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James Nuckols was selected Monday to fill a vacancy on Rockwood City Council.
Nuckols will fill the unexpired term of Bill Thompson, a first-time council member who died last month after a lengthy illness.
“I’m just tickled to death he’s interested,” said council member Jason Jolly. “I know him and his family.”
Nuckols, a former member of the Rockwood Water, Sewer and Natural Gas board, was selected by Mayor James Watts and approved by Council members Jane Long, Jason Jolly and Pete Wright.
Long made the motion to appoint Nuckols, with Jolly seconding it.
“I just want to say I think a lot of Mr. Thompson,” said Nuckols.
He said Thompson did a lot for the city and for the children of Rockwood in his capacity as coach and principal at Rockwood Middle School.
Vice Mayor Peggy Evans and Councilman Mike Freeman said they believe Thompson’s wife, Pat, should have been asked if she wanted the seat. Both said such appointments upon the death of a spouse has been a tradition in the city.
“When Stan Wassom died, I approached you about filling his unexpired term,” Freeman said to Watts. “You told me historically it has always been offered to the spouse, and you weren’t going to break tradition.
“From what I understand, this time, it wasn’t offered to the spouse, and I wondered why this time it wasn’t,” Freeman said.
Watts said he got the feeling from others that the council needed to select someone younger.
“Mrs. Thompson, very honest with you, is not in the best of health,” Watts said. “I decided to choose someone of a younger age.”
Evans asked if Pat Thompson had been approached about filling the post.
“She was not asked by me,” Watts responded.
Evans said she believes it’s a disservice to Bill Thompson’s memory not to ask his wife to fill the position.
“This has been a tradition for the city of Rockwood for at least 40 years that I know of,” Evans said.
“I think [Thompson] would have loved for his wife to have served in that position. I think most people would.”
She made a motion to defer the action, with Freeman seconding.
However, the motion to put Nuckols in the seat was already on the table, and action was taken to approve him, with Evans passing and Freeman voting no.
Freeman questioned the move, pointing out the Rockwood City Charter specifies resolutions and ordinances must be passed by four members.
Watts, however, said the charter also has language in which a majority of council could approve a vacancy filling.
Freeman said he thinks this language appears to be a conflict in the charter.
“The part you are referring to is based on a presumption there is going to be six council people voting,” said Rockwood City Attorney Greg Leffew.
The other part, which deals with vacancies, “supersedes the part your referring to when there is vacancies,” Leffew added.
Nuckols is married to Andrea Miller Nuckols and has a son, Garrison Nuckols, a student at Tennessee Technological University.
He works on the K-25 demolition project and has his own company, Outdoor Promotions.
He volunteer coached Rockwood Middle School football team, organized fishing tournament fundraisers, directed Rock’n Reel fishing tournament and helped raise money for Tom Fuller Park.
In addition to filling a council seat, Nuckols will also take on Thompson’s role on the golf board.