County Commission approves contracts, committee appointments


By Scott Robertson

The Washington County Commission continued setting up shop with a series of housekeeping measures Monday night in Jonesborough.

The commission approved a slate of standing committee appointments moved by its Committee on Committees (COC). Commissioner Mark Larkey, COC chair, made a point of placing in the record a statement that no members of the COC had prior knowledge of committee requests before the COC’s selection process began. Previous COCs have come under criticism for allegedly doing their business in private before their scheduled meetings. A list of committee appointments appears below.

The commission also approved Mayor Dan Eldridge’s appointment of Dr. Karen Cline as medical examiner for the county and the related execution of a contract with ETSU’s William Jenkins Forensic Center to conduct death investigations. While that vote drew only one dissenting vote (Commissioner Robbie Tester), there was more than a half hour of discussion of both the choice of Cline and the signing of the agreement with ETSU. During that discussion, commissioners queried the mayor on topics from potential conflict of interest (since Cline is the state’s chief medical examiner) to whether ETSU will provide the most cost-effective service as a death investigation consultant.

The commission also appointed three of its members to the county’s seats on the Tri-Cities Regional Airport Authority Board. Todd Hensley, Mitch Meredith and David Tomita will serve in that capacity. Joe Grandy was elected by acclamation to serve as the county’s representative on the Johnson City Power Board. Commissioner Mark Larkey was elected to serve along with the mayor and Commissioner Chairman Greg Matherly on the Washington County Economic Development Council. The commission also cut the size of the county’s planning commission by more than half, from 15 members to seven.

Commissioners appeared to be on track to stop spending time and money printing and mailing two dozen-plus agenda packets every month (this month’s packet was 385 pages), but six commissioners said they would like to continue to receive hard copies of the packets. A compromise was reached when the commission voted to cease mailing the packets, and to print hard copies for those commissioners who requested them. The rest of the packets will be emailed and made available on the county’s website.

Committee appointments:

  • Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural Committee: Commissioners David Tomita, Larry England, Robbie McGuire, Robbie Tester and Todd Hensley.
  • Employee Compensation and Benefits Committee: Commissioners Gary McAllister, Katie Baker, Rick Storey, Steve Light and Tom Krieger.
  • Health, Education and Welfare Committee: Commissioners Gary McAllister, Joe Grandy, Katie Baker, Skip Oldham and Todd Hensley.
  • Intergovernmental Affairs Committee: Commissioner Lee Chase.

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