A new schools director, election official and sheriff part of 2021 | News | #Education

A look back at some of the year’s top stories involving government, business and public education in Washington County.

Jan. 12

Washington County’s two new representatives in the state House were sworn into office when the 112th Tennessee General Assembly convened in Nashville.

State Reps. Rebecca Alexander, R-Jonesborough, and Tim Hicks, R-Gray, took their oaths as family members joined them on the House floor. The two were among 10 freshmen serving in the House this session.

Feb. 15

Work was nearing completion on a major upgrade to the Interstate 26 interchange at Exit 17 in Boones Creek.

The project, which began in July 2019, included the widening and realignment of Boones Creek Road, as well as reconfiguring the entry and exit ramps of I-26.

March 22

Former Putnam County Superintendent of Schools Jerry S. Boyd was named the new director of schools for Washington County at a negotiated annual salary of $140,000.

In a unanimous vote, the Washington County Board of Education approved an employment contract with Boyd, who was then serving as an assistant commissioner in the Tennessee Department of Education.

The new director was chosen from five finalists interviewed by the school board in February. The hiring was made after Bill Flanary informed the county Board of Education in January that he planned to retire as director of schools in five months.

April 15

In their first meeting as new members of the Washington County Election Commission, the panel’s three Republican designees voted to name a new administrator of elections.

Election Commissioners Phyllis Fox, Gary McAllister and John Abe Teague, who were appointed by the Tennessee Election Commission to serve as GOP representatives on the board earlier in the month, voted to make Dana Jones the county’s administrator of elections.

Jones succeeded Maybell Stewart, who retired from the position in March.

May 24

Residents in the Limestone area first told Washington County commissioners that a bitcoin mining operation was damaging both the property values and the serenity of their rural community.

Craig Ponder, pastor of New Salem Baptist Church, said his congregation and neighbors of the community were being disturbed by the constant noise from the computers and cooling fans used by Red Dog Technologies in its cyber mining operation.

Bitcoin mining is a process that produces cryptocurrency by using computers to solve complex math problems.

June 1

Gov. Bill Lee praised what he called Tennessee’s “exceptionalism” during a celebration of Tennessee’s 225th anniversary of statehood in front of the Washington County Courthouse.

The governor also helped to return a missing piece of Washington County’s early history.

Accompanying Lee to Jonesborough was Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, who brought back a copy of Deed Book A, which documented the first property transactions of frontier Washington County in what would eventually become the state of Tennessee.

June 8

Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for Washington County’s second solar farm, located near 215 Martin Road.

The 9-megawatt power generating facility is being built on 104 acres of former farmland by Nashville-based Silicon Ranch in partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority and BrightRidge.

The project is expected to generate nearly twice the electricity of a similar Silicon Ranch operation in Telford, which became the first solar farm in Washington County when it became operational in early 2019.

June 28

Washington County Commissioners approved a resolution outlining a list of key waterline extension projects in rural areas of the county. The water resolution didn’t specify how those water projects — totaling an estimated $8 million — would be funded.

Instead, Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said the funding options should be left open while officials learn more about how the county might use a portion of the $25.5 million it will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act to expand water service.

Aug. 12

Census data shows the population of Washington County grew by 8.15% in the past decade, while Carter, Johnson and Unicoi counties saw declines in their numbers.

Washington County recorded 133,001 residents in the 2020 census, which ranks it 12th in population among Tennessee’s 95 counties. The county, which was previously ranked 11th in population, has added 10,022 residents since the 2010 census.

Aug. 25

A leading South Korean auto parts supplier said it would locate its first manufacturing plant in the United States in the Washington County Industrial Park.

Sungwoo Hitech America Corp. (identified originally as “Project Stamp”) committed to creating 117 jobs by 2025 and making a $40 million investment during its first phase of development at the Telford site. That includes buying the privately owned 380,000-square-foot former Alo Tennessee Inc. building, which was originally the Bush Hog Manufacturing plant.

Aug 26

Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal announced in a letter to Mayor Joe Grandy he would retire from his position effective Sept. 1.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Washington County for 42 years,” he wrote. “I have served with the sheriff’s office for 41 years, 18 of those as their sheriff.”

Sept. 28

A German manufacturer of electric motors and fans broke ground on a 177,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in the Washington County Industrial Park.

The ceremony came more than two years after Ebm-papst announced it will invest $37 million at the site and create as many as 200 new jobs in the region.

The economic development project was made possible by a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Washington County.

Nov. 9

Students from Jonesborough Elementary School shoveled dirt at a groundbreaking ceremony for Washington County’s newest school. The $42 million K-8 Jonesborough school project is the first-of-its-kind lease-to-own agreement between the town of Jonesborough and the Washington County Commission.

Nov. 22

Washington County commissioners appointed a Johnson City Police Department lieutenant to be the county’s interim sheriff.

Keith Sexton will serve out the remainder of Graybeal’s unexpired term.

Dec. 3

Washington County Chancellor John Rambo issued an order acknowledging the county had dropped its request for a temporary injunction against BrightRidge in favor of an expedited trial set to begin in his court at 9 a.m. on March 14.

Rambo had previously scheduled a hearing on Dec. 8 to address the county’s request for the injunction against BrightRidge to prevent the continuation of Red Dog’s bitcoin mining on property the energy authority owns at 1444 Bailey Bridge Road.

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