Jan 29 2007
01:24 pm

The State of North Carolina is going to purchase Chimney Rock Park:

The state will spend $24 million to buy privately owned Chimney Rock Park, a landmark in western North Carolina that has served as the setting for several major motion pictures, a state parks official said Monday.

Gov. Mike Easley is expected to formally announce the pending sale late this morning, said Charlie Peek, spokesman for the state Division of Parks and Recreation.

The article says the family who owns the park turned down $20 million and listed it with Sotheby's for $55 million. A private donation of $2.35 million helped sweeten the deal.

Jan 29 2007
10:54 am

I've been meaning to add a couple of KNS blogs to the blogroll (under "Local Links" over there on the right) and finally got around to it.

First, is Randall Brown's Ramblin' Man blog, with lots of local entertainment info.

Second, is the All Smokies blog, where our blog pal and outstanding photographer Fletch is a regular contributor.

P.S. It has been brought to my attention that I had KAG's Pop Culturephile blog on the blogroll, but not her other Katie Allison Granju blog. It's there now.

Jan 29 2007
08:35 am

From the Maryville Daily Times:

According to Operation Migration co-founder Joe Duff, it is unlikely that Hiwassee will ever be used again as a stopover point for highly endangered whooping cranes because of a residential development proposed by Maryville-based developer Mike Ross.

"We suspect that we've already used Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge for the last time," Duff said Friday.

Through a joint venture with Chickamauga Shores Holdings LLC, Ross purchased 600 acres of private land adjacent to the refuge for $12.5 million. Ross said his company, Rarity Communities Inc., plans to build a golf course community with about 1,000 new homes on the land.

Duff says the cranes need isolation from humans and the development will be too close to the refuge to provide it.

It won't deter the Sandhill Cranes, though. You see them in peoples' yards and pastures all over the place down there. And a golf course manager in Florida told me they love to hang out on golf courses and wreak havoc on them. And he was only dealing with a dozen or so. It will be interesting to see how 15,000 Hiwassee Sandhills adapt to the new development.


At election time the Knox County Republican Party screams and cries about the greatness of it's political leaders. Yet, when their elected officials act like a bunch of tin pot communists they remain silent.

Has anyone ever before seen a more hideous looking device than Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam's traffic camera in the picture? Looks like a picture right out of communist eastern Europe.

The wicked hideous traffic cameras at key intersections in the city are indicators of a communist mindset in the city government. Stunning. Unbelievable.

This country's forefathers have fought and died to give us our freedoms and liberties. Are we going to stand idly by and let a bunch of greedy self serving politicians take them away?

Jan 28 2007
08:11 pm

From the Mike Ragsdale transcript:

416 MR: Your going to think this is a smart alec answer but I'm not trying to be...trying to be that way that would be like me asking you does the Sheriff [run his] construction business out of his...out of his office... uh, ljust don't have any answer to that, it's none of my business

So it's OK to run political operations out of an elected office as long as some other elected official is running a business out of their elected office? What if elected officials just ran government out of their elected offices? What a concept.

And, does anyone know what the "squirrel squad" or the "termite thing with the school board" mentioned in the transcript is all about?

UPDATE: The "termite thing" is explained in comments. Someone else told us the "Squirrel Squad" is a, uhm, "special unit" in the Sheriff's Dept. that conducts, uh, "special investigations."

More after the jump.


Jan 28 2007
07:37 pm

OK, it's not a murder case or anything, but the Adam Groves interviews are like a Law and Order episode, especially the part where Briscoe and Green get the alleged perp in the interview room and start sweating him.

I can feel sorry for Adam. He seems like a good guy, and he seems to be trying, for good or ill, to protect his friend Tyler Harber while at the same time distancing himself from the whole affair (assuming he told them everything he knows). And the detectives just keep hammering him.

Excerpts after the jump illustrate what I'm talking about, but you really ought to read the whole thing for the full Law and Order effect...


Jan 28 2007
03:41 pm

Portion of a transcript from the Harber Report (warning: porn involved)...

2 CONVERSATION INCLUDES: Captain Darrell Johnson, Sgt.
3 Tom Cox, Carleton Bryant, Eddie
4 Wassman
5 CONVERSATION DATE: April 14, 2005

Read it after the jump...


Jan 28 2007
01:31 pm
By: Sandra Clark  shortURL

Salivate you-all.

Betty Bean has snagged an interview with Tyler Harber.

Get Tyler's reaction to the Sheriff's report in Monday's Shopper-News (online tonight by 8 p.m. at (link...)) -- s.

