Clay County, Tennessee, is located on the western edge of the Upper Cumberland area of Tennessee. The county seat of Celina sits on the banks of the confluence of the Cumberland and Obey rivers, both of which have had a big impact on the city and county.
About 7,800 people reside in Clay County, with just under 1,500 of those people living in Celina. The county has five civil districts. Each of those districts is represented by two members of the county legislative body (commissioners) and two school board members. Celina has a mayor and board of aldermen type of government.
Farming and the timber industry have been large components of the Clay County economy since its inception. The garment industry was the dominant economic force for the better part of 40 years, until the mid-1990’s. Today, Cumberland River Hospital and the Clay County Board of Education are the largest employers in the county.
This town of about 1,400 may be best known for being one of the gateways to Dale Hollow Lake, but there’s a lot more than that going on in this heritage-rich community. This town, like many others, has seen its share of change through the decades. At different times, it’s been a bustling river town and the home of a highly respected boarding school. It’s also been the center of a heavy concentration of industry, and the gateway to the pristine lake nearby.
The historic Clay County Courthouse is the second-oldest working courthouse in Tennessee. Today, it’s carving out another identity of sorts, adjusting to the demands of an ever-changing economy linked to all parts of the globe, while keeping its folksy charm.
“Times change, sometimes dramatically, so towns big and small have to adjust and find their niche,” said Kevin Donaldson, who serves as executive director of the Clay County Partnership Chamber of Commerce. “Celina and Clay County are already a great place to live. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our quality of life. We aim to make the best use of what we have to offer both our residents and visitors.”