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Month 3, and county leaders still waiting for Rep. Hurley to show

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By Cindy Simpson

Roane County Commission has waited for three months for state Rep. Julia Hurley to answer its request to attend its monthly meeting.

The wait continues —  Hurley was again a no-show at last week’s June session.

At the commission’s behest, Roane County Executive Ron Woody sent Hurley a letter requesting that she meet with the county’s leaders to explain why she didn’t file a bill pertaining to the Tiger Haven big-cat sanctuary on their behalf.

“If they need me there, I’ll be happy to go,” the Lenoir City Republican said Thursday.
She added that she did not attend last week’s meeting because she was not on the schedule to appear before the commission.
“The county commission does a good job to represent Roane County, and I represent Roane County at the state level,” she said. “I don’t think I should show up and put my input in what they need to do.”

Hurley has said she didn’t attend the May meeting because she was still in session with the Tennessee General Assembly.

Woody sent the letter after the commission voted to make the request at its March 14 meeting.

“Roane County Resolution 01-11-11 asked that potentially dangerous exotic animals be tagged with a tracking device collar,” the letter said.

“It has come to our attention that you did not sponsor this legislation, nor did you contact the commission to explain why you were reluctant to sponsor same.”

According to the letter, the commission wanted Hurley to appear before them to address two issues.

“One, on keeping a line of communication open between your office and the county commission,” the letter said, “and two, why you did not file a bill, as requested by commission.”

Woody said he was not contacted prior to the last meeting.

“No, she did not and did not contact the chairman prior to the last county commission meeting,” Woody said.

Commissioner Ray Cantrell represents the area that includes Tiger Haven, the exotic cat sanctuary that has sparked the commission’s interest in collaring and other measures

Cantrell said he wants Hurley to respond to the commission but isn’t pushing for her attendance.

“I’d like to have some kind of answer from her,” he said.

“I don’t necessarily think she has to come and stand before us,” he added. “I think if she can give a  written response or something (would be fine),” Cantrell added.

Cantrell continues to wish more would be done on the issue, saying he continues to get complaints, especially from those living close to the facility.

He says he lives three miles away and can himself hear the cats at times, particularly when foliage is down.

“I don’t think it will ever be resolved to the satisfaction of the community there,” Cantrell said.

He said he believes the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s clout and the lobbying power of Tiger Haven keeps anything from being accomplished.

Hurley did sponsor a bill that allows the county executive to appoint someone to go with TWRA officials when they inspect the facility.