Voter education is essential to ensuring voters are well-informed and can effectively exercise their voting rights and express their political will on Election Day.
Ran across this site tonight and found the numbers interesting….thought you might also.
Thank you Judge for the great sign location!! It is hard to miss! Thank you Tim Brewster for installing and keeping me safe! I appreciate it.
Thank you Philadelphia Elementary for allowing me to be part of such an incredible program! You truly are an “Exemplary School”!
“The PNL Companies” out of Texas has apparently acquired golf course community Tennessee National!
Visit www.pnlcompanies.com to learn more about the asset management company.
The small town of Greenback is steeped in history and local residents are continuing efforts to preserve that legacy for future generations.
The long-standing Greenback Depot is officially considered a historical site. The Tennessee Historical Commission announced last week that the depot would be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Louisville and Nashville Railroad built the Greenback Depot in 1914.
East Tennessee Preservation Alliance board member Carolyn Peck said the depot was used to organize passengers until 1968 and freight until 1978.
Peck said the Greenback Historical Society had been trying to get the depot nationally recognized since about 2008. As a longtime Greenback resident, she said she was happy the building finally got its recognition.
“People kept saying to me, ‘I wish we’d do something about the depot,’ because it looked like â€” we started about â€” I finally a couple of years later, I decided people were going to keep asking me that (and) unless I did something, nothing was going to happen. So along 2008, 2009, I started publicizing it and talking to the owner whose name was (Larry) Alley at the time.”
The Alleys eventually sold the property to Greenback resident Ron Edmondson for $200,000 in March 2012. With the help of Greenback volunteers, Edmondson worked toward restoring the depot to its original state. Renovations cost about $165,000, he said.
Author: Jeremy Nash
“He’s (Edmondson) told me way back in the beginning that what he wanted to do was restore it so it was the center of Greenback and spark Greenback to make other improvements, to want people to be proud of their community and make other improvements,” Peck said with tears in her eyes. “I get teary real easy right now.”
For Edmondson, revamping the building is about preserving a majority of the original infrastructure.
“My goal is that at some point in my life when I (finish) this thing, when I get the rest of out here done, when I get the little things done, I am going to make a very strong effort to see that the state of Tennessee, the county of Loudon, the city of Greenback, that somebody will take that property with written agreements that it will remain in the condition that they found it when we signed that piece of paper,” he said. “I’ll be happy to do that.”
There remains work to be done. Despite doing a number of renovations, like removing a false second story within the building and adding on to the back of the depot to relocate the restrooms, Edmondson said there were “little things” that needed to be finished, such as replacing phone cables and fixing drainage pipes.
“This thing needs to look like it looked the day that Squire (William H.) Jones came in and said it’s done, you know?” he said. “So that’s what I’m â€” that’s my goal. As long as I’ve got something to keep me busy, I’m happy.”
According to the National Register of Historic Places application form, Jones was the depot’s station agent from 1910 until he died in 1954. He was the deputy county clerk and squire, and he sold vehicles, hunting and fishing licenses and marriage licenses. He officiated more than 3,500 marriages with many ceremonies occurring in the Greenback Depot.
Peck said the facility was host to a number of community events including birthday parties, holiday parties and anniversaries.
“Everybody has been so excited and so many things have been scheduled to go on in here â€” I mean, birthday parties, anniversaries, Thanksgiving parties, Christmas parties and, you know, things like that that people want to use it for,” she said. “We have a Halloween festival downtown the last Saturday in October and they moved it â€” well, it’s outside but also inside in the depot and that’s getting bigger every year.”
Upon finishing renovations, Edmondson said he hoped to use the depot as a city museum.
“We need to be prepared and we need to have this town to where when people drive by the road here and turn around and look, they say, ‘Holy crap, did you see that Indian (statue)?’ ‘No, I didn’t see that Indian, but I saw that elk (statue) back there. Turn around and let’s go look,'” Edmondson said. “They pull back in here, they walk in, they say, ‘There’s a museum in there. Let’s go in there and look at it.'”
