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presstalk 671-TALK

• I’m calling to alert Knox County parents about a policy change made this year by the Knox County School Board. Schools will no longer be ranking the senior class, and will only report whether the students were in the 20th percentile, 40th percentile, etc. This will certainly decrease the amount of scholarship money our students will be receiving. How can our students, who don’t know where they are ranked, apply for money allocated to the top-10 in the graduating class? I was told just to have my child put that her high school does not rank when she is filling out an application. Surely this will penalize my child.

How can she compete when she is listed only as the 20th percentile of 600 students, when students from other counties will be able to say they are No. 8 or No. 9 out of 600? When I called Mr. (Edwin) Hedgepeth’s office at Knox County Schools, I was told that the administrators were just tired of having to deal with complaints when some students did not make top-10 or even top-10 percent. Administrators get paid to deal with complaints, not take the easy way out and decrease the amount of scholarship money the hard-working students deserve. Please contact your school board member and voice your complaints regarding this. This not only affects this year’s graduating class but future classes also.

• How much time did the First Utility District take to plan for the sewer plant expansion? I don’t think very long. They are more interested in building their empire than the community’s environmental concerns regarding the expansion of the plant. An environmental disaster at the Concord Road sewer plant will hurt all of Farragut.

• People are trying very hard to discredit Sen. (John) Kerry’s Vietnam record. The facts of the matter are this: Kerry volunteered, Kerry actually went, Kerry actually served, Kerry actually led in combat. Where was George Bush? His father got him a select spot, due to his political pull, in the Texas Air (National) Guard, with a waiting list of over 100,000. Dick “draft dodger” Cheney got deferment after deferment because he was quote “too busy” to serve in Vietnam. This is why we can’t allow the Republicans to split the Americans. Split America into helping the few select at the expense of the majority. Tax cuts and draft deferments for the select few, whopping deficits and draft cards for the majority. We can’t stand another four years of this.

• I have a question regarding increase in taxes and a potential increase in property taxes. I understand that we have not had tax increases for a short time period. But one issue I never hear discussed is, yes, the Farragut area has sustained substantial growth, which creates demand for a new high school. But within that growth, tax revenues have increased greatly because of the drastic increase in the number of houses and the dollar value of those houses. Has the county government at any point released information dealing with total tax revenues because my assumption is that, yes, we may not have had a new tax or an increase in property tax in the recent past? But, taxes naturally grew due to substantial residential and housing growth, and due to substantial business growth, and tax receipts should have greatly increased.

• Have you ever noticed when you’re driving west on Kingston Pike as you come into Farragut how run down and how dumpy the buildings on both sides of the roads are? There’s abandoned gas stations, abandoned service stations — things that really don’t project a very good image of Farragut and the town of Farragut. Wouldn’t it be nice to clean up our city and our town?

• These comments are directed to the defender of the irresponsible decision-making at Farragut Intermediate School. The comments by that caller are ridiculous at best and sad at its worst. It’s a sad commentary on the state of mind of society when children are robbed of their sense of stability and comfort. The caller’s glib comments have changed being a part of life (and) may sound profound, but it is nothing more than a tired cliche reflecting a callused heart. I question the motivation of a caller who rallies behind irresponsibility and unaccountability, and promotes a detached, cynical view of those watching out for our children.

• I have never seen or met Ralph McCarter (First Utility District general manager) or anyone at FUD. Most of us live on property that once belonged to our, or somebody’s, great-great-great-grandfather. All of us should realize the need for clean water and the efficient disposal of wastewater and sewage. As the population of Farragut is growing, it is obvious that our wastewater treatment facility will need to expand. It makes good sense, fiscally and practically, that the present facility be expanded. All the (anti-plant advocates) need to do is drive around Farragut to see the growth of homes and businesses to realize that this must be done. One of the most important lessons taught in civic government classes is the right of eminent domain: that is, government may appropriate private property to be used for the common good. Property owners are usually compensated. Competent engineers and accountants would surely have made thorough studies to be in accordance with state and county regulations.

• The First Utility District seemed to be fair with their water and sewer practices. We have done business with them for over 35 years. This is the big question we would like to be answered: Who owns this utility? If able, I would get out and find out who owned this utility. People need to know whom they are doing business with. Thank you, the farragutpress, for giving us an opportunity to list our concerns. We hope someone will list the owners of this utility in (an upcoming issue of) next week’s press.

