Sampson winding down term

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By Cindy Simpson

Harriman Councilman J.D. Sampson cares about his city.

His fellow council members recognized that when they expressed their pleasure in serving with him over the years.

Sampson, after 10 years on the council, lost re-election last week.

“We do appreciate his service,” said Councilman Lonnie Wright. “There is no doubt where J.D.’s heart lies.”

“... and I really do appreciate his colorful commentary over the years ― most of it,” Wright quipped.

Wright, speaking at Harriman’s regular Council meeting this week, said he hopes Sampson will continue to be active in the community, including in parks and recreation.

Sampson and his wife have been longtime supporters of recreation, even after their own children were grown and no longer part of the programs.

Sampson said he not only enjoyed his decade on Council, but he also enjoyed 33 years with the recreation department.

“I love my city,” Sampson said.

He thanked his supporters who had confidence in him serving on the Council.

“I hope Mr. (Wayne) Best will carry on and help us to grow and prosper. I have no regrets for nothing that has gone on. I just appreciate being here,” he said.

Sampson took office when he was appointed to take Mary Harback’s seat following her death.

Mayor Chris Mason was a council member at the time.

“I’m glad I voted yes,” Mason said.

Mason said Sampson has made some tough decisions that might not have been popular but were the right choices.

Sampson has taken on several causes of late, namely to annex Midtown’s Hwy. 70 corridor.

Years ago, he tried to get city officials to take action to annex toward the Clinch River bridge before Kingston could take action.

Ultimately, Kingston did cross the waterway and annex into Midtown by referendum.

Now he’s anxious to see officials continue pursuing annexing along Hwy. 70 in Midtown.

The city invested millions in the area, and he thinks the city’s inability to grow in that area could create a hardship.

Hardship is one of the official reasons that cities can pursue when trying to annex.

Sampson also has property in the area.

Currently, there is a moratorium on annexation, and state legislation has limited almost all annexation to referendum only.

Sampson also has taken the county to task for the tax rate for those living in the city.

He thinks Harriman could join with other communities to fight that battle.

He said county officials might argue city residents drive on county roads, to which he counters that county residents drive on city roads but the city does not receive assistance paying for them from the county.

Other causes he has advocated for have been expanding Riverfront Park, urban renewal, developing Emory Street into a commercial area and developing Buzzards Bluff — the rocky lookout above the city — into a water park.

While Sampson will be winding down his city government involvement, new Council members will be sworn in Sept. 1.