2017’s top stories from the City of Elizabethton

Published 3:04 pm Saturday, December 30, 2017

In just a couple of days, another chapter comes to a close for the region.
2017 featured its fair share of news throughout the City of Elizabethton. Featured is a list comprised of the top stories from the city, according to the top read stories from the Elizabethton Star website.
Big Lots moves to former Magic Mart area
Foot traffic reappeared at one Elizabethton location with Big Lots making the move to 791 West Elk Ave., the former location of Magic Mart.
News broke in September that the building was being sold in a memorandum issued by the Planning and Development office. The structure officially sold for $1,175,000, according to records obtained by the STAR from the Carter County Register of Deed’s office. The owner of the property changed hands from Elizabethton Kenosha, LLC, a Delaware limited–liability company to Bemberg Center Partner, LLC — an affiliate of Anchor Investments, based out of Nashville.
Years after being left vacant, the building now houses Big Lots with the potential to house two other businesses.
ECS names center after Dr. Wandell
Ovations. Laughter. Tears. Memories.
Hundreds of emotions floated throughout East Side Elementary when Elizabethton City Schools System hosted Dr. Josh Wandell, his family and community members for the official dedication of the Wandell Early Learning Center located at the school.
Packed inside the East Side gymnasium, the public was treated to various stories of Dr. Wandell’s triumphs, whether it be in the classroom or his current mission of fighting through ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). During the hour-long presentation, students proudly donned custom-made signs showing their support for their all-time favorite East Side Pirate.
“We’re thankful to have everyone here today,” Elizabethton Director of Schools Dr. Corey Gardenhour said. “He’s such an important part of Elizabethton City Schools. He means a lot to the East Side community and most of all, he cared for the children.”
Dr. Wandell served as principal at East Side from 2007-2015. Even with his diagnosis in 2013, the East Side Pirate continued to make his career about the children as he provided a message of love and positivity to students before having to retire from his position.
Elizabethton High School CTE Director Brian Culbert, who served as the featured speaker, shared some moments with attendees about his moments with Dr. Wandell, which drew a smile from the former principal. Most noticeably, Culbert added he’s still continually eating some crow after his time of cutting from T.A. Dugger’s middle school baseball team.
“He went on to play varsity as a freshman … people would say two-thirds of the world was covered by water, the other one-third by Josh. That shows what I knew,” Culbert said with a chuckle.
Twins returning to Elizabethton for time being
A good-faith contract in place by the City of Elizabethton and Minnesota Twins is looking to see a 40-plus year partnership continue for the future.
City Councilmen voted unanimously to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Major League Baseball organization in regards to renovations that will soon take place at Joe O’Brien Field, home of the Elizabethton Twins.
Considered a contract “in good-faith,” both parties have reportedly signed the document, which signifies a “mutual understanding in terms and conditions of the design, development, and construction of renovation.” Officials recently voted to move $1.5 million worth of bond funding to cover the costs of a new home clubhouse, new batting cage, and improvements to the current home clubhouse.
Minnesota renewed their initiation contract to stay in Elizabethton for at least the short-term future.
Lil Dip & Deli experiences success for opening day
The dream was able to become a reality for Crystal and Jeff Daugherty recently.
Always active at Farmer John’s Produce, located on West Elk Avenue in Elizabethton, seeing a building right across the road from the produce shop left Crystal wanting to add an extra bit of flare to the food scene in the city.
It all came to fruition in 2017 as Lil Dip and Deli opened to the public with rousing success, according to Crystal.
“We’ve been in the Farmer John’s building now for six years,” she said. “I watched this building … I always wanted to have a drive-thru. We’ve had ice cream in our main building but I always wanted to do a drive-thru. When the building was empty, I knew there was my chance.”
Right across the road from Farmer John’s, several customers stopped by the drive-thru window and placed their orders for the variety of food and refreshments offered.
“We have been slammed today,” Crystal said with a smile during their opening day. “It’s been a wonderful day, it’s just been one after another. We didn’t expect it to be like this.”
Bartleby hosts open house
Future development within the region continues to look bright thanks to a certain band of students from Elizabethton High School.
Area businesses, organizations, school systems and community leaders were able to take in the full array of benefits students part of the Bartleby Project have offered to the community so far during a special open house ceremony held at Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) – Elizabethton.
Since 2016, Bartleby has made its way into the EHS curriculum following the school’s designation as a national winner for the “Super School” proposal during the XQ America’s national contest held last year. With the recognition and monetary awards, the school was able to implement two new classes — Community Improvement and Entrepreneurship — along with creating a student liaison position for the Elizabethton City Schools Board of Education.
Throughout the morning event, students were able to share in the different projects that were created out of the Community Improvement class — which is part of the school’s first academic semester. Projects range from the Elizabethton Walking Tour, downtown murals, mental health support groups, revitalizing Kiwanis Park and beautification of various well-known structures in the city and county.
Tri-Cities Health moves from Johnson City to Elizabethton
In a time where health insurance has so many questions, one medical practice looks to have an answer.
Tri-Cities Health moved location in 2017 from Johnson City to Elizabethton
Unlike most doctor offices, Rob McMurtrey with Tri-Cities Health said their business does not accept health insurance.
“We decided not to accept insurance in order to cut out the middleman,” McMurtrey said. “With today’s rising healthcare costs, most co-pays are $45 to $50 then insurance is billed for an additional $50 to $150. The complete cost for a primary care visit at our office is always $50.
“Processing insurance takes time and money,” he added. “Additionally, insurance policies dictate the care a patient can receive or not receive in many cases. By making our prices transparent, patients can be in control of their own health more affordable. There are never any surprises. Most of our patients have insurance but choose to use us because they find us far more affordable than clinics that accept insurance.”
Dr. Kim McMurtrey is the primary physician at the facility.
Covered Bridge Celebration welcomes thousands
From California to Virginia, downtown Elizabethton proved to be the place to be.
Capitalizing off last year’s momentum, the 51st Annual Covered Bridge Celebration event organizers said they were excited to see the conclusion of their efforts with thousands descending downtown to bring in additional revenue for the area.
“We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback,” said Tonya Stevens, director of the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce. “We tried to make sure we could provide the best possible entertainment for the public and make sure they had a great time.
“We had people come in from all across the country,” she continued. “It was incredible. We were walking through the crowd talking to people and we were able to meet people that came from California that actually changed their vacation schedule to come visit relatives nearby so they could make it for the Suzy Bogguss concert.”
Betsy Band performs at Neyland Stadium
Band members from Elizabethton High School enjoyed a trip down to Knoxville this year to perform at halftime during the University of Tennessee and UMass football game. 2017 was a successful year for the band, who took home second place in the Division II state competition.

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