Terry Caywood, the Bradley County commissioner for District 1, Seat A, will stay busy even as he steps down from his current role. After eight years on the Commission, Caywood decided not to run …
Terry Caywood, the Bradley County commissioner for District 1, Seat A, will stay busy even as he steps down from his current role.
After eight years on the Commission, Caywood decided not to run for reelection Aug. 1. Dennis Epperson was to take over this seat as of Sept. 1.
Caywood said he has enjoyed serving on the commission, but his decision came at the behest of his family, who urged him to focus on endeavors such as work on his farm and with Life Bridges Inc.
“It’s a two-edged sword,” Caywood said. “On one hand, I loved always receiving calls from the community and hearing their questions and concerns. On the other hand, it can wear on your family.”
Caywood said he first decided to run for the commission upon realizing the importance of making sure local residents had someone in office who would “fight to preserve the Christian integrity of Bradley County.”
“I will miss the camaraderie between the commissioners and county mayor,” Caywood said. “We mostly got along well, even if we disagreed. It has been exciting to have been part of so many important moments for Bradley County.”
He listed several big milestones which resulted from the commission votes to which he contributed.
They included establishing a county-owned and operated fire department. There are now a total of 10 Bradley County Fire-Rescue stations scattered throughout the county.
Caywood said the commission also gave its support to local industry by funding roads to make way for the Wacker Polysilicon plant in Charleston and approving measures related to expansions at Whirlpool and Mars Chocolate. During his tenure, the Commission also approved and funded new Spring Branch Industrial Park near Exit 20.
Commission votes also resulted in the creation of a new county-supported animal shelter operated by the SPCA of Bradley County, as well as the provision of funding and support for the Bradley County Tennessee State Veterans Home slated to open in Cleveland.
Caywood, a retired educator, said there are a couple projects of which he is especially proud. Both have to do with education in Bradley County.
One is the funding of a new two-story academic building at Lake Forest Middle School, which opened its doors to students this fall. He stressed the county was able to do this “without raising taxes a penny.”
The Commission also approved Bradley County Schools’ purchase of the old American Uniform facility off Parker Street. The school district is turning it into the Partnerships in Industry and Education Center — or PIE Center — which will host a variety of career and technical education programs for local students.
“I had a lot of good moments on the commission,” Caywood said. “I also on a weekly basis got to learn about things John Q. Public might not know and could later share with the public.”
He also served on a few committees over the years: the Bradley County Road Department Committee, the Law Enforcement Committee, the Juvenile Committee and the Ethics Committee.
He was also appointed by the Cleveland and Bradley County mayors to serve as vice chair of a committee looking at the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s planned expansion of Corridor 60. He also served as chairman of a joint committee with the Bradley County Board of Education concerning traffic issues around Hopewell Elementary School.
Caywood noted he “walked in many shoes” over the years, and by the time he was elected to the Commission, he had the experience he needed to serve and help with some of those big votes.
He had spent the bulk of his career in education, serving at Hopewell Elementary School and Prospect Elementary School for a total of 38 years — eight as a teacher and 30 as an administrator.
After retiring as a principal, Caywood went to work at Life Bridges, Inc., a local organization which helps adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He has worked there in various roles for 15 years.
Though it is bittersweet to be leaving the commission, Caywood said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, including his wife of 51 years, Sue Beaty Caywood, and grown children Ginger, Carrie and Criss.
He also plans to continue to focus on his work at Life Bridges, as well as work on his family farm. All the while, he plans to keep himself aware of what is happening in the community and continue to “be a voice” on issues important to him and his neighbors.
The No. 1 piece of advice he has for those serving on the commission in the future is to make sure they vote with the right motives in mind.
“Vote for what’s best for the people — and not for self-serving motives,” said Caywood. “I wanted people to have a voice in what goes on, and I think the items I voted on were items that benefitted Bradley County as a whole.”
He offered his thanks to all the commissioners with whom he served, as well as Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis. He said he is “humbled to have served with such dedicated leaders.” He also thanked his constituents for trusting him with their votes and concerns.
Caywood said he has always prided himself on his readiness to listen and seek out answers to questions his constituents have, and he plans to continue to look out for his neighbors in that way. He added he “doesn’t need to be an elected official to do that.”
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