Washington County Commissioners are set to vote on a non-binding resolution Monday night “encouraging federal, state and local governments to refrain from assuming a role in private business through COVID-related regulation.”
The resolution says: “Washington County recognizes the challenges inherent in the difficult decisions presented to our legislative delegations in Nashville and Washington D.C., but ask that they refrain from taking up or supporting any executive or legislative action that would regulate private employers with respect to COVID-19.”
The measure was approved by the county’s Health, Education and Welfare Committee earlier this month, with the committee’s chair, Commissioner Jodi Jones, casting the lone “no” vote.
Washington County’s resolution specifically references President Joe Biden’s efforts to implement new Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations mandating that all businesses with more than 100 workers require their employees be vaccinated for COVID or test for the virus weekly.
Officials say the measure will impact about 80 million Americans.
Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy told commissioners last month that he and 55 other county mayors from across Tennessee have drafted a letter to Gov. Bill Lee and state Attorney General Herbert Slatery expressing their objections to the president’s COVID vaccination directive.
Other issues on the agenda Monday when commissioners meet at 6 p.m. in the George P. Jaynes Justice Center include:
• An update on the county’s efforts to shut down the operations of a bitcoin mining company in the Limestone community.
Commissioners voted last month to ask County Attorney Allyson Wilkinson and the county Planning Director Angie Charles to send a letter to Red Dog Technologies and BrightRidge, which owns the property, informing them the cyber-mining operation does not conform with the zoning use that commissioners approved for the site last year.
The commission began addressing the bitcoin mining operation in July after hearing from a number of residents in the Limestone community who said noise coming from the computers and cooling fans used in its bitcoin operation has been non-stop since Red Dog began its operations earlier this year.
Wilkinson told commissioners that because the bitcoin mining operation is not being operated as a public utility, it is not in compliance with the zoning county officials had approved for the site.
Commissioners are also slated to meet in a closed executive session Monday to discuss possible litigation.
• A vote on a resolution to authorize an interlocal agreement between Washington County and the city of Johnson City regarding the preservation and redevelopment of the Ashe Street Courthouse. The resolution also calls for one county commissioner to be appointed to serve as a liaison for the Ashe Street Courthouse project.
Last month, commissioners voted to formally “accept” a feasibility study for the building, which was built in 1910 as a bank and federal post office.
That resolution also called for the County Commission to “endorse the opportunity” to work with the city on using $5 million earmarked by Gov. Bill Lee in the state’s budget for renovations to the Ashe Street Courthouse, which is located at 401 Ashe St.
The Johnson City Commission voted last month to begin renovations on the building that would allow it to be used as both a business incubator and serve as the eastern anchor of the rehabilitated West Walnut Street.
The Ashe Street Courthouse, which features a distinctive Beaux-arts architecture that was a popular style for government buildings constructed in this country between the 1890s and the 1920s, has been vacant since the county’s 911 Emergency Communications District moved to Boones Creek in late 2017.
Unless county officials find a new public use for the former courthouse, its ownership reverts back to the federal government.