A deal afoot for Midway Business Park?

Sandra ClarkEast Knox, Let's Talk

Midway Business Park may be sold to a single buyer. And that buyer might be Jordan Mollenhour, friend of Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Gov. Bill Lee. OK. At this point, that’s a courthouse rumor.

Gossip at the City County Building is circular. Tell somebody something and an hour later it comes back to you, distorted to the point that it seems brand new.

We snagged this response from county PR guy Mike Donila on Thursday:

  • Question: Can you confirm that we’re close to having a deal to sell all or most of the Midway Business Park? I’m hearing that we are … and that the buyer might be Jordan Mollenhour.
  • Answer: My understanding is that discussions are underway about how best to ensure the long-term success of Midway. We’d also need some sort of RFP process. – Mike

Midway was conceived during Mike Ragsdale’s tenure as county mayor. Land acquisition was a deep secret, especially to those in the Thorn Grove community of East Knox County. Land was bought in 2006. Neighbors’ objections took 15 years to overcome. The business park opened April 7, 2021. This link shows folks still around today who were all-in for Midway.

To secure the peace, Mayor Tim Burchett and Commissioner Dave Wright made promises to the community, up to and including building a new elementary school at Carter. Jobs were promised – 2,000 direct and 2,000 indirect. The site plan calls for open access to the community with walking trails and a pavilion.

Mollenhour (or most any private buyer) will want to control the property. We’re talking fences, high fences. A secured 350 acres at Midway Road and I-40 could become headquarters for nearly anything. Right there by the Thorn Grove Cemetery and Janie Emmert’s green beans patch.

Most interesting races:

Candidates had until noon Thursday to get a valid petition turned in to the Election Commission. (And they’ve got until noon next Thursday to withdraw.) Read the full list here.

My vote for three top races in the May 3 Republican Primary:

Sheriff Tom Spangler vs. former Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. An epic knock-down, drag-out battle.

Devin Driscoll vs. Kim Frazier for Knox County Commission At-Large, Seat 11. Two newcomers. Driscoll is supported by most developers; Frazier has friends countywide through volunteer work with zoning issues.

Richard Jacobs vs. Justin Biggs for Trustee. Jacobs has an intact family, a website and a master’s degree in management with advanced executive education at Harvard University and the Haslam College of Business at UT. He has a 20-year business career from chief procurement office for Eaton Corporation with $8 billion in spending to president of a $800 million division. Biggs has one term on Knox County Commission and 15 years in the Trustee’s Office.

Severance auction legit

Atty. Gen. Charme Allen said Chuck Severance handled the disclosure of his silent auction political fundraiser correctly. “He was within the law,” she said, after checking with state officials.

Severance listed donated items as “in-kind” contributions at the value set by the donor. He also listed income from each bidder as a regular contribution.

Future super update

One of three finalists for Knox County Schools superintendent dropped out before the interviews. Kirk Shrum must have watched the last BOE meeting. (Highlight was a close vote on whether to outright defy a federal court order.)

The BOE moved its community meeting for the candidates from West High (where it would compete with the drama club’s “Hairspray”) to Bearden High. You can watch it here.

The board plans to select either Dr. Linda Cash or Dr. Jon Rysewyk at a special called meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22. Info: knoxschools.org/supersearch.

Halls Republican Club

Halls GOP will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, February 21, at the Boys and Girls Club on Dry Gap Pike, to elect officers and hear from:

  • Glenn Jacobs: Knox County Mayor
  • Devin Driscoll: Candidate for Knox County Commission Seat 11 At-Large
  • Larsen Jay: Knox County Commission Seat 10 At-Large
  • Steve Triplett: Candidate for Board of Education District 7

President Bob Crye says many of the current officeholders and other candidates will also attend and you can meet them and ask questions.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.

 

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