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By JENNIFER RAYMOND
It’s official — the Watts Bar Belle is leaving its Kingston dock.
That move was also the basis of a heated debate between two Kingston City Council members at Tuesday’s special-called meeting.
Despite earlier claims that the move was due to the ash spill, general manager Francie Harkenrider claims poor business in general is more to blame.
Harkenrider felt the need to address the issue after reading a press release written by Councilman Brant Williams.
She said that she was misquoted and misrepresented.
Councilwoman Jane DeVall said she is fine with Williams writing press releases as long as it doesn’t say city of Kingston or looks like it represents the city.
“I have never said, on behalf of the city,” said Williams, who said some people were trying to muzzle him.
“My point is, we are a legislative body,” DeVall said. She contended that the release appeared to some that it was from the city itself.
Williams said he will continue to send press releases and people should able to tell the difference.
After hearing that the Belle was leaving, Williams said he tried to come up with ideas to get the boat to stay and spoke to Harkenrider.
That exchange seems to be interpreted differently by both parties.
DeVall said she has a problem with council interfering in a private matter.
“We’re not here to run businesses for private citizens,” DeVall said.
In an e-mail to city council, Williams said, “Recruiting business and working to keep them in Kingston is an important part of a council member’s duty.”
Since the Belle is still leaving, DeVall asked Williams, “Did they think your plan was as wonderful as you? Obviously not.”
Talking continued to turn personal.
“There has yet to be an issue that you have not been an expert on,” DeVall said to Williams.
“And there has yet to be one where you are an expert,” he retorted.
The arguing back and forth stopped after Beets called it quits.
“I personally don’t believe you should have a muzzle on you,” Beets told Williams.
An official date for when the Belle will be leaving has not been determined, Harkenrider said.