Thursday, October 31, 2013

Funeral services for Officer Munson set, public welcome to show support

Officer David Munson
The funeral service for Knoxville Officer David Munson will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, November 1, 2013, at Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church, 4615 Asheville Highway.

Interment will follow in Atchley’s Seymour Memory Gardens, 122 Peacock Court (behind Atchley Funeral Home in Seymour).  The procession is expected to leave the church at approximately 12:15 p.m. and will take the following route:
  • West on Magnolia to Hall of Fame
  • South on Hall of Fame to Howard Baker Jr. 
  • East on Howard Baker Jr. to Hill Ave.
  • South on Hill then across the South Knox Bridge to Moody
  • West on Moody to Chapman Hwy
  • South on Chapman Hwy to grave site
Members of the community are welcome to show their support during the procession.  Knoxville Police Department employees who are unable to attend the service will show their support as the procession passes by the Safety Building.

The Knoxville Fire Department will display the American Flag from their ladder trucks behind the Safety Building on Hill Avenue. The community also needs to be advised that traffic will be briefly stopped to allow the passing of the procession. 

Jenkins to run for Circuit Ct judge

I'm a little late on this one, but Knoxville attorney and former Knox County GOP chairman Ray Jenkins announced that he will seek the office of Judge of the Knox County Circuit Court - Division I to succeed Judge Dale Workman who recently announced his plans to retire.

“I have a varied and diverse practice as well as an extensive background in business and government service," Jenkins said in a released statement. "I believe this experience uniquely qualifies me to serve as Circuit Court Judge.  Judge Workman has established a legacy of public service to Knox County that not only includes 24 years on the bench but also as Knox County Law Director.  His example is one I hope to emulate if elected to succeed him.”

Jenkins in a news release said he will file the necessary paperwork to name a treasurer and qualify for the race at the appropriate time.

The Republican Primary is set for May, and the general election is set for August.

Friday's 'Lunch with Mayor' at Kay's

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett continues his quest to eat everyone with everyone. The office will host another lunch with the mayor on tomorrow, this time at Kay's Ice Cream at 6200 Chapman Highway in South Knoxville, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Obviously, El Cheapo isn't paying, so bring your own coin. And also note, that Kay's doesn't accept checks, credit or debit cards. kay's, which is locally owned, will offer specials during the luncheon.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trustee stage set: Leuthold v Shouse

Two long-time local leaders on Wednesday set up the beginning stages in a fight for the county’s top tax collector seat.

Knox County Commissioner Ed Shouse announced his intentions to seek the Trustee seat, and interim Trustee Craig Leuthold turned in his paperwork to appoint a campaign treasurer.

“The main role of Trustee is collecting and investing the county’s tax dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars a year, so having someone with a business and financial background, like myself, makes sense,” said Shouse, an at-large commissioner, and former Knoxville City Council member.

Shouse, who serves on the county’s audit committee, pension board and investment committee, spent 20 years in the banking industry followed by 17 years in the shortline railroad industry.

He will face Leuthold in the May republican Primary. The general election is set for August.

Leuthold is a former a two-term commissioner, who spent 16 years in the Trustee’s Office and more than two years in the Property Assessor’s Office.

“I’ve got 19 years experience in the property tax profession and I think that when people call in and have concerns they want someone with knowledge and experience, and I can help with questions and concerns,” he said. “I think that’s invaluable.”

The Knox County Commission in late July appointed Leuthold to fill out the remainder former Trustee John Duncan III’s term, which ends Aug. 31. Duncan resigned and pleaded guilty to official misconduct in early July.

Leuthold and Shouse were among 26 applicants who applied for the job. But Shouse pulled out, saying he didn’t want the community to feel that he got the job because he was on the commission.
The board then selected Leuthold.

The Trustee is the county’s top tax collection. The position pays about $113,000 annually and is responsible for 30 to 45 employees depending on tax season.

Commish Shouse to seek Trustee seat

Ed Shouse
This is going to be a good one. Knox County Commissioner Ed Shouse just announced his intentions to see the county Trustee seat.

“The main role of Trustee is collecting and investing the county’s tax dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars a year, so having someone with a business and financial background, like myself, makes sense,” said Shouse, an at-large commissioner, and former Knoxville City Council member.

