Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This year's Boomsday to be the last

This will be the final year for Boomsday. Visit Knoxville made this announcement at a press conference held at their offices today.

"This decision was not an easy one, and it was not made without serious discussion with our board and input from community members," stated Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville.

Bumpas went on to say, "For the past several years, Visit Knoxville has been pleased to present Boomsday - one of the largest Labor Day weekend fireworks shows in the nation. Like many of you, I look forward to this event every year. As a longtime Knoxville resident, I am tied to its history."

In the past, Boomsday was funded entirely by Visit Knoxville and corporate sponsors. In an effort to fund and "save" Boomsday last year, Visit Knoxville attempted to create a ticketed event. This attempt was met with insurmountable obstacles that hinder future efforts.

Bumpas added, "We have looked at various ways to continue the event, but ongoing funding issues related to lack of interest prevents us from obtaining the proper level of sponsor dollars to make the event sustainable."

Knox County Clerk apologizes for 'offensive' Facebook posts

Foster Arnett Jr
Knox County Clerk Foster Arnett Jr on Monday apologized for sharing on his personal Facebook page what the local Democratic Party called "highly offensive, hateful views."

The two-term Republican, who deactivated the private social media account, also told critics who might consider any ethics investigations against him to "bring it."

Arnett said the postings, which he removed soon after they were made public, came in the wake of the July 16 mass shootings at a Chattanooga military center that resulted in the deaths of four U.S. Marines and one U.S. Navy sailor.

Arnett said he was "deeply moved" and in the day that followed he "shared some things" on his Facebook page that went viral.

"If those comments offended someone, I'm sorry," Arnett told WBIR 10News on Monday.

The posts criticized politicians including President Barack Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

One post shared on his page used a derogatory term for Muslims. Another called people who voted twice for Obama "stupid."

And one stated: "Ladies – If your (sic) man doesn't know how to fire a weapon, you have a girlfriend."

Read the complete story RIGHT HERE.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Aug. 6 date for House seat debate

Carson, left, Zachary, right
The West Knox Republican Club will be hosting the sole debate between the two candidates seeking the 14th District Republican nomination in the upcoming special election.

The 14th District General Assembly seat was vacated by Ryan Haynes earlier this year after he was appointed as Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. The two candidates vying for the seat are Karen Carson, a nurse and Knox County School Board member, and Jason Zachary, a local small business owner. Early voting will take place July 23rd through August 7th, and Election Day is August 12th.

The Republican Primary Debate will take place on Thursday August 6, 2015 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Farragut Town Hall board room located at 11408 Municipal Center Drive, Farragut, Tennessee 37934. The event is free and open to the public. Doors to the board room will open at 6:15 p.m. and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The local media is encouraged to attend.

The debate will be moderated by Alexander Waters, the president of the West Knox Republican club, a local attorney with Long, Ragsdale & Waters, P.C. and a regular panelist on Fox43’s “Heavy Hitter” segment.

The candidates will be given three minutes for an opening statement. Each candidate will be given two  minutes to answer each question asked by the moderator and one minute of rebuttal time. At the conclusion of the questioning period, each candidate will given two minutes to give a closing statement. No questions will be taken from the audience.

The West Knox Republican Club hopes that many members of the 14th District, Farragut and Knox County communities will attend the debate. The Club has reached out to various local Republican clubs, including the Farragut-Concord Republican Club, as well as nonpartisan groups such as the Knoxville Chamber, Farragut Chamber, Realtors Association and League of Women Voters of Knoxville/Knox County to promote the event.

“The West Knox Republican Club is very excited to host this political debate between two active Republican candidates,” said Alexander Waters. “We look forward to facilitating a civil discourse with the candidates on topics important to the 14th District and East Tennessee. We hope the debate will not only educate the community but encourage higher voter turn-out in this crucial election.”

Boomsday set for Sunday, Sept. 6

Visit Knoxville will present the 28th edition of Boomsday on Sunday, Sept. 6 at Volunteer Landing along the Tennessee River.

"We're working daily on creating a weekend of events that will culminate with the Boomsday festivities our community looks forward to seeing each year," stated Kim Bumpas, president of Visit Knoxville.

Boomsday 2015 will kick off at 3:00 p.m. with live music, games, food vendors and more. The evening will wrap up with more than five tons of dynamite lighting the sky to a soundtrack featuring your favorite music.

