published Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Parents demand answers on East Hamilton Middle High School's athletic facilities

by Dan Whisenhunt
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    Staff Photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger

The conversation got heated Monday night at East Hamilton Middle High School as parents asked County Mayor Jim Coppinger, Commission Chairman Larry Henry and school board member Linda Mosley why the school's athletic facilities weren't complete.

Coppinger held his latest "County Conversations" meeting at the school, which opened in 2009 but lacked finished athletic facilities.

In dispute was money parents expected from the sale of the Signal Mountain Middle School and from $80,000 to $90,000 in discretionary money allocated by Trustee Bill Hullander for softball fields while he was a commissioner. Henry said the school needs about $2 million to complete its baseball, softball, soccer and football fields.

Things got tense when Mosley and other officials could not answer questions about where the money for the facilities was and why it had not been spent. City Councilman Jack Benson also stirred things up when he suggested the booster clubs for the school could raise the money.

"We are raising the money," one of the parents told him. "We're spending it to bus the kids to the other facilities, and going to the facilities and not making any money."

Mosley said afterward she would find the answers.

"It's my understanding things have been put out to bid," Mosley said, saying she didn't know how much money East Hamilton was supposed to receive from the sale of Signal Mountain Middle School.

Don Pauls, who has a son in 10th grade at the school, said he and other parents don't understand why the county and school board didn't build the football fields on the front end.

"There's no action," Pauls said. "I've heard the same thing over and over. I want to see some action."

Henry and Coppinger agreed that in the future schools should be built with facilities in place.

"Those people, they were just wanting some answers," Henry said. "I don't know where the money's at."

Contact staff writer Dan Whisenhunt at dwhisenhunt@timesfree or 423-757-6481.

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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