Jacobs connects with West Knox homeowners

Sandra ClarkFeature, West Knoxville

Mayor Glenn Jacobs, along with Sheriff Tom Spangler, made some big news Tuesday, but it never came up when he spoke to the Council of West Knox County Homeowners’ evening meeting.

Jacobs announced an agreement with the county’s Retirement and Pension Board to drop Knox County’s challenge of pension payments to certain retired employees of the Sheriff’s Office. He called the litigation “lunacy,” saying it has already cost taxpayers some $600,000. Read the mayor’s statement here. 2018-10-02 Mayor Sheriff Statement Release

But in West Knox County, Jacobs talked about growth, roads, schools and even Dolly Parton. He said the world is entering the “fourth industrial revolution” – the steam engine, the combustion engine, digital (dotcom) technology, and now the post-digital age.

He views the future in terms of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and cars that drive themselves. Knox County is positioned for success in this new age, he said, because of the great research underway at the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. To attract the businesses of the future, we must have the workers, he said.

And that’s why he supports early childhood initiatives, reading, and a return to the “robust vocational training of the 1970s.” He likes STEM programs, especially engineering, in K-12 classrooms

Then he fielded questions.

Judy Horn asked about roads, saying Northshore Drive is barely adequate to carry current traffic and she’s concerned about proposed growth in the area. Jacobs said he’s working with the TPO – the regional transportation planning organization – and TDOT, the state transportation department, to “get in there and try to address” local concerns. Some are state roads, others are federal and state, and some are county.

Any chance of expanding the downtown library with increased technology? “I’ll look into it,” said Jacobs.

Knox County Schools wants 75 percent of third graders reading at grade level, with only 38 percent now hitting that goal. How to help?

Jacobs said Imagination Library, begun by Dolly Parton, has been successful here, reaching some 80 percent of all kids from birth to age 5 with a free book each month. “Our Knox County library has distributed 2.6 million books (since the program’s inception).”

On drug addiction, Jacobs said he’s eager to work with Mayor Madeline Rogero to make an action plan at the upcoming Mayors Summit on Drugs.

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