2017 was a busy year for Carter County

Published 5:28 pm Friday, December 29, 2017

This past year was a busy one for Carter County. As residents begin looking forward to 2018, here’s a look back at some of the memorable events that transpired in Carter County in the year behind.

Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter

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For much of 2017, the operations of the Elizabethton/Carter County Animal Shelter were a subject of contention at government meetings — both for the Carter County Commission and its committees as well as the Elizabethton City Council.

Throughout the year, a variety of citizens spoke up during public meetings regarding their concerns with the care of the animals, how money was being spent, and the termination of the volunteering and fostering programs through the shelter.

Funding for the shelter also became a point of contention as City Council representatives said they did not feel the City should continue funding 50 percent of the shelter’s budget when the city only represented 25 percent of the population, and also noting that city residents are hit twice for shelter expenses as they also pay county property taxes.

In June, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey addressed the County Commission and resigned his oversight duties of the animal shelter. Humphrey stepped in to direct oversight of the shelter in 2016 after he said he received numerous complaints about shelter operations and his own investigation indicated there were several issues at the shelter. The Commission then voted to form a transition board to develop a new oversight for the shelter and its operations.

In September the Commission approved a new operating agreement between the county and the City of Elizabethton for the shelter, adopted new bylaws, and formed a new Animal Shelter Board to become the supervising authority for the shelter.

In December, the long-awaited report from an investigation into the animal shelter’s operations by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office was released. The Comptroller’s Office began their investigation in 2016 at the request of Humphrey after he reported issues he discovered at the shelter. The investigative report detailed 14 separate operating deficiencies at the shelter and noted a lack of proper oversight of shelter operations. District Attorney General Tony Clark said he reviewed the Comptroller’s report and no criminal charges would be pursued as a result of the findings.


During 2017 a pair of efforts were made to downsize not only the Carter County Planning Commission but the County Commission as well.

In May, a resolution was presented to the County Commission to downsize the Planning Commission. A resolution for downsizing had been presented to the Planning Commission in April to lower the number of members of that group from 12 to 9. On a split vote of 6-4, the Planning Commission voted to send it to County Attorney Josh Hardin for changes.

During the May meeting of the Commission, there was some confusion among members as to whether or not the resolution was supposed to be returned to the Planning Commission for final approval before being sent to the full Commission. The resolution ultimately died during the May Commission meeting when a motion to approve it failed to garner enough votes to pass, as did a motion to send it back to the Planning Commission.

In August, members of the Rules & Bylaws Committee approved a plan to downsize the County Commission from 24 members to 16. Currently, each of the county’s eight districts is represented by three commissioners. Under the proposal from the Rules & Bylaws committee, each district would have only two commissioners.

Carter County Attorney Josh Hardin advised the Commission against approving any downsizing measures outside of the reapportionment process, which takes place every 10 years. When the proposal came to a vote, it failed to garner enough votes to pass.

In September Humphrey requested the Commission appoint a committee to begin the reapportionment process so that downsizing could be completed. The Commission voted to appoint the Rules & Bylaws Committee to begin researching the reapportionment process.

New Commission Chairman

In September, members of the Carter County Commission make appointments to standing committees and elect their leadership. During the September meeting, prior to the point on the agenda to select a chairman, Humphrey, who has served as chairman of the county’s governing body since 2014, announced he was withdrawing his name from consideration, citing an increased workload in his role as Mayor and the desire to focus his efforts on economic development.

In a vote of 13-10, the Commission selected Commissioner Dr. Robert Acuff to serve as their new chairman. The Commission also selected Commissioner Brad Johnson to serve as Vice Chairman.

Sabine Hill Opens

After years of efforts to save, preserve, and restore the historic property, Sabine Hill opened to the public as Tennessee’s newest State Historic Site in November. The home was built by the widow of Brigadier Gen. Nathaniel Taylor, a member of one of the region’s founding families who served in the War of 1812 under General Andrew Jackson. Most historians agree that Taylor’s wife, Mary Patton Taylor, completed the home in 1818 after her husband’s death.

New Miss Carter County crowned

For the first time in 46 years, a new Miss Carter County was crowned in September. Peyton Wilson, an Elizabethton native, was selected as Miss Carter County for 2018. Prior to her selection as Miss Carter County, Wilson had been the reigning Miss Watauga Valley. Wilson will go on to represent Carter County during the 2018 Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant.

Lunch & Literacy

The Carter County School System launched a new initiative in 2017 to help provide meals to children while they were out of school for summer break and to also ensure they had on-level reading material to practice their literacy skills. School system officials declared the program was a success during its initial run and are hoping to expand it during Summer 2018.

United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County meets fundraising goal

For only the second time in 16 years, the local United Way completed its annual fundraising campaign by achieving their funding goal.  The goal for the year was $125,000, and as the campaign closed, total gifts and pledges to United Way ECC reached $137,821.99. The organization is hoping to build on that success to finish out the 2018 campaign as a success as well. Currently, the group is at around 50 percent of its goal.