It was a day for pols and politics at the Rotary Club of Farragut. Hot topic talk was about immigration, the new Knoxville Smokies Stadium in the Old City, our state’s great financial condition and the teaching of critical race theory.
Sitting together at a table were the day’s guest speaker, state Rep. Jason Zachary, who represents the district that includes Farragut; Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally of Oak Ridge; Farragut Mayor Ron Williams; and Farragut Rotarian Chuck Laine, who is a longtime lobbyist in the Senate and House hallways and staircases.
Zachary, 43, was elected in August 2015 and has served almost six years. He says he’s committed to six terms. He’s Farragut through and through – a Farragut native, Farragut High School graduate with a 16-year-old son there now, and a deacon at First Baptist Concord.
In Nashville, he’s becoming a player as chair of the powerful Calendar & Rules Committee and a member of these committees: Finance, Ways & Means; Commerce: Appropriations Subcommittee, Business & Utilities Subcommittee; and the Joint Fiscal Review Committee.
Immigration: Zachary said a friend was aboard a recent late-night commercial flight from Dallas to Knoxville that carried a group of about 50 apparently unaccompanied children. A private jet flew in at night from Texas, full of unaccompanied migrant children, who were whisked away in buses to Kentucky.
Smokies Stadium: The proposed new stadium in the Old City will be the home of the Knoxville Smokies and a pro soccer team. It will host concerts, festivals, markets and community events. It will be owned by Knox County and team owner UT President Randy Boyd donated $8 million in land. Knox County’s share will be $500,000. Boyd hopes it will be open in 2023. Zachary said the old Tennessee Smokies stadium in Sevier County will be torn down to be replaced by a Turkey Creek-like commercial center and “Maybe, just maybe, a casino.”
Farragut Traffic: Rotarian Candace Viox asked Zachary about traffic issues in Farragut, especially on Campbell Station Road and under the I-40 bridge and elsewhere in the town. “What’s going to happen when Top Golf opens?” The Top Golf complex will be just west of Cotton Eyed Joe’s and may open in the summer of 2022. Zachary said the state DOT is looking at this issue and he and the town of Farragut are exploring some solutions. He did mention a plan for having a new interchange with four lanes under the interstate, but that is 10-plus years away.
Other Issues: Zachary said he supported three issues he was happy to see passed: 1) Making about six county health boards advisory boards only, including Knox County; 2) Passage of House Bill 580 mandating that critical race theory not be taught in Tennessee schools and parents be responsible for teaching children such issues; 3) The passage of a bill prohibiting government-mandated “vaccine passports.” The measure prohibits local governments and the state “from requiring or mandating that a private business require proof of vaccination against Covid-19 as a condition of entering upon the premises of the business or utilizing services provided by the business.”
To explore membership in the Rotary Club of Farragut, call 865-659-3562. Tom King, a past president of Farragut Rotary, has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers.