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Year in Review
2009 Brought the winds of change to Farragut

Ralph McGill
Farragut said goodbye to almost 30 years of political leadership in 2009, in the person of Eddy Ford, Town mayor for more than half those years while previously an Alderman dating back to Farragut’s incorporation in 1980.

Surprising many local political pundits by becoming Farragut’s third-ever mayor, Ralph McGill’s landslide victory versus Ford April 7 was accompanied by a pair of new aldermen: Bob Markli, defeating Tom Rosseel, and Jeff Elliott, running unopposed as Vice Mayor Michael Haynes stepped down.

Dot LaMarche, long-time Alderman, was chosen to succeed Haynes as vice mayor.

Dave Smoak was chosen as new Town administrator in December, concluding a “chapter” of Town administration turmoil first boiling to the surface in February. Smoak replaced Dan Olson, who resigned amid sexual harassment charges.

Chelsey Riemann, Town media coordinator, filed a complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging sexual harassment from Olson in February. Riemann was awarded a $15,000 settlement with the Town in July.

The final year of the new millennium’s first decade also was highlighted by a continuing source of controversy. Grigsby’s Chapel Road’s “calming islands” were constructed beginning in April.

Meanwhile, plans were nixed for Downtown Farragut development — blueprinted for Mayor Ford’s property along Kingston Pike — due in large part to economic downturns.

Farragut’s long-anticipated automated enforcement cameras were installed and went active in November. They collected 3,019 violations in the system’s 45-day warning period.

In August, Knox County Commission approved a final redistricting plan for Commission districts. The plan would change District 5 by moving 52,164 voters out, including the Concord North precinct. Both Farragut precincts stayed in District 5.

Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed purchasing land belonging to Ralph Dimmick for possible use as grounds for an elementary school in January. Dimmick’s property lies between the Town-owned McFee Park and Seal property. The Town made no decision, although Dimmick appeared before the FBMA several times throughout the year.

Among McGill’s campaign platforms of change was a newly-formed Education Relations Committee, chartered by the Town, to work with Farragut-area schools, to communicate with local principals and find relief for their individual school needs. It met for the first time Oct. 9.

In April, the Town opened McFee Park with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Town’s fourth park includes two athletic fields and a walking trail. Plans for Phase II of the park were finalized in November, to include a playground and splash pad.

New Farragut businesses opening doors in 2009 included JCPenney and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, both in Turkey Creek. Among the businesses closing doors permanently was Food City, with employees advised in October.

In the world of youth sports, two of Farragut’s most successful programs in school history laid claim to “Teams of the Decade” among Tennessee high schools, winning 2009 state crowns.

Coach Tommy Pharr skippered his baseball Admirals to its fifth Class AAA state title in seven years, beating Mt. Juliet 2-1 in Murfreesboro last May.

Not to be outdone was head coach Wallie Culbreth’s boys soccer

Admirals, which won its fourth state crown in seven years after blanking Brentwood 2-0.

While Culbreth collected National Coach of the Year honors from ESPN RISE, Pharr announced he was leaving FHS shortly after winning state, ending 12 seasons as head coach.

Citing “faith” and “family” as motivating factors for change during an emotional address to Admirals boosters, Pharr accepted the baseball head coaching position and assistant athletic director’s job at Christian Academy of Knoxville.

While finishing 12-1 and winning the program’s fourth-ever football state title, Webb School of Knoxville enjoyed special recognition for its regular season excellence. Before winning the Division II-A state crown in December at Cookeville, head coach Dave Meske’s Spartans claimed 3-Minute Car Wash How the West Was Won honors. It was earned combining most regular season wins (9) and total points scored (304) among Westside schools Farragut, Bearden, Hardin Valley Academy, Knoxville Catholic and CAK.

Led by head coach Scott McKenzie, Farragut boys golf team went undefeated en route to repeating as Class AAA state champs at Old Fort Golf Course in Murfreesboro Sept. 30.

Admirals football proved reliable in two ways during 2009: beating Bearden twice (42-17 in the regular season and 10-3 in the playoffs) to make it 11 wins in the program’s last 12 games versus BHS. Farragut also reached state quarterfinal action for a fourth consecutive season before losing.

More top stories from 2009 follow in thumbnail form. (Original story authors from which previews are derived include Dan Barile, farragutpress editor/publisher, and staff writers Heather Mays and Ashley Peterson)


• Jan. 21, Farragut Business Alliance held its first meeting.

