2006: Boom times in North Knox County

Sandra ClarkHalls, Our Town Stories, Powell

Editor’s note: When you’ve got a garage filled with newspapers, it’s not hard to find a classic. On Jan. 2, 2007, this writer recapped the year just ended – 2006. It was a very good year in Halls and Gibbs and Powell and Fountain City. …

It was a war year, an election year, a time of retirement for many of our friends. But most of all, 2006 was a year of excitement – particularly for those of us who love infrastructure.

January – Riggs Drug Store opened on Emory Road at I-75, bringing the team of Bill Fannon, Chad Fannon, Ryan Flatt and Susan Dotson to Knox County’s north side.

February – Highways Inc. of Brentwood got the $16.9 million contract to widen Emory Road from Bishop to Norris Freeway.

Pete DeBusk announced plans to build a College of Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University. “I’ve always detested the quality of medicine available to the Appalachian people, and I’ll change things in spite of hell,” he said.

Developers Jim Hill, Joe Madron and Rocky Smith purchased 190 building permits (for $42,750) in Union County to build Waterside condos at the old Andersonville Boat Dock. Union County Mayor Larry Lay called it the largest single purchase of building permits in county history.

March – KUB was digging out a hole 160 feet wide, 260 feet long and 40 feet deep to store up to 9 million gallons of overflow waste water to help prevent sewer line overflows during heavy rains. The facility is on Old Broadway behind Austin’s Family Steakhouse and Fazoli’s.

Halls Senior Center held a weeklong open house as Steven L. Morgan was named the on-site coordinator.

April – Holrob Investments developer Mark Shipe and president Bob Talbott opened the Fountain City Shops, seven new and relocated businesses including Panera Bread on Broadway. The 18,720 square foot development was on land acquired from Mike Thomas. It had contained a Calibur car wash and office building.

May – Ginger Baxter (with a little help from husband, Bill) chaired a committee that raised $2.5 million ($25,000 per house) to buy materials for 100 Habitat for Humanity homes in Knox County.

Walking expert Mark Fenton led a walking audit of Fountain City which could lead to more sidewalks and crosswalks.

June – Members of the Powell Station Park committee cut the ribbon: Allan Gill, Margaret Massey Cox, Roy Arthur, Ronnie Qualls, Larry Stephens, Dr. Bob Collier, Thomas Hill, Ed Smith, Laura Bailey and Doug Bataille. The Public Building Authority oversaw construction of the 2-acre park on Emory Road adjacent to Powell High School. It features a water spray, picnic shelter, playground, restrooms and walking trail. Knox County also opened the Powell Branch Library in July.

This was the new Gibbs Elementary School in mid-July. Officials hoped to start classes in the new building after Christmas, but principal Adam Parker said the move will be delayed until February.

July – Home Depot and a Walmart Super Center will be coming to Halls, courtesy of developers Budd Cullom and Mark Tarver on a 50-acre site on Norris Freeway. MPC approved the use on review plans on July 13 over vigorous neighborhood objections. (Note: Home Depot never made it.)

Gondolier Restaurant opened in Halls to overflow crowds and car-towing from the Kroger parking lot by a company called “Guess Who!” Their motto – “The cheapest hookers in town.” Towed pizza eaters were not amused.

NFL quarterback Chad Pennington came home to the Halls Community Park where he played as a kid. He talked with youth football players and cheerleaders, then left a $15,000 gift.

August – Neighbors rallied against a proposed Midway Industrial Park in deep east Knox County, but County Commission ignored them, approving the rezoning of 370 acres to be purchased by The Development Corporation (and a few nearby controlled by developer Victor Jernigan).

Reporter Betty Bean launched an exhaustive 3-part series, County Confidential, a Tyler Harber tell-all about his role with Knox County government.

Ken Dunlap replaced Diane Psihogios as principal at Powell High School. Psihogios was placed on paid leave by Superintendent Charles Lindsey less than a year after being named the state’s principal of the year. Assistant principal Kim Kallenberg was also placed on leave. Six months later both remain on paid leave and formal charges have not been filed by the school district.

TDOT commissioner Gerald Nicely visited Halls to sign the contract to widen Emory Road. Celebrating the news are Marvin Hammond (Hallsdale Powell Utility District), Fred Parker (TDS Telecom), Nicely, David Lambert (SunAmerica Securities), Mary Lou Horner (county commissioner) and Carl Tindell (Tindell Builder Supply).

September – The men’s community group of Corryton Church chopped wood to raise funds for a mission trip to Kosova. Jim Maggard organized the adventure.

Karns High football coach John Fulkerson was placed on administrative leave with pay twice within 5 months (he’s there again for a third time). Fulkerson responded with a complaint against principal Clifford Davis. This remains unresolved.

October – Danny Wallace closed Halls Cinema 7 after 25 years. The business fell victim to the changing times and the movie industry’s move to digital technology. (It has since reopened with new owners and remains in business today.)

We broke and developed the story of developer Tim Graham’s efforts to be annexed at South Grove shopping center on Chapman Highway. The city of Knoxville agreed to pay Graham $2 million and helped engineer a referendum by one voter, a construction worker named Garrett S. Meek who allegedly lived in a trailer on the property.

School resource officer Russell Kocur was shot and killed on Halloween night, while guarding Halls High School.

November – St. Mary’s Health System announced a $100 million upgrade for its Oak Hill campus as work continued on St. Mary’s North which should open in early 2007 on Emory Road at I-75. President and CEO Debra London said, “I’m ecstatic about this. I am sure we’re doing the right thing.”

December – Dean Stallings Ford in Oak Ridge was sold to Kenny Lane and Tim Hutchison. Jim Surrett was the manager.

Our Town Stories is a Tuesday feature of KnoxTNToday.com. Check back next week for Mona Smith’s take on Concord/Farragut.

Halls High basketball player Cameron Sharp.

Halls High basketball player Travis Varner.






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