Editorial: Hog Wild Saloon should get a new lease on life

Editorial Board • Oct 24, 2018 at 12:13 PM

Even buildings sometimes get a chance at redemption as with the former Hog Wild Saloon, for years the scene of violence up to and including death. But thanks to the generosity of the building’s owner, the building may soon serve a higher calling.

Earlier this year, Hog Wild was shut down for numerous code violations after a shooting inside the building took the life of a 20-year-old Kingsport man. City police, fire and building officials went through the structure and found code and safety violations including roof leaks, water running into electrical fixtures, kerosene heaters in public spaces, and an inoperable sprinkler system.

The city pulled the power and gas meters from the building, and soon after, the owners of the business agreed to surrender their beer permit and liquor license. In August, the city ordered the building’s owner, businessman Paul Bellamy, to demolish the building within 60 days.

But before the wrecking ball could arrive, a series of events led to a phone call to Bellamy, who has agreed to donate the structure to a Kingsport-based nonprofit organization, Engage Tri-Cities, which connects churches and businesses with the communities around them, focusing on homeless and lowincome individuals and families.

Engage Tri-Cities was founded in October 2016 by Jonathon and Carla Anderson. It has an office on Broad Street where the Andersons have worked with churches and other nonprofits for more than 10 years in this very worthy endeavor.

Anderson said his parents live near the former nightclub.

“For 15 years my dad has been praying for that property. About eight weeks ago I was having lunch with my folks after church and my dad said I needed to call Paul Bellamy,” Anderson said. “I called Paul the next day. Three or four weeks later, he agreed to donate the property to us.”

Anderson hopes to renovate the building and make it a job resource center offering training programs to help people find jobs.

“We believe a lot of people that are homeless struggle getting back to work because of gaps in their work history. We’d help provide marketable skills that can help them get jobs that are more than just minimum wages,” Anderson said.

It’s a noble undertaking, but it all depends on a Nov. 16 hearing in Sullivan County Circuit Court. The court will either order the building to be demolished, or, let us hope, allow Anderson to give it a new life in the service of those in need

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