Jan 28 2007
08:46 am

He cites studies indicating that a typical U.S. congregation, on a Sunday morning, has pews that are 61 percent female, and 39 percent male. That translates into 13 million more women than men, with nearly a fourth of married women worshipping without their husbands. For midweek activities, he says, the ratio is more stark: 70 percent to 80 percent are female.
The leaders of the movement, including Murrow, don't like contemporary Christian praise music, railing against "dreamy songs with lovey-dovey words." They don't like the sermons, which they say are boring, or the image of a sweet, loving Jesus. And they even complain about the sanctuaries' decor, which reminds them of Martha Stewart.
Instead, they want more martial music such as "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Rise Up O Men of God." They want short services and short sermons, with masculine, athletic metaphors, mostly about a rebellious and manly Jesus. They want swords and battle axes on the walls of their sanctuaries, and they want to call their spiritual leaders "coach" instead of "pastor," and see them dressed in camouflage or orange hunting vests.

Too funny, in my opinion. Apparently it is not only feminists that are emasculating the American Christian male, it is the church ladies as well.

Jan 27 2007
11:03 pm

Through the efforts of many who shall remain unnamed, the stellar Shopper-News team has scanned and loaded the entire 150+ pages of the Sheriff's report on Tyler Harber online.

See it now at (link...)

Jan 27 2007
10:27 pm

This blog is a public forum for the citizens of Blount county to unite against the developers and greedy politicians who want to destroy the beauty of Blount County by over development, lenient environmental laws and disregard for the majority of home and land owners that are sick of the overcrowding that is happening in the county where we live and pay taxes.

- I hope to develop a team of concerned citizens that can take notes from weekly Blount Commission and Planning committee meetings and post them in an effort to keep concerned citizens aware of the plans to destroy the rural country sides.

Jan 27 2007
06:02 pm

Term-limit loophole? State lawmakers get involved

January 26, 2007

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- State lawmakers are fielding calls from people in Knox County who want the fee offices exempt from term-limits. The fee offices include county clerk, register of deeds and trustee.

If lawmakers in Nashville stepped in and actually changed the law, it would take weeks, even months, and that's simply too long.

However, it is something Trustee Mike Lowe says he would like to see happen.

Read more here...

Jan 27 2007
11:12 am

Looks like North Carolina is taking tips from China re: censorship...

Raleigh | Citing the controversy surrounding the Dakota Fanning film Hounddog, the leader of the state Senate Republicans says he wants the government to review scripts before cameras start rolling in North Carolina.

That system, said state Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, would apply only to films seeking the state's lucrative filmmaker incentive, which refunds as much as 15 percent of what productions spend in North Carolina from the state treasury.

I realize that it would only apply to studios that want to get a "refund"/tax credit but I think the Puritans taking over the country are pushing the envelope with this idea.

Jan 27 2007
09:38 am

Sheriff Tim HutchisonSheriff Tim Hutchison has released his final report on the Tyler Harber affair. According to reporters, a spokesperson from his office distributed the report last night at the City County building in two-inch thick three-ring binders containing hundreds of pages of documents, interviews, and investigative reports.

The media says it will take a while to wade through all the documents, so more reports will coming out over the next few days. The Sheriff's Office says more documents will be released next week.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the records "list possible violations of several laws, but they give no indication that Harber will be charged..."

Here are some highlights from the first round.

Knoxville News Sentinel updated report:

But a Sheriff's Office summary of an analysis of his Knox County-issued computer indicates investigators found documents related to various political campaigns, as well as contracts and invoices for his side job as a political consultant that were entered into the system during regular business hours.

"When Harber's office was thoroughly searched as part of the investigation, no evidence of any Knox County Probation employment was found," the summary states.


The overall tone is accusatory. [..]

The criminal offenses section also addresses how Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale came to possess copies of a GOP leader's emails. "If Ragsdale's intent in issuing the false statement was to protect Tyler Harber," the report reads, "then Ragsdale was obstructing or hindering, at that time, the location of a person suspected of committing a crime."


The report also plainly states that Harber used his Knox County computer for a variety of political activities and did very little Knox County work.


This a lengthy report and we are going to take some time to sift through the documents before we share them with you.

It must have been a long night for local reporters. Betty Bean has probably been up all night and her report ought to be interesting, although it's doubtful it will make Monday's edition of the Shopper. Early reports seem to corroborate some of what Tyler Harber said in his exclusive series of interviews with her for the Halls Shopper.

Does this report close the books, or open a new chapter?

UPDATE: Blogger Terry Frank has apparently had a look at the report and has some more choice excerpts.

(NOTE: For background, see this KnoxViews collection.)

