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Retrospect: Looking back at 2007

Should the town of Farragut impose impact fees on new development?

Should Knox County rezone Farragut students to Hardin Valley? Are redlight cameras legal or do they encourage safer driving practices? Should the town of Farragut change its ordinance governing liquor stores within the Town, and if so, should a liquor store be allowed in front of Farragut High School? Should First Baptist Church, Concord be allowed to move forward with its proposed expansion plan?

These are but a few of the questions the town of Farragut and its citizens faced in 2007. Debates were fierce but Town government and citizens alike weathered the storms.

For detailed information on the outcome of the impact fee and liquor store ordinance debates, see Year in Review, page 11.

Probably the most debated issue of the year was FBC’s proposed $37.5 million expansion plan, part of which would have re-routed a portion of Belleaire Drive in order to build a 29,000-square-foot student building,

FBC unveiled the plan in June. Jennifer Lassater, director of guest and member services, said the expansion was necessary due to the large number of people, church members and non-members alike, who made use of the church’s facilities. She said the expansion would benefit both the church and the community.

Almost immediately Belleaire and other adjacent neighborhood residents began voicing opposition to the plan in such public forums as FBMA, Farragut Municipal Planning Commission meetings and farragutpress presstalks.

Debates were heated on both sides with everyone looking to FMPC to make a decision.

At its September meeting, FMPC postponed the decision on the proposed student building and requested that FBC submit a long-range plan for the entire $37.5 million expansion.

FBC members, including FBC attorney John King, turned out in force at the Thursday, Oct. 11, FBMA meeting to plead its case.

King said he wanted to come before the Board to ask for fair treatment from FMPC. He reminded the Board the church had complied with all FMPC requirements in presenting the plan and asked that it not be asked to comply with rules other applicants were not asked to comply with. King added that FBC thought it was unfair they be asked to submit plans the church it felt was impossible to foresee.

At its October meeting, FMPC approved plans for the student building with the stipulation that FBC submit a master plan, following specific guidelines, as part of any future construction.

The issue of redlight cameras came about in February after Farragut Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III asked assistant town administrator Gary Palmer to conduct an unofficial study of the number of redlight violations at certain intersection within the Town. Palmer said each intersection studied garnered at least 50 violations between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., midweek.

This information prompted FBMA to contact Redflex Traffic Systems concerning the possibility of installing redlight cameras at several key intersections in Town.

After hearing a presentation on the cameras at its Thursday, Feb. 8, meeting, FBMA held two public hearings to hear Town residents’ thoughts on the


Though farragutpress’ press-talk was on fire with debates concerning the issue, no one at either of the two public meetings spoke out against the cameras.

After several delays, the ordinance was drafted to establish the program and to set penalties for redlight violations, and placed on the Thursday, Dec. 13 FBMA agenda.

Farragut resident Bella Safro spoke to the Board concerning her objections to the cameras citing several Tennessee state laws that she said made the cameras illegal and unconstitutional.

FBMA, whose members seemed to agree unanimously that redlight violations were a public safety issue and felt the cameras would be an incentive for drivers to take more care on Farragut streets, voted to approve the ordinance and move forward with the program.

The following is a month-to month breakdown of other top farragutpress stories of 2007:

January: The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the Knox County Charter and term-limits provision for county commissioners, which meant Fifth District Commissioner John Griess, Sheriff Tim Hutchison, Trustee Mike Lowe, County Clerk Mike Padgett and Register of Deeds Steve Hall, among others, all lost their positions. Fifth District commissioners Mike Ham-mond and Craig Leuthold said they were in favor of special elections, but would follow the letter of the law in filling the vacant spots.

Charges were leveled against a fifth-grade student at Farragut Intermediate School for stabbing another student. The victim’s father said the alleged assailant stabbed his 10-year old son in the back repeatedly with a pair of scissors after the two became involved in a “scuffle.” The victim was treated at Baptist Hospital West for minor injuries that did not require stitches. The alleged attacker was charged with as a juvenile with one count of aggravated assault.

February: Farragut mourned the loss of one of its community members, Frances Larson Abel. Abel, a retiree from Tennessee Valley Authority’s electrical design department whose volunteer work for the town of Farragut exceeded 3,000 hours, managed the Farragut Folklife Museum Gift Shop since 1991.

Dr. John Williams entered the political arena when he announced his intention to run for the Ward 1 alderman seat held by Joel Garber. Williams said his first priority if elected would be to address the Town’s lack of a community center.

Farragut Intermediate School Special Education teacher Susan Cobb and art teacher Christy Davis were selected to be part of an “Arts in Education” pilot program. The program, funded by a grant from the VSA Foundation, was created in an attempt to increase the quality of art activities available for students with disabilities.

