Discussion of Board of Health on commission agenda

By Mike Steely

Senior Writer


Today will be a long day for the Knox County Commission with Chairman Larsen Jay and Commissioner Randy Smith starting the day with a 2 p.m. meeting to discuss commission operations and  a 3 p.m. “practice session” for four new members.

There are 72 items on the Knox County Commission’s 5 p.m. Work Session agenda with the highlight on Commissioner Justin Biggs’ push to name a non-medical citizen to the Knox County Board of Health. The law department has confirmed the commission may choose to add an additional member who is not a medical professional and Biggs is suggesting restaurant owner Randy Burleson for the position.

Burleson’s various restaurants, among others, are named in a letter written by attorney Gregory Issacs to the Board of Health threatening a lawsuit and demanding the lifting of restrictions on bars and restaurants. The resolution for the work session simply has a blank space where the new member’s name would appear.

The commission may vote twice: once to authorize the new board member’s position and then to name the citizen.

Another resolution that may be added to the agenda calls to limit the Board of Health’s more “stringent” regulations.

“It shall be the policy of Knox County to not arrest, cite or criminally prosecute Knox County Citizens for failure to comply with an order of the Board of Health,” the proposed resolution reads and adds, “Knox County hereby adopts the ‘Tennessee Pledge’ as set forth by the governor.”

If adopted the resolution would immediately take place, effectively nullifying current regulations adopted by the Board of Health.

Among the various discussion items outside the normal business agenda is a discussion by Jay to create a special committee to study and evaluate the makeup and structure of the Knox County Sheriff’s Merit System Council.

Chairman Jay also wants to talk about the makeup of various Knox County boards and committees and discuss planning the commission’s 2020-2021 retreat.

Vice Chairman John Schoonmaker wants a discussion on the Ethics Committee’s non-voting members.

Allowing amendments to the Zoning Ordinance to allow planned developments within the Rural Area Growth Policy Plan is a discussion sponsored by Commissioners Biggs, Jay and Kyle Ward and the Engineering and Public Works Department.

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