Commissioners reclaim of space allocation authority; elect Moon chair

Blount County commissioners on Sept. 15 removed County Mayor Ed Mitchell’s authority to decide who uses which offices at the Blount County Courthouse.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to name District 4-C commissioner Jerome Moon as new commissioner chair. He replaced Kenneth Melton, District 10-B, who stepped down from the position.

With Moon abstaining, the vote was 18-0 with District 7-A Commissioner Jim Folts and District 2-B Commissioner Mike Lewis absent.

“Mr. Moon, if you will proceed to the desk, it is all yours,” Melton said.

District 4-A Commissioner Gary Farmer was voted chair pro tem and District 1-B Commissioner Tab Burkhalter was voted parliamentarian. Each abstained from their individual votes and were elected unanimously 18-0.

The move to take away space allocation responsibilities came to a vote when commissioners Ron French and Gordon Wright Sr., moved to keep that authority with the mayor’s office. It failed on an 8-10 vote with French, Wright, Tom Greene, Mark Hasty, Peggy Lambert, Kenneth Melton and Monika Murrell voting to retain that authority in the mayor’s office and commissioners Farmer, Burkhalter, Tonya Burchfield, Rick Carver, Brad Harrison, Scott Helton, Gerald Kirby and Holden Lail voting to move it back to the commission.

Mitchell seemed surprised by the move. “It has always been in the mayor’s jurisdiction,” he said. “I guess now it goes to the commission to make space allocations in the courthouse and Justice Center.”

Harrison said after the meeting he voted to take away the mayor’s authority after he learned the mayor spent $1,900 to pay a moving company to move the County Probation office from the Courthouse to the former Health Department building adjacent to the Justice Center. “It was wasteful spending,” he said. “In the past, it has been done by prisoners.”

Regarding his appointment as county commissioner chair, Moon said he was humbled. “There are other commissioners who are more qualified than I am. All the commissioners make sacrifices to serve, and I’m humbled they elected me as chair,” he said.

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