October 3, 2018
By Jill Penley
Darrell Reece was known by many from his current job as Superintendent of the Johnson County Highway Department, where he had served one term and was recently re-elected for a second term. Before his time at the highway department, Reece worked for Brown Brothers Construction and Town of Boone for many years.
“Darrell was a great leader for our department,” said Tracy Atwood, deputy highway superintendent. He led us with honesty, integrity, and hard work.”
Atwood states Reece was always willing to assist in all aspects of the department. “It didn’t matter whether it was leadership, office duties, or digging in the mud with a shovel, he believed in leading by example and was never above pitching in and offering assistance.”
Atwood relates that, under Reece’s leadership, workers at the highway department wanted to excel. “Darrell believed in his employees and always thanked us and told us how much he appreciated the work we had done,” he said. “That made us want to work harder and do a good job.” Atwood feels he has lost a good friend, and while replacing him will be impossible, the county board of commission is given the task of appointing a qualified replacement to the position he held.
According to County Attorney Perry Stout, who has spent time researching the situation and consulted with County Technical Assistance Service and the attorney for the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board (THOCB), the road superintendent is required to designate an interim in case something like this occurs. “Darrell did designate his deputy, Tracy Atwood to run the road department,” said Stout, “until the county commission can appoint a qualified replacement within 120 days.”
Stout explained the process when he said “The THOCB is sending a packet to the local election office so we can advertise the position. Those wishing to apply can send them the proper paperwork to be certified as qualified to hold the position.”
The THOCB will provide the commission with a list of those who applied and qualified. Per state law, the county legislative body fills vacancies in elected county offices, temporarily. The appointee serves until a successor is elected at the next countywide general election for which the candidate has sufficient time to qualify, which would be 2020. The county attorney agrees with Atwood’s assessment of his boss.
“Darrell was a good man and was easy to work with,” said Stout. “I spent a lot of time working with him on the two lawsuits we have had on the road list issues, and I couldn’t have asked for a better client during that time,” adding, “he will certainly be missed.”