Athletic complex tops city’s news

Published 8:08 am Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Photo by Brandon Hicks Director of Schools Ed Alexander discusses plans for the athletic complex during a meeting.

Photo by Brandon Hicks
Director of Schools Ed Alexander announces his retirement during a city school board meeting.

While there were lots of happenings in the city of Elizabethton this year, the Elizabethton City School System led the news with its quest to access funding and start construction on the new athletic complex and classrooms at Elizabethton High School.
The system started the year seeking access to the funding for the projects, which included a new athletic complex, music room and classroom additions at EHS.
Last year, City Council approved a $5 million bond for the school system to construct the projects.
In January several community members and employees of the Elizabethton City School System attended the Elizabethton City Council meeting to express their support for the next phase of capital projects for the school system. During the December 2013 meeting, council deferred a vote that would have granted the school system access to the funding after some council members expressed concern that the TAD classrooms would not be completed.
In February, the council voted to release $5 million in bond proceeds to the ECS for the next phase of capital projects and school administrators started work on developing the plans for the capital construction.
In September, the Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission approved the first set of plans for the EHS athletic complex, but expressed concerns there was not adequate parking and the proposed traffic flow would present dangers to students leaving the school on a daily basis.
In November, the ECS presented updated plans to the planning commission that shifted the stadium to the west to allow for more on-campus parking. These plans were also approved.
The Board of Education set a maximum budget and work on the project began with a groundbreaking in December. The board accepted a $500,000 donation for the project from the Citizens Bank Foundation, giving Citizens Bank naming privileges for the stadium.
Additional stories that led the news in 2014 include:
School bus vandalism — In February, nine of the ECS’ 13 school buses had sugar poured into the gas tanks, and nine tires on the bus fleet were damaged. Seven juvenile EHS students were charged with vandalism over $1,000 and criminal conspiracy.

Photo by Brandon Hicks City official along with Elizabethton City School boad employees at the ribbon cutting for the new athletic fields at T. A. Dugger jr. High School.

Photo by Brandon Hicks
City official along with Elizabethton City School boad employees at the ribbon cutting for the new athletic fields at T. A. Dugger jr. High School.

T. A. Dugger opens new athletic complex — In April, the ECS held a ribbon cutting for the new Michael D. Whitehead athletic complex at T.A. Dugger Junior High School. The TAD sports complex includes new baseball and softball fields, and the supporting structures such as dugouts, scorers’ tower and restrooms.
The addition of the sports complex adds baseball and softball fields to the school’s campus for the first time.
EHS hosts Medal of Honor Recipient — In September, EHS hosted Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Col. Bruce Crandall. Crandall visited just seven schools in Tennessee. He was greeted by the Betsy Band along with the entire student body and shared stories with the students.
School handout draws national attention — In October, the ECS drew national attention when a parent contacted Fox News with concerns a handout her third-grade son brought home from class at Harold McCormick Elementary was inappropriate and “racist.”
Alexander announces retirement — Also, in October, Superintendent Ed Alexander announced he would be retiring on Jan. 5. Alexander was appointed interim superintendent in 2006. He served as interim for two years before being named to the permanent position.
Betsy Band honors — The EHS Betsy Band won second place at the state competition in November. The band won the first place title in 2013, 2012 and 2010. In 2011, the band placed third with less than a point separating the top three teams.
City school system in the news — In December, the ECS audit returned no findings for the third year in a row, and Dr. Corey Gardenhour was named interim superintendent to replace Alexander in January.
In the city of Elizabethton, leaders focused on revitalizing and making improvements to downtown Elizabethton.

Photo by Brandon Hicks Downtown Elizabethton was spruced up during 2014, including having work done on rutted asphalt, as well as improvements and cleaning of building facades and work on canopies.

Photo by Brandon Hicks
Downtown Elizabethton was spruced up during 2014, including having work done on rutted asphalt, as well as improvements and cleaning of building facades and work on canopies.

Improvements planned for downtown — In March, council approved funding for the intersection at E. Elk Avenue and Sycamore Street to remove the rutted asphalt, and to make improvements to the canopies over the sidewalks along E. Elk Avenue.
Rezoning — In June, the Planning Commission rezoned a portion of downtown to allow for increased residential opportunities in that area. The commission unanimously approved rezoning downtown property from E Street to Hattie Avenue and from Lynn Avenue to Highway 19E to the B3 business district. The new zone also allows denser development in the area with smaller property setbacks.
Historic zoning expansion fails; adds site — The Elizabethton Historic Zoning Commission worked throughout the year to expand the historic district to include all of downtown Elizabethton. The expansion was approved by the commission after several public hearings. In December, the planning commission voted down the expansion over concerns the district would not provide adequate benefits to property owners.
The Historic Zoning Commission approved adding the Blue Grays Field as a historic site. The designation was approved by City Council in August.
Water line improvements continue — The Utilities Department continued work on improving the city’s water lines. In May, the water department reached a major milestone when the new water line from Hampton Springs was connected to the Valley Forge community. Work had been ongoing on that project since 2010. Another part of the milestone, a large temporary above-ground water pipe was removed from Hampton resident Kenneth Bass’ yard.
In July, City Council unanimously approved a contract to replace a series of water lines in the East Side community.
In other news: Another major news story of the year occurred when three people were rescued from Holston Mountain after surviving a plane crash on March 18. A report from the National Transportation Safety Board cited a lack of altitude and power as the contributing factors in the crash.
Other key news items for 2014 include:
• Levi Rhea Stanton, son of Brittany and Rusty Stanton, was the first baby of Carter County in 2014. He was born at 8:57 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
• Elizabethton native Justin Stanton, and the band Snarky Puppy, took home a Grammy award for the best R&B performance for the song “Something” featuring Lalah Hathaway.
• Two Elizabethton doctors, Dr. Brent Laing and Dr. John Green, received a patent for the Nuro, a new medical device used to treat bladder disorders using tibial nerve stimulation.
• Ground was broken on Sycamore Springs Senior Living Community, Carter County’s first assisted living facility.
• The new 95,000-square-foot, $16 million addition at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology Elizabethton campus officially opened.
• The first phase of the Tweetsie Trail opened on Labor Day with the Tweetsie Trek.
• The city of Elizabethton purchased the Ritchie’s Furniture warehouse that will become the new Elizabethton Police Department headquarters in 2017.
• A restoration project on historic Sabine Hill house started. The home will become part of the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park system.
• Snap-On Tools celebrated its 40th anniversary.
• The Elizabethton Board of Education welcomed two new members in the November election, Tyler Fleming and Susan Peters. Elizabethton City Council added newcomer Wes Frazier and three incumbents: Bill Carter, Sam Shipley and Richard Tester.

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