A new Henry County Health Department building appears to be in the plans for the near future, members of the Henry County Commission learned Monday.
Donald Dunning of the Tennessee Department of Health and Tracy Byrd, county director for Henry, Benton and Weakley counties' health departments, told the commission that the state is ready to provide $2.25 million of ARP (American Rescue Plan) funding for a new Health Department building here.
The Health Department is currently at 803 Joy St.
The funding for the project would be a 75-25 match, with the county picking up about $750,000 to $1.2 million depending on final costs, according to County Mayor John Penn Ridgeway.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for Henry County to get a new facility," Dunning said. "Especially if you've got someone to pay three-fourths of it, it's a good deal."
Ridgeway said the county would actually build the new building — locations are being looked at now — then the state would reimburse the county, and it would technically be a county-owned building.
The county has until the end of June in 2026 to get the project done in order for the funds to be available. Ridgeway said he hoped construction would only take 12-14 months.
"This is a once in a lifetime thing, with them throwing this ARP money around," said Dunning.
In other action during Monday's meeting:
• The commission approved signing on for a $4 million line of credit for Henry County Medical Center.
The county is allowed to seek up to $10 million a year in tax-free notes, and this is the first request for this year, so there would still be a possibility of seeking $6 million more in this year if some unusual situation arose.
HCMC CEO John Tucker had told the commission last month the medical center would be asking for the line of credit in order to help augment its cash situation for the rest of this year.
Tucker explained that HCMC, which is seeking to sell Henry County Healthcare Center (the nursing home it has owned for more than 30 years), still has a delay in front of it because the county private act has to be changed in order for that sale to happen. The $4 million is designed to help HCMC get through a possibly tough financial situation until the nursing home can be sold.
He said there has been some interest from prospective buyers already.
The commission agreed to the line of credit, 13-2, with Missy Hamilton and Ralph Wiles voting no.
• A change in the county's deputy clerk system was approved. That change will make the system now two-tiered — with clerks classified only as first deputies or second deputies.
All clerks who have been third, fourth or fifth deputies up until now will move up to second deputies and will receive the entry-level minimum for a second deputy's salary. The total impact on the county will be about $30,000 the first year. The plan will go into effect when the 2023-24 budget year begins July 1.
Commissioner Ricky Wade complained that workers who are now first or second deputies won't be getting a raise now like the other classifications will be.
"I'm fighting for everybody. Why not fix it now if it's an unfair system?" Wade said.
"I think this is a step in the right direction," Ridgeway said, referring to a deputy hierarchy system that has been in place for well more than 30 years.
Wiles cast the only no vote in a 14-1 decision to approve the new classifications.
• Three roads were removed from the county road system, as requested by the Henry County Highway Commission. They are Vickery Lane, Old Timer Road and the old portion of Nobles Road. Since they're not in the system, they will no longer be maintained by the county.
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I guess the whole population of Henry County, Tennessee are taken for fools by the so-called democratically elected 'leaders' of our County.
Ridgeway: That 'somebody else' who is paying for three quarters of all that you want to spend are the faction of the people left here who produce something of value to others in the free market and are taxed by 'sharp' men like you!
What we have are irresponsible political hustlers like you spending our future today. No thanks!
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