In my role as Chair of the Hamblen Democrats, I’ve been trying to be out in the public. I’ve been trying to get to know the decision-makers in the community. I’ve been trying to see how things run here.
To that end, I decided with the new year to try to attend, at least once, as many governmental or quasi-governmental meetings as I can. Last Fall, I attended some of the most consequential meetings. County Commission. City Council. Election Commission. School Board. I also took the opportunity to speak at public forum during these meetings, if it was offered and if I had something to say.
A notch below these meetings, though, are various Boards and Executive Committees run by folks either in certain governmental positions or folks who have been appointed to be on the Board or Committee in question. These were the meetings I decided to attend. Below I’m gonna do a list of the meetings I’ve attended and some details about them. I’ll also include any specific takeaways that I had for the meeting. I’ve got all of these meetings on my Google Calendar and I expect I’ll continue to attend many or even most of them off and on as long as I’m in this position. But I also hope this will be a reference I can pass along to future leaders of the Hamblen Dems when I’ve moved on.
Before I get to the specific list, though, I wanted to give some general thoughts on these meetings.
- The Board or Committee members at the meeting are usually surprised to see a member of the public in attendance. Sometimes they’re welcoming and ask why I’m there. Sometimes they treat me with trepidation. Sometimes they ignore me.
- There’s a local group in Hamblen County that goes by the name Citizens for Open and Accountable Government (COAG). They’re generally conservatives, but members of both parties follow their FB page. They pretty much always show up at the big meetings – Commission, Council, School Board – and record the proceedings to post online. They showed up at only two of these lower level meetings to record. Those were the Solid Waste Board Meeting and the Executive Committee of the Joint Morristown-Hamblen Economic & Community Development Board. One or both of the Mayors were in attendance at those meetings, so that may be why.
- In some cases, there’s a learning curve to be able to follow what’s going on. They’ll speak in acronyms or shorthand. Since I’ve been just an observer, I haven’t been able to ask questions along the way. In those meetings, it would be useful to attend multiple meetings to get a better idea of what they’re discussing.
- Some meetings include technology, like a powerpoint presentation shown on large screens. Most meetings have a printed agenda. Sometimes it’s shared and sometimes it’s not.
- It’s not always easy to tell who the members of the Board or Committee are. Sometimes I know them. Sometimes there are nameplates. Other times I figure it out from hearing the discussion and then googling the name + Morristown.
- I also usually check to see if the Board or Committee has a website or page. They usually do, but they’re not very good about including information like Board members or printed materials. Rarely, if ever, is there a link to check out the meeting’s agenda.
- Most the meetings don’t include a formal “Public Forum” section. At the more welcoming meetings, they have noted the attendance of a visitor (me) and, sometimes, have asked me if I have any announcements or questions.
I’ve gotten most of the information about these meetings from places like the Morristown City Events Calendar. It’s a good resource.
I’m going to list the meetings in order of how they appear on the calendar – earliest in the month to latest. This is not the order in which I attended them. I also think I will plan on updating this post with new information or new meetings which I run across in the future. Like I said, I want it to be a resource for others and potential future Party Chairs.
Finally, I think I’m going to go ahead and publish this post before it’s completed. I’m going to get the essential information down. I’ll go back and update when I have time. I’m also thinking I may try and add a page or section or something devoted to the Boards and try to list their members. This is an underrated important thing that is not well done by the local governments.
HEALTH COUNCIL – this meeting has been Zoom only since I’ve attended. I started attending because the Health Board in Knox County was so politicized, it seemed like a good thing to get in on. It turns out they’re just out there trying to help people and getting good health information out to the public. So I’ve continued to attend and am trying to use our meager social media presence to amplify the good stuff they’re doing.
1st Wednesday of the Month – noon. Via Zoom or at the Health Department.
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE JOINT MORRISTOWN-HAMBLEN ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BOARD – This one had both Mayors in attendance and a member of COAG was there to record.
