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Joe Graham


• Commissioners voted to spend $397,000 to build a Shackleford Ridge Park baseball pavilion.

• Commissioners settled on the rules for voting on judicial magistrate candidates, who will be interviewed Monday morning.


As part of an effort to issue about $92 million in bonds, Hamilton County recently sought review from the ratings agencies. All of those gave the county a AAA bond rating.

Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham said Thursday that he'll support the purchase of new land for Ooltewah Elementary School only if revenue from the sale of the current site goes to the county and not the schools.

The school board voted last week to ask commissioners to buy 33.97 acres along Ooltewah-Georgetown Road for $875,000, or $25,758 per acre, for a new school to replace the currently undersized and overcrowded Ooltewah Elementary.

"That's a lot of money for that piece of property," Graham said Thursday after a commission agenda session.

The county may own the old Ooltewah Elementary property anyway, said Commissioner Fred Skillern. The county attorney will verify that by the next commission meeting, he said.

The full commission will vote on the purchase Wednesday.

Gary Waters, Hamilton County Schools assistant superintendent of auxiliary services, said the benefits of the property include its adjacency to an 8-inch sewer main.

Commissioner Mitch McClure asked if the schools or county would sell the current school property, which is in the center of a commercial area.

"That will likely be a high-dollar piece of property," Waters said.

The current school site likely will bring in at least $1 million for the county. The building has some asbestos in it, but abating that should not cost much, allowing the county to net a profit on the property's sale, Waters said.

Any revenue generated by the sale would be reinvested in capital improvements in the school system, Waters said.

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