The mountainous communities of the fifth district received the bulk of attention at the Monday night county commission workshop, ranging from honors handed out to basketball teams to complaints about the White Oak Volunteer Fire Dept.


The Wynn Lady Bulldogs and the White Oak Elementary boys’ teams were both honored by proclamations from Mayor E. L. Morton for winning their respective county tournaments in the small school division.

Morton proclaimed Monday, February 11, as “Lady Bulldog Play Like a Girl Day” and the White Oak boys were given Tuesday, February 12 as “Wildcat Refuse to Lose Day.”

Another group of residents from White Oak and Roses Creek was present to ask commissioners for a resolution urging Tennessee’s congressional delegation to support adding Tennessee to a list of states receiving $10 million from the federal Abandoned Mine Fund for a pilot program to find ways to convert abandoned coal mine sites into economic development projects.

Bonnie Swinford, speaking for the group, told commissioners that while states like Alabama, Virginia and Ohio have been earmarked to receive $10 million each, Tennessee has not yet been included.

Tania Brookman with the Woodland Community Land Trust suggested that abandoned mine sites could be converted for hydroponic crop production.

Commissioner Ralph Davis later said he had received a complaint about the White Oak Volunteer Fire Department failing to respond to a recent house fire. Davis, a frequent critic of that department, pointed out that it took the county over two years to receive a progress report from that department.

County Attorney Joe Coker pointed out that as a volunteer department, the commission has no control over the White Oak VFD except to withhold the county’s annual $15,000 contribution.

One White Oak resident also complained about not being able to get fire reports from the department to verify that a residence has been destroyed and should no longer be on the tax rolls.

“You can’t believe a word he says,” Davis commented about the White Oak fire chief.

Davis also told commissioners at the budget committee session that he is working to negotiate a partnership with the City of Jellico for a new city-county building on the proposed site of the planned county Jellico office. The combined building would house the County Clerk, Sheriff and other county government clerical offices on one side and Jellico city offices on the other with each entity paying half of the cost.

Another resolution was requested from commissioners that would have an effect on the entire county but particularly rural areas. Dr. Mark Smith asked Campbell County to pass a resolution supporting legislation already introduced in Nashville to create a new profession of “Doctor of Medical Science.”

This bill, if passed, would enable medical practitioners serving as physician’s assistants to take two additional years of training and be allowed to practice medicine at the same level as an M.D.

This, Smith pointed out, would especially benefit rural areas such as Campbell County, where residents are losing access to medical care due to struggling hospitals and difficulty in recruiting medical doctors. Tennessee is second in the nation in the number of hospital closures and in the bottom ten percent in many health care categories, Smith pointed out.

The commission will also vote to approve several budget resolutions that were passed trough the budget committee, including one to allocate $113,000 to purchase two used heavy-duty trucks for hauling to out-of-county landfills. The purchase from MHC of Memphis would include a one-year warranty.  (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 02/12/2019-9:45AM)