William E. Phillips II was sworn in Tuesday morning as a 3rd Judicial Circuit Court judge by district Chancellor Douglas E. Jenkins.
The ceremony was held in the old Hawkins County Courthouse in Rogersville, where Phillips has practiced law for many years.
Phillips, 44, will fill out the remaining term of Judge Thomas J. Wright, who retired effective Sept. 1. Wright’s eight-year judicial term runs through 2022.
Phillips, of the Phillips & Hale law firm, was one of three candidates for the judgeship. Candidates were recently interviewed by the state Trial Court Vacancy Commission.
Phillips was formally appointed Friday by Gov. Lee to the Circuit Court bench.
“It is an honor to be appointed Circuit Court Judge by Governor Bill Lee after an extensive vetting process,” Phillips told the Rogersville Review. “The 3rd Judicial District has a legacy of exceptional judges. Judge Wright exemplified what it meant to be a fair and just judge. I am humbled to fulfill his term and am dedicated to serving all citizens in the 3rd Judicial District.”
The 3rd Judicial District includes Greene, Hamblen, Hancock and Hawkins counties.
Phillips is also Rogersville city attorney. He will transition to the judgeship beginning this week.
There is a backlog of cases on the Circuit Court docket caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Phillips said Monday he is up to the challenge.
“I am looking forward to it,” he said. “I think I will contribute and I will contribute immediately.”
Wright announced earlier this year his intention to retire from the full-time Circuit Court judgeship. He was recently appointed to serve as a part-time senior judge in state courts. Wright had served as a 3rd Judicial District Circuit Court judge since 2006.
Phillips said he looks to Wright as an example of how to conduct business as a Circuit Court judge.
“Judge Wright exemplified a competent judge. They are big shoes to fill. He left a good example of how to do it correctly,” Phillips said.
Should Phillips choose to continue as a 3rd Judicial District Circuit Court judge, he will run for an eight-year term in the 2022 election.
All of Greene County’s municipalities experienced population growth between 2010 and 2020, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Tusculum grew the most, its population increasing from 2,663 to 3,298 over the decade.
Greeneville’s population increased from 15,062 to 15,479; Mosheim’s from 2,362 to 2,479; and Baileyton’s from 431 to 436.
Greene County’s population increased from 68,831 in 2010 to 70,152 in 2020, according to the Census Bureau.
In addition to seeing the most growth, Tusculum also had the highest response rate in the 2020 census at 79.7 percent, up from 74.4 percent in 2010. And it was the only municipality where participation increased.
Other response rates for the most recent census and how they compared to the previous one were: Greene County, 68 percent, down from 69 percent; Greeneville, 67.5 percent, down from 68.5 percent; Mosheim, 67.7 percent, down from 71.4 percent; and Baileyton, 62.8 percent, down from 65 percent.
The population numbers gained through the 2020 Census will be crucial in determining levels of funding for roads, schools, health care and a variety of programs that impact the community.
The identity of Benny The Bee, mascot of the local 2020 Census Campaign, has been revealed.
The person behind Benny The Bee is local beekeeper Joel Hausser, known for his motto “Plant Wildflowers” to support the bee population.
“We are so thankful to Joel for being the fun face of our ‘Bee Counted’ Census Campaign,” said Amy Rose, Town of Greeneville public relations manager and member of the Greene County Complete Count Committee. “When I thought about using a bee as our mascot, he seemed to be the perfect fit.”
Rose said there were
“some great guesses on our social media posts” leading up to the reveal, “but no one submitted the correct identity.”
Incorrect guesses included: Greeneville City Administrator Todd Smith, Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison, Greene County Sheriff Wesley Holt, Circuit Court Clerk Chris Shepherd, Greeneville Public Works Director and County Commissioner Brad Peters, and Craig Bowlby, retired Greeneville Fire Captain known locally for dressing as Uncle Sam and other characters.
Benny The Bee was the sidekick of Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels who started in February 2020 asking everyone to “Bee Counted” in the latest census, which is conducted every 10 years.
As soon as the 2020 campaign was launched, coronavirus was first detected in Greene County, and due to the nationwide outbreak, the U.S. Census Bureau extended its campaign.
While the COVID-19 pandemic limited events for Benny The Bee to attend in person, he still encouraged citizens through photos and videos in newspaper, radio, and social media campaigns.