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Unicoi County Commission appoints Veterans Services Officer

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 25, 2020 at 9:21 AM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Commission voted Monday to elect George Hall to serve as the county’s Veterans Service Officer.

A part-time juvenile services worker for the county, Hall will fill the state mandated part-time veterans’ services position from March 1 - June 30.

Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely told the commission Hall will work three mornings each week from an office located next door to the mayor’s office on the first floor of the Unicoi County Courthouse.

In a related vote, the commission allocated $3,200 to pay Hall for the four-month period.

In other business Monday, the commission voted to return its regular meeting time to 6 p.m. because of issues with a 5 p.m. meeting time adopted by the commission in January.

Commission Chairman Loren Thomas said the earlier meeting time had caused issues for several of the members of the commission.

Commissioner Marie Rice voted against the restoring the 6 p.m. time slot, citing the more than $500 cost of republishing a public notice of the meeting times that the county traditionally publishes for an entire year.

Also on Monday, the commission received a funding request along with an update on organizational changes within the former Unaka Mountain Search and Rescue Team, which recently changed its name to Unicoi County Search and Rescue.

Team member Mike Adams told the commission the name change is intended to better reflect the volunteer agency’s service to the entire county, including 172 miles of improved wilderness trails, eight miles of the Nolichucky river and numerous streams and tributaries.

Adams said the agency’s goal is to provide the county’s citizens and visitors with the capable and well-trained swift-water rescue and backcountry rescue team that deserve and to acheive national certification for each of its members.

“It isn’t cheap,” Adams said before making a request for $10,918 in county funding for training and equipment that he said must be replenished within the coming year.

In response to questions from the commissioners, Adams said:

• The new funding request is in addition to a $5,800 contribution to the rescue team included in the county’s current budget.

• The town of Unicoi contributes $3,000 annually to the rescue team and recently allocated another $10,000 to for purchase of a vehicle that was ultimately used for equipment.

• The team has not yet requested funding from the town of Erwin, but does consider its service an “urban operation” because of the river and many streams that flow through the town.

- The agency recently filed for nonprofit status that will allow it to apply for grant funding and began the search for grants for which it may be eligible.

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