Minnich appointed to county commission

Mike Minnich is sworn in by Judge Doug Collins while surrounded by family members at Thursday’s County Commission meeting.

The Hamblen County Commission voted Thursday night to fill the seat held by the late Louis “Doe” Jarvis with a former Marine and soldier who has an extensive background in public service.

The commission voted 7-6 to select Mike Minnich as the new District 5 County Commissioner, replacing Jarvis who died in late May.

“It’s bittersweet to take over at this time,” Minnich said. “I have big shoes to fill. I’ll never be able to fill them.”

Nominations were taken by County Commission Chairman Howard Shipley for the open spot.

Commissioner James Stepp recommended Gene Brooks, a former Morristown city councilmember, and Commissioner Scotty Long recommended Minnich.

Before the vote, Steve Lawrence, an adjunct professor at Walters State Community College, asked commissioners a question.

“Is there an opportunity to nominate from the floor?” he asked.

Shipley responded that was not the protocol and that only commissioners can nominate candidates for the open seat. After some discussion, County Mayor Bill Brittain explained that suggestions for nominations could come from the floor.

Lawrence then suggested to the commission they nominate Eric Dreher, who ran for school board last year. Lawrence said the retired businessman lives in District 5 and has extensive business knowledge.

“Is there any commissioners wishing to nominate him?” Shipley asked.

No commissioners spoke up, so the vote was taken between Minnich and Brooks.

After the vote, Minnich was sworn into office by Judge Doug Collins. He will now serve in the position until the next general election, which is scheduled for August 2020. Shipley said a primary for the seat will possibly take place next March.

Minnich has served in the past on the Hamblen County Planning Commission, the Hamblen-Morristown Solid Waste Board and is currently vice chairman of the city of Morristown’s Civil Service Board.

He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army. He achieved the rank of sergeant in the Marine Corps and major in the Army.

“I’m here to represent the guy working,” he said. “The guy who pays the taxes. Small business owners. Public servants. Policeman, firemen, first responders, the nurses, teachers.... I just want to represent those people because I know they’re the backbone of a community.”

He’s a retired physical therapist who owned his own business. He’s been married 42 years and his wife is a retired school teacher. He said he also has two older sisters who are retired teachers.

He has two sons who live in Knoxville and a 5-year-old granddaughter.

Minnich said one thing he will do as commissioner is treat everyone with respect who addresses him and the commission.

After Minnich took his new seat, the commission then went onto standard business for the regularly scheduled meeting. The commission approved a series of budget amendments over the next half hour, which are standard procedure as the fiscal year ends.

The commission also approved 14-0 a contract with the city of Morristown that would create a partnership for assistance in the county planning department.

The commission will next meet during a special-called meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Hamblen County Courthouse. During that meeting, the commission will vote on approving the county’s budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which starts that day.