Farragut Foundations: The First 40 Years

Williams fascinated with local government, led him to get involved

Developing a fascination with the comparisons and contrasts of the local governments he could observe from close range, Farragut Mayor Ron Williams’ first taste of Town government would come in California.

Serving on Sugarwood subdivision Homeowners Association

“for 20-years-plus,” which included a stint as its president, would further hone his ability to work with people.

Moving to Sugarwood in 1991 after living in metro-Chattanooga, Hixson, for about four years — beginning work with Sunnen in 1987 (see Profile on this page) — “I kind of got to know (former Mayor) Ralph McGill, my wife got to know (former North Ward Alderman) Marianne McGill and (former Vice Mayor) Dot LaMarche,” Williams said.

“At that time the Sugarwood subdivision had an HOA that was in pretty bad shape.”

With Williams, LaMarche and the McGills among others in HOA leadership, “We all worked together to get it in good financial shape” while “the recreation area expanded … and we put streetlights in,” he said.

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Encouraged by her local government, Povlin got involved

Louise Povlin
A retired ceramic engineer and new businesswoman (Anytime Fitness) living in Fox Run subdivision in 2013, Louise Povlin would learn her Town government actually listens to its constituents.

Being “floored” by this reality set in motion why she is Farragut Vice Mayor Louise Povlin, appointed in January 2016 to take over the remaining portion of then North Ward Alderman Ron Honkin’s term before being elected later that year.

Reading a 2013 story in farragutpress about the Town’s plans to improve Union Road, and living nearby, Povlin said she was compelled to “write a letter to all the (Farragut Municipal) Planning Commissioners and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen” questioning the Town’s decision.

As part of “getting ready to go through the budget process, Union Road had risen to the top of their (Capital Improvements Plan) list, that was the next road they were going to do,” said Povlin, who admitted, looking back on 2013, she “didn’t even know how town government worked.”

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Town’s ‘paper of record’ for its 8th year of incorporation

Nick Drewry
Well-established as a growing, innovative municipality by the early spring of 1988, the Town of Farragut — 8 years old — still lacked its own newspaper of record.

A local real estate mogul, a lifelong resident of what is now Farragut already known for giving back to his community, was about to change that.

Meanwhile, Nick Drewry was a newspaperman then having more than 20 years experience running small papers in Louisiana and Roane County.

“Sometime between late March and early April” in 1988, he seized upon an opportunity.

“… I was living in Kingston at the time. A friend of mine called and said there was an ad in the Knoxville News Sentinel, that some guy in Farragut wanted to start a weekly Farragut newspaper,” Drewry said about Doug Horne, owner of Horne Properties, Inc.

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At the top with VP Quayle, Meyer’s HOA work led him to BOMA service

Not necessarily intending to move to Farragut after being a Knoxville resident for more than 15 years, “We just happened to land in a house in Fox Run subdivision … seven years ago,” said Farragut North Ward Alderman Scott Meyer, a native of metro Indianapolis.

His health care industry work brought him to Knoxville in 1997.

“When we moved in, the subdivision was extremely welcoming. We got involved right away. … We just became connected with our neighbors,” Meyer said.

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Pinchok’s ‘great outdoors’ visions, realities in Town

Ron Pinchok
Confessing a love for sports and the outdoors, Alderman Ron Pinchok recalled how he first became involved with Town of Farragut government.

“When I first moved here (32 years ago) I enjoyed the parks tremendously and the greenways,” said Pinchok, first elected as a South Ward alderman in 2014 who became interim Mayor of Farragut for a few months in 2018 when former Mayor Ralph McGill resigned due to health issues.

“I had read where the Town had purchased, in 1995, 27 acres off of McFee Road,” he added about the land for what is now McFee Park. “A second purchase was made in 2008 for 17 acres, and then I think in 2010 they purchased another nine.”

Having retired as a sales and marketing development representative with Hallmark cards in 2010, Pinchok said he “played a lot of golf and tennis the first year I was retired, but I said, ‘I’ve got to do something else, I’ve got to get more involved.’”

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Where there is ‘Smoak’, there is the growth

In defining his job as Town of Farragut administrator, David Smoak said with a smile, “It’s funny, I had a bunch of 6-to 13-year-olds ask me this the other day. It was actually at St. John Neumann School, we got to have Career Day over there.”

