Knoxville, East Tennessee News Decade in Review: 2010-2019

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — With the 2010s now in the rearview mirror, we’re looking back at the big news and sports stories in East Tennessee that helped shape the decade.

Below are the WATE 6 On Your Side Decade in Review videos – featuring file content from our coverage of some of the major news stories in our region; as well as the news briefs to coincide with the video clips.

Decade in Review Part 1 (2010-2015)


Knoxville’s top story saw a local leader step up to the state level with then-mayor Bill Haslam, who was elected to become the Governor of Tennessee.


A shake-up for South Knoxville kicked off 2011, with the closure of the Henley Bridge.

Plus, history was made for Knoxville’s top office – Daniel Brown became the city’s first black mayor, as interim leader after Haslam became governor. Then, Madeline Rogero became the city’s first female mayor.


It was upheaval for the criminal justice system in Knox County as Judge Richard Baumgartner found himself on the wrong side of the law; admitting to addiction to painkillers, which created questions about judgment in major cases including the Christian-Newsom murder trials.


Heads turned the day after Tax Day, April 15, 2013, with federal agents at the headquarters of Pilot Flying J. Federal court documents revealed how the company executives worked to cheat customers by “jacking the discount.” Pilot Flying J would go on to pay nearly $200 million in settlements and penalties.


A crash on Asheville Highway shocked our community and renewed calls for change: One school bus swerved over a concrete median, crashing into the side of another school bus. The investigation revealed distracted driving to be the cause. The incident prompted a review of the district’s transportation program – penalties were stiffened for bus drivers caught texting, but calls to require seat belts on school buses did not bring a change to state law.


This year tragically saw a teen hero’s ultimate sacrifice. Fifteen-year-old Zaevion Dobson was killed while shielding two friends from gunfire. The Fulton High School football player’s death would get national attention: His sacrifice was mentioned by then-President of the United States, Barack Obama in a speech urging more gun control.

Zaevion’s mother, Zenobia Dobson, urged the community for change and for healing.

Decade in Review Part 2 (2016-2019)


It was years in the making – the Battle at Bristol, transforming Bristol Motor Speedway into a football stadium. More than 160,000 fans came out, which was the biggest crows to see a college football game. The Vols claimed the victory, 45-24.

In June, sports fans across the nation mourned the loss of Pat Summitt after her fight with Alzheimer’s.

In November was a tragedy the the community with never forget — wildfire spread across Sevier County, killing 14 people and scorching homes and businesses. From that, an outpouring of support helped by homegrown superstar local Dolly Parton.


People around the area turned their gaze skyward as parts of East Tennessee had the perfect vantage point the see a total solar eclipse.

The year also brought chaos to UT Athletics with the firing of Coach Butch Jones and fans revolting against the hiring of Greg Schiano. The university’s reputation took a nose-dive in the national press. Then, then-athletics director John Currie was replaced by legendary former Vols Football Coach Phillip Fulmer.


The year brought political transitions with Tim Burchett’s term limited as Knox County Mayor. In a squeaker of an election, former pro-wrestler Glenn Jacobs won the primary and went on to win the general to become the county’s new mayor.

Congressman Jimmy Duncan had announced the year before he wasn’t running for re-election, marking the end of a political dynasty. He had held the seat since the 1980s; before that, it was his father’s seat since the 1960s.

Tim Burchett and fellow Republicans like Jimmy Matlock made the primary one of the hottest area races in a long time. Burchett won in the primary and the general – heading to Washington, D.C. in his Carhartt jacket as the new congressman for District 2.


Knoxville voters kept political history rolling – electing Indya Kincannon as the city’s second female mayor, plus a majority female city council.

Also, a youngster bullied for his DIY Vols T-shirt went viral; embraced by the Orange & White Nation – the shirt was recreated by a local business to sell at the VolShop and went on to raise nearly $1 million for the STOMP Out Bullying organization.

Dollywood also celebrated the launch of Wildwood Grove, the park’s biggest expansion, as Dolly herself seemed to be everywhere — she was also the subject of a popular NPR podcast and her songbook the center of a hit Netflix series, “Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings.”


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