While interviewing Wilson County Board of Education Chair Don Weathers, The Wilson Post asked him about the removal of the county sticker from the director of school’s board-issued Ford Expedition.
This was the first question District 15 County Commissioner Mike Justice asked Dr. Tim Setterlund toward the end of Thursday night’s Budget Committee meeting. Setterlund’s answer was, “It was not pretty.”
Weathers said he didn’t know why Setterlund gave that answer, but said he was the one who gave him permission to remove it back in the summer of 2013 and the reason had nothing to do with it being attractive or not.
“Last summer, we attended the Summer Law Institute in Gatlinburg like we do every summer to learn about the legislative changes and the law changes that are affecting schools and school systems,” Weathers said.
“A friend of Dr. Setterlund's called him and said, 'What are you doing to Sevierville?' He was on his way into the conference. And Tim said, 'How do you know that I'm in Sevierville?" He said, 'Well, I see your car with your stickers on it.'”
Weather said after hearing the conversation, he started thinking, “If he can pick him out of a crowd, why can’t anybody else pick him out of a crowd? Why would we want our director to be a target?”
So, the Zone 4 BOE member told Setterlund that he if wanted to take the stickers off “for safety and security reasons, that I was perfectly fine with that. They were on the glass, not on the paint. They came off without any problem at all.
“There’s several other county officials that drive county-owned vehicles that don’t have stickers on them as well,” Weathers added. “So if it’s OK for them, why isn’t it OK for Dr. Setterlund?”
Having a board-issued vehicle for the director appears to be a relatively recent occurrence. Weathers said he couldn’t remember if the board had one for the director prior to Mike Davis, who resigned last year. Setterlund began his position as director on July 1, 2013.
“If we did, it was just one of the fleet cars,” Weathers said. “But this one (the Ford Expedition) was specifically bought for Mr. Davis, and he put the stickers on it. Mr. Davis wanted them on there.”
Weathers added that Setterlund expressed to him it didn’t matter one way or the other, but that he told him if he thought it was a safety or security matter to take them off.
“The stickers were removed last summer,” Weathers said.
Correspondent Amelia Morrison Hipps may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.