By Brad Hicks
One could say Tim Lingerfelt has a passion for serving his community.
Over the past three decades, he has worked in law enforcement, has battled fires and has lent his service to several local organizations.
Lingerfelt now hopes to put that passion and experience to use by not only continuing to serve locals but also those outside the boundaries of his native Unicoi County.
In the Aug. 4 state Republican primary, Lingerfelt will square off against incumbent John B. Holsclaw Jr. to represent the state’s 4th district in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Should he win in August, Lingerfelt would be unopposed for the office in the November election.
State House District 4 includes Carter and Unicoi counties.
“I’ve loved serving with every organization I’ve served, everything I’ve done,” Lingerfelt said. “I love serving this county and the city, so I would like to extend that to Carter County and the state.”
Lingerfelt’s interest in state-level politics was sparked several years ago after seeing legislators in action.
“I take a lot of trips to Nashville with the (Unicoi County) Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “I’ve been to many of the governor’s conferences on economic development and tourism. And I also drive (the Chamber’s) leadership class down every year, and I was just kind of interested in it. We would sit in on sessions, and I just thought it was really, really interesting.”
Lingerfelt graduated from Unicoi County High School in 1982. Soon afterwards, he would begin amassing his now abundant experience in the emergency response arena.
From 1984 to 1986, Lingerfelt worked as a deputy with the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department. He graduated from the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy in 1985.
Lingerfelt has also served as a firefighter with the Town of Erwin Fire Department and Southside Volunteer Fire Department for a combined 32 years, having held the ranks of deputy chief with Erwin’s fire department and assistant chief with Southside. He has received various certificates from the Tennessee State Fire School, Tennessee Fire and Codes Academy and the National Fire Academy, and was a charter member of the Unicoi County Firefighters’ Association.
Lingerfelt has also served on the Unicoi County Emergency Management Council.
Along with his first experience as an emergency responder, Lingerfelt also possesses considerable experience on local boards and with area organizations.
For a number of years, he has been an active member of the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce, having held various positions on the organization’s board of directors including president. He also served two years as president of the Rotary Club of Unicoi County.
He also previously sought a seat on the Unicoi County Commission.
Lingerfelt is a 2005 graduate of the Unicoi County Tomorrow Leadership class and, in 2009, he was presented with the Pinnacle Volunteer Award from the Northeast Tourism Association. The award is presented to an individual who, through non-paid service, impacts the tourism industry through time, expertise, experience and financial support, or through community involvement in the region.
For nearly the past 30 years, Lingerfelt has been employed by the town of Erwin. He said over this period, he has had duties in all of the town’s departments.
If elected, however, Lingerfelt said he could retire from the town and devote all of his time to his role as state representative. He said his primary objective would be to bring industry and jobs to the area by working closely with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
“I would work with the state ECD to try to get industry,” he said. “I think we need that for Carter and Unicoi counties. I think, at this point, that’s our main concern in Unicoi County.”
Lingerfelt also said he would like to see greater protection extended to those who protect the public. He said he would like to see legislation introduced to provide this protection to law enforcement officials and firefighters, including his proposal that those who assault emergency personnel while performing their duties be subject to felony charges.
And Lingerfelt also wants to help Unicoi County take advantage of its natural beauty. He said efforts to bolster recreational tourism could prove to be a boon for the county.
“Where else can you get rafting, hiking and trout fishing?” he said.
Lingerfelt has been involved in efforts to ensure Unicoi County continues to be a draw for outdoorsmen. When the Erwin National Fish Hatchery was threatened with closure due to federal funding cuts, the Trout Hatchery Funding Stakeholders Working Group worked to secure funding to save this facility, as well as the Dale Hollow and Georgia’s Chattahoochee Forest national fish hatcheries, from the chopping block.
Lingerfelt served on that working group, which helped establish permanent funding for the hatcheries.
“Our trout streams, we need to take advantage of that,” Lingerfelt said. “We have some of the best trout fishing in the state because we have two hatcheries.”