COMMUNITIES DON’T get bet- ter by chance. It takes people with ideas, foresight, and the willingness to put in the hard work required to make positive change. And most of all, it takes people who genuinely care about those who live in the community, including friends, family, neighbors, newcomers, and others they have yet to meet. Pat Marsh is one of those people. Born and raised in nearby Fayetteville, Pat has called Shelbyville home for over four decades. “I’m kin to a lot of people in Lincoln County and very con- nected to both counties,” Pat says. Whether he is attending sessions at the State Capitol in Nashville as a State Representative, tending to 100 head of cattle on his farm, or running Big G Express Trucking Company alongside his brother Jack, Pat is deeply invested in the wellbeing of this community. If it seems like Pat has a lot of irons in the fire, he does, but then again, there’s a lot to be done. Since 2009, he has represented over 64,000 people as a State Representative serving Bedford and Lincoln counties.
“If and when I decide to run again, I’ve been told that number will increase to 70,000 people,” Pat says. Bedford County has experienced the greatest percentage of growth between the two counties. In the bigger picture, Tennessee has grown from 6.3 to 6.91 million residents during his term. Serving as a State Representative has allowed Pat to learn about the people and organizations actively working to better people’s lives. “People are working together to make things better. There are so many good things going on that I wouldn’t have known anything about if I hadn’t been a State Representative,” Pat says.
To date, seeing the new Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) Shelbyville Campus become a reality is one of his career highlights. “We just found out that 42.4 million dollars have been allocated to build a new TCAT college. Senator Reeves and I had a whole lot to do with that — we lob- bied and pushed and pulled,” Pat says. “It’s a game-changer, in my opinion, for Bedford and Southern Middle Tennessee.”The new campus will be built between Shelbyville and Murfreesboro and will serve seven counties.
“I just feel really proud to be able to work on that [TCAT] and other things that will continue to help our citizens and counties for a long time in the future,” he says. In 1995, Pat and his brother Jack founded Big G Express, a national trucking company. Today, the company runs more than 600 trucks and provides work for approximately 700 people. Drivers haul full truckloads all over the United States. One of their biggest customers is Jack Daniels Distillery. Trucks haul in eight loads of barrels and about 15 loads of glass bottles to the distillery and haul out several loads of whiskey a day. “We have a lot of people who have been with us for 20 years. It’s just like a family operation,” Pat says.
Pat is also excited about several new faces in city and county leadership, including Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham, new industrial recruiter Shane Hooper, City Manager Joshua Ray, and Bedford County School Superintendent Dr. Tammy Garrett.
“They are bringing fresh perspectives and are fired up about making things better for Bedford and Shelbyville,” Pat says.
However, along with all the exciting new changes on the horizon, Pat also recognizes the traditional strengths of this small rural community. “There are still a lot of farmers. We’re number one or number two in beef cattle production in the state. We also have a big Tyson plant that provides work for 1,400 people. A lot of farmers raise chickens. Some raise corn to feed chickens. It’s a huge agricultural county,” Pat says.
The Tennessee Walking Horse Celebra- tion, held the last two weeks of August for
ten nights, is also a tradition that has played a vital role in sustaining the community. “We have a lot of horse owners from the Eastern U.S. who have a horse home or second home in Bedford County. They help our property taxes, our restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and all kinds of different things,” Pat says. He attends the event every year. “What I love to do most is to go see the people. They’re always dressed up and having fun. There are barn parties where they all get together. It’s a big tradition.” Pat served on the Celebration Executive Board for 27 years. The Celebration recently hired a new executive director, and the future looks bigger and brighter than ever.
Even with all the good things happening in the community, there is still nothing better than spending time with family. Pat and his wife Mary frequently take time out of their busy schedules to enjoy their six grandchil- dren at a lake house on Tims Ford Lake.
What does Pat love most about Shelbyville and Bedford County? “The people. They’re down-home, country, and friendly — good people to be around.” -GN