Sparks flew Thursday as employees from Lamar Advertising removed a billboard from the intersection of University Parkway and West State of Franklin Road in Johnson City.

At noon, a small crew was dismantling the pole that supported the billboard sections at a time. One man used a torch to disconnect each metal segment while a second operated a giant crane that lifted each heavy section from its position. A two-man crew then used a pair or ropes to guide the segment to a waiting flatbed trailer.

A few remaining pieces of the billboard itself, which used to bear advertisements for One Stop Wine & Spirits and Pal's Sudden Service, were scattered around the base of the pole.

Late last year, Lamar Advertising agreed to remove the billboard, which is located on Johnson City property, by July 31. This came after a complicated legal struggle with the city over whether the structure should remain.

David Floyd covers Johnson City government, Johnson City schools and Ballad Health for the Johnson City Press. He grew up in East Tennessee and graduated from ETSU, where he was the executive editor of the school paper.