Paul Bailey, GHS member, said Edmondson’s work positively impacted city residents.
“If you’re not familiar with the town, this looks a lot different today than it looked two, three years ago,” Bailey said. “This was all run down, I guess is the best way to describe it. None of this was mowed or anything, so it’s changed a lot and it’s all I think because this (Greenback Depot) came back to life and people decided to make things in their own way a little better.”
As an owner of seven properties in Greenback, including the old Gorley’s Grocery Store lot, Edmondson said he had plans for the vacant land. He said he hoped to rebuild Gorley’s with “plenty of parking” and picnic tables beside the store for the community to use.
Preservation is an important factor to consider, Edmondson and Bailey said.
“Can you read those letters?” Edmondson said, pointing to acronyms on the wooden Native American statue beside Morganton Road. “Know what it stands for? Greenback High School. That’s how important it is to me. Kids is all that’s important in this world. Me and this old guy’s (Bailey) going to get older and older and older, and my one hope is that there’ll be somebody that’ll have the same attitude toward this town and toward the things in this town that have got it to where it’s at right now.”
Buoyed by the popularity of two main fishing tournaments, along with a yearly array of arts and crafts events, festivals and firework shows on the lake, tourism spending in Loudon County has continued its upward climb, with 2012 marking the third increase in a row.Although concrete figures are not in yet, officials predict 2013 will be the fourth.
“I think if we can continue to grow the amount of tourists that come to our community as well as to increase the dollars they spend while they’re here, I think as long as we’re making progress that’s accomplishing a lot,” Clayton Pangle, executive director with the Loudon County Visitors Bureau, said.
Tourism spending in Loudon County reached $45.50 million in 2010, with $1.17 million generated in tourism-related taxes, while spending eclipsed the $50 million mark in 2011. This past year saw a more modest increase to $51.93 million, with $1.29 million in tax receipts related to tourism.
Mark Matlock, Loudon County Visitors Bureau board of directors chairman and owner of Matlock Properties, said even with a recovering economy, people are still going out and spending money on tourism.
“I know that people still get out and move about and travel and spend money,” Matlock said. “I like to think some of that’s due to our marketing efforts. We actively try to pursue and have been pretty successful at luring these professional fishing tournaments, and when they’re in town that’s something that you can tangibly see because they’re here buying fuel, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants.”
Pangle said the two main fishing tournaments drew about 200 people each in 2013. Loudon County has already lined up two tournaments in 2014, the Cabela’s King Kat Classic in April that officials anticipate will draw up to 200 people, and a Morristown Marine tourney in September that could draw as many as 300, Pangle said.
Also each year, canoeing enthusiasts flock to Loudon County from 26 states and two foreign nations, Canada and Germany, for the Ain’t Louie Fest in March.
Pangle said boaters typically use Loudon as a central location for whitewater opportunities in the region.
“It’s an interesting thing,” he said. “They stay in Lenoir City even though we don’t have any whitewater in Loudon County. They use it as an operational base, and for seven days they go out and do their canoe runs within an hour and half drive of here in all four different directions because within an hour and a half of here we’ve got probably the best whitewater in the eastern half of the United States.”
Although he couldn’t release the name because of ongoing negotiations, Pangle said officials with a “big name” tournament have expressed interest in coming to Loudon in 2015.
Klair Kimmey, vice chairwoman with the Visitors Bureau board, said the organization has worked with counties like Knox and Sevier on fishing tournaments in the past.
“We have found that tourists, they don’t recognize county lines, so we will partner with anybody that is willing to partner with us,” Kimmey said.
Pangle said one example is Loudon County’s promotion of sites in Monroe County and vice versa.
“Monroe County doesn’t have the hotels, for example, but they do have historic Fort Loudoun and Sequoyah (Birthplace Museum),” Pangle said. “So we promote those as things for people to see while they’re here. It doesn’t take away from dollars spent in Loudon County, but it helps us to have that resource that people can go to visit while they’re here.”