Boomsday will wrap up a Labor Day weekend featuring FREE events open to the public. Details available RIGHT SMACK HERE

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hopson to McIntyre about KCS evals: The shoe is now on the other foot

So, if I'm understanding this correctly, Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre fears his upcoming evaluations will be subjective and he won't have the chance to challenge the scores. That's according to teacher union president Lauren Hopson.


Cause, you know that's sort of how it is for teachers right now.

Below is Hopson talking about this during last night's BOE meeting and the superintendent's response, which was actually more like a red herring because it didn't address the issue.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Surprise flaws in old facility bring higher costs for UT but project OK

A University of Tennessee project to revamp an old industrial building on Sutherland Avenue has met some unexpected challenges.
The structure at 2000 Sutherland is the former home of the Southeast Precast Corp., which made concrete. Before that, in the early 1900s, it was built to house the Knoxville Marble Co.

UT bought the land in 2013 near Concord Road, and is converting it to house their Facilities Services division.

"We're trying to maintain the feel of what this looked like, so if you came through the doors you can imagine what this looked like, once upon a time," said Justin Dothard, the project manager for UT.

The $18.7 million project is an investment in Knoxville's history, said Vice Chancellor of Facilities Services Dave Irvin.

"You could probably go out and build a building from scratch for less than that, but it certainly wouldn't have the character, the quality, or the history we're getting with this reuse," Irvin said.

But it hasn't been easy. Once UT acquired the property, officials found serious issues with the ground: sinking soil had been filled with scrap marble for decades, creating a porous and unstable base. That delayed the project by weeks.

"The nature of sub-surface conditions is you don't know you have a problem until you dig up and find that you do have a problem," said Dothard. "So that was really something that had to be taken care of on the fly."

Parts of the structure rested on the shoddy ground.

"There needed to be some serious structural reinforcement above ground and below ground to make sure this building would be adequate," Dothard said.

To remedy this, they pumped urethane, essentially liquid plastic, into the ground. There, it filled in the cracks and hardened.

Dothard said that was cheaper than digging everything up.

They also discovered sections of the structure that had been built without a foundation, a throwback to looser building codes.

"The way part of this building were built, you would not be able to build it that way today," Dothard said.

All told, the repairs cost between $1 million-1.5 million. However, Irvin said that was all covered by contingencies built into their budget. They were prepared for issues; they just weren't sure how they would arise.

Rest of story RIGHT HERE.

McIntyre: Everything fine and dandy

Well, according to KCS Superintendent Jim McIntyre, the school systems appears to be right on track with this year's budget.

As one of my WBIR colleagues reports:

It's a plan that includes two new schools for the county.

McIntyre presented a report Monday night to the County Commission about the schools' budget as of May 31st.

Knox County is set to build two new middle schools in Gibbs and Hardin Valley.

McIntyre says both revenue and expenditures are on track and generally similar to past years.

Knox County Schools saw a $5.4 million dollar surplus in sales tax revenue which gives them more flexibility.

Mcintyre says "We're feeling okay about where we are and we're actually feeling very good about the fact that we're seeing a slight increase in the trend on sales tax revenue, so that's good news as well."

The commission expressed some concerns about revenue collected for drivers' education and Medicaid reimbursements, but McIntyre says he expected to fall short in Medicaid because it's still a work in progress.

He says he doesn't anticipate any problems with drivers' ed.

I hope he's right but I'll believe it when I see it. Glass is always half full.

Courts to feature bilingual speaker

I thought this was pretty cool. There are probably some other county (and possibly city offices) that should make similar hires. (I'm not sure of the salary. Hey, I'm on vacation, it's not like I'm gonna be busting it this week. Heh.)

From Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond:

“Since I have been in office, I have seen a need for someone who is bilingual to assist our Spanish speaking community,” Hammond said.  Ms. (Laura) Avalos-Evon has worked in the Juvenile and Circuit/ Sessions Court Clerk’s office in Jefferson County for eight years. 

"She is bilingual in English and Spanish and will be available to assist persons in each of the three Clerk offices which includes 4th Circuit, Criminal Sessions, and Criminal Court.  Her first day will be July 13th. 

"She is a member of the Jefferson Memorial Hospital Board of Directors and the 2004 Jefferson County Leadership Class.  Prior to joining the Clerk’s office in Jefferson County she worked with Safespace in Newport as an advocate to the Hispanic Community about Domestic Violence."

