Marion County Commission OKs money for park upgrades

Marion County Commission OKs money for park upgrades

May 27th, 2013 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News

Marion County Commission Chairman Gene Hargis

JASPER, Tenn. - Marion County Park has become a hot spot for campers and fishermen in recent years, and county leaders are trying to finish some improvements to it before the summer season blossoms.

Marion County commissioners last week voted unanimously to move $20,000 into the park's fund to finish building a new bathhouse and some other minor jobs.

Commissioner Glenn White said the park is "actually doing really good," but the projects need to be completed before the camping season gets under way.

The loan will be paid back before the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, officials said.

"We started projects that we kind of ran out of money on," White said. "This will help us get on through them."

Commissioner Gene Hargis said the bathhouse project was put out for bid several years ago and was going to cost over $100,000.

Eventually, he said, county leaders found a better price and have spent about $40,000 on it so far.

"It's probably going to take $15,000, give or take a little, to complete the new bathhouse," he said. "We were trying to get it done before our camping season starts this year because it will affect that."

The park's fund has just over $15,000 now, Commissioner Louin Campbell said.

"All the bills are paid," he said. "Our season is just fixing to start, so it won't be a problem with money flow. The park will have the money to repay it."

Commission Chairman Les Price said paying for the work as it is completed would take the entire camping season.

"This way they can get it finished before it all starts," he said.

Hargis said the county used to help fund the park's operation, but it has since become "self-sufficient."

"The more improvements we make, the better it's going to be," he said.

Moving the money into the park's fund shouldn't be a problem, County Mayor John Graham said. Commissioners can amend the budget later, he said.

Price said the park is an asset to Marion County.

"All you have to do is drive by this time of year and you can see all the campers that are there," Price said. "It's a really good thing over there. It's kind of the front door to Marion County for a lot of folks."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.