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TTU To Sell Land To County For Fire Dept

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

The Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees agreed Thursday to sell 0.5 acres of the Hyder Farm to Putnam County for a fire department.

Putnam County will pay $25,000 for the piece of land on the corner of the farm. The revenue will go to scholarships as outlined in the 1996 gift of W. Claude Hyder and his wife. That gift also said the University could not sell the land unless it disbanded the agriculture program. Tennessee Tech will petition the court to allow the sale to the county.

Board member Thomas Jones asked if the 0.517 acres of land being sold would affect access to the 31 acres of the farm land or change the amount of frontage on Gainesboro Grade. School of Agriculture Dean Darron Smith said the land, which housed two old trailers, is simply mowed right now. He said the change would be an improvement to the land.

“It in no way impacts the farm at all,” Smith said. “We’re not changing any operations of the farm at all, we’re just replacing what we mow.”

Also Thursday, the board appointed Tech Chief Of Staff Lee Wray to the board secretary. He replaces Kae Carpenter who will retire as secretary and general counsel June 30.

Board member Thomas Jones expressed concerns about the potential conflict of interest between President Phil Oldham’s chief of staff serving as secretary of the board. Jones said he did not have a problem with Wray or the choice, but the perception.

Board Chair Trudy Harper said she had expressed the same concern. She met with Oldham and Wray prior to the trustees meeting about how it should be handled.

“There is a closer day-to-day relationship with Lee and the President,” Harper said. “Lee and I had a conversation and Phil was there for it where I reminded Lee that he would have to take off his chief of staff hat and put on his board secretary hat.”

Oldham said he understood the concerns, but said Wray’s loyalty is clear.

“He is 100 percent loyal to Tennessee Tech,” Oldham said. “He puts that relationship with the university above everything else.”

Carpenter said she recommended keeping the role of legal counsel and board secretary separate because of the roles each person fills.

The board also approved the building of an athletic pavilion for tailgating and events. Three individuals are gifting the time and resources to construct the facility


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