However, “Most people in the community don’t know what Town administrator is either, frankly,” added Smoak, who celebrated his 10th anniversary as administrator earlier this month overseeing all departments of non-elected Town government, which adds up to 54 full-time employees.

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Markli among new pro-biz, pro-school trio in 2009, 2010

Bob Markli
Saying he had a “unique perspective,” former Town of Farragut Alderman Robert “Bob” Markli recalled discovering how his beloved adopted Town, moving here in 1987, needed to become more business-, development- and school-friendly.

Owner of Markli Construction Co., Inc., which specializes in construction of custom homes, Markli was asked by then Mayor Eddy Ford to serve on the Town’s Visual Services Review Board in 2003 (serving six years).

Markli said by 2005 he had “become aware there were really some problems (in Town), being on the receiving end of it myself as a builder, developers were really getting gun-shy of Farragut. We were getting a black eye in the business community.

“Being in that group, loosely associated with those people, I was hearing things that I don’t think that our elected officials could see from the top down,” he added.

As a result, “‘Somebody needs to do something, somebody needs to say something,’” Markli recalled saying. “… ‘I have kind of a unique perspective, I think I can really bring something to the Board,’ and that’s when I decided to run.”

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Burnette kicks it around, then comes back to town

Drew Burnette
Drew Burnette’s talent for kicking balls, well-documented as a football and boys soccer star at Farragut High School, were discovered overseas.

“A missionary was very close with (Carson-Newman University Football head) coach (Ken) Sparks in South Africa, and I was down there doing some sports camps and working in some orphanages,” Town Alderman Burnette (appointed as a South Ward representative in 2018) said about a trip through his church, First Baptist Concord, in 2000.

“… We were playing rugby with the local rugby teams, and he saw me kick the rugby ball and called coach Sparks and said, ‘hey, he’s coming back in a couple of weeks, and you need to go get him,’” he added.

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Town more into ‘school business’ in recent years

It was often heard years ago from various Farragut elected officials, “We’re not in the school business,” with Knox County Schools and Knox County Board of Education overseeing Farragut’s four kindergarten through 12th-grade public schools.

Though KCS and KCBE remain in that capacity, the Town became more “business friendly” to those schools in recent years, annually giving each $22,000.

Then, early last decade, came the creation of the Town’s Educations Relations Committee in a still further attempt to assist Farragut public schools.

Helping teachers with supplies has been one of many pursuits.

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Compelling speakers, local ties to polio eradication with Rotary Club Farragut

Jim O’Brien, left, and Terry Kerbs
A featured speaker at The Rotary Club of Farragut occasionally tells a story, usually one of overcoming huge adversity, never to be forgotten by those fortunate enough to hear it inside the walls of Fox Den Country Club.

Farragut Rotarian Jim O’Brien recalled Debbie Morris, whose forgiveness borne out of her Christian faith came after enduring almost unspeakable horrors, which she detailed as RCF featured speaker during its regular noon Wednesday meeting Dec. 18.

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‘Ambassador’ LaMarche had a ‘family’ first impression of Town staff

Dot LaMarche
If one person could be branded Town of Farragut’s ambassador to the state of Tennessee and nationwide, Dorothy “Dot” LaMarche would fit the bill.

But that story, perhaps, wouldn’t have unfolded if not for two things: a cell tower issue in Sugarwood subdivision and a great first impression upon encountering Farragut staff inside Town Hall.

Those encounters created a domino effect eventually earning LaMarche local, statewide and national respect.

First impressions

Visiting Town Hall one day, “I saw how the Town was and how the staff was — it was like a little family,” said LaMarche, serving Farragut on the Board of Mayor and Alderman for 13 years (2003-2016 representing South Ward), including the final seven as vice mayor, who also served for years on Farragut Municipal Planning Commission as BOMA alderman representative.

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‘Culture’ of Town; ‘turning point’ is Pinnacle

Nixon Part 2

Jim Nixon
With a long battle over how to handle Turkey Creek’s wetlands, and with no certainty enough “big box” stores or big shopping center developments would show up along a newly built Parkside Drive connecting Campbell Station and Lovell roads, Turkey Creek/Farragut Land Partners had reason to be nervous about their roughly 360-acre venture stretching about three miles.