Shouse, who serves on the county’s audit committee, pension board and investment committee, spent 20 years in the banking industry followed by 17 years in the shortline railroad industry.

He is expected to face interim Trustee Craig Leuthold in the May republican Primary. The general election is set for August.

Shouse expressed interest in the position in July when he initially applied for the job along with 25 other applicants to replace John Duncan III, who resigned and pleaded guilty to official misconduct.

Although a frontrunner for the spot, he eventually pulled out saying he didn’t want the community to feel that he got the job because he was on the commission.

The Knox County Commission then selected Leuthold, a former commissioner, who spent years working in the trustee's office and the property assessor's office.

The Trustee is the county’s top tax collection. The position pays about $113,000 annually and is responsible for 30 to 45 employees depending on tax season.

Visit Knoxville to host open house, display Gustin photos this Friday

Knox County bad a$$ photographer and county IT guy Jon Gustin's photos will be on display at the Visit Knoxville Offices, starting Nov. 1. The display is part of the open house kick off event hosted by the tourism group, beginning on First Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Stop by and check them out!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No wonder some folks want to audit the criminal court clerk's office

Bad a$$ expensive chair
So, I keep hearing all these rumors about how Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey doesn’t have enough coin in her budget to replace some office chairs. 

Well . . . . .  maybe if someone in that office wasn’t out buying $1,400 chairs there would be enough money. 

Yeah, no kidding. You see, according to county receipts, someone laid down almost $2,840 for two Keilhauer Response 865 office chairs.

They were ordered in February 2012. You can find the receipts, right smack here

In addition, someone in the office earlier this year opted to spend roughly $2,000 on a Maytag refrigerator.  

Now, I’m no expert in chairs, but $1,400 sounds like a bunch. Can’t you buy like a whole “room” at Rooms to Go for a couple grand?

Anyhoo, I saw these bad a$$ Leather Executive Massage Chairs with a 5-Motor Massage – right smack here – for $141.95 each. 

But, if you buy three or more you can get them for $131.95. Now, discounting taxes, that’s like 21 chairs. And they massage!

Now, perhaps someone in the office needed an ergonomic chair because they had back surgery. OK. Point taken. Now why do you need two of them? - That's your one freebie Gervin.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ex-Criminal Court Clerk worker hires attorney, possible lawsuit on way

Richard Collins, the attorney for former Knox County Criminal Court Clerk worker Sara Helms released the following statement today:

My firm was recently retained to represent Sara in connection with her September 27, 2013 discharge from the Knox County Criminal Clerk’s Office. Sara worked for Knox County for over thirteen years.

She was a dedicated employee, who had recently been promoted to serve as the Courtroom Clerk for Division I (Judge Sword). Sara had every expectation of enjoying a long career with the County but was abruptly fired by Joy McCroskey, the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk.

While our investigation is on-going, we can say that Ms. McCroskey gave no details behind the termination decision, save for the vague assertion that some of Sara’s courtroom “minutes” were inaccurate.

To be clear, we categorically deny any suggestion that my client was responsible for the mismanagement of the clerk’s office generally or the recent controversies over false arrests and other misconduct.

Judge Sword observed Sara’s work performance firsthand and, to our knowledge, never complained about Sara’s performance of her official duties.

Frankly, almost daily the circumstances surrounding Sara’s termination grow more and more suspicious. Not only was she a good employee, internal policies regarding progressive discipline were ignored.

Given the timing of events, one cannot escape the conclusion that Ms. McCroskey was motivated by the negative publicity her office was facing and continues to confront.

Duncan retirement talks cost $568

For what it’s worth. Looks like one of the county pension board’s law firms billed the board some $568 in September as officials figured out just how much of his retirement former Knox County Trustee John Duncan III should get back.

At this point, it looks like he’ll get back all the money he put in. However, the coin from the county match will go into an escrow account (where it will still lose or gain) for now. If Duncan, who pleaded guilty to felony official misconduct in July, completes the terms of judicial diversion, then he’ll get the rest.

If not, then, well, no.

Here’s a look at the receipts from attorney Bill Mason of Kennerly, Montgomery and Finley:

Sept. 11: Billed for 30 minutes to the tune of $55.50 for an office consultation with Bill Mason, regarding “J. Duncan’s guilty plea to official misconduct and whether plea would result in forfeiture of retirement plan benefit.”

