Nov 21 2007
By: commissionerwalker  shortURL

I am curious, I know curiosity killed the cat.

What if anything is the Local Government for Blount County doing right?



To be fair we would have to break it all down into all those separate entities and then define what those same entities do.

But there are some wonderful things the local gov't has their hands in. The Library. The County Health Clinic. Um... when the winds took out a tree in the neighbor's woods the county was very quick to respond to get the road open again. Um... Denso expansion and working to get the new PSTCC campus going are important to all of us even if we don't work there or use those services. We now have 1.5 people working Animal Control and are working towards a wonderful joint effort between private citizens and the local gov't with the new Animal Shelter.

More Specific

"To be fair we would have to break it all down into all those separate entities and then define what those same entities do."

Let me be more specific, the Blount County Commission

Blount Co. Parks and Rec is

Blount Co. Parks and Rec is top notch. Elections seem to be run OK. Roads are mostly in good repair, although some appear to need some major redesign work to keep up with growth. The traffic control around the mall area needs some fine tuning (not sure who's jurisdiction that is). Can't think of much else that directly affects me, but I'm sure there is something I'm not thinking of.

City of Alcoa does a pretty good job. They are very responsive. Electricty is always on, they keep the water flowing (good emergency engineering job on the new Little River intake and pipeline by the way), the trash and curbside recycling is always picked up on time, cops and firefighters seem to be where they are needed when they are needed, their planning department does their job, municipal government is scandal free and run by competent people.

Can't think of much else

Can't think of much else that directly affects me, but I'm sure there is something I'm not thinking of.

I tend to agree. Could it be Blount County doesn't market its good points enough? I don't know.

I too think Blount Co. Parks and Rec is top notch.
I appreciate access to the landfill to drop off large or excess garbage, etc.
I believe it is Blount County that works with UT's agricultural extension service to provide this service to Blount County. I use this service several times a year.

Are the majority of Blount County Services relevant to non-city residents? Is there something city residents should be more aware of regarding services from the county? If so, please remind us.

Remind Us....

"Are the majority of Blount County Services relevant to non-city residents? Is there something city residents should be more aware of regarding services from the county?"

For the most part, it's not that the services that the county provide aren't relevant to city residents, it's that the services they cities offer are often dramatically enhanced over the base services of the county. Law enforcement, roads, and schools are provided by all 3, however the level at which they are funded and provided greatly differ.

State Law requires the county to provide these services and make them available to all county residents, unless there is some type of inter-governmental agreement in place.

I find it interesting that a majority of what has been mentioned as positives are areas that are jointly funded by all 3 governments, Library, Park & Rec, and the Landfill, just to name a few. What most doesn't realize is while all 3 governments jointly fund these the residents inside the city limits often times contribute twice, once throught their city taxes and once through their county taxes.

Thank You For Requiring Full Cutoff Lighting.

I thank the commissioners and the county planing department for the requirement for new industrial development to deploy responsible lighting. The requirement for full cutoff light fixtures will protect our skies and help us to show our children and grand children meteors, planets, comets, stars and galaxies.

I would hope you will encourage that all replacement lighting fixtures also be full cutoff so that we gradually replace the poor lighting fixtures already out there.

Forrest Erickson

Be Curious

By Alastair Reid


may have killed the cat; more likely
the cat was just unlucky, or else curious
to see what death was like, having no cause
to go on licking paws, or fathering
litter on litter of kittens, predictably.

Nevertheless, to be curious
is dangerous enough. To distrust
what is always said, what seems
to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams,
leave home, smell rats, have hunches
do not endear cats to those doggy circles
where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches
are the order of things, and where prevails
much wagging of incurious heads and tails.

Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die--
only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country
where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.

Only the curious have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.

Dogs say cats love too much, are irresponsible,
are changeable, marry too many wives,
desert their children, chill all dinner tables
with tales of their nine lives.
Well, they are lucky. Let them be
nine-lived and contradictory,
curious enough to change, prepared to pay
the cat price, which is to die
and die again and again,
each time with no less pain.
A cat minority of one
is all that can be counted on
to tell the truth. And what cats have to tell
on each return from hell
is this: that dying is what the living do,
that dying is what the loving do,
and that dead dogs are those who do not know
that dying is what, to live, each has to do.

I don't think being curious is the problem, only the lack of it is. If you're doing what your constituents ask, you're doing a good job. Problem as I see it, there is only a small number of commissioners (including you) that ask.

