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Sam LaPorte elected chair of Carter County Tomorrow

John Thompson • Dec 5, 2018 at 8:35 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The recent personnel changes brought about by the recent elections in Elizabethton and Carter County have resulted in some reorganization for the board of directors of the Carter County Tomorrow economic development organization.

Sam LaPorte was unanimously elected chair of the organization. He has been a member of the group for most of its existence and new members found that to be a valuable asset.

LaPorte replaces Richard Tester, who is no longer a member of the organization after being defeated for another term on the City Council in the November Elizabethton municipal election

LaPorte gave the members an upbeat report on the organization’s status. “We have fulfilled all the commitments we had made to the County Commission,” LaPorte said. “We have installed the elevator we had promised and put on a new roof.

After installing LaPorte as chairman, the board then unanimously elected Sonja Culler as vice chairwoman. Culler will also take the third executive seat for the organization, replacing Tester. She joins LaPorte and Dale Fair on the executive board.

Among the new directors are Bill Carter, who replaces Tester as representative from the City Council. Patty Woodby is a new representative from the County Commission, replacing Danny Ward, who did not run fro another term on the County Commission in order to run for county mayor. Also new to the organization is newly elected Carter County Mayor Rusty Barnett.

Elizabethton Director of Planning Jon Hartman also assists Carter County Tomorrow with economic development matters. He told the members there have been several inquiries and an expansion in the city and county recently. The expansion is to the A.Y. McDonald factory in the Watauga Industrial Park. He said the project will double the size of the plant and will create over 30 additional jobs.

Hartman said there have also been two site visits to the county. He said there is a potential for the creation of 200 jobs in the county if those visits result in commitments.

The board also discussed Carter County Tomorrow’s relationship to the recently created Joint Economic Community Development Board. The discussion centered on the JECDB’s rules, which bar the organization from holding money, such as grants. Carter County Tomorrow is set up to be a pass through for such financial matters and could be beneficial to JECDB.

“Our goal has always been to be a help to the county,” LaPorte said.

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