Sammons says city poised for new look economy

Richard Sammons

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  Richard Sammons believes the city of Elizabethton's economic evolution from manufacturing town to service economy bodes well for the town's future.
  "One of the biggest pleasures we've had is serving on a council proud for our being able to work together," Sammons said.
  Sammons, 2310 Armour Drive, is seeking his second term to Elizabethton City Council in the Nov. 2 city election. Among the city's recent accomplishments in recent years, Sammons said he was most proud of the council's ability to move the city forward. The city government earned the 2004 Excellence of Governing from the Tennessee Municipal League (TML) this year.
  Elected to his first term on council in 2000, Sammons graduated from East Tennessee State University in 1970 with a degree in political science. He is a certified public accountant and president of Sammons Restaurants Inc. He has practiced public accountancy in Elizabethton since 1973.
  Sammons said he attended a conference sponsored by the governor's office several weeks ago and was encouraged by the economic outlook for Tennessee. He also said the city's retail development and growth toward service-oriented industry would make an ideal "bedroom community and retail shopping center" for the Tri-Cities area.
  He also said the city administration had practiced wise financial management that kept the city's bottom line viable during trying economic times of the past three years. Sammons also noted the city revenues remained healthy.
  "We are not short of revenue," he said. "This year we bought five police cruisers and a new fire truck."
  The council also recently approved a bid of $535,800 with a $107,000 contingency to demolish the old Carter County Memorial Hospital building. Sammons said he heard several possibilities about the property's future use. He said the coming council would have a major task of determining how to use one of the most valuable pieces of property in town.
  "As the demolition takes place, it is a matter of wanting and conserving judgment," Sammons said. "I do not believe we will have wasted one penny of our money once we complete this."
  The city election ballot includes a referendum asking Elizabethton citizens whether they want liquor-by-the-drink legalized for sale in the city. Sammons said the restaurant owners he worked with emphasized their decision to open in any area was based on demographics not the legality of liquor-by-the-drink service. He said he opposed passage of the referendum.
  "I don't see that as being a key to our development," said Sammons. "I have talked with our chief of police and it will add expense and additional labor to his department."
  The council voted 4-3 in July 2003 approving an ordinance that allows the seasonal sale of fireworks within city limits during a two-week period through the Fourth of July and New Year's Day holidays. The shooting of fireworks remains illegal within city limits.
  Sammons voted in favor of the ordinance and said the regulations appeared to working. He added that he was not opposed to adjusting the ordinance as needed in the future to improve its regulation.
  "This past Fourth of July went very well," Sammons said.
  Among other issues, Sammons said the city must continue to work with the Watauga River Regional Water Authority to develop a spring source from the Watauga River. He said developing a water source for the city from the river would pay major dividends in the future. He also praised the Carter County Car Club and the cruise event held through the summer in downtown Elizabethton.
  "I think it has been excellent," said Sammons, who himself owns a vintage "hot rod" automobile.
  A lifetime resident of Elizabethton, Sammons is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He is married to Doris Sammons and father of Debra L. Sammons and Denise R. Sammons. He serves on the board of directors for the Doe River Gorge Christian Camp.
  Sammons credited his religious faith as guidance for his own decision-making as a council member. He said whether he won or lost, he said he wanted the prayer support of the community for his future.
  "I know it has had an effect," he said.