Christmas letter to Frith (reasons to come home)

Sandra ClarkHalls, Let's Talk

Felt like writing to my friend Scott Frith tonight. He’s gone to Philadelphia, you know, to make his fortune selling real estate.

Hi, Scott. Man, you won’t believe what’s happening here in Knoxville.

Knox County is moving the school system’s central office to the empty East TVA Tower (where we will forever pay rent) and selling/gifting the AJ Building to an out-of-town developer for $6 million. It will cost more than $6 million to get the TVA Tower in shape to occupy. How ’bout that math?

Your old friend Cathy Quist Shanks picked up a petition to run for county law director. Bud Armstrong is term-limited and he’s supporting his chief deputy, David Buuck. So am I.

When David was in private practice, he represented Citizens for Home Rule. He single-handedly battled the city’s small army of attorneys and managed to block (or stall for a long, long time) a bunch of involuntary annexations. David Buuck is smart and fearless.

One night I was out stuffing mailboxes in West Knox County with notices to property owners that the city had filed to annex them. I saw that Cathy Quist lived in one of the houses. She was an assistant law director at the time, and I phoned her. She mumbled something about six of one, half a dozen of another – it doesn’t matter – and opted not to fight her own personal annexation.

Involuntary annexation is in the past, but you can be sure something else will come along. And the county’s lawyer ought to be, well, smart and fearless.

Scott, you were in high school when Quist was first elected as clerk of Circuit and Sessions courts. You organized a youth group and printed T-shirts for the “Conquistadores.” Want to come home and give it a second shot?

Michele Carringer is running for District 16 state rep. So are Patti Bounds and maybe a half dozen others. Bill Dunn has finally retired. How old were you in 1994 when he was first elected? Eddie and Lana Smith have moved into the district, but Eddie says he won’t run – this time. It’s not too late to come home and get established to run in 2022.

Carringer’s District 2 seat on the county commission is being sought by John Fugate and Cortney Piper’s first husband, some Ragsdale guy. Should be fun.

Over at the high school, Mark Duff retired last spring. And the new principal is a fellow who may have been your classmate – Spencer Long. There’s not been anything on TV, so I guess Spencer is holding it in the road.

And speaking of roads, the state TDOT widened Maynardville Pike through Halls and cut down several of those dogwood trees we planted in the median. You chaired that committee and won a national award. Those dadgum trees never really grew, and now many of them are gone. But the good news is, the county has installed streetlights at the new intersection of Maynardville Pike and Norris Freeway. And when Halls holds its Christmas Parade (6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14) people can actually see it.

Remember the time we got Wilma Jordan’s daughter to serve as parade grand marshal – on a horse? When the band started playing and the big trucks started honking, that horse almost took off for Fountain City. I don’t think you could have lived that down, Scott.

Lots going on around here, my friend. Drop by for Christmas, and be sure to call. We can have lunch at Arby’s.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of


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