High praise, reduced funding mark EHDA's year


Photo courtesy of EHDA
Survivor Camp at the Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency was one of several community events agency staffers initiated this year.

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   As the regional and national economies continue to flounder, the residential occupancy rate for Elizabethton Housing and Development Agency is remaining high with increasingly longer waits for an available home.
   "We haven't had a lot of turnover," said Kelly Geagley, executive director of the EHDA. "Our waiting list is staying at or near full continuously."
   Single people applying for public housing may wait a minimum of six months or longer for a home, according to current vacancy trends. Geagley said the agency sees its highest turnout following the end of the school year or semester.
   However, more residents are opting to stay in the residential housing of EHDA. The agency operates 326 housing units in the South Hills, Walnut Manor and Hemlock Manor residential developments.

County Planning Commission looks ahead to future


Photo by Lesley Jenkins
Planning Director Chris Schuettler shows off some of his maps that he now has room to display in his new office. Previously, his office and workspace was only 570 square feet and now it is more than 1,000 square feet.

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
The biggest change for the Carter County Planning Commission over the past year has undoubtedly been the implementing of the countywide zoning ordinance.
   Since the passing of land use planning at the Oct. 20, 2003 County Commission meeting, one would think many changes would be in store for the planning office. However, Planning Director Chris Schuettler verifies major changes have not happened and does not foresee them happening anytime soon.
   Only three districts remained unzoned before the commission voted for the ordinance to go into effect countywide.

Planners sees changing landscape ahead for Elizabethton


Photo by Dave Boyd
The Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission saw some of the largest developments in recent memory cross its agenda this year.

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

  
With the City of Elizabethton on the brink of its largest commercial expansion in recent years, the city's Regional Planning Commission faces balancing commercial growth and retaining the integrity of residential neighborhoods bordering the city's business district.
   City Director of Planning and Development David Ornduff said in the event similar developments occurred around town, it was incumbent on the city to provide buffers and smart growth recommendations to the Planning Commission to protect residential property owners.

Firefighters trained to do more than fight fires


Photo By Rick Harris
Hampton firefighter/EMT Robert Casey performs a precautionary blood pressure check on Smith Davenport. Many firemen are also trained medically to assist the rescue squad as first responders.

By Lesley Jenkins
Star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

   When an emergency calls comes into the 911 system, emergency medical help is contacted. While frantic people are sometimes on the other end of the telephone line, sometimes just knowing that medical help is on the way is not enough to calm the situation.
   One thing that Carter County utilizes to ease the fears and cut response time is the medical assistance from volunteer fire departments across the county.
   All seven fire departments receive the same dispatch call from 911 and the Carter County Rescue Squad. And although the rescue squad moves and works as fast as possible, sometimes the first medical help on the emergency scene is a member of the fire department. David Nichols, Deputy Director of the Rescue Squad and President of the Volunteer Fire Association, said the arrival time of a firefighter helps any emergency situation.

Neighboring towns continue to draw local business


Photo by Thomas Wilson
Two liquor stores in Johnson City on South Roan Street draw customers for miles around, including Elizabethton and Carter County residents.

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   JOHNSON CITY -- At the corner of South Roan Street and University Parkway, the One Stop Discount Wines and Liquor and the new, two-story building housing the Parkway Discount Wines Liquor stores here do a brisk business. Glowing neon signs invite patrons to peruse vast selections of wine and spirits that come in labels featuring everything from kangaroos to pirates on them.
   The stores' proximity also makes them the first stop for residents of Unicoi and Carter counties looking to buy spirited beverages. Driving through the restaurant parking lots of Johnson City on a Friday or Saturday night, one can find dozens of cars bearing Carter County license tags spending time and putting their sales tax money into the City of Johnson City's general fund.

Three Courthouse offices receive facelifts


Photo by Dave Boyd
Construction on an addition to the Carter County Register of Deeds office should be completed in the spring.

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
There is an untapped treasure waiting to help veterans in Carter County. The Veterans Services department is ready and waiting to assist more veterans with paperwork and benefits.
   Veterans Services Director David Batchelder wants to help more veterans during the next year. Some plans include a health screening day of blood pressure, physicals, and a day of fellowship with other veterans from Carter County.
   A few things policies with disability benefits and eligibility that Batchelder wants to educate veterans on.

Cochran encouraged potential economic recovery awaits


Photo By Kristen Luther
State Rep. Jerome Cochran believes Carter County is poised for an economic recovery.

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Completing his first term representing the 4th District in the Tennessee House of Representatives, Rep. Jerome Cochran believes the regional and national economies are ready to rebound and any potential tax increase by the state could be detrimental to future economic recovery.
   Carter County citizens voted down a one-half percent sales tax referendum in February's county primary. The impetus behind the self-imposed tax increase came from the potential threat of the state mandated increase in local-option sales tax rates and keeping those new revenues in Nashville.
   Cochran, R-Elizabethton, said earlier this month that no legislation to force counties to raise their local option and turn it over to the state was being considered at this point in the session.

'Save the Tracks" effort underway by officials, railroad enthusiasts


Mike Tilley, president of the Watauga Valley Chapter NRHS, would like to see an effort made locally to purchase the ETRy tracks for possible development as a tourism attraction. The chapter has railroad cars and an engine that could be used for such a venture. The chapterÕs rail cars are stored at a location on Spring Street in Jonesborough (pictured).

