Former state Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, resigned his Senate seat effective 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, Nov. 21, and was sworn in as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee at 3:30 p.m.

As recently as Monday morning, Overbey told the Alcoa Board of Commissioners that he still was waiting for President Donald Trump to sign his commission, after his unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate on Nov. 9.

“I intend to get sworn in as soon as I can,” Overbey told Alcoa commissioners at their Monday meeting.

Overbey made good on his word Tuesday.

Overbey told The Daily Times that he was eating lunch with the Maryville Kiwanis at noon Tuesday, when he looked down at his cellphone and saw an email, “Congratulations. The president has signed your commission. Please make plans to be sworn in.”

“I think it was 12:12,” Overbey said.

Thus started a scrambling for Overbey to resign his state Senate seat and be sworn in as U.S. Attorney. Lucky for Overbey, the Chief U.S. District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee was in town, he said.

“He happened to have this afternoon available, so we quickly put together a swearing-in ceremony at 3:30 today,” Overbey said of Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan.

The hastily arranged ceremony took place at the Howard H. Baker Jr. United States Courthouse in Knoxville.

“My wife, Kay, held the Bible that my mother and father gave my grandfather for Christmas 39 years ago,” Overbey said.

Overbey added that a more formal ceremony will take place at a later date.

“As Kay said, it has been a long process, but we are just very excited about being able to continue public service in a new role,” Overbey said. “Serving as U.S. Attorney allows me to combine my vocation as a lawyer and my avocation of public service.”

State service lauded

Overbey’s resignation letter to Gov. Bill Haslam was emailed to The Daily Times on Tuesday afternoon by the communications director for the Office of Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge.

“It has been a singular privilege and great honor to serve as a member of the General Assembly for the past 17 years,” Overbey wrote. “I have enjoyed representing and working for the great people of Blount and Sevier counties and my association with the committed and dedicated members of the General Assembly as well as those in the Executive and Judicial Branches of state government.”

McNally said that Overbey’s talents and skills will be missed in the state Senate.

“As chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and as vice-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, Doug Overbey has shown true leadership on some of the most important issues we deal with as a legislature,” McNally said in a statement included with the email. “His commitment to representing his constituents and producing quality legislation is unwavering. Having witnessed his knowledge of the law first hand, I am confident he will do an outstanding job.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee is one of 94 such offices nationwide. The district is the largest in Tennessee and encompasses 41 of the 95 counties in the state, serving more than 2.6 million people, according to its website, which also notes the U.S. attorney works with 15 Tennessee district attorneys generals, 11 Tennessee Judicial District Drug Task Forces, 41 county sheriff’s offices, and 117 chiefs of police and their departments.

Alcoa celebrates Overbey

Overbey already had resigned from his post as Alcoa’s city attorney when Alcoa Mayor Don Mull presented him with a proclamation Monday.

The proclamation, read aloud by Mull, thanked Overbey not only for his service as city attorney since Jan. 11, 2005, but also for his service as a Blount county commissioner from 1982 to 1990, state representative from 2000 to 2008, and state senator from 2008 to 2017.

With “deep heartfelt appreciation,” Mull declared Nov. 20, 2017, as J. Douglas Overbey Day in Alcoa.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your city attorney for almost 13 years,” Overbey said Monday, calling his time with the city both a personal and professional privilege. “You’ve faced some tough decisions, but you always do so with a lot of thought and a lot of analysis.”

Overbey also acknowledged Monday that everyone in his law firm, which he co-founded in 1982, has helped with city business.

The firm transitioned to Owings, Wilson & Coleman on Nov. 1, according to the firm’s website, and Stephanie Coleman succeeds Overbey as Alcoa’s city attorney.

Lesli Bales-Sherrod has written for multiple East Tennessee newspapers, as well as working in communications for the federal government in Washington, D.C., twice, in addition to her favorite job as mom of two. She covers Alcoa, Maryville and Townsend.

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