With COVID weakened, 2022 ‘gave birth’ to many things

Topgolf in Town; a close mayoral race with a new alderman; an $8.75 million Town bill; another world record frozen embryo birth; a new holiday event; 2 national titles plus many state crowns

  • AJ Cucksey stands alongside his head coach, Ty Haley (white shirt), who leads the Farragut Youth Football MAC’s Junior Varsity team, during a special pre-game ceremony at Farragut High School’s Bill Clabo Field Saturday, Aug. 27. Also joined by the team’s assistant coaches, AJ was honored for his courage and optimistic outlook: he’s battled a brain tumor for eight years that has blinded one of his eyes and impaired vision in the other.

  • Topgolf staff, local elected officials and members of Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce and Knoxville Chamber of Commerce pose during ribbon cutting ceremonies at the newly-opened entertainment venue along Outlet Drive Friday morning, Aug. 12.

  • Rachel and Philip Ridgeway with their babies, Lydia Ann and Timothy Ronald — believed to be the oldest successfully donated frozen embryos resulting in live birth in the world — thanks to Farragut’s National Embryo Donation Center. They were born Oct. 31.

  • Ukraninan 2007-08 Rotary Youth Exchange student Yuliia “Julie” Tryukhan, center, and her two children, Mark, 3, and Polina, 18 months, along with friend, Oleksandr “Alex” Surkov, far right, were greeted by Bill and Dinah Vogel of West Knoxville, her former host family who is now sponsoring her stay in the United States, when Tryukhan, her children and Surkov arrived at McGheeTyson Airport Friday evening, Aug. 5.

  • The van Tol quintuplets, from left, Willem III, Meghan, Isabella “Izzy,” Ashley and Sean are pictured in their caps and gowns prior to Commencement ceremonies at Farragut High School Sunday, May 22.

  • In a dogpile of pure joy, Farragut High School baseball players celebrated the program’s 11th state title following a 4-1 victory against Houston (Germantown) Saturday. May 28, at Murfreesboro Oakland High School. Among the happy pinstriped champions is senior catcher Garrett Brewer, far left, who teamed up with fellow senior and staff pitching ace Jaxson Pease, top middle, as the championship-winning battery.

  • Farragut High School softball seniors celebrate the program’s second straight state championship, in Division I-4A for 2022, Saturday afternoon, May 28, after easily beating Clarksville in Murfreesboro.

It took about two years, but the tight pandemic grip of COVID finally loosened considerably during 2022 in Farragut and most of the United States.

In Town, there was a dramatically close, and highly spirited, mayoral race — while a new alderman took office late last summer.

A new tourist attraction — with nationwide appeal that is usually found in much bigger cities — opened its doors in Farragut in August.

Town leaders came face-to-face with an $8.75 million price tag for its part to improve the area’s overall traffic flow.

On a lighter note, another world record frozen embryo birth can be traced back to Farragut, while a new Town holiday tradition — with the blessing of four public schools — was enjoyed by many.

The sports scene, among local schools, featured two area national champions, another almost national title, a No. 1 national ranking by year’s end and a No. 1 Southeastern U.S. ranking.

The Farragut High School Admirals had four of its programs win state crowns.

What follows are more details about “22 for 2022.”

Williams re-elected; White new alderman

• Mayor Ron Williams defeated challenger Bill Johns by a mere 58 votes to earn a second four-year term, which culminated with Election Day results Aug. 4 following early and absentee voting.

New to Town politics was David White, a 1963 FHS grad who was elected as a Ward II (South) Alderman.

Topgolf to Town

• Looking to greatly boost the Outlet Drive “entertainment corridor,” the Town welcomed a popular national recreation business, Topgolf, which opened its doors to customers following a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Aug. 12.

Farragut No. 1 in state

• Farragut’s “liveability” was ranked No. 1 in the state in three categories, as determined by Niche.com. Based on data from “a multitude of sources,” the Town was ranked No. 1 for: best place to buy a house, best place to retire and best suburb in which to purchase a house.

