Bob Browning to retire as Jonesborough town administrator

Jonathan Roberts • Feb 10, 2020 at 9:45 PM

Jonesborough is set to begin an ”aggressive” search for a new town administrator after current town administrator Bob Browning announced he would be stepping down from his position later this year at Monday night’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. 

“I have been so blessed — I loved every minute of being here,” Browning said after the meeting. “(Jonesborough) is a special place.” 

Browning has served as the town administrator three times since his first stint began in 1978, and has been in his current role since 2001. Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said the hope is to have Browning remain employed by the town, though a final determination on a new position hasn’t been made yet. 

“(Browning) has more knowledge about governmental activities than anyone here at the town, so it’d be a huge loss if we lost him totally,” Vest said Monday night. “He’s a special person around here and he's built a great staff so to have him agree to stay on and help see the school project and Jackson Theatre through — it’s a blessing.” 

Reached by phone Monday afternoon, former Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe, who was one of Browning’s biggest supporters while he was in office, had strong words to say about Browning’s impact on the town. 

“It’s hard to imagine anybody who has had a greater influence on the town of Jonesborough than Bob Browning,” Wolfe said. “He has spent the majority of his adult life shaping Jonesborough into the wonderful community it is today.” 

Vest said the board doesn’t have a replacement for Browning yet, but will begin an “aggressive” search both inside and outside the town to find a replacement before Browning officially leaves his post at the end of June. Vest said there are “several” people he’s got an eye on, however. 

Board approves loan application for school project

The board unanimously approved approved an application for a $32.75 million loan to fund the town’s school project. The amount is expected to cover both the construction and design costs of the building, which will be located off of North Cherokee Street. The loan will be financed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development mission at a 2.75% fixed interest rate. 

Under the lease-to-purchase agreement between the town and Washington County, the county will make annual payments of around $800,000 over a 38-year period. 

“It’s the next step,” Vest said. 

Other business

During discussion about a special event permit for Tennessee Hills Distillery’s St. Patrick’s Day event, Alderman Adam Dickson voiced some concerns about the direction the town was heading, particularly as it pertains to allowing alcohol at downtown events.

After some debate about which direction the town should go, however, the application was approved by a 2-1 vote, with Dickson voting “no.” 

Distillery owner and Alderman Stephen Callahan recused himself from the vote. 

Jonesborough employee Ralph Keefer was named Employee of the Month for February. 

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