“At the front end,” which also could be defined as a period of roughly the late 1990s to early 2000s, “we were just wondering if we could get out of this and we could come out even,” said Jim Nixon, a licensed broker/representative with First Commercial Real Estate in Knoxville and a Turkey Creek Land Partner and Farragut Land Partner who labels himself “a very small partner; but I did a lot of the deals in there.”

However, “You can’t enter anything like this with a negative attitude,” he added.

Turning point

“And then, all of a sudden, more and more people wanted down there,” Nixon said. “… We could have never anticipated everything this has turned out to be in advance.

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Turkey Creek retail bonanza

Part 1: laying the groundwork

Jim Nixon
A significant percentage of Farragut’s sales tax revenue is generated by the Town’s roughly 33 percent portion of the Turkey Creek/Parkside Drive retail bonanza, having grown at a rapid rate since the mid-2000s.

Going back to when Turkey Creek’s roughly 360-acre area was essentially barren in the mid-1980s, “There was a tract of land that was owned by a fellow named Goodman, a wealthy developer from Florida right outside of Orlando. Mr. Goodman had purchased this in an auction from the FDIC in 1986 when the Butcher banks failed,” said Jim Nixon, a licensed broker/representative with First Commercial Real Estate and an investor with Turkey Creek/Farragut Land Partners, which ignited the Turkey Creek retail explosion.

“Mr. Goodman had attempted to do some developments there, had talked to the City of Knoxville and the Town of Farragut and various tenants about going on this piece of property,” Nixon added. “He was either unable or unwilling to do what it took to bring that development together.”

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Smith a big player in Town transportation before his 2000 hiring

Darryl Smith
Darryl Smith recalled the good ole days when he and his children were “riding along” a certain

special road or highway — and dad would have to throw in a reminder.

“I would have to say, ‘hey kids, this is my road here,’ and of course they would roll their eyes and say ‘yeah, yeah,’” Smith, Town of Farragut engineer for almost 20 years, said with laughter about some of the roads and highways he led the way in designing in Farragut before being hired by the Town.

“I’ve actually done a lot of projects, designed a lot of projects, for the Town of Farragut going back to the late ’80s all through the ’90s,” he added.

For example, “Old Stage Road to Lawton Boulevard and Kingston Pike between Jamestowne Boulevard and West End (Avenue) and Concord (Road),” he said about his work, from 1987 into 2000, “as a consultant doing roadway design. At that time it was Wilbur Smith Associates — they’re now CDM Smith here in Knoxville.”

Other Town examples include “early design on Campbell Station Road extension south of Kingston Pike, and Fretz Road,” Smith said. “I stayed plenty busy then.

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Holladay recalls early days of FMPC, function of the committee, Bob Hill

Rita Holladay
Between personnel working experience and personal reflection with family, Rita Holladay’s work with Town of Farragut would find an entry point.

Having moved to Farragut in December 1989 because “the schools were basically the reason we moved here in the first place,” Holladay, Farragut Municipal Planning Commissioner for about 17 years and chair of that nine-member body since 2010, would get her first taste of Town government experience in 1999.

“I started out by being on the Personnel Committee,” Holladay said.

“After I was here in Farragut, a friend of mine who knew I worked for the City of Knoxville said, ‘You ought to apply for the Personnel Committee for the Town of Farragut,’” she added.

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Fighting Knox County government sharpened St. Clair’s desire to serve on FMPC

Ed St. Clair
Approaching his 30th anniversary of serving the Town on Farragut Municipal Planning Commission, Ed St. Clair’s value to the Town first came from an aesthetics perspective.

Going back to 1989, “My entry point into working with Farragut was: I worked in Oak Ridge in the Project Management Engineering Organization over there for Union Carbide. My boss was Bob Hill (longtime FMPC chair who passed away in 2018),” said St. Clair, appointed to FMPC by then Mayor Bob Leonard in 1990.

“They were looking for some help in a process to get proposals and select an architect and engineer for (construction of) the Town Hall,” he added. “I had experience doing that.

“So Bob asked me if I would like to work with the Town staff. … So I participated with them.”

