Sat
Oct 13 2007
11:50 am

Keep Knoxville Beautiful (KKB) has awarded south Knoxville four out of the five "Onion" Awards for unsightly properties.

Shame on the judges for "mailing it in" this year. It appears they drove once down Chapman Highway and decided we're the ugly stepsister.

While I agree that their choices are indeed unsightly, you can't tell me SK has four-fifths of the eyesores in Knoxville - I drive all over town, and believe me, it's not true. But KKB saw fit to dump on Southside.

At the ceremony, Mary Lou Horner, in her role as "Auntie Litter" [ED NOTE: We have been advised that "Auntie Litter" is a trademark of Auntie Litter Inc. From their executive director: "Keep Knoxville Beautiful and Ms. Horner need to be informed that "Auntie Litter" is a registered trademark of a nonprofit organization, Auntie Litter, Inc., based in Birmingham, AL. It us unlawful for them to continue using this character without a licensing agreement from our attorney."] saw fit to give the Onion for Big Lots to Bob Santore, who was in attendance, taunting him with the question "Don't you know what 'litter' is?"

I can't think of anything more she or the KKB could have done as a slap in the face to an individual who probably does more to beautify South Knoxville than anyone else. Humiliating.

Southside has enough self-esteem issues without "help" like this. We're trying to attract new business ventures to bring enough money into the community to address issues of this nature. Do you think potential investors will give us a shot if they catch wind of this?

I fully expect that this year, KKB will devote four-fifths of their resources to south Knoxville. If they don't, then they're a bunch of hypocrites.

A full list of winners (and losers) is here.

98
like
Joe328's picture

It's a witch hunt

The Keep Knoxville Beautiful board always picks South Knoxville for an Onion awards. If you go to the back of any retail business and take a picture of their dumpster, it should win an Onion award. They always pick a business on Chapman Hwy and make the same statement, "This is just inside the Knox County line and one of the first properties you see on your way from the Smokies." This was the statement they used for Po Boys and the same one used for Seymour Septic, in a past Onion awards.

They called the two businesses where Seymour Septic is located a junkyard. It was actually older used cars driven by employees to work. This years award to Po Boys said it is just in the Knox County line, It's actually several miles inside the Knox County line. PO Boys sells used tires to low income citizens. I assume they want to keep there expenses low like several businesses in this area to ensure lower costs to customers. Po Boys is a used tire store, but there place is not littered. I can find plenty of businesses along Kingston Pike that look as bad as Big Lots and the empty building on Chapman Hwy. I should know, our family rents to two businesses in West Knoxville that looks much worse than than the ones shown in South Knoxville.

Carole Borges's picture

Bob Santore certainly did seem attacked

Your photos of him cleaning the river make you wonder just how uncloncious about pollution he could be. Maybe the Onion ought to go to the KNB people themselves! I've also seem much more ugly places than those shown.

Sandra Clark's picture

south knox

I covered the Orchids and Onions event and it did seem weighted against south Knoxville. Tom Salter, who sometimes writes here, is the executive director of KKB. He told me that nominations come from the community and "winners" were selected from those nominated by a panel of independent judges. -- s.

Joe328's picture

Sandra

Let me make a late nomination for an Onion award to a business that received an Orchid. South College razed a historic home that served as a hospital during the Civil War. The home was in good condition and still had doors stained with blood, because the doors were used as litters to carry the wounded.

Sandra Clark's picture

KKB

Hey, I'm not a member of Keep Knoxville Beautiful. Just went to cover the event. -- s.

bizgrrl's picture

Well, I am surprised people

Well, I am surprised people decided to pick on SoKno. Guess everyone has given up on West Knoxville and North since they are so perfect. Nothing to change there.

Applause to Bob Santore. I am truly impressed at his and his cohorts efforts. Thanks for the reminder Tao4Now. Santore apparently cares.

Tom Salter's picture

Ouch!!!

All of the comments are valid complaints that will probably lead to some type of change in the Onion Award program. We did not require that our judges select eyesore "winners" using a balanced geographic distribution. (We do require that they select at least 1 of the beautification awards from each geographic "region" of the county). We had 15 nominations for eyesores. If you know of plenty more in other parts of the community submit them to us and we'll give them to the judges next year. This year the nominations were 2 north, 4 south, 2 east, 5 west and 2 downtown. I was surprised that the judges picked 4 of 5 south. The only alternative for us at that point was to override the volunteer judge's decision and pick other "winners" and we are reluctant to do that. There are thousands of run down and blighted properties in the community, evenly distributed through the community and over the years we have encouraged property cleanups in other areas.

Don't jump on us for dissing Bob Santore. KKB serves as his group's fiscal agent and we don't charge them any overhead. All funds raised for South Knox Beautification go to trees, shrubs, paint, tools, etc. Nothing pays for staffing, office expense, etc. Last year our board inducted Bob into KKB's Hall of Fame for outstanding service to the community and having a direct positive impact in KKB's mission-related issues. When Mary Lou gives an Onion to a person from a particular area it is recognition that he or she has the power and influence to do something about the blight - it is not a slam on that person. I don't know how you figured that.

