Jun 17 2018

We were driving buy Murrell Brothers Tire Center the other day and saw some auction signs. Say what? Murrell Brothers is being auctioned off? Well, yes, it would appear so.

According to the auction site, Jimmy and Bobby Murrell of Murrell Brothers Tire Center are retiring.

As best I can find out, it appears Murrell Brothers has been around for 35 or so years. It's almost like just about everyone in the area has used Murrell Brothers at least once.

I remember one specific incident where some relatives were in town and had a tire go bad. Trying to save money they wanted to get a tire from Walmart. They had to figure out how to blow up the bad tire (no spare?). I suggested they call Murrell's, which they did. Murrell's had them on the road quickly and the price was comparable to Walmart.

We've recommended Murrell Brothers many times. They will be missed. Who will we recommend now?

The Maryville Dailey Times is pretty great at providing local history. Today was another example from 1937.

The Alcoa connection in a California newspaper? Bumping against the big Earhart headline: “Call Guards Stop Battle Alcoa Plant.” The subhead: “Two Are Killed And Score Injured In Police And Picket Fighting.”

The story told of how national guardsmen had surrounded the Aluminum Company of America’s plant the previous night, July 7, to prevent further violence on the picket lines. Adjutant Gen. R.O. Smith, who commanded machine gun and infantry companies, met with an aide to Tennessee Gov. Gordon Browning and said, “We are not going to declare martial law here because we are getting too good cooperation from the union and from aluminum officials.”

Strikers and police had exchanged about 500 rounds before the riot outside the gates of the fabrication plant was halted. Each side blamed the other for initiating the gunfire. Two men died. Harrison Click, a striker, and ALCOA Plant Police Officer William J. Hunt.

I had never heard about this incident. It wasn't in the booklet I received about the history of the City of Alcoa.

Something else of some interest was how news was distributed back in the past. With newspapers and radio our ancestors were able to get news when the internet wasn't even a bit in the bucket.

A Tennessee 2nd Congressional district candidate forum was hosted Monday, Apr. 23, 2018, by the American Association of University Women, Maryville Branch, the League of Women Voters of Blount County and The Daily Times.

Nine of the fourteen candidates attended the forum. Two missing candidates were Tim Burchett and Jimmy Matlock.

Some of the topics discussed included gun violence, gender pay gap and privatizing the Tennessee Valley Authority.

It appears obvious to me that some of the people are not qualified.

Question: If elected, how would you support proposed legislation aimed at closing the gender pay gap?

Independent candidate Greg Samples response: “Women often work less hours, oftentimes part time, or take time off. The actual pay gap is really like 3 cents,” said Independent candidate Greg Samples, who then was heckled by the nearly 130 audience members. “But with more women in medical school and law school, these things are going to change.”

Republican candidate Jason Frederick Emert's response: “I’m a business person, and this is not something the government needs to be involved in,” said Republican candidate Jason Frederick Emert. “It’s a slippery slope.”

Question: What measures do you support to improve and secure elections and voting in our country?

Various responses: "campaign finance reform", "fair election laws in this country", "a national voting holiday", "you cannot spend more than half your salary on the election", "make sure those voting booths are not connected to the internet", "need to show a picture ID. If you have to have a picture ID to buy beer or cigarettes, you should have to have one to vote.”

What are ya gonna do?

Trying to go northbound on Alcoa Highway from Hunt Road westbound or exiting off of Alcoa Highway to Hunt Road going westbound, ? It isn't going to happen easily effective Monday, March 26, 2018.

For up to a month, the road project will cause detours, half of which they will be directing through the center of Springbrook Park and the Springbrook neighborhood.

If you need to go northbound on Alcoa Highway while traveling westbound on Hunt Road (from the Louisville Rd side of the highway), you will have to instead stay on Hunt Road, then take a left on Wright Road to access Alcoa Highway at the intersection where Shoney's is located. Note, there is no acceleration lane at that intersection. It has been know to be a very dangerous intersection. There could be long waits taking a left on Wright Road and accessing Alcoa Highway at the Shoney's intersection. Be careful out there.

If you want to exit Alcoa Highway at Hunt Road to go east or west bound on Hunt Road, prior to that interesection you'll be directed to a new exit to a new road, Tesla Boulevard. This detour will take you to a right turn to a short access road, then a right turn to Mills Street for about 1/4 mile, then a left turn on Alcoa Road for about 2/3 of a mile, then another left turn onto Wright Road (there is no traffic light there), then about 1/3 mile to the Hunt Road intersection. There is a traffic light at the Hunt Road intersection, but unless they are changing it, there is not left turn arrow, which has left me sitting there through many light changes during heavy traffic.

Instead of taking all of this traffic through Springbrook Park and the Springbrook neighborhood, they could have directed this traffic a mile further north on Alcoa Highway to Cusick Road, which will take you to Wright Road where you will take a left or right on Hunt Road.

Hmmmm. I have something here. Time to get the Springbrook residents to step up again to protect their neighborhood.

Democratic candidates for Blount County election - County Primary

The voting date is Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

This information is as of 3/13/2018 based on the Sample Ballot and Petitions listed by the Blount County Election Commission.