Telling Mr. Hill he would be interested in joining FMPC, “I got a call from Mayor Leonard; he asked me if I’d like to serve on it, and I said, ‘I sure would,’” St. Clair said.

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Garber details town success

Joel Garber
Doing what he felt was in the best interest of the Town of Farragut while serving as a North Ward alderman for 12 years (1995-200), Joel Garber reluctantly would be willing to disappoint, even anger, a majority of his constituents.

Though obviously wanting to satisfy as much of his constituency as possible when casting a vote or voicing an opinion, Garber said, “If there ever was a case where I didn’t agree with what my constituency wanted, I think they voted for me to use my judgment.

“I felt strongly about that.”

For example, “How many constituency groups will ever want you to raise taxes?” he asked. “So, what if there is a time where — ‘we hate to do it guys’ — we need to raise taxes?

“The downside of that is you may not get elected, which is fine,” Garber added.

But this now-retired engineer from Oak Ridge National Laboratory chose to leave office, as opposed to being voted out, after his 12 years — beginning his Town service on the Farragut Municipal Planning Commission for two years (1993-95).

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Taylors shine light on Town revenues, reputation, business history

Sam Taylor
Preparing to go through a third major renovation on his family popular business on the extreme western end of Farragut, Sam Taylor might be expected to share bad memories of his dealings with Town leaders over the years — given Farragut’s stereotype of “unfriendly to businesses and developers.”

However, this patriarch of Dixie Lee Wines & Liquors, Inc. didn’t have any to share.

Instead, “I think Farragut is a wonderful place to live,” said Taylor, a retired chief financial officer/accountant with a large drug company, which led to his co-ownership of Dixie Lee W & L beginning in July 1988.

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Landscaping, trails, designs all part of making Farragut unique

Mark Shipley
Despite earning a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech, and having about 16 months of experience as a town planner in his hometown of Greeneville, Mark Shipley said he still had a lot to learn about actual Town planning.

“I learned some basics there (in Greeneville), but they didn’t really have a planner in Greeneville so I didn’t have anybody to learn from. … I didn’t know a lot, I had just come out of graduate school,” said Shipley, Town of Farragut Community Development director since 2013 who was first employed by the Town as a planner in October 1996.

“In graduate school they don’t teach you the ins and outs of how planning actually works in the real world.”

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Hale recalls town’s legal history

Tom Hale
Town of Farragut attorney since “1997 or 1998 as I recall,” Tom Hale first became familiar with Town matters not long after its incorporation on Jan. 30, 1980.

Knowing then Town attorney David Rodgers through the highly respected firm then known as Kramer Rayson Leake Rodgers & Morgan based in downtown Knoxville, “I had worked with David a good bit on Town of Farragut matters,” said Hale, describing himself as a business/real estate attorney. “And I lived out here.”

Starting his law practice as a partner at what is now referred to Kramer Rayson, LLP in 1980, “I actually worked for Kramer Rayson for two years while I was in law school, so I had actually been there since 1978 … I was a clerk for the firm,” Hale said. “I worked there when David was kind of working through the process (of Town incorporation). … I worked primarily with David, and he needed the help … on a lot of things that involved the Town.”

For example, “My first memory of it is actually the one where it was a question of whether or not the new zoning ordinances the Town adopted were going to apply to a property — I think it was the property the Biddles owned where Kroger is located,” he said. “… I did the research and drafted some of the briefing.

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Business history

From its origins in 1946, Farragut Cleaners now a true Sharp-owned biz

David Sharp
Like father, like son, like sister, like wife.

And don’t forget mom.

“When you’ve got a chance to do something on your own, you want to run your own thing and be the boss,” David Sharp said about co-owning Farragut Cleaners, with sister, Dustin White, since 2004.

A true family-owned business now with five locations and 16 employees, Sharp learned the business from his father, U.S. Navy veteran Don Sharp, a Farragut Cleaners employee in the 1980s before buying the business from Wayne Murphy in 1990.

While the history of Farragut Cleaners goes back its opening in 1946 at its current Farragut location, at the corner of West End Avenue and Kingston Pike, Don’s employees also included his wife and David’s mother, Dottie Sharp, and David’s wife, Karen Sharp, “who probably started a month or two after I did” in 1990, David said.