• At the new Board of Mayor and Aldermen’s first meeting April 23, Mayor McGill immediately began researching term limits and aligning Farragut and Knox County elections.

• In June, Fox Den subdivision celebrated its 40th anniversary.

• In July, the historic Campbell House, at the corner of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road, was put up for sale, at a price tag of about $2 million.

• Later in July, DANCO sued the Town for $96,000 after a dispute over sodding the athletic fields at McFee Park.

• In August, Knox County Commissioners discussed closing the Frank R. Strang Senior Center, and opening a larger center to serve senior adults in Karns, Farragut and Cedar Bluff. The idea was withdrawn in November after it faced extensive criticism.

• Sept. 11, Farragut business owners held the

inaugural Taste of Farragut event in the old Kroger parking lot, featuring food and beverages from

Farragut businesses and benefiting ChildHelp, a child advocacy charity.

• In October, Food City announced it would close its Farragut store. Employees were informed Oct. 9.

• Oct. 23, Lenoir City Utilities Board ousted general manager Fred Nelson and replaced him with attorney Shannon Littleton. Nelson had announced his retirement the month before. In December, LCUB formally hired Littleton as its new GM.

• In October, prominent Sevier County developer Charles Atchley Sr. proposed a public market to be placed in the former Outlet Mall off Outlet Drive.

• In November, Farragut received two United States Navy cannons on permanent loan from the U.S. Naval Historical Center: one from the USS Hartford, Adm. David Glasgow Farragut’s Civil War flagship, and another from the USS Independence.

The cannon will be placed in a pavilion near Town Hall that also will house a statue of Farragut. The statue will be unveiled in May as part of the Town’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

• In December, Knox County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Ben Harkins retired. Harkins was Town liaison for 14 years. He was named the Town’s photo enforcement manager, effective after his retirement.

• Throughout the year, Farragut saw businesses come and go.

In Turkey Creek, Altar’d State, DressBarn, Marshalls, Off Broadway Shoes, Subway, Massage Envy, La Parrilla, Rocky Top Burgers, and the second Belk store opened.

Rocky Top Burgers closed later in the year, as did Glee Daycare.

In Renaissance | Farragut, Natural Alternatives opened, Webster’s Deli changed ownership and Mojos Rock Shoppe closed.

Off Brooklawn Street, construction continued, leading to the opening of Petco in August, the re-opening of China Pearl in November and Pinnacle Bank in December. Other businesses are planning to open.

Elsewhere in Farragut, Border Taco opened, as did Azul Tequila and Cookies by Design.


• Winning all 13 events at the 39th Annual Knoxville-area Interscholastic Swim League, Bearden’s girls led the BHS AquaDogs’ team to the KISL “City Meet” crown, dethroning 2008 champ Farragut in late January.

• En route to an eventual TSSAA Class AAA state tournament appearance, Bearden Bulldogs boys basketball almost stood toe-to-toe with the nation’s No. 4-ranked high school basketball team. Stacked with Division 1-A college talent, Oak Hill Academy Warriors (Va.) left a tightly packed and delirious BHS gymnasium with a 96-86 victory in late January.

• Bearden’s AquaDogs finished as state runners-up at Tennessee Swimming and Diving Competition in Nashville Feb. 14. Leading the effort was Kennedy Hidgon, named Outstanding Female Swimmer while winning the 200-yard individual medley state crown, and Tori Lamp, who set a new state record in women’s one-meter diving (514.80). Webb School of Knoxville’s Alex Ward, a Tennessee Vols commitment in 2009, won the 100-butterfly state crown (48.62).

• Michael Williams, a Louisville Slugger All-American as a Farragut All-state catcher (Class of 2008), was recognized as 2008 Tennessee Player of the Year by Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association in February. Williams currently is a catcher at the University of Kentucky.

• In a two-overtime thriller, Bearden’s Lady Bulldogs basketball team knocked off a nationally ranked neighbor. BHS edged Oak Ridge 45-44 in a Region 2-AAA semifinal showdown March 2 at West High School, ending the Lady Wildcats’ season. Bearden won the region title while also earning District 4-AAA tourney honors and a 4-AAA league crown.

• Led by senior post Faith Dupree, Tennessee Miss Basketball, Webb School of Knoxville girls won its second Division II-AA state title in three years, beating Ensworth 50-39 in the title game Feb. 28 in Nashville.