Ballot is final. No time left to submit petitions to qualify for the May 1, 2018 election.

** County Commission District 1, Seat A **
(Precincts Everett, Martin Luther King, Maryville Municipal Building)
Jackie Hill (D)

** County Commission District 1, Seat B **
(Precincts Everett, Martin Luther King, Maryville Municipal Building)
Tanya D. Martin (D)

** County Commission District 3, Seat A **
(Precincts Eagleton Middle, John Sevier)
April White (D)

** County Commission District 4, Seat C **
(Precincts Blount County Board of Education, Chilhowee View, Fairview, Montvale)
Jeff Barbra (D)

** County Commission District 5, Seat A **
(Precincts Maryville College, Maryville High School, Maryville Junior High School)
Ginny West Case (D)

** County Commission District 8, Seat B **
(Precincts Heritage Middle School, Oak View, Townsend, Walland)
Kathleen Puckett (D)

Feb 26 2018

According to an article in the Feb. 14, 2018, Daily Times, the City of Alcoa will be considering a property tax increase.

Alcoa commissioners authorized the issuance of up to $10 million in bonds Tuesday [Feb. 13, 2018]. Almost half of that amount, some $4.8 million, already has been earmarked for a new fire truck, membranes at the water treatment plant and a new heating ventilation and air conditioning system at the city’s public safety building.

Alcoa City Manager Mark "Johnson said in October that the expansion of Alcoa Intermediate School “will take a property tax increase” as “there’s no other source of money.

An August 2012 increase in the local sales tax was earmarked to build the new Alcoa High School, Johnson explained, and would not go toward any renovations to Alcoa Intermediate. If a 1-cent increase yields $50,000 in additional revenue, Johnson explained, Alcoa probably would be looking at a property tax increase of 10 [$500,000] to 20 cents [$1,000,000].

No decisions were made about a property tax increase Tuesday, although a resolution approved by commissioners authorizes the issuance of not more than $10 million in bonds and provides for the levy of tax for the payment of principal of, premium (if any) and interest on those bonds.

Hmmm... A "levy of tax for the payment of principal of, premium (if any) and interest on those bonds."

Feb 15 2018

It's been really cold this winter. Many people are likely to start their car to warm it up and go back inside. Apparently someone notices. This has been happening in Blount County and three cars were stolen, as reported in the Daily Times today. Is there a way to lock the car while it is warming up? A second set of keys? Would that deter a car thief? Or, we're just going to have to tough it out. Winter's almost over, this year anyway.

Feb 14 2018

The City of Alcoa has asked all residents of the city to complete an Excellence in Service/Quality of Life Survey. This is something they do every two years.

IMPORTANT: the survey is due tomorrow, Thursday, February 15, 2018.
If you did not get the survey, you can contact the City Manager's office and pick one up to fill out quickly and turn in at the City Manager's office.
City of Alcoa
223 Associates Boulevard
Alcoa, TN 37701-1948

If you have questions about the survey please call the Alcoa City Manager’s Office at 865-380-4795.

Blount County Candidates - County Primary & Rockford City

The voting date is Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

UPDATE: Ballot is final. No time left to submit petitions to qualify for the May 1, 2018 election.

N/A - It would appear there is still time to submit a petition and qualify for the election. The qualifying deadline is Feb. 15, 2018

This information is as of 3/13/2018 (was 1/26/2018) based on the Sample Ballot and Petitions listed by the Blount County Election Commission.

N/A - Not all of the candidates have been assigned a qualified date.

Rockford City Commissioner candidates (2 seats)
Jennifer L. Brown (incumbent)
Sandra Hitson


Jan 19 2018

Franklin, TN, is about 15 miles from Nashville, as is Maryville, TN, from Knoxville. Franklin has a transit authority providing public transportation services in the town. In addition, the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority provides an express service to/from Franklin and Nashville.

Recently, the Franklin Transit Authority overhauled its system, adding 100 new stops, new buses and a new service plan.

The State of Tennessee's recent IMPROVE Act (raising taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel) allows cities to consider local optioins for mass transit funding.

Every morning and evening thousands of people travel to/from Blount County to/from Knox County as is evident on Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi (I-140).

Isn't it about time Maryville, Alcoa, Blount County, Knoxville, and Knox County begin public transporation services to/from Maryville and Knoxville? Could it be we need to start with large employers (e.g. Denso, University of Tennessee, hospitals, etc.) in the areas for express services?

In addition, local transportation services are in need to connect people to Alcoa, Maryville, and the surrounding communities. Wouldn't it be great if you could catch a bus in Alcoa to get to the Blount County Courthouse or your employer or the grocery store or your doctor?

Dec 19 2017

On one of my regular walks at Springbrook Park the other day I noticed scarves tied to trees. There was a message attached to the scarves, "I am not lost ... If you are stuck out in the cold please take what you need to keep warm."

I had no idea who provided the scarves, but what a great idea.

The local newspaper, Maryville Daily Times, figured it out. The scarf angels also tied scarves, hats, and gloves to trees in downtown Maryville.

