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Carter Joint Economic Board discusses upcoming projects

John Thompson • Sep 23, 2019 at 11:03 PM

ELIZABETHTON — It has taken several months, but all the governments in Carter County are now working off the same sheet of paper.

Representatives from the Carter County Commission, the Johnson City Commission, the Elizabethton City Council and the city of Watauga met at the Carter County Courthouse on Monday.

Together, the local representatives become, in the eyes of the state, the Carter County Joint Economic and Community Development Board. The organization will be taking over economic development responsibilities that were handled by Carter County Tomorrow for the past several years.

The board has been meeting for over a year, but has not assumed all the economic development roles because its original charter did not permit it to handle money, which meant it could not accept grants. That ban on accepting funds has been eliminated, but the change in the organizational charter took several months to be get through all four of the local government bodies.

It took longer than expected because when the Elizabethton City Commission was considering the new charter, it chose to amend it before approving it. The meant Elizabethton would be operating under a different document than the others, so the Commission had to start over with its approval of the unamended document.

That meant that Monday’s meeting was the first for the economic development board. But several members did not attend, including Watauga City Mayor Delissa Lafleur.

Two additional members have been appointed from the Carter County Commission. Those new representatives are Ginger Holdren and Aaron Frazier. Two more are to be appointed from the city of Elizabethton, but the additional city representatives have not yet been appointed.

There were no actions taken or motions made in this initial meeting. There was discussion about projects now underway or soon to start.

Board member Charles Von Cannon said one of the most immediate is a new fishing platform for disabled persons that will provide access to the Watauga River Quality Trout Zone.

The platform is being installed today by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency on Blevins Road. Von Cannon said the TWRA hopes to deed the fishing platform to Carter County in exchange for a commitment from the county to maintain the platform and keep the area clean.

Carter Country Mayor Rusty Barnett said the new resort on the upper end of Watauga Lake will be holding a reception soon, possibly Oct. 17. He said the date depends on ongoing work with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Another concern of the resort is getting broadband internet into the area.

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