Selection Of Interim Commissioner Highlights Meeting

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Tony Neal, left, is sworn into office as interim Fourth District County Commissioner by Cannon County Clerk Bobby Smith Saturday.
The selection of an interim Fourth District commissioner to fill the seat left vacant by the passing of Joe Wimberly highlighted Saturday's first quarterly meeting of 2011 of the Cannon County Commission.

Tony Neal, one of two persons nominated for the position, won the vote of commissioners by an 8-1 tally. Neal was immediately sworn in as a commissioner following the vote.

Neal was nominated for the seat by fellow Fourth District Commissioner Clint Higgins. Neal finished third in last August's County General Election to Wimberly and Higgins.

The only other nominee for the position was Glenn Steakley, whose name was put forward by Third District Commissioner Kevin George.

Neal will hold the seat on an interim basis until the next county election, which will be held in August 2012. That election will decide who serves the remainder of Wimberly's four-year term.

In other business Saturday the commissioners:

• Passed on first reading, by an 8-1 vote, a resolution offered by George to removed the law enforcement powers of Cannon County's constables. The resolution does not call for the elimination of the office. A two-thirds vote of the 10-member commission is required by state law in order for it to pass. Also, commissioners must pass the resolution again, at its next quarterly meeting in April, before it takes effect. It must also pass by a two-thirds vote on second reading. Commissioner Todd Hollandsworth did not vote on the resolution.

• Voted down, by a 7-2 margin, a motion by Commissioner Russell Reed to permit Sunday beer sales in Cannon County. Russell, who owns Russell's Market, did not vote on the resolution. Commissioners Jim Bush and Kevin Mooneyham voted to approve the motion, while Mark Barker, Jimmy Mingle, Hollandsworth, George, Higgins, Neal and Bob Stoetzel voted against.

Following that vote, Bush made a motion to place the question of allowing Sunday beer sales on a referendum for the next election (August 2012). That motion passed 6-4, with Barker, Mingle, George and Higgins voting against.

• Rejected a motion made by Mingle to opt into the State Fire Marshal's residential building codes program. The motion failed 6-4 as Barker, Hollandsworth, George, Bush, Higgins and Neal votes against passage. Failure to approve the motion means that Cannon County is no longer eligible for a $100,000 state grant to improve energy efficiency at the Cannon County Courthouse.

• Approved a motion by Stoetzel to form a county audit committee. The committee will perform in an advisory capacity and make recommendations to help address adverse findings in yearly audits conducted by the State Comptroller's Office. County Executive Mike Gannon said the Comptroller's Office must first approve the county's plan to form the committee, and he said he will submit one to the state before the commission's April meeting.

• Took no action on a request by local attorney Dale Peterson to rescind the $30 litigation fee the commission imposed on court cases at the October meeting. The fee is earmarked for jail and courthouse improvements. Peterson maintains that the fee is unfair on civil and juvenile court cases, but is for criminal cases. "You are adding an additional tax on people who are being taxed already," Peterson told the commissioners.