• I believe one of the issues that needs to be brought to the public’s attention about the wastewater treatment plant is: why are we, here in Knox County, being responsible for all the waste that is generated in Lenoir City and Loudon County? Mr. (Ralph) McCarter mentioned there were only 20 homes on the wastewater line right now from Loudon County, but there are huge subdivision developments and lakefront property that is constantly being built. The people in Knox County need to stand up to the fact that we do not need to handle the waste from all of the surrounding counties. This is something that I feel needs to be addressed.

• The fundamental issue with the First Utility District sewage plant expansion is public safety. Who in the world thought it was smart to build this thing on top of sinkholes? It’s a bad idea; no other utility districts do it. And for FUD’s claim that it’s old hat, as Mr. (Ralph) McCarter says, is simply wrong. Just because they need more land does not make it smart to take land that is poorly suited for the task. Build this somewhere else, Mr. McCarter.

• You made an editorial comment with regard to the First Utility (sewer) plant having to be in somebody’s backyard no matter what. If I understand it right, the plant’s been in the Lawson’s backyard for 30 years or more. Maybe it’s time for somebody else’s backyard to have their turn at it now.

• I wanted to say that was a fine article in the paper yesterday (Thursday, Sept. 9 issue) about First Utility District. I have a question: Ralph McCarter said in your paper that his commissioners should have no conflict of interest; yet the chairman of the board, Marvin Walton, is the senior loan officer with First Tennessee Bank. How in the world is that not a conflict? First Tennessee Bank reaps untold profits from lending to new construction in the FUD service area; and also, they do bonding for the plant expansion. Either Marvin Walton should step down or First Tennessee should recuse itself from any loan activity in the First Utility District service area.

• Hooray! The street lights on Glen Abbey Boulevard are back on at night after being off for over a year thanks to the Glen Abbey and Derby Chase homeowners associations, who have agreed to pay for the electricity and maintenance to keep them on.

• I was reading in the Sept. 9 issue of the (farragutpress) about all the presstalk about Ralph McCarter at First Utility District. I can tell you that, personally, that he is a fabulous man who would never do anything to hurt anybody. He would give his neighbor the shirt off (his) back if they needed. All that’s going on down there — I’m not really sure exactly what all the issues are with the utility district — but I know Ralph is not the only one down there. And I read his name being drug through the mud in this paper. He is a fabulous person, and I would just urge everybody to realize that this is a business decision. It’s for the community of Farragut. It’s unfortunate that we have to have a sewer plant, of all things, near somebody’s house — and I’m sure nobody wants it there. And maybe there is a better place to put it; but I just hate to see a good person’s name drug through the mud and he can’t even defend himself through the paper.

• I was encouraged to read in the newspaper that our shallow-minded folks were objecting to an adult bookstore in the West Knoxville area. I think it would provide a welcomed change and a source of First Amendment rights for everyone here. Because remember, it’s choice in this country, and some folks may want to choose things that other folks don’t. So, I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with it. In fact, I welcome it as an addition to the area. I only wish that maybe they could open up down in one of the shopping centers here in Farragut.

• Ralph McCarter forced access to place a sewer line along our creek on Harvey Road, to open up that area for construction that’s currently happening there. FUD misrepresented that project by first sending an FUD representative to tell us that it was only needed for one neighborhood. Only later in the negotiations did they admit it was for a Loudon County expansion. I asked why he had to take property on the creek and not his allotted easement? And Ralph McCarter pointed his finger at me and told me that he can do anything he wants to do. I approached several county commissioners on the subject, and I was told that McCarter pretty much could do what he pleases. This is the FUD that we are working with.

• We live within a half-mile of the sewage plant. Yes, at times there is an odor. Those of us from up north handle it with no question. It hasn’t made a difference — larger (plant) will not make a difference in that respect. We’ve dealt with the odors from cesspools, overflowing, backup inside the house and the unbelievable cost of cesspool pumping and replacements. The issue here is not the increase in size, but the owners of the Callaway property looking for money — M-O-N-E-Y. They’re out for all they can get. And FUD, if they pay them a higher price, they would be completely satisfied if it was near what they think they’re going to get from a developer. All of a sudden, everything would blow away.

• God bless President George W. Bush. God help us if John Kerry is elected president.


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