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Sullivan County could put teeth into animal care enforcement

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County could soon create and enforce new rules and regulations on how county residents treat their animals.

County Commissioner Mark Vance is the primary sponsor of a “work-in-progress” resolution to adopt “animal care standards and animal restraint standards.”

“It’s about holding people accountable and defending helpless animals that can’t defend themselves,” Vance told the Times News on Monday when asked for the reason behind the resolution.

Vance said he has had the subject brought to his attention by the sheriff’s office and workers and board members for the Animal Shelter of Sullivan County.

“I want some way to help our animal control and sheriff’s office personnel to be able to address animal neglect with some enforcement power to back them up when they answer these calls and find a dog tangled in a chain tied to a tree, with no water and no shelter,” Vance said.

Currently, those answering a call like that only have the power to tell the animal’s owner they need to do better, Vance said.

State law, according to Vance’s resolution, permits counties to:

• Regulate stray animals by resolution of their governing body.

• License and regulate dogs and cats.

• Establish and operate shelters and other animal control facilities.

• By resolution of their governing body, establish monetary penalty not to exceed $500 for each violation of a rule or regulation that the county is authorized to adopt.

State law also gives general sessions court the power to enforce county rules, according to the resolution.

As of Monday, Vance’s resolution (co-sponsored by Commissioner John Gardner) asks the Sullivan County Commission to adopt a list of care standards “to ensure that our precious animals are cared for” and states “establishing regulations for standards in animal care ... is a step in improving the quality of life for dogs, cats and animals and promoting safe neighborhoods and a positive quality of life for citizens and visitors.”

The guidelines that are attached to the resolution are just a boilerplate starting point provided as an example of what some other counties in the state have adopted, Vance said.

“I’m going to be meeting with County Attorney Dan Street later this week to talk about the proposed rules and regulations and how enforcement would work,” Vance said. “And I’ll be talking to the board of the county animal shelter, and the employees there. And the sheriff’s office.”

Vance said he does not intend to include a requirement for all dogs and cats to have a county-issued license, but there will be a provision to “register” each animal recovered by its owner or adopted out of the animal shelter by a new owner. He also wants a provision that all dogs and cats adopted out of the shelter must be spayed or neutered first.

Other basic regulations would spell out how much room dog lots and dog houses should have, Vance said.

He introduced the resolution on first reading last month, but Vance said he does not plan to call for a commission vote this month due to how much work is left to be done to develop the proposed rules and regulations.

Watch now: Kingsport bulk leaf collection extended to end of January

KINGSPORT — If you live in the Model City and don’t have all your planned piles of leaves to the curb for vacuum pickup, your deadline has been extended.

That means bulk leaf collections by the city will continue through the end of January instead of ending on Friday, as originally planned, thanks to the recent wintry weather.

Some grounds maintenance workers in the Streets and Sanitation Department were working Tuesday in the Lynn Garden area on Truxton Drive, using a vacuum system that removes leaves from the curbside — with a little help from a rake.

“The city will still collect leaves through the end of the month,” Matthew Lane, city spokesman and communications specialist, said Monday.

Lane attributed the extension to the recent snow and below-freezing temperatures, which may have delayed some homeowners from removing late-falling leaves from their property.

As always, Lane said, the city will continue to pick up bagged leaves and other yard waste throughout the year on approximate collection dates for neighborhoods posted on the city’s website.

The city began its annual bulk leaf collection on Oct. 11.

In order to make the collection process as efficient as possible, the city asks that citizens follow four rules:

• Place the leaves within eight feet of the edge of the street but not in the street;

• Refrain from blocking storm drains or neighbors’ driveways with piles of leaves;

• Make sure leaf piles remain accessible by not parking vehicles on top or beside the leaves; and

• Do not include rocks, sticks or other debris in the pile that would damage the large vacuums used for collection.

The city has no set-in-stone days or times for leaf collection but gives a general plan on its website and a call-in Leaf Line.

The city is divided into six zones, with each street being run in that area before moving to the next zone.

