June 7, 2023


Happy 80th birthday to Knoxville-born poet, activist and teller of uncomfortable truths Nikki Giovanni.

In today's report: Knox County's population continues to grow and housing remains at a premium, while Knox County and especially the City of Knoxville face a backlog of development plans to be reviewed. Meanwhile, Knoxville-Knox County Planning recently issued a report detailing the more than $1.1 billion of development projects from 2022. We dive into the report and talk to city and county officials about steps they're taking to review plans more efficiently.

The Knox County school board is once again considering requiring members of the public to sign up at least a day in advance to speak during public forum at board meetings. The board considered and decided against a similar change a few years ago.

Currently, those who wish to speak at Board of Education meetings can either call the board's office by 4 p.m. the business day before a meeting, or just sign up in person with the board vice chair before the meeting starts. The proposed change to the policy would eliminate the in-person option.

During a board policy review meeting last month, concerns were raised about the potential security risks of a large crowd around the board table before a meeting starts. The board moved last year into a new boardroom in the Summer Place complex, which is long and narrow and can create a logjam of people trying to sign up to speak or to chat with board members before meetings.

At Monday's board work session, board member Jennifer Owen said she didn't think the deadline gave most people enough time to read the agenda for upcoming meetings and then sign up to speak about items on it.

The board holds a work session on the first Monday of each month followed by a voting meeting on the first Thursday. The agendas are typically posted online the Wednesday before. (This month's weren't posted until last Thursday.) To sign up by phone to speak at the Monday meeting, people would need to call by 4 p.m. the prior Friday.

"By the time they see it, it's too late for them to call and sign up," Owen said. "When they can sign up before the meeting, that's plenty of time."

Other board members were silent on the topic. But during Monday's public forum, local education advocate Lance McCold — who often speaks at board meetings — noted that he hadn't found out about the proposed policy change until after 4 p.m. Friday.

"If the policy were in effect today, I wouldn't be able to speak to you," he said, adding, "There's just too little time for the community to be informed about what's on the agenda."

The school board is already more restrictive than Knox County Commission or Knoxville City Council, allowing public forum speakers three minutes at the lectern rather than five like the other bodies.

The board will vote on the proposed policy change at its meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday. If you want speak about that or any other issue, you can call the board office at 865-594-1623 before 4 p.m. Wednesday, or — for now — sign up at the meeting.


For the second day in a row, we’re reporting on breakthroughs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that could help combat climate change.

ORNL announced Monday that it had licensed a new chemical method to extract carbon dioxide from the air so it can be sequestered underground. Yesterday, the lab touted a new process that increases the efficiency of solid-state batteries for use in electric vehicles.

The batteries use a solid electrolyte instead of a potentially flammable liquid. Lead researcher Marm Dixit and his team developed a new method for pressing the electrolyte that virtually eliminates tiny air pockets that can block the flow of ions between electrodes. The process enables the battery to charge twice as fast, according to an ORNL news release.

The approach involves heating the press after applying the electrolyte to it, then letting the electrolyte cool under pressure. The process boosts conductivity almost 1,000 times.

“It’s the same material,” Dixit said. “You’re just changing how you make it, while improving the battery performance on a number of fronts.”

ORNL said the results demonstrate a way to process solid electrolytes at an industrial scale while providing control over their internal structure for a more reliable battery.

Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen is releasing a new batch of episodes of her podcast, Generally Speaking.

She launched the series of informational discussions about her office's different criminal prosecution units with six episodes in 2021. After a hiatus last year (while Allen was running for re-election), it is returning with another set of episodes this year.

The first, on the office's Elder Abuse Unit, was released Monday. There will be new ones weekly for the next five weeks, on topics including the White Collar Unit, the Mental Health Unit, and sentencing.

You can find links to all of the episodes right here.


Kid A’Riffic Fun in the Park returns today for another two-month run at parks throughout the city.

The first event this season will be held 10 a.m.-1 p.m. today at Fountain City Park, 117 Hotel Road. Activities include craft making, games and more for kids ages 2-12. Admission is free, but participants should park in lots marked with Kid A’Riffic Parking signs.

Events will be held 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesdays in June and July at the following locations:

June 14: Chilhowee Park, 3301 E. Magnolia Ave.

June 21: Safety City of Knoxville, 165 S. Concord St.

June 28: Fort Kid, 1049 World’s Fair Park Drive.

July 12: Ijams Nature Center, 2915 Island Home Ave.

July 19: Lakeshore Park, 5930 Lyons View Pike.

July 26: World’s Fair Park.

You can come fishin' too! This Saturday, June 10, is Free Fishing Day from 8 a.m. to noon at the Cove at Concord Park. The event is sponsored by Knox County and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).


It is geared toward families and children and allows those who participate to fish without a license for the day. The idea is to give young would-be anglers a chance to try out the sport.


TWRA will stock the pond with catfish prior to the event.  It also contains bluegill and bass.

It's important to learn good fishing form when you're young.