 Sept. 11: Billed for a one hour telephone conference with Pension Board Executive Director Kim Bennett for $285 regarding his withdrawal and rollover in his retirement plan, which is somewhat like a 401(k). According to the notation, the two discussed “the reimbursement of county and forfeiture provisions applicable for a felony conviction involving official county duties. There was also an office conference regarding “criminal law and status of the case and judicial diversion.” There also was a telephone conversation with Knox County Law Director Bud Armstrong about “county position on the charter forfeiture provisions.” And a telephone conference with Bennett regarding “further email from J. Duncan re follow up on same.”

Sept. 12: Billed $228 for 80 minutes. Apparently, the attorney reviewed the email from Duncan to Bennett. Attorney also drafted email from Bennett and Armstrong confirming the discussion from the previous day, and “with proposed response to J. Duncan re forfeiture provisions. Review her email to J. Ducan re same.”

Sunday, October 27, 2013

McCroskey not expect to say too much

Joy McCroskey
Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey during Monday’s County Commission meeting is expected to address the board to talk about the problems in her office.

Now, there’s a lot of folks out there drooling, just waiting for what she says, expecting some fireworks.

However, if she sticks to script (and I’m not telling you who helped her with it), then she is going to say very little. She will briefly address the board and she will not take questions (there’s liability reasons, and, quite frankly, it’s not in her personal best interest). That’s if she sticks to script.

Do not expect a whole lot of noise from Commissioner Mike Hammond, who has announced his intentions to take on Joy in May’s Republican primary, during the meeting. After it? That’s a different story.

The Audit Committee on Tuesday will more than likely agree to recommend to the commission to audit the department. (Whatever that means.) The News Sentinel will then send out 9 million text alerts treating this “breaking” news like a Mafia hit. Heh.

Keep in mind, if the committee does make the recommendation – it’s just that, a recommendation. The commission will make the final decision and that won’t come until mid-November (since it’s a holiday month). 

It will then take about six months to audit the office. At least.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Errors impacting some Knox voters

The fallout continues from mistakes made in the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's Office. Here's the latest from the WBIR investigation, right smack here, that talks about how some of the mistakes are affecting voters.

Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey did not return calls seeking comment yesterday. I imagine if she did, she would have someone to blame, perhaps the cleaning lady, for the mistake. On Monday, she's supposed to clear her name during the Knox County Commission meeting. From what I understand she's going to use documents from her office to do this. I'll leave it at that, other than to say that she'll probably blame everyone else for the problems, as well, as the media conspiracy and political motivations from her opponent.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Court clerk facing more challenges

Yesterday evening (and before anyone else - heh), we put out our latest story into the investigation of the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's Office, one that touches on department head Joy McCroskey's frequent absenteeism, County Commissioner Mike Hammond's political bid to challenge her, and commission Chairman Brad Anders' request that she attend Monday's board meeting.

The story also includes a timeline of the WBIR investigation. You can find the bad a$$ report, right smack here.

I did want to note that with all the recent reporting, it should be pointed out that the office, which includes Sessions Court, Fourth Circuit Court and Criminal Court, does have some good employees in it. I think that often gets lost. Now, I'm not sure if they're too fond of the media right now, but my experience with the employees has always been positive, and the folks who were there have always been pleasant.

I do, however, think that there are a number of employees who do need more training. I think some have been thrown into new jobs and are expected to know everything right away. The office also needs an upgrade, at least into the 1990s. I think I saw a stone tablet and chisel the last time I was done there.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hammond seeks Criminal Court seat

Mike Hammond
Knox County Commissioner Mike Hammond, a former board chairman and longtime local radio personality, announced his intentions Wednesday morning to run for the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's seat.

The move comes in the wake of a WBIR Channel 10 investigation that has unveiled a series of problems inside the office that officials are now calling a systemic problem that has led to wrongful arrests, wrongfully revoked driver's licenses, and unwarranted convictions.

Hammond, long rumored to run for the position, said he will talk more about his qualifications and outline his plan during his official kickoff late next month at Calhoun's.

