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Ear to the Ground

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Just Another Moncier Monday

The fight against the Justice Center has turned into a hydra-headed offensive, now that lawyer Herb Moncier has taken up residence at County Commission meetings. At his latest appearance, Moncier delivered a rousing jeremiad against the project, borrowing a page from former presidential candidate Jerry Brown's tactical handbook by giving out County Commission's phone number and urging the public to call in. Moncier enlisted even more powerful help when he ended his plea with the following admonition:

"What would Jesus do?"

Spin Off

Speaking of which, we were promised that the Justice Center/Prison on Central Avenue would be good for downtown, and just weeks after the preparatory demolitions began, we're already seeing the fruits of it. A bail bondsman's office has opened up in the heart of the Old City. The location was the former Tjaarda's on Central, which was, until it closed a couple of years ago, Mayor Victor Ashe's favorite restaurant. With this addition of a vibrant new business, we're sure those skeptics who doubted the Justice Center would be good for downtown are eating humble pie.

Mary Lou Lives

Last Friday morning early, Mary Lou Horner's phone started ringing.

"I got a call at 7:45, and this person on the other end made a choking sound and just started crying and said "Thank Jesus you're alive!"

Then, Horner's son Bobby called and said he had been getting condolences from people saying how much they were going to miss his mom. And when Cassandra McGhee told her the Chamber Partnership had been getting calls from people wanting to know if she was dead, Horner did some checking and found out that the grim news had been broadcast on local radio. Further checking revealed that the victim was actually an out-of-towner named Mary Lou Pointer.

"I could just see it. Larry Smith was probably already getting up a petition to be appointed to my seat, and can't you see Wanda Moody, John Griess and Phil Guthe dancing around saying 'Ding, Dong, the witch is dead!'"

So she contacted Commission Man For All Seasons Ray Hill, who fired up the fax machine and sent out a notice to the media that Horner had not kicked the bucket. She celebrates her 75th birthday Nov. 21.

We Knew Her When

Through her leadership with the Center for Neighborhood Development, where she has worked for five years, and Knox Heritage, Kim Trent has emerged as one of Knoxville's most respected and formidable preservationists. A panelist on Metro Pulse's urban forum a fortnight ago, Trent promises her holy war against unholy development won't end next week when she starts as—you might want to sit down—Assistant Vice President at AmSouth, the bank formerly known as First American. She'll also bear the title of the bank's Community Development Coordinator.

Don't Sweat Kentucky

Barry "Thumper" Rice says it's going to be okay. A video coordinator for the UT Athletics Department, Rice has developed a somewhat scary reputation as a gridiron guru, a pigskin prophet, a second-down seer, a, well, you get the picture. He watches practice all week as he films footage of the team for jumbotron pictures and highlight tapes, and he gets these "feelings" about upcoming games.

His predictions (verified by UT's Chuck Denney) have been right on the money all year, except for the Florida game, which he thought the Vols would win by three.

What was his prediction for Arkansas, you ask?

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," he says. "I had a bad feeling about that game."

How about the Kentucky game?

"I think we'll get it back on track...

Rice, dubbed "Thumper" years ago by Bob Kesling, says these feelings are specific only to the Vols, and are only good for the current week's games. He hopes nobody is parlaying his predictions into illegal activities, although more people are calling him up to find out what he thinks each week.

"I'm thinking about driving to Vegas," he says.