Beginning early Saturday morning, Watson hosted gatherings in Cleveland, Decatur, Benton and Copperhill.
The Cleveland session was held at Oak Grove Elementary School.
The purpose of the meetings was to give residents of the 22nd Legislative District an opportunity to share their opinions and to ask questions of the veteran legislator who is employed full-time by the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office. At each government jurisdiction session, Watson was joined by local government leaders, as well as State Sen. Mike Bell, a McMinn County Republican who is a native of Bradley County and graduate of Bradley Central High School.
A variety of topics were discussed throughout the day. According to Watson, issues are different in every community and that’s the importance of hosting town hall sessions within each jurisdiction.
"The best ideas often come from individuals at the grassroots level — residents, small business people and local government officials,” Watson said. "I want to thank all the constituents who took advantage of these opportunities to contribute to the debates over taxes, economic development, health care, budget reform, roads and the other vital issues of the day."
In Bradley County, Watson was joined by Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel, Bradley County School Board Chairman Troy Weathers, Bradley County Election Commissioner Milan Blake and Bell. Issues such as health care, illegal immigration, the ongoing controversial state income tax, DUI reform and education were discussed.
In Meigs County, Watson was joined by Meigs County Mayor Garland Lankford, Meigs County Commissioner Billy Ogle, Meigs County Road Superintendent Tim Jennings, Meigs County Tax Assessor Tim Profitt and Bell. The main topics included a streamlined taxation process, TennCare and its successor, Cover Tennessee. Road projects such as State Route 30 west of State Route 58 were also discussed.
In Polk County, Watson was joined by Benton Mayor Jerry Stephens, Polk County Mayor Holt Firestone, Copperhill Mayor Cecil Arp, Polk County commissioners Sheena Gaddis, Randy Collins, John Pipperger and James Woody, and Polk County election commissioners Ronnie O'Neal, Frank Payne, Bill Frady and Mac York. Road projects such as U.S. 411 and Highway 64, and the Ocoee River Gorge bypass were discussed.
"Community involvement and meetings have been the foundation of my constituent services program,” Watson said. “These meetings are one key way to monitor the concerns of my constituents.”
Residents who were unable to attend any of the meetings may contact his office to share their concerns and suggestions for better government.
Watson’s session in Cleveland included multiple topics but one was a request for changes in state laws governing driving under the influence. Cleveland resident Kim Ledford’s son, Dustin, 24, was killed July 10, 2010, in a head-on collision on APD-40.
According to reports, Tiffany Levi Isaza, 29, was driving a 2002 Ford Taurus in the wrong direction along APD 40 and struck Ledford’s car, a 1990 Toyota Camry. Bradley County Emergency Medical Service paramedics transported Ledford to SkyRidge Medical Center where he died approximately an hour later.
Ledford discussed the wreck with Watson at the Saturday session and proposed changes in laws.
Details of the wreck, and Ledford’s presentation to Watson, were published in Sunday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner which provided coverage of the town hall meeting at Oak Grove Elementary School.