2105 Back to School Bash announced

School starts in about three weeks, and that means Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s Back to School Bash is just around the corner, according to a county news release.  The annual event is an opportunity for students to get free school supplies and health screenings, and to enjoy activities, special programs, vendors and more. 
Thousands attended last year’s event. The event will be held from 3-6 p.m. August 10 at the Knoxville Expo Center on Clinton Highway.

Officials are still looking for vendors. There is no fee, but you'd be required to hand out a school supply, which makes sense. If interested, click RIGHT SMACK HERE.

Office of Redevelopment changes

With the impending retirement of Office of Redevelopment Director Bob Whetsel, Mayor Madeline Rogero announced today two promotions to fill the top jobs in the department.

Effective Aug. 31, Dawn Michelle Foster, Deputy Director of Redevelopment, will be promoted to Director, reporting to Deputy to the Mayor and Chief Policy Officer Bill Lyons. Anne Wallace, the department’s Project Manager, will become Deputy Director.

“We are fortunate to have two such skilled and experienced professionals to move up into these positions,” Mayor Rogero said. “Dawn Michelle and Anne bring a wealth of knowledge, and they are already deeply engaged with the community. These well-deserved promotions will ensure continuity in our many ongoing projects.”

Foster, who has a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Tennessee, joined the City in 2012. Prior to that, she worked for 22 years as a senior transportation planner and construction project manager for Wilbur Smith Associates (now CDM Smith), the international transportation and infrastructure engineering firm. As Deputy Director of Redevelopment, she has had primary responsibility for the South Waterfront and Magnolia Avenue corridor.

Wallace has a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Auburn University and is an AICP certified planner. She worked as a planner for the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission before coming to the City in 2008. As Project Manager, she has overseen the Cumberland Avenue Corridor and Downtown Wayfinding projects, as well as redevelopment efforts in the Downtown North area and brownfield assessments at former industrial properties across the city.

In addition, the Office of Redevelopment will be filling two Project Manager positions: one to replace Wallace, and one that was approved in the current year’s budget to handle the volume of projects under way and anticipated in the near future.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Seven show interest in AJ Building

As of Wednesday afternoon, Knox County officials are one step closer to something they've been discussing for years: the sale of the Andrew Johnson Building downtown.

The structure serves as Knox County Schools headquarters, housing all the district's central offices.

At exactly 2 p.m. Wednesday, Knox County Purchasing officials opened the office's bid box and sorted through letters of interest from companies hoping to purchase the AJ Building.

Originally known as the Andrew Johnson Hotel, the building was constructed in 1928. It's located on the south end of downtown Knoxville's bustling Gay Street.

Seven companies responded to the county's Request for Information (RFI).

Ben Sharbel is real property coordinator with Knox County Purchasing. He opened the letters of interest Wednesday and explained they're neither formal proposals nor bids.

"It's just for us to review and test the waters, see what's out there," Sharbel explained.

Five of the companies are based in Knoxville. Those are Dover Development Corporation; Graham Corporation; LHP Development, LLC (formerly known as Lawler Wood Housing Partners, LLC); Dominion Development Group; and Rentenbach Constructors Incorporated, which is based in Knoxville but an affiliate of Lansing, Mich.-based Christman Capitol Development Company.

One company - Heritage Land and Development, LLC - is based in Memphis. The other one, BNA Associates LLC, is based in Nashville.

BNA Associates LLC developed and now owns and operates connected downtown Knoxville businesses Tupelo Honey and the Oliver Hotel, on and near Market Square, respectively.

The various companies proposed a variety of uses for the AJ Building.

"Anywhere from a boutique hotel to, you know, some retail and things like that," Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said. "I think a mixed use is probably going to be the best for it, but we'll see. That's all we asked for this, to get some new ideas. But I'm very encouraged by it."

From this point, Burchett will decide whether to issue a request for proposals or put the building out for public auction.

"The market's really going to decide, in my opinion, the value of it and what it's used for," Burchett said, adding, "a big concern of mine, of course, is to continue working with the school system."

He and Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre are working together, Burchett said, to find a new location for the district's central offices.

"We're aggressively looking at places for them to go. We're not just kicking them out," Burchett said.
Selling the AJ Building was a topic of discussion as the men prepared a mutual memo of understanding this spring.

Returning the AJ Building to the tax rolls, Burchett said, will be good for county coffers.

"The residuals from that will be huge, I think," he said. "The tax dollars, long-term effect, after I'm long gone from this office, is what I'm looking forward to."

He said moving out the existing offices, selling the building and having the buyer renovate it will not be a speedy process.