I love the blog thing

Commissioner Walker,

I think the blogs you and Commissioner Reeves upkeep are a very encouraging sign coming from local gov't and something that is "being done right." Gives impression that you care about the issues to discuss them, that you care enough to gather citizen opinion and commentary on them in recognition that the best decisions aren't made in a vacuum, and that you are open and approachable. It certainly increases my confidence that you make your own decisions instead of scooting into the Mayor's office and making them there! I think that's the stereotype a lot of folks have of what the commission does and why.

I particularly like to read Mrs. Reeves thoughts on the agendas of upcoming meetings. That's actually a very helpful service.

I love the Heritage Center at Townsend

I know Commissioner John Keeble took a lot of flack from various quarters for his support of this, but as a local in a county growing at breakneck speed, I worry about the roots and culture of this very special place being lost when we locals are all gone or assimilated into the "new" population. Soon, there will be noone left who knows what a "poke" or a "dope" is. I'm concerned about all our stories going untold.

I think the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center is very valuable to us from a cultural stand-point and I'm happy with the Commission whenever I visit there. (Which is often.)

I thought the Lighting

I thought the Lighting Ordinance was awesome! I was glad that the Commission came forth on curbing senseless, overbearing, predatorial lighting. The ordinances has Blount County helping out on Electricity waste--something we ALL have to keep an eye on (CO2 emmissions, etc). I do wish I could find a banner carrier for Light Rail, before neccessity rushes us into it. Fuel prices are gonna hurt us here rather quickly, as spread out as we are.

P.S. I'm finally convinced, you are he.

viva Evo Morales

Change of direction?

After longtime resident Cunningham got 60% in the election, you saw Bob Kidd hugging him on the news stating; "This was a win for development". I think many residents were actually shocked that's what they just voted for.

I think after seeing this and the actions of some commissioners in the subsequent year, many more than 40% probably wish they had voted for the New Yorker they didn't know.

I'm not sure your problem is with what the people think, we're getting a clear picture, it may be more about what your party leadership thinks the role of government is.

Government is not about building or banking - it's about policy.

we're getting a clear picture

"we're getting a clear picture"

I think you have hit a point here....

I believe "Joe Citizen" is getting a picture...however communication is a 2 way street. When you are involved in something often times there is a tendency to not take into consideration other extinuating circumstances simply because "you don't know what you don't know" regardless of who the "you" is.

What I have asked for is "what clear picture "we're" getting?"


Civil vs. Self

I think when citizens hear things like "we're not here to discuss cars tonight", "a number of you have asked", "this was a win for development" and "I transferred my stock to my wife" their eyes glaze over. Local polls would indicate citizens of both parties don't care much for these type actions and statements.

And when they see that about half the commission seems to have no problem, either through their votes or silence, with these type issues - the picture becomes clear. Some are putting personal and party interest ahead of public interest. Since teaching civics has become passé, many seemed to have confused civil service with self service.

I hope anyone who has money and personal power as goals gets them. I just wish they would accomplish these goals outside our government. Although, I do believe both are possible at the same time, but only if one recuses themselves from votes that effect their person or business. As it stands, many seem to not only want to avoid disclosing conflicts - they don't even want to discuss them - at least openly.

But ultimately it's on the public. Just like the banking industry is having to correct itself for bending and manipulating the rules with mortgages, so will the public with their government.

Sevier resident

I live in Sevier County but I ride my bike in Blount County, because of the great trail you have. A night on the town in downtown Maryville is always high on my list of fun places.

Greenbelt Park is a great as

Greenbelt Park is a great as are all the local parks we have. I must say my experiences will the local police patrol officers has always been good. I love and use the library often. Downtown has some great things to offer. There's a lot to complain about in Blount County, but much to love...

The Blount County Commission

You can't talk about the Commission as a whole, because then you are painting all of them with the same brush. Some of the Commissioners I wouldn't give the time of day because they are obviously trying to put forth the party agenda, but there are exceptions. I feel that Mike Walker, David Graham, Wendy Pitts Reeves, Monica Murrell, John Keeble, Bob Ramsey and Dave Ballard truly try to do what is right for the citizens that they represent. Sometimes that is hard to do as many citizens have differing opinions on what is the right thing to do. And this makes only seven out of the twenty-one Commissioners that we have that do not seem to be running along with the pack.

If you feel that "Joe Citizen" needs a clearer picture and you know something, even if it will cause disention among the other Commissioners you need to let everyone know. This doesn't come without consequences, but if you are in a position of power you have a responsiblity to "do what is right" even if there are people who get hurt.

Personally, I was upset when I was addressing the Commission and a commissioner kept ducking her head and pulling her hair. Body language sometimes tells you more than what someone is saying. This time it told me that the commissioner didn't want to hear the truths that I was saying.

