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Controversial welcome center under construction

By Angela Yingling
Published On: Dec 24 2013 11:44:23 AM CST
Updated On: Oct 22 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

A groundbreaking ceremony marks the beginning of construction for a new welcome center off Interstate 26 in Kingsport. The project has been underway for a while, but it's not sitting well with neighbors.

KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

A groundbreaking ceremony marks the beginning of construction for a new welcome center off Interstate 26 in Kingsport.

A chance state officials say to welcome visitors to Tennessee.

The project has been underway for a while, but it's not sitting well with neighbors.

"When people come into the state, now they'll know the attractions we have and in the end spend money. We get sales tax and everyone is better off for it," says Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey.

But some people living nearby don't see the benefits, like Larry Jennings.

He lives on Pond Springs Road and was one of the residents who dealt with flooding this spring. Some who live here are blaming construction for the changes to their neighborhood. "My neighbors are like me, they don't like the idea of it being up there," adds Jennings.

At Wednesday’s groundbreaking we asked TDOT's commissioner John Schroer about the problems on Pond Springs Road. "During construction things happen and when we're done things get fixed, so sometimes during construction you may have some run off you might not normally have," says Schroer.

State Representative Tony Shipley is aware of the concerns in the region he represents. Shipley tells us he's been forwarding any information or concerns to TDOT. "I expect the department to step up to the plate and fix that. I can't imagine that not being remediated in some fashion," he said.

While construction continues, some neighbors are bracing to see what comes next. "As far as any good coming out of this project for us, it's all been negative; there's not positives to it," adds Jennings.

The new welcome center is expected to open in the summer of 2015.