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HUNTSVILLE — Scott County has once again qualified as a Tennessee ThreeStar community, County Mayor Jeff Tibbals announced Monday.
Local officials learned of the achievement in the form of a letter from Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty.

The letter, addressed from Hagerty and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, informed local government officials and Scott County Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Development Board officials that Scott County has met the criteria required by the state to be certified a ThreeStar community.

In order to qualify, communities must identify objectives and a plan for meeting those objectives that will help the community grow and prosper.

Among the criteria are focuses on jobs and economic development, fiscal strength and efficient government, public safety, education and workforce development, and health and welfare.

“The ThreeStar designation is not an arbitrary designation,” Scott County Industrial Development Board secretary Stacey Kidd said. “There is a lot of work that goes into this achievement at the local level, by a lot of different people. The state requires us to show that we’re determined to make our community a better place to live, and that is truly our goal.”

Through the economic development partnership between the ID Board and Scott County Government, support is given to local companies that are interested in expanding while new industrial prospects are constantly identified and recruited.

In recent months, expansions have been announced at JDS Industries in Oneida, Takahata in Helenwood and Great Dane in Huntsville.

Scott County also recently approved a deal with Mississippi-based Pioneer Health Systems that is expected to result in the county’s hospital in Oneida being reopened by fall 2013.

From a fiscal standpoint, the Scott County Mayor’s Office has implemented a detailed debt reduction plan, which can be viewed on the county’s website, www.scottcounty.com. Since 2010, the Mayor’s Office has also identified several areas where costs can be cut and has implemented those cuts.

On the education front, both the county’s public school systems — the Scott County School System and Oneida Special School District — are award-winning systems that are currently in good standing with the state, with nearly 100 percent of their teachers rated as “highly qualified” in their subjects of instruction and boards of education that are classified at the state level as boards of distinction. Tennessee Technology Center’s Oneida-Huntsville campus is consistently expanding its curriculum, while Roane State Community College has a program in place with Tennessee Tech University to allow students to obtain a bachelor’s degree without leaving Scott County.

“The Three Star Program is a major endeavor that when successfully completed gives Scott County extra points towards grants over non Three Star Communities. The hard work that the Chamber and IDB did to make this a success is to be commended,” Tibbals said.