"The reality is, we're probably looking two to three years for the complete process," Burchett said. "People in this office have talked about this for years, doing something about it. I'm just excited that it's come to bear some fruit right now."

Friday, July 10, 2015

In age of online booking, taxpayers footing bill for KCS travel agent

Looking to book a trip?

Thanks to the Internet, more people than ever are doing it themselves, online and for free.

However, Knox County taxpayers are still footing the bill for a travel agent.

County purchasing records show from fiscal years 2011 to 2015, the school system submitted almost 1,155 invoices for a combined $648,793 dedicated to travel expenses for various conferences, seminars and training sessions across the country.

Of that, $34,650 went to a company called World Travel Services, which charges the county $30 for each itinerary.

In addition, the county submitted 311 invoices for a combined $176,002 in travel, with WTS receiving $9,330 during the five year period, figures show.

Also, the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee, a public agency funded by the city and county, submitted 90 invoices during the same time period for $50,177 in overall travel, with $2,700 going to WTS.

Local leaders say about 10 years ago the county did have a contract with WTS, but as do-it-yourself online booking became more widespread, officials opted not to renew the contract.

Use of the agency, however, continued, particularly by the school system.

"We encourage the departments to use online booking resources," Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said Thursday. "They're often the cheapest, but not everyone's comfortable with that."

Because of that, he said, some county employees still opt to book travel through WTS.

"It's just a tool that's available to all of us," Burchett said. "I'd rather them use the most cost-effective method, is what I'd prefer."

In a statement to WBIR, Knox County Schools budget director Lizabeth McLeod said it's not unusual for large organizations to use a travel management service.

"While employees are not required to use this service, it helps provides a 'one-stop shop' for travel arrangements and helps identify cost-effective rates in a time-efficient manner," McLeod wrote. "It also allows for customer support and assistance when unanticipated or last-minute travel changes might occur, plus helps arrange for multiple travel needs that may arise (airfare, hotel, rental car, etc.)."

She said using a travel service may be an easier option for employees, allowing for "central billing and payment so that our employees do not have to personally carry the burden for upfront travel costs while waiting on reimbursement to occur."

The district has approximately 8,000 employees, some of whom require travel from time to time.
Considering that, McLeod said, "this is a valuable resource to have should the need arise."

County officials in mid-June issued a bid for "travel management services." The deadline to submit a proposal is 2 p.m. July 15.

Because it's still widely used by KCS, the county finance department said it reached the "threshold" in which the service needed to be bid out.

"The request for proposals is to help secure travel management services for both Knox County Government and the Knox County Schools," McLeod said. "As discussed publicly in the May 2015 Board of Education work session, the Knox County Schools and Knox County Government are partnering for the purpose of aligning our travel policies and procedures. We believe it is an excellent enhancement to our travel program and appreciate the partnership we have with Knox County Government."

Rural/Metro: Naw, it's all good. Heh

Rural/Metro fired back at its critics late Thursday, issuing a statement in response to Knox County's July 1 letter, asking the company to explain some potential problems. (I have a brief thought after all this.)

Its spokesperson said: "I can tell you that Rural/Metro will have more to say regarding this matter in light of events late this afternoon, and will likely be reaching out to media tomorrow (today) to lend additional perspective.

Key messages for the public to know: 
  • Rural/Metro has served Knox County for some 30 years and is in 100% compliance with its Knox County contract.
  • Much of the information in the original letter from Knox County was erroneous, the most egregious of which was that Rural Metro engaged “use of Mutual Aid approximately 78 percent of the time from January—March 2015,” when in actuality, the use of mutual aid, during that time period, was less than one percent.
The company had a more detailed response in a file it sent us. Read it RIGHT SMACK HERE.

Rural/Metro added: Despite the troubling inaccuracies in the original letter from Knox County, Knox County has yet to redact any of the false information, opting not to do so in late-day media interviews and via its own press release late this afternoon, following meetings with Rural/Metro in which it was made clear the problems with the memo.

One of the issues the county had was tied to June response times. It should be noted that Rural/Metro does not address that in its file (RIGHT SMACK HERE) other than to say that officials had not reviewed them or signed off on them. That's often code for "oops."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

County asks Rural/Metro to explain potential 'service related issues'

Knox County has asked its ambulance provider Rural/Metro to explain why a number of "potential indicators of service-related issues" have occurred.

In a letter, dated July 1, Knox County Purchasing Director Hugh Holt asks for a  “written explanation and an action plan to remedy these performance related issues.”