Town supports Ukraine

• Farragut showed its support for Ukraine, in its war with Russia, in several ways, which included Ukrainian refugee and 2007-08 Rotary Club of Farragut Youth Exchange student Yuliia “Julie” Tryukhan, 32, and her two children, Mark, 3, and Polina, 18 months, who made it safely to Knox County Friday evening, Aug. 5.

“I still cannot believe we have actually made it to the U.S.,” Tryukhan said. “I’m really happy we got this opportunity.”

Jim O’Brien, president of The Rotary Club of Farragut Foundation, helped arrange for the Tryukhans’ trip.

Hy-Vee seeks Town site

• First reported in early June, Hy-Vee, a Des Moines, Iowa-based grocery-merchandise store, sought to build on roughly 60 acres of property owned by Eddy Ford, former Mayor of Farragut, about one-quarter mile west of the Kingston Pike-Campbell Station Road intersection on the south side of the Pike.

However, by late fall company brass decided to re-evaluate its original proposal to Town officials — though remained determined to build on the Ford property should the company and Town come to an agreement to build.

Town asked to pay $8.5 mil

• Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen was facing a “dilemma” during a special called workshop meeting Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Town administrator David Smoak said the staff learned from the state the North Campbell Station Road interchange project with Interstate 40/75 is going to cost the Town about $8.75 million.

“Now, the good part is TDOT has agreed to not to make us pay that all up front. They proposed $500,000 the first year, so that would move the project forward for design and start the process there, and then we would need $2.75 million in each of the next three years … over a four-year period,” Smoak said.

World embryo record

• Alongside her husband, Philip Ridgeway, Rachel Ridgeway gave birth to twins Lydia Ann and Timothy Ronald — who are believed to be the oldest successfully donated frozen embryos resulting in live birth in the world — thanks to Farragut’s National Embryo Donation Center. They were born Oct. 31.

Town Center updates

• While Aldi’s became the first business to build, then open, in Farragut Town Center at Biddle Farms during 2022, the Center has a “targeted overall completion date of roughly October 2024” according to Mark Shipley, Community Development director.

Moreover, the green light was given to build townhomes as part of the development by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen July 28.

The updated plan shows 47 two- and three-story Federal-style townhomes in the southeast corner of the development.

$13.5 mil sales tax estimate

• With sales tax revenues estimated at $13.5 million and expenditures estimated at $9.535 million for fiscal year 2023 in Town, “This year-end estimate accounts for a 12.2 percent increase in sales tax revenue from the FY ’22 budget, as well as additional revenue increases in state sales tax, wholesale liquor taxes and building permits and fees,” Town administrator David Smoak told the Board.

New elementary school

• On 32 acres along McFee Road is the location of a proposed $35 million-plus Farragut elementary school, estimated to house 800 to 900 students and open in August 2025, it was announced by Susan Horne, 5th District Knox County Board of Education rep, late last summer.

McFee Dog Park

• Town of Farragut will take full advantage of a state grant to build its first dog park.

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to accept one of 15 statewide $25,000 Boyd Foundation Dog Park Dash grants in late August.

Required to be completed no later than August 2025 — with a budget ranging from about $140,000 to $400,000 — it would be located in the northwest corner of McFee Park on roughly 1.5 acres.

Medal of Honor duo at FHS

• Farragut High School hosted a pair of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients — rewarded with the highest honor given for their bravery in combat during the Vietnam Conflict.

Gary Littrell, a retired U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major, and Michael Fitzmaurice, a retired Army Specialist 4th Class, were welcomed Sept. 7, by principal Dr. John Bartlett, himself a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

First Christmas Parade

• Though not an official Town government-sponsored event, the first Farragut Christmas Parade, done with the blessing of Knox County Schools — and specifically Farragut High, Farragut Middle and Farragut Intermediate schools — was held on those three campuses and drives Saturday, Dec. 4.

The event was led by committee co-chairs Mandy Alexander Kincaid, Farragut Primary School kindergarten teacher, and long-time schools volunteer Mary Nussbaum, both of whom serve together on the Town’s Education Relations Committee, plus committee members Michelle Morrow, Stephanie Thompson and Wendy Stiles, Avery Hardman, Sam Williams, Meg Brown, Taylor Clement, Jessica Capps, Lauren Mack and Toni Scott.

