Fountain City Town Hall honored two of its own in selecting Joe Walsh and Carol Evans as 2018 Man and Woman of the Year. The announcement came at the 43rd annual Honor Fountain City Day. This year’s theme was “A Walk in the Park.”
Walsh retired in 2017 as director of Parks & Recreation for the city of Knoxville. He grew up in Inskip and graduated from Central High School in 1973. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Tech and ran track there. He earned a master’s from UT in public administration. He worked for the city in finance and then parks, becoming director in 2005.
During his tenure, the city acquired land and opened Victor Ashe Park. He oversaw the redevelopment of Caswell Park and the expansion of Ijams Nature Center. In Fountain City, he developed Adair Park and the skatepark and worked on recent upgrades to Fountain City Lake.
On his retirement, Walsh’s department managed 2,000 acres of parks, 100 miles of greenways and trails, 11 community centers and three senior centers, three golf courses, five swimming pools, numerous athletic fields and venues, five dog parks, two skate parks, an arts and crafts center and a boxing arena.
Evans moved to Knoxville in 1982, when her older daughter, Katie, was just 2. “Our first home was on Evergreen,” she said, gesturing up the hill behind Fountain City Park. Even then, she knew that living near a park was good for her family’s health and pocketbook. The resale value of homes with easy access to a park, even those with a park view, is strong.
Evans, founder and executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation, was the keynote speaker. Getting the woman of the year award was a complete surprise. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Georgia and a master’s in education from UT. She was the first marketing director for Pat Summitt and the UT women’s athletics department.
Legacy Parks Foundation has worked with communities such as Halls, Powell, Fountain City (fund-raising to build the skatepark) and Bearden. But its crowing accomplishment is the 1,000-acre Urban Wilderness in South Knoxville.
- Former Gov. Phil Bredesen, now a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by Bob Corker, spoke briefly, calling Honor Fountain City Day a “very American event” that shows “we’re part of one country, one community.”
- Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said communities like Fountain City make Knox County special. And he saluted “the best hamburger in town” with a nod to Litton’s.
- News anchor John Becker said WBIR-TV is celebrating a decade of its Service and Sacrifice series which he hosts. He’s become a fixture at the Memorial Day event in Fountain City.
- Kelly Ellenburg juggled duties as the master of ceremonies on a rain-dampened day with good spirits.
- Lynn Bennett hit all the high notes, singing the national anthem and “God Bless America.” She’s another institution at these events.
- East TN Veterans Honor Guard provided a tribute to veterans, and Boy Scout Troop 55 presented the flag and led the pledge of allegiance.
- Public officials spotted: state Reps. Eddie Smith, Bill Dunn and Jimmy Matlock; state Sens. Richard Briggs and Randy McNally; City Judge John Rosson; commissioner Michele Carringer; and city council members Mark Campen, Lauren Rider, Andrew Roberto, Stephanie Welch, George Wallace, Finbarr Saunders and Marshall Stair.
- Awards went to McAlister’s Deli for commercial restoration; Chad Kiser for residential restoration; Bill Dohm and Patty Cooper, the chair’s award for their work to preserve Savage Gardens; and Vice Mayor Finbarr Saunders was named Friend of Fountain City.