Cold roast

Honoring fire chief needed a blaze at Harley Shed

Photo with no caption
By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

There was a lot of smoke at the Shed at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson Nov. 3 and it wasn’t just from the barbecue.
About 100 people turned out for the $40 a plate fundraiser to roast longtime Maryville Fire Chief Ed Mitchell.

The Keep Blount Beautiful board of directors hosted the roast as a fundraiser to help pay for a new Landfill Learning Center. Mitchell’s friends and family turned out to dish it out to a county favorite known for pulling a few jokes himself.

Kristi Falco with Keep Blount Beautiful started off the event by saying the idea for the roast came from watching the roast of voluptuous actress Pamela Sue Anderson on Comedy Central in 2005. "Ed’s a lot like Pamela," Falco said. "They’ve both got a pretty good rack. She paid for hers, and he came by his naturally."

And so the evening, which was held outside in weather that felt more like January than early November, began.

The chief’s son, Josh Mitchell, admonished the crowd. "Take it easy on him. He’s been a great father, always thinking of me.

Uhhh, except for when he left me at school until 7 o’clock," Josh Mitchell said.

Josh went on to expound on his dad’s fatherly attributes, saying he has always been there for him, "except for when I ask for advice, and he tells me to shut up and toughen up." The crowd laughed as the chief’s son gave him a hard time.

Sue Dawson told the crowd the city fire chief made her sick, then told of the time when she was very physically ill, but Mitchell convinced her to drive with him for a tour of the Keep Blount Beautiful offices. "I can honestly tell you Ed Mitchell made me sick," she said. Mitchell, said Dawson, is a notoriously bad driver and rolled through stop signs en route to the Thompson-Brown house. "He doesn’t believe stop signs apply to him. I threw up in his car," she said.

Darrell Tipton said very few people remember Ed Mitchell from the "old days" when Mitchell worked at a beer store in Maryville. "When I first met Ed Mitchell, he was helping operate a beer store. He was lifting weights, and he had this long pony tail," Tipton said.

According to Tipton, when Mitchell went to work with the Blount County Sheriff’s office, he would take Tipton on patrol with him up to the Top of the World community of Blount County where couples often would park at night. "We would walk through the parking lot, and he would knock on windows," he said. "It was a sight to be seen."

City manager Greg McClain stepped to the microphone for a very short initial comment. "You’re fired," he said, as the crowd and Mitchell laughed.

In anticipation of the information that would be revealed, McClain said, "When I heard there was going to be a roast, we went ahead and got the paperwork and separation papers prepared, as well as a warrant for his arrest."
Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said he was glad to see Mitchell’s son Josh at the roast, "as well as his daughter, Kim," referring to Mitchell’s lovely wife, Kim.

After a couple of jokes, Crisp praised Mitchell for his years of service. "I’ve known Ed Mitchell a long time. He and I grew up in emergency services," Crisp said. "The city of Maryville is fortunate to have the qualities he possesses."

Gary Young, a longtime friend of Ed Mitchell’s, told a joke about how Mitchell’s wife Kim was going to be a millionaire when he dies because she’ll be able to sell his brain. According to Young, the brain of a captain in a fire department was worth $10,000 while the brain of a chief was worth $1 million. "The reason is, it’s never been used," Young said.

Young talked about being a fire investigator and about how he works throughout the state with fire departments investigating fires. "I hope you know what a quality fire department and police department we have," Young said. "Through his vision, Maryville Fire Department is known state-wide and across the country."

Deputy Fire Chief David Hodge talked about how he started out in the department with Mitchell. "Chief and I came up through the ranks together; he’s always pushing me with education and training."

Hodge then told the true story of a conversation he had with a colleague from the Gallatin, Tenn., fire department, who had met many of the Maryville Fire Department members and was asking of their progress in the department. "I said Ed was our chief, and he said, ‘Bull!’ " Hodge said.

Hodge said Mitchell’s reputation as a professional has become synonymous with the Maryville Fire Department. "Whenever you say Ed Mitchell, you’re going to think about Maryville Fire Department."

Hodge then showed several images of the chief. The first was of Mitchell as a young weightlifter. The crowd laughed when he showed an image of a scrawny young man with clenched fists. "You can tell by his clenched fists, he was tough," Hodge said.

After the roasters had their say, the fire chief took the microphone to make fun of himself. "That’s bad," he said of an image on the screen of himself in bed. "God bless her heart (he said of his wife). You (Kim) deserve a place in heaven. She wakes up to that everyday."

Mitchell took time to praise Keep Blount Beautiful, the work they do, and their plans for the future. He thanked everyone for coming out, even though temperatures were cold for the outdoor event. "I really appreciate everyone coming out," he
said. "You are special friends to come out in this weather."

© 2006 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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