Bledsoe logs 45 years in office

Jeremy Styron-News-Herald

When Loudon County Commission Chairman Roy Bledsoe walked in the board's monthly meeting Monday night, he spotted a suspicious gift bag under the mayor's desk but initially didn't give it much thought.

Bledsoe quickly realized, however, that "special recognition" section on the meeting's agenda was for him and his 45 years of service on the commission.

"I was quite surprised," Bledsoe said after the commission meeting. "I had no idea."

Bledsoe has represented the 4th District predominantly but has also served the 1st District. Mayor Estelle Herron presented Bledsoe with an honorary gavel to recognize his service with the county.

"Although he was elected from the first district, Roy has always represented the people of Loudon County," Herron said. "He was chosen by his fellow commissioners as chairman of the commission in 1994 and has continued to serve successfully in this capacity."

Bledsoe, who retired in 1992 from dairy farming, was born in Union County but was raised in Loudon County. He has lived in Philadelphia for most of his life.

He said he initially ran for a post on the commission in the mid-1960s because of recommendations from residents in the community.

"They came to me and said, 'You're going to have to run,' and I never did have sense enough to say no," Bledsoe said.

Commissioner Bob Franke said Bledsoe's strongest traits in leading the board was his ability to remain cool when facing tough questions from the public and keeping the meetings on track.

"He's somebody that everyone can look up to as the type of person who truly is a public servant all these many years and his leadership of the commission has been great," Franke said. "I think he does a wonderful job at meetings, just maintaining the decorum at times can be kind of bad, but he's always calm, and he keeps them on course, and he stays calm and doesn't let it get out of hand. It's a pleasure to work with him really.

"He's a calming influence is what he is on everybody, the crowd as well as the commission," Franke added. "Just a good common-sense approach to the issues that arise."

Franke, who has served alongside Bledsoe for about 10 years, pointed to the opening of Fort Loudoun Medical Center and the Loudon County Office on Aging and Senior Center as two of the county's most important accomplishments in the last decade while working with Bledsoe.

"He always has the interest of the taxpayer in mind," Franke said. "If there's a way to squeeze (a) nickel to get a little more out of it, he'll figure it out. He doesn't want to take anymore money than is necessary."

Bledsoe said that during his tenure, he was pleased that the county has been able to routinely maintain one of the lowest tax rates in the state.

"If we can get funds and keep progress and hopefully keep the tax rate down to where it doesn't burden the people, I've been pleased," Bledsoe said. "We have the eighth or ninth lowest tax rate in the state in Loudon County, and I was proud that we were able to eventually come to that point."

Bledsoe will likely be remembered for his soft-spoken leadership and calm resolve.

"I've never been much to do a lot of speaking," he said. "I'd rather be at work than to be seen like that. So that's what I've tried to do, tried to play low key and do everything I could to help our community. I think we've come a long way since we started, and I hope it continues."

In other news, the board:

● Approved a recommendation from the Loudon County Air Quality Task Force that the state Department of Environment and Conservation install hydrogen sulfide monitors near Blair Bend Road.

"We're requesting it because we want to know whether or not there's an health issue here," Commissioner Don Miller said. "No one really knows. H2S, hydrogen sulfide, in certain concentrations can be damaging to people's health. However, we have no way of knowing whether or not it's a problem, and so the intent of this is to simply put in the monitor for some period of time and see whether or not there's a problem that we need to monitor."

The monitor site will be close to Viskase and the Loudon County waste treatment plant in Loudon.

● Approved 1.77 acres to be transferred from the county to Loudon County Fire & Rescue to be used either to enlarge the current building or construct a new facility for the storage of fire equipment. The piece of property is located next to the old Eaton school property. No money will be involved in the transfer.

● Appointed Ryan Bright, Martin Brown and Howard Luttrell to the Loudon County Board of Zoning Appeals and Pam McNew and Roger Hale to the Regional Planning Commission.

● Appointed James Brooks to the Tellico Area Service System board and Commissioner Harold Duff to the Tennessee County Commissioners Association Legislative Committee.

● Approved Billy Pickel to serve as the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator to replace Leo Bradshaw, who has resigned.

● Accepted the following people to serve as notaries: Teresa Jones, Stephen Parrent, Stacie Franks, Angela Spence, Toni Shaw, Paula Perdue, Harvey Sproul, Stephan Adams and Angela Abston.

● Approved setting up a live auction to sell five pieces of surplus property for at least $1 apiece.
● Approved the sale of two GMC surplus vehicles.

● Accepted Meadow Walk Lane off Highway 11 into the county road system.

● Accepted $1,000 in grant money from the Tennessee Secretary of State to lease equipment for county absentee ballots during the upcoming elections.

● Approved 13 amendments to the current budget.