• Bearden sophomore pitcher Chris Hamilton gave Bulldogs baseball fans a night to remember in The University of Tennessee’s Lindsey Nelson Stadium, blanking Farragut bats with a no-hitter to beat the Admirals 4-0 and win the annual Sportsbelle Classic April 4. Bearden went on to claim the program’s first-ever state tournament berth.

• Scott Meadows, highly regarded Knox-area high school football coach who won a TSSAA state title at Alcoa in 2000, became Knoxville Catholic High School head coach, made official April 30.

• Bearden boys soccer’s 3-1 victory at Sullivan South in mid-May earned the SoccerDawgs (14-4-4) its eighth Class AAA state tournament in 10 seasons.

• Christian Academy of Knoxville earned its sixth Class A-AA boys soccer state title in seven years, defeating Alcoa 4-2 May 23.

• Knoxville Catholic High School baseball made program history in May, becoming the first KCHS team ever to finish No. 2 in state (32-7).

• Curt Powell, Farragut High School All-state shortstop, was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Tennessee.

• Kevin Johnson, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., tapped in a one-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole at 18 to win the 20th Annual Knoxville Open Presented by Food City, at Fox Den Country Club June 14.

• John Heatherly, former FHS baseball head coach who led the Admirals to a Class AAA state title in 1982, joined Craig Colquitt of Bearden, All-American Tennessee Volunteers punter who earned two Super Bowl rings as a Pittsburgh Steeler (1978, ’79), as Greater Knoxville Hall of Fame’s 2009 class inductees July 9 in Knoxville Convention Center.

• Matt Buckner, who led Bearden to its first-ever state tournament as Bulldogs baseball head coach while compiling a 177-72 six-year record, was named new skipper at archrival Farragut in July.

• Jack Tate, whose assistant coaching talents during 27 years at Bearden High School landed him into the East Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in August 2005, was named head coach July 27.

• Brie Carter, an eighth-grader at Cedar Bluff Middle School, won the Girls 2 competition at U.S. National Championships while tying the national record with three buoys at 38 feet off the towline.

• Farragut High School junior second baseman Nikki Delmonico and FHS junior pitcher Philip Pfeifer, both Class AAA All-state honorees, were the only high school teammates in the nation named to the 20-man 18-and-under United States National Baseball Team for a Pan American tournament. The pair helped lead USA to the gold medal competing in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Sept. 24-Oct. 4.


• Morgan Hankins and Claudia Garza, two Farragut High School Family, Career Community Leaders of America club members, won first-place at the club’s STAR Events Competition in February.

• Farragut High School band director Ron Rogers was chosen president-elect of Tennessee Music Educators Association.

• Farragut High School seniors Lindsay Wickman and Michael Hsueh won first- and second- place, respectively, at The University of Tennessee’s Junior Science and humanities Research Symposium in April.

• Jan Green, lifelong Farragut resident, retired from Farragut Primary School in May. She taught at FPS for 24 years.

• After 33 years and more than 700 students, Farragut Primary School kindergarten teacher Nancy Alvanas decided to hang up her teaching hat.

• Chloe Henderson and Karlyn Simcox, two rising Farragut Intermediate School third-graders, wrote, illustrated and bound their first book and are using the proceeds to benefit local animal shelters.

• July 12, St. John Neumann Catholic Church parishioners, community members and leaders joined to dedicate the church’s new building.

• A.L. Lotts Elementary school welcomed two new faces to its administration: new principal Susan Turner, and new assistant principal Alicia Hinton.

• Cedar Bluff Elementary School opened its newly constructed wing, Wednesday, Aug. 11.

• Renaissance | Farragut held its inaugural fall festival Saturday, Oct. 3.

• Farragut High School seniors Kevin Ye and Shreyas Dahotre were surprised to learn they scored a perfect 36 on their fall ACTs in October.

• Also in November, First Baptist Concord celebrated the opening of its newest building, a student center, with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

• A Farragut couple, Gary and Debbie Chesney, chose to adopt a child from Vietnam. Now, the couple supports 76 children in eight homes in Vietnam through their charity, Homes of Love, adding one home each year.

• A Cuban refugee, Vicente Diaz, from Fidel Castro’s reign, spoke to a Farragut High School Spanish 3 class in November.


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