Consideration is being given to naming the new four-lane to Woodbury after former state Sen. Jerry Cooper, who served in the senate for 23 years until his retirement in 2007.
County Highway and Bridge Committee members Gary Prater, chairman, Randy England, David Rhea, Blaine Wilcher, and Melissa Yancy met Tuesday to continue a discussion on what to officially name new Highway 70.
Bill Zechman attended the meeting as spokesperson for the Democratic Party, which voted Monday night to recommend the new highway be named after Cooper.
“We have an opportunity to recognize a Warren County native and a Warren County resident who has been a tremendously valuable public servant,” said Zechman. “I’m talking about Jerry Cooper. I don’t think we would have this beautiful new highway without the timely and dedicated work of Jerry Cooper when he was in the Senate.”
The Democratic Party did not discuss its plans with the former senator. Zechman says Cooper would not have approved.
“Let me say, emphatically, that I have not discussed this with Jerry,” he said. “I think if you asked Jerry, he would say he would not want to be recognized in that way. That’s the reason we didn’t ask him."
Among his other accomplishments in Warren County, Cooper was instrumental in the Highway 55 Bypass, Motlow’s McMinnville campus expansion, construction of Warren County EMS Ambulance Station 4 at the corner of Highway 8 and Shellsford Road, and Morrison Library expansion.
During the last two meetings to discuss a name, commissioners were considering naming it New Nashville Highway or New Woodbury Highway. No mention was made for naming it after a prom-inent citizen.
“I haven’t given naming it after Jerry Cooper much thought, but I don’t have a problem with it,” said England. “I think the world of Jerry Cooper, and I think he has done a whole lot. I did have two people call me and ask we not name it Woodbury Highway. I came in here today thinking we should name it New Nashville Highway, but I didn’t give any thought to Cooper until right now.”
Yancy wants it named after Cooper.
“I think we need to name it after Jerry Cooper,” said Yancy. “I really do. I think we need to recognize him and honor him. This would be a good way since he was instrumental in getting the funding and so many other things.”
Rhea and Wilcher talked favorably about the idea.
“I don’t have an issue with it,” said Wilcher. “I graduated from Motlow. I know he did a lot to get it to where it’s at. I don’t have an issue with it myself.”
Prater also spoke in favor of naming the highway after Cooper, but said he was reluctant to vote on the measure Tuesday without first talking to him about it.
The committee agreed to table the discussion, allowing Prater time to discuss the measure with Cooper. The next meeting is set for this Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 4 p.m. at the Highway Department.