County Executive Corner
By Kim Swindell Wood | January 7, 2019 7:10 am
Last Updated: January 7, 2019 at 7:49 am
By Denny Wayne Robinson, White County executive
From the day I took office, I realized how many things go on in White County government that folks either don’t know or are possibly miss-informed about. This year, I have decided to better inform the folks of White County concerning what is happening in their county executive’s office. With the help of The Expositor, I hope to keep you informed as we go through 2019.
I have chosen to start by sharing with you our accomplishments in the year 2018, and I might do some catch-up informing regarding things that may have happened earlier but still deserve a mention. I want to start by thanking the employees of White County; these public servants are the unseen heroes of our community. Without them, none of this would be possible.
The single biggest accomplishment I feel we had this year is the Hörmann Company locating in White County. When I see how big a corporation Hörmann is (pronounced Herman), it excites me to think of the possibilities for future expansion. This company was originally started in 1930 by August Hörmann whose motto was “a good name must be earned.” If you go to their website www.hormann.us you will be impressed. From their humble beginnings, they have grown to a worldwide business with manufacturing facilities all over Europe and Asia. From their website concerning the Sparta location: “Preliminary designs size of the facility is approximately 350,000 square feet and will include approximately 20,000 square feet of office space, training facilities, and a showroom.” They have also told us they intend to initially hire around 200 people and invest about $64 million in this site. With that kind of investment, I am excited to see them grow with us into the future and know that they will be here for the long haul. I would highly recommend you check out their website and consider a job there. They will be a force to be reckoned with for many years in White County. One final word about how big this is, the governor flew in to attend the announcement ceremonies.
One of the companies that located in White County and is getting up and running is Lanmills. (www.lanmillscompany.com) Lanmills is a family-owned-and-operated business that announced its original plans to open and employ 100 workers, in 2017. They should become fully operational no later than 2019 and were well on their way in 2018. They provide packaging and palletizing and some assembly and warehousing. Basically, they work on logistics and related matters to create dependable order fulfillment. This is a niche market with plenty of room to grow. They are located adjacent to the airport at the Fitzgerald Industrial Park in the new 100,000 square foot spec building built there. We look forward to their growth. With them being located right next to the airport, they are in an ideal place for “Just in Time” warehousing and order fulfillment. Let’s hope they grow gangbusters in this new and booming economy.
The City of Sparta, too, has been growing with companies expanding and increasing production. It is also exciting to see new businesses both opening and expanding in our downtown area. I will leave it to the Sparta mayor for those details. But the point is that White County and Sparta are on the move, and the future is looking good.
Now, let’s look at the grants we have successfully applied for and received. The biggest one was a site preparation grant that helped us attract the Hörmann Company. I know it seems hard to imagine but the dirt work needed to prepare for the construction was roughly $900,000. Additionally, we were able to qualify for $1.1 million to help with utility infrastructure connected to the plant, and a $50,000 grant to help us with core drilling and other costs that were required to make sure the site qualified under all the various codes for a manufacturing facility in the state of Tennessee.
White County also received a grant to widen the road and better manage the traffic connected to the Fitzgerald Industrial Park. Also, the awkward intersection on 136 where you turn toward the airport is being improved. This grant was worth $2 million.
Thanks to the efforts of State Senator Paul Bailey and State Representative Paul Sherrell, we were able to get monies freed up from the state to improve and maintain the railroad crossing over 111; it was starting to be a matter of real concern. This maintenance effort was a cost of $250,000.
We received a helpful grant to expand our EMS facility. We were able to add three more ambulance bays to the EMS building as well as build a room in which to hold our EMS training sessions. This grant ended up being worth $315,000
White County also received and implemented a program to collect waste oil from vehicles at your local convenience centers, and it even included a way to crush the used filters and capture the oil flowing from those as well. This was worth $160,000.
We received a great grant to allow us to better utilize one of our natural resources and at the same time support one of our local businesses. We obtained a grant worth $50,000 that allowed us to create a kayak access point on the Caney Fork River that includes a parking area, a trail, and a footbridge. This access point is located off White’s Cave Road.
This year, White County received a litter control grant that was worth $44,000 to help both with litter collection and community education regarding this problem.
Finally, on the grant side, we obtained $15,000 that will be used for post-secondary education of our folks such as junior college or technical training for a trade such as welding, nursing or other trades that require intensive training.
On the green side of things, Bridgestone- Firestone continued their wonderful ways by donating 5,700 acres in White County to the state of Tennessee Nature Conservancy. The state of Tennessee purchased some additional acreage locally known as the Big Bottom/Lost Creek area and referred to by them as the headwaters of Dry Creek and Dog Cove.
On the government side, our new group of county commissioners are on fire. I don’t believe I have ever seen a group of commissioners more dedicated and motivated to make our county a better place. State Senator Paul Bailey is always just a phone call away, and State Representative Paul Sherrell likewise is always willing to do whatever he can. And as I said in the opening, we have dedicated White County workers involved in every success I mention.
As I look back on all that has happened this year, White County has truly been blessed. We are preserving the unique beauty of areas in our county while continuing to grow and attract new industry to our little piece of the world. I looked at the value of our county this year and in rough numbers we have added $48 million of personal assets to our county in the year of 2018. Forty-eight million is remarkable, I haven’t checked, but that has to be some sort of record growth. It is our hope to keep growing and working hard to attract manufacturing and businesses to our county, while striving to preserve our natural beauty, enable more folks more ways to view and use our scenic areas, and keep our county clean. I am excited about our future and hopeful we can continue to grow employment opportunities.
I hope to publish more of these articles to keep you informed on how we interact with the other parts of government, here in the courthouse and beyond, and how we all work together to serve you.
Thanks for reading this little article, thanks to The Expositor for printing it, and all the wonderful public servants I work with throughout the county and beyond to get things done for you.
On behalf of the county executive’s office, I want to wish each and every one of you a happy and blessed new year.