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A Message from Jonesborough’s Mayor: Town keeps marching forward — despite challenges

Mayor Chuck Vest

In spite of the great challenges our community has faced, we have continued to accomplish projects important to Jonesborough’s future. We will continue to see progress in 2021 and beyond because we all have learned to adapt to this new environment.  

Our town board of Virginia Causey, Adam Dickson, Stephen Callahan and Terry Countermine are accepting and trusting the plans our capable staff are developing for projects and community events. These are so important to the quality of life we all expect but, as importantly, they are important to what we all need from our town.  

We have already successfully held several special events this year such as the sweet Chocolate Fest and well-attended Sip & Stroll.  It is wonderful to see our community walking our streets with smiles and shopping our small businesses. I look forward to seeing and participating in more safe events throughout the year. 

The Mill Springs Park foot bridge, pictured above, is nearing completion. (H&T file photos)

As we closed 2020, we allocated funds for several projects we want to complete this year. The work replacing a foot bridge at Mill Spring Park is almost complete, work on the exterior of the historic Jackson Theatre is coming to fruition and soon will display its marquee, our new Lincoln Park near our senior center is progressing toward completion between the saturating rains, and the planning of improvements for Shell Road is underway.  

We are also coming closer to finalizing the plans for a dog park in Jonesborough. We are studying and debating the best site for its location, which I think illustrates our board’s desire to get the best results.  

Rest assured, when it is all decided we will have a dog park that’s the best in our area and something many will bark in approval of.  

Some additional things I’m excited about are the major planning tasks taking place for our new Jonesborough School project. The design is looking wonderful. Our architecture team at Clark-Nexon has made several intelligent design changes that our design committee has wholeheartedly approved which has improved usability and trimmed cost. One challenge unforeseen has been the increasing cost of building supplies due to the global pandemic but these common sense design changes are helping us shave millions off the cost to build. 

These rising costs will certainly cause our project to challenge our budget to be tighter than expected but conversely the much lower borrowing or interest cost than estimated will save hundreds of thousands for this county and town partnership.  Our staff is also planning for necessary expansion and improvements for our water system.  As we grow our successes, we must also have our infrastructure stay forward leaning. Improvements to Wetlands Waterpark will make that facility more comfortable and safer. 

Our staff is also researching ways to increase revenue while increasing safety by using technology within our concession operations.  It’s my belief a mobile ordering system will make food service easier, faster and safer.  We certainly have more tasks and challenges to meet and surpass but moving forward is the focus of our town government.  

We certainly had many successes in 2020 in spite of the challenges created by the global pandemic. Our town is in a stronger financial position now and is one of my most satisfying accomplishments.  I contribute that to “Shop Local” by our community, our “stay within budget” by our staff and a board that tempers expectations.  

One success I spoke to in 2020 was the timely hiring of experienced town administrator Glenn Rosenoff to replace retiring Bob Browning. This successful transition allowed our town to seamlessly move forward with confidence and move forward without unforeseen costs that often materialize with less than ideal hiring decisions.  

Also, the working partnership observed between our administrator, Operations Manager Craig Ford and Town Recorder Abbey Miller has been very productive and successful.  

Now we find ourselves in the position of again replacing a key, retiring member of that team. Town Recorder Abbey Miller has served our town and community well and helped lead our town to the strong financial position we realize today, and her office’s work has produced numerous clean audits with no findings.  

We begin the search of replacing this key performer but I expect our board to look for another experienced person to fill this important position. I firmly believe recruiting and hiring the right person produces long-term savings and best results so we can avoid a costly mistake but looking for someone with successful experience, leadership skills, financial conservatism and a desire to be in Jonesborough.  

So let’s move through 2021 with confidence as we see new residents, new businesses and new hurdles to leap!  I am proud to serve our community and appreciate the partnership between board members striving to keep Jonesborough one of the most desirable places to live!  Come to a meeting in 2021, second Monday of every month.  

Best to All,

Mayor Chuck Vest.