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Wed, Jul 23, 2014

New committee formed for road, school districts

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Rutherford County’s Steering Committee will recommend forming a study committee for the purpose of examining Road Board and School Board zones to the County Commission.

If approved as is, the committee will consist of nine members including one Road Board and School Board member, a county commissioner, four citizens at-large – one from each municipality – and two citizens residing in unincorporated areas of Rutherford County.

The committee will be responsible for examining alternative scenarios to current Road Board and School Board zones, which resulted from redistricting that took effect Jan. 1.

Redistricting is required by both federal and state law every 10 years after the U.S. Census is taken to ensure populations are properly represented under the concept one man, one vote.

Commissioner Rhonda Allen (Dist.11) initially voiced concerns about how the process would affect Road Board and School Board zones late last year when the County Commission approved the new district map. She argued the Redistricting Committee needed to take some time to examine both zones before making a decision on the map, however the commission disagreed at the time.

La Vergne currently has three School Board members, however some citizens fear because those members now represent nine districts in the county, their influence could be watered down.

Allen has vowed to keep the conversation alive for those citizens who are concerned.

After the Steering Committee postponed taking a vote for the formation of a study committee last month, Allen almost faced another snag when Commissioner Gary Farley insisted Election Administrator Nicole Lester be part of the committee.

Lester expressed in an e-mail exchange with Allen she would not be available to serve on a committee, however would offer any help that she could.

“My concern tonight is your e-mail from Nicole. With her being busy, she’s not even going to be able to do it right now. With her being the election administrator, it’s vital that she’s involved in this as the head of that department over there,” Farley said.

“Are you saying the committee doesn’t exist without her or it would exist at her discretion,” Allen asked.

The Steering Committee agreed Lester would need to be up-to-date on what is happening within the committee and would serve an advisory role.

The recommendation will go to the County Commission for final approval.

Social Media Policy

Rutherford County’s social media policy was re-examined Monday after being rejected by the County Commission because of confusing language.

The social media policy is an effort to ensure employees of Rutherford County are portraying a positive online image of the community while at work.

It failed to pass the County Commission because confusing language suggested the county would be monitoring any social media sites employees were visiting even if they were at home, Human Resources Director Sonya Stephenson explained.

“What we’ve drilled down into is if you are at work using county resources ... that we maintain some guidelines for that,” she said.

Commissioner Robert Stevens (Dist. 12), who is also a local attorney said he was much happier with the new language.

“I was much more pleased with this draft than the first one,” he said. “The first one had a  lot of vague things and this one is much more defined.”

Stephenson explained new wording in the document clarifies its intent to treat county websites as an extension of government, which provides information to citizens and should not be used as a means to perpetuate personal ideas by employees.

Local governments have a right to restrict speech when acting as an employer, however to prohibit speech made on an employee’s own time or personal property would be walking a dangerous line with First Amendment Rights.

Stephenson made clear the manpower and resources to monitor personal conduct by employees is not feasible or desired by Rutherford County.

“I do believe we’ve gotten it down to a manageable policy,” Stephenson said.

The County Commission will consider the policy again at its April 12 meeting.
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County Commission, Eagleville, Education, La Vergne, Murfreesboro, Politics, Redistricting, Rhonda Allen, Road Board, Robert Stevens, Rockvale, Rutherford County, School Board, Smyrna, Social Media, Technology
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