Second public hearing for Stoney Creek highway name change set for April 6
Published 8:44 am Monday, March 30, 2015
A proposal to rename a local highway will once again go before a public hearing after members of the Carter County Commission expressed concerns no one spoke at the previous public hearing on the matter.
On April 6, when the highway committee meets for its regular monthly meeting, the group will also hold a public hearing on a proposal to rename the portion of Highway 91 that runs through the Stoney Creek community. Currently the highway bears the name Rondal B. Cole Memorial Highway. If the proposal goes through, the road would be known as the Ralph and Rondal Cole Memorial Highway, in honor of the brothers and their service to the community.
The highway committee recommended the name change and a resolution was presented to the full commission during its meeting on March 16.
During the meeting, Commissioners Willie Campbell and Buford Peters, who represent the Stoney Creek district, said they had heard from several residents who said they were unaware a public hearing had been scheduled. The public hearing was advertised in the Elizabethton Star and was also posted on the county’s website.
“A lot of people didn’t know about it because not a lot of people take the paper,” Peters said.
Several commissioners also criticized the size of the advertisement for the public hearing, saying it was so small that many people may have missed it.
However commissioners from the Stoney Creek district as well as Commissioner John Lewis, of the 6th District, and Commissioner Robert Carroll, of the 8th District, reported receiving telephone calls on the issue from constituents who were aware of the proposed name change.
“From what I’ve been told, the folks were upset about the first name being put on there,” Carroll said. “The people I’ve talk to have opposed the change.”
Lewis suggested a community meeting be held in Stoney Creek to allow more people the chance to express their opinion on the matter. About 10 years ago, the commission attempted to change the name of the Highway 91 to take Rondal Cole’s name off and that change was heavily opposed, Lewis said. Campbell also voiced his support of a community meeting on the issue.
When the vote was taken on the resolution to rename the highway, the measure failed on a margin of 7-15. After the failed motion, highway committee Chairman Commissioner Mike Hill made a motion to send the matter back to the committee for a second public hearing and reconsideration. His motion was seconded by Commissioner Isaiah Grindstaff.
“I have no objection to this going back to the committee because I don’t think the people were informed enough,” Peters said. His fellow district representative, Campbell, did not share the sentiment, questioning why something would be sent back to committee after it had failed on a vote.
The commission voted 21 to 1 to send the resolution back to the highway committee.
The proposal to change the name of the highway was originally sent to the county by State Sen. Rusty Crowe.
“For some time now, I have been receiving input from a variety of constituents within the 3rd Senatorial District, that we find a way to honor the memory of the late Rep. Ralph Cole,” Crowe said in the letter. “With that in mind, and after conferring with many of our friends and Ralph’s family; it appears that the most appropriate approach might be to amend the Rondal Cole Highway to read the ‘Ralph and Rondal Cole Memorial Highway.’”
The public hearing for the proposed name change will be held on Monday, April 6 at 6 p.m. at the Carter County Courthouse.