The letter, county officials say, is a  "proactive effort to identify potential issues that could develop into problems that impact public safety."

MORE: Contract, compliance reports and Letter from Holt

Officials said they were concerned about the company's local staffing levels, and "its seemingly frequent use of mutual aid and an early assessment of June 2015 performance numbers that indicate Rural Metro’s response times may not meet contractual obligations."

The county’s contract with Rural/Metro allows the company to use mutual aid agreements in responding to calls when necessary, and also requires that, at least 90 percent of the time, a first responder arrives on-scene within 10 minutes of a call for emergency medical service.

The early assessment of June’s response data may indicate a 10-minute-or-less response time of just under 90 percent, which could trigger fines for Rural/Metro.

That's why, county leaders say, they asked the company to explain it's "frequent use of mutual aid and what appear to be below-benchmark response times."

“When someone calls 911 for a medical emergency, they deserve to know they’ll receive an appropriate response, which is why Knox County is doing its due diligence. It’s our duty to ensure public safety,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “A primary reason we have a contract for this sort of service is to ensure performance and maintain accountability.”

$1 million lost because litigation court fee not properly collected

For more than two decades, the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's Office failed to properly collect a mandatory court fee.

As a result, officials say, the county coffers lost out on at least $1 million.

"Those are real numbers – it's probably more – that's just a conservative number," said Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond, who took over the office in September 2014. "And when you think of all the needs we have in Knox County and the fact that the amount was not properly collected, it doesn't speak well for the office."

The problem, Hammond said, was discovered recently and has since been fixed.

In 1992, the Knox County Commission raised the local litigation tax for criminal and sessions courts from $26.25 to $28.50.

In 1995, the board raised the litigation tax for the Fourth Circuit Court from $21.50 to $23.75.
The Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's Office, which is the record keeper for the three courts, never collected the new amounts after the changes were implemented.

Hammond said that after the County Commission in June bumped the tax by another $5, he discovered the mistake while researching past increases.

Hammond declined to blame his employees, "who were doing what they were told to do." But, he said, he doesn't know why the office didn't comply with the commission-approved changes.

Hammond's predecessor, Joy McCroskey, ran the office beginning in mid-2008. She took over after Martha Phillips – who was elected to the job in the 1980s – died.

"It's frustrating for me as a citizen . . . to know that there was a million dollars that could have been collected," he said.

Hammond added that by properly collecting the tax, the money could amount to an additional $50,000 a year in revenue. It will go to the Knox County general fund.

"In the grand scheme of things if you're looking at a $700 million (county operating) budget, then $50,000 doesn't sound like a lot, but $50,000 is a teacher's salary, or $50,000 could be used for Parks and Recreation, or to buy a new vehicle or those types of things," he said.

The litigation tax is assessed on the front end of lawsuits in civil court when they are filed, and on the back end of criminal court cases as part of the fine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Law director memo: Knox County BOE could renew teacher non-renewals

During last week’s Knox County Board of Education meeting, school boarder Amber Rountree asked the law director:

“What power does the board have with regard to the non-renewal of teachers’ contract?”

Well, apparently, a whole heck of a lot, according to Knox County Law Director Richard “Bud” Armstrong.

In a memo dated July 2, Armstrong, citing state and case law, said:

“The Board has absolute authority, in its discretion, to review any non-renewal or any other personnel matter that is brought to the attention of the Board. The Board may implement any procedure and take such action as the Board deems proper.”

In non-lawyerly language: If a principal fires a teacher, the school board – a voting majority – can overrule the principal and put that teacher right back in the classroom.

You can read the memo RIGHT SMACK HERE.

Now, why is this important?

Parents, teachers and students are upset that Christina Graham, a now former Copper Ridge Elementary School kindergarten teacher, was let go this past May. They feel that officials retaliated against her because she spoke out against SAT-10 testing for kindergarteners. Apparently Graham scored well on her evaluations, so it more than likely wasn’t about that.

A lot of folks will now probably look to the school board to see what happens next, and the pressure is on.

Does the board address the non-renewals case-by-case, or do members let it go? Right or wrong, the board will come dangerously close to micromanagement if it starts overruling principals, no matter how well-intended the situation.

Graham’s case could be the first big test.

And if I recall correctly, Copper Ridge is in board member Patti Bound’s neck of the woods, and she doesn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with the administration.

We’ll see.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Covington to hold campaign kickoff tomorrow for 1st Dist. Commish seat

Received this from the Michael Covington campaign. He is running for Commissioner Sam McKenzie's 1st District seat on the Knox County Commission. Sam, one of only two Democrats on the board, has opted not to seek re-election.

