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TCAT director's receipts reveal he paid $70,000 of his own money for houseboat project

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) -

The head of a local college may be under investigation for letting students work on his houseboat, but the receipts he turned over to the Tennessee Board of Regents show he spent more time, effort and resources on the project than anyone else.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Elizabethton Director Dean Blevins has remained under investigation by the Carter County Sheriff's Department since August for allegedly misusing student labor.

A state audit found a perceived conflict of interest when Blevins allowed students to gain instructional training by working on his houseboat earlier this year. However, the TBR has also said that audit determined Blevins did not violate any laws or policies.

From the beginning, Blevins has told us he paid for all of the supplies and materials used on the houseboat project. He provided the TBR with dozens of pages of receipts dating from late 2012 to October of this year to prove it.

The receipts show Blevins spent roughly $56,000 on supplies for his houseboat. In addition, they reveal he paid four outside contractors nearly $14,000 to work on the project. That brings the total cost of the houseboat project to a combined $70,000.

The information, which also includes a summary of all of the labor, shows of the roughly 60 projects connected to the houseboat, TCAT students only helped with three. Those projects included some welding, work on circuits and connection of switches and outlets.

Meanwhile, Blevins reported he completed the vast majority of the work, 43 projects, himself.

The documents also address the value of the houseboat. The sheriff previously suggested it is now likely worth more than $100,000. However, Blevins' insurance policy change, which went into effect in July, shows the market value of the two-room houseboat at $50,000 and replacement cost at $60,000.

Sheriff Chris Mathes says he has not yet requested this information, because he was hopeful the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation would help him get it. That said, he tells us he now intends to ask the TBR for the receipts.

Both he and Blevins' supporters have said they want the district attorney to call in the TBI to help investigate.

District Attorney Tony Clark says he has still not yet made that decision.

"As of right now the TBI has not been called in, has not been asked to assist and at this point, I'll make that determination after speaking again with Sheriff Mathes," Clark said. "We have looked at some different allegations that were made and some statements, I understand that's still being looked at presently. I did speak with the legal counsel for the Tennessee Board of Regents who informed me they had completed their own investigation and they have found no wrongdoing on the part of Dean Blevins or any faculty member."

Copyright 2013 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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