published Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Marion County leader upset about missed grant opportunities

Marion County's current farmers market on the 150-acre Holland Farm property along U.S. Highway 41 in Kimball, Tenn.
Photo by Ryan Lewis
Marion County's current farmers market on the 150-acre Holland Farm property along U.S. Highway 41 in Kimball, Tenn. Photo by Ryan Lewis

JASPER, Tenn. — The Marion County Commission missed out on a grant this year for a farmers market, and that has at least one county leader upset.

Commissioner Louin Campbell, who is on the board's Agriculture Committee, got the news about lost grant money at a recent meeting with University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Agent Vicki Lofty.

"I was informed that we lost a $50,000 grant for the farmers market because we didn't have any land to put it on," Campbell said.

The county lost $19,000 in grant money last year for the same reason, he said.

"Blindsided"

Campbell said he was "blindsided" by that revelation and doesn't like the fact that the county has left a lot of money "on the table."

"We were blown away," he said. "We didn't know anything about the grant and didn't know anything about nothing until we got in that meeting. All we had to do was furnish the property to put it on."

The board recently voted unanimously to have the committee find property on which to build the market.

The county's current farmers market is on the 150-acre Holland Farm property along U.S. Highway 41 in Kimball, Tenn., where officials plan to build a career and technical school.

Commissioner Tommy Thompson said the farmers market grant requires about 20 acres of land.

"There is a portion of that [Holland Farm] property that has been identified as educational-use only in conjunction with the $1 million [Economic Development Administration] grant that we received for this first phase of the building project," County Attorney Billy Gouger said.

Gouger said he is not sure if the current farmers market site is part of that EDA property.

More than school

The Holland property was never intended to be just the site of a satellite college campus, Commissioner Wayne Willis said.

"I think we discussed that in the beginning," he said. "We did not want to allocate that whole [parcel] to Chattanooga State or anybody else. We need to control whatever is not needed [for the school]."

Campbell said he hoped the county would be prepared the next time a grant opportunity arises.

"What I don't understand is nobody getting behind that and pushing it so we would have that [land] already," he said.

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