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Connected greenway, e-sports focuses for the future: Stuhl

Sue Stuhl
Having to be ready to wear several hats when hired by Town of Farragut as Community Programs director in July 1991, Sue Stuhl “got to know a lot of weird things in the Town” hearing citizen problems and complaints.

“I started a volunteer program, I did a citizen request program … being sort of an ombudsman for people … and was involved in a lot of different areas wherever special projects were happening,” said Stuhl, now Parks & Recreation director.

For example, “If someone had a complaint about an overgrown lawn, drainage, parks & rec, anything,” she added.

When first hired, “We lived in northwest Knoxville at the time. I worked at O’Conner Senior Center, downtown (Knoxville), and heard about the (Town) job,” Stuhl said. “… When I applied I didn’t know a lot about the Town.

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Chamber history integrally tied to Town

Julie Blaylock
In terms of giving credit where credit’s due, Town of Farragut stands tall in the history of what is now known as Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce.

“The Farragut Chamber was started officially in May of 1987 — and there’s a lot of people over the years, that I’ve heard, that would like to take credit for starting us,” said Julie Blaylock, FWKCC president/CEO since January 2017.

“… Largely, the Town of Farragut and the late Mayor Bob Leonard had the most, to my understanding, integral part in starting our Chamber,” she added. “… The Town Board of Mayor and Aldermen were the first ones that really decided that the businesses here needed their own chamber.”

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Supporting Farragut ‘community’ important to Eun

Grand Master Seong J. Eun
A former South Korean Marine and Marine Corps martial arts instructor, Grand Master Seong J. Eun is a seventh-degree Tae Kwon Do black belt and instructor for 40 years.

He has been owner/instructor at Eun’s Martial Arts Center in Aspen Square since it opened July 1, 1989.

Saying he’s benefited from the Farragut community being “so nice, everybody is kind,”

Eun is eager to support Town businesses.

“Relationships and friendships are very important — if it’s an electrician, a mechanic, a tire store in our community — I spend time in our community when I purchase anything,” he added.

“Someone may ask, ‘why not purchase it cheaper online?’ I like people is why.

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‘Shell’ing out some Farragut history

Malcolm Shell
Local historian Malcolm Shell, a 1956 graduate of Farragut High School and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, said he simply “wrote what I remembered. … I grew up in Old Concord” dating back to the early 1940s.

“When I was growing up here, Campbell Station was a dirt road,” the highly respected historian said. “… I remember when Turkey Creek was simply a lowlands with cattails — a swamp.

“That’s one of the problems they had developing it, it was a wetland.”

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Griess: teacher-coach- Realtor tackles BOMA in the mid-’80s

John Griess III
A former teacher and coach at Farragut High School, while licensed as a Realtor for more than 40 years and currently a commercial broker, John Griess III entered Town of Farragut politics in the mid-1980s.

It was his first elected office venture.

As for throwing his hat into the ring as a candidate for South Ward alderman in April 1985, “I think it was because nobody else was running,” said Griess, serving South Ward from 1985 to 1994 who also served on “volunteer boards” previous to his run. “I was interested … but it was not like it was an obsession with me.”

Admitting he didn’t have to work hard during his campaigns, usually running unopposed, “I didn’t have to raise money, I didn’t have to ask anybody for votes,” he said. “… I thought, ‘this is pretty cool.’”

However, “I’m the poster boy for running unopposed and almost getting beat,” Griess said. “… I got 88 votes and somebody (got) 66 (write-in) votes. It was really dang close.

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Matlock, honorary Farragut citizen, recalls Town ‘landmarks’ in early ’80s

Jimmy Matlock
If the Town of Farragut ever bestowed an “Honorary Citizen” honor upon anyone, perhaps Jimmy Matlock would be the first recipient.

“We’ve enjoyed getting to know thousands of people down through the years,” said Matlock, second-generation owner of Matlock Tire Service, 10730 Kingston Pike just outside of Farragut among its five locations in the Knoxville metro area (a

sixth is set to open soon in Hardin Valley).

“It was a wonderful place to grow up,” added Matlock, 60, former Tennessee General Assembly representative from District 21 (Lenoir City and parts of Monroe County). “… We’ve always considered ourselves a resident of the Town.”

