NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WJHL) – Northeast Tennessee County mayors traveled together to bring regional issues to Nashville in what Gov. Bill Lee called the first for regionalism.
According to a statement from Washington County, Tennessee, the mayors of the following counties have coordinated to represent northeastern Tennessee in Nashville:
“Governor Bill Lee called the trip historic and told the group that this was the first time county mayors from an area had visited Nashville as a cohesive group,” the statement said.
County mayors in the region planned the trip and set agendas to meet with lawmakers.
“Each mayor has had the opportunity to discuss important projects for their counties with the governor and commissioners,” said Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable. “It was very important that we met so many of our lawmakers with the group to discuss county specific issues that benefit the region as a whole.”
The statement said some of the topics covered included economic development in the wake of the pandemic, mental health, tourism, the return of prisoners to the workplace and opioid litigation.
“We have a lot of projects here that will impact across county lines,” Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said in the statement. “When we approached various offices to meet, it raised a few eyebrows. But we approached it with a mutual support program in various projects, and it had a huge impact. I think seeing the seven of us walk into a room made an impact, but seeing us all actively supporting each other is what left an impression.
County mayors also met with a compatriot from northeastern Tennessee, State Comptroller Jason Mumpower.
Commissioners from several state departments met with county mayors during their trip, the statement said.
“We did a lot of ground in two days,” said Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby. “Our tourism discussions, while aimed at bringing groups together for specific events initially, can only help showcase all that our region has to offer. We want people to see our region and want to come back. “
The statement said county mayors hope the visit to Nashville will encourage a quicker response to regional issues and plans.
“It was good for the seven of us to be there together to show a united front for the projects in our counties,” Unicoi County Mayor Garland, “Bubba,” Evely said in the statement. “We went there to meet people who can help us with projects.”
According to the statement, Evely has been in contact with state officials about the progress of a reception center project in Unicoi County that appeared to have stalled.
Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor said in the statement that dealing with the county probation office issue was a key point of his visit. Work at Mountain City has since started to bring the probation office back after the trip.
“This trip had an impact,” said Hawkins County Mayor Jim Lee. “We have raised issues that need to be put back on track, such as funding for radio communications to keep our law enforcement and first responders connected during calls. We want them to remember we’re here in Northeast Tennessee, and we can take a trip to Nashville whenever they forget about us.