Thursday, September 3, 2015

Harris, Sanger to lead Knox Co. BOE

Doug Harris
Congratulations to Doug Harris and Tracie Sanger, the new chairman and vice chairwoman, respectively, of the Knox County Board of Education.

The two were voted in last night during the board meeting. Harris, who served as vice chair the past year, replaces Mike McMillan.

The seats are good for a year.

Harris, after the unanimous vote, said he would serve with "humility," according to Lydia's Twitter account (My Kid My School), and is looking forward to being just one of nine members (except he'll be in charge).

He also noted that he is willing to work with all board members even when they disagree.

Both Doug and Tracie are up for re-election next year. Doug has previously stated that he will not run again. Tracie does from what I understand.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wright to serve as commish chair

Dave Wright
The Knox County Commission appointed Commissioner Dave Wright to lead the 11-member board. Commissioner Bob Thomas will serve as vice chairman.

The vote took place Tuesday during the board’s annual reorganization.

Wright, who represents East Knox County and is up for re-election next year, succeeds Brad Anders, who held the seat two years.He was previously the vice chairman.

“I’d like the commission to have a seamless transition from Brad to me,” Wright said.

The new chairman added that he “has no set agenda,” other than “wanting to take good care of the county’s business.”

Wright said he won’t seek the chairmanship next September when the spot comes open again.
Bob Thomas

The positions generally are symbolic, although the chairman runs the commission meetings and sets the monthly agenda. He or she also oversees the board's three-member staff, determines how the board's public meetings will be handled, and often serves as liaison between the public and the board.

The chair by default also serves on a number of boards, including the Great Schools Partnership and usually the pension board.

Commissioners can hold the seat twice during a term.

The vice chair carries out the chair's duties when he or she is not available and helps run board meetings.

Wright, a longtime Corryton resident, was appointed to the commission in February 2008 and won the 2010 race for the 8th District. He’s a University of Tennessee graduate who earned a degree in management. He also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He later worked for AT&T.

Thomas, an at-large commissioner, was elected to his seat last year. He’s a well-known community figure. At one point during his 30-year career in media, he had the highest-rated midday radio show in America for 16 years, according to his official board bio.

Lunch with Mayor set for Thursday

Looks like the "Lunch with da Mayor" gigs have returned.

The public is invtied to hang and complain with Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Thursday at Sam & Andy's Restaurant in Fountain City (located at 2613 West Adair and has been locally-owned and operated since 1946).

The event - you're paying for your own, buddy, cause the mayor ain't buying it for you - will feature a  lunch special of grilled pork tenderloin and two sides for $7.99. Obviously, you can eat what you want.

The entire menu is available online RIGHT SMACK HERE.

The restaurant accepts cash, credit and debit cards.

Alcohol on tap for non-UT events? Officials to discuss the issue

State lawmakers are expected to push the University of Tennessee into tapping what many believe could be new revenue – by serving beer and wine at big concerts and other non-school related events.

Officials say the university’s ongoing stance against selling alcohol at Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena is hurting the school’s bottom line, and that early estimates suggest UT is missing out on at least $500,000 a year in sales.

State Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, said he plans to meet with UT President Joe DiPietro and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek in the coming weeks to discuss the matter further.

He said top school officials have “talked a lot about the business model at UT being broken,” which means they “can’t continue to implement steep tuition increases.”

Daniel said he’ll ask school officials to “look at all sources of revenue,” including “efficient use of their facilities.”

“Selling beer and wine at non-university events is just part of maximizing the revenue and lightening the load on Tennessee taxpayers,” he said. “We hope the university would take the action on their own. It’s part of the overall picture whether the university is maximizing their facilities.”

The Tennessee General Assembly again in January.

School leaders, however, said they should reach a decision before then.

Cheek said officials began talking about the matter during a retreat last winter, but said the decision ultimately will be up to the university’s Board of Trustees.

Full story RIGHT HERE.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Knoxville in 'Top Towns' finals

After a busy weekend of voting and sharing, Knoxville has beaten Chattanooga to move on to the final round of the Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine's Top Towns contest, according to a release from Visit Knoxville.

The new round of voting starts Monday at noon at

"We were ecstatic this morning when we saw all the voting that had taken place over the weekend. While we were sharing on all of our social media platforms, our friends and fans really took this to heart and we appreciate them," says Visit Knoxville President, Kim Bumpas. "We know what a Top Town we have here. Now we have to overcome Charleston, West Virginia. Please keep voting for Knoxville and, hopefully, we will see you in the November issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine."

When you are voting for Knoxville or sharing the message, please tag @visitknoxville on Twitter or Instagram. We are also on Facebook and Pinterest. Keep voting and remember #knoxrocks

The final championship round will run for TWO weeks from noon on Monday the 31st until 9:00 am on Monday, September 14th. Blue Ridge Outdoors will conceal the percentage results in the final championship rounds and publicly reveal and announce the winners in their November issue.

Some 4th District Knox Co. Commish campaign kick-offs announced

Knox County Commissioner Jeff Ownby, who represents the 4th District, will kick off his re-election campaign 5-8 p.m. Sept. 11 at West Hills Pavilion, according to a note he just sent over.

Donations are not required, but are accepted, he said.

Ownby faces at least two opponents at this point - Janet Testerman, the daughter of former Knoxville Mayor Kyle Testerman, and Hugh Nystrom, the director of Childhelp Tennessee.

All three plan to run in the March 1 Republican primary.