A charter member of Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce, Matlock Tire Service is one of just four businesses “I’ve been told, that are still in existence today that began when the Farragut Chamber of Commerce began,” he said.

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With its rare Triple-A rating, FUD has enjoyed close ties with Town

Bruce Giles
Wearing two hats, so to speak, during his 13 years as Town of Farragut’s first mayor, Robert “Bob” Leonard also had to do his job as legal counsel for First Utility District.

Even when the two jobs seemed to cross paths, meaning Mr. Leonard had to invoke “eminent domain” in securing property for new FUD lines, which happened to owned a good friend and political alley on the Town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

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McKelvey’s Public Works progression

Bud McKelvey
Appalled at the thought of working a mundane, repetitive-task “9 to 5” job, Bud McKelvey said he thrives on the unpredictability of his responsibilities as Town of Farragut’s Public Works director.

“Every single day of this job is a different day,” said McKelvey, whose crew is on call 24/7 for clean-up efforts following storm and snow damage — especially when roads are hazardous or power lines are down — among tasks done with an emphasis on maintaining high Town standards of appearance.

“There have been times where we’ve done eight or 10 new things that we never even thought about doing,” he added.

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‘Sign’ of the times for one of Town’s oldest businesses

Jeanne Sellars
One of Farragut’s oldest businesses has a “sign ordinance story” to tell from the early 1980s.

“Signage was difficult … there was a lot of adjusting and learning with all of that,” said Jeanne Sellars, founder/owner of Dance Center West, Inc., featuring ballet, jazz and tap-dancing for children 3 to 18 in what is now Town of Farragut since 1976.

First, some background

“We were first in Farragut Center, across the street from Village Green,” she said. “Jack Bevins used to own that — Jack and Mary Bevins — he was the pharmacist there. I rented from him in two different locations.”

Starting out with “30 to 40 students,” Sellars said, “The first location is where Prestige Cleaners is now, in 1976.”

However, Jack Bevins “came to me and told me, ‘these cleaners want my space because they can do a drive-through right there at the end of the building,’” she said. “He asked if I was willing to move over to the other side of Farragut Center, in that breezeway area.

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Early 80s progress

Alleged Hell’s Angels threat scares Town official, family

A second wave of Farragut Community Group members, who founded the Town of Farrgut in January 1980, comprised 40 percent of the Town’s second Board of Mayor and Aldermen after the 1981 elections.

The Town was more than a year old by this time, yet some anti-incorporation voices persisted — one outspoken voice went off the deep end, threatening motorcycle gang violence against one Town official and his family, according to FCG member Betty Dick.

Dick was elected to the Ward I (North) seat held by fellow FCG member George Dorsey, who decided not to run again in 1981 following his 1-year term.

She recalled “a big zoning issue coming up. About 3 in the morning I got a phone call. … I knew exactly who it was.”

This incorporation opponent “would get drunk and start making phone calls, and he called me, (Alderman) Marianne (McGill)” and one other Town official, Dick said. “… What he threatened us with was ‘the Hell’s Angels, who were renting a house next door to (the unnamed Town official).’

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Early 80s progress

Alleged Hell’s Angels threat scares Town official, family

A second wave of Farragut Community Group members, who founded the Town of Farrgut in January 1980, comprised 40 percent of the Town’s second Board of Mayor and Aldermen after the 1981 elections.

The Town was more than a year old by this time, yet some anti-incorporation voices persisted — one outspoken voice went off the deep end, threatening motorcycle gang violence against one Town official and his family, according to FCG member Betty Dick.

Dick was elected to the Ward I (North) seat held by fellow FCG member George Dorsey, who decided not to run again in 1981 following his 1-year term.

She recalled “a big zoning issue coming up. About 3 in the morning I got a phone call. … I knew exactly who it was.”

This incorporation opponent “would get drunk and start making phone calls, and he called me, (Alderman) Marianne (McGill)” and one other Town official, Dick said. “… What he threatened us with was ‘the Hell’s Angels, who were renting a house next door to (the unnamed Town official).’

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LCUB lights up Farragut

Utility powered community for decades even before incorporation; Ford-Littleton worked to expand Town clout, conveniences, codes

M. Shannon Littleton
Though serving residents and businesses of what is now the Town of Farragut with electrical power for decades before incorporation, LCUB had a turning point in its relationship with Town leaders a few years into the new millennium.

