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Tech board approves sale of farm property to Putnam County for fire station

By Dewayne Wright

The sale of a half-acre parcel of the university’s Hyder Farm to Putnam County for the purpose of building a fire station was approved today in a specially called meeting of the Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees.

The parcel, located along Gainesboro Grade on the edge of the 31-acre farm, is not used by the School of Agriculture for any of its activities, and the sale will not impact the operation of the farm, according to Darron Smith, dean of Tech’s College of Agriculture and Human Ecology.

The county will pay the university $25,000 for the land, and these funds will go into the existing W. Clyde and Marie Hyder Endowment, which is used for scholarships in the School of Agriculture.

The university will now seek court permission to modify the gift agreement, as there are no representatives of the Hyder family alive who can approve the change.

Even though Tech is modifying a donor agreement, Board chair Trudy Harper said that the board is “glad [Tech is] staying true to what was intended” with the original gift from the Hyders, who gave their farm to the university in 1997 to aid in School of Agriculture operations.

Tech President Phil Oldham provided an update on various campus matters, including the COVID-19 response, this summer’s campus repopulation, and enrollment.

“Tech’s response to COVID-19 showed we can respond in a time of crisis, do it well and do it quickly, putting students first,” Oldham said. “And for this summer, the goal is very clear: by the end of August to be welcoming 10,000 students back on this campus in as much of a traditional format as possible,” Oldham said.

The phased return of the Tech community to campus has already begun, with the return this week of the university’s facilities staff. The university’s executive leadership is in the process of notifying staff of the timeline for each division’s return.

In enrollment matters, Oldham said summer enrollment is up more than 3% over last year, and Tech staff will have a better update on fall enrollment by the board’s meeting next month. The university is also starting additional marketing efforts next week to develop a higher level of confidence in students returning to campus.

In other matters, the board approved:

  • Approved the university’s acceptance of private donors funding the construction of an athletic pavilion on the north side of the tennis courts, along the south edge of the large parking lot between Tucker Stadium and the Hooper Eblen Center. This permanent structure will replace the temporary tenting that is used in the location. Kim Chamberlin is providing architectural services; Don Logan, structural engineering services; and Randy Keifer, steel and construction of the pavilion. “This is a great example of what the Cookeville community does for the university,” Harper said.

  • Approved university policies related to board development activities and how the university handles proposals to the legislature.

  • Ratified Chief of Staff Lee Wray as the new Board Secretary, effective July 1 with the retirement of current secretary Kae Carpenter, who is also the university’s general counsel. Wray will continue to serve in his current role. The university will conduct a search for the general counsel position.

The next full meeting of the board is Tuesday, June 23.

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