Tue
Mar 31 2020
06:57:am

From TN Gov. Lee,
The CDC advises that "the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus," and the best way to avoid being exposed to the virus is to remain home except as necessary to engage in essential activities

All Tennesseans must do their part by staying at home whenever possible for a limited period of time to avoid exposure to, and slow the spread of, this virus, which will limit the burden on health care resources and allow normal activities to resume sooner

From the Daily Times, "The number of COVID-19 cases in Blount County has reached double digits, the Tennessee Department of Health reported Monday."

We need to step it up a bit.

Avoid crowds. This includes going to Lowes, Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, Target, etc. If you need to go, if it is essential, then try to go when there are less people, e.g. early in the morning and not on a weekend.

Stay 6-10 feet away from other people. This means anyone except for those who live in your household even if they are close friends, other family members, church members, etc.

Don't touch your face while out and about. Wash your hands frequently while out and about using wipes, hand sanitizer, alcohol.

Please protect yourselves, your family, your neighbors, the cashiers and workers at stores.


Cities Temporarily Alter Utility Policies Due to COVID-19

In anticipation of the growing hardship posed by the economic effects of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, City of Alcoa and City of Maryville electric, water and wastewater utilities suspended cut-offs and new late fees from March 25 until April 23.
...
Visit the websites at City of Alcoa and City of Maryville for more information. City of Alcoa customer service staff are available by phone at (865) 380-4700. City of Maryville customer service staff are available by phone at (865) 273-3456.

Wed
Mar 25 2020
09:36:am

The City of Alcoa Public Works & Engineering Department in conjunction with Waste Connections of Tennessee are working hard to continue to provide uninterrupted service as we navigate the COVID-19 impacts.

In order to minimize risks to our employees and customers we are only accepting garbage that is bagged and completely in the cart as well recycling that is only in the cart.

Please remember trash must be bagged for safety and placed in cart only; however, recycling may be placed loose in cart.

Tue
Mar 24 2020
03:39:pm


In light of the positive COVID-19 case for Blount County today, it is more important than ever for our citizens to continue to cooperate with all CDC recommendations. We want to come together as a community to ensure the health and safety of all of our citizens.

All households, all businesses and individuals alike need to take the recommended precautions and self-isolate, alter business processes where possible, and limit-in-person contact.

With increased testing taking place, we will see increased positive test results. The effort to slow the spread of this pandemic depends on each of us doing our part.

Gov. Lee has issued a statewide order "to temporarily limit social gatherings, move restaurant sales to takeout models for food and alcohol and also address the use of gyms."

Here's the executive order

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Thu
Mar 19 2020
05:30:pm

WVLT reports that a Clayton employee has tested positive. More info...

Tue
Mar 17 2020
08:53:am

Blount Intergovernmental Joint Information about COVID-19

The governments of Blount County, the cities of Maryville, Alcoa, Friendsville and Townsend, and the towns of Rockford and Louisville are monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak and are coordinating our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus in our community. Public facilities including parks and recreation, schools, library, and government buildings are included in the mitigation protocol.?

COVID-19 Blount Intergovernmental Information
Public Information Related to Community Planning & Response to COVID-19

The governments of Blount County have compiled some important contact information on this joint information page. We will continue to provide important links to the agencies with the latest information.

Sat
Feb 29 2020
02:56:pm

Today's Daily Times front page headline declares "Alcoa commission votes to approve new industrial zone for Springbrook Farm."

Uh, no, it's not an industrial zone. They aren't planning manufacturing or other factory type businesses for the site. At least not that we know of.

What they did was establish a "Central Business Improvement Distict," or CBID. Under state law, this gives the city broad powers to develop the site and to issue bonds or assess (or forgive) taxes to pay for it.

The article mentions "TIFF ... or tax income financing arrangements." The correct term is TIF, or Tax Increment Financing. Under state law, this allows the city development board to borrow money on behalf of a developer to make improvements (like a hotel or a grocery store). The debt is paid back over many years from the difference (increment) in the property taxes before and after the improvement. Officials argue that the project wouldn't be feasible "but-for" the TIF, therefore the incremental revenue wouldn't have occurred otherwise.

