A crowd gathered at the Blount County Courthouse on Jan. 14 to honor outgoing finance director and assistant county mayor Dave Bennett for his years of service.
Bennett has worked for the county for 10 years. He leaves to become CEO of Cherokee Millwright.
“I’m at a loss for words at the number of people and the outpouring of love,” Bennett said. “I’m speechless, and that does not happen often with me. This is what I cherish most, the relationships I’ve been able to build.”
Friends and co-workers shared their thoughts on Bennett during the reception.
Former Blount County Executive Bill Crisp said Bennett was working as an auditor for the state when Crisp met him. “I saw him come in each year. When the job came open he was one of the first people I thought about. I was so convinced he was the one we needed that I didn’t take applications,” Crisp said. “I asked the accounting department what they thought of Dave Bennett, and they let out a cheer.”
The former county executive said that in his experience there was no one more qualified to be county finance director than Dave Bennett. “It’s going to be difficult to replace him. He is a smart individual, and I’m glad he could stay here. At the same time, I’m glad he can move on to something better,” Crisp said.
County commissioner Gary Farmer said Bennett has been the ultimate professional in how he handles the county’s business. “He has always had an open door and been eager to help,” Farmer said. “He’s a very personable individual to work with, and it has always been a pleasure working with him. I’m going to miss him tremendously.”
Blount County Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher said it is hard to explain how much Bennett has meant to the county and to him as a friend. “Back when Bill Crisp was county executive and talked to the elected office holders about hiring Dave, he knew the county inside and out before he was hired,” he said of Bennett.
Alcoa Mayor Don Mull said Bennett has done a great job for the county. “He knows the financial business of the county like the back of his hand. He knows more than anybody I know about the finances of the county,” Mull said. “He’s got integrity. People have a great deal of confidence in anything he does.”
Bill Dunlap, Blount County Highway superintendent, said he was mad at Bennett and happy for him at the same time. “He’s carried this county through some hard times. He’s able to handle budgets and his knowledge of finances is unmatched in my opinion. Over the years he has become a dear friend and that’s why I’m mad at him,” Dunlap said. “He will always be ‘Little Dumplin’, a nickname I stuck on him six years ago.”
Alcoa City manager Mark Johnson spoke light-heartedly about Bennett initially. “Well good riddance…now the county can finally move forward,” he said jokingly. “Seriously, he’s been a pleasure to work with, and I will miss him. Not only is he experienced in his technical field of accounting, finances and county rules and regulations, he’s also someone who can apply that technical knowledge in a personable manner, and it’s added to the success of all of us. He is truly an example of someone who practices how to win friends and influence people.”
Jim Melton said Bennett had done a good job for the county. “It’s a hard job to start with,” Melton said. “Everyone is watching the money. I think Blount County will miss him. He does a good job explaining things to the commission and the public, and he explains exactly why he does something.”
Blount County Republican Party chair Susan Mills praised Bennett. “You can ask Dave anything about finances, and he can answer it,” Mills said. “He’s a smart guy, and he’ll be sorely missed.”