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Kingsport mayor hosting second town hall meeting

Matthew Lane • Jan 5, 2020 at 12:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Mayor Pat Shull will be hosting his second town hall meeting next week at Colonial Heights Middle School, where folks can ask questions and talk about a variety of issues and concerns facing them and the Model City.

However, Shull told the Times News last week that a few topics will be off-limits: Ballad Health, the right of way ordinance and the protest outside Holston Valley Medical Center.

“That’s simply because our attorneys have advised me not to speak about (these topics) since we’re headed to the court system,” Shull explained. “This is standard city policy when it comes to legal matters.”

PENDING LITIGATION

The legal matter in question has to do with the city citing four Ballad Health protesters into city court for violating a recently passed amendment to city code by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The amendment prohibits temporary or permanent structures placed on the public right of way.

Protesters have been camped outside Holston Valley for nearly 250 days, using a number of canopies and tarps for shelter, setting up on the right of way, in the grassy area between the sidewalk and West Ravine Road.

Kingsport has filed a motion for a continuance in the matter, and a hearing on that request is scheduled for Monday. Dani Cook, who has been spearheading the protest, has also said in a video posted to social media she’s considering a civil rights lawsuit against the Model City.

A CAMPAIGN PROMISE

During last year’s election, Shull promised to hold quarterly town hall meetings throughout the city to speak to and hear from citizens about their concerns and to educate folks about the things Kingsport was doing.

The first such meeting was held in September at the Lynn View Community Center, where more than 150 residents attended. A majority of the three-hour session was spent talking about the city’s homeless situation and the problem of drugs in our neighborhoods.

“We had people with different views on the homeless. People had compassion for them and others had problems with them. I think what was accomplished was that people in the room realized their neighbors have different viewpoints on the issue,” Shull said. “Other citizens got to hear what their fellow citizens thought about the issue.”

Shull’s second town hall meeting will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 9 in the gymnasium at the Colonial Heights Middle School. City Manager Chris McCartt will also be in attendance. As with the first town hall, Shull will speak for about 10 to 15 minutes, then open it up to the public.

A few topics Shull would like to touch on include the improvements made to Kingsport’s streets, the annual capital improvement bond issuance, the recent tour of Sullivan North High School and the upcoming city budget.

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