Unicoi County Commission elects chair and vice-chair

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Sep 24, 2019 at 6:14 PM

ERWIN — Unicoi County Commission Chairman Loren Thomas and Vice-Chairman Jamie Harris will serve another year in their respective leadership roles.

Thomas and Harris were re-elected to the chair and vice-chairmanship positions Monday by becoming the first of several commissioners in a wide field of nominees to receive the needed five-vote majority of their fellow commissioners.

Commissioner Todd Wilcox, who stepped down as commission vice-chairman last year, set the field for both votes with motions to nominate all of the commission’s nine members for the two top seats and allow those who did not want the positions to decline the nominations.

The process left Thomas, former Commission Chairwoman Marie Rice and Commissioner Glenn White in the running for the chairmanship. Votes for individual commissioners were then called in alphabetical order with the agreement that the first commissioner to receive the needed majority would take the seat.

First up for the tally, Rice fell short of the majority by a vote of 6-3. Thomas then came up for a vote that fell 7-2 in his favor and won him the chairmanship for the second consecutive year.

The race for vice-chairman included a larger field of five candidates but only took only vote to secure the needed majority.

With Jamie Harris, Jason Harris, Marie Rice, Matthew Rice and White all in the running for vice-chairman, Jamie Harris was the first up for vote and won the seat with a 6-3 vote in his favor.

Later in the meeting, Commissioners White, Marie Rice and Matthew Rice, County Trustee Paul Berry and County Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Herndon were appointed to the commission’s Ethics Committee by a single voice vote with none opposed.

In other business, the commission voted to pay the last $2,700 of its lease obligations on the county’s former ambulance station at 1501 North Main Avenue and the final $4,967 owed to the county’s former ambulance service provider MedicOne Medical Response.

The MedicOne payment was for 14 days of service provided during the interim between MedicOne’s withdraw from a pending contract with county and the county’s acceptance of a one-year temporary service agreement with Washington County/Johnson City EMS.

The ambulance station was recently relocated to leased space adjacent to the former Unicoi County Memorial Hospital.