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Rogersville snatches up all campaign signs posted illegally

Jeff Bobo • Apr 13, 2018 at 9:46 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County political candidates who went to Rogersville City Hall Thursday to report stolen campaign signs didn’t have to look far to find the culprits.

Earlier this week, the city seized about two dozen campaign signs that were illegally posted on the public right-of-way within the city limits.

Rogersville is the only Hawkins County municipality that bans campaign signs from the public right-of-way.

On Wednesday, Rogersville Building Inspector Steve Nelson and the city street department did a city-wide sweep and seized every sign that had been placed in the public right-of-way, whether it was a campaign sign or, in some cases, a business advertisement or church event announcement.

Some of the “victims” included county mayor candidates Jim Lee, Mark Linkous and Kelly Markham, highway superintendent candidate Joe Parrott, and county commission candidates Dawson Fields, Woody Boyd, Tonya Strunk and Andrew Dockery.

“They are all at the Street Department, and we’ll be glad to let them come by and pick them up,” Nelson told the Times-News Wednesday. “I think a lot of people remember the old sign ordinance, but they don’t know about the new one. The old one, you could put a sign up in the right-of-way, but it could only be up for 45 days. Now nothing can go in the right-of-way.”

Nelson added, “When we redid the sign ordinance about a year ago, no signs of any kind are allowed in the public right-of-way inside the city of Rogersville at any time. I bet there was at least 25 out there (Wednesday).”

There is no fine involved with violating Rogersville’s campaign sign restrictions. Owners are encouraged to pick up their signs during business hours at the street department on Colonial Road where they are being stored.

Mount Carmel regulates campaign signs on the public right-of-way, requiring them to be no larger than 15 square feet in size and up no more than three months at a time. Signs also must be removed within 10 days after an election.

Church Hill doesn’t restrict campaign signs, and Surgoinsville removes only campaign signs that present a safety hazard, such as blocking the view of oncoming traffic at an intersection.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation recently issued a notice asking candidates to remove their signs from state right-of-way immediately after the primary, even if they’ll be in the August general election.

If crews are mowing and come across signs after the election, they will be confiscated and stored at the state highway garage at 1825 State Street in Morristown. Candidates can retrieve their signs until the end of the election year.

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