Private Parties Meet & Celebrate
Loudon County Economic Development Agency (EDA)
Charlie Bettis (l), Lenoir City Councilman Eddie Simpson, Jeffry Feike Covenant Administrator-Ft. Loudon Hospital, Michael Bobo, Chamber Director, Stephanie Myers (EDA business mgr.) Bruce Giles, Kathy Knight (EDA Asst. director, Pat Phillips (EDA Director), Mayor Doyle Arp, Harvey Sproul, Lenoir City Committee of 100 (former county attorney), Dale Hurst (Lenoir City Administrator), Lynn Mills, Loudon City-LUB mgr.
Non-profits Prosper despite Troubled Economic Times
By: Pat Hunter
December 9, 2008
First a taxpayer bail out of Wall Street and Financial world and few weeks later, the ailing U.S. automaker CEO's arrived in their corporate jets to discuss a taxpayer handout. While people scrimp or do without and people face loosing homes, jobs or lay-offs and many tighten up their belts, its troublesome to learn how reckless spending continues at taxpayer expense.
Local government also continues to shower some non-profits with taxpayer monies. It appears, that at least two Loudon County non-profits groups have much to celebrate – feeding off the public trough.
The EDA is funded primarily with Loudon County, Lenoir City and Loudon City taxpayer funds. EDA personnel received generous pay increases, travel and other budget considerations. On Dec. 4th, the Wharf Restaurant in Loudon was occupied for several hours primarily with two private parties, the Loudon County Economic Development Agency (EDA) and the Loudon County Education Foundation, affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce. There were some take-out orders for a lucky few. Both parties held their luncheon event on the same day and at about the same time, occupying both eating rooms.
Loudon County Education "Foundation"
CLICK TO SEE VIDEO CLIP SCHOOL DIRECTOR WAYNE HONEYCUTT
At the November 13, 2008, Loudon County Board of Education meeting, School Director Wayne Honeycutt made his pitch to give $16,000 to the Loudon County Education Foundation for their operating budget. He went on to extol the benefits of the Foundation, which far out weigh the $16,000. Director Honeycutt said, "If we can't support our own foundation, we are in a world of hurt." Honeycutt's plea for financial support gave serious weight to the School Board approving $16,000 to the Education Foundation. Loudon County and Lenoir City school systems donate to the Foundation but the County School Board cut $16,000 during budget cuts in June 2008.
As the roof leaked at Loudon Elementary School and children dined in the cafeteria with a bucket of dirty water nearby, it’s nice to know that many on the School Board thought that it was ok to gave away student money to such a well-deserving organization such as the Education Foundation.
Some BOE employees were present for the festive Dec. 4th Education Foundation luncheon but in stark contrast there were no signs of a leaky roof or bucket of dirty water at the Foundation's luncheon! Why didn't the Foundation party goers attend a school board meeting and support efforts to get a new roof for Loudon Elementary students? Is this about students needs or adult whims?
There were about 32 hungry party goers at the Education Foundation event while the EDA's luncheon party included 12 board members and staff.
Loudon County Economic Development (EDA)
On December 4, 2008 the Loudon County Economic Development Agency (EDA) dined on a nice pricey luncheon. The luncheon meeting was held at the Wharf Restaurant - Carmichael Inn, which started prior to the 12:30 P.M. meeting time. There appeared to be no paid public notice in the the newspaper to ensure that the EDA luncheon meeting complied with the Open Meetings Law.
The EDA meeting was chaired by Mayor Doyle Arp however, EDA Director Pat Phillips addressed most agenda items. The EDA held two meetings, the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. There was a short discussion about new pricing for acreage at Centre 75, industrial business park. Leave it up to some bureaucrats and businessmen to raise the sale price of land that has sat vacant for many, many years. What could they be thinking - perhaps selling property to some unsuspecting party or the School Board for a new school?
Phillips went over the existing price per acre and the proposed price per acre. Both Boards easily approved the price per acre increase. The existing price was estimated at about $4,467,900 and the proposed price will be in the neighborhood of $5,300,900.
In other business, Loudon City – Loudon Utilities Board manager Lynn Mills presented the EDA with a $32,377.52 invoice for the installation of infrastructure to the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) - Taco Bell. The EDA Executive Committee and Board, Loudon County Commission and Loudon City approved the sale of land to KFC-Taco Bell in Loudon but there was one big problem that wasn't discussed in public. There was no infrastructure into the area and KFC-Taco Bell needed service.
Mayor Arp asked, what did we pay for when Centre 75 was developed; water, sewer and roads replied Knight and Mills! Before my time, Arp replied. It’s going to be a hard sell to commission Mayor Arp thought aloud. Arp was referring to the $32K invoice.
Can you take money from the sale and certain percentage goes back for infrastructure asked Bruce Giles. This was followed by a short discussion and similar motion by banker Charlie Bettis, greenbelt representative. Bettis thought that the next sale of property should go to pay the $32,377.52 LUB bill.
No press was present and at least two citizens attended the EDA luncheon meeting and both paid their own way. The luncheon ended with EDA Board members leaving one by one but nobody seemed to stop to pay on their way out, just the EDA business manager waiting her turn by the check out counter.