ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Commission will consider a resolution Monday to continue paying health insurance benefits for the spouse and children of first responders who are killed in the line of duty.
Commissioner Jeff Barrett introduced the resolution which would give the wife and children of full-time county employees who are also first responders (police, fire and rescue) health insurance for two years if the first responder is killed in the line of duty.
Barrett notes in the resolution that as of July 1, 2017, counties are authorized under Tennessee Code Annotated 8-27-404 to seek reimbursement from the state for the county’s portion of the health insurance premiums for these eligible family members.
Presently the county’s only full-time employee first responders are sheriff’s deputies.
The resolution was discussed briefly during last Monday’s Budget Committee meeting, but no recommendation was made.
Committee Chairman John Metz said he hopes Barrett will agree to table the resolution while the subject is investigated further.
“I contacted the legal department at underwriters, our insurance consultant, and no one has contacted them,” Metz said. “They actually have to approve that to be placed in the policy, so once again we’ve got the cart before the horse on that resolution.”
Metz added, “Since we have a Health Insurance Committee, I would have thought this should go through that committee, and he (Barrett) is on that committee. Perhaps he’ll table that until we have a Health Insurance Committee and we can get verification from the underwriters and consultants — if that’s the desire of the commission to do that. But we’ll have to get approval and a contract to do that.”
Three first responders have been killed in the line of duty in Hawkins County including deputy Drew Harrell in 1937, who left behind a wife and seven children; deputy John Wesley Wright in 1988, who was survived by a fiancee, parents and five siblings; and Gerald Gibson, who was killed in 2000 and was survived by a wife and two daughters.
This was the first Budget Committee meeting since the new appointments were announced by Mayor Jim Lee, and there were seven new members.
Metz was elected chairman, while Charlie Thacker was elected vice chairman and Valerie Goins was elected secretary.