What the Commission is doing right, I'm not sure, but I can tell you what several are trying to do correctly. Those are the honest men and women that serve. Those such as your father, Mickey, who put his trust in what some in the school system were saying, but listened when a parent from that school said that the overcrowding was so great her daughter was having class in the hall.

Your right, you can't act on what you don't know, but you can strive to investigate the matter further and go to the source.

My two cents.

Now we know who the problem

Now we know who the problem is!

From Blount Today: (link...) front of cameras,”

It's the pesky citizens who like to see, even through the lens of a camera, what their government is doing.

Commissioner Farmer said he did ask the mayor to look into the matter. “I said I would be interested in knowing,” he said. Farmer said matters such as conflict of interest ought to be handled in committee. “It’s better to request an opinion and see what CTAS responds before bringing it up at a full commission in front of cameras,” Farmer said.

Why don't we have the lawyers in charge appoint the CTAS representatives with all the answers to the peoples seats in the courthouse. That way, people could actually face those who make our decisions. I wonder what CTAS said about Dr. Ramsey?

I doubt JC even ask about Ramsey

But we citizens don't know because the actual letter of request by the Mayor has never been made public.

Do you think if CTAS got 60 or so FOIA requests for that very document one of us might get a copy of it? We could have our very first FOIA contest right here on BlountViews! We could double our fun and send FOIA requests to both the mayor's office and CTAS and see who answers first. And how they answer...

One of the Freedoms we have left

You have to stop being so formal with your acronyms. FOIA for most of us is The Freedom of Information Act.., something else to be thankful for. Like turkey, card tables and the Detroit Lions, asking CTAS for copies of correspondence from Blount government can also become a Thanksgiving tradition. You set up the contest rules and start date and I'll participate. I think we should start a e-mail campaign to enlist as many participants as possible.

Who are these people?

As I read this statement...

    The mayor said about 20 residents called asking him to look into the situation, including several from the Democratic party. “I got calls from some of the old-line conservative Democrats,” he said.

the list of anonymous people just grows longer. I'll bet the next call will be from Ten Lords a Leaping.

I'll bet the Democrat party will be pulling up there list of old-liners and making sure they get that phone call.

You know the one about towing the party line....

If some enterprising

If some enterprising journalist wanted to bother to look into all the correspondence and other ex parte communication going on, there might be some interesting questions regarding the Open Meetings Act. I guess Scripps isn't all that interested in Blount County open government. I guess that stuff sells more papers in Knox County.

The emperor still has no clothes


Mr. Cunningham still sees himself as "a conduit or messenger, if you will" as if to imply he has no partisan good old boys leanings. Tell us Jerry, have you ever referred to Reeves, Ballard, Proffitt, Murrell, McCulley, Graham and others who may not see it as you do as a "class act"? Or maybe, if your not partisan, could you tell us what other county, town, state, area, etc. has the head of the local government party in the assistant mayor/financial director role?

It's one thing to be a partisan hack, it's quite another to claim you're not. You insult the intelligence of your constituents.

Take for example our general fund. The man the mayor is waging this battle over wears two hats. Imagine Mr. Lewis comes into the bank wearing his Blount County Purchasing/Budget Committee hat. He stands on one side of the counter and signs the deposit. Next, he changes to his GreenBank hat, goes around to the other side of the counter and takes the deposit. Who does he thank?

Mr. Lewis presides over at least 37 million dollars worth of funds on behalf of citizens at the courthouse and in the bank where he works - and where his wife is a new shareholder. Irregardless of what some hired gun in Nashville or Knoxville might say, is this okay with you?

Any time the general fund is increased through an increase of taxes, his bank profits. Do the citizens?

I believe our government should have good business relationships with the banks where we keep our money. But I suggest each have their own advocates - and those advocates not be the same people.

I second the motion!

Just wanted to agree for a change with fairview angel.

Back to the original question from comissionerwalker:

If everything didn't have a conflict of interest concerning the development industry, I would say yes, there are a few things going on for the good in Blount County like the revamping of animal control policies and the animal shelter which doesn't have anything to do with the commission.

If you can get rid of the stooges fighting for development, we might be able to rein our Sheriff's spending in and provide government that is truly for the people and not just the rich developers who have hijacked local government.

Don't act like you don't realize this.

Acting....Naaa, Just Asking

Not Acting, just asking.....

As for the animal control policies and the animal shelter, it is good, and the commission did have very little to do with it, a number of hours given by both citizens and commissioners (thanks to those who were appointed), and a vote to loan $350,000 tax payer dollars.

As for the other, you're right, cutting funding is easy, if the votes are there to do with the results of those cuts is another thing.

