Citizens vocalize support for Twins during City Council meeting

Published 9:16 am Friday, September 9, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                                Mike Simerly, standing, was one of a handful of citizens that spoke to the City Council Thursday to show support for the Elizabethton Twins.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Mike Simerly, standing, was one of a handful of citizens that spoke to the City Council Thursday to show support for the Elizabethton Twins.

(Editor’s Note: In the Thursday print edition of the Elizabethton Star, it was noted that the City Council would discuss the plans of moving the Elizabethton Police Department to the Elizabethton Municipal Airport. During Thursday’s meeting, the council agreed to defer the EPD item and the resolution to authorize the sale and providing the details of the not-to-exceed $9,820,000 general obligation refunding and improvement bonds to a future meeting after workshops are able to be held on both items.)
As the future of the Elizabethton Twins remains in limbo for the time-being, citizens of Elizabethton made their voices heard in front of city officials Thursday night during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.
Debbie Alexander of Carter County Bank addressed the officials and gave signed petitions with 1,674 signatures of support for the Twins to councilman Wes Frazier that will go to the Minnesota organization for the upcoming discussions.
“There is overwhelming support to keep the Twins in Eizabethton,” Alexander told the councilmen Thursday, citing the work by Carmon Dugger and Joe O’Brien while respectfully asking the city to try to do what they can to work together with the Minnesota organization.
Following Alexander’s comments a handful of citizens also made their voices heard, describing the Twins as a place of fellowship and being a landmark for the city.
“I’ve been gone for a few years,” Mike Simerly said. “But we’ve got such a great thing with Twins. In our playoff game with Johnson City, we had more Elizabethton fans out than Johnson City did.”
Simerly, along with others, also noted the city’s situation with funds and knowing that money is tight but asked the officials to work with Minnesota on a measure to help the team stay within the city.
“I’ve been very active with the Twins organization,” Harold Mains, a local pastor and 16-year volunteer with the Elizabethton Twins, said. “You can’t put a value on someone. We’ve had two families come from Texas that stay in the area … I love Elizabethton. Our fans keep getting younger and I still believe the Twins give us something great in the city.”
The Minnesota Twins organization provided a letter to the City Council during August’s meeting, stating they were pulling their previous announced contribution for stadium renovations, (near $600,000),
“The Twins remain open to renewing talks on this renovation project and are available to consider any proposals,” Minnesota president Dave St. Peter said. “It is imperative that we have a full understanding of what is being considered if we are going to include a significant contribution.”
Mayor Curt Alexander, who was absent from Thursday’s meeting, said the city is adamant in keeping the Twins in the city.
The Twins, which have been based in Elizabethton for 42 years, will be one of the key items on the table for the new Minnesota General Manager. The organization is currently seeking a new GM for Minnesota, and added that once that hire is made, they’ll resume talks with the city.
The agenda item of passing architectural plans for the Elizabethton Municipal Airport to possibly move the Elizabethton Police Department inside the facility were deferred to a later date, with the plan of wanting to have workshops on the item brought up during the meeting. While it wasn’t addressed, councilmen did hear feedback from citizens citing that they feel that the city was ‘wasting money’ by looking to pass plans to draw up blueprint at the airport when the city was already in the planning phases of moving the department to the Ritchies’ facility in downtown Elizabethton. Another issue was brought up by citizen Janie McKinney, citing grievances made by the EPD at a city personnel meeting. McKinney also referenced the recent projected promotion of an officer which was nullified by the city.
The Elizabethton Fire Department and Johnson City Fire Department’s interlocal agreement to provide aid to each other in specific locations. The area that will be affected will be within Milligan Highway. In a matter the City Council had their hands tied on, they passed rate adjustment that was put into effect by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The increase will see an customers absorb 1.47 average hike on their bill with the Elizabethton Electric Department. Had the measure not been passed, it would of cost EED approximately $949,000.
In other business, the board passed the first reading of an ordinance to amend the current budget for appropriations for the Bonnie Kate Fund. Councilmen did defer the idea of a first reading to amend the budget for the general fund purchase of the parking lot adjacent to the Bonnie Kate to a later date. Officials also passed the route for the Elizabethton High School homecoming parade. The route will be from First Presbyterian Church across from T.A. Dugger and end at Citizens Bank Stadium with the start time pegged at 5:30 p.m.

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