Morris funeral today

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Citizens and colleagues are expected to pay their final respects to Elizabethton City Councilwoman Diane Morris today after her death on Monday. Morris, 45, will be laid to rest at Highland Cemetery at 2 p.m.
   Morris died only three months into her second term as a council member. She had been diagnosed with rectal cancer in late September last year. A 1975 graduate of Elizabethton High School, Morris had worked as payroll coordinator for Sycamore Shoals Hospital until 2002.
   She was also the former chairperson of American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life" fundraiser and cancer survivor celebration event in Elizabethton.
   The city announced Wednesday morning that the council meeting originally scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight has been rescheduled for 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
   The council has 30 days to name a successor to Morris. The last council member to die while in office was the late J.I. Cornett who died on June 20, 1997. He had defeated Morris by 26 votes in the 1996 city election.
   Current Mayor Sam LaPorte was appointed by the council to serve the remainder of Cornett's term. LaPorte won a two-year term in an uncontested special election held in August 1998. He later won a four-year term in November 2000.
   The council is required under state law to fill a vacated position within 30 days by majority vote. If a tie vote by the council to fill a vacancy is unbroken for 30 days, the mayor appoints a qualified person to fill the vacancy.
   The appointee serves until the next regular city or county election, whichever is first held. The next county election is scheduled for Aug. 5, 2004.