Five Questions with Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 2, 2020 at 6:15 PM

ERWIN — After 19 years as the administrative assistant at Erwin Town Hall, 11 years as town recorder and seven years in the mayor’s office, Doris Hensley has put in 38 years of service to the town.

In June, she was named Tennessee Municipal League Mayor of the Year and with the award came accolades for a list of improvements to to the town accomplished during her mayorship. In the months since then, improvement projects have continued in and around Erwin.

On Friday, Hensley updated the Johnson City Press on five projects either on the drawing board or soon to be completed, and also shared a little about her life outside the mayor’s office.

Fast Facts:

Dogs or cats? Hensley is a dog lover and the proud owner of Mr. Jingles, a Pekingese mix rescued from the Unicoi County Animal Shelter, and of Cloe, a Corgi she inherited from her late daughter, Cindy, who passed away in 2016.

Favorite getaway? The Outer Banks of North Carolina where the entire Hensley family enjoys spending their days fishing and their evenings dining on their daily catch. “Whatever we catch that day that’s what we eat that night. And I’m the cook.”

Favorite view from the Erwin Linear Trail? The open, grassy section south of Kiwanis Park where egrets nest along North Indian Creek. “I love watching the egrets out there in the middle and the geese.”

What’s the plan for the much-anticipated opening of the new Erwin Dog Park?

“We’re woking on a soft opening in March and a formal opening later in March, or on up in the next month, whenever he (park benefactor Randy Boyd) can be here. The reason it isn’t open now is the weather, and we’ve planted grass. We want it to have a good stand of grass so there won’t be any mud or potholes when we open it. We’re also putting in some concrete slabs for an obstacle course for the dogs and benches for the dog owners. It will have water available for the dogs, a fountain where you can fill water bottles and cups for dogs. It’s 1.5 acres and it will be divided with half for small dogs and half for large dogs, all fenced off.

What is the plan and the timeline for the next extension of the linear trail?

“The plan is to expand it across the (Fishery) park to Governors Bend (retirement center). That’s it. We’ll do that when we do our improvements to park.

What improvements are needed at Fishery Park and how far along is that project?

“It’s still in planning and we have a meeting coming up. Right now we have a ball field that needs upgrades. The swimming pool needs upgrades. We need maintenance on the restrooms and pavilions. We need a lot of work on the tennis courts. We’re discussing whether we want to dig them (the tennis courts) out and replace them. It’s expensive to dig them out and we may decide to leave the two courts on the road and repurpose the four courts inside the park. 

And we’ve looked at a water park to take care of some drainage problems we have, just little streams that meander through the park.

“The funding source is not known yet. We’ll have to see what we have in our budget and we’ll be applying for grants.”

Can you tell us anything about the progress in marketing the town-owned Morgan industrial site on Second Street?

“It’s pad ready. In our next budget I want to put some (funds) into materials for marketing, or a pamphlet. Tyler Engle with the Joint Economic Development Board is marketing it and I think he has three companies that have had some interest or inquired about it to him.

“I am very hopeful we’ll have some development there this year. If not this fiscal year then this calendar year. I want to be optimistic and say probably this year.”

After several years of work to improve ambulance service in Erwin, what are your thoughts on recently approved inter-local EMS?

“I am very excited and very proud of how the community has come together for the ambulance service. It will be the Unicoi County EMS in July. We have group of very professional and experienced young people running it right now and they are going to stay. And Adam Copas, who is very qualified and professional, will be the director. It’s one of the best things that has happened since I’ve been in town.”

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