At odds over reservoir agency

Commissioners, mayor disagree on board makeup

LOUDON - For the second time in as many months, members of the Loudon County Commission clashed with County Mayor Doyle Arp over issues pertaining to the county's relationship with the Tellico Reservoir Development Agency.

The agency is suing Loudon County over rights to perform building inspections on TRDA property. Although a settlement was predicted earlier this year, the case is still scheduled to go to trial in November.

Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp, a member of the TRDA board, has found himself caught between the agency and members of the County Commission several times in the past few months.

At a commission meeting earlier this week, commissioners Don Miller and Bob Franke challenged Arp's recommendations for county representatives to the TRDA board. Arp had proposed to reappoint city of Loudon Vice Mayor Gene Lambert and state Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, to the board.

Miller and Franke, who represent the only two districts in the TRDA sphere of influence, suggested that the county would be better served by appointment of representatives from the lakefront area controlled by the agency.

Arp was quick to respond, accusing Miller and Franke of not being cooperative. "I have tried to work with these two commissioners on various issues, and they want it their own way," he said. Arp pointed out that Matlock and Lambert had done a good job on the TRDA board during their previous tenure. "You can't find two better people or a better board in this country," he said.

The commission voted on the appointments but, because two board members were not present, failed to reach a majority in favor of Arp's selections. The issue will be brought up at a subsequent meeting, where it's possible a compromise might be reached by appointing one person from either Miller's 7th District or Franke's 3rd District to the TRDA board, Miller said.

It wasn't the first time Miller and Franke have gone head to head with Arp over TRDA-related issues. Last month, the two commissioners tried unsuccessfully to appoint a new lawyer for the upcoming TRDA trial, expressing their concerns that current attorney Wayne Henry, acting under direction from Arp, was not aggressively representing the county's interests. After a heated discussion, including an executive session meeting, the commission decided to vote on the issue. The vote resulted in a 5-to-5 tie to keep Henry on the case.

According to Miller, the two conflicts are completely unrelated except for the connection to the TRDA. Miller also said he has no problem with the current board representatives but would like to see someone from his or Franke's district on the board. "It's not a reflection on the current board," Miller said. "These two districts are the ones most impacted by TRDA. "Matlock said he understands the positions expressed by Miller and Franke but also believes he can adequately represent the interests of the county.