KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Kingsport City Manager John Campbell is retiring at the end of June, but city leaders did not have to look far to find his replacement.
some of you may already know new Kingsport City Manager Jeff Fleming.
In fact, Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips would be surprised if you didn't. "I kind of feel like more people know Jeff than know the mayor, so it's kind of awkward to talk about him," said Phillips.
Fleming is a Kingsport native and has been working for the city since his college days. "I've been here 29-and-a-half years," Fleming told News 5.
In fact, Fleming is eligible for retirement, but thought he could still help his hometown. The board of mayor and aldermen agreed, officially naming him city manager Tuesday, May 6.
"We know what we're getting with Jeff. We know his strong points, we know his weak points. Let me tell you, we made a good choice in Jeff Fleming," said Phillips.
Jeff Fleming doesn't have grandiose plans for the Model City, and since the Tennessee legislature slowed down annexation, he says it's time to stay the course. "We're going to take a breath, we're going to make sure to provide the services we've promised to provide on the timeframe we promised to provide them," said Fleming.
This does not mean a stop to change. Fleming said that Eastman Chemical is trying to bring " global talent" to Kingsport. "When you have lived all over the world and are accustomed to a certain level of amenities, you expect that there will be similar options here. Housing is one of them. Recreational opportunities," he said.
That means a continued focus on the heart of the city. "The millennials are very, very interested in downtown, " said Fleming. "They are interested in craft breweries, in loft living, and so it is more than just an emotional historical connection. It's an economically significant initiative. We're going to continue to invest in downtown Kingsport," he said.
Plus, a push to make sure anyone driving through has a smooth trip. "We're going to be doing the most aggressive paving in the region will happen this summer in Kingsport. The board of mayor and aldermen has made a commitment to that," said Fleming.
Fleming will start his new duties as city manager July 1.