Legislators Question Taft Renovation Estimates

News release from Rep. Cameron Sexton’s office:
Nashville, TN – Over the last few months there has been a lot back and forth about the proposed closing of Taft Youth Development Center in Bledsoe County. The Department of Children Services has maintained Taft needs $37 million in improvements to remain open.
A bipartisan coalition of legislators joined together to oppose the closing of Taft Youth Center. Senator Eric Stewart (D-Belvidere), Representative Jim Cobb (R-Spring City), Representative Bill Harmon (D-Dunlap) and Representative Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville).
A few weeks ago Representative Sexton asked Commissioner O’Day to provide an itemize list detailing the $37 million price tag for improvements.
“Yesterday, Commissioner O’Day and her staff sent the requested information to us outlining the cost to rebuild Taft. It appears from the information we received, Commissioner O’Day is more concerned about the rehabilitation of the buildings at Taft than the rehabilitation of the students. To demolish buildings simply due to their age is short-sighted and leaves me to believe there is much more behind her proposal than what is being stated publically. I think it’s time we get to the bottom of it,” Senator Stewart stated.
In the release of information from Commissioner O’Day, DCS stated that five Taft buildings would need to be demolished and replaced at a cost of $28,790,737.50 due to the age of the structures.
“I have toured the facility multiple times and I am incredulous to the department’s desire to demolish buildings based simply on the year the building was built. Using that rationale, we should demolish the State Capitol and rebuild it because it is old too, built in 1859,” said Sexton.

Note/Update: A Crossville Chronicle article on the matter is HERE.


The buildings that need to be demolished and replaced are the 1943 Dorms at a cost of $14,040,000, a1959 Administrative building at a cost of $1,140,000, a 1943 Cafeteria which would cost $2,125,000, a 1981 Security Special Unit Area at a cost of $1,125,000, a
1932 Medical Clinic which cost would be $1,595,000, a 1957 Auxiliary building at a cost of $2,340,000, and $1,700,000 for site development, paving and demolition.
Representative Bill Harmon stated, “These buildings have had major renovations since the 1980’s. It is hard to believe Taft would have been accredited in 2009 and continually passes fire inspections with so many buildings needing to be demolished and replaced.”
Both dorms underwent renovations in 1981. The administrative building had major renovations from 2000 to 2005, which included new doors, roof and a new heating and cooling system. Taft’s security special unit had high security doors installed in the 1990’s. The medical clinic has no problems and no need for replacement. The auxiliary was rebuilt and brought up to date in the 1990’s.
“We are calling on the Commissioner to open the (newly installed) doors of Taft to the media. We believe it is important for the media to be able to view Taft first-hand along with the legislators. As a state representative, it is appropriate and important to fight for what is right regardless of whom the fight is with,” said Representative Jim Cobb.

16 thoughts on “Legislators Question Taft Renovation Estimates

  1. Real Deal

    The medical building was built in 1982, not the 30’s! Of course if anyone bothered to study up on it, or take a look at it, it is clearly in excellent condition and not in need of anything!
    Go figure!

  2. James Tuttle

    As a former officer that worked at TAFT, I can attest to the fact that this facility is a much needed asset to not only the rehabilitation of youth but also a security measure for the general as well. The youth that are sent to TAFT are in need of attention and guidence that they are obliviously not getting at home or school. Here they are encouraged to continue their education to have a chance of bettering themselves when they are released also in a secured environment they learn to coexist in a soical setting in a manner similar to general public. If Taft were to be closed not only would it put alot of great people out of work, but also it would severely limit the chance of success of rehablitating youth offenders.

  3. outthere

    Appears to me that either the Commissioner has again been given another bag of crap, or she has an agenda of her own. With the cost she says it will take and the square ft. of the buildings, it’ll be about $400.00 a sq.ft. to “rebuild” the buildings. OUTRAGEOUS!!

  4. Common Cents

    “OUTRAGEOUS” is absolutely correct! Have they even bothered to check the current prices of building materials? It’s less exensive now to build than it has been in years! And why in the world would essentially all the buildings at Taft need to be replaced when they are structurally sound? Lets go right ahead and tear down the capitol! It’s sooo much older than any building at Taft so using common sense, it must be very unsafe! Commissioner O’Day – I think it’s about time you promptly get rid of the people or persons giving you these false numbers and incorrect information because they are making you look like an incompetent fool!

