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Watch now: Gate City policeman pulls colleague from vehicle's path

GATE CITY — A Gate City Police officer potentially saved a fellow officer’s life over the weekend.

On Sunday, Officer Matthew Stewart pulled Officer Jessica McGraw from harm’s way when a car lost control on Highway 23, a news release from the Gate City Police Department said. The car crossed the median and struck McGraw’s patrol vehicle, pushing the car off the shoulder of the road toward the officers. Stewart grabbed McGraw seconds before the car crashed into the patrol vehicle.

“Officer Stewart caught a glimpse of the vehicle coming towards them and was able to react within a moment’s notice to grab McGraw and pull her out of the path of the spinning patrol car,” Gate City Police Chief Justin Miller said in the release. “... It is my belief the quick actions of Officer Stewart not only saved himself from serious bodily injury or death, but also that of Officer McGraw.”

McGraw was conducting a car crash investigation on Highway 23 S at mile marker 6, the release stated, when Stewart responded to the scene upon McGraw’s request.

In the dash camerage footage released by the GCPD, a white car is seen crashing into McGraw’s vehicle after Stewart pulled McGraw away.

Stewart suffered a minor injury, the release stated, after the brush guard on McGraw’s vehicle swiped his leg. Both officers are expected to return to regular duty.

Virginia State Police conducted the accident investigation involving the driver of the white passenger car and the Gate City Police cruiser.

The driver was issued a citation for failure to maintain proper control.

On tap: Water project set for Black Gum Lane and beyond in Scott County

GATE CITY — Scott County aims to provide more access to public water for its citizens who want and need it.

On Wednesday, the Scott County Board of Supervisors approved two resolutions regarding water projects: phase two of the Upper Cliff Mountain water project and the Falin Hollow water project. The former will provide 20 households with public water. The latter will reach five households.

The projects are just two of many on tap for the county.

“All the easy projects have been done,” said Frank Kibler, the senior planner with the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission. “But we’re still finding opportunities.”

The Scott County Public Service Authority website includes 14 water projects that are currently scheduled or seeking user agreements or funding. One of them includes the Black Gum project, which started after wells on Black Gum Lane in Duffield collapsed in November 2019.

The well collapse affected six households on Black Gum Lane. Scott County declared the situation a local emergency in 2020, saying the water issue had created a humanitarian and public health crisis. Scott County Emergency Management provided water for the residents and the Duffield Fire Department hauled water to a collection tank on a weekly or semi-weekly basis. Meanwhile, the Scott County PSA made efforts to seek funding to extend a water line to the area.

Now, the Black Gum project is set to begin next month, with a groundbreaking in the works.

“I’m really pleased (the project is on schedule),” said Selma Hood, the BOS member who represents the Black Gum Lane area in District 6. “That’s one of the main things I want to get done. That is so important. I have such compassion for those people who don’t have water. There will be a great celebration when they get water.”

For now, Kibler said, Black Gum Lane residents will still have to seek their water elsewhere.

“I talked to one guy that is constantly hauling water back to their house,” Kibler said. “We don’t typically have to work with that situation. Far more often it’s, ‘Here’s a viable project. Let’s go talk to these people and put the funding together.’ ”

The well collapse pushed the Black Gum Lane project to the forefront. One holdup, Kibler said, has been the increased costs seen in bids for that project and others.

“The cost of lines, it’s ridiculous how some of these are coming in,” Kibler said. “But this project is so critical. If it was standard, you could wait until next year. A whole lot of people are working to get this Black Gum thing satisfied.”

Phase two of the Upper Cliff Mountain area project, which was approved by the board of supervisors on Wednesday, is an extension of the Black Gum Lane area.

Kibler said the county and the PSA look to utilize $500,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission, $100,000 from the Coalfield Water Development Fund and $30,535 of local funding, in addition to the proposed $440,000 Community Development Block Grant application, to complete the anticipated $1,070,535 total funding package.

The Falin Hollow project is located off Anglers Way Road, near Clinchport.

That project’s resolution includes an application for $110,000 in Virginia Community Development Block Grant funding.

The county and the PSA also expect to utilize $100,000 from the Coalfield Water Development Fund, $140,000 from the Virginia Department of Health and $141,340 from local funding to complete the anticipated funding needs.

For a list of water projects, go to https://scottcountypsa.com/proposed-projects. For more information on the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, go to http://www.lenowisco.org/.

