Commissioner John Brown was commemorated for his 40 years of service to Bedford County by the Bedford County Commission on Tuesday evening.
A proclamation was signed by Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, State Rep. Pat Marsh, and State Sen. Shane Reeves. It was read by Charles Curtiss of the Tennessee County Commissioners Association (TCCA).
“Whereas John Edward Brown Sr. is one such estimable person who has demonstrated the greatest dedication, ability, and integrity as a member of the Bedford County Commission,” Curtiss read from the proclamation.
Brown was unable to attend the meeting due to health issues. He is retiring from public service this year. Brown’s daughter, Vivian Cornish, and her husband, Tony Cornish, accepted the certificate in his place.
Brown came to Shelbyville from Rutherford County in the early 1960s. A pastor, he served as the president of Shelbyville’s NAACP from 1960 to 1980.
In 1970, Brown became the third African American hired to serve as a police officer by the City of Shelbyville. By 1975, he was working full-time at Eaton Corporation, where beginning in 1969, he rose from janitor to supervisor during his career. He retired from Eaton in 1990. He then served as a pastor at Mt. Olivet and Fayetteville until 2004.
He has been serving as a commissioner for District 8 (north Shelbyville, east of 41A) since 1982 and currently serves as Chair Pro-Tem for the County.
“What I was most impressed by all of that was while he was serving the people of this county, he was serving the Lord the whole time, and it’s a wonderful testimony,” said Curtiss.
Mayor Chad Graham added a story about when he was first elected as county mayor in 2018. “I’ll try not to get emotional about this. But I remember him sitting me down and saying, ‘God has appointed you for this time and now you need to stand and serve.’ And I’m trying to do that, and I’m excited to have served with him.”
The board passed a resolution to adopt an updated county Hazard Mitigation Plan. This is how the county is reimbursed for natural disaster damage.
According to Emergency Management Agency director David Kitchens, the hazard mitigation plan is done through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which requires frequent updates to the plan.
“When it says update, we list programs in there from around the county. We bring people in from Wartrace, Bell Buckle, Normandy to talk about what their hazards are and what they’re rated and come up with programs they can be eligible to do for the year,” explained Kitchens.
They do a risk assessment for each of the municipalities. For example, Normandy is at a high risk of flooding due to the dam and waterways.
“But things like flash flooding can happen anywhere, so that’s why it’s kind of a blanket plan to cover any area,” Kitchens said. Tornadoes, as well, are unpredictable as two popped up this year unexpectedly.
This year, FEMA also added Public Assistance (PA for short) that provides supplemental grants to local governments, so communities can quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies. Bedford County is in the process now of approving these plans in all its cities.
According to the resolution, this will help the County “to express continued commitment to mitigation as a means of reducing the human and economic costs of natural and man-made disasters for the citizens of Bedford County.”
The board voted to authorize the submission of a grant application with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) for funding to purchase and install safety cameras at all eight convenience centers in the county.
This will help address attempts of vandalism, illegal dumping, and to promote safety for employees and citizens, according to the resolution.