“I remember having my first true interaction with Farragut … was in Mayor (Eddy) Ford’s term,” said M. Shannon Littleton, LCUB general manager since 2010, about the early 2000s. “…

I noticed there was a real change in our relationship. We began

to converse and talking about projects.”

Among the matters resolved, Littleton said, “There were specific code issues that probably existed at the time that LCUB allowed that the Town of Farragut did not wish to have in their city.

“Or, there were certain types of lighting conditions they didn’t want to see,” added Littleton, who began at LCUB in 2001 as legal counsel. “Better lighting conditions they wanted to see. … Making sure light pollution, if you will, is not disturbing the next-door neighbor.

“Of course, we’ve worked with the Town for many years with road moves, making sure we had the correct acquisition of properties. Trying to infringe on property rights as little as possible.”

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Early challenges

An emergency, annexation requests,ordinance-building facing new Farragut Board

Marie Leonard is the widow of late Farragut Mayor Robert “Bob” Leonard — the Town’s first mayor when the Board of Mayor and Aldermen were elected April 1, 1980, before taking office six days later, April 7.
While reflecting on how the new Town of Farragut had “no money in our hands and no place to meet, no staff” soon after the first Board of Mayor and Aldermen came to power on April 7, 1980, then Alderman Eddy Ford recalled a burdensome thought: “‘We have the whole Town to be concerned about.’”

Later that month, Ford said he realized firsthand about the responsibilities ahead — the need for Town public works support following weather damage, specifically.

“There was a major thunderstorm in the Town,” he said. “And I get a call about 10 o’clock at night: ‘Eddy, we’ve got a road washed out in the Town of Farragut, Village Green. Come and look at it.’”

Joined by “three other aldermen,” Ford said, “We were looking at a hole in the road. We had no public works, no monies.

“I made a suggestion to the group: I had a friend, Bill Maney, who had retired from the Tennessee Department of Transportation,” he added, saying Maney was a Town resident and “a great guy.”

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Campaigns, 1st election, lots of advice

Leonard and Ford emerge as 1st mayor, South Ward alderman, but Farragut Community Group has Board majority

Then Alderman Eddy Ford in the early 1980s.
In the hours after citizens within selected boundaries voted 3-to-1 to incorporate the Town of Farragut on Jan. 30, 1980, the founders themselves, Farragut Community Group, considered the next vital step.

“After we got over all the excitement of winning the vote, we were all out to eat and everybody said, ‘We’ve got to find somebody to run (for Board of Mayor and Aldermen),” FCG member Marianne McGill said.

Running through a list of FCG members, “Eric (Johnson) said no, George (Dorsey) said no, Ron Simandl said no, Betty (Dick) said no, Ralph (McGill, Marianne’s late husband) said no,” she said.

“I’m sitting there listening to all of them talking, and I’m going, ‘We’ve got to have somebody on this Board who knows why we incorporated.’

“… ‘At least in the beginning.’”

With no one changing their minds on that night, “I started thinking about it and praying about it,” Marianne said about her prospects to run for an alderman post.

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Incorporation a reality

Vote is 3-to-1 in favor; developers pass on vulnerable Town infancy period

Marty Rodgers
Many members of a prominent family in southwest Knox County, the McFees, have come full circle on incorporating what is now the Town of Farragut.

In reference to an effort in the early 1970s to incorporate, “The first time it was brought up for a vote we were for it,” Anne McFee Shipley, 91, said about that failed effort. “I was for it because my daddy (Fred McFee) was for it.”

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Fixing last-minute ‘Oak Ridge’ matter critical

Door-to-door ‘sales,’ compiling voter rolls key for planning incorporation vote

Joining Farragut Community Group alongside her husband and eventual group leader, the late Dr. Ralph McGill, Marianne McGill’s battles didn’t end when citizens voted to incorporate into the Town of Farragut on Jan. 15, 1980.
Less than 24 hours before making their plans public to incorporate in late fall 1979, with the boundaries of what would be called the Town of Farragut apparently set, members of Farragut Community Group suddenly realized they made a potentially fatal mistake.

