It was an action-packed meeting for the Halls Business and Professional Association Oct. 17, starting with a word from Brian Tapp of Avison Young, the broker for the Regal Entertainment campus in Halls.
Regal is moving to offices on the riverfront in South Knoxville, so Tapp’s firm is looking for buyers. The best-known potential buyer right now is Knox County Schools, which will soon vacate the Andrew Johnson Building downtown. Tapp said the 270 school employees now housed in the A.J. Building could fit into one or two buildings on the Regal campus, and other buildings could be used to consolidate miscellaneous offices across Knox County, including the Sears building and old Rule High School.
“It would create opportunities for Knox County to sell other underutilized properties,” he said.
Tapp invited the group to tour the facility, saying that midday is a good time.
“Also, think about who would be a good neighbor,” he said. “And if you want Knox County Schools there, call your local elected officials and school board members.”
Up next was state Sen. Becky Massey, who spoke about her work in the Legislature. Sponsored bills that passed this past term include a measure that will make drivers licenses for those under 21 vertical instead of horizontal, making it easier for ID checkers to weed out underage drinkers. Another measure pushed the state board of education to implement American Sign Language as an accepted foreign language credit, and another “cleaned up language” requiring those convicted of domestic violence offenses to divest themselves of their firearms. Finally, a bill Massey sponsored added disabled individuals to the list of diversely owned businesses.
Massey said she’s excited to chair an ad hoc committee to look at disability services across state government. And soon she will be stepping down as executive director of Sertoma Center after more than 20 years.
Issues facing Tennessee government right now include the high turnover that will happen with in this election cycle. Out of 33 members in the state Senate, eight or nine will be new next term. Add to that a large turnover in the state House of Representatives, a new governor, and a third of U.S. Congressional members turning over, and Massey said there will be a learning curve next term.
“We’re almost going to need name tags,” she said.
She added that Nashville has seen “some spillover of the divisiveness” playing out at the national level.
“I think the biggest thing is that it’s OK to disagree and have different opinions,” Massey said. “We’re not going to agree all the time. Differences of opinion makes for a better piece of legislation. I like to bring all the groups together at the table.”
Rural Metro‘s Captain Jeff Bagwell visited the HPBA meeting to name Halls native Cory Dantzler the 2017 Rural Metro Firefighter of the Year. Dantzler is a 2012 graduate of Halls High School who came to Rural Metro in 2015 as a full-time firefighter. He is stationed in Powell.
“He’s the kind of young man you’d want your daughter to marry,” said Bagwell.
Commercial Bank was the featured business for the meeting, and Sandy Cates, loan officer, and Janice Clark, Halls operations manager, spoke about the bank’s rich history.
Cates said Oscar Robertson founded Commercial Bank in Harrogate in 1976. The bank expanded into Union County, and then opened the Halls branch in 1995. Now, the bank has 27 branches.
“We are a community bank, and we are interested in supporting our communities,” said Cates. “We want you to live your life better.”