Sullivan County commissioners have proposed moving the Sullivan County Clerk’s Office from Kingsport City Hall to the old Wampler’s Beauty School location on East Center Street. David Grace photo.
KINGSPORT — There could be a vacancy soon at City Hall.
In fact, a much-visited government office might relocate out of downtown altogether.
Sullivan County commissioners propose moving the Sullivan County Clerk’s Office now located in City Hall to a former beauty school on East Center Street in the Highland section of the Model City.
Commissioner Joe Herron revealed the plan during a meeting Tuesday of the county’s Ethics Committee, on which he serves.
County Clerk Jeanie Gammon also is a member, but she wasn’t present as Herron explained his proposal to move the county clerk’s Kingsport branch office from City Hall to a building owned by one of his neighbors.
But Herron said Gammon “is bubbling over with joy” at the prospect.
Herron said the City Hall office, at less than 1,100 square feet, is too small and lacks amenities necessary to provide the expected level of service to county residents. The clerk’s office is where you go to get or renew state license plates for your vehicles. Gammon has for some time said she needs more room for the Kingsport location, which is heavily trafficked — and she also has lamented the lack of a drive-through window at the office.
Herron said he has worked out a 10-year lease, at $1,750 per month, for the 2,600-square-foot freestanding building on Center Street, the design and parking lot of which will allow easy installation of a drive-through window.
The building’s design, too, will allow easier access to all county residents — but especially the elderly or handicapped — Herron said, because all visitors need to do is enter the building directly from the parking lot. At City Hall, he pointed out, visitors to the clerk’s office must navigate through hallways, doorways and in some entrances, steps.
The county pays Kingsport about $26,000 per year for office spaces in City Hall, including the section now used for the county clerk’s branch office, Herron said.
If his proposal to rent the old beauty school is approved by the full County Commission, the county will seek to have the city “back out” the portion of that $26,000 that’s for rent on the county clerk’s branch office at City Hall, Herron said.
He did not provide an estimate of that amount.
The owner of the old beauty school has agreed to put a new roof on the building if the county leases it, Herron said, and jail labor could be used to remodel the interior.
An added bonus is there’s room at the old beauty school to provide some extra storage space for some other county offices, Herron said.
Three of Herron’s fellow Ethics Committee members agreed to co-sponsor the proposal when it’s presented to the full County Commission.
City staff said Kingsport doesn’t yet have any firm plans for how to use the space if the county clerk’s office moves out of City Hall.
Gammon, whose main office in Blountville was closed by flooding last week, could not be reached for comment.