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911 Lawsuit might require special meeting

By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
[email protected]
The Unicoi County Commission heard a brief update from County Attorney Doug Shults about the standing of the 911 lawsuit against the county at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday night.
“We held a meeting and it’s still in mediation,” Shults said. “We may have to have a special called session.”
A resolution of support was also on the agenda and unanimously passed by the commission. It urges state representatives to continue to fund the Erwin National Fish Hatchery. “This resolution asks that they support and keep the hatcheries open,” said Commissioner Doug Bowman.
Jimmy Erwin was considered for reappointment to the Unicoi County Memorial Hospital Board by the commission. Commissioner Loren Thomas made the first motion and was seconded by Commissioner Gene Wilson.
During the discussion period, Commissioner Kenneth Garland asked the commission about regulating all reappointments and appointments.
“Two meetings ago they wanted all of these advertisements,” he said referring to the appointments of individuals to the civil service board. “Loren Thomas said that they ought to be advertised because other people might be interested in it. I think what is done for one should be done for everybody. We can’t pick who we want just because they are friends.”
Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch explained to Garland that Erwin was being reappointed and the civil service board advertisement was to find a new member.
“I’m all for advertising when it is a new position,” said Thomas. The reappointment was approved just before Garland left the room. “If you’re going to change everything then there’s no point in sitting here,” he said as he exited the room. “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard out of the county commission.”
Commissioner Dwight Bennett said that the policy committee needs to work up reappointment and appointment procedures for each board that the commission nominates individuals.
Before the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting, they held a work session during which they provided more details about the county insurance decisions from the last meeting on June 4.
The commission voted 6-3 to cap insurance premiums to $520 for all current employees and have new employees pay more. During the work session, the commission addressed a previously promised $170 to be paid toward family plans.
Thomas and Hatcher considered only paying half, but decided to table the discussion because it was found that family insurance premiums went up significantly with the new United Healthcare plan.
Also, the commission approved to authorize the annual renewal of the street maintenance contract with the town of Unicoi.