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Seven Days

Wednesday, July 12
* Aliens abducted Mayor Victor Ashe and replaced him with an imperfect clone, who promptly dropped plans to annex 18 properties in East Knox County. The mayor's office explained that Ashe withdrew the plans simply because many of the affected residents opposed them—as if that would somehow be more credible than UFOs.
* Local political candidates engaged in meaningful discussion at a forum sponsored by Young Democrats and Young Republicans. For example: county law director candidate George Underwood said opponent Mike Moyers called Lillian Bean a bad name; legislative candidate Scott Moore says he's even more against an income tax than incumbent Jim Boyer, who responded that he's plenty against it himself; and Rep. H.E. Bittle and opponent Ralph Parton managed to agree that TennCare cheaters should go to jail (yeah, that'll be cheaper). When's the primary again?

Thursday, July 13
* Hundreds of Knoxvillians stand in line for up to 20 minutes during noon-time heat and humidity to get small dishes of free ice cream from a Mayfield booth on Market Square. Um, folks? They sell that stuff in the supermarket, you know. You can get a whole pint for a couple of bucks. And the lines are a lot shorter.
* More fossils planted by God to fool the evolutionists are found at a dig outside Johnson City.

Tuesday, July 18
* A News-Sentinel story shows construction at the airport is $15 million over budget and six to eight months behind its original schedule. And you thought the planes were late...

Knoxville Found

(The words are "White Ave" and "Fourth")

What is this? Every week in "Knoxville Found," we'll print the photo of a local curiosity. If you're the first person to correctly identify this oddity, you'll win a special prize plucked from the desk of the editor (keep in mind that the editor hasn't cleaned his desk in five years). E-mail your guesses, or send 'em to "Knoxville Found" c/o Metro Pulse, 505 Market St., Suite 300, Knoxville, TN 37902.

Last Week's Photo:
Chris and Angela Roberts of Knoxville correctly identified the marker as commemorating the birthplace of Admiral David Farragut, placed by Admiral Dewey on May 15, 1900. The marker is located off of Northshore drive near Concord. It's actually on private property, near the shore of the lake, across a little inlet from Admiral Farragut Park. As our Grand Prize Winners, Mr. and Mrs. Roberts will be awarded a copy of Frida Kahlo, A Spiritual Biography by Jack Rummel. Congratulations, Chris and Angela!

Meet Your City
A calendar of upcoming public meetings you should attend

Knoxville City Council workshop
Thursday, July 20 * 5 p.m. * Main Assembly Room of the City County Building
With a new Marriott hotel slated as the flagship for the city's new convention center, what's going to happen to the Holiday Inn near World's Fair Park? The Public Building Authority recommends the city acquire the property for road redesigns and a visitors' center, but Holiday Inn owner Franklin Haney has promised $3 million in improvements to make the hotel a component of downtown redevelopment. Either way, the hotel's future should be clearer by the end of this workshop.

UT Master Plan input meeting
Thursday, July 20 * 3:30 p.m. * Room 109 of the UT Art and Architecture Building
This is an open meeting for comment on the university's master plan process. Members of the school's master plan committee will listen to suggestions and offer information on transportation-related issues on campus.

Public Building Authority
Wednesday, July 26 * 5:30 p.m. * Main Assembly Room of the City County Building
This is the first of two scheduled public hearings for Worsham Watkins International's proposal for redevelopment of downtown.


Gimme Shelter

What's the future for the Humane Society and the animals it serves?

Nobody seems unhappy that the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley is getting out of the animal shelter business.

The Humane Society says it's glad to give up what has been its core service for more than 50 years, and Knoxville and Knox County governments say they're just as happy to let HSTV go. All three parties are working together on a task force that will make recommendations for a new shelter by the end of the year.

Dr. Patrick Hackett, a bushy-haired West Knox veterinarian who is vice president of the Humane Society, says HSTV opened the shelter in South Knoxville sometime in the 1940s. It operates it under contract to both the city and county. In addition, HSTV raises money through donations and adoption fees.

For the past few years, Hackett says, the city and county contracts haven't covered the cost of the shelter (rising salaries and workman's compensation costs are the biggest factors). In 1999, the shelter had expenses of $699,000, but funding of only $607,000. The remainder had to come from other HSTV funds. Over the past three years, Hackett says HSTV has subsidized the shelter for a total of about $250,000.

"We have found it necessary to put an ever-growing amount of money into the shelter," he says. "The board of the Humane Society decided that was not the direction we wanted to go."

The city and county see things somewhat differently. County finance director Kathy Hamilton says some county funding has been diverted from the shelter to HSTV's spaying and neutering programs at adoption centers. While she doesn't question the need for those services, she does question the bookkeeping. If the funds were accounted differently, she says, the shelter could be self-sufficient.

"We're chasing our tails—that may be an appropriate pun," Hamilton says. "We really do have a philosophical difference, and maybe always will have."

Regardless, with the city and county unwilling to put in more funds and the Humane Society unwilling to make up the shelter's shortfalls, all sides have agreed on one thing: As of the end of December, HSTV will stop operating the shelter.

Hackett says that will let the organization cut its costs and focus on adoption, spaying and neutering, and education. It will also remove it from the least popular aspect of its traditional work: euthanizing thousands of animals each year.

"There's a lot of things about sheltering that are unpleasant for a Humane Society," Hackett says. "Although we understand there are animals that need to be euthanized, because of the vast numbers that come into the shelters, that's not something the Humane Society enjoys."

