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Commissioners look at local synthetic drug issue

A large crowd of concerned citizens made their presence felt at Thursday night’s March meeting of the Johnson County Commission. Representing several organizations including various churches and the ACTION Coalition, the crowd gathered for the purpose of showing their desire to have the commission take action against the growing synthetic drug problem in the county. Demonstrators have been actively protesting, and many local towns and counties, including Mountain City, have begun taking action of their own.
Pastor Dwayne Dickson of Mountain City First Christian Church stood as spokesman for the group, challenging the county to follow through with a ban of their own. County attorney Bill Cockett went into a lengthy discussion of the situation, listing what options the county has, but also warning that a county ordinance against these products would likely result in a lawsuit and the ordinance wouldn’t have much power even if it were adopted. Cockett went on to reiterate to the crowd that in all likelihood the state will soon be taking action that will hopefully eliminate the problem anyway.
Because of the complex and delicate nature of the problem, County Mayor Larry Potter suggested the creation of a committee, made up of himself, Sherriff Mike Reece, three commissioners, and Mr. Dickson, to look at what options the county has available. Potter went on to say that it would then be possible to call a special meeting for the commission to take action after the committee had met and discussed what should be done.
The commission approved the formation of the committee following a motion made by Huey Long but also asked Cockett to begin looking at some of the action and ordinances other cities have taken to decide which type might work best for the county. Commissioners Rick Snyder, Jerry Gentry, and Lester Dunn all volunteered to serve on the committee.
Following the announcement of the resignation of one of the constables at a recent meeting, Mayor Potter asked the commission to consider dissolving the position in the county. Constables are beneficial to the sheriff’s department in the serving process, but Potter informed the commission that anyone interested in continuing to do so can become a private processor without being elected. Although the county does not pay anything to have constables, with the constables bonding and equipping themselves, there was still a concern of liability toward the county.
However, several commissioners made a point to question whether one bad example should stand for everyone in the position, contesting that a really good constable can be a strong asset to the county. As a result, when the issue came back up this month, Commissioner Jack Proffitt quickly made a motion to leave the county’s constable policy as is. The motion was seconded by Mike Taylor and following limited discussion passed on a 10 to 3 vote.
The vacated position will have to be filled during the August election. Interested parties should immediately pick up their paperwork from the Election Commission to meet deadlines to be certified and placed on the ballot.
For the complete story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.