Cities unite to solve wastewater problems

By Ryan Lewis


KIMBALL, Tenn. -- Sometimes cooperation can be brought on by a shared crisis.

That's the case in Marion County, where officials from Kimball, Jasper and South Pittsburg have become an unlikely team in tackling the wastewater problems plaguing the region.

"This has been a great move forward," Jasper Mayor Billy Simpson said. "It's one of the finest things that ever happened to this area. This has been one of the few times that everybody has been in complete agreement on something."

Recently, administrators and attorneys from each of the cities as well as officials from county government and the Southeast Tennessee Development District met in Kimball to discuss some of the details involving an estimated $10 million regional wastewater facility project.

"It was a very positive meeting from all the members involved," Kimball Mayor David Jackson said. "I was really impressed with everybody that was there. I think this is going to happen."

The group determined that bills related to the project would be paid according to each municipality's buy-in on the venture.

Because South Pittsburg will be committing 54 percent of the overall funds, it will be responsible for 54 percent of each bill. Jasper will pick up 44 percent, while Kimball will pay the remaining 12 percent of each bill incurred by the project, officials said.

"I think that's the fair way to go," Mr. Simpson said. "It's fair to everyone involved."

The towns also decided that the initial Wastewater Authority Board, which will control the future facility, will be set up on staggered terms according to the same buy-in principle.

South Pittsburg's first member will serve three years. Jasper's first member will get a two-year term, and Kimball's will serve for one year, officials decided.

Once the initial terms expire, all of the terms will be for five years, officials said.

"It's designed that way so that there will always be someone with experience on that commission," Kimball attorney Billy Gouger said.

At the June meeting of the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Mark Payne, also an alderman, was appointed as the first board member of the wastewater authority.

South Pittsburg and Jasper are set to appoint their representatives over the next two weeks.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at

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