"I have for some time been considering a run for the office of the Clerk of Criminal Courts and had set Nov. 20 as the start of my campaign," he said. "I am today formally announcing that I will be a candidate for the office of Knox County Clerk of Criminal Courts in the May 2014 Republican Primary. At my campaign kickoff November 20th at 4:30 pm at Calhouns on the River, I will outline my vision for the office and how it can better serve the citizens of Knox County."

McCroskey, who has denied many of the allegations brought to her, first took office after her predecessor Martha Phillips passed away. She was elected in 2010.

She is over Fourth Circuit Court, General Sessions, and Criminal Court.

McCroskey operates what the county calls a "fee office," meaning it's supposed to be self-sustaining. Any money it receives covers $494,000 in monthly payroll, including benefits, and the rest is turned over to the county's general fund to help maintain overall day-to-day operations.

More on Criminal Court Clerk Dept

I always mean to do this the day before, but whatever. As we reported yesterday, the fallout in the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's Office continues as we continue our investigation into the department.

Yesterday we again scooped the competition (hey, they started it with all this "scoop" this and "scoop" that crap), with a story touching on errors and their effects on driving records and the move to dismiss more than 100 traffic citations because of the mistakes. You can find that bad a$$ story, right smack here.

We also had a sidebar that talks about a pretty key contradiction. I mean really, don't make up stuff on a camera and expect not to get caught. Right smack here for that one.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Buswell to serve as senior director

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett announced today that Knox County Veterans Service Officer Robert “Buzz” Buswell will take over as interim director of Knox County Veterans and Senior Services. 

“Buzz has done an outstanding job serving the veterans and taxpayers of this community, and I am very confident that he will continue to work hard and be successful in this new position,” said Mayor Burchett.

In addition to his new duties, Buswell will continue to work with Deputy Veterans Service Officer Tom Humphries to ensure that Knox County’s veterans continue to have access to the benefits and services they have earned.

Buswell replaces Hemal Tailor who quit under pressure last week.

Judges to meet about errors/arrests

Probably should have done this yesterday, but just another update in the continuing saga of what's going on in the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's Office. We talked to officials yesterday, and the county's sessions judges are expected to meet again on the matter. Also, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones spoke out about the WBIR investigation about errors leading to wrongful arrests.

Click right smack here for that bad a$$ story. In the meantime, a head nod goes out to the Knoxville News Sentinel, crediting us with the investigation during today's story, which you can find right smack here (but can only read if you've got the coin to cover the pay wall). When I was with the Sentinel, we worked on a number of stories that WBIR noted, so that's cool.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Officials: Errors leading to arrests

If you didn't catch if over the weekend, then click right smack here for our "Wrongful Arrests" story and the sidebar in which two of the defendants speak out.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Henley Bridge reopens in few hours

Finally. Tonight. Da Bridge opens. From WBIR: After being closed for almost three years, the Tennessee Department of Transportation will reopen the delay-plagued Henley Bridge on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 12:01 a.m.

TDOT Commissioner John Schroer announced the bridge will initially reopen one lane in both directions. However, bike lanes won't be open until the final completion date which is June 3, 2014.

Schroer said the bridge is structurally ready for traffic and that remaining work will mostly be aesthetics.

TDOT also announced the estimated cost of the project remains unchanged at $31 million.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett tweeted this pic earlier today

The Henley Bridge closed back in January 2011. Within the first year, two workers were killed working on the project, causing construction to temporarily shut down. Later, TDOT announced crews would need to replace three of the large concrete pier columns, pushing the completion date into 2014.

Knoxville expands benefits to include domestic partners, world to end

This just in from Knoxville Mayor Rogero's office.

The good mayor today said the city is expanding its employee benefits to include benefits for qualified domestic partners. Beginning Jan. 1, employee medical, dental, vision and dependent life benefits will be extended to same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners.

"Last year, we expanded our employee nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This change in our benefits ensures that we are treating everyone fairly," Mayor Rogero said. "It will help us attract and retain the best City of Knoxville employees, regardless of their domestic situation."

City staff created the domestic partnership benefits after researching similar benefits offered by about a dozen other cities and organizations including the governments of Durham, N.C., Covington, Ky., Louisville, Ky., and Indianapolis, as well as Maryville College.

To be eligible for domestic partner benefits, an employee must fill out an affidavit about their committed relationship and show proof of financial interdependence (per criteria outlined in the affidavit).