During the Professional Anglers Association tournament this past year, Loudon County partnered with Knoxville on generating funds to hold the event on the lake.
“We put up $10,000 from Loudon County’s share, and $20,000 came from Knoxville, and yet the majority of folks stayed here because this was where the tournament was held,” Pangle said, noting that Loudon has worked with Jefferson and other counties that draw fishing tournaments.
“We swap information about tournaments so that they may host somebody that was there one year, and we might be lucky enough to get them the next year or vice versa, so we try to keep them in East Tennessee,” Pangle said.
Matlock said while Visitors Bureau officials discuss other opportunities for attracting tourists to Loudon other than fishing tournaments, the angling events have been the main draw recently.
“That’s probably our main niche that we’re looking at currently,” Matlock said. “We sit and brainstorm quite often about possible ways of doing that and other venues. We’ve been associated with other events in previous years, but as far as a large scale (event), that’s a huge resource that we have other areas don’t have, the lakes that are close by, so we might as well capitalize on that.”
Variety of attractions?
Matlock said in years past the Visitors Bureau has considered other avenues for drawing people to the county, including partnering with Blount County on a billboard campaign advertising the region as a “lakeway” to the Smoky Mountains.
“We were just sort of the pass through route on that deal because the main destination would, of course, have been the Smokies, but the lakes are something that we can be the destination on,” Matlock said.
The Visitors Bureau also held a 5-kilometer run along the lake a few years ago that drew about 75 participants each year in Matlock’s estimation, but that event is no longer held, noting that “plenty” of visitors would come to the county and compete in the run but would leave right afterward.
“People would show up, but it seemed like a struggle,” Matlock said. “… It was one of those things we wished we could have kept it going, but we have to use our resources in the best way.”
Pangle said two main agritourism businesses, Sweetwater Valley Farm and Tennessee Valley Winery, continue to be a draw for the county, along with numerous trail networks like the East Lakeshore Trail, the Rock Springs Park Trail and others. The county is also part of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways program featuring stops along the Rocky Top trail.
When University of Tennessee students visited the county in late 2013 to do some design work to potentially renovate downtown Lenoir City as part of Plan East Tennessee, the students included a trail connecting Rock Springs Park Trail and the Tennessee River, Pangle said.
He said officials with WindRiver, just south of the Tennessee River bridge, had also agreed to allow part of the East Lakeshore Trail to pass through the resort, paving the way for a possible connector if local officials are able to persuade the Tennessee Valley Authority against razing the bridge atop Fort Loudoun Dam once the new U.S. Highway 321 bridge is complete.
“If that happens, and if the bridge connector happens for a walking trail, you could see then you would be able to link up some trails in Lenoir City to the bridge and at least getting across the river to use the lakefront trail,” Pangle said.
Jason Reagan, manager with Comfort Inn off Interstate 75 in Lenoir City and a member of the Visitors Bureau board, said business in 2013 was about the same as in 2012.
He said the hotel does get some residual business from the fishing tournaments and other events, even if they don’t have a preponderance of direct sales, adding that the hotel “definitely noticed an uptick” during the tournaments.
“Even if they don’t stay with us we get some activity off that because that’s just that many more rooms that are off the market off this exit,” Reagan said. “So we get some activity even if it’s not directly. I say this all the time — let’s say if Hampton (Inn) fills up, we benefit from that because that’s that many rooms off the market and Hampton will refer to us if they have walk-ins, and we do the same for them.”
Reagan said the hotel saw a significant increase in customers two years ago.
“In 2012, we saw a noticeable uptick from 2011, but it’s kind of fell stagnant compared to that increase,” Reagan said, noting that he was looking on the bright side heading into 2014.
“We’re an interstate location, and 80 percent of our business is walk-ins, daily walk-ins, whereas a suburban location would have 80 percent reservations,” Reagan said. “It’s just one of those things. I don’t have any special events or any groups on the books yet, but you never know. We’re looking forward to it though. We’re optimistic.”
