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Homeless town government looks for a place

Normandy officials are looking at a structure on Front Street that used to be a machine shop as a possible community hall.

T-G Photo by Terence Corrigan

By Terence Corrigan - reporter for Times-Gazette in Bedford County, TN

Normandy is completing the final steps to hire a police chief and has a judge lined up to conduct municipal court but they lack one crucial detail — they don’t have a location for the court and no place for the police chief to set up his office.

Normandy has no town hall. The only building the town owns is leased by the Post Office and that building has got termite problems. Given the Post Office’s downsizing trend in recent years, it’s also uncertain if their lease with the town will be renewed.

Meeting places for the town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen has been catch-as-catch-can. In fair weather they’ve met outdoors in the park or in the garage at the fire department. During cold months this winter, the owner of The River Bistro gave them shelter, out of the cold, even serving hot coffee.

Possible fix

Normandy’s Mayor, Charles Whitaker, has his eye on a possible solution for all the town’s housing needs and a possible way to pay for the repairs the structure will require to be habitable. The structure he’s looking at used to house the Schmeide machine shop.

“It would solve a whole bunch of problems for us for a long time,” Whitaker said.

The windowless brick structure is on the south end of Front Street. The brick-work on the north side of the building is in serious need of, at a minimum, repointing. Whitaker and others got access to the building recently and discovered that the roof leaks and if they wanted to use it for a community gathering place/post office/police station, they’d also have to install a heating, ventilation air conditioning system.

Charles said he met briefly with the building’s owner, Fran Schmeide, and she may be interested in leasing or even selling the structure to the town but she cautioned them that they need to have the structure evaluated by contractors.

Alderman Brian Loso, said finding out the cost for a new roof should be step number one, as that will likely be the most expensive repair.

Money issues

Normandy is not exactly flush with cash, as of April 30 the town’s bank balance was $80,147. But a grant from the state could possibly make the acquisition and repair feasible.

The town will become eligible in July for a $36,288 Governor’s Local Government Support Grant.

The grant may be used for projects in six categories: IT hardware upgrades, capital maintenance (like roof repairs), utility system upgrades (like water and sewer system infrastructure), road projects, public safety (like equipment for police or fire departments) or COVID-19 response.

While you’re thinking about this grant, Whitaker said to the Aldermen, “think about this grant and if you can meld the two together. We could spend every bit of that grant on this building if that’s what we decide to do.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will decide what they want to do with the state grant at their June meeting.

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