Future of downtown pubs passes first hurdle

Published 5:24 pm Friday, September 14, 2018

Pubs in downtown Elizabethton took one step closer to becoming a reality Thursday evening.

City Council voted on a first reading to make amendments to municipal codes that would allow for pub bars to come to the area.

The measure must pass during October’s City Council meeting to become a reality. Council voted 5-1 in approval with Bill Carter casting the lone nay vote. Councilman Richard Tester was absent from the meeting.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Bringing a pub bar to downtown was brought up after the city received notice that a business is interested in opening a “tap room” downtown, according to City Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman.

In the report issued by the director, the establishment intends to sell craft beer and cider produced locally with the hope of selling wine at some point in the future.

Hartman stated that current city regulations would not allow for an “alcohol only” establishment, which has caused the business to halt their plans. The director added the business hopes to mirror the model provided by the Johnson City Brewery Tap Room and the Atlantic Ale House in Johnson City.

With the new changes, establishments would be allowed to set up in the downtown zone and could only sell fermented alcoholic beverages like beer, wine and cider – but no liquor.

While the issues did receive majority positive feedback from officials, Councilman Jeff Treadway asked about the potential of capping the amount of pubs allowed. Mayor Curt Alexander said Council can “do homework” on the issue and bring together a final idea for October’s meeting to pass, pending a final vote and public hearing.


Council was able to approve a resolution to send a student resource officer to T.A. Dugger and Elizabethton High School once again. After questions from Councilman Kim Birchfield, officials were able to learn more about the future of SROs at each of the city schools.

Director of Schools Corey Gardenhour and Police Chief Jason Shaw both spoke during the meeting and told Council that they are currently awaiting the opportunity to apply for a COPS grant to help fund the salaries for SROs at each of the three city elementary schools.

The city school district has already pledged to contribute safety funds from the state to assist with the program. An update on having SROs at schools is expected to come through once the application process for the COPs grant is made official.


Near the early portion of the meeting, Shaw was able to recognize officer Matt Sexton for his promotion to sergeant.

With the promotion, Shaw added that all supervision roles within the department are now filled.

“The process was completed as prescribed in the 2017 personnel manual,” Shaw said. “After completion of that process with very tough competition, Sexton came out on top.”

Sexton has been working with the department since 2009 and has served in a variety of roles. The new sergeant’s duties have included patrol officer, housing officer and vice/narcotic officer with the city CID.

“Matt has been an asset to the department during his time here and has received specialized training in many areas,” Shaw said. “He has also assisted in training and new technology.”

Sexton received the Governor’s Highway Safety Office DUI Officer of the Year nod in 2012 and the city’s Life Saving Award in 2013. Sexton was also recognized for “superior” performance in 2016 and this year.