From the Daily Times, Letter to the Editor,

Lots of money is being spent in the small town of Alcoa with little return on investment. The Pellissippi Place project is an undertaking funded by Knox and Blount counties, and Maryville and Alcoa, which each put up $5 million. U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan also helped secure $2 million in federal funding.

The 450-acre development was first announced in May 2006 as a mixed-use business, commercial, residential and retail business park with upscale office, retail and residential components designed to attract companies involved in technology and research and development.

Nearly 14 years ago, Pellissippi Place was a grandiose plan with an initial cost to taxpayers of $20 million. After nearly 10 years, the first business opened in Pellissippi Place, ProNova Solutions.

Now, nearly 14 years after conception, the city of Alcoa is proposing an additional $1 million to $5 million for an electrical substation to support growth in the business park. Are the regional partners assisting with the funding for the electrical substation?

There is also a lot of money being spent on the new Springbrook Farm development. This is another development that has not realized the expectations.

Alcoa property taxes went up a lot this year, by 20% to nearly 40%. Is the city managing our money responsibly?

The Aluminum Company of America had a great vision when developing Alcoa. However, ALCOA no longer is involved in the city's development. We can only hope that during the city's 100-year anniversary, management understands why it is a popular location for citizens. There are only about 9,000 residents in the city. I hope management knows we cannot keep paying for projects that are very slow to be successful, if ever.

Wed
Nov 13 2019
07:32:am

The First Baptist Church of Maryville is providing a warming shelter for the second year. It was open yesterday, Nov. 12, beginning at 7 p.m. and stayed open until 7 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13.

"The church provided an evening meal and breakfast.

The church said it typically will open if temperatures are expected to drop below 25 degrees for 24 hours.

A white flag is posted outside the building when the shelter is open."

The First Baptist Church of Maryville is at 202 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in downtown Maryville. It is across from the Blount County Courthouse.

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Fri
Nov 1 2019
07:14:am

Sad to see the Krystal on Alcoa Highway next to Captain D's and the Marathon convenience store close. Luckily there is another Krystal about 5 miles south, towards Maryville, at Foch Street, before Home Depot.

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Sat
Sep 28 2019
03:15:pm

The City of Alcoa is celebrating 100 years. Many thanks to all those who helped get Alcoa started and all of those who keep it going. We thoroughly enjoyed the parade. Loved all the Alcoa Schools involvement and everyone else as well. There were lots of smiles. Alcoa is a great place to live.

Click on picture for more.

Wed
Sep 4 2019
09:00:am

Our City of Alcoa property taxes increased by nearly 40% this year. That's a little shocking.

The increase is two parts, property appraisal and tax rate. Our property was appraised 20% higher than before. The property tax rate increased 15.8%, from 1.96 per $100 to $2.27 per $100.

The appraised property value increase does not appear to be unique to certain areas in Alcoa. I have seen reported on social media where people living in different areas of Alcoa have had high property tax increases and are also shocked.

In 2015, our property appraisal was reduced by nearly 20%, reducing our property tax by nearly 20%. The property tax rate was 1.96 per $100 at the time. Thus, for four years our City of Alcoa property taxes were lower than before. In 2010, our property appraisal was increased by 6.2%.

The last time the City of Alcoa property tax rate of 1.96 per $100 was changed was in 2010, when it was 2.10 per $100. Thus, the property tax rate has not been changed in nine years.

Oh, and since the property appraisals increase there will be an increase in Blount County property taxes as well.

From a June 11, 2019, Daily Times report on a City of Alcoa Commission meeting:

“This tax increase is to replace the revenues we’ve basically lost in actual dollars and lack of growth in our revenues over the past three or four years,” City Manager Mark Johnson told commissioners.

Johnson told gathered city officials during a May budget workshop that a combination of issues had damaged the city’s fiscal intake including an error in airport revenue, losses resulting from a combination of the state’s internet sales tax system and Alcoa’s demographics, current property taxes and consumption taxes. The result left the city nearly $1 million in the red.

He [Johnson] went on to note there were two theories of tax increases. Some governments choose to increase taxes gradually and some to increase when needed. He said Alcoa had chosen the “when needed” model.

Proactive vs reactive???

The Alcoa city manager and city commissioners seem to be putting a lot of their eggs in the new commercial developement at the old Alcoa Aluminum Company West Plant site off of Hall Road. We can only hope it goes better than the Pellissippi Place development on Old Knoxville Hwy (Maryville Pike), which was announced in 2008, and is nothing as planned. If not, we'll really be hurting.

