As I am writing and recording this report today, the United States Senate is preparing to vote on the possible confirmation of our nation’s next Supreme Court Justice, who may or may not be Brett Kavanaugh.
The last two days have been filled with anger, sadness, regret, and animosity - and that doesn’t even include the people intimately involved in the hearings themselves, who delivered even more of each emotion, and often at a much higher level.
Rather than comment on the hearings or their outcome, I’ll move on and concentrate on local happenings.
The local and national will converge in Johnson City this Monday, however, as President Trump and his entourage plan to hold a rally for Republican senatorial candidate Marsha Blackburn at Freedom Hall. Trump’s campaign is spending at least $6,000 to rent the space and host his political rally alongside Blackburn.
In preparation for the President’s Monday evening visit to Freedom Hall Civic Center, Johnson City Schools will dismiss early that day.
Science Hill High School and Liberty Bell Middle School will let out at 12:45, followed by Indian Trail Intermediate School at 12:55, and the city’s elementary schools at 1:15 pm.
No visitors will be allowed at Freedom Hall or the adjoining Science Hill and Liberty Bell campuses until students have been dismissed and are clear of campus. Local police will be present to prevent access to the Liberty Bell, Freedom Hall and Science Hill sites.
Trump’s arrival will mark the first time since 1976 that a sitting president has visited Johnson City. The last president to hold a rally here was Gerald Ford.
Tickets for the rally are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Doors will open at 4 p.m. and the rally itself is expected to begin at 7.
Tickets for a separate fundraiser will reportedly cost $10,000 per couple, which includes a photo with Trump; or $25,000 per couple, which includes the photo and a roundtable with Trump.
In other news regarding gatherings the area, a white nationalist rally, planned for tomorrow at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton, has been canceled.
The League of the South, named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, announced the cancellation on the group’s website, citing costs related to insurance and security.
Organizers initially planned to hold the rally in Johnson City, but the group could not come to an agreement with City Manager Pete Peterson on an appropriate place to assemble. Therefore, the rally was moved to Sycamore Shoals.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation states, “All groups, regardless of their speech or viewpoint, are required to obtain a special-use permit to reserve park facilities.”
The League of the South criticized the requirements, calling them “tactics designed to force us to pay for our ‘right’ to assemble publicly and to speak freely in the public square… This is a game we will not play.”
Whatever your plans for the weekend, or the early week, remember to stay safe, and respect those around you. While you may disagree, we need to remember we’re all in this together.