Historic passing of gavel in Bristol, Virginia

BRISTOL, Va. - A historic passing of the gavel for the City of Bristol, Virginia.

The city has its first woman as mayor.

Catherine Brillhart has been a member of city council since 2012 and served as vice-mayor over the last year.

She told us she feels like she's learned the ropes and she's ready to help the city move forward.

"I'm still getting used to the title," smiled Brillhart.     

Mayor Catherine Brillhart said she is ready and willing to work closely with the community.

"I feel like I'm a good listener and very detailed," said Brillhart. "When I have concerns from our citizens I really take it to heart and try to get responses back and try to alleviate concerns that they have."     

She has a degree in Business Management and worked in banking for 13 years.
And she's looking forward to seeing the Falls development at Exit 5 progress. Brillhart believes it will provide a gateway to downtown.

"We have great economic development downtown, we have the Birthplace of Country Music Museum that will be opening the first of August Sessions Hotel which was just announced not long ago and the Studio Brew downtown," said Brillhart, who also spoke highly of the new Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant and the people it is bringing to downtown.
Brillhart said the goal is to fill vacant buildings and upgrade other structures, but in keeping with the historic feel.

However, with more traffic comes the issue of parking.

"We're going to also need to look at our parking situation again," said Brillhart. "We did a parking study about a year ago and found out we do have adequate parking for now but we do need to take some measures to improve our parking signage as well as directional signage.  We also we be bringing in some new parking spaces on Cumberland Street in front of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum."
Also on Brillhart's radar is education.

"Education is a high priority for me," said Brillhart. "I've been promoting early education through the Smart Beginnings of Virginia Highlands initiative."

As the mother of two boys, Mayor Brillhart says early education is the key to helping the next generation succeed.

"Of course it would alleviate many of our concerns such as safety, poverty and unemployment in our community."

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