Bedford Mayor Discusses County Government at Chamber Luncheon

Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham outlined recent achievements and ongoing challenges during a speech at the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce quarterly luncheon, held May 7 at the Fly Arts Center in Shelbyville.

Mayor Graham said his strategic areas of focus since taking office in 2018 have been education, public safety, and economic development.

In the area of education, Mayor Graham said that when he took office in 2018, 800 children were in portable classrooms. However, the county is on the verge of ending the need for portables, at least for now, with the opening of the new Cartwright Elementary School later this year and with a planned expansion of Liberty Elementary School. Portables are a security and severe weather risk, and many educators say they don’t provide the best learning environment.

Graham, a former school board member, noted that the school board and administration are in charge of day-to-day educational operations, but it’s the county commission that must make funding available for brick-and-mortar. Bedford County is growing rapidly, with more than 500 new residents a year, which puts pressure on the county to provide sufficient classrooms.

In the area of public safety, Graham said that a new salary scale passed in 2022 has helped stabilize the county’s workforce and make pay grades more equitable and based on actual job duties. Pay adjustments have resulted in less turnover in emergency service personnel.

A new public safety firing range will be located on the grounds of Bedford County Justice Complex. It will replace the current city-owned firing range, in a location that sometimes draws complaints from nearby residents.

Graham discussed plans for a new juvenile detention center to be located on the grounds of the Justice Complex. He said if the county were starting from ground zero, it might make more sense to outsource juvenile detention to other counties that have such facilities. But the county has a center in place. The center is in bad need of replacement, and demolishing the current location would improve the appearance of the approach to the county’s downtown shopping area. Graham said the issue has been discussed for years, and the best choice for now is to continue operating juvenile detention, which would require the new facility.

In the area of economic development, Graham noted the county’s aggressive pursuit of broadband services, which are becoming increasingly critical to individuals, families, businesses, and other agencies.

From left, County Commissioners Sylvia Pinson and Scott Johnson, County Mayor Chad Graham, and County Commissioners Linda Yockey and Greg Vick pose following the quarterly Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Lucky Knott

Lucky Knott

One of Southern Tennessee's most experienced and recognized news broadcasters and play-by-play sportscasters. News and Sports Director for Rooster 101.5 FM, 93.9 The Duck and Whiskey Country 105.1, and 95.9. He is currently the play-by-play voice of the Coffee County Red Raiders (31 years) on The Rooster 101.5 and can be heard M-F broadcasting our local news. Lucky has done play-by-play for 3,993 (and counting) sports events on Radio & TV. He also served four years as the Public Information Officer for the Coffee Co. Sheriff's Dept. and taught Radio/TV for six years at Grundy County High School.

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