousands of dollars in excessive travel claims. Guess what, he's not driving a state vehicle to work, bet he's filing travel claims for mileage from Nashville and probably meals to, even though they get a free meal there.

They're only looking to make money off this. Just check the salaries of the last Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner that had been in there for years. O'Day and Dawson both make 15-30% more and they've not even been there a year yet. How can they need to cut 5% everywhere else and add that much to their own salaries.

December 12, 2011 at 8:26 a.m.
RealDeal said...

COMMUNICATION IS A GOLDEN THREAD, but it is one thread that has been left out of the weave of DCS administration and their understanding of Taft Youth Center! Cameron Sexton asked for an itemized list for the 37 million that O'Day said Taft was in need of, and the most they could come up with was 24 million! And that was to tear down buildings due to their age. As Sexton said, if we are tearing down buildings because of age, we had better start with the capitol since it was built in the 1800's. In all my life, I have never seen such a screwed up administration! Haslam and his buds have hunkerd down, circled the wagons, and been far to silent for way to long. The LACK of communication is unreal, and one would think that they forgot about the people of this state! Oh, Haslam goes to the high dollar meetings in Nashville and Knoxville, you know, 'his kind', but the working class, forget about us. I think they all need to sign up for the social work stipend program, go back to school and take some economics classes and basic math. As Mark Twain said "if you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said", but if you lie, it just keeps getting deeper and deeper. They have lied. O'Day looks like a blooming idiot as does her underlings. The truth will come out and it won't be long. Just last week, several of our Juvenile Judges toured Taft. As a result, DCS public information officer came out in the paper saying that students who were to graduate with their GED couldn't have their graduation because parents weren't notified. NO, they weren't notified because we were told DO NOT have the graduation because Sexton had been invited to speak at the ceremony. This is something that we have been doing for years and there has never been an issue, until now. So, I think it's safe to say that Haslam, O'Day, Dawson, Suddreth and company are all highly pissed because this 'dumb bunch of rednecks' didn't roll over and take this laying down. That's right, we didn't roll over and we are not going too. You see, that is something that they have never been able to understand about the employees at Taft....we are a team. They will never be able to cause the inner strife that they so desire.

This thing is far from over, and there are a lot of us that will fight until the death. I am one of those people. Haslam, O'Day and Dawson aren't the only ones that are pissed off. And, anyone who lives in this area should be too. This move is going to further depress an already depressed job market. I think everyone knows the costs of unemployment. The taxpayers should never give up the fight! Afterall, it is a taxpayer issue and it is a service to the youthful offenders of the State of Tennessee!

January 29, 2012 at 7:07 p.m.
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