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Ferguson questions plan to pave streets in Jonesborough

Washington County Commissioner Mark Ferguson questioned the paving scheduled for the Town of Jonesborough when the Public Works Committee reconvened last week.
Committee members reviewed the paving schedule Ferguson requested from Highway Superintendent Johnny Deakins before recessing the Sept. 9 meeting.
“I guess what I don’t understand is (why) you agreed with me at the last meeting county roads come first, and now you’re saying you’re doing outside work,” Ferguson said to Deakins, who quickly responded to the accusation.
“No, I said county roads come first and we do Jonesborough last because that’s where we park our vehicles (at the Highway Department located in Jonesborough),” Deakins said. “Right before we shut down, we do Jonesborough.”
Deakins reminded Ferguson the county commission passed a resolution during the May meeting that includes paving on 19 different town roads.
While Ferguson said he remembers voting to approve the resolution, he thinks it is wrong to pull workers off county roads to pave the streets in town.
“I represent Jonesborough on the commission, and I’m all for helping, but I want to go on record as saying our obligation is to the county taxpayers,” he said.
According to Deakins, county roads in the worst condition are taken care of in the first round of the fiscal year while paving in Jonesborough is completed before the paving operation closes for winter each year. The second round of county roads is addressed in the spring.
“You mean to tell me when you came through and saw us paving Jonesborough, you thought we had all the paving in the county done?” Deakins asked.
Ferguson had additional questions, but said he would ask Deakins to explain it to him later because he didn’t want to take more time in the meeting.
He then asked if Deakins had reviewed the condition of the parking lot at Jonesborough’s library. Deakins provided a breakdown with an estimate of $21,000 to pave the lot and replace the curbing.
Deakins also provided the formula used to determine the cost of service. “I figure what it costs to make (the asphalt) and what it costs to put it up,” he said. “Every time the cost of liquid asphalt changes, I have to refigure.”
Ferguson acknowledged the recent change in membership on the Public Works Committee, and said all they ask is for Deakins to work with them.
During the first meeting of the new group on Sept. 9, members approved Ferguson’s motion to place all paving outside of the Washington County system on hold, with the exception of projects approved by the County-Owned Property Committee, until further word from the committee.
It appears Ferguson may have had a change of heart.
“I understand fully the state law gives you the authorization to pave,” he told Deakins during last week’s meeting. “The only thing I would do is make a recommendation.”
Deakins had no problem with that arrangement. “We didn’t get to be one of the best highway departments in the state by neglecting the roads,” he said. “We’re here to serve the taxpayers.”