Because the change is an administrative one, it does not require a vote by City Council. Employees can begin signing up for 2014 benefits during the city's annual enrollment period, which begins Oct. 23rd.

Based on the experiences of other cities and organizations, the City Finance Department estimates the new benefits may cost about $60,000 a year, which will be absorbed into the City's current annual benefits budget of approximately $13 million.

For non-married couples, domestic partner benefits may be treated as taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service. Employees interested in the benefits should research and consider the tax implications.

Among the other local employers that offer domestic partner benefits are: Alcoa, AT&T, Bank of America, Best Buy, Boeing, Comcast, Costco, EW Scripps Co. (Knoxville News Sentinel), First Tennessee Bank, Home Depot, JC Penney, Kimberly-Clark, Kroger, Office Depot, Regions Bank, Scripps Interactive Networks, Sears, Sprint, SunTrust Bank, Target Corp., UPS, Verizon, Waste Management, and Wal-Mart (beginning in 2014).

Expect all sorts of outrage soon. Damn hippies.

Heh. This is going to be the end of the world for some folks.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

State to look into mixed drink tax

It looks like the Tennessee Comptroller's office will review the code on the mixed drink tax, and then officials can determine whether Knox County and Farragut ow the school system a little bit of coin. Or a lot. Like at least $1.4 million.

You see, the two government haven't paid the school folks money owed from the liquor-by-the-drink tax. The county more than likely owes as much as $350,000. And Farragut could be on the hook for at least $1.1 million dating back to 1999.

The town has an annual budget of $6 million a year, so it could be difficult for Farragut to pay what's owed to the school system at one time.

State law says that 50 percent of the mixed drink tax has to go to education. Neither Farragut, which passed an ordinance in 1988 to allow establishment to serve mixed drinks, nor Knox County, which approved its ordinance in 2009, has ever paid the tax.

The City of Knoxville is up-to-date on its payments.

Knox County and Farragut will now wait until the comptroller makes its ruling.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Blaylock named Knox County fire chief

Gene Blaylock
Gene Blaylock, a longtime firefighter who joined Rural/Metro Fire Department when it began its Knox County operations in 1977, has been named Knox County Fire Chief.

Blaylock started his career as a firefighter at Station 26 on Strawberry Plains Pike and rose to the rank of assistant fire chief. Over the course of his 36-year career, the veteran has served at five stations and received numerous promotions, culminating in his recent advancement to fire chief.

The position opened when Jerry Harnish was named Rural/Metro of Tennessee Regional Manager on an interim basis last week, a title that is now permanent.

“Chief Blaylock is part of the fabric here at Rural/Metro,” Harnish said. “He’s been here since operations began, and he is a proven leader. I have full confidence that Gene will continue to provide excellent fire protection coverage to our Rural/Metro Fire Department subscribers in the county.”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Schools owed at least $1.4M in taxes

School system owed a bunch of coin.
Drink up, fellas, cause the school system needs the money. Heh.

Check it out:

Knox County and Farragut officials plan to meet next week to figure out just how much the two governments owe the Knox County school system from revenues connected to the local mixed-drink tax that were never turned over.

At this point, the county more than likely owes as much as $350,000, and Farragut is probably on the hook for at least $1.1 million dating back to 1999.

Knox County Finance Director Chris Caldwell said the matter was initially brought to his attention a couple of weeks ago after officials received an email from the Tennessee Governmental Finance Officers Association.

"They said 'by the way, are your cities paying this to your schools?'" Caldwell said. "We looked at it and then met with our auditors and realized we weren't. But, it's not just us, though, it's a statewide issue and the TGFO just made everyone aware of it. It's really an obscure tax that you don't always think about."

The City of Knoxville is up-to-date on its payments, Caldwell said.

For more details, click right smack here, and check out tonight's 10 and 11 shows on WBIR Channel 10.

Commission to address CTAS bonuses

Knox County Commission Vice Chairman R. Larry Smith wants the county to cut its bonus payment program for employees who complete the state's certified public administrator training initiative.

Instead, he added, employees should receive bonuses based on promotions – not completing educational coursework.

"Constituents are telling me that they don't want to pay these bonuses just because they took a two-day refresher course when they, themselves, take continuing education," Smith said. "Look, I don't mind if the county pays them to take the course, but the problem I have is that some businesses pay people to take continuing education but they sure don't give them a bonus."