Jan 26 2007
08:42 pm
By: Andy Axel  shortURL

White-throated Sparrow, Radnor Lake.

Picture after the jump...


Jan 26 2007
07:06 pm

From Michael Silence's blog:

Yesterday (Thursday) for about 2 hours and this morning (since about 8:30am), Mike Lowe, Steve Hall and Mike Padgett have been meeting in Steve Hall’s Office on the 2nd Floor of the City County Building. Apparently from sources, the three are considering filing for a FEDERAL INJUCTION preventing their removal of office despite having been deemed term limited by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Mike Lowe apparently believes that because he receives state monies from the state for the county, he is in fact a STATE official not a county official.

Jan 26 2007
06:26 pm

Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison speaks out, says "he supports [his top officer's] choice of Administrative Deputy J.J. Jones."

Jan 26 2007
05:47 pm

Word on the street is that Sheriff Tim Hutchison is set to release his final report on the Tyler Harber affair at any moment. Developing...

(KnoxViews prediction: "Nothing to see here. Move along." Unless Sheriff Tim decides to take a parting shot at Mayor Ragsdale?)

(KnoxViews prediction #2: Betty Bean will be busy this weekend, and the Halls Shopper will have to stop the presses!)

UPDATE: Word on the street is that the news will be huge, and that prediction #1 above is way off the mark (i.e. more like the speculation in the second part about a parting shot). Reporters are gathered at the City County Bldg. awaiting word...

OBSERVATION: The timing is certainly interesting, what with Sheriff Tim set to be replaced next week and all. But even more interesting is that if this is really big it could push Knox County government replacement news right off the front page, and focus all the attention on Mayor Ragsdale instead of the County Commission back room maneuvering.

UPDATE: Hutchison releases Harber investigation. No charges against Harber. Article is otherwise a rehash of stuff previously reported in the Halls Shopper, with gratuitous Lumpy Lambert quotes. There will probably be more after reporters have time to wade through reams of documents. Apparently there's no executive summary, other than "no charges against Harber." In the time they spent printing the "two inch thick document" they could have posted it on Shurf Tim's website and we'd know what it says by now. Pretty lame. But typical, I guess.

Jan 26 2007
05:02 pm

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
A quick note that the candidate forum scheduled for Monday at 6pm is still on, but the location has moved to Whittle Springs Middle School's auditorium, 2700 White Oak Lane (the corner of Whittle Springs and White Oak).
Great thanks to Whittle Springs Principal Benny Perry who responded quickly and favorably to house the event when Fulton High officials forgot to include the academic banquet on the auditorium calendar and did not notice the conflict until this morning.
The schedule of events will be:
6pm to approx 7 pm, County Commission, District Two, all candidates seeking appointment asked to give a three-minute statement, followed by audience questions.

Approximately 7pm to 8pm, county-wide candidates (sheriff, county clerk, trustee, register of deeds) same format.

Approximately 8pm to 8:30pm, any candidates from other districts, same format.

Mark Harmon, County Commissioner, District Two

Jan 26 2007
04:52 pm

Public Forums:

So far we are aware of two ad hoc public forums for replacement candidates to meet with the public:

According to the KNS, commissioners Leuthold and Hammond are holding an open public forum for 5th District candidates, Saturday Jan. 27th from 10:00 AM to 12 Noon at the Cedar Bluff library branch.

Commissioner Mark Harmon has organized an open public forum scheduled for Monday, January 29th, starting at 6pm in the Fulton High School Auditorium. UPDATE: EVENT MOVED TO WHITTLE SPRINGS MIDDLE SCHOOL AUDITORIUM, 2700 White Oak Lane (the corner of Whittle Springs and White Oak). "Public, candidates, commissioners, and all interested parties are invited." More details here.

If you are aware of any other public forums, meetings, discussions, etc., please let us know in comments and we will post updates.

Local TV News:

The KNS, WBIR, and WNOX are hosting a one hour program on WBIR Channel 10 TV At 7 PM Monday, Jan. 29th, to "explain who's in contention and to offer perspective from journalists, public officials and others."

If you are aware of any other local TV broadcasts for discussion of/with replacement candidates, please let us know in comments and we will post updates.


Online, the Knoxville News Sentinel has this website with a list of persons seeking appointments, including letters and resumes where available.

(KNS writers are posting frequent background/updates at Michael Silence's blog.)

WATE has compiled this list of candidates.

WBIR has this site with a news archive and candidate lists with letters and resumes. (Thanks, Katie!)

KnoxViews has compiled this list. Please let us know of any updates or additions in comments on that post.

KnoxViews also has this extensive, up to date archive on the controversy.


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