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   The train doesn't run here anymore, but, East Tennessee Railway is still in business, working as an intermediary switch carrier for the CSX and Norfolk Southern Railroads. With offices in Johnson City, the East Tennessee Railway halted its operation to Elizabethton in September 2003, after one by one its customers closed their doors.
   The last straw was the closing of Inland Container last year. Up until 1997, when North American closed its Elizabethton plant, the railroad operated five days a week and made a run to Elizabethton most days. "We will continue to operate our freight yard in Johnson City. In fact, we have picked up four new customers," said Keith Holly, who along with Daryl Edwards are East Tennessee Railway's only two employees.

Stahl sees culture change coming for Betsy

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

  
A portion of Elizabethton's history crumbled to the ground, literally, this year when demolition crews razed the manufacturing building of the former North American Rayon site on West Elk Avenue.

Sheriff's Department making progress with jail, in other areas

By Abby Morris

Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   With planning already under way to determine the possibility of building onto the current Carter County Jail facility or possibly building a new detention center, the Carter County Sheriff's Department is also working to improve the department in other ways.

Senator Crowe highlights proposed TennCare changes

By Lesley Jenkins

Star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
Senator Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, spent another year fighting for veteran's benefits, a solution to the abundant cost of TennCare and for legislation following a tragic accident killing a young female worker at a construction site.

EDC endorses liquor referendum

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   The Elizabethton-Carter County Economic Development Commission has stated plans to endorse a referendum giving Elizabethton citizens the opportunity to vote in liquor-by-the-drink within the city.
   The endorsement is one point of the 2003-2004 economic development plan adopted by the EDC on Oct. 10, 2003. The Commission's endorsement includes a referendum allowing citizens to approve retail package stores in the city.

EPD starting reserve officer program

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   The Elizabethton Police Department is working to put a few good men and women in uniform to work with full-time officers as volunteers.
   According to Elizabethton Police Department Chief Roger Deal, the department is working on creating a reserve officer program which will help the department run more efficiently while helping to improve safety. "This is something we've been working on for some time," he said. "These officers will be working with a full-time officer."

Park and Rec office ready for Spring

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   After a winter most people will be anxious to forget, the coming spring and summer seasons are expected to bring outdoor types by the hundreds to parks for warm-weather recreation.
   Nasty winter weather and high rainfall totals have played havoc on athletic fields and recreation areas around Elizabethton this year. Putting those recreational spaces in serviceable order falls to the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

War on meth wages on

By Abby Morris

Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   As Elizabethton and Carter County struggle and fight to bring new jobs and industries into the area, another fight is going on trying to stop the spread of a deadly substance.
   Methamphetamine, which is commonly called meth, continues to be a problem for Carter County as well as the surrounding region. "We have seen an increase in it in the last year," said Carter County Sheriff John Henson.

Landfill transfers trash to Rogersville

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
It has been nearly five years since the Carter County/Elizabethton Landfill closed its Class 1 site and started transferring solid waste to BFI Landfill in Rogersville, Tenn.

Face of Homeland Security changing

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   More than two years removed from the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the face of what has come to be known as Homeland Security has changed.
   Now the focus has shifted more on the local aspect of responding to an emergency rather than a more national focus.

Highway Department plows through 2003

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
2003 was another busy year for the Carter County Highway Department. The month of February brought snow and heavy rains, causing damage to roads of approximately $120,000. Major repairs were made on the Minton Hollow Road due to deterioration from the rain.

EDC goal: More jobs

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
The good things come to those who wait. Job seekers have waited long enough. County officials have declared that finding more jobs and locating them in Carter County.
   The Economic Development Commission has planned to accomplish 15 items over the past year and through the remainder of 2004.

Fire department fighting to save residents money

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   While working hard to protect the residents of the city of Elizabethton, the Elizabethton Fire Department is also working hard to help them save money as well.
   During the last part of April, the Elizabethton Fire Department is slated to receive an ISO (Insurance Services Office) Inspection which will determine the department's ISO rating. The ISO rating a fire department receives is one of the determining factors that insurance agencies use when determining the cost of a home owner's insurance.

Airport offering flight school

By Abby Morris

Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   Even with the closure of Moody Aviation looming on the horizon, the Elizabethton Municipal Airport still has a lot to offer the community.
   "Over the years because of the relationship that Moody had with the city and with the airport it became 'The Moody Airport.' I've heard it called that many times," said Randy Musick, manager of the airport. "Moody was very good for the airport for a very long time. I hate to see them go."

County enacts controls to keep land beautiful

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
Carter County officials have taken a stand against rain and debris over the past year in an effort to keep the county beautiful and to reduce runoff from heavy rainstorms that the county is prone to receive.
   The Stormwater Resolution was passed by the county commission in an effort to reduce polluted runoff from construction areas. Persons disturbing land through construction or renovation are required to submit a plan of where the runoff will go, so as to prevent it from running into streams or onto another person's property.

Alcohol consumption a double-edged sword

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Medical journals tout the health benefits found in moderate alcohol consumption for men.
   Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Alcoholics Anonymous are filled survivors whose lives were shattered by the consequences of alcohol use.

City growth plans include fringes of Hunter, Valley Forge

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   After several annexation forays into western Carter County, the City of Elizabethton could be expanding its corporate boundaries in the county's east end during 2004.
   The Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission recommended four areas for annexation during 2004 to the Elizabethton City Council in December. The city has operating water and sewer lines serving three of the four proposed areas.