The commission is expected to address the matter during its October 21 work session.

"I don't know if I've formed an opinion about it yet," said commission Chairman Brad Anders. "I think on one hand that it sounds excessive, but what concerns me is that the commission would tell another completely separate officeholder what they can do with their payroll."

You can read the complete bad a$$ story right smack here.

Living like a king, free of charge

Saw this. Thought it was funny. Actually, it's pretty much true. Sadly.  

My dog sleeps about 20 hours a day.  He has his food prepared for him.  His meals are provided at no cost to him.  

He visits the doctor once a year for his checkup and again during the year, if any medical needs arise. For this he pays nothing and nothing is required of him.  

He lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is much larger than he needs, but he is not required to do any upkeep.  

If he makes a mess, someone else cleans it up., and he has his choice of luxurious places to sleep.  

He receives these accommodations absolutely free.  

He lives like a king, and has absolutely no expenses whatsoever.  

All of his costs are picked up by others who earn a living.  

Then it hit me: My dog is a Congressman!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Burchett won't seek US Senate seat

Becker and Burchett
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett this afternoon told WBIR stud John Becker that he will not challenge US Senator Lamar Alexander for his seat in the 2014 GOP primary.

"I prayed about it and it didn't feel right," he said.

I told you so (heh) in July and again last month.

A number of folks in the local, state and national media for the past few months have suggested that he would contend for the seat.

Burchett, though, was just having a little fun.

Course that's not to say that he approves of the job Alexander is doing. but, he's just smart enough to know that he doesn't have the numbers, despite what a vocal but very small tea party minority would believe.

Thomas kicks off commish campaign

Former radio dude Bob Thomas this morning officially kicked off his campaign for the at-large seat on the Knox County Commission, the one currently held by Mike Hammond (a radio man in his own right who isn’t going to seek re-election). 

The event, which drew a couple hundred people at least (quite frankly, I quit counting) featured some bad a$$ fried bologna sandwiches, chips, Moon Pies and R.C. Colas, and music by The Hillbillies and Con Hunley.

Folks lining up for some food

It also brought out scores of current and former state and local leaders, the usual movers and shakers, a number of politicos and quite a few sycophants. 

The primary – Thomas is a Republican – is set for May. The winner will advance to the August general election where he or she will win because, let’s face it, a Democrat ain’t getting that gig in Knox County.

Lots of folks eating bad a$$ bologna

A number of people spoke during the event today, but I didn’t really pay attention. Thomas, the former co-host of the Ed & Bob morning show, introduced his family, thanked a bunch of people and said “we’ve got to keep this thing moving,” presumably referring to the job the current County Commission is performing. 

Oh yeah, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett also spoke. Heh. He bragged on Bob a little bit. The good mayor talked about the $35 million tax increase that the folks in the “Ivory Tower” tried to implement last year. He added that he was tired of said “tower” trying “to tell us what to do,” and that Thomas (along with then-co-host Ed Brantley) let “us go on the radio and tell our side.”

Henley Bridge opening set for Oct. 17

Well, it looks like the Henley Bridge will open Thursday, Oct. 17 at 12:01 a.m. Or at least one lane in both directions will open, which is still cool. The bike lanes, however, won't open until the final completion date of June 3, 2014.

The entire project is expected to cost some $31 million.

In a released statement Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said:

“Finally, the Henley Street Bridge is reopening to traffic next Thursday, and this is great news for businesses and residents in South Knox County. Unfortunately, the final completion of the bridge is sometime away, so it’s important that we continue to support businesses south of the river.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Halls High cistern dedication today

The latest from the county mayor's office. Something about a cistern. Whatever that is. Kidding. Looks like they're really looking for the publicity, though. Cheers:

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, whose office immediately honors records requests, and Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of the Knox County Schools, which typically farts around for weeks when you ask for records, will join members of the Halls Outdoor Classroom Committee at Halls High School today at 4 p.m. to dedicate a new greenhouse cistern.

The cistern, designed and installed by Rainwater Resources of Knoxville, is a result of the Adopt-a-Watershed program and will capture 34,000 gallons of rainwater a year for greenhouse irrigation.

