The Bradley County Commission honored one of its own Monday as it bid a heartfelt “hail and farewell” to its longest serving member.
Fifth District Commissioner Bill Ledford was given a special reception and recognition as he winds down what will be his final term on the Commission.
As of Sept. 1, Ledford will have served 42 years on the county board which is the longest tenure for a commissioner in Bradley County history. He began his service on Sept. 1, 1972.
Ledford did not make any public remarks, but stayed after the meeting for refreshments and the chance to shake hands with many friends, constituents and county employees who wanted to give the commissioner their thanks and best wishes.
His 5th district colleague, Jeff Yarber, said going through an election day without seeing Ledford was “bittersweet.”
“My counterpart wasn’t with me,” Yarber said. “He always told me if they were going to beat us, they’d have to catch us.”
Yarber said he knew the calendar still holds more meetings in which he will be able to literally serve alongside the retiring commissioner.
“When your seat is vacated, whoever sits beside me will have some big shoes to fill,” he said.
Commission Chairman Louie Alford and County Mayor D. Gary Davis presented Ledford with a plaque commemorating the occasion.
“It is a great honor we present this Bradley County service award to Bill Ledford for 42 years of loyalty and dedication to improving the quality of life for residents of Bradley County,” Davis read from the plaque.
Commissioners did discuss a few matters before adjourning into the celebratory matters.
Fourth District Commissioner Charlotte Peak-Jones said she wanted to clarify the SCPA’s policy on accepting animals.
“Their policy is to only accept animals surrendered by individual residents,” she said.
She also requested the county attorney look into revising the county’s policy on tobacco use at county facilities.
Peak-Jones also mentioned the new trend of e-cigarettes and “vaping.”
She noted it took some time before the dangers of smoking became well known.
“According to the CDC, they don’t know the effects of vaping,” she said. “All they know is there are chemicals in it and it’s being exhaled in the form of a vapor. The effects of the second-hand form of that are not known at this time.”
Peak-Jones said the county’s policy should be reviewed and perhaps include “all nicotine products be banned, instead of just going after the e-cigarettes.”
“I’m not going after e-cigarettes, but this is an unknown,” she said. “I don’t want people standing around me vaping and I don’t know what is in that chemical. I just want to pre-emptive, preventative and pro-active.”
She said there have been 108 municipalities across the country that have already taken the restrictive measures, and East Ridge could become the first in Tennessee to take the same measures.
“I don’t think we’re breaking any new ground here. We’re just trying to be preventive,” Peak-Jones said.
Fourth District Commissioner J. Adam Lowe, who serves on the Commission’s education committee, reported he had attended the recent county school board meeting where there were discussions on the system’s budget for the next year.
“There was a lot of discussion concerning capital outlay,” he said. “I believe that several of the school board members are taking some time with this budget and want to look at it in detail to figure out how they can meet some of their needs they have forthcoming in the next school year.”
The county school board was scheduled to meet today at 9 a.m. to further discuss their budget process.
The Commission will hear a presentation on the school budget at its next voting session scheduled for Monday, May 19, at noon in the Commission meeting room at the Bradley County Courthouse.
Davis reported he is “getting there” on getting county budget figures in order for consideration.
He said the county budget proposal would be presented June 2 “based on the best numbers we have at that time.”