Hines, Henline Gear Up for Council
Contributed by: Ann Hinch on 11/17/2006

When Lenoir City Councilman Mike Henline participates in his second council meeting Nov. 27, it may feel eerily familiar.

He already sits on the city's Board of Education with Bobby Johnson Sr. and Rosemary Quillen. Now he'll be serving on council with their fathers: Gene Johnson and Buddy Hines.

Henline and Hines are the newest councilmen elected Nov. 7, replacing Alan Williams and Mickey McNabb. They were sworn in Nov. 13 alongside returning incumbent Gene Hamby, each to serve a four-year term. Re-elected incumbent Mayor Matt Brookshire will serve another two years.

Brookshire defeated challengers who pointed to public dissatisfaction with his proposed downtown redevelopment plan. He said Nov. 13 the plan needs to be better explained to citizens "in a way that builds trust, not in a way that creates turmoil among neighbors and among neighborhoods."

Hines believes part of the proposal should be changed, since it was his impetus to run for office - he knocked at 1,500 doors and this was the main topic of discussion time and again.

"A lot of people are scared to death, the older people, especially," he said, referring to the part which would require homeowners to comply with suggested repairs or possibly lose their properties to eminent domain.

He has seen houses littered with trash and junk outside and he, too, wants to clean them up. But, "We've got codes to take care of that," he insisted.

Another part of the plan he'd like to change is its scope. It is, Hines said, too ambitious too soon, encompassing the entirety of Broadway.

"If (the city) would take in a little at a time and get a little credibility built up first, it'd work better," he suggested. "Years ago, city officials were servants of the people; it's not that way anymore."

Hines is concerned Lenoir City is growing too fast for services to keep up with new residents. He pointed to the fact a third of its fire hydrants are inadequate for hoses, and also what he sees as population outpacing the police force. It's the business growth that attracted Henline, a 10-year school board veteran.

"Not everyone is having this prosperity that we are," Henline said. "So you have to be careful not to snuff it out."

A Lenoir City native like Hines, he decided to run for council before learning he didn't legally have to give up his board seat if elected. Unlike the retired Hines, Henline still works full-time - he and his business partner haul mail from Knoxville to outbound post offices.

"There's nothing more important than being on the school board," he said, explaining it shapes kids' lives. However, he admits "if it got to where I couldn't handle both, I would leave the school board" for council. He probably won't run for the board again in 2008.

Henline isn't yet fully knowledgeable of the redevelopment plan, but believes the problem may be miscommunication between council and residents. "I can't say one way or the other" of his support for the plan, he explained, though like Hines, he doesn't think the city should take homeowners' property. "But I do think downtown and that area needs some work."

Going by tradition of choosing the person who received the most votes in the election, council selected Hines as its new vice mayor, replacing Councilman Tony Aikens. This is not new for Hines, who also served as vice mayor during half his 1993-97 term.