Knoxville Mayor Harv Sprafka fielded many questions about the city at last Friday’s Coffee with the Mayor at the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. One of the first questions asked was regarding the decision to appoint Lori Beary to the Knoxville City Council over Ed Moses, who was on the November 2007 city ballot and lost.

“We have done that before,” Sprafka said. “Just because you run, there is no guarantee.” City Manager Dick Schrad said he was not aware of anyone else, besides Beary, expressing an interest in being appointed.

The council chose not to let Midwest Recovery pick up appliances around the city for free, because this service is offered by local haulers. The council did not want to do anything that could potentially harm local businesses, though an individual at the coffee said he thought it would provide incentive for people to dispose of their old appliances.

Public Works Director Jeff May said that the city had to think long-term. If a local hauler lost business to Midwest Recovery, the recycling center might close.

“If we lose the recycling center, it will cost the city a lot more money down the road,” May said.

May also addressed the work on Competine Street. The concrete on that street has gone bad. It was installed by a developer years ago and May says since that time, the city has made its road standards more precise to prevent a possible repeat of the deterioration on Competine.

May also said the street department will use its new “hot box” to fill potholes with hot asphalt this summer. He had also learned a short time before the coffee that the city is responsible for painting the cross walks on Highway 14 (Lincoln Street), as well as the maintenance of the curb and gutter of that road. May also suggested if someone would like work done on one of their alleys, to give the city a call. If there is a long list of alleys that need work, the street department will take a day to work on them.

Discussion turned to the Fourth of July. Some at the coffee were disappointed that there was no formal flag presentation or fireworks on Independence Day.

Sprafka said the city does not have any involvement with the placement of flags in Graceland Cemetery. Veterans’ groups and Boy Scouts display the flags in the cemetery on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Regarding fireworks, Schrad said there are problems with fireworks displays in Knoxville. He said there is no good location to shoot them from that would keep a safe distance from the crowd. In the past, they have been shot from the high school, but unspent fireworks landed in Graceland Cemetery. Groundskeepers have run over them with lawn mowers.

The crowd was disappointed that Knoxville, Marion County seat, had no festivities when Pleasantville, Bussey and Pella had them. Sprafka said Knoxville used to work with Pella and recent Knoxville Fourth of July activities did not have enough volunteers.

“They were having trouble filling all the events,” Sprafka said.

The question about Walgreens arose again. The city never had confirmation that there was consideration by Walgreens about locating in Knoxville. Last month, the council passed two readings to rezone some properties on Desmont Drive to commercial. Hours before the third reading, Schrad received a letter saying the developer was no longer interested in the property and the rezoning was dropped.

“We don’t have any answers,” Sprafka said.

“The city organization was taking a hit.” Schrad said the city tried to accommodate the developer, by fast tracking the zoning change. The city was working as quickly as the law would allow to change the zoning.

Discussion at the rest of the coffee was centered around the Marion County Fair, which the city has no control over. There were different opinions in the crowd regarding the cleanliness of the land between the fairgrounds and the campgrounds.

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