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The Law and the Public Welfare Requiring It...

Whereas County Commission moved Monday to curtail the seemingly-endless stream of honorary resolutions that have been eating up as much as two hours of monthly meeting time; and

Whereas these resolutions are generally written in flowery legalese which is read by the clerk as the sponsors descend from the dais to bask in the reflected glow of Little League baseball champs and/or beauty queens and/or recent retirees and/or survivors of the distinguished and dearly deceased; and

Whereas, the County Commission's flower fund is $85 in arrears;

Therefore, it seemed only fair and proper for that body to institute a $10 fee to be levied against the maker of each and every honorary resolution to be presented in the future.

Commissioners Pat Medley and Mary Lou Horner will be heavy contributors.

Small World

In the Aug. 20-27 New Yorker there's a long story called "Matchmaker" about Steinway Hall, the famous piano showroom on 57th Street, and its remarkable saleslady, former concert pianist—not to mention onetime Miss Vermont—Erica Feidner. The story, by Pulitzer-winner James B. Stewart, opens with a scene in which Glady Faires, a pianist from Knoxville, is shopping for a piano. She already has two pianos, one a rare Bosendorfer, the other a Steinway that was "too dark and sombre for her taste" but which had been "the only Steinway grand for sale in Knoxville."

The fact that there might be only one new Steinway grand for sale here might sound surprising, but it's apparently typical; Bill Jones, the only Steinway dealer in East Tennessee (there are only 67 in the country), expects to have two in his Kingston Pike store next week.

The New Yorker story is mainly about Feidner, but we thought we'd track down Faires, a longtime Knoxville Opera supporter and former KMA chairwoman who lives on Cherokee Boulevard with her retired husband, Ross. She confirms the details of the story, including the fact that when Feidner interviews her, the uncanny saleslady jots down a six-digit number—which turns out to be the serial number of the only piano in the extensive showroom that Faires likes.

What's not obvious in the article is that Faires is actually an old friend of writer Stewart; they knew each other years ago at DePauw University. And Stewart, in turn, is an old friend of Feidner, who inspired him to resume his own piano career. But it's a moving story nonetheless. Faires, who greatly admires Feidner, said she almost cried when she read about her dramatic career.


Lots of folks ask about Melissa Mayfield. They want to know where she is and how she and her children are doing. Missy is the widow of the late 6th District Council member Danny Mayfield. Council's vote to pass her over in favor of Raleigh Wynn to fill the seat left vacant by her husband sparked outrage and spawned a summer of bitter controversy.

Missy and her children, Din and Nia, have moved to Nashville. The kids have started school, and Missy is working at Vanderbilt in the Cell Biology Department, doing cancer research.

"I want to help find a cure for what took my husband away," she says. She reports that she misses Knoxville, but she still owns her home here and is leaving her options open for the future. She keeps abreast of local politics, mostly through frequent conversations with her friend, Sandra Moore, who is one of the candidates seeking the 6th District Council seat that once belonged to Danny.

It Ain't Purty

Contrary to popular belief, there are a number of buildings area residents would love bulldozed in historic Fort Sanders. At the top of the list is the Bel Air Apartments, a motel-like building that takes up the block surrounded by 13th and 14th streets and Laurel and Bridge avenues.

After being condemned in July, the Bel Air was vacated and then foreclosed on. Scheduled to be auctioned off two weeks ago, the proceedings have been stalled because the owner, Rudy Thacker of Nashville, filed for bankruptcy, according to Paul Harrison, an attorney representing the lienholder. It's unlikely it'll be razed.

"My dream would be to see it torn down, and something like attached row houses or even something like Fort Sanders Manor be built there," says Randall Deford, an architect who lives down the street. "But in spite of the fact that it's been condemned, I think structurally it's in pretty good shape."

A number of developers were present at the scheduled auction, including Rick Gentry, Chip Stanley (owner of the Old College Inn), Neely Produce (owner of several Fort properties) and Buzz and Cherie Goss.

Killer Poles

An item in last week's column implied that KUB's taking down all the street lights on the 100 block of Gay Street may not have been necessary. New information indicates otherwise. Workers who were retrofitting the 1955-era lights were horrified when a light pole came crashing to the pavement as they started to work on it. The poles were corroded and structurally unsound.

And while we're at it...

Another Ear item last week did not give all of the dates for Community TV's scheduled rebroadcasts of the Sept. 4 City Council meeting. CTV (cable channel 12) will tape the meeting and show it at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5 and Tuesday, Sept. 11.

August 30, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 35
© 2001 Metro Pulse