published Friday, October 14th, 2011

Vote to settle dispute over which Bradley County district new Blue Springs school will be in

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    The Blue Springs Elementary School campus is under lock and key now for public safety after April 27 tornado damage. That leaves Bradley County looking for another polling place.
    Photo by Randall Higgins.
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The dispute over whether the future Blue Springs Elementary School should be in the Bradley County Commission’s 5th or 6th District is going to the full commission Monday for a vote.

The site for the new school, which would replace the old school destroyed in an April tornado, is just inside the 5th District boundary. The old school was in the 6th District.

County Commissioner Robert Rominger wants the new school to stay in his 6th District. Commissioner Jeff Yarber is OK with the site being in his 5th District.

Neither the commissioners nor members of the commission’s redistricting committee have been able to resolve the dispute.

“Blue Springs has always been in the 6th District,” Rominger said.

There is no dispute from the 5th District, Yarber said.

“The commission agreed we would touch as few people as possible,” he said. “Are we going to move people simply for a nostalgic reason?”

On Tuesday night, a county school board member from the 4th District, Troy Weathers, weighed in on the dispute. He wants the commission to approve the proposed redistricting plan, which leaves the future school in the 5th District.

“The 5th District has never historically had a county school in it,” Weathers said. “That was one of the motivations for having [the new school] in that district. That was a planned move by our board to do that.”

Every county in Tennessee is redrawing its district lines using the results of the 2010 U.S. Census. Population within districts must be within 10 percent of each other, according to state guidelines, so that each elected district official — on city councils, county commissions or school boards — represents nearly equal numbers of people.

To give up the future Blue Springs school site, Yarber’s 5th District would have to give up the surrounding Blue Grass Circle neighborhood with its 105 residents. He said the residents there tell him they want to be in the 5th District.

Rominger said those residents tell him they want to be in the 6th District, where they were.

The redistricting committee on Monday toyed with the idea of a neighborhood poll. Instead it placed the issue before the full commission.

“I was hoping this would be worked out between the two [commissioners],” Commissioner Bill Winters said.

There is another part of the proposed redistricting plan. The 1st and 7th District commissioners agreed to some minor swaps several weeks ago.

The commission meets Monday at 10 a.m. at the county courthouse.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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