You have to wonder if the City of Alcoa is doing a good job planning property tax increases/decreases. Forty percent is a lot in one jump. According to the U.S. Census, it is estimated that Alcoa's population has increased by 25.1% in eight years, from 8,390 in 2010 to 10,499 in 2018. Is the City of Alcoa having financial trouble?

Fri
Aug 23 2019
09:41:am

Today's breathless, provocative front page headline proclaims "Library board member sought inside information on director."

The article goes on to describe the request and ensuing board discussion in terms that make it sound vaguely inappropriate.

The library board, which is regulated by state law, says in their bylaws (section 2.5 - Authority and Responsibility of the Board) that "The Board shall employ a Library Director." Section 4.1 (Library Director) says The Library Director shall have sole charge of the administration of the Library under the direction and review of the Board, shall serve at the pleasure of the Board and shall be the direct representative of the Board in the management of the Library." Further, section 2.6 (Meeting of the Board) says that "All Board and committee meetings shall meet the requirements of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act."

So, a new member of the board that is responsible for the hiring and oversight of the director asks for information she needs to carry out those duties and this is somehow controversial? And the requested information that is work product of the board and its employees is somehow "inside information?" Is there some information that is privy only to certain board members? Where in the bylaws or state law is that allowed?

If there's some double-secret deep state political intrigue afoot, the paper should not beat around the bush and just spell it out. Otherwise, they appear to be sensationalizing a routine functioning of the board to stir up controversy where none seems to exist.

The Daily Times has a report on last night's County Commission vote to acquire land for a transition center to ease jail crowding. In the middle of the report out of the blue comes this:

“There is no data that it would lead to an increase in crime and decrease in property value,” said Zac Talbott, Director of Clinical Services at ReVita Recovery Centers, LLC, at the town hall meeting.

Nowhere before or after does the report explain who Zac Talbott is or how "ReVita Recovery Centers, LLC" is involved in the project.

First of all, there is no such organization as "ReVita Recovery Centers." There is a company called "ReVIDA Recovery Centers," an LLC registered in Delaware and headquartered in Nashville. According to their website, they are an "outpatient medication assisted treatment center specializing in personal and behavorial care for opioid use disorders." It appears they are a methadone/suboxone clinic with counseling services.

So what is ReVIDA's involvement in the transition center project? Are they consultants? Do they expect to be service providers? Will they have offices at the facility? What other for-profit commercial businesses are involved? We don't know because the Daily Times report doesn't say.

A reporter should explain this. An editor should ask why it isn't explained. Both should verify the spelling of company names mentioned in the article so readers can try to answer these questions themselves via google.

Fri
Aug 9 2019
09:17:am

Midland Pet Emergency Clinic on Calderwood, across from Midland Shopping Center closed in May, 2019.

Very sad. When we had an older pet we had to use the services of Midland Pet Emergency Clinic several times. We were very pleased with the care they gave our pet.

Unless your local veterinarian provides 24/7 emergency services, local veterinarians are directing pet emergencies to:
directing emergencies to:

Knoxville Pet Emergency Center
1819 Ailor Ave
Knoxville, TN 37921
(865) 637-0114

Animal Emergency and Specialty Center of Knoxville
10213 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37922
(865)413-0674

University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996
(865)974-8387

Thu
Jul 25 2019
08:18:am

The Daily Times, Blount County's daily newspaper of record, has recently allowed a number of factual and contextual errors to creep into their reporting. For example, did you know that the Little Tennessee River flows through Townsend? I didn't either, but it says so right there on today's front page. Twice.

A report about a police sting operation led to Tuesday's front page headline suggesting there was human trafficking going on at a well-respected national chain hotel in the area. I noticed today that it was changed in the online edition, but the headline blaring from newsstands around town can't be unseen.

I've written to the editor a couple of times about recent errors. Twice the reporter respond to me, and both times the reporter defended his statements, apparently believing them to be correct. The paper has not printed any corrections that I have noticed.

While some of the errors are of no great consequence, they can affect reader's understanding of context around an issue. Worse, they affect the overall credibility of the paper's reporting. If they can't get basic facts right, how can we trust their reporting on the bigger picture?

The Daily Times has gone through many recent changes with new ownership, a new publisher, a new editor, and young new reporters. Some of the reporting and editing (or lack thereof) suggests "they aren't from around here, are they?". A lot of institutional knowledge about local history, culture and civics was lost in the transition. Dean Stone and Buzz Trexler are sorely missed.

There is much lamenting about the decline of newspapers and journalism. One must wonder which came first: the decline in quality or the decline in readership? Which is the cause and which is the effect?

