For the third time in 18 months, a member of the Grundy County Commission has resigned.
District 2 County Commissioner Monte Meeks on Wednesday said he had started a new business, a new job and had some added family responsibilities as a single parent that were affecting his role as a commissioner.
"My decision was based on the available time I had to put into the position on the County Commission," Meeks said. "I feel like a county commissioner has to have enough time to prepare himself and study all options. At this time, I don't have that available time to do an effective job."
Meeks served on the commission since being appointed in 1999 to fulfill the term of a commissioner who died.
"I will miss the opportunity I've had for the past 12 years," he said. "I really have enjoyed the time."
Meeks announced he was leaving the post during Monday's County Commission meeting.
The resignation marks the third for the County Commission since January 2011 when former Chairman Ralph Rieben announced he was leaving his post followed by the resignation of Chairman Earl Geary Jr. in March of this year.
Meeks' announcement "came as a total surprise, as did the other two," County Mayor Lonnie Cleek said Wednesday.
Cleek became county mayor in August 2010.
"At this point, I don't know what to say," an exasperated Cleek said. "They've cited personal reasons and I don't think it's anything going on in county government.
"But on the other hand, it's shocking and disturbing that we've had three commissioners to resign," he said. "All three of those guys were some of the most veteran commissioners who have dealt with all kinds of issues. We really relied on their knowledge."
Cleek said commissioners now have 120 days to appoint a replacement to hold the seat until the post can go on the ballot.
Grundy County Administrator of Elections Donna Basham said there is enough time to put the seat on the November ballot. According to state law's application to elected seat vacancies that fall less than 60 days from August elections but more than 60 days from November elections, the "nominees of the political parties shall select by convention or caucus a nominee to be on the November ballot," Basham said.
"We'll continue conducting business and we'll keep trying to move forward and doing our jobs to the best of our ability," Cleek said.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...