Credit for this special Christmas offering goes to April Armstrong Hoard, a para-professional who works with special-needs children at Alcoa Elementary School. In this effort, she shares accolades with her 7-year-old daughter Claire, a first-grader at AES; her husband Dallas, a 911 dispatcher; and all the people at AES who contributed knitted goods for the effort.
About 100 items were donated to be offered not just to the homeless but to anyone who needed a scarf or other knitted item to keep warm.

What a kind gesture.


As reported in the Maryville Daily Times.

Safety issues are a concern. Townsend has an all volunteer fire department, "which is responsible for rescuing tubers who are under distress on Little River." The department has handled more than 50 rescues in one season. A couple of years ago they had 11 rescures in 30 minutes. Suggestions to help alleviate the problems include requiring life jackets, not allowing tubing when the water is too high or too low, and requiring a specific size of tube.

Then there are the cost for "patrolling, rescuing and helping the tubers." "The City of Townsend charges $100 per calendar year for a permit that is required of any individual or entity operating a tube-related business within the city limits." Citizens with property along Little River are worried about the liability when a tuber gets hurt on their private property

Townsend property owners were hoping environmental concerns would give the city and county a foothold to regulate commercial tubing on Little River. A TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Water Resources) representative said that "baseline data "for years" shows that Little River is still at acceptable levels for recreational use standards for pathogens."

Citizens at the workshop worried about the health of Little River and described changes they have seen in the water. The citizens commented on thousands of tubers going to the bathroom in Little River in addition to all the suntan lotions being washed into the river. There were complaints about the disturbances of the sediment by the tubers. Late in the day you cannot see the bottom of the river. Then there are the people moving rocks to create flumes for tubers. TDEC tried to address this problem in 2008, but have found it hard to enforce since they have to see the activity themselves.

The large presence of tubers negatively affects fishing. "You can’t fly fish, said one resident. "I’ve hooked tubers before, and I’ve been told I’m a horrible person for standing on my own property and fishing."

Then there are the abandoned tubes along the river. Property owners don't want the tubing companies on their property retrieving tubes, nor do they want to go out of their way to return them to the companies. What do they do? Shove them back in the water for the next property owner to handle?

These problems may sound small and petty if you address each individually. But, if you look at the big picture tubing on Little River in Townsend is a growing issue and should be addressed. Maybe someone should build a fake river somewhere close by (like a theme park) and remove tubing from Little River completely. Just a thought.

Oct 3 2017

For the 2nd or 3rd time, it has been announced that the old ALCOA West Plant will be developed as a City of Alcoa town center with a mixed-use design including retail, office, and residential.

A concern with this site is that it is classified as a brownfield, the site has a limited number of known environmental constraints affecting development placement.

It is not easily determined by a mere citizen what areas of the site are contaminated.

I received a report from a resident that went to the most recent meeting. Indications are that the contaminated areas will be covered so that the sites are not disturbed and will not be hazardous.

My concern is I would like to know what areas are contaminated so that I do not go to those areas. More specifically, I would hope that they will not build on those sites. Protections can fail.

For example, in May, 2017, it was reported by the Maryville Daily Times, the Alcoa High School baseball field was placed on an old parking lot for ALCOA Inc.’s fabrication plant. "Under the warranty deed for the property, the school district could not remove the parking surface because of possible contamination on the site and instead covered it with 12 to 15 inches of fill dirt." The fix has failed and created a swamp and an unusable ball field. "Alcoa City Schools will need permission from both the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Arconic Inc. (previously ALCOA)" to fix the problem.

We can only hope these contamination problems can be remediated so that problems don't cause problems in the future or reappear.

Oct 1 2017

As of 2010, according to the US Census Bureau, there are approximately 4,175 housing units in Alcoa, TN. The proposed Springbrook Farm mixed-use development at the old ALCOA West Plant could add 1,183 new housing units (980 multi-family units, 110 townhouse units, and 93 single family homes). That's an approximate 28% increase in housing units.

In 2016, before there was a projection on new housing units for the ALCOA West Plant, Alcoa Director of Schools Brian Bell said it will be hard to predict the growth for Alcoa City Schools. Alcoa Schools have reached an all-time enrollment high. Alcoa schools had 1,978 students in 2016. This month, Dr. Bell said he will be requesting "a long-range study of the capacity and enrollment of the intermediate school." It is possible the intermediate school could be "bursting at the seams" in 3-4 years. "Tuition students comprise 20 percent of enrollment" at City of Alcoa schools.

More recently, "the Alcoa school board voted Tuesday to delay spending half-a-million dollars to fix structural problems at the intermediate school and instead spend $300,000 to prepare plans for expanding that school, adding a track and soccer complex, and building a new football field house." The school board had voted to make these repairs in July. "I have a problem with not fixing the intermediate school," School Board Member Clayton Bledsoe said, raising the possibility that the structural engineer could determine the building has become unsafe." He also proposed "to fund only the design work for the intermediate school expansion and repairs and not the athletic projects," These projects have been delayed a year already, according to Bledsoe. He did not get a second on this proposal

When municipalities desire to grow planning should be a high priority. Sure, you build more housing and business to bring in more property taxes and sales tax. But, is the infrastructure ready? Bigger is not always better.

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