First Monday of the month – 8:30 a.m. At the Chamber of Commerce building, 825 W. First North Street, Morristown
PARKS AND RECREATION ADVISORY BOARD – Of interest here is that the Board votes on approving applications for use of Park facilities.
First Monday of the month – 5:30 p.m.. At the Parks and Rec office, 415 W. Louise Ave, Morristown
CIVIL SERVICE BOARD – I haven’t yet been able to make this meeting. Before the meeting is a work session that starts at 10:30 a.m.
Second Tuesday of the month – 11:00 a.m. City Center Bldg., 100 W. First North Street, Morristown
PLANNING COMMISSION/BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS – I haven’t made it to this meeting yet. Work session at noon same day.
Second Tuesday of the month – 4:00 p.m. Morristown City Center Council Chambers, 100 W. First North Street, Morristown
MORRISTOWN TREE BOARD – I’ve been to this one twice. They were really friendly and answered my questions. They serve the Board lunch.
Second Wednesday – noon. Training Room, Morristown City Center, 100 W 1st North St., Morristown
MORRISTOWN-HAMBLEN HUMANE SOCIETY – This is one of those quasi-governmental meetings. They didn’t offer agendas or acknowledge me. It seemed as the meeting went on that being a member of the group would be important, so I joined.
Second Monday, every other month – 6:30 p.m. Health Department.
MORRISTOWN HOUSING AUTHORITY – Very friendly to a visitor, but a meeting that was hard to follow first time. I’ll be going back. They served the board food.
Third Tuesday of the month – noon. 600 Sulphur Springs Road, Morristown, TN in the John R Johnson Community Room
AIRPORT COMMISSION MEETING – They meet in a very nice conference room at the Airport. Had to wade through some dry stuff, but some good info gleaned here.
I just lucked up on this meeting. They don’t have a regular schedule for meetings, at least on the Mymorristown events calendar. Just need to check frequently, but worth attending. I attended 3/16/22. Located at: Conference Room at the Morristown Airport located at 5233 Old Highway 11E, Morristown
MORRISTOWN HAMBLEN SOLID WASTE – Mayor Brittain attended and a member of COAG was there to film.
Third Friday of the month – 9:00 a.m. Hamblen County Health Department, 331 W Main St., Morristown
MORRISTOWN-HAMBLEN LIBRARY BOARD – I’ve been twice so far. The meetings where I’ve felt least welcome. I will write a separate post about these meetings after I attend the next one. I’ll add the link here.
Fourth Tuesday of the month, noon. Community Room at the Library, 417 W Main St., Morristown
AMBULANCE AUTHORITY BOARD OF DIRECTORS – The first time I tried to attend, they had canceled. The second one was very eventful and there’s a third coming just a week later. I’ll write a separate post and add the link here. They fed the board and offered it to me.
Fourth Wednesday of the month – noon. Rescue Squad bldg.
INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT BOARD – I missed a special called meeting on 3/25. Looks like they don’t have a regular schedule. Need to check the My Morristown Events calendar
HAMBLEN COUNTY EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS BOARD – I missed a called meeting on 2/25/22. They don’t have a recurring meeting date and time on the My Morristown Events Calendar. They meet in the Training Room of the City Center and the meeting was at 8:00 a.m.
LAMPTO EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING – I attended this meeting on 2/9/22. It looks like they meet every three months or so, but it’s not on a set schedule. The only meeting I’ve attended that is not located in Hamblen/Morristown. The LAMPTO Executive Board meets at the Jefferson City Municipal Building at 112 City Center Drive in Jefferson City, TN.
MORRISTOWN UTILITIES COMMISSION – Interesting meeting. Public allowed in, but they were a bit persnicketty about the how and when to enter. Looks like it’s on a regular schedule, but you may need to check the MU website. It shows up on My Morristown events, but not as a recurring meeting.
Fourth Thursday of the month – 10:30 a.m. 433 W. 1st North Street, Morristown