Covington's campaign handler told me he has "strong conservative values" and is running as a Republican.
We welcome all of Knox County to attend the campaign kickoff for Michael Covington who will be running for County Commission District 1. 

The event will take place on July 7, 2015 at Calhoun’s on the River. The event will run from 5-8 p.m. This will be a free event, however, donations will be accepted. 

Citizens are encouraged to bring friends and family to meet a true leader who believes rebuilding district one. There has not been a true conservative serving district one as a county commissioner in many years. It is time to bring in a Real Leader in Real Time! 

Supporters who are unable to attend but would still like to support can send donations to PO Box 6312, Knoxville, Tennessee 37914.
As always, send me your political stuff for publication. Please note it's subject to editing and if you're a jerk, I just won't run it. Heh.

Have a good day.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Knox Co. Clerk's Office to perform marriages only at downtown office

This apparently has some folks up in arms. I don't really think it's a big deal, but whatever.

Here ya go:

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision last week to overturn state bans on same-sex marriage, a number of county clerks across Tennessee have opted to stop performing marriages altogether.

That's not the case in Knox County, said Clerk Foster Arnett Jr. But couples – gay or straight – will now have to make an appointment, and only his downtown Main Street office will perform a marriage.

Arnett said he put the change in place because he expects more people to get married.

"It's not a big deal," he said. "It's going to help everybody."

For years, the Clerk's Office performed marriages in its various satellite offices, but Arnett said they're "slammed," so he opted to change the policy.

"Marriages are going to go up, in part, because there are Clerk's Offices that won't perform same-sex marriages, so to better serve the public, we will require everyone to call in and make a reservation to get married," Arnett said.

He added that couples can still pick up marriage applications at any satellite office.

"If you look at Davidson County in Nashville, they (perform marriages) one day a week at one location," he said. "All we're doing is trying to streamline our efforts. It will help us so we can plan. This is for everybody – not just same-sex couples."

The downtown clerk's office is located at the Old Courthouse, 300 Main St. It's opened from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Only two GOP qualified to run for state House seat vacated by Haynes

Carson, left, Zachary, right
A Knox County Board school board member and long-time nurse, and a Knoxville business owner are the only two candidates who will vie for the open state House seat recently vacated by Ryan Haynes.

Both candidates are Republican and no Democrats qualified by Thursday's noon deadline.

That means, barring a major upset by a write-in candidate in the fall, the overall election will be more than likely determined during the Aug. 12 primary.

(The special general election will be Sept. 29, coinciding with the city of Knoxville primary.)

Haynes resigned from the West Knox County 14th District state Rep. seat in late May to serve as the state GOP chairman.

Here's a snapshot of the candidates:

Karen Carson: A pediatric nurse for 35 years, who works at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, she has served on the Knox County Board of Education since 2004. Her website says Carson has been recognized as the Tennessee parent Teacher Association's "Outstanding School Board Representative of the Year" three times. She and her family are members of Concord United Methodist Church. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the YMCA of East Tennessee. She and her husband have been married for 30 years and have three children.

Jason Zachary: Owns Americomm, a small telecommunications firm founded by his family two decades ago. He serves as a deacon at the Farragut Initiative at First Baptist Concord, according to his website. He also serves on the board of International Sports Consulting, and has worked with the Center for Christian Statesmanship on Capitol Hill since last summer. He has been married to his wife for 16 years and has one child. Zachary, drummed up a lot of support from the tea party last year in an unsuccessful campaign to unseat long-time U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr.

Knox Co. BOE approves budget, MOU

By a 6-3 vote, Knox County school board members agreed Wednesday to approve a pact with county government that features funding for 2 percent raises for teachers and construction of two middle schools.

Members Lynne Fugate, Tracie Sanger and Gloria Deathridge voted in the minority.

The board met Wednesday night in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building.

"I am very pleased with the Knox County Board of Education's approval of the Memorandum of Understanding between Knox County and the school system," Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said in a statement. "This agreement will help to ensure increased fiscal responsibility while also providing for much-needed teacher raises and two new middle schools, all without the need for a tax increase."

"I'm excited that the board approved this compromise," Superintendent Jim told WBIR after the vote. "I think it's ultimately going to be good for our children, good for our teachers and good for our community."
The vote didn't come without discussion of concerns, even among board members who ultimately voted "yes."

Rest of the story RIGHT HERE.