The government we have

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

During the quick but nasty storm on Wednesday, a Knox County crew worked through the night to clear 29 trees off roads. On Thursday morning, I phoned the mayor’s office to see if any members of that six-person crew were among those slated for a two-month furlough starting May 8.

This is one reason politicians don’t like reporters.

The short answer is no. But I learned some interesting stuff during the conversation.

Mike Donila has been transferred out of Parks & Rec over to the mayor’s office to become communications director. Former communications director Rob Link is now working in information technology. Donila is a former reporter for the News Sentinel and later for WBIR-TV. He was a good reporter and he’s been a good fill-in for Link for the past month or so. (At least he still takes my calls.)

The highest paid person to be furloughed is a dentist from the health department. The lowest paid people are from the library system.

Charlie Susano joined the list of officials who “opted out” of the furloughs. As clerk of the courts of circuit, general sessions and juvenile, he’s anticipating the courts reopening in May. Also opting out were Sheriff Tom Spangler, Atty. Gen. Charme Allen and Public Defender Eric Lutton. Knox County Schools was not asked to furlough anyone so it didn’t. But it did institute a hiring freeze (except for hard-to-fill positions). See previous story here.

Mike Hammond, criminal court clerk, is the only person affiliated with the justice system who participated in the furloughs.

So, the numbers have changed slightly. Knox County is furloughing 353 people (not 366 as previously announced, saving $1.69 million, not $1.73 million).

My hero is Robert “Buzz” Buswell, who oversees senior services and miscellaneous stuff. He took a furlough, along with much of his staff. Here’s the new body count:

Glenn Jacobs (hires directors)

Libraries, 169

Health Department, 28

Engineering & Public Works, 22

Senior Services, 17

Finance, 12

Information Technology, 7

Parks & Rec, 7

Risk Management, 1

Probation, 1

Mayor’s Office, 2

Elected Officials

Sherry Witt, county clerk, 20

Mike Hammond, criminal court clerk, 20

Ed Shouse, trustee, 19

John Whitehead, property assessor, 13

Nick McBride, register of deeds, 11

Bud Armstrong, law director, 3


Chancery Court, 1

Storm cleanup

Knox County Engineering and Public Works crews worked around the clock last night and well into this morning, responding to almost 30 downed trees caused by heavy winds and storms, according to the county press release.

Residents first reported trees falling around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday on Miller Road in Halls. Within 30 minutes, another 16 trees dropped, blocking roadways.

The crew of six – Mike Sharp, Mike Wade, Jacob Hillard, Justin Zachary, Andy Lynn and Tim Atkins – was able to start work around 8 p.m. The last report came in at roughly 12:45 a.m. Thursday. Multiple downed power lines forced the crew to wait to begin work, but the final tree was cleared by 3:45 a.m.

In all, the crew removed 29 trees. Roads impacted included Roseberry Road, Ridgeview Road, Shipe Road, Ellistown Road, Brushy Valley Drive, Clear Springs Road and Ball Camp Pike.

“Their work never seems to stop, and I want to thank them for all the hard work they did throughout the night,” said Mayor Glenn Jacobs.

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of

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