Ron Rochelle threw his hat into the ring and announced his intention to run for Ward 1 alderman. Rochelle said if elected he would first look at the infrastructure needed to accommodate the Town’s tremendous growth. He later lost.

Frank Leuthold was appointed to fill out the term of Fifth District Commissioner John Griess. Leuthold, who served as a member of Knox County Commission for 22 years and was chairman of the Finance Committee for several years, said his priorities would probably not be any different this time around. He said he wanted to see education properly funded; libraries, zoning and road construction were top issues as well.

Brian Starkey, one-time Farragut resident, graduate of Webb School of Knoxville and brother of Farragut High School teacher/coach, Adam Starkey, returned to Farragut to speak to FHS students, faculty and administrators about his successful weight-loss stint on the NBC reality television series “The Biggest Loser.”

Newly appointed Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones addressed Farragut’s request for more police patrol in Town. Jones said KCSO call data had not been addressed in Farragut in more than 10 years and added that was “one of the number one things” he was looking at.

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission member Robert “Bob” Edlund,” seeking a change of venue, announced his plan to run for the Ward 1 alderman seat occupied by Joel Garber. Edlund said he believed one of the major issues facing the FBMA in the near future is the need for added infrastructure in response to Farragut’s rapid growth. He lost.

Bearden High School senior Nathan Bevelhimer defeated West High School’s Bookie Al-Khelaifi to bring home the Region 2, Division 1 wrestling crown. Bevelhimer cited his younger brother Samuel’s season-ending knee injury as his motivation for the win.

Farragut skaters found a new venue in Concord Park with the opening of the skate park at 10900 S. Northshore Drive. Fitted with heavy-duty ramps and pipes, the park saw more than 1,500 visitors in its first two weeks.

Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church began construction on its proposed 10,000-foot expansion project, beginning with the parking lot. Christ Covenant, an offshoot of Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church, experienced tremendous growth after moving from its interim place of worship, Farragut Middle School, in April 2006, prompting the expansion project.

Farragut residents met at First Farragut United Methodist Church to “brainstorm” and come up with a school-zoning plan that would leave Farragut High School’s attendance zone intact, rather than send a large number of Farragut students to the new Hardin Valley Academy. Many parents said they would relocate or enroll their children in private school rather than send them to HVA, citing concerns with athletics or academics.

The FHS boys basketball program received high honors as its head coach, Donald Dodge was named Division 4-AAA Coach of the Year and senior guard Will Akers was named 4-AAA Most Valuable Player.

March: Jerry Harnish, who had been acting Rural/Metro fire chief since November 2006, was given official command of the 14 Knoxville stations at the beginning of February. Harnish said he was to new to the job to begin talking about goals right away, but his main interest will always be to keep people from getting hurt.

Taylor Swift, rising country music star, visited FHS to perform a few of the songs off her self titled hit album and to speak to Ginny Herrick’s music class.

Webb School of Knoxville’s girls basketball team earned the school and the county its first-ever TSSAA girls state title when they defeated Brentwood Academy 50-47.

FHS Team 1 took home the top honor at the annual Tennessee Science Bowl. Competing against 49 teams, team members answered questions focused on the scientific disciplines of astronomy, chemistry, biology, earth and general sciences, mathematics and physics. As the winning team, FHS was presented with a $1,000 cash prize for the school, a first-place trophy and an all-expense-paid trip to compete with more than 60 teams from across the nation in the Department of Energy National Science Bowl held in Washington, D.C.

April: Bill Wilson, head coach of the Bearden High School football team, passed away after suffering a massive heart attack. He was 58 years old. Williams was known for his positive attitude and his love for helping children.

May: The Cry Baby 100K bicycle race kicked off its 4 county, 62-mile ride in Farragut. The event drew hundreds of cyclists, including several Farragut residents.

Farragut’s Dogwood Trail, located at the entrance of Fox Den Subdivision, was the feature trail in the Knoxville Dogwood Arts Festival. This marked the first time Farragut was a feature trail. As part of the featured trail, busses brought visitors to Farragut three times per day for a tour of the trail.

After several months of debate and outcry from the Farragut community the Knox County School Board passed Superintendent Roy Mullins’ zoning proposal 5-4, sending students from Fox Run and Sedgefield subdivisions to the new Hardin Valley Academy.

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) spoke at the FHS dedication of its portside anchor from the decommissioned USS Farragut guided missile destroyer DDG-37/guided missile frigate DLG-6. Joining Duncan and members of the Farragut community were a handful of US Navy veterans who served on the USS Farragut.

FHS girls tennis team took the District 4-AAA championship title by defeating William Blount High School.

Local businessman Jack Butturnini and his wife, Katharine, were accused of providing alcohol to FHS students in their Loudon County home after the FHS prom. Both Butturini’s denied the charges and and stated their daughter attended FHS, in spite of their Loudon County address, because they also owned property in Farragut.

