Timeline for new Marion County technical school on hold -- again

Timeline for new Marion County technical school on hold -- again

May 29th, 2012 by Ryan Lewis in News

Marion County purchased more than 140 acres along U.S. Highway 41 in Kimball, shown here, in hopes of using 30 acres of the land for a Chattanooga State Community College campus to serve the tri-state region.

Photo by Ben Benton/Times Free Press.

KIMBALL, Tenn. -- The three-year roller coaster ride that has become the proposed career and technical school in Marion County is once again on a downward plunge.

Officials said in April they planned to put out bids by May 9 for the construction of the first building on the 150-acre Holland Farm property along U.S. Highway 41. The property had been set aside for the new school.

The bids were to be opened in early June, officials said, but that timeline once again has been postponed until county administrators hear about a $500,000 Economic Development Administration grant.

The county applied for a similar grant in November but was turned down.

Marion County Commissioner Jane Dawkins, who is also the board's Education Committee chairwoman, said the project is on hold.

"We still haven't heard from [Executive Director of the Southeast Tennessee Development District Beth Jones] yet about the grant," she said. "We feel like we can't proceed until she says to have at it.

"We're not really waiting on her," she said. "We're waiting on the government [to approve the grant funding]."

Jones has warned county leaders for months that obtaining the grant money is an arduous process.

"It's slow," she said in December. "People's expectations have been up, but it's the reality with dealing with federal money," she said. "If you go out there and do anything without approval, you relinquish your eligibility for the money. It's never as fast as we'd like it to be."

In April, county leaders said the grant application wouldn't make or break the project.

Now, those sentiments apparently have changed.

Last week, Commissioner Tommy Thompson said the delay on the grant funding would "kill our timeline for doing this."

"For now," Dawkins said.

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