Joe Frank Jernigan resigns, focusing on health

After 22 years of serving on the Rutherford County Commission, District 6 Commissioner Joe Frank Jernigan announced his resignation during the Steering Committee meeting Monday, Nov. 2.

Jernigan asked his wife Patsy to read his letter of resignation addressed to Mayor Ketron, fellow commissioners, and his constituents.

Jernigan, who was previously on Rutherford County’s Road Board and served as Assistant Road Superintendent for 15 years, stated while he is slowly improving after testing positive for the Coronavirus, he recognizes that it is in the best interest of his health and the constituents of District 6 for him to step down.

In his letter, Jernigan reminisced about major accomplishments and milestones in his district during his time on the commission. “I’ve watched District 6 change and grow over the last 22 years. We have built new schools (Whitworth-Buchanan Middle, Christiana Middle, Kittrell Elementary), added new ambulance stations, added Joe B. Jackson Parkway, added John Bragg Highway, supported the volunteer fire departments in the area, expanded Community Care Nursing Home and so much more.”

Jernigan served on the Purchasing, Property Management, Public Works, Steering, Health & Education, and Budget Committees and chaired the Public Works and Steering Committees for several years.

“I’ve been very proud to work with some very kind, talented, and caring fellow Commissioners,” said Jernigan. “I’m grateful for the leadership I served under…I learned from Mayors Nancy Allen, Ernest Burgess, and Bill Ketron.”

He closed his letter by saying, “I thoroughly enjoyed serving in the county in which I grew up and raised my family. Thank you for your continued support over the past 22 years and for allowing me the pleasure of serving the constituents of Rutherford County.”

A few of his fellow commissioners commented on their time working together. District 15 Commissioner Craig Harris said, “It was an honor to serve with Joe, and I believe his district and the county are better than he found it because of his service.”

District 8 Commissioner Pettus Read noted, “Commissioner Jernigan’s district is my next door neighbor, and we have shared many of the same concerns during the years I’ve been honored to serve with him. He has always been willing to listen to new commissioners when they arrive and understands their learning curve. He is a one-of-a-kind that any district would be fortunate to have representing them.”

Carol Cook, Commissioner for District 5, remarked, “Joe Frank and I have sat together for commission meetings for a long time. He has been a very nice, helpful person, and knowledgeable commissioner. I have enjoyed working with him and wish him good health. Joe Frank was the commissioner that encouraged me to apply for the Community Care of Rutherford County Board over 25 years ago. He always was a person who helped others, and will be missed.”

“We are grateful for Joe Frank’s many years of dedicated service in various capacities, and he will certainly be missed,” said Mayor Bill Ketron. “We wish him well in his health and any future endeavors.”

Jernigan is married to Patsy and has four children, Kaye Jernigan, JoAnne Robichaud, Connie Hutchinson, and Jeff Pitts, five grandchildren, and a new Labrador puppy named “Penny,” all of whom he plans to spend more time with as he continues to work on his health.