Pearman endorses water authority and a new look for economic development

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

  
County Commissioner Jerry Pearman believes a new approach to economic recruiting and the county's role in creating a regional water system were two major challenges facing the commission in the next four years.
   Pearman said he supported the Watauga Regional Water Authority's efforts to ally the county, city of Elizabethton and the county's utility districts to provide water supply around the county.
   "We need a regional water system," he said. "We have places in this county that don't have any water."
   Pearman, 65, is seeking re-election to the county's 3rd District in the county's General Election on Aug. 1. He was elected to his first term on the commission in 1998.
   A member of the county planning commission, Pearman spoke about how the county's zoning policy was somewhat misconstrued by some county residents as limiting their property rights.
   "Zoning is a good thing, but a lot of people think you can't do anything," he said. "We aren't doing it to take people's rights away. It just helps regulate things."
   The county's 2nd, 4th and 6th Districts opted out of the county property zoning regulations.
   Pearman was also candid about the county's past economic recruiting efforts, saying that county officials needed to review the past to capitalize on economic success in the future.
   "We need to stop and think," he said. "For the last 25 years, Carter County hasn't done a thing. Everybody had depended on North American Rayon and Bemberg ... that's all I heard all my life.
   "We need to look at that industrial board and the industrial agent. I think we need to make some changes."
   Pearman felt the county needed to hire a marketing company to provide guidance about attracting and retaining industries, much like Greene County had done during that county's industrial growth in recent years.
   He also said the county needed to purchase additional land to expand industrial park property base. Almost all the land in the Watauga Industrial Park has been sold or is in use, he said.
   The county's decision to hire a financial director coupled with the departure of long-time county executive Truman Clark, who opted not to run for re-election, would change the face of the county's government's operation over the next four years, he added.
   Pearman said he was among the commissioners who visited two cities in Middle Tennessee to learn how a financial director benefits municipal government.
   "The (finance) job has gotten big, and like Truman (Clark) said, he couldn't put all his attention into it," he said.
   A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army and 21-year veteran of the Tennessee National Guard, Pearman is married to the former Kaye Stout. The couple resides in the Central voting precinct, and have three daughters and four grandchildren.
   He and his father, Jack Pearman, formerly operated the Betty Ann Service Station on Highway 91 in Central community for 20 years.
   Now in the cattle business, Pearman said the possibilities for the county kept him excited and interested in being a commissioner.
   "I've always been a county man. I've represented the people the best I know how," he said. "When I go to the county commission, I represent all of the people, not just a few of them."