FHS boys soccer team claimed the 2007 state championship title over archrival and defending state champs, BHS. Junior Andrew Moser’s last minute kick was perfectly placed and gave the Admirals the dramatic 5-4 win.

June: Drought caused First Utility District and Lenoir City Utilities Board to issue a request for residents to help with water shortages by cutting back on watering their lawns. Watson warned if the voluntary program did not work, customers might soon see a rate increase to compensate for the numerous customers still continuing to use their personal irrigation systems.

2006 FHS graduate and accomplished golfer Matt Holman lost his life in an accident. Holman, known for his happy-go-lucky personality tragically fell from a three-story balcony at his Fort Sanders area apartment.

The Tennessee Municipal League honored Farragut Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III by naming him Mayor of the Year. TML spokesperson Carol Graves said Ford exemplified all of the traits the League expects from Mayors receiving the honor.

Farragut was named Best Affordable Suburb in the South by Businessweek magazine in a series of articles concerning the best suburbs in various regions of the country.

Former BHS baseball standout Brett Carroll made his Major League Baseball Debut with the Florida Marlins as starting center fielder.

July: U.S. Rep John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tenn.) was the featured speaker at the Farragut West Knoxville Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Series. Duncan addressed the lack of attention on casualties of the Iraq war, the nation’s fiscal irresponsibility and immigration.

A suspicious package closed a portion of Kingston Pike in Farragut when a geocache was found in a drainage culvert in the12000 block of Kingston Pike. Spokesperson for Knox County Sheriff’s Office Drew Reeves said the geocache, which is used as a form of high-tech scavenger hunting, was found by an LCUB worker who notified police. The Bomb Squad was sent to investigate and the issue was resolved.

A rare species of orchid was discovered growing in wetlands off Campbell Station Road near Town Hall. Reginald Reeves, director of the division of natural areas for Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said the sweetscent ladies-tresses have only been found in two other locations in the state.

A federal fugitive was found hiding under a home on Ebenezer Road. Robert Shannon Johnson was being sought by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office on allegations of numerous incidents of home repair fraud in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

August: Jack Butturnini and his wife, Katharine, received a diversion of charges that they contributed to the delinquency of minors by providing alcohol to several FHS students. Loudon County District Attorney Russell Johnson agreed to drop all charges by June 2008 if the couple avoids trouble with the law until that time. The Butturini’s contend there was no evidence in the case because they were innocent.

The town of Farragut broke ground on its fourth park, located off McFee Road. Pat Sloan, a member of the Parks and Athletics Counsel, said early on, one of Farragut’s goals was to have a park in each of its four quadrants. The McFee Road Park, along with Anchor, Campbell Station and Mayor Bob Leonard Parks, realized that goal.

Increased demand for power prompted by scorching heat caused some Farragut residents to lose power. Lenoir City Utilities Board General Manager Fred Nelson said in the first of two outages about 4,000 people lost power because one of the circuits got so overloaded it sagged and touched another circuit, causing the outage. In the second outage about 800 people lost power due to work being done by LCUB to help decrease the load at the Farragut


A car collided with a school bus on Misty Springs Road sending the bus driver and three children to the hospital. The driver of the car was not injured but was sited for failure to yield.

Hardin Valley High School principal Sallee Reynolds presented a plan to the Knox County Board of Education that suggested the school be broken up into four academies: Liberal Arts; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-ematics; Health Sciences; and Law, Business and Public Affairs.

September: Farragut proclaimed Saturday, Sept. 2, Paul Reyling Day in honor of Reyling’s 90th birthday. Reyling moved to Concord from New York almost 60 years ago to serve his country during World War II as an electrical engineer in Oak Ridge. Reyling has been very active in the community, serving as a charter Board member for the Concord Telephone Exchange, as a charter member of the Farragut Ruritan Club, of which he served as president six times, and serving on the Farragut School Advisory Board. His family says he still chops wood in the winter for the elderly.

FMS teacher Karen Rehder was recognized as one of the nation’s most innovative educators in the 2007 ING Unsung Heroes awards program, which recognizes teachers for their imaginative teaching methods. Rehder was recognized for a project she calls Wide Angle: Creations in Film, in which she helps students improve their language arts skills by allowing them to produce a 10-minute documentary film on a topic of their choice.

A kidnapped dog was reunited with his family after his two young owners, 9-year old Morgan and 10 year-old Madison Novello, offered as a reward one of the hottest items of the year; two tickets to Knoxville’s Hannah Montana concert. Buddy the dog was kidnapped when the family car was stolen from the parking lot of a video store off Northshore Drive with Buddy inside. When a local news channel ran the story the person who had been taking care of Buddy since he was found wandering down Northsore Drive called the family. The “good Samaritan,” who asked only to be referred to as Amanda, refused to take the girls’ tickets.

