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Bill Rawls Makes History as First African-American Mayor of Brownsville

July 8, 2014

BROWNSVILLE, Tennessee — History was made Tuesday evening as Bill Rawls was sworn in as the first African-American Mayor of Brownsville.

   A capacity crowd rose to a standing ovation as City Judge Jim Haywood swore Rawls in to office at approximately 5:40 p.m. inside of the circuit courtroom at the Haywood County Justice Complex.

   "In the middle of February, I made a commitment to myself that I am going to give the best I have every day for this community...now, I am going to give the same commitment to you," said Rawls.

   The new mayor was quick to get down to business in the regularly scheduled meeting of aldermen. That business included the first reading approval of an ordinance to rezone Bradford Square from a shopping center district into a more flexible, central business district—a move Rawls says would give the city more flexibility when trying to revitalize the property.

   The rezoning ordinance was proposed by the Brownsville Planning Commission during their June meeting.

   The City Board also approved $11,147 in tax refunds to Southern Industrial Mechanical Maintenance Company for the old Regions Bank property on court square as well as a $29,966 tax write-off for unpaid taxes from 2003 on unrelated properties.

   According to City Attorney Michael Banks, the City of Brownsville cannot collect taxes once they reach an age of ten years past-due. "Obviously this is something we've learned a lesson from here," said Rawls, "We need to do a better job of making sure we collect on these before the ten year mark."

   Rawls follows the first woman Mayor of Brownsville, Jo Matherne, into office. "I've been here for 24 years and seen some historic moments," said Alderman John Simmons, "This is certainly one of them."  

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