  5. Smellsfunny

    Looks like things are heating up in this battle. I wonder what Nashville’s response will be? I also wonder why the Tennessean hasn’t picked this story up yet? Knoxville and Chattanooga have been on it for some time now.

  6. Common Cents

    “OUTRAGEOUS” is absolutely correct! Have they even bothered to check the current prices of building materials? It’s less exensive now to build than it has been in years! And why in the world would essentially all the buildings at Taft need to be replaced when they are structurally sound? Lets go right ahead and tear down the capitol! It’s sooo much older than any building at Taft so using common sense, it must be very unsafe! Commissioner O’Day – I think it’s about time you promptly get rid of the people or persons giving you these false numbers and incorrect information because they are making you look like an incompetent fool!

  7. childadvocate

    Who is giving the Commissioner her information? Has anybody from her office checked on the validity of the information that she has been given?

  8. Smellsfunny

    Her quote was 28,790,737.50? What happened to the 37 million she gave the employees,the Governor,and the Media? I’ll bet if someone other than central office (Nashville) looks at this they will find that the 28,790,737.50 is a lie too!! I guess they would say 8 million is pocket change and just a simple mistake.

  9. Common Cents

    Oh’ surely someone who makes $12,000/month can do basic math… but apparently not. It’ll be cheaper in the long run to just leave Taft alone. Just think of all the lawsuits that’ll come about after the students at Taft are moved to the less secure girls facility and to the other YDC’s. When Taft boys are put with the younger and less aggressive boys, the younger/less aggressive and staff are gonna get hurt. Lawyers, get ready!

  10. missabigail

    This proposal sure does look like a lawsuit waiting to happen. The liabilities of putting the older repeat offenders with younger kids will be much more costly than 4 million dollars. Is the closure of Taft really necessary for a 5% across the board cut? I don’t think so ! People’s lives are in the mix here – employees and the kids. It is my understanding that many of the employees have 20 plus years – is this administration going to thank them for their loyal service by just saying we don’t need you anymore and don’t care about your retirement….how SAD! Are the kids there just going to be moved to another place where they have to readjust all over again? I feel that Commissioner O’Day has been mislead and really should reconsider her proposal. Surely some of her administrators know what a mistake this will be and can talk to her about the necessity of saving this center.

  11. Real Deal

    Good question there. But, if I was betting, I would bet he will. What O’Day is going to have to realize is how bad all of this misinformation is making her look to the taxpayers! If you don’t have the support of John Q. Public and the Legislators, you got nothing in this State!
    Hopefully, somebody will get the CORRECT information to her and the fuzzy math will stop.
    I agree with this article. Open up the (new) doors, allow the media and public in and let them see for themselves! Afterall, it’s the Taxpayers who will pay the price.

  12. Susie

    I definitely agree!! Open the doors, let them see! The media (Nick Beres) was permitted into Woodland Hills 3 yrs following their riot they had in 2004 to see if the facility had bettered itself. So why not let them in to Taft to prove the figures being thrown out are wrong?

  13. Smellsfunny

    Has anyone wondered what happened wih the need to replace a 1932 Boiler and Security Complex. These things were also in her list to the Governor? Oh yea that 32 clinic was built in 82. Guess she forgot to take this building out of her estimate. Come on!! There have been so many lies told by this adm. Ray Charles could see it.

  14. Real Deal

    That must have been on the page that didn’t come through the fax Smells, LOL! I tell you, I bet the people keep better track of their own money than they are the taxpayers money.
    Do I hear the spindle twirling where the rope in reeling off in record time? You know what they say about giving someone enough rope, don’t you?

  15. Real Deal

    That must have been on the page that didn’t come through the fax Smells, LOL! I tell you, I bet the people keep better track of their own money than they are the taxpayers money.
    Do I hear the spindle twirling where the rope in reeling off in record time? You know what they say about giving someone enough rope, don’t you?

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