The FHS/BHS How the West Was Won football rivalry continued as the Admirals defeated the Bulldogs in a 35-28-overtime victory, bringing the count to eight straight wins for the Ads.

Taylor Lee Olson, 22, of Knoxville, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of felony murder, first-degree murder, and aggravated burglary in connection with the murder of Johnia Berry. In December 2006 Olson allegedly entered Berry’s apartment off Cedar Bluff Road and stabbed her multiple times, killing her.

October: FBMA proclaimed there would be no impact fees levied against new residential and commercial development in the town of Farragut. The proposed fee that would have charged an upfront fee of $3,670 per new single-family dwelling and $2,614 per every 1,000 square feet of commercial space was rejected by a vote of 3-2.

FHS debuted its new state-of-the-art science lab. The school’s lab was shut down in 2006 after an incident in which the Bunsen burners began shooting flames out the wrong end. The $350,000 lab was the result of Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale’s pledge of $250,000 from the Knox County Schools budget, and the fund-raising attempts by FHS students, faculty, administrators and Education Foundation members.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) fielded questions from retired Department of Energy workers who feel DOE pension adjustments have not been fairly distributed. Alexander promised the retiree’s he would “be your advocate to try and get as much as I possibly can for the retired employees of Oak Ridge.”

The controversial Weigel’s Farm Store, located at the intersection of Smith Road and Kingston Pike, held its grand-opening. Bob Leonard, attorney for Weigel’s and former Farragut mayor, said he did not think the store exit/entrance points would create a problem.

November: BHS Lady SoccerDawgs defeated Collierville to win their second state title. The winning goal came in the last seconds of the game to give BHS the 2-1 victory.

First Baptist Church, Concord, received a donation from the Barbara Beeler family of the bell from the original church building, built in 1890, off Olive Drive in Concord. The Bell was found in the attic of the building when the Beeler’s were renovating the recently-purchased building.

Both FHS and BHS football teams defeated the last two teams standing in the way of an Admirals-Bulldogs showdown in the Class 5A state quarterfinal playoffs. The Admirals picked off Dobyns-Bennett 28-6, while the Bulldogs shutout William Blount 30-0.

FBC made plans to host an evening with Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of renowned evangelist Billy Graham. Lotz agreed to speak at FBC while in town for an all-day workshop for ministry leaders and pastors held at the Knoxville Convention Center.

BHS ended an eight game losing streak and shut down FHS hopes of a state championship title when the defeated the Admirals 28-14 in the 5A state quarterfinal football game.

Lenoir City Utilities Board approved water and sewer rate increases in order to generate funds for both an existing Tennessee Municipal League loan and a new loan that would allow them to make necessary repairs and additions to the sewer system to accommodate the development of the new Town Center shopping center slated to be completed within the next five years.

The Town held a pubic hearing to give residents a chance to voice their opposition to proposed improvements to Everett Road. The main point of contention seemed to be the width of the road. Town Engineer Darryl Smith and Robert Campbell of Robert Campbell & Associates presented a plan that called for widening Everett Road and including a bike trail on both sides of the street. Residents protest the extra width for the bike trails stating cyclists ride on the street and not on bike trails.

The Town urged residents to “Buy in Farragut” this holiday season for the second year in a row thereby supporting local business as well as increasing sales tax revenue for the Town.

December: BHS Bulldogs were denied the Class 5A state title by a controversial call in a 17-14 loss to Smyrna. The call came after three Bulldogs seemingly fell on the ball after an onside kick. The referee signaled it was Smyrna’s ball even though the Bulldogs emerged from the fray with ball in hand.

The town of Farragut held its annual Celebrate the Season festivities at Town Hall. Santa and Mrs. Claus were present as we’ll as the FHS Madrigal Singers, local musicians, Town staff and committee members, and a couple hundred of Farragut’s smallest citizens and their parents.

Town attorney Tom Hale discussed the possibility of the Town being named in a lawsuit filed by Cozy Excavation and Contracting LLC against Rich Construction, the contractor the Town hired to complete the Smith Road sidewalk project. Hale said the Town did not contest that it still owed Rich money for the project, but the amount owed is in dispute. The Town has offered to pay the non-disputed amount to Rich, if Rich would allow the payment to be released to Cozy, in order to meet Rich’s obligation to Cozy.

The town of Farragut and the Farragut Folklife Museum recognized two of the museum’s most avid supporters by naming portions of the museum in their honor. The third gallery of the museum was named the Bill Dunlap Gallery, after the former exhibits designer for the museum, while the Gift Shop was named the Frances L. Abel Gift Shop, after the late museum gift shop manager.


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