It's like free money! For developers. Taxpayers ultimately pay for it in terms of deferred tax revenues. Plus, there's an associated increase in demand for city services (and debt) and taxes to pay for it are used to pay off the developer's debt instead.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. The "but-for" requirement makes otherwise economically challenged projects feasible and, in theory, enhance the community and, eventually, hopefully, generate new tax revenues.

The paper doesn't fully explain why this particular plot needs government/taxpayer financial aid to be economically feasible. What's under that concrete that has to be removed? All these complex plans and funding schemes seem like overkill just to dig up some concrete. In fact, who is paying for the infrastructure and environmental remediation already done at the site? Recent property tax increases probably had nothing to do with that. Right?

Anyway, this is a lot of complicated mumbo jumbo and the Daily Times doesn't feel it necessary to ask or explain. All you need to know is what the city officials tell their reporters, which the reporters duly transcribe. And what they tell reporters is that everything's fine. Trust us.

Oh, and their reporters are prone to throw in a little editorial opinion disguised as "news reporting." The article states without any attribution that "Springbrook Farm’s advance is significant for the city, a milestone in its future commercial hopes, fiscal plans and even its infrastructure strategies."

OK, then. Let's hope everything works out and the city isn't plunged further into debt and we don't have any more surprise property tax increases.

UPDATE: The online article headline was corrected, as was the spelling (but not the definition) of TIF.

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Fri
Feb 28 2020
10:22:am

An article in today's Maryville Daily Times about early voting says this:

Blount County residents who choose a Republican ballot will also vote for Tim Helton or Todd Orr for Blount County Property Assessor.

Those who vote on Democratic ballots may write in either of the candidates for property assessor.

This is wrong, misleading and could cause people's votes to not be counted.

Tennessee Code Annotated 2-8-113 (c) says "Any person trying to receive a party nomination by write-in ballots shall complete a notice requesting such person's ballots be counted in each county of the district no later than twelve o'clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, fifty (50) days before the primary election."

According to the Blount County election office, neither candidate for property assessor has filed such notice for the Democratic primary. Therefore, any such write-in vote will not be counted, and the vote would be wasted. To vote for property assessor you must vote in the Republican primary.

UPDATE: The online version of the story has been changed to say "Those who vote on Democratic ballots may cast write in votes for property assessor. Those votes will be counted in the Democratic primary. They will not impact the totals in the GOP race between Orr and Helton."

Uh, no, the votes will still not be counted. Once again, the Daily Times can't get basic information right, and refuses to correct it. What is happening to this newspaper?

Tue
Feb 18 2020
07:42:am

As of the first three days of voting in the 2020 Presidential Primary, even though there are still more Republicans voting in Blount County, in 2020 as compared to 2016, Democrats have more than doubled the number of voters for the first three days. Whereas, the number of Republican voters has increased by just under 50% (46.3%).

Are there more Democrats voting in Blount County in 2020 or are they more motivated?

Early Voting Totals
2016

1,237 Total

Dem/Repub
296/941

as compared to

Early Voting Totals
2020

2,009 Total

Dem/Repub
632/1,377

Fri
Jan 24 2020
05:34:pm

What: ChiliFest 2020
When: Saturday, February 8, 2020 - 4-7pm
Where: Smith Life Event Center1404 Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville, TN 37803

ChiliFest set for February 8, 2020 from 4-7pm
at Smith Life Event Center

New contestants and previous winners are preparing for CAPPE’s 18th annual ChiliFest on Saturday, February 8. Four ribbons and cash prizes will be awarded as three categories of chili – beef, other meats and vegetarian – compete for the judges’ decisions. The tasting public will vote for the fourth category - People’s Choice.

This is a family friendly event. Admission is $7 at the door (free for children ten years of age and under). With admission comes a taste of all entries and, if you are still hungry, a bowl of your favorite chili – as well as an opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice winner and perhaps a door prize! Beverages, quesadillas and home-baked goodies will be available for purchase.

