Betty Jo Mahan: Still busy ‘doing’ for Inskip

Beth KinnaneNorth Knoxville, Our Town Neighbors

When it comes to committed community leaders, you don’t have to look much further than Betty Jo Mahan. Her efforts have a common thread – Inskip is stamped on pretty much everything she does, from the school to the Lions Club, to the Baptist church and the community association.

Mahan grew up in Fountain City, attending Fountain City Elementary then Central High School. She graduated from the next to last class at Central to finish at the location that is now Gresham Middle School in 1970. She moved to the Inskip area in 2005.

Betty Jo Mahan touring new addition to Inskip Elementary

While involved in the community on several planes, she brings a particular level of knowledge to the Inskip Community Association (ICA). Mahan has been retired since 2018. But her last job from over 20 years of service in local government was as the administrative assistant to the director of the Metropolitan Planning Commission (now Knoxville-Knox County Planning).

“I took the notes at all the meetings. It was very interesting,” Mahan said. Suffice it to say, she learned a thing or two. “What I took from that experience is what got me wanting to form a community association. I just thought, ‘why can’t I?’ So, we did.”

What Mahan brings to the table for the association is knowledge of the ins and outs of the planning commission, how to keep up with zoning change requests and how, as a community, to challenge them. A common theme in recent Knox TN Today stories (here, here and here) is community groups fighting zoning changes that bring higher density to areas without the infrastructure in place to support it.

One feather in the ICA’s cap that Mahan points to is getting hundreds of properties rezoned to residential back in 2013 when the association was only two years old.

“So much of this comes down to traffic and safety,” Mahan said. “And so much of that is centered on the school.”

Inskip Elementary is located on High School Road which runs off the highly traveled Inskip Road near Central Avenue Pike. Higher density housing doesn’t make sense within the parental responsibility zone (no bus pickup) for the school, she said.

“There’s no place to walk,” Mahan said. “More sidewalks, that’s been a hope for years.”

Those safety issues hit especially close to home for her as she is raising her 10-year-old grandson, Baiden. He is a student at Inskip, and desperately wants to be able to ride his bicycle to school now that he’s reached the grade where he’s allowed to.

“I really would love to let him do this,” Mahan said. “I don’t because it’s just too dangerous.”

Mahan lost her husband, Steve, in 2018, the same year she retired. Though already involved with the community association, she found herself with more time on her hands to spend on all things Inskip.

“Other people got me involved,” she said. “They’re all good groups of good people. I like being busy. I am much more of a doer than a talker.”

She helped get her church more involved in school happenings as well as part of the broader coalition known as Friends of Inskip Elementary School (story here).

“Of course, Baiden being there made my involvement with the school even closer,” she said. “The school is right in the center of so much that we do, to reach those students and their parents. And help them.”

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for

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