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‘The last of Kingsport’s landmarks’: Rush Street set to close after 41 years

KINGSPORT — After the day is done on Thursday, Oct. 14, Rush Street Neighborhood Grill will close its doors for the last time.

The longtime restaurant owners announced via social media on Wednesday that they have sold the Rush Street property.

The owners could not be reached for comment about the future of the site as of late Wednesday.

“It is with equal parts joy and sorrow that after 41 years of serving our friends in Kingsport,” the announcement said, “we have sold the property that has been the home of The Chicago Dough Company (1980-1990) and Rush Street Neighborhood Grill.”

As the announcement reached the Model City, so did sadness for those hoping to enjoy more years of pizza, salads and camaraderie.

“I’ve been coming to Rush Street for 33 years,” said Judy Cole, a 78-year-old Rush Street customer at the restaurant on Wednesday. “It always reminded me of Cheers. Everyone is just so friendly and personable. We’ve always been like family here.”

Rush Street opened on June 24, 1980, as The Chicago Dough Company. It was the third Chicago Dough Company opened by Chicago natives Mike Feliu and Mike Rose. In December 1989, the Kingsport restaurant went through a major building and menu renovation and evolved into Rush Street Neighborhood Grill.

“Our longevity would not have been possible without our loyal customers and dedicated team,” the social media announcement said. “To our many loyal customers that we see monthly, weekly, and daily, it has been a pleasure getting to know you and your families over the years. I genuinely appreciated your business. To our employees, our success was a result of your hard work and dedication. This past year and a half have been especially challenging and you have stepped up, covering extra shifts and dealing with uncertainty.”

For those working at Rush Street, the closing of the establishment will mark the end of an era in Kingsport.

“When we found out yesterday that the doors were closing for good, I lost my voice,” Rush Street employee Kim Owens-Arnold said. “Longtime employees have stayed here for years upon years. We’ve stuck together, thick and thin.

“Rush Street is the last of Kingsport’s landmarks.”

Memories of the pizza buffet — which the staff still receives phone calls about — live on in the Stone Drive restaurant where years of dinners and lunches have been served. But for employees who have spent numerous years at the eatery, the end of Rush Street is more than just another restaurant closing.

“I’ve been here for 41 years. It’s been my home,” said Jan LeBlanc, the Rush Street sous chef and assistant manager. “We’ve always had such loyal, wonderful customers. We’ve put plaques on the bar where regular customers used to sit, before they passed away. It’s just our remembrance of them.”

Just over an hour before closing on Wednesday, the restaurant saw a flood of locals wanting to enjoy one last meal at Rush Street.

Those wanting to enjoy Rush Street before it closes have until next Thursday. Until then, and beyond, LeBlanc said she hopes the restaurant will be remembered for three things:

“Great food, great fun,” she said, “and great people.”

Rush Street is located at 1229 East Stone Drive. For more information, go to https://www.rushstreetgrill.com/.

Sullivan SWAT team responds as man allegedly threatens to shoot three people
  • Updated

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County SWAT officers converged on a house near Kingsport to take a convicted felon into custody after three people said he threatened to shoot them and “shoot it out” with law enforcement.

Daniel Wesley Middleton, 36, of Kingsport, was arrested Tuesday without incident, according to information released Wednesday morning by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.

Middleton is charged with three counts of unlawful carrying or possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. A warrant charging him with simple assault for do- mestic violence also was served.

Middleton’s bond was set at $10,000 and his next court date scheduled for Oct. 14 during an arraignment Wednesday morning.

Details of the incident leading to Middleton’s arrest, from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office:

• On Tuesday afternoon, a male caller to 911 said another male was threatening to shoot him and two females inside a residence in the 1300 block of Bell Ridge Drive.

• Deputies responded and were able to talk to one female inside the house by telephone.

• She came outside and told deputies Middleton was inside the residence and was in possession of a rifle and a shotgun.

• The second female was able to come out and speak to deputies. She said Middleton was not in the room with her when she came outside to speak with them.

• She told deputies that there was an arrest warrant for Middleton, as he had assaulted her a few days earlier. The victim expressed fear that Middleton would kill her if he knew she was speaking to the officers.

• The victim also stated that Middleton said he would “shoot it out” with law enforcement. Due to the serious nature of this incident and the fact that Middleton is a convicted felon and is on probation in Virginia, the SCSO’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) was activated to bring Middleton into custody.