Instead, some as-yet-to-be-determined entity will open and run a shelter. Hackett, Hamilton, and representatives from the city and law enforcement agencies are on a committee considering the options. Hamilton says the shelter will either be a joint city-county effort or be contracted out to another non-profit group.

Either way, it will be in a new location. The current site is owned by HSTV and is not very visible or accessible. "Obviously, whatever the city and county does...we know we will need a new facility," Hamilton says.

Kate Pullen, director of animal shelter issues for the Humane Society of the United States, says most local humane societies still operate their own shelters. "But," she says, "I do see more and more shelters across the country that are run by non-profit agencies saying, 'We can't afford to run this right, and if you—the city or county—aren't willing to give us the funds we need, then why don't you try it?'"

Hackett thinks separating HSTV from the shelter will make it easier for the group to raise donations and spare it the occasional "negative" news story when someone's lost pet gets euthanized before they can claim it.

"Oftentimes, the ire of the public was put down on us because we had the animal, even though it was picked up by Animal Control," he says.

As for whether the city and county will be able to build and run a shelter at their current funding levels, Hamilton is non-committal. Ellen Adcock, the city's director of administration, says any shelter will still probably need some voluntary support. "I think we can be really successful in this," she says. "[But] our success depends on how generous this community is willing to be with their homes and with their donations."

—Jesse Fox Mayshark

Bus Service

KAT offers new bus lines to connect workers with their jobs

Knoxville finally has buses that run after dark and on Sundays.

Knoxville Area Transit started operating four Night Riders from about 7 p.m. until midnight, along the main corridors of Kingston Pike, Broadway Avenue, Chapman Highway and Magnolia Avenue. The city also started a Call-A-KAT service where people can arrange to have a van pick them up at home or work and drive them to the Night Rider stops.

Paid for with a one-time $1 million federal grant to help low-income people access jobs, the new routes will run at least until next year. Next July, KAT will decide if it can afford to continue operating them, says Kathy Darnell, a policy analyst for the city.

At the unveiling of the new service last week, Mayor Victor Ashe said the key to its success is simple: "If you want to remove the word 'demonstration' and make it permanent, people need to ride it and utilize it."

All of the new buses leave from Summer Place downtown. The Kingston Pike route runs to West Town Mall, Broadway runs to the Target store in Fountain City, Chapman Highway runs to the Chapman Square Kroger, and the Magnolia route goes to Kirkwood. The Sunday buses follow the same routes but only run from about 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Each ride costs $1.

Steve Abeles, a member of KAT's riders' advisory board, says the service is an obvious boon to the city's working force. The new routes have been a big help for Abeles, who rides the Kingston Pike bus. He says he's noticed a lot of fast-food workers riding it. One fellow rider told him his boss used to have to drive him home at night. The new routes will also allow let those who work during the day get out at night.

"I certainly hope it's something that continues, because the city doesn't shut down at 6 p.m.," Abeles says.

Joe Tarr


Golden Gloves boxer Alvin Siler had many rounds yet to fight

When Alvin Siler was 10 years old, his mama was afraid he was running with the wrong crowd and made him go to the boxing gym. Patsy Young thought learning to box might teach her son some discipline, give his life some structure.

Alvin didn't want to go that afternoon, but once in the gym he was hooked and the sport became a big part of his life. "I dream about fighting," Siler told Metro Pulse last year. "I can feel myself moving in my sleep, dodging punches, jabbing, whatever I need to work on."

Siler was killed last weekend by an unknown assailant. The 21-year-old was shot as he sat in his car, talking to a friend who stood on the side of Reed Street. KPD investigator A.J. Loeffler would not comment on the case.

Siler was one of two fighters featured in the April 29, 1999 Metro Pulse cover story on Golden Gloves boxing. Although he failed to make it to the Olympic trials, he had continued fighting. He won the East Tennessee Golden Gloves competition in March but dropped out of the Southern regionals to play football for the semi-pro Maryville Invaders. He was to play in a game last Saturday night.

Steve Whitt, his boxing coach from the time he was 10, said Siler was one of the leading tacklers on the football team. He had talked to him recently about coming back to the gym after football season.

"When he was in the gym, he wasn't nothing but a gentleman. He was great in there," Whitt says. "Whenever I wanted a hand to help with the younger kids, he was always there to help me. He'd get in the ring with them and let them throw punches at him."

The mood at the Golden Gloves gym in Chilhowee Park was somber Monday evening, Whitt says. "It was pretty rough there. A couple kids broke down, started crying (and) had to leave," he says. "I've had so many phone calls from kids that boxed with him, but don't box anymore.

"There ain't much you can say. You hope it doesn't happen to other kids."

Although boxing was a huge part of his identity, there was plenty more to Siler's life. He wasn't afraid to don a Chuck E. Cheese costume and dance around for kids at his former workplace. After winning an exhibition at Chilhowee Park in spring 1999, he glowed as he held his 4-month-old son, Alvin Siler Young III. At the time, he talked about the responsibility he felt for his son, and how he was fighting for him as much as himself.

"I've got all kinds of people riding on me. My family, my son. One thing I want to do once I get all these tournaments through is spend more time with him, so I have to make sure I win," Siler said.

Siler was preceded in death by his father in 1997. Services will be held Friday in Lenoir City; he will be buried there on Saturday.

—Joe Tarr

July 20, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 29
© 2000 Metro Pulse