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Wise deputy kills teen after being stabbed, VSP says

APPALACHIA — A Wise County Sheriff’s deputy remained hospitalized Saturday after what officials called a shooting-stabbing incident near the Dunbar community outside Appalachia.

Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said the incident happened just after 3 p.m. on Pine Branch Road.

Wise County deputies and area police had been searching the area Saturday after reports of two missing juveniles, Geller said, when a deputy found two people in a vehicle parked in bushes. The deputy ordered the occupants out of the vehicle when a 16-year-old boy got out, fought with and stabbed the officer.

The deputy shot his attacker, who died at the scene, Geller said. The 13-year-old girl in the vehicle was not injured. Investigators found a knife at the scene, and the boy’s body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Roanoke.

“Our prayers are with those involved in the incident,” Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp III said, adding that the Virginia State Police is handling the investigation.

Police responded from St. Paul, Wise, Norton, the Sheriff’s Department and State Police. Officers at the scene said the deputy was flown by helicopter to Johnson City Medical Center from a coal mine entrance site about four miles from Dunbar. Police blocked traffic to Dunbar until about 7 p.m.

Officers manning a second checkpoint in Dunbar said the incident happened four or more miles north of Dunbar on Pine Branch Road. At least two Sheriff’s Department vehicles suffered lower front fender damage from rough road conditions while trying to reach the scene.

An officer at the Pine Branch traffic checkpoint said the road used to be a busy coal haul road years ago that extended to the Eolia, Kentucky, area.

Around 8:30 p.m., after tow trucks removed two sheriff’s vehicles with fender damage, a white van left the Pine Branch Road area. The injured deputy’s vehicle was towed later that night.

Group is thinking outside the (big) box with West Gate development


The United States is awash in unused parking spaces, with many surrounding empty or nearly vacant shopping malls, big box retailers, grocery stores and strip centers.

Miles and miles of asphalt are sitting vacant as more and more Americans make the switch to online retail. The convenience and necessity of internet shopping (especially during the recent pandemic) have resulted in retailers contracting their brick-and-mortar footprints in many communities.

The end result has been large parking lots sitting virtually empty. If you drive around town, you’ll notice some yourself. But it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault that those areas are idle. Typically, cities have rules that dictate how many parking spaces a retailer must have before opening.

And in the days before the internet, those parking spaces were probably necessary. Today, not so much.

A University of California study found there are at least 800 million parking spaces in the U.S. — three for every vehicle on the road and covering a land mass of roughly 25,000 square miles. That’s about the same size as Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, said Jeff Fleming, the Move to Kingsport relocation manager for the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.

“With the changes we’re seeing every single day when it comes to online shopping and delivery to your door, (large parking lots) are going to be less and less needed,” Fleming said. “So cities that come up with strategies to repurpose that land in a meaningful way are going to be successful in the long run.”

One prime example of unneeded parking in Kingsport can be found at the old Stonegate shopping center on Stone Drive.

Matthew / Matthew Lane — mlane@timesnews.net 

The old stone sign for the Stonegate Plaza shopping center is located near the entrance to the property. At one point, a car wash was located near this sign. According to the development plan, 16 townhomes will be built on the site of the old car wash.


The 14-acre Stonegate site (once home to a Walmart) has sat empty for years and has been a blight on the neighborhood. Kingsport deemed it a redevelopment zone, thus opening it up for incentives, but for nearly two decades nothing happened.

Until now.

Local developer Danny Karst, his wife, Carla, and Kingsport attorney Todd East have been working since April 2020 to create an $18 million residential development on the site. West Gate will include 76 single-family houses and 16 townhomes.

The latter will be in the $160,000 price range and be approximately 1,500 square feet with a one-car garage. Most of the single-family houses will range from $215,000 to $225,000 and be roughly 1,750 to 2,600 square feet.

“This project has the potential to serve as a model for the redevelopment of former commercial sites, not only in Kingsport but across the country,” said City Manager Chris McCartt.

George Smith, chief engineer and designer on the West Gate development, said the first phase of the project has been completed. The engineering plans have been approved for the second phase, and the third phase plans have been submitted.

“Houses will start going up while we finish phases two and three. It’ll be right around the corner,” Smith said.


The proposed West Gate project would include about 90 single-family homes and townhomes at the former Stonegate Plaza shopping center site. The shopping center, off Stone Drive at the Interstate 26 interchange, was anchored by a Walmart. The company vacated the property prior to 2002, and that portion of the shopping center has remained vacant since.


The housing market in Kingsport — like in many places across the country — is doing rather well. In fact, many local Realtors say the market is unlike anything they’ve ever seen.

In February, Kingsport had more than 600 housing lots in development. Two months later, that number jumped to more than 1,500, according to John Rose, economic development director for the city.

“Kingsport is desperate for housing,” said Vice-Mayor Colette George, who is also the principal owner of Blue Ridge Properties. “We can’t build (houses) fast enough.”

According to the initial plan, D.R. Horton — the largest homebuilder in America — had agreed to purchase all of the lots in the West Gate development as the phases came online with the last one planned for purchase in the June/July 2022 timeframe.

However, due to the current housing market in the U.S., that schedule has been changed.

“They weren’t supposed to take phase two until December or January. I got a call last month. They want it all by Oct. 15,” said Danny Karst. “We were not expecting that, so we’re going to get busy.”

