Five of the seven Bradley County commissioners who will not be returning took a final bow at the board dais, received their recognition of service and said their farewells during the Commission’s work session earlier this week.
Two of those not returning, Brian Smith and Bill Ledford, were not present and had previously said their goodbyes to their Commission service in earlier meetings.
The following are remarks from those who will now vacate their positions as they spoke about their years of service.
- Ed Elkins (District 1): “I’d be less than honest if I said I wouldn’t miss it. I was 65 years old when I started my term and I just turned 73 this past Saturday, and you can see how much it has aged me. It’s time for me to move on.
“I would like to recognize my wife, Marilyn. She came to a meeting early on at a time when we were trying to establish a capital projects fund for the school system. It was a pretty heated argument and Marilyn said, ‘I’m not going to come back anymore.’
“She’s been really great and supportive, but I don’t have Commission business as an excuse anymore not to do things around the house.
“I was part of completing the deal on the airport, industrial park, Whirlpool and Wacker, and we did get the capital projects fund for the school system.
“There were some controversial things and some disappointments.
“I am going to try to set something else up when I leave office — a rock group. That’s ROCC. That’s an acronym for ‘Retired Old County Commissioners.’
“It’s been a great pleasure working with each and every one of you and, in my memory book, it’s something I will treasure.”
- Connie Wilson (District 2): “This is a bittersweet moment for me. It’s been my honor to serve the district for the past 12 years,” she said.
She recognized her husband, Joe, saying, “Our stress level for Mondays has just been reduced significantly.”
“We have accomplished a great deal in these past 12 years, but there is still much to be done,” Wilson said. “Remember, the seats you hold are not yours. They belong to your districts and you are just a placeholder for the citizens of Bradley County.”
She challenged the incoming commissioners to “remember the word ‘negotiate’ is not a bad word.”
“You are one vote and you will need the support of seven other commissioners to accomplish your goal,” Wilson said.
She also spoke of her father, Bill Hyatt, who she called “my biggest supporter.”
“The night I won my first election, he was just as excited as I was,” she said. “My dad passed away six years ago, but the life he led has an impact even today on his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Hopefully I can be the same kind of example to the lives that I touch.”
- Jeff Morelock (District 3): “I want to give my commendations to the mayor, the trustee and their staffs who did such a good job keeping the county numbers in good order,” Morelock said.
“The county financial report — you can rely on its accuracy. They do a good job with their numbers,” he said.
“Laura, Donna and Lindsey, thanks for putting up with me. I appreciate it. I continue to wish the best of luck to Milan [Blake] and Johnny [Mull] as they go about their duties as our new 3rd District county commissioners. I consider each of you on this Commission as a friend. It’s been a pleasure serving with all of you.”
He added, “Voters of the 3rd District, it was an honor and a privilege serving them on County Commission for four years. For this I truly thank them and I bid you all farewell.”
- Adam Lowe (4th District): “I’d be remiss if I didn’t hand out some superlatives here,” he said.
“Commissioner Caywood, every time I shake your hand I feel the kindred spirit of Christ in you, sir,” Lowe said. “I respect you to the nth degree.”
“Commissioner Elkins, you’re the data man. I’ve used your raw data more times than I can count.
“Commissioner Wilson constantly reminds me that she was the first one to encourage me to run for office, and I’ll never forget that.
“Commissioner Morelock, we’ve said time and time again that we’re dear, dear friends and you were constantly there to remind me there is another side to the ideological coin on a regular basis.
“Commissioner Smith taught me what it was to be a measured man and to be calm and collected.
“Commissioner Alford, ‘Coach,’ I never had you on a baseball field and I thank God.
“Commissioner Peak(-Jones), you shattered the glass ceiling in the 4th District, and I was proud to stand by you the night you did that, and I commend you for the service you’ve done, the bullets you’ve taken and the sincerity you bring.
“Commissioner Yarber has been a dear friend of mine and his tenacity is something I will continue to admire.
“Commissioner Ledford, about all I ever got out of him was an ‘aye’ and a breath mint every now and then, but I watched and learned that to do good service can be honored long. The scripture says such men are counted worthy of double honor. You can see that in him.
“Commissioner Griffith, you will never know the amount of respect I have for you, Doctor. I’ve always called you ‘Doctor’ for that very reason because you bring wisdom to every situation. Even when I disagreed with you.
“Commissioner Rominger, much like Commissioner Caywood, when I shake your hand there is a calming factor.
“Commissioner Hall is always there and always somebody I can bounce stuff off of. When you began to speak, we knew you had thought about it.
“Commissioner Winters, you know you’re a mentor of mine. I love you and your family and everything you’ve ever done.
“Mr. Mayor, it has been a pleasure to work with you and your staff.
- Mel Griffith (District 6): “I had eight years on the school board and eight years here. I survived cancer and lost a wife.
“Life’s been good, and still is. I’m looking forward to retirement, but I’m still on the planning commission so I’m not quite going into hibernation as I slide into senility.
“I wish the new commissioners well and keep in mind every little problem does not necessarily require a new regulation.
“We’re in favor of smaller government while we’re busy growing it.
“I wish all the new commissioners well and we’ve left all the hard problems for you.”