In 1928, Johnson City’s government was housed inside City Hall at W. Main and Boone streets. Officials were W.J. Barton, Mayor and City Judge; T.H. McNeil, Recorder and Treasurer; Guy S. Chase, Attorney; Dr. J. T. McFadden, Physician; H.F. Anderson, Commissioner of Finance; S.O. Dyer, Commissioner of Streets; and C.E. Rogers, Superintendent of Schools.
Several items were on the City Commission’s agenda for June 22 that year. First, they signed a contract with the Appalachian District Fair Association for a five-year lease of Keystone Field on E. Main. Second, they signed a contract with Coile and Cardwell, local architects (office located at 8 King Building, 255 E. Main, future Liggett’s Drug Store building) concerning a substantial public school building program. Third, they authorized the Commissioner of Finance to issue short-term notes amounting to about $65,000.
The approval of the contract with the Appalachian District Fair Association leasing Keystone Field for a period of five years completed all plans and negotiations for the fair location. The signing was not a superficial action; it was investigated thoroughly by all members of the Commission and City Attorney Guy S. Chase prior to the meeting.
The reaction to the signing by the town’s citizens was exceedingly favorable. Many people openly expressed their pleasure at the city’s efforts to provide an appropriate venue for the much-anticipated annual fair. The event was expected to attract thousands of people to Johnson City during its scheduled Oct. 16, 17, 18 and 19 run. The contract was perceived as producing a significant economic bonus for the city.
My Jan. 19, 2009 feature article offered some particulars about the school building program that included additions to several Johnson City schools and the building of three new ones: Columbus Powell, New Martha Wilder (renamed Stratton) and New West Side (renamed Henry Johnson).
Concerning the third matter, the Commissioner of Finance, Anderson, explained that the issuance of notes for $65,000 were for the purpose of paying interest of several notes which were due as well as providing funds for the regular monthly school payroll.
Another business matter concerned the placing of a streetlight at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Wall Street near the Carnegie section of town. Property owners in that sector of the city submitted the request because they desired better traffic control in their neighborhood.
The next item on the agenda presented a thorny issue to the commissioners. Representatives of the Johnson City fruit and vegetable concerns complained that the city was overrun with people peddling vegetables and other commodities on the downtown streets without a license. The established vendors argued that they were required to have a permit to sell their wares and this group should be also. They further stated that peddlers were causing unfair completion to downtown merchants and that this oversight robbed the city of needed revenue.
The matter was discussed at length with members of the commission. They vowed they would cooperate with the delegation in finding relief for the local storeowners. Their lively discussion prompted the formation of a committee of four commissioners, appointed by Mayor Barton, to conduct a thorough investigation of the matter and report their findings at the next meeting of the board.
After H.F. Anderson presented regular weekly bills and other routine matters of the commission, the meeting was summarily adjourned.