Look at this another way. Millions of dollars in new construction have been spent or being obligated to properties in South Knoxville. Should there not be some encouragement for owners of blighted or run down properties, especially those in highly visible areas, to improve those properties? You all should know that city and county building codes only go so far and if a problem does not reach the level of a health or safety violation often little can be done to force an owner to do anything. I don't know what conversations the judges had or how they justified their picks, but it wouldn't surprise me if they made their selections because of the recent increased investment in South Knoxville, not because the South community is ugly. Those are your words.

Lots of property owners screen their dumpsters - that is not unusual or particularly expensive. Dumpsters, especially those not in some type of enclosure, are often the source of blown trash and invite illegal dumping.

Sorry South Knoxville if you feel picked on by the KKB Onion awards. I doubt if that will happen again.

Bbeanster's picture

Oh, come on, Tom. You said:

Oh, come on, Tom.

You said: "When Mary Lou gives an Onion to a person from a particular area it is recognition that he or she has the power and influence to do something about the blight - it is not a slam on that person. I don't know how you figured that."

Would you consider yourself slammed if someone singled you out in a pubic gathering meant to shame litterers and honor beautifyers, presented you with a booby prize and asked "Don't you know what litter is?" Especially if you've worked your butt off to clean the place up?

Joe328's picture

The Onion awards are public

The Onion awards were made public to everyone in Knoxville. You apology on this site will reach very few people from South Knoxville. What really get under my skin is, the four nominations from South Knoxville, all received an Onion award, West Knoxville had five nominations and none received an Onion award.

Now, you compare the four from South Knoxville to the five from West Knoxville, and then tell me South Knoxville was not intentionally slandered. Mary Lou Horner is well known for her one sided opinion, allowing her to be any part of KKB was a mistake.

Tao4Now's picture

Somehow, I don't "feel" better

Tom, thank you for the reply.

Tom Salter: We did not require that our judges select eyesore "winners" using a balanced geographic distribution.

I would be interested to know what criteria the judges were instructed to use that resulted in the apparent bias. Perhaps there was no bias in the instructions, just in the judges. To break down the numbers you've given, Southside received 27% of the Onion nominations and 80% of the awards, and 100% of the Southside nominations were given Onions. That smacks of prejudice, especially when you say:

Tom Salter: There are thousands of run down and blighted properties in the community, evenly distributed through the community...

If the blighted properties are indeed "evenly distributed" (and I have no reason to doubt you), why aren't the Onions?

Tom Salter: KKB serves as his group's fiscal agent and we don't charge them any overhead. All funds raised for South Knox Beautification go to trees, shrubs, paint, tools, etc. Nothing pays for staffing, office expense, etc.

I'm absolutely astounded that you would say such a thing. In addition to Beanster's reply, which I find wholly valid, I'd ask you to look at this statement from my perspective, where it appears you are saying "Yes, we humiliated Bob Santore, but it's okay, because we give him money."

Tom, perhaps it is time to rethink the entire Onion concept.

Tom Salter: If you know of plenty more in other parts of the community submit them to us and we'll give them to the judges next year.

I would under no circumstances do so. I prefer to concentrate on positive contributions, not negative ones, and have zero interest in assisting you in humiliating someone else, no matter what side of town they're on.

Tom Salter: I don't know what conversations the judges had or how they justified their picks, but it wouldn't surprise me if they made their selections because of the recent increased investment in South Knoxville, not because the South community is ugly. Those are your words.

Do you really think that the dollar amount of investments in Southside is higher than in other parts of Knoxville? And do you really think that it's four-fifths of the total investment? And even if it were, that the investment justifies the 100% award of Onion-nominated Southside properties? I'd be astonished if any of those were the case.

Yes, those are my words. They are drawn from an inescapable conclusion of KKB's actions this year. No matter how you spin it, or attempt to justify the judges' reasoning, KKB has determined that south Knoxville is the ugliest part of town: zero Onions for west, zero Onions for east, zero Onions for north, a single Onion for downtown, and four Onions for south.

Tom Salter: Sorry South Knoxville if you feel picked on by the KKB Onion awards.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Tom, but we don't feel picked on, we were picked on.

Tom Salter: All of the comments are valid complaints that will probably lead to some type of change in the Onion Award program.

I sincerely hope so.

Sandra Clark's picture

Misinformation

It's funny to read these comments from folks who have never been to a KKB event -- experts all.

Last Thursday KKB gave the "butterfly" award to a former onion in Halls -- a truly blighted corner that has been cleaned up and converted to an outlet for used clothing.

Just a thought, but perhaps those who care so deeply about the public image of their community should get out and help clean it up. Just a thought. -- s.

Bbeanster's picture

This is interesting: " Ernie

This is interesting:

" Ernie Gammon of Lamar Outdoor Advertising presented the 6th Orchid to Meade's Quarry in South Knoxville. Ernie grew up near Meade's Quarry and it had a terrible (well deserved) reputation as a dangerous dumping ground. He said it is now a jewel in South Knoxville."

A billboard company executive giving out beautification awards?

