• 79°

Commission battles E-911 appointments

The Claiborne Commission spent a good deal of time considering the appointment of new members to the Claiborne E-911 board. There appears to be a question whether the county overlooked the reappointment of three members of the board, when their terms expired in 2017.

This prompted County Mayor Joe Brooks to dig deeply into four years’ worth of minutes to determine just how to move forward with the matter. As county mayor, Brooks is responsible for making the appointments. The Claiborne Commission then is tasked with the job of confirming them.

According to resolution 2019-033, the board should be made up from all areas that use and fund E-911 services. That would include the appointment of the sheriff, the county EMS director, the chairman of the Claiborne Commission, the fire chief, the city police chiefs and mayors.

During his research, Brooks said he discovered that Austin Stanifer, Wayne Lee and David Breeding had not been reappointed to the board when their terms expired. He suggested replacing the three men with EMS Director Matt Goodman, Harrogate Mayor Linda Fultz and whoever is the sitting chairman of the Claiborne Commission. The commission chair is elected each year. Mike Campbell is the current chairman.

Brooks pointed to the inter-local agreement that includes the county, EMS and the cities of Tazewell, New Tazewell and Harrogate.

“I would like to move forward with having those five entities represented on the 911 board,” said Brooks.

One of the county commissioners said he had a letter from the vice-chairman of the E-911 board outlining the expired terms and reappointments of board members. He said the next term to expire, according to the letter, is in April 2020, which means all sitting members must have been reappointed for another term.

Brooks said he had not seen the letter. However, County Attorney James Estep III could verify that the Claiborne Commission minutes do not show any reappointments of Stanifer, Lee and Breeding.

The commissioner responded that the reappointments had been indexed under “E” in the county clerk’s office.

Estep said every letter in the index had been checked and that no reappointments had been found for the three men.

Commissioner Juanita Honeycutt said not all the appointments were made as a resolution.

“I don’t know if they made it into the minutes, but a lot of the times, the appointments were on the agenda for approval,” said Honeycutt.

Commissioner Shawn Peters suggested tabling the matter.

Brooks reminded the commissioners that the vote for the inter-local agreement is due next month.

“If I don’t sign that inter-local agreement, they’re threatening to cut off your NCIC, which would be the ability to dispatch your whole county,” said Brooks.

Estep said the state mandated a while ago that dispatching functions must be funded by the entities receiving the services.

“We went through an $18,000 contract for three years. E-911 has been paying that. Yes, it’s been running smoothly. They just aren’t able, legally, to continue doing it.

“The mayor’s intention is to give those entities having to pay the additional funds a say in it,” said Estep.

The motion to table the matter failed by a vote of 11 to 10 votes.

After a bit more discussion, the commissioners adopted the original version of the resolution by a vote of 13 to eight votes. Commissioners Brent Clark, Whitt Shuford, Charlton Vass, Nathan Epperson, Kim Large, Mike Campbell, Stacy Crawford, Nicholas Epperson, Zach Mullins, Anthony Rowe, Mitchell Cosby, Steve Brogan and Steve Murphy voted in favor of the resolution.

Commissioners Honeycutt, Peters, Carolyn Brooks, Steve Mason, Sherry McCreary, David Mundy, Rosemary Barnett and James Hatmaker voted against the measure.

Those appointed, by resolution, to the E-911 board are EMS Director Matthew Goodman, commission chair Mike Campbell, Tazewell police chief Jeremy Myers, New Tazewell police chief Ben Evans, New Tazewell Mayor Jerry Beeler and Harrogate Mayor Linda Fultz.

Those who already sit on the E-911 board are Sheriff Bobby Brooks, Tazewell Mayor Bill Fannon and Andy Duncan, who is a TNT Fire Station board member and a New Tazewell alderman.