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• I recently hosted a baby shower at Gondolier Italian restaurant on West End [Ave.] for my daughter. I just wanted to call and let everyone who reads presstalk know that they were extremely helpful and they were extremely accommodating. The food was fabulous and the service was absolutely great. I think that people should think about Gondolier when they’re thinking about planning a special event in their families or with their organizations.

• This is for everyone that’s driving around with handicapped stickers hanging in their windshields. This is ridiculous, people, read the bottom line. It says “remove the placard while the vehicle is in motion.” I have one of the placards, unfortunately, and I use it, but I do remove it like it says. I don’t know how you can see with that thing hanging in front of your eyes anyway? Please read the bottom line and do what it says. And all you that are using placards that belong to somebody else, you better look out — the police are checking.

• Once again, First Baptist Concord, how ashamed I even am [to be] a member there. I’m so ashamed. We can’t fly the flag at half-staff in honor of the victims of Katrina. First Baptist downtown steps up to the plate, handles all the rescue evacuees. … We’re trying to fill a couple of little trailers. We’re more interested in sending soccer balls to Iraq to kids that are going to blow up their families, eventually, to get our way. We’re more interested in spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a fancy Christmas program that we charge our own people plus others to see. We spend all the money on missions, but we aren’t worried about anybody around here. It’s just pathetic, it’s sad. First Baptist Concord, please wake up. Another disturbing note about First Baptist Concord: They have a big sign out that they’re having a consignment sale. So let’s let all the moms get together and swap all their name-brand nice things for their children and make money, when we could be sending all that to poor children that have nothing in the Southland. We could be sending it across town to the other churches that are helping do shelters for kids that have nothing and are starting over. Shame on you.

• The chaos and destruction of the Gulf Coast caused from Katrina is absolutely devastating. But also shocking is the information from a USA Today editorial on Sept. 8, which states that the Army Corps of Engineers last year asked for $105 million for hurricane and flood controls and projects in New Orleans. President [George W.] Bush cut the request to $40 million and Congress finally approved $42.2 million. At the same time, $231 million was approved to build a bridge to an uninhabited island in Alaska. Where’s the government’s financial soundness and priorities? A few million dollars could have saved possibly thousands of lives and the hopes and futures of citizens for so many more.

Editor’s Note: Aren’t several top officials in the Louisiana government under indictment for misappropriating millions of dollars earmarked for levy improvements? According to the Los Angeles Times, Senior officials in Louisiana’s emergency planning agency already were awaiting trial over allegations stemming from a federal investigation into waste, mismanagement and missing funds when Hurricane Katrina struck. And federal auditors are still trying to track as much as $60 million in unaccounted for funds that were funneled to the state from the Federal Emergency Management Agency dating back to 1998. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana obtained an indictment against Michael L. Brown, deputy director of the Louisiana office of emergency preparedness. (Brown is no relation to former FEMA director Michael D. Brown who resigned.) Louisiana’s deputy director oversaw the state’s Hazard Mitigation program. Brown was charged with conspiring to obstruct the inspector general’s investigation and for making a false statement to a federal investigator. Michael C. Appe, another senior state agency official, also was charged with obstructing the audit. Months earlier, Appe had been appointed as head of a “surge team” to review projects funded with FEMA money. The team’s mission was to help spot abuses. Both Appe and Brown hold the rank of colonel for their roles in overseeing elements of the state National Guard. Appe was arrested in Baton Rouge last November, as was Daniel J. Falanga, the state agency’s flood-mitigation officer. Falanga was accused of committing perjury before a grand jury investigating misuse of FEMA funds.

• I attended the open house at Farragut High School and was told at the parent meeting that we were expected to give $36 to $50 to the Farragut High School Education Foundation. And the sole purpose is to purchase air conditioning for Farragut High School. I’m just wondering if the Knox County School System provides air conditioning to other schools or is it just Farragut High School which is expected to purchase its own air conditioning? We have over 2,200 students at Farragut High School and classrooms of greater than 90 degree weather. I’m just wondering if [Karen] Carson [Knox County Board of Education member, District 5], who supposedly has a senior at Farragut High School, is concerned about this issue and if she’s fighting for the air conditioning to come out of the Knox County School budget? They made the announcement at the parent meeting that Knox County School officials were refusing to purchase air conditioning. I’m certainly hoping one of your ace reporters will get on this story.

