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Roane County voters boost PATCH 21 support

Collin Carpenter, a freshman in college, works in the garden at PATCH 21, an after-school program that received a levy after the general election. (Photo Provided)

SPENCER — The levy for PATCH 21, an after school and daycare center in Roane County, passed for the third time in the general election last week.

The levy will be for around $215,000 per year for four years, according to David McCutcheon executive director.

It passed with 3,959 votes in favor and 1,963 votes against. McCutcheon said more voters supported the levy than in years past.

“It’s very unique, we’re one of the poorest counties and poorest states (but) the voters see the value in what we do,” he said. “The passing percentage went up. It was 71 percent.”

McCutcheon said programming is helping youth in the county and that teen violence, pregnancy, drug and alcohol usage is down. He believes it’s due to the impact of the program.

Although PATCH is not offering after-school programs due to COVID-19, under normal circumstances, about 46 percent of students in the county participate in its programs and they have around 90 preschool students.

With its in-person programs suspended, PATCH 21 shifted to virtual lessons.

Although COVID-19 has posed some challenges, McCutcheon said the farm has done better this year.

“The farm is really taking off. That’s kind of been the uptake of COVID, we’re able to do our farm wide open and it’s been fantastic,” he said. “The no till garden has produced a ton of vegetables that we’ve been able to take to our daycare and senior center.”

With the support of the community, McCutcheon said citizens are taking control of the county’s own destiny and trying to be self-sufficient.

“That’s the beauty of small towns. They understand what’s important to them locally (and) they take charge of that,” he said.

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