County breaks ground for Beverly dog park

Knox County’s first-ever Fall Festival at Tommy Schumpert Park was . . . awesome! Although we’d expect nothing less from our esteemed Parks and Recreation Department and its amazing new leadership!

“Knox County Parks and Rec’s Fall Festival turned out to be a great success,” said Ariel Houston, who helped oversee the event. “I am so thankful for everyone in our department that chipped in to make this event possible. It brought out many people from the community, and the kids really seemed to enjoy the games and hayride. We are looking forward to many more events like this in the future.”

Those who attended the free event – held last Sunday – enjoyed lawn games, food and hayrides. We figure roughly 800 folks participated in the event.

Last month, we held our first ever Trunk or Treat event at John Tarleton Park and that brought in similar numbers. We planned to do them both annually although we are looking into combining the two. That’s mostly because we have the Holiday Festival of Lights coming up in December at The Cove, and we don’t want to create some type of event burnout. Haha. We’ll see, though. If the community likes multiple events then, perhaps, we can do just that!

On Monday, the Boyd Foundation and Knox County leaders broke ground on the first Knox Neighborhood Dog Park at Beverly Park, making the beginning stages of the first of 10 new dog parks – five in the county and five in the City of Knoxville.

During Monday’s event, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Randy Boyd of the Boyd Foundation, and Knox County Parks and Recreation Director Joe Mack thanked the residents of the Halls community for supporting a new dog park in the neighborhood.

“Our goal with the Knox Neighborhood Dog Parks program is to bring people together and build community through their pets,” Boyd said. “We’ve been working for more than a decade to make Knox County and Knoxville the most pet friendly community in America, and this new round of neighborhood dog parks will make our goal a reality.”

Once the 10 dog parks are finished, Knox County will rank No. 1 in dog parks per capita in the nation. Knox County is currently ranked 29th in the nation.

“We know that great parks enhance the livability of our county and can entice people to relocate here,” Jacobs said. “Because dogs are a part of many Knox County families, including my own, this is a win-win for people and their pets.”

Through a partnership with Knox County, the City of Knoxville, and The Boyd Family Foundation, Knox Neighborhood Dog Parks asked neighborhoods to nominate their communities at in 2020. More than 300 people nominated their neighborhoods, and the dozens who qualified participated in the social engagement period to show why their neighborhood needed a place for their pets to play.

The Boyd Foundation awarded five City of Knoxville and five Knox County neighborhoods $50,000 grants to build new dog parks in the following neighborhoods: Corryton/Gibbs, Fountain City, Fourth and Gill, Halls, Holston Hills, Karns, New Harvest Park, Oakwood/Lincoln, Powell, South Knoxville.

Last week, I noted that the department recognized Jennifer Gentry as its third quarter 2021 “Teammate of the Quarter.” Here’s a little bit more about Jennifer:

She’s been with the department for 15 years and supervises 42 part-time employees, which include umpires, scorekeepers and a full-time tournament supervisor. Department Senior Director Joe Mack said Jennifer “is a team player who won’t hesitate to assist a teammate when called upon, and she will step up and offer help whenever needed.”

Jennifer also serves on the board of USA Softball of Tennessee as the vice president; the East District Chair for Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association; and has served on the Tennessee Character Counts Board. Her peers say she has exceptional communication skills that are apparent when working with tournament directors, field renters and park staff.

Troy Fleming, who is over the department’s entire recreation operations, called her “an asset to our team and much deserving” of the honor.

Also, the Parks and Recreation Department worked with Community Schools, which is part of the Knox Education Foundation Initiative to distribute Thanksgiving food baskets that will help 400 low-income families in Knox County Schools. Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church helped put the baskets together and load the trucks for the Parks and Recreation Department to then distribute the baskets – which included a voucher for a free turkey from Food City – to ten schools. For more information about the program, check out Community Schools – Knox Ed.

In other Parks and Recreation news, our one-man machine Frank Christian spent part of the week cleaning the shelter at Spring Place Park after some knucklehead let loose about four dozen eggs! He was also on the Ten Mile Greenway, cleaning up trash and bringing shopping carts back to Walmart. People tend to abandon them in the woods and in the creek. He also finished the parking lot at Tommy Schumpert Park and worked on a new entrance sign and dog park sign there. In addition, he put up new entrance signs at New Harvest Park and the Callaway Ridge Trailhead.

Our carpenters Matt Wallace and Dan Miller and their crew oversaw some repair work at US Cellular Park, working on underpinnings, which are underneath the buildings and roof and helps protect them from the elements. Unfortunately, they’re having trouble finding some parts.

Matt also accompanied Jason Halliburton earlier this week to conduct audits on the lights and air conditioning units around the parks system. The plan is to find ways to help with energy costs. They should know more in the next month or so.

We’re having a meeting to discuss the Knox County Water Trail where we’re clearing out 44 miles along Beaver Creek. I hope to have a more formal update next week.

In the meantime, James Major and his crew at Concord Park are continuing to put up the lights – with Michael Lay helping with the wiring – for the Holiday Festival of Lights at the Cove, which kicks off at 6 p.m. Dec. 1!

JD and his crew continue to clean the parks and make sure the leaves are gone but “it’s an ongoing battle with that stuff,” Halliburton said.

On the recreation side, we’ll help host the annual Josh Jones/Battle in Rocky Top Tournament this weekend, and basketball season has started with practices and the first games to begin on Dec. 4.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the great work performed by the Knox County Engineering and Public Works Department. Here’s a snapshot:

  • Schaad Road Project: Crew excavating rock and soil at Lobetti Road, and installing the step pools for stream mitigation
  • Saddlebrooke Subdivision: Crew installing 18” aluminized drainage pipe and concrete structure

Enjoy these photos from work around the county:

Hay ride at the Fall Festival
Schaad-Ball Camp project
New sign
Beverly Park dog park
This is no yolk, stop vandalizing our parks.
New signs
Saddlebrooke pipe installation
Prepping for Thanksgiving delivery
Thanksgiving delivery

Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government. Check back Tuesday for news from Engineering and Public Works.


County breaks ground for Beverly dog park