A conceptual drawing of the type of homes to be built in the West Gate development.


Communities across the country are dealing with the same issue as cities in our region: How do you repurpose old big box retailers and large parking lots into new uses? Successful examples found elsewhere include turning such spaces into apartment complexes, public libraries, churches, schools, indoor racetracks and storage facilities.

Figuring out how to repurpose those buildings and parking lots is going to be very important public policy for the future, Fleming said. Using that space for housing could solve two problems at once. It meets a need and it allows for infill development within the city, as was done with the Skyland Falls development, at the old Dixon school site, and in the Ridgeway neighborhood.

“(Infill development) is much more cost effective for the city to provide services. If you can reuse property that’s already near existing housing, then you’re not having to drive miles out to the periphery,” Fleming said. “I applaud developers who are willing to take a risk, being creative, and willing to try this in Kingsport. Every city is facing this, and we’re fortunate we have someone from the private sector who stepped up with a willingness to do it here.”

Matthew / Matthew Lane — mlane@timesnews.net 

Crews have finished the roads and installed the utilities for phase one of the West Gate development at the former Walmart site off West Stone Drive. Below is a conceptual drawing of the type of homes to be built in the development.

Watch now: 2021 Downtown Street Fair draws Fun Fest crowd


KINGSPORT — Art, music and dance filled Broad Street, from the train station to Center Street, for the Fun Fest Downtown Street Fair on Saturday.

Activities began at 10 a.m. and officially concluded with a dance in the streets “cupid shuffle” in the 100 block.

Street performers made up much of the entertainment “busking” style, while more formal presentations included the Knoxville-based African American musical group Indigenous Vibes, the Chinese Lion Dancers from Atlanta, scenes from Lamplight Theatre’s production of “Dreams”; and the Full Gospel Mission Church Community Youth Choir.

Busking included acoustic guitar, Hula-Hoop, balloon art, pottery-making, and salsa dance exhibitions and lessons.

Fire trucks, dump trucks, school buses and other large vehicles were grouped on Main Street near the train station for the child-friendly Touch a Truck event.

“This Fun Fest event is all about inclusivity and diversity,” Downtown Kingsport Association Executive Director Robin Clearly said. “We have different cultural groups represented. There’s a China block, an India block, and an African block, with others mixed in as well. The entertainment has included everything from clogging to the salsa lessons. This event brings out a great cross-section of the community. We have all sorts of folks out here and the entertainment and activities are meant to be an opportunity for people to see and hear some music, dance and other arts they’re not likely to see very often in their daily lives.”

Cleary said turnout for the event was high throughout the day.

Fun Fest schedule for Sunday, July 18



Pre-registration requested

Sponsored by Action Athletics, Kingsport Parks and Recreation

8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Eastman Park at Horsecreek — 2969 Sullivan Gardens Parkway

Registration fees: 12u and 13u/14u-$45/team; Women’s Triples -$45/team; Men’s Doubles-$30/team Coed Doubles-$30/team; Coed Quads and Coed Quads Seniors-$60/team

Deadline to register was July 15


Sponsored by Tennesotan Handmade

11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Kingsport Farmer’s Market


Sponsored by Asbury Place Kingsport

3-8 p.m.

Allandale Mansion



Sponsored by Kingsport

Parks & Recreation

3-6 p.m.

Allandale Mansion


Sponsored by BAE Systems, Friends of Allandale

3-6 p.m.

Allandale Mansion West Barn



Sponsored by City of Kingsport 1-3 p.m.

V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex Field

Registration is on-site and free


Ticket required

Sponsored by Kingsport Press Credit Union, Jim Williams

& Assoc., Taylor Hamilton Insurance, Eastman, Kingsport Heating & Air, Thompson Delivery Services, DMC Auto Body Shop — Dave Couch

2 p.m.

Ross N. Robinson Middle School

Tickets: $10 — general admission; $20 — scholarship tickets



Pre-registration required

Sponsored by Kingsport Parks and Recreation, Action Athletics

6-10 p.m.

Brickyard Park,

2017 Brickyard Park Drive

$100 per team

(double elimination)


Sponsored by First Christian Church

6-7 p.m.

First Christian Church

— 106 E. Charlemont Ave.


Sponsored by Grace

Fellowship Church

7-8:30 p.m.

Allandale Mansion Amphitheater



Sponsored by: Kingsport Art Guild, Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts, William King Museum of Art

July 11 through Aug. 16

Monday-Friday 8 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.- 4 p.m.; Kingsport Renaissance

Center Main Gallery

— second floor



Sponsored by: Archives of the City of Kingsport, Friends of the Archives, Downtown Kingsport Association July 16-24 Various times and locations Pick up forms at Fun Fest Store or Kingsport Public Library


Sponsored by: Kubota

of Kingsport

July 19-July 24

Various locations


(Pre-registration Required)Sponsored by: Partner Industrial, Down to Earth, Hales Chapel Christian Church

1 p.m.-8 p.m. 280 Hales Chapel Road 12 team double-elimination tournament began July 16 Preliminary rounds; Dates subject to change.

TRASHBUSTERSp>Sponsored by:

Appalachian Power

July 17-19; July 21-24 Various locations; 6-8 p.m. 72c61a61b36024a5aada02f39d11f90