According to local political columnist Georgiana Vines, Testerman, a Scripps Networks manager, will host a kickoff 5:30-8 p.m. at Bridgewater Place tomorrow.

Vines noted that Nystrom will begin holding events later in the fall.

As always, send me your political stuff for publication consideration. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Mayors look in-house for new PBA CEO, board to vote Sept. 15 on pick

The search for a new Knoxville-Knox County Public Building Authority executive director may already have come to an end.

Officials appear ready to appoint the authority’s current director of property management – Jayne Burritt – to the post. The move comes about a week after current and longtime CEO Dale Smith announced he is stepping down as of Jan. 1.

“In a meeting yesterday with both mayors and their staff, they suggested that the board consider Jayne Burritt to be named the PBA administrator effective January 1, 2016,” PBA board Chairman Winston Frazier wrote to board members on Friday. “For now the search committee will stand down, and I look forward to seeing you all at the next scheduled board meeting to discuss this request.”

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero recommend the CEO, but the board makes the final decision.

Burritt joined the PBA in early 2008 and helps oversee security and maintenance for about 1.5 million square feet of facilities, including parking garages, World’s Fair Park and the City County Building. She is over roughly 100 employees and a $12 million budget.

Prior to working for the PBA, she managed corporate real estate for First Tennessee Bank and was a facilities manager with CB Richard Ellis, and has 20 years of experience in property management.

“I’m extremely excited,” she told 10News. "I’m honored that they would want me to take that role. It’s key to work with our clients – the city and county – and I’ve been fortunate to be able to work alongside their efforts.”

Burritt said she wanted to continue aligning the authority’s goals with the two governments to “work along with them and support whatever they want.”

She said right now the city has put an emphasis on downtown street enforcement and the county has picked up more facilities that the PBA is managing, so she will also focus on those efforts.

She added: “Property management is a core we want to build on. My goal is to keep that up and improve it.”

The 11-member board will vote on her appointment at its next meeting Sept. 15.

Smith told 10News on Friday: "I am really pleased that Jayne has been endorsed by both mayors. She is a great leader and manager."

Officials to launch 'Purple Out Day'

Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond will launch the inaugural statewide "Purple Out Day" campaign in Knox County benefiting Alzheimer's Tennessee, a non-profit organization.

Hammond and a number of top local elected county officials will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Monday at the City County Building to talk more about the initiative and how the community can participate.

Read the news release right HERE.

City Council forum set for Sept. 8

My main man, news anchor John Becker, will moderate the political forum for the upcoming Knoxville City Council races.

It will take place 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church, 546 College Street. All candidates for City Council have been invited to participate. (early voting begins the next day by the way).

The event is sponsored by WBIR 10News, the Knoxville/Knox County League of Women Voters, the NAACP, the Knoxville Interdenominational Christian Ministerial Alliance, and some newspaper no on reads anymore.

Following the forum, the public is invited to meet the candidates from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. A Voter's Guide, with questions answered by City Council candidates, will be available. For more information go to or

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Midway Business Park plan returns

I think we all knew it would come back - the Midway Business Park. This time, it will more than likely pass the Knox County Commission. But, it's going to take awhile. Months. Maybe a year before it gets to a final vote.

Here ya go:

When Grace Brooks looks out from her backyard, she enjoys a commanding view of the Smoky Mountains.

It's a view she says is perfect, just the way it is.

That's why a new proposal worries her – one that could lead to construction behind her rural home, and potentially obstruct her view.

"I'd hate to lose it," said Brooks. "I have no idea what they'd like to build over there."

Years ago, the Development Corporation of Knox County bought about 300 acres in the eastern corner of the county, near Strawberry Plains just off I-40. They planned to build the Midway Business Park there. However, the project didn't have enough support from the county commission and it met fierce resistance from those living in the area.

Now, they're trying again. A concept map has been released.

"It would mean, ultimately, thousands of jobs and a tax base for Knox County that would help everyone that lives here" said Todd Napier, of the Development Corp.

Rest of story RIGHT HERE.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Zachary to be sworn in at church

The Knox County Commission on Monday (during its regularly scheduled voting meeting at the City County Building) will appoint Jason Zachary to the 14th District state House seat, since the Republican has no opposition in the general election. He will then be sworn-in at 6:30 p.m.

That will take place at First Baptist Concord on Kingston Pike. Speaker of the House Beth Harwell will do the honors.

Smith stepping down from PBA in Jan.

Dale Smith
Dale Smith, the long-time Knoxville-Knox County Public Building Authority executive director, is stepping down at the beginning of next year.

His last day will be Jan. 1.

Smith told WBIR 10News on Thursday he's stepping down for a number of reasons.

"It's a personal decision because at this point in my life I've been running the building for 15.5 years, and that's a long time," Smith, 61, said. "I also think it's better for the PBA to let my successor choose who runs property development. It's certainly important that the CEO and that person are on the same page."

Jeff Galyon, the authority’s former director of property development, resigned in June under a cloud of controversy.

Smith, who joined the PBA in March 2000, earned $194,000 in salary and oversaw almost 130 employees and a $12 million budget. The budget mostly covered property management, like maintenance and security throughout the local government-owned facilities. The budget is jointly funded by the city and county.

The PBA’s 11-member board of directors is expected to begin a nationwide search to fill the position in the coming months. Smith also is expected to help with the search.

The Porch wishes Dale well on his future endeavors, although I suspect he will be fine.

Rest of story HERE.