• I am calling to express disappointment about how the Farragut Mayor and Board of Aldermen refuse to do anything about the eyesore between the U-Haul and David’s Carpets on Kingston Pike at the entrance of Stonecrest subdivision. The service station, which has been unoccupied for about 15 years, has weeds overgrown all around it. The Farragut codes department says that they cannot do anything about the overgrown brush because the ordinance for residents, which calls for enforcement if grass is over one foot [high] or weeds are over one foot, does not apply to business property. The idle property, I am told, belongs to a carpet company in Dalton, Ga. A letter from me to the company was ignored. I just wonder why the Farragut administration can’t pass an ordinance that applies the same rule of codes to unoccupied businesses that it applies to occupied residences? This is not the first time they have sided with big business instead of what’s in the best interest of the residents of Farragut. But that building’s been there so long. This town is known for that building more than it’s known for its museum or anything else. Everywhere I go, people say, “oh, you live down there … .”

• OK, let’s get some facts straight concerning the [First] Baptist Church [Concord] and the problems it’s causing with its school traffic for the residents of Belleaire subdivision. Number one, there is only one entrance in and out of the Belleaire subdivision. This is the entrance that the church has chosen to use to take its school traffic in and out, mornings, noon and afternoons. Yes, they have a huge parking lot with two or three accesses cut directly onto Kingston Pike that they could use, and they choose not to. They apparently have no respect and no consideration for the people who live in Belleaire who have to leave our subdivision for work, to go to the churches we belong to, to leave for emergencies. And even though, when we leave early enough to accommodate traffic, they have special events constantly. They have mulch trucks, they have tree trimmers — that we never know when they’re going to be there — that disrupts traffic even more. These are the facts, think about it.

• I’m calling as a rebuttal to the First Baptist Concord Church, even though I’m a member there. I’d like to say that this article that was in your paper today [Sept. 15 issue], they don’t seem to understand the comparison they made about Farragut High School and Farragut Middle School, about how the police is there on Campbell Station Road. First [Baptist] Concord, I mean, is a church, and how they can stop traffic on Sunday is well beyond me? If our church would like to do something, they should put a traffic light there that would help the people get in and out of our church. But up to that point, it doesn’t make sense that they should be able to have the police out there stopping traffic on a United States highway.

Editor’s Note: Isn’t it a matter of safety? As town engineer Darryl Smith has pointed out many times, TDOT determines where traffic lights are on Kingston Pike by traffic counts.

• I was reading the [Sept 15 through the lens] in the paper regarding Smith Road and law enforcement that’s required at that location and, for that matter, anywhere else in Farragut. Then the question becomes, “has too much been placed on the Sheriff’s plate, what would you do to control law violators in the town?” It seems to be a simple question with even a simpler answer. Farragut is becoming a very large town, a small-sized city at this point and needs its own police force. And until that takes place, there’s not going to be any improvement. The Sheriff’s Department is not going to provide that support, and so far Farragut [aldermen] have been absolutely unwilling to spend the money to take care of the issue.

• I think the Knox County Sheriff’s Office has done an excellent job in Farragut. I drive through Farragut most of the day with my job, and I see sheriff’s deputies all around town. In my own experience … officers respond quickly, they’re helpful and they really seem to care about residents of Farragut.

• In response to the caller from [First Baptist] Concord who made the comments about the lady that lost her husband, I must say that stopping traffic on West End [Ave.] or even Campbell Station [Road] is very different than Kingston Pike. I, too, have been subjected to the needless waiting on Kingston Pike. The comments to the poor lady who lost her husband were cold, callous and very inappropriate. How dare to call and attack this poor lady in the name of the Lord. So now the church members are experts on grieving too? In addition, it’s disturbing that such a defiant, rude attitude exists. I guess if you do it in the name of the Lord it is OK? I surely don’t want to be associated with the church who has members who adopt other identities Monday through Saturday.

• In response to the person that is criticizing the principal of Farragut High School [Mike Reynolds] regarding some typographical errors and grammar errors in a newsletter. Just give me a break. I just want to express how ridiculous that is. This man has done a great job. I have a freshman [at FHS], and I was so impressed how they are taking them under their wings and showing them the school and making sure they don’t get lost. I am so impressed with this school. What this man is saying in the newsletter [is] that their goal is to maintain the high academic standards that they have established, he’ll continue to work hard to make a difference in this community. How dare somebody call and criticizing about some errors in the newsletter? Honestly, if this person has so much time on their hands, come over to the high school and help us just make the grounds a better place and just volunteer to help. Just don’t write criticizing some typos in a newsletter when we’re working so hard to make this a better school for our children. Be a volunteer, use your time that way.

• I’m calling in response to a previous caller’s comments about Fort West. I wholeheartedly agree. The overnight, on-street parking in this neighborhood is out of control. Multiple times, I’ve pulled around these parked vehicles only to barely avoid a head-on collision, which could be avoided if these people simply used their garage and driveway..


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