By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
The Jernigan name is synonymous with Rutherford County.
Joe Frank Jernigan represented District 6 on the County Commission for 22 years during which time he served on the Health & Education committee and his district benefited from the building of Whitworth-Buchanan Middle, Christiana Middle and Kittrell Elementary schools, as well as other county facilities and highways.
He retired last November and, 10 months later, the Rutherford County School Board recently voted 6-1 to recognize the longtime commissioner by naming the loop directly in front of the newly opened Plainview Elementary in his honor.
It is officially Joe Frank Jernigan Drive.
“I’ve watched District 6 change and grow over the last 22 years,” Jernigan wrote in a retirement letter read by his wife Patsy.
“I thoroughly enjoyed serving in the county in which I grew up and raised my family,” she concluded. “Thank you for your continued support over the past 22 years and for allowing me the pleasure of serving the constituents of Rutherford County.”
Jernigan resigned after a slow recovery from coronavirus.
The naming was requested by Commissioner Robert Peay.
Several commissioners talked about the honor of serving with Jernigan.
Pettus Read, commissioner for District 8, said, “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.”
Plainview Elementary, which was approved and received its funding while Jernigan was still a member of the commission, is the first school completed in his district following his stepping down.
He 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, according to a press release announcing his resignation.