See the Jan. 25 edition of the Cannon Courier for more information from Saturday's meeting.
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Members Opinions:
January 15, 2011 at 5:31pm
I am a discouraged voter after reading about the commissioners wanting to strip the constables of their law enforcement powers, but allow beer to be sold on Sundays and we already have beer sales around the courthouse and churches. I dont understand why it is soooo important to strip away their rights to serve their ELECTED offices to the best of their abilities for the commission. The constables have been bonded, went through 40 hours of training, and paid for everything out of their own pockets. They were voted in by our communities and want to help serve us and our families, it is a slap in the face as a voter to know that our opinions don't count behind the closed doors of the courthouse "committee". As a life long citizen of this county for 40 years I have seen the same people run this county since I can remember and to no change unless someone retires and then a family member takes their place. I work in murfreesboro and people already laugh at our county and its justice system and how our local offices are prejudice. Recently I have been embarrassed of Woodbury because I have seen what they say is true. This is our(the voters) community and we should have a say in anything that we vote in and not just be important when it is an election year. The constables are upstanding husbands, fathers, and friends of people in this county and should be able to serve their elected position as anyone else.They should not be kicked out because someone doesn't like them. They serve our community for free, they just want to help and have had doors slammed in their face because certain few are not happy. Power seems to be the root of all evil in this town and who is allowed to have it and the committee gets to say who they will allow to have it. Our volunteer firefighters have more authority than people that we Elected in and put our confidence behind. I wonder how many of them have had 1 hour of required training lately and have had to purchase their own equipment? Why vote for anybody in the next election if we dont have a say so about what happens after they take office. How many people that voted for constables would have voted for their district commissioner had they known what they are doing to them now?
January 15, 2011 at 5:46pm
sharond, please note the commission did not allow beers sales on Sunday. They voted that motion down. They did pass a motion to put it on a reference so that voters can decide the matter at the next county election.
January 15, 2011 at 6:44pm
We should also look at other things that need changed,We need term limits,A neptiosm law,Road commissioners need to go. This is a short list, I am sure there are lots more things that need changed
January 15, 2011 at 6:49pm
TN became a state in 1796 but still cant buy beer on sunday in cannon county but if you go to dutton market you can by beer on sunday now how backwards is this.Just go krogers get it lot cheaper. Maybe it get passed in about 200 years.
January 15, 2011 at 8:08pm
You can buy beer on Sunday at Duttons? Aren't they in cannon county? How can that be legal?
January 15, 2011 at 8:32pm
Woodbury could also permit beer sales on Sunday, because it, like Auburntown, has its own government. In other words, they are in the county, but not governed by the county in all circumstances. In even more words, the people of those communities don't want "outsiders" mandating what they buy or sell.
January 15, 2011 at 8:41pm
Proud that Tony Neal was voted in as our Commissioner in the 4th district.
January 15, 2011 at 9:06pm
congrats tony:)
January 15, 2011 at 10:19pm
You want some facts on the beer sales on Sunday in Auburntown at the store that used to be Duttons? Just come and sit in the parking lot for about 30 minutes and see how many people come out with beer, get in their car, open it and start drinking it before they even get out of the parking lot. Then they speed right on down the highway. I've been passed by people running 80 mph on Hwy 145 only to see them walking out of the store with their 6-pack when I pass by. Why don't any troopers or county law work this area? The fines from open containers and DUI's alone could make the county a lot of money and might even save someone's life down the road. Seems funny when something this obvious is going on and nothing is ever done. Darrell, please quit sending the deputies over to sit at the church and watch the stop sign. The real problem is on down the road and is a whole lot more serious. All these commissioners supporting more beer sales need to remembered when someone's family member gets killed because someone had to have their beer!
January 15, 2011 at 11:10pm
"Rejected a motion made by Mingle to opt into the State Fire Marshal's residential building codes program. The motion failed 6-4 as Barker, Hollandsworth, George, Bush, Higgins and Neal votes against passage. Failure to approve the motion means that Cannon County is no longer eligible for a $100,000 state grant to improve energy efficiency at the Cannon County Courthouse."......And what reasons were given for voting this option down? Another opportunity for $100,000 down the drain! We have a beautiful courthouse now with 30 year old air conditioners hanging out the windows. Is it wise to keep expending tax money to pay the ever increasing energy costs of an inefficient system at our courthouse. Hope its not too late for this to be brought up again in April. Some rethinking here might be in order.
January 16, 2011 at 10:34am
I agree lost good grant that county needed would have been passed on to company to do the work.They have history of losing grants grant not used to hire sheriff deputies about 2 years ago.Sounds like russells market should have sued county years ago dutton market sells beer and he can not no sense in this .
January 16, 2011 at 2:38pm
Just wanted to say maybe some people should go back and read the article sales were voted DOWN by a 7-2 margin. I don't understand how someone could say "all these commissioners voting for beer sales when only 2 voted for the beer to be sold. Also, if you want to know the reasons for why something got approved or voted down them I suggest you attend the meetings, they are open to the public. Then you won't have any questions and if you do you can ask them while you are there and get an answer straight from the horses mouth.
January 16, 2011 at 2:40pm
Way to go Tony! We are proud of you :)
January 16, 2011 at 4:43pm
I am appauled and disgusted at the arrogant and dictatorial attitudes of the Cannon County Commissioners who voted to do away with the limited enforcement powers of the County Constables.

