NEWPORT—On Tuesday, the City of Newport’s Board of Mayor and Alderman took a huge step forward when they voted to accept a lease agreement between the city and Walters State Community College to establish a campus in Newport. The campus will be located inside the Tanner building.
The council did not have a lengthy agenda to tackle and was only in session for a mere 30 minutes. All board members were present.
Walters State Campus in Newport
Under New Business on the agenda, City Administrator James Finchum told council members that the city and county have tried for several years to establish a Walters State campus in Newport, but there was not a proper location.
New space in the Tanner Building that is currently being renovated has become available, and Walters State expressed interest in using some of that space according to Finchum.
The renovations to the Tanner building were made possible by an Appalachian Regional Commission grant that was awarded to the City of Newport in late 2017.
Several city and county officials as well as a number of representatives from Walters State Community College were present during the announcement.
“This is a tremendous opportunity.” Cocke County Partnership President Lucas Graham stated. “From an Economic Development perspective this is essential for us to move forward.”
The motion to accept the lease agreement passed unanimously.
Other business items
A motion to change River Road and River Street to Water’s Edge failed on Tuesday night.
The vote was 3-2 against the change, with Aldermen Bobby Knight, Mike Hansel, and Vice Mayor Mike Proffitt opposing the name change.
Finchum advised also advised the council that Newport Fire Chief Randy Ragan has announced he will be retiring in April after working at the fire department for 30 years.
The City of Newport has started the process of filling Ragan’s position.
Finchum gave the council several options on how to proceed with the interview process and they agreed to have a called City Council meeting on Monday, March 2 to allow candidates to speak to council members. The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Newport City Hall.
Chief of Police Maurice Shults told alderman he has received complaints about roadblocks at the intersection in front of Walgreens. Chief Shults said the complaints have been made that people under 18-years-old have been standing in the road, which is against the law, and people have been seen not wearing safety vests.
Chief Shults said he has altered the guidelines for roadblocks that will solve these problems.
Council also voted to allow a City of Newport employee to use accumulated early retirement time. According to Chief Shults one of his employees will be having surgery soon that will require lengthy recovery time.