CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Bradley County commissioners will vote today on a $2 million commitment to develop an industrial park in southern Bradley County and whether to maintain public training records of the county's constables.
The resolution to create a public records system for tracking constables' in-service training was sponsored by Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones in response to recent questions about such training.
State law requires constables to get a minimum of 40 hours' training each year, but there's no agency assigned to monitor whether they do so.
"This resolution is made to create a public information source for people who have questions regarding the training of our constables," said Peak-Jones. "The sheriff's office isn't required to keep those records."
The proposed records system would rely on certifications provided by the constables. The system is not intended to be coercive or punitive, said Peak-Jones.
"Our constables embody the volunteerism this county is known for," said Peak-Jones. "They are not paid officials, but they do so much for the county."
State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, and Bradley County commissioners repeatedly have defended the reputations, dedication and skill of the county's constables in recent weeks.
The vote comes after the stroke-related death of Ira Cox, 74, who was a Bradley County constable for more than a dozen years. Cox fell ill at Watson's office Wednesday, shortly after a television interview regarding the constable training controversy. He died later at Erlanger hospital.
In other business, the Bradley County Commission's approval of a $6 million jointly funded venture with Cleveland, Cleveland Utilities and the Industrial Development Board will launch the purchase and development of 330 acres in the McDonald, Tenn., area. The land will cost $5 million, and the balance will go for environmental studies and planning.
The agreement calls for the county to pay one-third of the $6 million, which it will borrow from the city. The county won't have to start repaying the loan until July 1, 2015.
Officials want to complete the purchase before the end of the year, said Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
The next steps for the project -- known as the Spring Branch Industrial Park -- will include up to $6 million to build an access road and install infrastructure such as water and sewer, according to project documents.
The park's launch will not spell the end of public involvement, said Berry. The site is looking forward to the next generation of industrial development, and that calls for community involvement.
"We will have a continuing dialogue with residents as we develop the park," said Berry.