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Downtown Centre sale moves ahead, settlement reached in mediation

It was a “good week” last week for Washington County, according to Mayor Dan Eldridge.
Eldridge met with the Johnson City Development Authority on Friday morning to nail down plans for the sale of the county-owned Downtown Centre.
The county plans to sell the vacated building in downtown Johnson City to the JCDA so Northeast State Community College can create a teaching site there.
In order for Northeast State to move into the building, the JCDA will have to buy it from the county for $1 million, then lease it to the college for $10 per month.
The plan has been in the works for several months now, and Eldridge said he believes Friday’s meeting will move the process along.
“I think that everyone with the JCDA is far more comfortable with this whole plan now,” Eldridge said. “I see this Northeast State thing really coming to fruition.”
Eldridge said he expected the final details of the sale to be completed in the next week or two.
Meanwhile, Eldridge spent much of June 9 in mediation with the county’s former health insurance administrator.
“It went very well,” Eldridge said of the mediation. “It is settled now, subject to the county commission’s approval. But I expect the commission will be pleased with the settlement.”
Washington County has been at odds with Corporate Systems for several years after the county claimed its former health insurance administrator changed the county’s policy, ultimately costing the county an additional $360,000.
At the time, county leaders were under the impression it had a “stop loss” program through the company, which essentially limits the amount of money the county would have to pay out in a year.
Somewhere along the way, however, it appears the policy was changed.
Corporate Systems initially refused to enter into mediation with the county on the issue, but later changed its mind.
Eldridge did not want to discuss details of the settlement until county commissioners had the chance to look it over, he said.