These constables were ELECTED by the VOTERS with these specific powers and duties in place. How dare the County Commission now just decide that they want to change the duties of this elected office. The liability issue is mute because the County has liability insurance to cover them just like any other elected official. Since Cannon County is still a very rural area there are many sections of this county were there is NO visible law enforcement and it would take a lot of time for police to be dispatched and arrive on the scene. If there is a Constable that lives in the area and can be called to arrive in a short time, it just might prevent a bad situation from happening - Just Common Sense, folks!!! And this help is on a VOLUNTEER BASIS. It is not costing the taxpayers money.

I wonder why pulling the Constable's powers is so important to some of the Commissioners. Could it be a personal vendetta? Come on grow up and get over it and think what is best for the citizens of the county - who by the way elected all you Commissioners.

If this issue is to be persued, it should be done at the next election for these constables. At that time you can either do away with the office altogether or change the listed duties and powers BEFORE these people are elected by the county citizens.

Cannon County has a whole lot more important issues for the Commission to be worrying about than trying to reject very needed VOLUNTEER services. I think the citizens should be up in arms over this blatant abuse of power because of personality conflicts by the County Commission.
January 17, 2011 at 8:50am where on the agenda did it say the commissioners would vote on a resolution for Sunday beer sales and where did it say they would discuss accepting or rejecting the State Fire Marshall's residential building code that could result in the county losing $100,000 in grant money? I understand about having to "read between the lines" but neither of these two items covered in the advertised agenda.

Agenda for January 15, 2011

1. Call to Order.
2. Roll Call.
3. Reading and Approval of Minutes.
4. Reports of County Officials.
5. Appointment of Interim 4th District Commissioner.
6. Election of Notaries.
7. Approve Road Map for 2011.
8. Approve Budget Amendments - County General.
9. Approve Budget Amendments - Highway Department.
10. Approve Budget Amendments - Board of Education.
11. Approval of C.D.B.G. Grant Application.
12. Re-appointment of Agriculture Committee Member.
13. Report from State Fire Marshall concerning building codes.
14. Approval of County Personnel Policy.
15. Other Business.
16. Adjourn.
January 17, 2011 at 8:58am
blue, item No. 13 covers the building codes for the most part. Item No. 15 covers beer sales.

That said, for those who believe in greater transparency and notification of planned activities on the part of government officials, too many matters were brought up and decided on under "other business" — Sunday beer sales, an audit committee and removing law enforcement powers from constables to name three.
January 17, 2011 at 9:29am
Well said Kevin.

"Other Business" is too vague and to widely used to bring up items that require that much attention and that much discussion.

If "Other Business" is the category that must be used, then I suggest it look like this:

15. Other Business
a. Removal of Constable Powers
b. Audit committee proposal
c. Sunday beer sales

If used like this, then the transparency is not an issue.

If whoever is responsible for the agenda would like to respond, feel free.
January 18, 2011 at 9:56am
At the risk of sounding redundant maybe peole ought to research for themelves the laws governing constables and realize that the commissioners where doing exactly what we PAY them to do protecting us from over zealous constables!
January 18, 2011 at 1:08pm
srpowers please read my last post under the poll. You will see that I did a little reasearch and I have a somewhat different opinion now.

January 18, 2011 at 1:55pm
Amen and pass the biccuits you hit right on nose mr srpowers good job
January 18, 2011 at 4:20pm
Corey, I'm glad to see that someone has taken the time to try and understand what has brought this own. I have both witnessed and heard of acts performed by a "certain" constable of the county and am for one glad that the commisioners has taken steps not to get rid of the constables but just prevent this from happening again.
January 18, 2011 at 5:12pm
I do not know of any particulars of a "certain" Constable, nor do I really need to.

I still think they are under utilized, but I do understand more about the issue now.

Constables can be a good thing. I just think everyone needs to understand their roles and responsibilities a little more clearer.
January 20, 2011 at 5:45pm
Searching for peanuts while losing grant opportunities. Where are our priorities?
January 22, 2011 at 7:08pm
Steve – You contacted me asking about the duties of constable before the filing deadline and you were considering running but didn’t – You didn’t like that particular person before he was elected but didn’t make an effort to run against him. Just because you don’t like that particular constable, or “you think” he is doing something wrong, don’t attack every constable in general – they --- we don’t deserve it. You have a lot of your facts wrong --- and I’ll leave it at that – I personally value you as a friend and wish you would shoot your prey with a .22 not a shotgun.
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