Coffee Chat with Gary Cordell

Courtesy of Manchester Times

What are some of your favorite things about Coffee County?

I love the natural beauty of our county. Whether it be driving in the hills of Beechgrove or driving by Normandy Lake, camping at Old Stone Fort State Park or driving by UTSI or AEDC, or watching cows graze the pastures of our county or farmers as they tend their crops, we have a beautiful county. We have more than 600 road miles in Coffee County.

Also, we have some wonderful people and good schools for our children with great dedicated teachers.

I enjoy going to visit and read to our elementary school kids. We have some great businesses for our citizens to work in. We have two good hospitals. Many dedicated first responders that spend many hours every day trying to protect and keep us safe. It’s awesome to interact with them and I so appreciate and respect them. Also we have more than 4,800 military veterans who call Coffee County home, and I so respect and thank them for their service to keep us free.

This has been our home on our little farm in Hillsboro for almost 35 years and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

How long have you served as mayor?

I’m now in my sixth year and love serving the citizens of our wonderful county.

What are some of your favorite things about the job?

Serving our people and interacting with our county employees to understand more about what they do each day.  We have more than 350 people in full-time positions in county government and they do a lot of work to serve our citizens. We have more than 125 dedicated employees in our sheriff’s department, more than 20 people manning our 911 emergency communications center as they answer thousands of calls in our county, giving 24/7 coverage. Also, we have more than 30 dedicated professionals manning our ambulance centers. Not to mention those that serve in issuing license plates for those who drive on our roads or register deeds for our people or issue building permits for our people or check out books in our libraries or issue receipts as people pay their taxes or serve in our courts or paying the bills for county operations. (I also want to thank the workers) involved in collecting trash for our citizens in the 10 convenience centers in our county. These employees provide a valuable service that many take for granted as they serve in all types of weather. The list goes on and on. So much work to be done and I get to work with our dedicated teams that do so much work behind the scenes that our citizens may never know about. I so appreciate our dedicated employees and their professional service.

I also get to attend some of the classes put on by the University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Service staff. These services and classes help us to better understand the roles we serve in county government as our team strives to provide the most effective, efficient service to the citizens of our county. Working with our county commissioners, we are working together to become the best county in our state.

What are the biggest challenges?

We constantly strive to provide the best professional service we can to our citizens while trying to make the right decisions everyday within the framework of complicated state laws and county guidelines. We want to be efficient and effective employees and to keep from having property tax rate increases.

We are working to get more industry with good paying jobs into our county. We’re also working hard to get local TCAT (Tennessee College of Applied Technology) school in our county to provide the technical training necessary to keep many of our students working locally and not having to leave and go elsewhere to get good jobs.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spend time with our eight grandchildren, our eight gifts from Heaven, and play with and watch them as they grow up. Also to be with my precious wife of 50 years. We just celebrated our 50th anniversary this summer and I so enjoy being with family. Also I enjoy the services and time in the church we attend. My wife and I have been members of the Gideons International Ministry for more than 30 years. This ministry distributes about 90 million Bibles each year in the 200 countries around the world that Gideons serve. I’ve had the opportunity of a lifetime to participate in two distributions in Nigeria. During the second trip to Nigeria our team distributed more than 703,000 Bibles in those 17 days. I can’t wait to go back. I also love to read.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I love to serve our citizens and do all I can to help make this the best county in our state. As many of you know, I had heart surgery in May, and an experience like that will change your life forever. I’m learning to take one day at a time and make the best of it. I encourage you to do the same. In closing, I try to cultivate a spirit of unity in our county and create a better future for our citizens especially our next generation. I’ll end with a scripture verse out of the Old Testament from the book of Ezra.

Verse 8:21 reads: Then I proclaimed a fast there by the river of Ahava, that might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones.

That’s my reason for serving, to find the right path for little ones.

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