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Letters: Two cheers for regionalism

Johnson City Press • Aug 12, 2018 at 6:00 AM

In Monday’s Question of the Week, we asked for your thoughts on the current regionalism movement. Here are some of your responses.

I’ve seen it work

Regionalism can only help our region in every way: Our economy, our healthcare, our educational systems and our infrastructure. As we compete in a global economy, it is incumbent upon us to work together to unite our region and showcase what every community offers, rather than everyone competing for the same piece of business.

I’ve seen regionalism work in several ways in this area. For years, the Junior Leagues of the Tri-Cities have worked together in a food drive that benefits the hungry among us. For two years, I have been privileged to assist with CareerQuest, a program that introduces high school students with limited knowledge of what types of careers might be available to them to employers needing employees. This was a regional event with employers from across the region and students from 9 counties. Our region exhibits strong commuting patterns with employees living in one city, but commuting to work in another city. Many college students also commute from their residence in one county to learn in another county.

Our region is blessed with strong Chambers of Commerce and economic development leaders. Let’s encourage and enable them to synergize their talents, skills and network to develop the best model for a truly regional economy, which will work for everyone.

REBECCA HENDERSON
Johnson City

Johnson City, Elizabethton need it

Elizabethton residents should petition the Johnson City Commission for the annexation of the City of Elizabethton (T.C.A. 6-51-109) as many Elizabethton residents are already working, shopping, and generating sales tax revenues within Johnson City.

Johnson City and Elizabethton residents already share a common historical experience through Col. John Tipton (of the Tipton-Haynes Farm) and his son, Samuel Tipton, who donated large tracts of land along the Doe River that would establish the town that we now know as Elizabethton.

The annexation of Elizabethton would also allow local sites such as Fort Sycamore Shoals State Historical Park, the Watauga River and the Elizabethton Covered Bridge as being listed among the historical tourism attractions promoted by Johnson City.

The Tweetsie Trail project demonstrates the mutual benefits that the residents of our two cities can achieve by working together. Johnson City residents would also benefit from the transfer of Elizabethton municipal assets (e.g. the Elizabethton Municipal Airport) to Johnson City.

Both Johnson City and Elizabethton city residents should examine the municipal growth of Knoxville following the Civil War, when Knoxville had undertaken major annexations of nearby municipalities, such as East Knoxville (1868), Mechanicsville (1882), West Knoxville (1897), North Knoxville (1897), Park City (1917), Lonsdale (1917), Mountain View (1917), and Oakwood (1917).

Based on 2017 U.S. Census Bureau population statistics, the annexation of Elizabethton by Johnson City would result in a combined Johnson City population of 80,134 residents and advance Johnson City as being the seventh largest city in Tennessee, surging ahead of the municipal populations of each Franklin (78,321) and Jackson (66,847), all while allowing the realization of a greater economy of scale within the delivery of city services resulting from the annexation of Elizabethton by the Johnson City Commission.

ROBERT RITCHIE
Elizabethton

Keep an eye out each week for another Question of the Week, but you may send us letters about any topic important to you. Authors must sign their letters and include addresses and phone numbers for verification. Letters may be no longer than 300 words and will be edited for grammar, style and length. Send your submission to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or [email protected].

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