Happening to pass by a map of the City of Oak Ridge at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, civil engineer Eric Johnson, was about to panic: the group was so consumed with compliance concerning town boundaries and the City of Knoxville, boundaries near Oak Ridge were drawn too close.

“Then, if you were within a

municipality of say, 20,000 people or more, they could stop your incorporation immediately,” Johnson said. “… We didn’t think of Oak Ridge.

“I don’t think there was any reason Oak Ridge would stop us, but you don’t know how politics works and we didn’t want to take a chance,” he added.

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Anti-incorporation effort passionate-with threats

Knoxville annexation plans, ‘takeover northerners,’ fear of devalued land among cited examples

Ron Simandl
Opponents of Farragut Community Group’s effort to incorporate in fall 1979 formed a passionate, though unsuccessful, roadblock — with at least one trying to intimidate FCG members with threats.

But a powerful, and legal, threat came from then Knoxville Mayor Randy Tyree: annexation.

“The World’s Fair was coming and Knoxville was looking to annex more property,” said Eric Johnson, a retired civil engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and FCG member. “They had a big bill coming for the World’s Fair and they needed a larger tax base.”

For that reason, FCG members feared Tyree would act quickly to annex areas of what is now Farragut if he knew the Town was planning to incorporate.

Therefore, “A good time to file our petitions was when he went off on vacation,” Johnson said about a period in late October of 1979. “So we filed the paperwork and proceeded to work on incorporating the town.”

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No more delays; Time for action

Farragut Community Group decides its time to begin incorporation plans with a pair of new leaders

A retired engineer from what is now Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Eric Johnson was on board early on as a Farragut Community Group member. Having moved to Kingsgate subdivision in 1974, which remains his home, Johnson was among residents there dealing with various topographical issues — some dangerous — in the mid-to-late 1970s based on poor developer planning and alleged county indifference.
Enough with agenda delays, insults and turning a blind eye to illegal developer activity from Knox County government — a handful of southwest Knox Countians were ready to do something that, looking back, even amazes some of them 40 years later.

With the majority of these Farragut Community Group activists in their 30s, some admit, “We were too young to know any better” when deciding to take government into their own hands.

In the fall of 1979, after roughly six months of failure dealing with Knox County government, “We said, ‘Let’s go and incorporate,” said FCG member Eric Johnson, a retired engineer at what is now ORNL and who served as one of the Town’s first aldermen. He has lived in Kingsgate subdivision since 1974.

One of the more amazing aspects of incorporating what is now the Town of Farragut, “The whole thing came together in 26 days,” said FCG member Betty Dick, an alderman from 1981 to 1987 who currently is a member of Farragut Municipal Planning Commission.

With the first two FCG meetings at the home of members George and Julie Dorsey, “George and Julie and (the late) Jess (Campbell, an attorney) had already been talking somewhat about incorporation for about a year off and on,” Dick said.

Another motivating factor: “They had heard Knoxville was getting ready to annex a bunch of land,” said FCG member Ron Simandl, a semi-retired chemist at Y-12 in Oak Ridge after moving to what is now Farragut from Wisconsin in 1977.

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Pleading their case falls on deaf ears

Farragut Community Group leaders hit brick wall approaching Knox County government

Gene McNalley
There was an occasional victory when citizens in southwestern Knox County, in what is now the Town of Farragut, battled Knox County Commission, then known as “County Court,” and Municipal Planning Commission in the late 1970s.

Rare indeed.

Gene McNalley, then a Tennessee Highway Patrolman living in Kingsgate subdivision, was chosen to be its homeowners association leader to fight developer plans to build an unwanted — and allegedly dangerous — road through this subdivision in 1978.

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Motivation to incorporate

Lots of problems with flooding, roads, zoning in late ’70s

Betty Dick
Given the lion’s share of credit for being the most persistent and outspoken voice in the late 1970s favoring incorporation of the area now known as Town of Farragut, Betty Dick was then a member of Village Green subdivision’s homeowners “board.”

“It was my responsibility to keep up with what was happening out here; zoning and things like that,” said Dick, a Town alderman between 1981 and 1987 and current member of Farragut Municipal Planning Commission, while recalling the many grievances these rural southwest Knox County residents had with county government in 1978 and 1979.

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