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Five new Tennessee wildlife commissioners await confirmation

Tennessee Legislators are under the gun to get five new commissioners confirmed to serve on the Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission (TFWC). The TFWC is composed of 13 members appointed by the Governor and the Legislature in staggered terms. They serve as the governing body over the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, setting all regulations governing hunting, fishing and boating in Tennessee.

Due to those staggered terms however, five out of the 13 commissioners’ terms expired last month. The next TFWC meeting begins March 28 and unless replacements are confirmed, that meeting will be five commissioners short.

The names of the pending gubernatorial and legislative appointees have just been announced by Chris Richardson, TWRA's Special Assistant to the Director for Policy and Legislation (a.k.a. TWRA's Legislative Liaison).

Angie Box from Jackson, Tenn. has been appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam to fill the TFWC District 8 position, replacing outgoing Commissioner Trey Teague. According to her LinkedIn profile, Box is a real estate investor.

Brian McLerran from Moss, Tenn. has been appointed by Gov. Haslam for TFWC District 3, replacing Jim Bledsoe. McLerran is a cattle farmer. According to his Facebook page he owns Diamond M Farms.

Kent Woods from Kodak, Tenn. has been appointed for TFWC District 2, replacing Harold Cannon. According to TWRA sources, Woods is connected to the Swaggerty Sausage family in Kodak.

All gubernatorial appointees serve a six-year term on the TFWC.

Dennis Gardner from Lakeland, Tenn. (near Memphis) has been appointed to a statewide post on the TFWC by Speaker of the House, Rep. Beth Harwell. TWRA sources said that Gardner is an air traffic controller.

James Stroud from Brentwood, Tenn. has been appointed to a statewide post on the TFWC by Lt. Governor Randy McNally. This will be Stroud's second time serving on the TFWC. His previous term ended early due to a total reorganization of the TFWC by the Legislature. He had to sit out for a minimum of two years before he could be re-appointed.

According to TWRA sources, Stroud is a music producer and has produced the most Number One hit records of any producer in Nashville. He enjoys duck hunting as well as elk & deer hunting.

The statewide Legislative appointments of commissioners are for four year terms.

TWRA Executive Director, Ed Carter said, "With the exception of the total reorganization of the commission, this is the largest turnover on the commission we've ever had."

Carter said that can create special challenges.

"It generally takes [new commissioners] a while to understand their role," he said. "Most aren't acquainted with all the programs the Agency is involved in. Most tell me they had no idea the breadth of what we're involved in or how state government really works. There is a learning curve to any new appointments that can be a challenge to get them up-to-speed."

The new appointments have to be confirmed by the full Legislature. In the majority of cases those confirmations are a rubber-stamp proposition.

Richardson said committee confirmations of the new appointees are tentatively scheduled for March 20-21 with confirmation before the full Legislature on March 23... a mere five days before the next TWFC meeting to be held in Nashville at the TWRA Headquarters.

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