How a pile of dirt became the center of controversy in Washington County, Tenn.

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- A pile of dirt at the new Boones Creek PreK-8 school is causing controversy among Washington County leaders.

Earlier this month, News Channel 11 reported that Washington County Commissioners would have to start from square one on the construction of a new sports complex, after a previous vote was found to be in violation of state law requiring competitive bidding.

MORE: Washington County Commission starting from square one on new sports complex

The resolution, approved by the commission then vetoed by the county mayor, would’ve allowed Burwil Construction to continue developing the $800 thousand dollar sports complex under their current contract to build the school.

Now that the county is expected to bid out the project, Washington County resident Dwayne Cochran said he’s witnessed Summers-Taylor, Inc, a sub-contractor for Burwil, removing topsoil from the school site.

Where many see dirt, Cochran sees dollar signs.

“There they go, moving this high-dollar topsoil that’s worth thousands,” Cochran said. “We’re talking major money right here and it’s not right.”

Cochran and Washington County Commissioner Kent Harris said the dirt pile is worth hundreds of thousands in its entirety.

“If they’re giving it away or they’re taking it off of here unlawfully I want to know. I think taxpayers should know,” said Washington County resident Scott Holly.

Washington County Commissioner Kent Harris said removing the topsoil could make building the sports complex with a different contractor more expensive when the county puts the contract out for bid.

“Without the topsoil being there the county will have to buy topsoil and bring it back,” said Harris. “So it makes no sense to me, number one, why we’re allowing it to be hauled off and I would like to know who authorized it to be hauled off. Under state law, that’s county property.”

Harris said state law requires the topsoil be auctioned off.

Burleson Construction Company CEO Tommy Burelson, who is serving as the Board of Education’s project representative, said otherwise.

Speaking about Summers-Taylor, Burelson said, “Under the current terms of the contract, that pile of dirt is theirs.”

Mayor Joe Grandy agreed, saying Summers-Taylor is responsible for the disposal and management of any “excess material” under Burwil’s contract with the county.

“The contractor is doing exactly what he was instructed to do,” Grandy said.

Summers-Taylor President Grant Summers said they agreed to leave sufficient topsoil to complete the sports complex.

Summers said if the county wanted to retain all of the topsoil, they could’ve written that into the original contract.

“From our perspective there’s just not an issue,” he added.

Harris said the county could use the excess topsoil for other tax-payer funded services to save money.

Grandy said if commissioners vote to move forward with phase one of sports complex, the original contract could be changed.

“Washington County would immediately get with the contractor and see if we could modify the existing contract in order to keep those materials on site if they’re needed,” Grandy said.

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