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Ragsdale speaks to women’s group at Fox Den Country Club

Johnnie Cowden has experienced the ongoing positive changes for senior citizens in Knox County and believes Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale is at the forefront of those changes.

Cowden and other members of Executive Women International spent Wednesday morning, Jan. 18, at a Fox Den Country Club breakfast featuring Ragsdale as its guest speaker.

“I think he’s done a really great job in getting things going,” said Cowden, who retired several years ago from Cherokee Aviation. “If I want to do something, like learn Spanish, there are now programs available at senior centers that let me do it.”

Ragsdale, in his speech to the group, mentioned the county has in place a network of senior centers designed to offer a variety of programs for seniors.

“I think we owe them a debt of gratitude for all the sacrifices they have made to get us to where we are today,” he said.

Cowden approved the expenditure of $6 million by the county to speed the process of creating a veteran’s hospital near Old Dutchtown Road in Knoxville. She said there is a need for it.

Brenda Humphrey, program coordinator for EWI, affirmed her belief in another of Ragsdale’s points in his speech to the group. Ragsdale extolled the virtues of a program called “Read with Me,” which places volunteers in elementary school classrooms to assist students with reading improvement. Humphrey is one of those volunteers.

“It’s a great program,” she said. “I think you see a great improvement in their (students) reading ability after spending time with them.”

Humphrey had no criticism for the way Ragsdale had been taking care of county business.

“I think we can all improve, but I think he’s doing a good job,” she said.

Ragsdale affirmed to the group his commitment to the growth of the local economy. He said a goal of his administration when he took office was to create 35,000 new jobs within a five-year period. Currently, he said the local economy has created 11,000 new jobs and more than $1 billion in capital improvements.

Sandy Richards, with the accounting firm of McWilliams and Company, said she sees signs of economic growth in the economy.

“We have seen a lot of corporate growth,” she said. “Our job rates are going up and our economy is going up.”

Richards said she had no criticism for Ragsdale and she thought it was “nice to see the city and county working together.”

Louann Hamilton of Marsh Insurance also liked the partnership she said Ragsdale had formed with the city of Knoxville.

“I think he’s done a great job,” she said.


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