Joe328's picture

It's as clean as other areas of Knoxville

The boarded up restaurant looks no different than the boarded up stores in Farragut. Yes, Farragut has some boarded up stores, with trash in the lot on Kingston Pike near Campbell Station. Po Boys is a retail tire store, it has merchandise (tires), not litter out front. Home Depot and Lowe's stores has merchandise in there parking lots, is that litter? The warehouse in South Knoxville is in an industrial area, no industrial zone in Knoxville looks like a picture in Southern Living. The only litter in the South Knoxville awards was behind Big Lot's. I must agree that was a true Onion, but I can also find plenty of the same standard in all parts of Knoxville.

Do you drive new car? One year the Onion went to a business they called a junkyard in South Knoxville. It was actually employees cars which are driven every day, and it was not a junkyard, it was a septic business.

We must being doing something right in the south side, our home sales steady, while the west end of Knoxville is down four percent.

bizgrrl's picture

Yes, I think it might be

Yes, I think it might be time to get rid of the Onion "awards". I asked SKB when the nominations were first announced if I should submit some "onion" suggestions. He said, No. Why be mean to someone?

Why not come up with some other method to get business owners/individuals to clean up their areas? Especially if this is the result, e.g. "Southside received 27% of the Onion nominations and 80% of the awards, and 100% of the Southside nominations were given Onions."

Shannon's picture

I've only been to one

I've only been to one Orchids and Onions night, about two years ago. As I recall, Mary Lou's "Auntie Litter" routine was lighthearted, not mean-spirited in the slightest. As Mr. Salter said, she gives the Onions to people who have the power to do something about the sites: County Commissioners, community activists, etc. The year I attended, two sites in North Knox got Onions. These were an abandoned gas station in Halls and an falling-down building (think it was an engine repair shop) next to Central Baptist Church and across from Fountain City Park.

As I see it, the point of the Onion awards is to call attention to places that might need help. They're not trying to say one part of Knox County is uglier than the rest. That said, IMHO South Knox needs attention countywide. It's a great, unique part of Knox. There are great neighborhoods there, and I'm not just talking about Island Home. South Knox could do with a few more city and county eyes on it for awhile. The Chapman Highway corridor has great potential as a gateway to the Smokies. Some of South Knox's historic neighborhoods could use revitalization. I have personal knowledge of former industrial sites in dire need of environmental cleanup, sites with private homes right next door.

I know it's got to seem hurtful for four out of five to be awarded to your community, and that does seem excessive. However, maybe the community could see this as an opportunity to draw attention to its needs and drive beautification efforts your way. It's a good time to say to your elected officials and KKB, "OK, you think we need help, so help us." It's also a good time to rally the community. Show those KKB'ers just what a great place South Knoxville is.

Tom Salter's picture

10 years of onion awards

I had a file on my home computer with a list of onion awards from 97 to 03. 2005 to 07 are on our website. This doesn't include the 04 numbers - north 14 (28%), south 9 (18% including this year), east 6 (12%), west 12 (24%), cbd 5 (10%) and "issue" picks that are all over the community like illegal signs 4 (8%). If you want to make a case that these are too negative and have no value, please send an email to my work address (tsalter@discoveret.org) and I'll forward everything to my board of directors.

bizgrrl's picture

I know it's got to seem

I know it's got to seem hurtful for four out of five to be awarded to your community, and that does seem excessive. However, maybe the community could see this as an opportunity to draw attention to its needs and drive beautification efforts your way.

According to TS, they are already spending or obligated to spend money South of the river. Look at this another way. Millions of dollars in new construction have been spent or being obligated to properties in South Knoxville.

Gee, Shannon, get with the program. SoKno is being helped, thus they can be picked on. Although, I am not sure what "millions" of dollars TS is speaking that SoKno should be so thankful.

Joe328's picture

Judging the Judges

This years judges may have been biased when they dumped on South Knoxville and saved West. Please correct me if I am wrong, but one of the judges (JF) is a real estate broker whose primary business is West Knoxville. Most all of his listings are West Knoxville and he has none in South Knoxville.

The slumping real estate sales has hit West Knoxville the hardest, while South Knoxville is steady or slightly up. Considering that West Knoxville had more Onion nominations than South Knoxville, yet South Knoxville had 100% of their nominations awarded, and West Knoxville had no Onion awards, I think we had some biased judges.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Analogy

Here's my analogy:

Mom decides to enroll middle daughter in a beauty contest to bring attention to the family and to fulfill her own dreams. It's true, the kid has natural beauty but is more into sports and her own hobbies, comfortable in her skin, as they say. Now the town busybodyies have decided to focus their attention on this girl and confront her loudly at the mall with a list of all her faults. Should this behavior be encouraged?

____________________________________
Less is the new More - Karrie Jacobs

sknoxyellowdog's picture

Vast West-Wing Conspiracy?

What really smells about all this(from a native South Knoxvillian's perspective) is the very real possibility that this was the first step in a concentrated effort to make acquiring property in our lovely, bucolic area easier for The Chosen Developers. An absurd stretch? Remember the "One-Man-One-Vote" fiasco for the new Lowe's at John Sevier Highway?
skyd

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