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Julie Sanders resigns from Commission

Moving to Florida


People serving in government say they like to leave their office better than they found it. Julie Wells Sanders says she prays she’s done that.
Ten years ago, she was elected for the first time by the people of this County as a Bedford County Commissioner, representing District 7. Six of those years have been spent also serving as chair of the Bedford County Courthouse and Property Committee.
That’s been a big job, she says. But it has been seeing projects to fruition, such as the soon-to-be built juvenile detention center. She’s leaving the County knowing that this center is needed and will serve a great purpose for the troubled youth here.
She has a great heart for seeing trouble youth rehabilitated. “They must be rehabilitated to prevent their return to juvenile or to jail,” said Sanders.
On Tuesday evening, Sanders served for the last time as a committee chair. She announced last week during the County Commission meeting that she’s moving to Florida to take a new job with Amedisys-a 5-star, home health corporation.
Sanders says she’s not changing her career path, just the setting. In the past, she has served students with her OT skills and training.
During Tuesday night’s rules and legislative committee meeting, several candidates were introduced to potentially fill Sanders’ remaining two years. Those speaking up to replace Sanders are Keith Davis, a life-long resident of Bedford County and Bryan Nerren, who has lived here most of his life and served as a local pastor. Also vying for the open seat is a new resident, James Ludeman, a resident of 207 Eventime Drive in Shelbyville.
Sanders will leave her seat officially on June 7. She has recommended Davis from District 7-a life-long, active member of Bedford County and she is going to help him get acclimated, if he is selected by the Commission.
While she enjoyed serving the County, she has discovered first-hand how difficult it can be in the beginning. “I thought that I understood how county government was run,” she said Tuesday. “You really don’t know, until you serve.”
But she took on the responsibility because she wanted to serve her community. Sanders says with a smile that she had once thought she might like to run for the mayoral office.
She adds with a laugh that her sons are encouraging her to run for political office in Pace, Fla., where she will be living.
“Perhaps,” she says.
Sanders says one thing she’s learned from being a public official is that misinformation always spreads better than the truth.”
Case in point, the arguments being made recently against building the $6 million dollar juvenile detention center- a project close to her heart for 6 years. No, she tells people, taxes are not going up as a result. She’s had those conversations for a while.
The proposed Capital Outlay Projects projected cost is: a. Liberty School Wing $3,364,859 b. Juvenile Facility $6,049,550 c. Surplus Facility $600,000 d. Public Safety Training Range $154,000 e. NCRS Office Expansion at Ag Ctr $25,000.
Sanders said another case in point was some of the arguments made against the recent lumping of those capital outlay projects into one loan. This resolution, recommended by the financial management committee, was finally approved after over an hour of discussion by Commission members last week.
The county is actually borrowing the money for the capital projects. (More stories to come in the T-G.) Sanders explained that the interest rate on the 3-year loan will be lower by bundling.
There’s still much to accomplish regarding Bedford County government, she says. But she’s proud of what she’s help the Commission achieve the last decade.
“When I came on 10 years ago, there were so many things that had not been addressed by the Commission.”
Remodeling areas of the historic courthouse was another project her committee was involved with the last few years. Speaking from a newly renovated conference room, she’s proud of the historic renovations.
What’s the best advice she gives the Commission going forward: “If you’re not proactive, there’s no way the County can handle the growth that’s coming.”
When the Commission is nonproductive, it is hurting the taxpayers, according to Sanders. That road can be especially hard for the people paying City and County taxes, she notes.
“I’ve been fortunate to serve during a time when a lot of changes were made here.” She refers to the new adult correction facility, Nearest Green Distillery, the new technology center and much more.
She’s half way through her third term as a county official. Yes, she would have run for a fourth term, had she stayed in Bedford County.
She considers it an honor, she says, to have served her hometown. Sanders actually grew up in District 7 on Eden Avenue and lived as an adult in Bell Buckle for 18 years.
“I’ve been fortunate to grow up in Shelbyville.”
She has too many friends to mention from all those years. They will be greatly missed.
“But this is my time,” she explains.
Having gone to school here, raised her sons and worked in Bedford has made the decision to leave all the more difficult. She says she’ll miss her church- Midland Baptist.
Her parents live in Tullahoma; she is an only child. That’s a little difficult too.
Still, this part-time travel agent notes that she’s only 12 miles from the Pensacola Airport. It’s doable from here to there and vice versa, she notes. “I guess I will be coming back here for vacation now.”
Her two grown sons, who have begun their own careers, support her decision. Best of all, they have a place to crash while in Florida now.
They’re encouraging her to run for public office in Pace, Fla.
Sanders says with excitement, “Pace is the size of Shelbyville with the amenities of Murfreesboro.”
She says her new job offer has been a blessing. She says it really is amazing how things just fell into place.
She quickly sold her condo in one week and bought her new Florida home the next.
Her pay even resulted in more than she had originally discussed with her new employer. Sanders says her retirement is better in Florida.
No doubt, there are the traditional perks associated with the Sunshine State that interest her as well. She’s 30 minutes from the white sands of Pensacola Beach, an hour from Orange Beach and an hour from Fort Walton Beach.
A patriotic person, she’s looking forward to seeing the Blue Angels fly over from the Pensacola Air Force Base, which is about 15 minutes from her home.
“How great is that?” the empty-nester says with a big smile. “God has led me in the right direction, I believe. I can walk to church . . . at the end of the road from my house.”
Will there be tears shed upon her departure, sure. Shelbyville and Bedford County have been the only towns in which she’s ever lived. In fact, she has family history here; her grandfather owned and operated the Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewing Company in Shelbyville.
Sanders openly notes that politically, she’s a conservative. She believes she will find the right friends-many with the same views on life and politics- when she gets to northern Florida.
Just as she did when she tackled many Commission issues, Sanders, who is single, is ready to start her new life. Life can throw some hard curves; she knows.
Sanders isn’t ashamed to share her faith, noting how God has richly blessed her life. “I’ve prayed a lot about it. God is in this. That’s all I can tell you.”