What’s happening in Knox County? And how does that impact Fountain City?
Here’s the word from Mayor Glenn Jacobs:
Baseball Stadium: The state is not willing to dedicate sales tax from nearby businesses toward repayment of debt to build a stadium, but has agreed to a one-time $13.5 million grant toward construction. Jacobs said if the stadium were just about baseball, he would not support it, but “it is a lot more.” He hopes the stadium opens in 2023.
CTE: Knox County is working with Associated Builders & Contractors to expand Career and Technical Education (CTE) with internships. A facility has not been chosen, but Jacobs hopes to have the program open in September 2021.
Mental Health: Knox County and the city of Knoxville are partnering to open a regional facility to divert mentally ill people from jail. (If this sounds familiar, it should. It was Mayor Tim Burchett and Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones who overwhelmed neighborhood opposition to open the Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center on Ball Camp Pike in March 2018. People said it was “too little” and in the wrong place. They must have been right.)
Speaking April 14 to the Fountain City BPA, Jacobs listed three north-area projects:
Adrian Burnett Elementary: Construction is underway on a long-promised replacement school.
Collier Preserve: A great natural park on Emory Road adjacent to Powell Branch Library. “It highlights the ecology of the area and has access to Beaver Creek.”
Water Trail: Knox County is clearing and will maintain Beaver Creek from Halls to Powell and on to Melton Hill – a 44-mile water trail that will be the longest in the southeast United States.
Jacobs quickly moved to Q&A (the guy does not waste time).
Schaad Road: Project is “moving along,” he said, without details. Jacobs said Knox County recently evaluated roads to “make objective decisions about repaving.”
Taxes: The county anticipated a drop in revenue that never happened during the Covid shutdown. Only the hotel/motel tax was down, he said.
Bishop-Emory roads intersection: Jacobs said the intersection will be aligned and a traffic light installed. He did not offer a timeline.
Homeless: Does your mental health program include the homeless? “Sort of,” Jacobs answered, calling homelessness “the hardest issue.” He said people come here from elsewhere because of the level of service Knoxville offers. “Addiction and substance abuse contribute.”
The Fountain City business club hadn’t met for a year. It moved to Beaver Brook Country Club (“This ain’t Fountain City,” said Mark Enix), posted record attendance, and enjoyed spring fellowship and in a covid-sensitive environment. Jeff Bagwell is president.
Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.