published Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Bradley County leaders seek better ties with Cleveland

By Paul Leach/Correspondent

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bradley County commissioners want to sit down with Cleveland leaders so they might work better together.

In a recent meeting, the commission voted 13-1 for a resolution to arrange a series of meetings with Cleveland officials "to openly discuss issues past, present and future" in the best interest of all county residents.

Commissioner Adam Lowe, who introduced the resolution, said he was moved by recent statements Councilman Richard Banks made to the Cleveland City Council about improving communication with the county.

"Let's put the iron in the fire, and let's come up with a plan and a forum to do that," said Lowe, who said county and city governing bodies tend to communicate with each other only through media outlets and Chamber of Commerce representatives.

The resolution cited as evidence of the need for more meetings "less cooperation and decreased goodwill" between the county and city on "fire service, growth planning, economic development, sales taxation and more."

Current issues facing the city and county include joint ventures to provide road improvements for Whirlpool's relocation to Benton Pike and a proposal to establish a new industrial park in southern Bradley County. A proposed county wheel tax to fund capital projects for the county and city school systems soon will be up for review.

The first meeting is set for Jan. 25 at the Mountain View Inn, officials said.

"I think we've been talking to them about sales tax and a whole bunch of other things without making progress," said Commissioner Mel Griffith, who cast the only opposing vote to the resolution and called the proposed talks "a waste of time."

"I'm not approaching this with any distorted level of optimism. I'm just saying I don't know a much better route to go, moving forward, than to sit down with folks," Lowe responded.

"We need to get in the same room and talk to each other, rather than talk at each other and talk about each other," said Commissioner Bill Winters. "I'm for the dialogue."

"We can't make them cooperate, but we can show them we're going above and beyond attempting it, and our constituents need to know that," said Commissioner Terry Caywood.

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

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