No Action Taken On Bill To Transition York Institute Back To Fentress County

Members of the local delegation who went to Nashville to voice their opposition to a bill to transition York Institute back to Fentress County are shown as they assembled at the statute of Sgt. Alvin C. York on the Tennessee Capitol grounds Tuesday with their “Save York” banner.

Members of the local delegation who went to Nashville to voice their opposition to a bill to transition York Institute back to Fentress County are shown as they assembled at the statute of Sgt. Alvin C. York on the Tennessee Capitol grounds Tuesday with their “Save York” banner.

The united voice of a standing room only group of supporters of York Institute was apparently heard Tuesday in the Tennessee legislature in Nashville, as a fiscal review subcommittee took no action on a house bill which would have begun the transition of York Institute from the state of Tennessee to Fentress County. By the committee taking no action it is believed that this issue is dead for this legislative session.

After learning last week that bills had been introduced in the Tennessee House and Senate to begin the process to transition York Institute back to Fentress County, local citizens began organizing efforts to unite the community in opposition to the proposal.

The bills, House Bill 1278, sponsored by Rep. Gerald McCormick, and Senate Bill 1331, sponsored by Senator Mark Norris, which were filed in the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee, would create a planning committee for this purpose.

In addition to various rallys of support for the school, organized by School Board member Philip Hall and others, a town hall meeting was called Friday evening by Fentress County Executive Frank Smith and Jamestown Mayor Ryan Smith, which was attended by some 80 local residents, along with State Representatives Kelly?Keisling and John Mark Windle.

At this meeting, petitions were introduced which, along with letters from local leaders, York Institute faculty and students, veterans, and individuals, which were to be hand carried to Nashville on Tuesday, March 26 by a delegation from Fentress County and presented to the legislative committee, which was scheduled to vote on the bill Tuesday afternoon.

Representatives Keisling and Windle explained that this action was not something that Rep. McCormick and Senator Norris had just arbitrarily sponsored, but it was a responsibility of their duties as House and Senate Majority Leaders to file the bills to begin the process, since they were administrative bills.

While the state appears to be looking at the proposal as a budgetary issue, local sentiment sees it as a failure by the state to honor a commitment made in 1937 to place the school under the control of the State Board of Education.

Rep. Windle said:  “When you factor York’s budget against the state budget of over $32 billion, which includes a surplus, it’s a very insignificant amount.”

Mrs. Joyce Crouch, a retired educator who taught for many years at York Institute, said:  “We just want the state to honor their commitment.  If they don’t — it’s morally wrong.” Full story in this week’s Fentress Courier.