Tuesday, October 09, 2007

West Knox Republican Club Meeting

Last evening, the West Knox Republican Club meet with a typical standing room only crowd at the Cooper Cellar located on Kingston Pike near West Town Mall. Republican candidate for Knox County Sheriff Jimmy J.J. Jones was the speaker.

The Elected Officials and former Elected Officials present were. General Sessions Judge and Republican candidate for Criminal Court Judge Bob McGee. County Commissioner and Republican candidate for Property Assessor Phil Ballard, County Commission Chairman and Republican candidate for County Clerk Scott Moore, Edith Wilcox representing Republican Law Director John Owings, Tom Rudder representing State Representative Park M. "Parkey" Strader, County Commissioner Mike Hammond, City Councilman Joe Bailey, City Councilwoman Barbara Pelot, former City Councilwoman Jean Teague, former City Councilman Ed Shouse, Former County Commissioner Frank Leuthold, Joyce Burchett, Mother of State Senator Tim Burchett representing Senator Burchett, Former KnoxGOP Chairmen Gerald Turner and Brian Hornback.

Candidates for Republican office present were: Republican County Commission candidates for the Fourth District Seat A Ruthie Kuhlman, Walter Wojnar and William Daniels. Republican County Commission candidates for the Fourth District Seat B Lee Tramel and former City Councilman Ed Shouse. Former Republican candidate for the Fourth District Seat A Mike Alford (the second highest vote getter against former term limited Commissioner John Schmidt) announced his intention to seek the appointment. Republican candidates for Trustee Fred Sisk and L.B. Steele. Republican candidate for Register of Deeds Sherry Witt, Republican candidate for County Clerk Foster Arnett, Republican candidate for Knox County Law Director Bill Lockett. Nick McBride representing Sherry Witt Republican candidate for Register of Deeds. Gary Mahoney, representing Republican candidate for Property Assessor Mike Lowe.

Ruthie Kulhman announced that she will not be a candidate for appointment to the Knox County Commission, she also announced that she is in favor of a December 11 primary election. Walter Wojnar, stating "10 months is too long a time to have bad representation" announced that he will be a candidate for appointment and election to the Fourth district County Commission seat.

Lee Tramel, formerly the appointed Republican County Commissioner of the Fourth district highlighted some of the accomplishments from the Commission since January 31, 2007. They passed a budget with no tax increase. With the assistance of State Senator Jamie Woodson, they provided $19.0 million new dollars to the Knox County School system. They provided a tax freeze for Seniors. They seated an ethics panel. They funded a pension for the Sheriffs Department, that was approved by the voters of Knox County. They enhanced the pension benefits for Knox County general government employees. They have worked on a new health benefit plan that was a better value for taxpayers and a better value for the county employees.

Members of the media present were: Martha Woodward of the Knoxville - Knox County Focus, Georgiana Vines of the E.W. Scripps News-Sentinel and Sandra Clark of the E.W. Scripps Shopper News. In a move of E.W. Scripps solidarity, Ms. Vines introduced Sandra as a former elected official.

Martha Woodward announced that she is now the Conservative Co-host of a local talk radio show that consist of two liberals to one conservative, the conservative is Martha. The radio show is "Salute America" which airs every Sunday on AM 850 from 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. Martha Woodward is also the author of the recently published book, Sunsphere: A Biography of a landmark. Many individuals left the meeting with purchased copies of her book.

The Speaker for the meeting was Republican candidate for Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones. He is a 1976 graduate of West High School in Knoxville, TN. He received a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Tennessee. He has 27 years of experience in law enforcement, spending much of his career at the Knox County Sheriffs Department.

Sheriff Jones talked about the new pod that was recently opened at the Knox County Detention facility. It was neccesary to build the new pod because of the federal courts mandate to keep the jail population at a certain number. The new addition provides 228 extra beds. After Sheriff Jones was appointed on January 31, 2007 a decision had to be made about double stacking the bunks in the new pod under construction. Sheriff Jones decided to double bunk which provided an additional 96 bunks. There are currently 135 beds open at the Detention facility.

The population of the jail and detention facility on Monday October 8 was 1108 inmates. Sheriff Jones discussed the proposed and planned downtown intake center. The Knox County Sheriffs Department transports 160 inmates everyday into Knoxville from the Maloneyville Road detention facility. An intake center will help relieve the cost and environmental ramifications of transporting 160 prisoners everyday.

On the Johnia Berry case he said the reason that they did not go on national television is that it brings in national leads that must be worked. He and former Sheriff Tim Hutchison in working with the investigators believed that the suspect was local. Which was accurate. Over 400 DNA samples were sent to the TBI lab in this investigation.

On the Sunshine violation he gave his opinion and he emphasized that this is his opinion and you should hold him to his opinion and no one else. It is rare that you get to see someone in their office for 7 months. This was about the process, not the people. The court ruled the process was violated, we will go on. I am for an election, if one can be held. On the upcoming appointment process he stated that he is for the 11 commissioners appointing the 4 countywide and 8 commissioners all in one meeting but, whatever the 11 commissioners decide the process to be I will abide by.

Sheriff Jones was asked about the number of federal prisoners held in Knox County. He stated that today there are not that many.

Sheriff Jones was asked about how they transport the 160 prisoners each day. He stated that they have a bus that can carry 40 inmates at a time and that they are transported as needed by other vehicles as well. There are 25 employees currently assigned to transporting the 160 inmates each day.

The meeting adjourned after the announcement was made that former Republican Governor of the State of Tennessee Don Sundquist will be the speaker at the November West Knox Republican meeting to be held on November 12, 2007.

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