Not exactly correct

The $350k is for basically "researching" the whole animal shleter thing. It is not to be used for the actual construction hence the term "seed" money. Private citizens will be the ones funding the actual construction and we all know who that money will be going back to: the development industry.

"living with the results" will be easier than you think. I mean, c'mon, half of our proeperty taxes goes to the BCSO that in turn is spent on un-needed things such as race-tacks, $17k hostage phones, mobile comand centers to harass law abiding citizens, 25 missing cars, etc.

Our sheriff in this county is out-of-control with his spending and you guys just keep enabling him. I'd like to see some of you guys "put your foot down" on the sheriff's obviously over-budgeted expenditures. This guy is way out-of-line. Sheriff Berrong wasn't always like this, but somewhere between "then" and "now" he has bought into his party's and his family's underhanded view of what government should be.

By the way...............Have you filed a disclosure statement with the county clerk and state ethics commission yet?LOL

commissionerwalker, you are my representative in my district. My family and I have always thought ALOT of you and your family. I'm not somebody who floated into this county to exploit anything. My family has been in this area since the 1730's.

I would just like to see someone with a little backbone stand up for what is "RIGHT" and let the BC Neo-publicans know that their days are numbered in this county.

I grew up with a lot of staunch republicans around me who are now doing back-flips in their graves at what the local republican party has become. That is why I no longer affiliate myself with any party or group.

Sooner or later, somebody is going to have to rise up and do what is best for the people in this county. You can either be remembered as the guy who had the guts or you can be remembered as a Steve Samples, Mike Lewis or a Bob Kidd who never had the best interest of the people in mind. Doesn't really matter to me but you are a local and I would appreciate it if you could make us all proud by acting like it.

By the way, the heritage center in Townsend is a joke. The powers that be were very specific in what families are mentioned in the history of this area. Mine were left out; I guess because they were the first two white settlers into the Tuckaleechee Cove area: Peter and Polly Snyder.

The heritage center is as exclusive as Green Meadow Country club and obviously just a place for elitists to gather and feel good about themselves. Pardon me, if I don't offer you and Keeble a pat on the back for the heritage center. Couldn't you find someone to at least label the lumberjack tools correctly?

Just so I don't end on a sour note: The tax-freeze for seniors is a good thing. So what if the sheriff doesn't have enough money to waste on things that we don't need. Maybe the animal control situation wouldn't be a problem of "manpower" if the we had a sheriff with morals.....or at least a county commission to keep him in check.

Thanks for having the backbone to at least see what the people are thinking on the "blogs." It is appreciated.


Who gets the freebies?

Take for example our general fund. The man the mayor is waging this battle over wears two hats. Imagine Mr. Lewis comes into the bank wearing his Blount County Purchasing/Budget Committee hat. He stands on one side of the counter and signs the deposit. Next, he changes to his GreenBank hat, goes around to the other side of the counter and takes the deposit. Who does he thank?

I'm sure he doesn't thank himself, but I wonder if he gets the free George Foreman grill?

Utopian Neighbourhood

While watching a Charter Interview with Mayor Cunningham, this weekend, I heard reference to a Neighbourhood development project that folks could walk or bicycle to the grocery stores, department stores, and work. Where is this suppossed to be at?

viva Evo Morales

Oh... he promoting development again?? He seems to be the spokesperson for "Pave Blount County." He invited a developer of a property in Wears Valley to his first Commission meeting as Mayor.

Betcha dollars to donuts this is WAAAAAY out 411S. Possibly near the sports-complex-that-wasn't?

Wears Valley II

Yeah the mayor also said he didn't want Blount to turn into another Wears Valley. To late for that; (link...)

I guess he didn't get that memo to the Sheriff and former commissioner Slater who started this development. Or are they still involved?

Yeah the mayor also said he

Yeah the mayor also said he didn't want Blount to turn into another Wears Valley. To late for that; Link...

Wears Valley.. it makes my heart sick what they have done to that place. My grandmother's 'home place' was there. It still was there last time I passed through. That valley was the most beautiful part of Blount County at one time. My great grandparents and my grandmother are buried at Headricks Chapel and I have suggested my ashes be spread there when the time comes.
My great, great aunts were "The Walker Sisters" of Little Greenbriar, so you can see where my resistance to development comes from....
Many of this Walker family settled in Wears Valley when the park came along.

when the park came along

They settled alot of places....alot of kin around.

Easy Truman

Damn Commmisioner, you sound like Briar Gates in Next of Kin. (admitted guilty pleasure)

But hey, if there’s a Walker cousin who has a bus full of snakes – bring him to the next CC meeting.

Walker cousin.....

There's still a few of those around....hahaha....

The county commision

How 'bout a room full of snakes like the county commision? Would that suffice?

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