Rush Street building awning

The city of Kingsport was incorporated March 2, 1917. On March 3, likely some resident of the new city was heard complaining about some aspect of it. The bellyaching, as we used to call it, continues today, as it does in most places. Some people just aren’t happy unless they’re unhappy about something and sharing their unhappiness with the rest of humanity.

Some are chronic complainers because they feel they’re not being heard. They repeat the negative commentary until someone validates what they have to say, says empowerment speaker and coach Erica Latrice. In the meantime, negative comments about where we live can prove costly, for instance if seen by those seeking to invest in our community.

That’s why it was so refreshing to see Mayor Pat Shull respond to complaints about the recent sale of Rush Street restaurant to a company that owns car washes. Here’s a sample of the negative comments on social media:

• Kingsport needs another car wash like it needs a hole in the head. Provide something more useful and beneficial to the city and the people as a whole.

• How about build something for the younger generations to enjoy?

• Another car wash? Seriously? This has to be the dumbest city I’ve ever seen.

• That’s all Kingsport can bring in. Another car wash.

• They need to put a good restaurant in there.

Who’s “they?” As Mayor Shull pointed out, “city government played no role” in the sale of a private business. “Of course, there is a running joke about the number of car washes in Kingsport. In the free market there is no optimum number of car washes,” the mayor said, much less drugstores, banks, dollar stores and other businesses that seem to have a propensity to pop up in Kingsport.

Thing is, there are as many such businesses as the local economy will support. That’s how free enterprise works. If there’s a void that the local market will support, it will be filled.

• How about some retail stores? Kingsport is moving those out in place of car washes, said another complainer.

Not true. Rather, Kingsport (city government) is doing all it can to keep businesses, especially in the retail sector. And then there’s this comment, which irked Mayor Shull: Kingsport wonders why this city is faltering and failing.

Also not true. Said the mayor, “This is sheer nonsense. Our city is growing — see the last census. We have over 2,000 new homes somewhere in the pipeline. We have amenities like the MeadowView Conference Center, Bays Mountain Park, the Aquatic Center, a new skate park in construction along with a bicycle pump track, etc.

“And what about our school system which is highly rated both within the state and nation? Domtar and Eastman are reinvesting in Kingsport. Our chamber of commerce is simply dynamic and we have numerous volunteers engaged in all types of civic activity. I find it peculiar that a resident of Kingsport would denigrate their hometown with false claims. When someone runs down our city they aren’t talking about buildings, streets, businesses and so forth. They are criticizing people, their fellow citizens,” says Mayor Shull. “People are what make a city. Why would someone do that?”

Good question.

“Productive, useful, fact-based commentary is welcome. Mindless carping is not helpful at all. Kingsport is in competition with every other city in the USA, both large and small, for new business and new citizens. Let’s pull together and stick to the facts,” said the mayor.

Well said, Mayor Shull.

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