Jonesborough Alderman and former Johnson City Power Board President and CEO Homer G’Fellers resigned from his appointment as the town’s representative on the Power Board’s board of directors Monday, citing a conflicting request for him to serve as an adviser to the new Power Board CEO.
G’Fellers, who retired from the Power Board earlier this year, was appointed to the Power Board board of directors by the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Aug. 13, immediately following his appointment to serve out the remaining two-year term of former Jonesborough Alderman Mary Gearhart.
The following week, members of JCPB’s board of directors expressed several concerns about G’Fellers’ appointment to their ranks, including the impact he might have on their ongoing search for a new CEO and on changes in policies that could result from four findings listed in a preliminary report on a power board audit in which G’Fellers had played a role.
The concerns subsequently resulted in the power board directors’ unanimous vote to request Jonesborough’s mayor and aldermen to postpone G’Fellers’ appointment as a Power Board director for 90 days to allow attorney Erick Herrin time to investigate the issues.
G’Fellers told the board Monday that Power Board Chairwoman Jenny Brock last week asked him to serve as an adviser to the new CEO, which he called “a more important role for me at this time.”
During his employment with the Power Board and in his past and current tenure on Jonesborough’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen, G’Fellers said his concern “is and has always been that I be able to help and be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.
“My concern for the Power Board’s longevity is that I want to see the Power Board prosper and keep its rates low. As Jonesborough’s alderman, I have a double responsibility to ratepayers in Jonesborough. And right now probably would not be the best time for me to serve on the Power Board board of directors.”
The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to accept G’Fellers’ resignation as their representative on the Power Board and to appoint Mayor Kelly Wolfe to serve in his place on that board for two years.
In other business, the board voted to authorize a temporary lease agreement through which the International Storytelling Center organization will rent its former building in downtown Jonesborough following the town’s purchase of the building later this month.
Town Attorney Jim Wheeler told the board the temporary lease is required by the Rural Development office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has agreed to loan the town $3.3 million to purchase the storytelling building and to buy land and build a new seniors center on East Main Street. Both land purchases are expected to close before the board’s next meeting in early October, Wheeler said.
The temporary lease, which will be effective through Dec. 31, states that ISC will rent the building for $47,650 per year in monthly installments of $3,970.
ISC’s agreement to lease the building was a condition of the initial RD loan offer approved by the board in June. According to Wheeler, ISC’s lease payments will cover the building’s $1 million purchase price and the debt service on the loan.