Mayor Tim Burchett was the featured speaker for the noon meeting of the Northside Kiwanis Club held at the Foundry on Wednesday, July 11.
Burchett took the time to review some of the problems he has been working on since he took office as county mayor. “We have been able to save the taxpayers from $3.8 million dollars and upwards,” he said, “by using old-fashioned methods like holding people accountable and asking some workers to do their old job plus part of another job. We cut $80,000 from the travel budget telling folks to use conference calling and other kinds of technology. We have gone through the budget with a fine-toothed comb several times searching for items we can cut. We cut plenty and need to find more ways of saving.”
Burchett explained that the school budget requires over $400 milliion dollars of the $600 million dollar plus budget. “Schools are our biggest expenditure,” he said. “It is the place we need to find ways to cut, but we are criticized no matter what.”
Burchett said that he enjoys his job and one thing he truly likes the best is visiting the schools. He finds that the students really get excited to meet him. He thinks the teachers must prepare the students in such as way as they think they are meeting someone important. He said that he can tell that the students are all spiffed up and their desks and rooms are really clean and shiny.
He said that he finds the classes to have a much different look than even a few years ago. “Some of the classes look like the United Nations,” he said. “We have students from just about any country you can imagine.”
Burchett opened up the discussion for questions by saying that “…any question is fair game.”
To read more about the mayor’s speech and the questions that we asked, check out the Knoxville Journal Newspaper on Friday, July 13.
When the mother in any family dies there is the loss of The Rock, The Soft Pillow, The Impromptu Dance, The Look— most often given at some infarction of behavior, The Approving Smile, The Wink—shared during a fun time, and a big part of the soul. Such is true for the family of Joyce Hicks Burchett at the death of the stalwart of their family on Wednesday, November 23. The entire community feels like we also lost our mother—Joyce had that affect on people.
Imagine living a life that spanned a time when children rode horses to school to when spaceships frequent the skies. Such was the life of Joyce Burchett. She not only survived but thrived throughout whatever life threw at her. Joyce was raised in poverty—often commenting that her family didn’t have running water and electricity until she was a teenager. She survived the Great Depression only to be propelled into World War II. Joyce realized that education was her pathway out of poverty and worked hard to obtain a degree from the University of Tennessee after having graduated from Cheatham County High School. Joyce was employed by TVA during World War II, but teaching at Young High School, Bearden High School, and Knoxville College was her true calling. Joyce learned to fly and soloed an airplane during World War II as part of a college ROTC program and was a devoted Christian. After the war, she married Charlie Burchett and sat about to raise three fabulous children who absolutely adore her.
In addition to her husband, Charlie, Joyce is preceded in death by her parents, David Willard Hicks and Mary Veteria Harper Hicks; sisters Nan and Edna; and brothers Herman, Ben, Roy and Pete. She is survived by her daughter, Joyce Burchett High and son-in-law, Dr. Bill High; a son, Charles R. Burchett Jr. and his wife Dr. Rocio Huet; and a son, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and his wife, Allison Burchett. Joyce and Charlie had six grandchildren, Billy, Charlie and David High, Ann Kirby and Sam Burchett and Codee Fineburg.
Anyone interested in honoring the memory of Joyce Burchett may send donations in her memory to: Christian Academy of Knoxville, “Charlie and Joyce Burchett Tuition Assistance Fund,” 529 Academy Way, Knoxville, TN 37923; or to Knox Area Rescue Ministries, “In Memory of Joyce Burchett,” P.O. Box 3310, Knoxville, TN 37927; or to Salvation Army, “In Memory of Joyce Burchett,” P.O. Box 669, Knoxville, TN 37901.
Sandy Loy recently shared his frustration and confusion with the whole process of the Campaign for a New Carter School. Loy said he was invited by Mayor Burchett last week to come downtown and discuss how to save the school. He readily accepted the invitation to share his knowledge with high hopes of helping to secure the new, much needed school for the boys and girls in the Carter community. However, he left that meeting full of frustration and sadness.
Loy says he is frustrated with hearing Hugh Holt tell him they couldn’t take the Devon Group’s design and hand it to the second bidder to build…when that is exactly what they have done. Loy says Burchett and others at the meeting told him they needed to avoid going back in front of the school board because they fear that any new plan will be rejected. The school board’s approval clearly included the design by Devon, but not necessarily the Devon Group itself. Burchett said the design had to be delivered as shown to the board in his opinion and apparently Hugh Holt’s as well.
Loy says rumors are abound that two and possibly three of the school board members have made it plain that they will flip their vote if a new plan is set before them. Loy says one school board member said she was “…sick and tired of hearing about a new Carter School.” Loy said going to a second bidder is normal practice when bids are based on a common set of plans, but in this case to take the design used for one bidder’s bid and hand it to a second bidder, when the design was a part of the selection criteria, is a recipe for problems, not the least of which is a lawsuit by bidders 3 through 6. These bidders might want a chance to price those plans.
Loy concluded, “I just don’t understand why building schools has to be this complicated. I am fearful that all this confusion and reposturing is going to give the Board a reason to reimplement the renovation. They can still rescind their approval of the inter local agreement because it hasn’t been ratified by the commission. Everyday this issue sits out there is another day it is exposed to being sabotaged. This could have been done so much simpler, especially if the County has the money to pay for it now. This developer route is going to cost us up to $2,000,000 in finance charges even if we pay for it when complete. Quite frankly, I am ready to throw my hands up, I have never seen a government so intent on spending as much as they can for a building.”
Loy has suggested the school for 600 students could be built for $10 million as he has seen other schools in our area being built for that cost. Loy says our county is trying to spend $3 million more than is needed.
Just as it appears the new Carter School deal is dead, some are asking, will Mayor Burchett be able to pull the new Carter School rabbit out of a magical hat after all?
The Knoxville Journal hears that the mayor is working feverishly behind the scenes to find a way to save the school. Can he find a way to secure another builder?
Who can build this school and save the county money while rescuing the, almost, defunct plan? Many who have worked on this project from the start are not willing to let it go down in flames. How much of a magician is the mayor? I have heard from several people in the Carter Community they feel the mayor needs to call Sandy Loy. The people in Carter trust him and he graciously bowed out of the developer selection process because he has integrity. Now that the developer process has produced costs well above what Sandy said he could build it for why not? After being let done by this latest round of deflating news Burchett needs to step away from politically connected folks and go with a known entity who the people in Carter can trust to not back out when the heat is on. Sandy may not be interested…but it is worth a call Mayor?