The Adopt-a-Watershed program is a Knox County Schools program funded by Knox County Stormwater Management.  It is in its 18th year, and has served 125,000 students in various Knox County middle and high schools.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Historic Knoxville HS proposal unveiled, commish to address it

The latest from the county regarding historic Knoxville High School:

A building on Knox Heritage’s “Fragile 15” list will be preserved as part of a proposal going before the Knox County Commission at the board’s October meeting, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett announced today. 

Bad a$$ photo by John Gustin

In addition to preserving the historic Knoxville High School, the proposal by Family Pride Corporation and Southeastern Housing Foundation will also allow the iconic World War I doughboy statue to continue standing guard in front of the school.

You can check out the proposal right smack here.

“There is a lot of Knoxville history wrapped up in this school, and it looks like we’re going to be able to preserve it,” said Mayor Burchett.  “The $13.7 million dollar investment that Family Pride and Southeastern are planning to make is great for this community.”

The plan, which was the winning bid resulting from a recent Request for Proposals (RFP), includes 100 units of senior housing and would create an anticipated 18 new jobs, generating nearly a half million dollars in annual payroll.

“Historic Knoxville High fits beautifully into our mission of preserving historic buildings, and providing senior living services of the highest quality at reasonable costs,” said Family Pride Corporation General Manager Rick Dover.  “We are grateful and excited about the opportunity at Knoxville High.”

“Southeastern Housing Foundation has a strong track record of serving people in the community well, and this partnership is another big step in that direction,” said foundation President Chris Martin.  “We believe this proposal will provide a legacy for this historic property that all generations – past, present and future – can be proud of.”

The Knox County Commission will likely vote on the proposal Oct. 28 during the board’s monthly meeting.

Lawyer, GOP chair, blogger battle?

Looks like we might have us an old fashioned showdown between the rogue blogger, the rebel lawyer and the Republican chair.

Ya see, a little more than a week or so back, rubble rousing attorney Herb S. Moncier, presumably representing current Knox County GOP chairwoman, Ruthie Kuhlman, sent blogger Brian Hornback a note, telling him that he needed to correct, retract and say he’s sorry for some of his blog posts. 

(I’m not sure which ones, but they had something to do with overheard conversations regarding Kuhlman.)

Moncier apparently gave Hornback 10 days to do this.

Well, the rogue fired back on Friday, with his own letter, saying he has no intention of doing any such thing.

You can find that bad boy, right smack here.

This could get interesting on a number of levels. Moncier is not afraid to sue. He probably holds the Death Star record. Kuhlman is a public figure, so it would be hard for her to win. But, it’s also interesting on the level of what role a blogger plays, the freedom of speech thing, the whatever. 

Hornback also can be a polarizing figure in the local political circles, so – no matter what people say – my suspicion is that a lot of folks will watch this closely, particularly if it goes further.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Five so far applied for ethics spots

Five folks so far have applied for the three open positions on the Knox County Ethics Committee.

Resumes are due by noon Oct. 18, so expect some more to send in their stuff. The commission will hold a public hearing to interview the candidates on Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the Death Star.

They'll make a final decision on Oct. 28.

In the meantime, click right smack here for cover letters and resumes of the latest batch.

We've got a UT Federal Credit Union president/CEO, a local high school math and physics teacher, a Pellissippi State religious studies teacher and self-proclaimed "old fashioned liberal," a trust officer with First Tennessee Bank and an "experienced property manager." 

Harnish named to Rural/Metro top spot

Jerry Harnish
Rural/Metro, which makes a gazillion dollars because of an ambulance contract it has with the county, announced this morning that Knox County Fire Chief Jerry Harnish was named interim division general manager for Rural/Metro of Tennessee.

Rural/Metro's previous division general manger Rob Webb resigned from his position on Sept. 30.

According to the company's spin team, Harnish has 33 years of experience in fire and emergency operations, including six years as fire chief in Knox County. Harnish said the same high standard of operations will continue during his leadership.

“Both the fire and ambulance divisions are meeting and exceeding Knox County requirements,” Harnish said in the release. “We will continue to meet the emergency needs of Knox County residents and those in the other counties we serve without interruption. Our people are committed to this goal.”

Harnish began his career as a firefighter and emergency medical technician with Rural/Metro in 1980. He rose through the fire department ranks and was named fire chief in 2007.