Pat Phillips talks New Office Again


LCEDA & Planning Office, Williamson House, Blairbend Industrial Park 


You pay for EDA Spending !

By: Pat Hunter

February 22, 2009


The economy is bleak; home foreclosures, bankruptcies, home building slowdown, more announcements of layoffs and business closings. While people cut expenses and scrimp, some in local government go their own merry way, with more plans to spend taxpayer dollars.


Much of the Jan. 22 Loudon County Economic Development Agency’s (EDA) Special Called meeting was spent discussing Johnny James letter of intent to locate a liquor store at the Centre 75, Waffle House location.  But under “Additional Business” on the meeting agenda, EDA director Pat Phillips brought up relocating the EDA offices, again. This was first brought up a number of months back. He spoke about finding another location in the center of town. Do we want to stay where we are, Phillips asked? The EDA would have to spend money for handicap accessibility issues or relocate the present office outside of the industrial park.  He asked for input and suggested forming a committee to explore the pros, cons and options. What’s the pleasure of the board? It doesn’t hurt to look replied former county attorney Harvey Sproul, Lenoir City Committee of 100 representative.


Lenoir City Administrator Dale Hurst asked about the cost of making the EDA office handicap accessible. Preliminary costs were between $10,000 -$13,000 for the threshold. The downstairs was addressed several years ago when there was flooding in the upstairs bathroom, reported Phillips. The offices are currently split between the EDA and planning department but he did not talk about splitting the cost with the planning office.


Ft. Loudon Hospital administrator Jeffrey Feike asked Pat Phillips for his recommendation.


Phillips personally preferred a downtown location and being “part of the community.” It shows better than driving perspective customers through the industrial park. Feike followed with a motion to appoint a committee of three to explore moving the EDA office, which was seconded by D5 Commissioner Chris Park, new EDA Board member who replaced Commissioner Bob Franke.


To keep this fair and balanced, commented Mayor Doyle Arp (EDA Chairman), I’ll appoint Eddie Simpson (Lenoir City Councilman), Lynn Mills (Loudon City-LUB Mgr), and Chris Park.  No word from the three so far.


Years ago, Loudon City officials made improvements to the Blair House. Loudon City owns the Blair House property and it’s the City responsibility to address and pay for any improvements just as Loudon County addressed the issue of providing and paying for the elevator installation to provide access to citizens at the Annex.  


Should taxpayers shuck out big bucks in a bad economy for the EDAs latest proposed spending spree?   


For years, Pat Phillips has commuted to and from his Knoxville residence as planner and now as LCEDA Director. If Phillips is truly interested in being part of the community, he can move to Loudon County and pay property taxes.


Conference Room with amenities at the Williamson House