Campbell County Central Dispatch marks 26 years on the air today. Its first director, Charlie Hutson, has called it a career.

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Gas was a buck-25 a gallon and a dozen eggs were a dollar and six cents on this date in 1997, the same date when Campbell County’s county-wide 911 dispatch center opened. The center’s original director, Charlie Hutson, was also a much younger man.

“Tom (County Executive Tom Stiner) asked me in early 1997 how soon we could get going, and I told him we could flip the switch next month,” said Hutson. Hutson, hired in 1995, handled equipment bids, training and getting everything in place to go online.

“We started with eight employees, and four are still here; Kamille Bond, Donnie Davis, Hutson and Casey Wilhoit,” said Hutson. Susan Finley, still on staff, started a bit later in that first year. Bond succeeds Hutson as the new director.

“Charlie is always cool. Never shouts. But you knew there was trouble when he’d say “let’s walk and talk,” said Bond. “He’s been the best boss I could have ever had; such a great guy,” Bond added.

Aside from Charlie Hutson retiring, Margaret Cross, a long time member of the 911 team, has also retired.

Davis has accused Hutson of being way too laid back. “Charlie’s the same person no matter where you are, and he’s been a great friend and the best boss I’ve ever had,” said Davis.

Hutson even remembers the center’s very first call. “It was Melvin Boshears calling in a plane crash at Indian River Village, said Hutson. In fact, we had three plane crashes close together including one that ended up being found behind drip rock on old 25W. The pilot was sitting upright, and it appeared he had just followed I-75 across the state line.”

“Charlie is Charlie. He was a great boss to work for, and, in a way, he spoiled me,” said Wilhoit. He goes on to say that the first year on air for the new system was a tough, tough time. “Charlie told me that if you can get through this year, and we did, you can make it,” said Wilhoit.

“We’ve had our share of tragedies. Within weeks of signing on, we had the fatal fireworks explosion, and the school shooting happened just a few years later in 2005,” said Hutson.

Looks like he wears it well.

A retirement party was held on Fri., Dec. 23, for Hutson at The Grand on Central, and it was a great party.  However, the element of surprise was long gone before the helium was even pumped into the balloons.  Hutson had a pretty good idea what was coming long before it happened, his surprise retirement party. “I knew something was up when no one asked me about our Christmas party and included me in on what we might want to do,” said the always smiling Hutson.

Additionally, the date of December 23rd holds a significant place in the hearts of the four original members of the Central Dispatch team. It was Dec. 23, 1996, when Bond, Davis and Wilhoit were on the job for the first time. The Christmas party has been held on that date ever since.

All these years later, a gallon of gas hovers around three-dollars. Eggs are more than five dollars a dozen, and Charlie Hutson’s retired. Best to you, C-Hut! (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/17/2023-6AM)

3 Replies to “Original 911 director Hutson retires as Central Dispatch marks 26 years”

  1. Congratulations, Charlie! The Casey Kasem quote could not be more relevant for you in retirement because we all want you to keep the drone flying high, so, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!”

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