The Visitors Bureau receives $30,000 for its operations from Lenoir City and $5,000 from the city of Loudon, along with 29 percent of the hotel-motel tax coming from the county. Tourists pay a 5 percent hotel-motel tax in Loudon County and an additional 5 percent for hotels located in Lenoir City for a total of 10 percent in local taxes, not including state and federal. The city of Loudon does not have a hotel-motel tax.
Visitors Bureau officials said the organization consistently delivers its share of tourism dollars compared with the amount of local contributions from the three entities.
“Since 2010, we’ve been able to increase the dollars spent in our county and the people coming here without increasing the percentage of the hotel-motel tax we receive from the county or the dollar amounts we receive from Lenoir City or the city of Loudon. Those have remained the same,” Pangle said.
“Each year we’ve been able to bring in more than that returned back to those entities from hotel-motel taxes or from sale taxes that are oriented toward tourists,” Pangle added.
Matlock said as part of the last fishing tournament, Lenoir City contributed about $5,000 toward the event.
“The increase in sales tax revenues and hotel-motel tax revenues and things, they exceeded the $5,000 investment from Lenoir City just from that one event, so they made their money back off the taxes we generated,” Matlock said. “To me that’s a no-brainer.”
Matlock said he thought the three entities were getting a positive return on their investment to support tourism.
Author: Jeremy Styron
I hope everyone will join me at the Official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony of the new Greenback School in the new gymnasium at 5:00 today!
Fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A is officially coming to Lenoir City.
A property transfer from the Loudon County Register of Deeds shows MSM Development LLC handing over the warranty deed for the former Panda Buffet property, lot 1, to Chick-fil-A for more than $1.2 million.
Mike Morris, a broker for Atlanta-based Morris Investments Inc., said searching for a location in the community had been going on for “several years.” He said Chick-fil-A wanted to be near Interstate 75 and accessible to the community.
“We’ve been looking in that area for several years and looking at a variety of opportunities and just nothing made any sense except this particular one, so this is the one we pursued,” he said. “… They (Chick-fil-A) like to go where there’s a lot of retail in the area to take advantage of the synergism created by the retail and be accessible to the population they’re trying to serve.”
Lenoir City Assistant Codes Enforcement Officer Beth Collins said a building permit was issued Dec. 20 to Knoxville-based Richardson Turner Construction General Contractors.
RTC General Contractors Project Manager Chester Carbaugh said workersbegan demolition Monday. The project, including the construction phase, is expected to be complete sometime in May, he said.
Loudon County Trustee Chip Miller said the restaurant had been searching in the area for at least seven years.
“I think they’re a good family oriented company and from what I can tell, they’re � in every community that they’ve been involved in they’re good corporate citizens and I think that they will do well there and maybe fill a fast food void at the interstate that we currently might have, and add to our tax base,” Miller said.
“You know, that’s one of my things,” he said. “We’re trying to increase our tax base and keep our tax rates as low as possible. I think they will do well in sales and help Lenoir City in sales tax.”
Kristen Ferretti, Chick-fil-A development consultant, said Justin Young will be the operator in Lenoir City. Ferretti could offer no further information about Young or the location’s timetable for opening.
“In the five years that I’ve been here, it’s the No. 1 asked for business of that type, so I anticipate them doing very well here,” Collins said.
Author: Jeremy Nash
With the county’s primary election about five months away, most candidates have already begun taking it to the streets to get at least 25 signatures for election eligibility.
The Loudon County Elections Commission started issuing petitions Nov. 22, leaving potential candidates until Feb. 20 to return their paperwork with the minimum amount of registered voter signatures.
Seats up for election include county mayor, sheriff, county commission, General Sessions Court judge, circuit court clerk, county clerk, road superintendent and trustee. The road superintendent and sheriff must file paperwork with their respective parties in Nashville by Feb. 6 before turning in a petition to the elections commission.
“The process for the candidates as far as the petition process is a very simple process, if they follow the guidelines provided to them in the candidates handbook,” Susan Harrison, administrator of elections, said in an email. “The elections commission provides each candidate a handbook in hopes that it will simplify the process and give them answers to questions that is very often asked. If they cannot find the answer in the book, then they know they can always call the office for help.”