Blount County Democrats are hosting a Family BBQ Picnic.

DATE: July 21, 2019
TIME: 3 - 9 PM
Dinner served from 4:30 - 6:30 PM
Dinner cost is $15, children 10 and under are free

Location: Louisville Point Park
3298 Cox Rd
Louisville, TN 37777

Come out, meet the candidates and your fellow Democrats!

FYI, right now I do not know if dinner tickets have to be purchased in advance or if they can be purchased at the event. I doubt the will turn you away if you don't pay in advance. However, they might run out of food.:)

Tue
Jul 9 2019
10:25:am

Religious publishers say President Donald Trump’s most recent proposed tariffs on Chinese imports could result in a Bible shortage.

Millions of Bibles, estimates of up to 150 million or more — are printed in China each year.

It’s clear the Bible is the top-selling book in the U.S. By comparison, the next best seller in 2018 was Michelle Obama’s “Becoming,” which BookScan estimates sold 3.5 million copies.

That's a lot of Bibles. What will the bible belt do?

Sat
Jul 6 2019
06:41:am

This video of Alcoa PD doing the 'Git Up Challenge' is two minutes and thirty-eight seconds of pure bliss.

Thanks to the Alcoa Police Department. We feel you are a part of our community as well as our protectors.

Tue
Jun 4 2019
09:55:am

Throughout our lives we have to have repairs done around our homes. Many times we take it to the next step and do remodels. Please beware of unethical contractors and handymen.

There is an article in the Maryville Daily Times newspaper warning us to do our due diligence, "Need your home painted? I'm your man!". I cannot find it online, but the gist is be careful when selecting contractors. If you are offered a large discount, it's probably too good to be true. If they want the money upfront, don't. If they knock on your door, don't. No one is too smart to fall for a scam.

Check out the KnoxViews article on tips for finding reputable home repair/remodel contractors.

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Sun
May 19 2019
09:38:am

Alcoa City Schools teachers would see no pay raise for the third consecutive year under a proposed 2019-20 budget that includes only the annual step increase. “We just can’t find it in our budget,” Director Brian Bell told the Alcoa Board of Commissioners during a budget workshop Friday.

Maryville City Schools is planning a 4% raise for employees in the coming year, which will raise the starting pay for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree to $43,160. In Alcoa the starting teacher salary is $37,800.

From what I can find on the Internets,
Blount County starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree is $35,885.
Knox County starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree is $38,295.
Oak Ridge starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor's degree is $40,380.

Alcoa School's base teacher salary = $37,800.

$5,360 (12.4%) less than Maryville City Schools
$2,580 (6.4%) less than Oak Ridge City Schools
$495 (1.3%) less than Knox County Schools
$1,915 (5.3%) greater than Blount County Schools

There can be other factors that change overall compensation, such as benefits (health insurance), bonuses, etc.

In my opinion, the City of Alcoa needs to be more careful. There could be too much encouragement for growth that cannot be sustained by the City and its citizens.

Sun
May 19 2019
09:17:am

On May 14, 2019, the Maryville Daily Times reports that "The Blount County Public Library needs local governments to kick in an extra $372,676 or it could lose up to 10 employees and put library programs, services and operating hours in jeopardy — turning the library into a “building with books,” library officials said."
...
A decrease in part- and full-time staff would force the library’s operating hours to shrink, annulling a contract with the state and effectively cutting off the library from $2.5 million in funding, Williams said.

A Daily Times follow-up article on May 19,2019, indicates the county and funding cities (Alcoa and Maryville) are working to raise some of the needed funds while also working on library budget cuts.
...
"Each government currently contributes a set percentage to the library’s budget — Blount County 50%, Alcoa 10% and Maryville 40%."

In one of the articles, it is stated that Louisville, TN, has more library card holders than Alcoa, but does not contribute to the library's budget. That's kind of sad considering Louisville's population is just over 4,000 and Alcoa's population is more than double that at over 10,000. It is hard to know how good any of these numbers are since library Director K.C. Williams "provided The Daily Times with a library data report showing active card holder numbers from each funding body at 46,791 from Blount County, 25,628 from Maryville, and 5,387 from Alcoa." Thus, indicating Alcoa has to have more library card holders than Louisville, especially since the 5,387 number for Alcoa is larger than the entire population of Louisville.

“This is your county library,” Dick Burgess, president of the Blount County Friends of the Library, told commissioners. “It’s our hundredth year. Is this the year you want to destroy it?”

Let's hope they get this figured out. The Blount County Library is a great asset and needs to continue as is and possibly grow for the future.

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