Council discusses Freedom Fest, coal house

Published 8:49 am Thursday, August 23, 2018

The annual Freedom Fest held by Vets Serving Vets of Bell County was originally going to be held in Pineville. Due to inclement weather, the event has been postponed until Saturday and will now be held in Middlesboro at the city parking lot.

Doug Bayless of Vets Serving Vets attended the Middlesboro City Council meeting on Tuesday to address the council about the logistics of the event.

“We worked with Middlesboro Main Street, and they’re going to let us use the Levitt stage for a concert this Saturday,” said Bayless.

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There are plans to have a motorcycle ride at 10 a.m. from the parking lot. The area of Cumberland Avenue that is blocked off every Thursday for the Levitt show will also be blocked off for food vendors and other activities.

Since the change in location was short noticed, Bayless wanted to be certain everything would be copacetic for the council as far as blocking off the street and having the cooperation with the Middlesboro Police Department.

The council had no issues with the plans of the events, and Mayor Bill Kelley noted that the first thing to do in coordinating an event such as this is to go to the police department first.

The Freedom Fest registration will begin at 10 a.m. and will officially kick-off at noon.

In other news regarding Vets Serving Vets, there are early talks of the organization using the old coal house located on 20th Street. The chamber has since moved their location to the Alexander Arthur Museum, leaving the coal house vacant. While nothing is in any way set in stone, there are early talks of either Vets Serving Vets utilizing the space. The Bell County Historical Society also has interest in it — possibly for a railroad museum.

Kelley noted that the city owns the building.

“We need to look into the legality of the rent,” stated Kelley. “I would have liked to have seen the historical society maybe be able to use it, but I’m not sure it’s large enough for them. The problem is working out whose going to pay the bills and maintain.”

This will be an ongoing development.