CCS girl in Macy’s band

• Kara Lynn Noggle, a junior at Concord Christian School, was one of about 250 chosen nationwide for the Macy’s Great American Marching Band, which performed during the 96th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Nov. 24 in New York City.

Rev. Turner’s 50 at UCPC

• Having celebrated 50 years of devoted Christian service as senior pastor at Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Leonard Turner, alongside his wife, Mary Jo Turner, received a proclamation from the denomination during a ceremony honoring Turner in November.

Sports: BHS national title

• Going a perfect 24-0-0 while allowing just three goals the entire season, Bearden High School girls soccer was named National Champions by United Soccer Coaches.

Led by head coach Ryan Radcliffe and star senior forward Brinley Murphy, state Gatorade Player of the Year, the Lady Dawgs are unbeaten the past two seasons, 47-0-1, while winning the program’s second straight TSSAA state title in late October.

FMS national champs

• Farragut Middle School dance team performed its way to a national championship Sunday, Feb. 6, in Orlando.

The 14-member squad, comprised of Drew Patterson (captain), Mary Aspin Scott (captain), Cassidy Stickley, Natalie Mahoney, Marlee Pyle, Isabelle McCaleb, Lydia Finnegan, Sydney Derr, Caroline Seagraves, Sadie Floyd, Piper Belcher, Mary Ella Wendell, Cate Fowler and Natalee Mack, won first place in junior high pom and second place in junior high jazz during the Universal Dance Association’s 2022 National Dance Team championship.

KCHS tennis No. 1-ranked

• Two-time defending Division II-AA girls tennis state champ Knoxville Catholic was ranked No. 1 in the nation by the global tennis player rating system Universal Tennis Rating as of late fall. The team is led by senior Maeve Thornton, a Furman University signee ranked No. 13 nationally who is a two-time TSSAA Division II-AA singles state champ.

‘High Fives’ No. 2 in nation

• Made up of talent from Farragut (TSSAA Division I-AA state singles champ Riley Cassity) and Knoxville Catholic (Eleni Liakonis, Division II-AA state doubles champ) high schools, plus CAK (Allie Faulkner, Division II-A state singles champ), the “High Fives” finished a close second in the nation at the USTA 18 Years and Under National Team Tennis Championships in Orlando Oct. 6-9.

FHS, other state titles

• Winning a Tennessee-record 11th state title in late May in Murfreesboro, the FHS boys beat Houston 4-1 in the title game.

• Meanwhile, the Farragut Lady Ads softball team went back-to-back state title-wise in late May, easily beating Clarksville to capture the program’s third-ever state championship.

• TSSAA Class AAA state champs last fall, FHS boys cross country team was ranked No. 1 in the Southeastern United Stats by Dyestat.

• Winning yet another state crown was the FHS dance team, doing so in pom and jazz in November.

• Bearden Lady Bulldogs basketball capped off a dominant season by beating rival Farragut 52-34 in the Class 4A state title game in March, capturing the BHS program’s first state championship.

• For CAK boys golf, make it six in a row state-title wise following play in Sevierville in October. Bearden High dance team repeated as state champs in large varsity pom and jazz.

Meske, Hutchens, Courtney

• Serving as a coach and teacher at Webb School of Knoxville for 40 seasons — the final 38 as varsity football head coach — Dave Meske retired following the 2022 season (ending 10-2 this season) with 291 wins, seven state titles and three runner-up state finishes.

• Mike Hutchens, varsity basketball head coach at Knoxville Catholic for 33 years who led the Irish to the 2019-20 TSSAA Division II-AA state crown, retired with 625 wins, which included a state runner-up finish and a handful of state tournament appearances.

• Eddie Courtney, varsity football head coach at Farragut High School since 1996, grabbed his 200th career win.

Mr. Football Finalists

• Reese Keeney, Farragut High School kicker/punter, and Charlie Robinson, Webb School of Knoxville senior quarterback/defensive back, were named Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Finalists for the 2022 season.

Keeney was among the final three kicker/punters statewide (all classifications included), while Robinson was in the final three among Division II-AA state contenders.