ChiliFest 2020 returns this year to the Smith Life Event Center with plenty of parking at 1404 Tuckaleechee Pike, Maryville, TN 37803.

As of January 24 we have room for a few more contestants. Register and pay the $20 entry fee by Monday, February 3. The entry form may be found at (link...)
Please contact Susan Keller (865 982-4267) with any questions.

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Thu
Dec 12 2019
04:34:pm

What: Annual MLK Kids & Families Fair!
When: Saturday, January 18, 2020 - 1:00pm
Where: Blount County Public Library

The fourth annual MLK Kids and Families Fair will take place on Saturday, January 18 from 1-3 pm at the Blount County Public Library.
The drop-in style fair – with tables sponsored by community organizations such as Blount County United, Blount County Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Alcoa-Blount NAACP, and several local schools – provides an opportunity for children and families to learn more about the work and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Fair features activities related to race and identity, the historical and modern context of race/racism in the United States, and how all people can work together to promote racial justice. Interpreting will be available in Spanish, Japanese, and American Sign Language at the event. For more information, contact Heather McMahon at heather.mcmahon@maryvillecollege.edu

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Sat
Nov 30 2019
08:39:am

The Daily Times has an article about the new voting machines selected for Blount County and a Shelby County lawsuit involving the same machines.

One part of the article states:

"Knopf, along with a representative from Harp Enterprises, the company that makes the new voting equipment, fielded numerous questions and concerns from the public and commissioners on the new equipment."

Harp Enterprises, a Kentucky company, does not make the voting machines. The machines are made by Hart InterCivic, a Texas company. Harp Enterprises is just a reseller.

Hart InterCivic also made the voting machines that Blount County is getting rid of. Neither the old nor the new "black box" machines have a voter-verifiable paper audit trail.

Optical scan paper ballots are the only secure, verifiable voting systems. They are available from Hart InterCivic. Many states have adopted them. Tennessee is not one of them. Local election officials object to the cost of printing the ballots and storing them after elections.

From the Daily Times, Letter to the Editor,

Lots of money is being spent in the small town of Alcoa with little return on investment. The Pellissippi Place project is an undertaking funded by Knox and Blount counties, and Maryville and Alcoa, which each put up $5 million. U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan also helped secure $2 million in federal funding.

The 450-acre development was first announced in May 2006 as a mixed-use business, commercial, residential and retail business park with upscale office, retail and residential components designed to attract companies involved in technology and research and development.

Nearly 14 years ago, Pellissippi Place was a grandiose plan with an initial cost to taxpayers of $20 million. After nearly 10 years, the first business opened in Pellissippi Place, ProNova Solutions.

Now, nearly 14 years after conception, the city of Alcoa is proposing an additional $1 million to $5 million for an electrical substation to support growth in the business park. Are the regional partners assisting with the funding for the electrical substation?

There is also a lot of money being spent on the new Springbrook Farm development. This is another development that has not realized the expectations.

Alcoa property taxes went up a lot this year, by 20% to nearly 40%. Is the city managing our money responsibly?

The Aluminum Company of America had a great vision when developing Alcoa. However, ALCOA no longer is involved in the city's development. We can only hope that during the city's 100-year anniversary, management understands why it is a popular location for citizens. There are only about 9,000 residents in the city. I hope management knows we cannot keep paying for projects that are very slow to be successful, if ever.

Wed
Nov 13 2019
07:32:am

The First Baptist Church of Maryville is providing a warming shelter for the second year. It was open yesterday, Nov. 12, beginning at 7 p.m. and stayed open until 7 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13.

"The church provided an evening meal and breakfast.

The church said it typically will open if temperatures are expected to drop below 25 degrees for 24 hours.

A white flag is posted outside the building when the shelter is open."

The First Baptist Church of Maryville is at 202 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway in downtown Maryville. It is across from the Blount County Courthouse.

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