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Senior Center tops list of town’s must-haves

Finishing the old and moving forward to the new seems to be the 2015 theme for the Town of Jonesborough.
“To me, the new year is a time to evaluate successes and failures and to go through and take and inventory of where you stand,” said Mayor Kelly Wolfe, recently re-elected for another two years.
The successes have been plentiful, town officials believe — from the opening of the new Boone Street Market to the final upgrade of the wastewater treatment system — but they also believe there is little time to rest and admire.
“You do reflect back occasionally, like the former Exxon Station site, and say ‘This looks really good,’” said Town Administrator Bob Browning. “You do that on the way by, but that’s all the time you have to think about it.”
First on the list for the town is the completion of several ongoing projects.
“On top for my list is finishing the Senior Center,” Wolfe said.
Browning agreed. The original plan called for completion of the center at the end of this month, but weather and other delays mean “that’s not going to happen,” he said.
“We’ve been pushing to get the roof on,” Browning said. “Obviously, it’s going to be completed in 2015, but now we’re looking at late spring to summer.
Walkways are another high priority for the town, Vice Mayor Terry Countermine said.
“I’m looking forward to these walkways,” Countermine said, referring to the plans — now in its second phase — for finishing up two town walkway projects. “We’ve been working toward that for a long time. To be able to go from Wetlands to the school — that will be good.
“There are a lot of people who really like to walk. And there are a lot of people from out of town that drive to Jonesborough and walk because it’s safe.”
Though seen as a success in 2014, Countermine is also looking forward to working with Jonesborough Locally Grown to witness continued growth and enhancement of the Boone Street Market.
“The market is off and growing,” he said. “When you think of how that corner used to look . . ”
The growth of other downtown businesses is on the 2015 checklist as well.
“If you’re a merchant, whether you’re on the four-lane or downtown, the economy is in good shape, but it’s still fragile in nature,” Browning said. Customers can still be found bypassing Jonesborough to shop in Johnson City, and that needs to change, he added.
“We’re working at some initiatives to get people more tuned in and to look at retail mix and business opportunities.”
Main Street Director Melinda Copp is proving a tremendous resource in this endeavor, according to Countermine.
“We’ve made some progress, but we’ve got to get a couple more stores and fill those empty storefronts,” he said. “The Main Street Project is one of the things this year that can really help it take off.”
Alderman Adam Dickson is looking forward to seeing Jonesborough continue its tradition of giving, but in a new way.
“For me personally, I’d like to see the Community Chest become a developed entity where we can help our neighbors,” Dickson said of the community-based effort to bring various area agencies together to serve the people of Jonesborough and its surrounding communities.
“I’d also like to see the McKinney Center continue to become a viable, sustainable entity. The arts are so important to our young people.”
Other upcoming projects include:
Jackson Theatre: Browning said the planned theatre project for downtown Jonesborough is moving along. “We’ve finished asbestos removal,” he said. “They’re supposed to test (this week.) “ After that is interior demolition, blueprints, construction – and the continued procurement of needed finances. While it may not be complete in 2015, the hope is that it will be well on its way.
Jonesborough Parks: A special park located near the new senior center at the currant city garage is on the horizon, though the garage must be first relocated. Landscaping, with the help of inmate labor, must be completed for the new Golden Oak Park, as well on other sites throughout town, including the McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School.
Jonesborough Parking: Town officials plan to continue working on parking in 2015, both for the new Senior Center and for the already established McKinney Center. “We all hoped the McKinney Center would do well,” Countermine said. “It has.” But now visitors are finding there isn’t enough space to park.
Shell Road and more: We’ve got a project over on Shell Road,” Browning explained. “It’s another one we’ve talked about.” The goal for Shell Road, which meets Persimmon Ridge Road, is to help straighten it out and add turn lanes. “It will make the intersection much more safe,” Browning added. “We want to get that finished as quickly as possible.” That type of attention, according to Wolfe, will extend to all Jonesborough roads in 2015.
Chuckey Depot: The new train museum site in Jonesborough may soon be a reality. “We’re poised to begin our Chuckey Depot restoration project (at) Second Avenue,” Wolfe said. “
At the end of 2015, Wolfe is hoping all its citizens will be able to say, “We’ve got a Senior Center that everybody is very proud of. We’ve continued to pave the roads that need to be paved. We’ve continued to replaces water lines. And we have further success zoning our water system.”
All of this is what adds to Jonesborough’s quality of life.
“Citizens feel very fortunate to live here and continue to be very pleased (with the progress.) I think that’s why people move here,” Countermine said. “I think it’s going to get better.”