Depending on volume and availability of equipment, the general time frame for the free residential service can run as short as a week and up to three weeks during peak season. Each zone will be serviced at least nine times.

“If you bag your leaves, place them with your yard waste and they will be picked up on your regularly scheduled trash and yard waste collection day,” a statement on the website reads.

Normally, the statement says, between 1,800 and 2,000 tons of leaves are collected each year.

The leaves are taken to the city’s demolition landfill, where they are composted. The composted material is used for city projects and sold to the general public.

For more information on where Kingsport’s trucks are working each day, call the Leaf Line at (423) 224-2429 or go online to

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GOP chair predicts school board races will be a part of the 'red wave'

The chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party told a meeting of the GOP faithful in Johnson City on Monday that he believes a “red wave” will be sweeping across the nation in this year’s midterm congressional elections.

“The tsunami is building,” Scott Golden said, noting that President Joe Biden’s sagging poll numbers bode well for his party’s chances of winning control of Congress in November.

Speaking to the East Tennessee Republican Club at The Carnegie Hotel, Golden predicted the days of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calf., presiding over the chamber are nearing an end.

“We won’t have to hear from her for very much longer,” he said.

Golden said Republicans look to easily pick up the “four or five seats” the party needs to regain the majority in the House and will be facing a “very close election” in the Senate.

“It’s a war and Democrats never take a day off,” the chairman said. “Even in the reddest areas of the nation, they (Democrats) are working on strategy.”

Before those congressional contests are placed on the fall ballot, Golden said Republicans will be working in the spring and summer to elect their candidates to county and state offices. Golden said Tennessee will become an even “redder state” this year with partisan school board elections now on the local ballots.

He said while some have argued there is no place for politics in education, Golden believes the Democratic Party has often interjected its politics into school board issues and thinks it’s time that Republicans do the same.

Golden said while the voters are often provided with specific policy and partisan information on presidential candidates and those vying for federal and the state offices, they often lack such information on candidates running for school board and other “down-ballot” offices.

“You don’t really know who you are voting for,” he said. “You may be electing someone with an I (independent) next to his name who is really a D (Democratic candidate).”

As a result of a new law passed by the state General Assembly in 2021, elections for school board seats can now be partisan contests.

Six of the nine seats on the Washington County’s Board of Education and four of the seven seats of the Johnson City Board of Education are on the ballot this year.

Under the Johnson City Charter, elections for Board of Education and City Commission have traditionally been nonpartisan. Seats on the Washington County Board of Education have also been nonpartisan races.

ETSU to host Miranda Lambert in upcoming SGA Spring Concert

East Tennessee State University will host Miranda Lambert during the Student Government Association’s Spring 2022 Concert on Friday, April 29, at William B. Greene Jr. Stadium.

The award-winning performer is one of the most well-known country music artists of the 21st century.

She received the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her 2010 song “The House That Built Me.”

Lambert received a second Grammy Award for Best Country Album thanks to her 2014 album titled “Platinum,” and a third for her 2020 album, “Wildcard.”

This will be the first concert held at the William B. Greene Jr. Stadium, and it is anticipated to be the largest attended concert event in the history of ETSU’s campus.

“Words cannot describe my excitement about the first-ever SGA concert in the football stadium and with a legend like Miranda Lambert to top it off,” SGA President Mason Mosier said in a press release. “This administration promised to usher in a ‘Golden Era’ at ETSU, and I can say with confidence that this yet again proves the Bucs are back and better than ever.”

Lambert’s team comes to Johnson City as one of its three April concerts before reuniting with country music group Little Big Town for the Band- wagon Tour in May.

American southern rock band The Cadillac Three will be the opener at the ETSU event.

Gates to the event will open at 6:30 p.m., with the show beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Students will receive one free ticket with proof of student identification. Tickets will go on sale in February, and ticket prices are to be determined.

More information will be posted to as it becomes available.

Brandon Franklin will appear on the History Channel’s ‘Forged in Fire’ on Wednesday.