Eight new candidates picked up packets to qualify. Two new candidates will be running for District 1, Seat A of the commission because Commissioner Brian Jenkins has chosen not to seek re-election. Commission Chairman Roy Bledsoe has not issued a petition for District 4.
Jenkins said campaigning was more challenging as a learning process than physically demanding.
“Well, nothing worth doing’s ever easy,” he said. “It is what you make of it. If you want to be successful you’re going to have to work hard at it and get out and talk to a lot of people and knock on some doors and, you know, go where the people are to introduce yourself and kind of let them know what your point of view is about things and hopefully they’re up for supporting that way — lot of leg work.”
For a full list of current candidates, please refer to “May 2014 County Primary petition information” under the Information for Voters tab at http://www.loudoncountyvotes.com.
Eight-year Loudon County resident Richard Anklin said he first considered running for District 7 of the commission, currently held by Don Miller, back in August because he was concerned with the county’s property taxes.
“Anytime you run against an incumbent, you don’t want to run on a negative campaign,” he said. “I think Don (Miller) has fulfilled his role as commissioner of the last years in a very decent manner. I just think it’s time to have a change on the commission. I don’t want to run on a negative campaign against Don. … I want to focus on the taxes of the county and the spending of the county residents’ money. Can it be done any better?”
Anklin’s petition was issued Dec. 3. With about 13 names signed, he said he plans to turn in the paperwork next week. Email and flier distribution will be Anklin’s method of campaigning, he said.
Matthew Tinker will be running for District 2, Seat B of the commission, currently held by Rosemary Quillen.
“I would like to see our housing base continue to grow,” he said. “It has kind of stalled over the last few years and we’ve had several industries in Loudon County shut down over the last few years. I would like to work with the other county commissioners and the mayor to help bring in some new businesses to Loudon County and to … help some areas like Town Creek continue to put in stores and apartments and movie theaters, whatever they’re going to put in there to help just all things that would increase the tax base here.”
Tinker’s petition was issued Nov. 22. He said he started asking for signatures Dec. 4, and had five people sign the petition. Tinker said he plans to do door-to-door campaigning.
Sherri Colvard is vying for the county trustee seat. According to the Elections Commission, her petitioned was issued Nov. 26.
Colvard said she ran for county trustee four years ago, which she believes will help her in the months leading up to May. She has not decided how she wants to campaign. “I am more knowledgeable on running a campaign for this office,” she said.
Seeking the office
Noting his first fundraiser was Nov. 14, Loudon County Trustee Chip Miller said a contested primary election could “easily” cost a candidate $20,000. He believes candidates should have started preparing for the primary election “about six months ago.”
“I think anyone who wants to have a career in public service ought to have the opportunity to run, and I’m not running against anyone, I’m running for the position,” Miller said. “I think my experience as a small business owner has helped and will continue to help run a very efficient Loudon County trustee’s office.”
Miller’s petition was issued Nov. 22. He said he had surpassed the 25-signature minimum and expected to turn in his petition soon with about 50 names of registered voters.
Harrison said some candidates seek higher signature counts based on their belief of “great support in the community.”
Loudon County Road Superintendent Eddie Simpson said he submitted his petition Nov. 22 with 100 signatures.
“I think it makes a statement too that I’m serious about it,” Simpson said. “And I think people have confidence, you know, in that many people sign it that’s all — I just asked for enough space for 100 signatures and that’s what I took it back as.”
If re-elected, Simpson said he would like to “do a lot of paving in the county” because some roads are about 30 years old. He said he would fully commit to campaigning after he officially announced his candidacy in January.
“I just want to pick that up early, you know, just to make a statement and let people know I was going to run again, because the last election I didn’t come out until … actually two months before the primary, which was kind of at the last minute compared to everybody else,” Simpson said. “This time I want to come out and let people know I did intend to do another four-year term and hope I have their support.”