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ROGERSVILLE — A mother of a bride-to-be gave the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen an earful Tuesday evening after the board refused to let her close a section of Main Street for a wedding later this month.
It was an unexpected lesson in municipal government for a group of students who attended Tuesday's BMA meeting as part of a requirement for the Heritage Lights youth organization.
Gerald and Ann Trent told the BMA on Tuesday they had rented the entire Hale Springs Inn for the May 24 wedding of their daughter.
The ceremony will take place in the courtyard, and with 200-250 people expecting to attend, they were asking for a one-block section of Main Street to be closed between Depot and Hasson streets directly in front of the inn.
The request was to close that block from 12:30-4:30 p.m.
"There's a lot of older people coming, and there's a lot of kids that will be there also," Gerald Trent told the board. "The (Main Street) gate will be open. That's the way everybody will be going in."
Alderman Mark Dewitte acknowledged there will be a safety concern with a large crowd accessing the inn through that gate, but he was also concerned about the city's potential liability if someone was injured in the closed roadway.
Alderman Bill Henderson said he spoke to some Main Street merchants who said Saturday afternoon is their busiest time of the week.
"They said they'd like to maybe sometime close theirs off if they could, but they didn't want to inconvenience the traffic flow," Henderson said.
Ann Trent made her case before the board, noting that other businesses on that block aren't open on Saturday. She said there will be no guests at the inn that day who would be inconvenienced because they have paid for the entire inn, and there's still plenty of access and parking for other downtown businesses.
Mayor Jim Sells asked City Attorney Bill Phillips if allowing this request would set a legal precedent for future requests.
"That's not a legal question, that's a common sense question, and I think the answer is yes, it probably would," Phillips replied.
Philips explained that board action is required to allow a citizen to close a public street. The BMA opted to deny the request by taking no action.
As Ann Trent was leaving the board room she offered an emotional expression of her disappointment. A recording of her comments to the board can be heard at www.timesnews.net.
"I can't believe the chicken-crapping people you all are," she told the board. "I go to church with three-fourths of you people, and you don't even have the guts to stand up for anybody. All of you people are just sorry people, and I hate it so badly."
In other business Tuesday the BMA:
Mayor Sells suggested that Elam divide that expense into thirds and request funds from the town of Bulls Gap and Hawkins County as well.
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