Carter County Commission gives honors and considers changes to county employment plan

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Carter County Commission met in regular session Tuesday night to decide over a lengthy agenda. Brad Johnson, commission vice chairman acting as chairman, presided over the more than three-hour meeting. Some of the major issues that were discussed included recognition and honor resolutions, a change to the county employee 401K plans and the Gap Creek Park project.

The Commission gave unanimous official recognition to the National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Unaka High School student Taylor Shanks was honored for her acceptance into the Roan Scholarship Leadership Program at East Tennessee State University. Shanks received the unanimous honor to a standing ovation from the commissioners and those in attendance. Hampton resident and Appalachian Trail hostel owner Bob Peoples was also honored for his public service and “ambassadorship for Carter County.”

Commissioners were also asked to pass a resolution that would change county employees’ 401K plans from Nationwide, a private insurance and retirement plan servicer, to a state-managed program. However, many commissioners questioned the move because of its last-minute inclusion into the agenda, and the uncertainty of how the new plan would affect older employees who were fully vested in the current private plan. The item was tabled by motion to give commissioners time to investigate the change.

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The Commission next decided a motion to “proceed with negotiations with Elizabethton [over the proposed] Gap Creek Park project.” The park project as proposed would establish an equal partnership between the county and the city over the management and maintenance of the park. Some commissioners questioned the mitigation of risk since the land selected for the park was in a flood zone, while others inquired whether the motion would have any effect since the city had already expressed hesitancy to the park project because they were busy with their own recreational projects.

Richard Smith was appointed by the Commission to fill a seat on the Carter County Equalization Board. Smith’s county board experience is uncertain because his application was not on the original agenda.