County Executive Keith Cartwright (right) presents a certificate of commendation on behalf of the Sequatchie County Commission to Richard Harvey.
Oct. 18, 2016 -- Toward the end of the Sequatchie County Commission meeting Monday night, Oct. 17, County Executive Keith Cartwright called Commissioner Richard Harvey up to the podium and questioned him about something that happened two months earlier in Bartow County, Ga.
What began as something of an inquisition quickly turned to laughter and praise, and the whole assembly stood to their feet to applaud what Cartwright described as an act of "uncommon valor."
On Aug. 17, 2016, as Harvey was driving south on I-75 to pick up his son from the airport in Atlanta, he witnessed a tractor-trailer rig careening across multiple lanes of traffic and into the median, where it struck a pole with such force that the truck burst into flames.
With only seconds to make a decision, Harvey parked on the shoulder and leaped out to run to the wreck.
"I got across the lanes of traffic -- I don't know how," Harvey related after the meeting was over. "Another guy stopped on the other side. We started trying to pull him out. The truck was on fire."
The truck driver, Harvey found out later, had had a stroke. Unable to cooperate with his rescuers, he had a death grip on the steering wheel, and they had to struggle to break his hands loose and pull him from the wreck.
They were just 20 or 25 yards away, Harvey said, when the truck exploded.
"I feel like we saved his life," he said. "We got there with just minutes to spare."
But, he added, "I didn't feel like I'd done anything special."
Others felt differently, though. Cartwright presented a plaque of recognition to Harvey at Monday's meeting on behalf of the whole commission, proclaiming "deep appreciation for the selfless courage and bravery displayed on August 17, 2016 that saved the life of an unknown truck driver on a Georgia Interstate." And the crowd in the meeting hall spontaneously agreed, with a standing ovation for Harvey.
Richard Harvey not only is a county commissioner, he also has served 12 years in the Sequatchie County Sheriff's Department, first as a detective and for the past two years as deputy chief and administrator of the county jail. The man he saved from the wrecked truck, Georgia authorities informed him, is recovering from his stroke.
Pete Forsstrom spoke to the County Commission about the problems of illegal immigration and unvetted refugees.
In official business, Audit Committee Chairman Tom Vennero read to the commission a letter of commendation from the Tennessee director of state and local finance stating that not only is Sequatchie County's budget approved, but that the elected and appointed officials of the county have done a noteworthy job of improving management of the county's finances.
County Executive Cartwright pointed out that "this year only two of 95 counties received that letter," and Sequatchie County is one of the two. He congratulated the commission for making certain the county is "fiscally sound."
Comm. Paul Powell asked when the tax cards will be sent out, and Cartwright responded, "maybe the last week of this month, or the first of November."
Budget Committee Chairman Jeff Barger said that even though the county's budget had been turned in on time, there was a delay in getting the tax cards out because the city of Dunlap is still working on their FY 2016-17 budget.
County EMA Director Winfred Smith told the commission that it is important everyone understand, "not to open burn, no matter what's going on. It's too dry, and there's no rain in sight. The state will not issue any burn permits."
Two men addressed the commission regarding the issue of illegal immigration and the housing of refugees.
Pete Forsstrom and Ray Potter presented statistics illustrating the financial drain that illegal immigrants pose to the United States and the security risk of housing refugees.
"Stone Mountain, Ga., has received more Syrian refugees than New York City and L.A. combined," Forsstrom said.
An estimated 11 million illegal immigrants live in the U.S., Forsstrom said, and just recently over 1,000 who were slated for deportation were wrongly granted citizenship.
"Where is our national security?" he asked. "When do we as citizens stand up, when the federal government is bringing immigrants in here. Cities are allowed to request a moratorium on receiving refugees, but that goes before the feds, and the feds usually don't even look at them."
Ray Potter pointed out that until recently it took up to 10 years to review a request for asylum in the United States, but now the government estimates a three-month vetting process.
"There's no way of vetting these people in three months," Potter said.
"Tennessee has become a stronghold for radical Islam," he added, pointing out that national Muslim organizations are putting pressure on the state to include information about Islam in the state's public school curriculum "that will teach that Muhammad is the one true messiah of God, which we know is not true. This is the corruption we live in every day. And if Clinton is elected, we're going to live in a country with open borders."
In other business, the Sequatchie County Commission:
o Passed, unanimously, Resolution 701=2016 to join the National Association of Counties, which will allow the county to buy such items as office furniture, kitchen equipment, etc., "with improved purchasing power," Cartwright said.
o Congratulated Director of Schools Pete Swafford on the Sequatchie County High School Indians for an 8-0 football season so far. "They've beaten everybody they've played," Swafford admitted with pride. "We had a great Homecoming, a very good night." Cartwright agreed, saying, "The character of our students is exemplary, and that was evident at our Homecoming event."
o Heard Winfred Smith announce the Oct. 29 Chili Cook-off to benefit the county's volunteer fire departments. "It's $2 to get in," Smith said. "With 11 departments, and a 3-4 ounce cup for each, you should be able to get some good chili." The event is planned for Saturday, 4-8 p.m. at the fairgrounds. Smith stressed that the fire departments need community involvement. "Some departments just have four members," he said. "You can't fight a fire with four firefighters. We need to get some of our youth involved."
o Heard Terry Johnson inform them that Puckett EMS had 141 calls in September, with 92 transports, 52 of which went to Erlanger-Sequatchie Emergency Room. He also said Will Pitt had trained and certified 10 more school employees in CPR and use of the automated defibrillator.
o Made two appointments to the County Agriculture Committee and reappointed two more.
o Appointed notaries.
o Heard Comm. Ed Nunley announce a Dunlap Lions Club fundraiser scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Sequatchie County Rescue Squad building on Rankin Avenue. Club members will cook hamburgers and hot dogs, with all the fixings, to sell for $5 each, starting at 6 p.m. Meal will be followed by an auction. Proceeds will benefit the Lions Club Christmas outreach, which provides toys and food to underprivileged families in the county.
The Sequatchie County Commission meets in the upstairs courtroom of the County Courthouse the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.