KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ Friday briefing addressed issues that have been weighing on the community as well as some ongoing initiatives.
Jacobs talked about the officer-involved shooting at Austin-East Magnet High School that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old student and the injury of a Knoxville Police officer — and how many in the community are calling for the release of the body camera footage. He also spoke about the Knox County Health Department director’s move to extend the county’s indoor mask mandate following the health board’s power shift and the proposed stadium in the Old City after a release of the list of sports authority nominees.
The mayor’s statement comes almost as a follow-up after a week containing these various events and announcements that have all put officials in the spotlight by community members for more response.
Officer-involved shooting at Austin-East
It was the first time since Monday’s incident at Austin-East that the mayor spoke out about the officer-involved shooting and the subsequent requests from some in the community to release bodycam video footage of the four KPD officers present.
The mayor expressed his support for Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen and her decision to not release the bodycam footage until appropriate.
“It was another tragic week in the Austin-East community as a student was shot and killed by police. An officer was also shot and hospitalized. My prayers are with the family of the young man, Anthony Thompson Jr., and KPD officer Adam Wilson. All of us want a solution to the problems of violence against and among our young people, and I wish that I had an easy fix. We all do, but I think the answers are going to be more long-term and take all of us working together.
“There has been a lot of discussion about releasing the body cam video. In situations like this, it is hard to appeal for patience because we all want answers right now. I know that District Attorney General Allen wants answers as well and that she will release the video to the public as soon as she is able. So, yes, let’s please allow General Allen to do her job, and not hinder or potentially taint the investigation.”Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs
Public health director’s move to extend local indoor mask mandate
Jacobs also addressed this week’s shift of policy-making powers from the Knox County Board of Health to the county Public Health Director Dr. Martha Buchanan and how pandemic regulations like the indoor mask mandate made by the health board will remain in place.
He said while he did not support further mandates, he acknowledged Buchanan had the final authority.
“This week, Dr. Martha Buchanan, acting under her authority as Knox County’s public health director, issued public health orders continuing limitations on occupancy capacity at restaurants and bars as well as a curfew on these establishments. The county also remains under an indoor mask mandate,” Jacobs said. “Dr. Buchanan and I had a good discussion about these issues, and I expressed my opposition to further mandates, however, she does currently have the final authority to make these decisions.”Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs
Proposed stadium in Old City
Earlier this week, the list of nominees for the sports authority that will oversee the development of the proposed Knoxville sports and entertainment stadium in the Old City was released by mayors Kincannon and Jacobs.
The sports authority members as a group would oversee the development of the site, including exploring the feasibility and cost-benefit analysis of building the proposed 7,000-seat, publicly-owned stadium just east of the Old City.
There is also a sales tax capture bill in the works in Nashville that would help offset the public investment in the proposed stadium.
“I spent much of last weekend on the phone with officials from the state discussing our proposal for legislation that would allow the sports authority to collect sales tax on new sales tax revenue generated in the development which will come out of the ground with the new sports and entertainment park. The state was concerned about foregone revenue and also setting a precedent for other minor league franchises so they offered a compromise in which they will provide a one-time development grant of $13.5 million dollars to the sports authority.
This amount represents the net present value of the sales tax revenue that will be generated in the development over the next thirty years. We felt that this was a good compromise and agreed to move forward with it. Many thanks to state Rep. Jason Zachary, state Sen. Becky Massy, and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Bo Watson for hammering out this arrangement.”Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs
Read City USA
The mayor also gave an update on Read City USA.
“Read City USA has accumulated almost 217,000 hours on our 1 million hour Tails and Tales Expedition. We still need your help. Visit ReadCityUSA.com for more information.”Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs
Read City USA is a collaborative initiative of Knox County government, Knox County Public Library, Knox County Schools and the Great Schools Partnership along with other community organizations with a mission to promote childhood literacy and a love for reading and learning. The program also engages and empowers parents, educators and caregivers to ensure their children develop reading skills.