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The marble king

Jim Tumblin
History and Mysteries

Cotton had once been king and the railroads had dominated for a time but, by the late 1880s, another industry had assumed a major role in East Tennessee’s economy. Knoxville became a leader in the marble industry, and the industry was so big that Knoxville became known as Marble City.

Although the first extensive developments were in Hawkins County, shipments from Knoxville via the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad were three times as great by 1881. There were 11 quarries operating in Knox County by 1882, and 300 workers were employed. By 1906, it was estimated that the county’s marble industry generated $1 million annually.

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Boyd says work hard, dream big

Sandra Clark

The annual banquet of the Union County Chamber of Commerce is a celebration of accomplishments and a look toward the future. It’s also a fundraiser for the group that promotes tourism as it recruits and supports local businesses.

Randy Boyd brought star power as the guest speaker. He recently resigned as commissioner of the state’s Economic and Community Development Department.

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Wrestler Kane ponders mayor’s race

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

The race for Knox County mayor could take an interesting turn in about a month, and it’s not the rumored impending entry of Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones that’s going to shake things up.

It’s unlikely that Bob Thomas, the county commissioner who started distributing Thomas for Mayor yard signs nearly a year ago (and who should not be confused with the Bob Thomas who’s considered a frontrunner for the school superintendent job) is going to do anything unexpected like pulling out of the race. And neither is County Commissioner Brad Anders, who also has been mulling the prospect for a good long while.

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Is Rogero eyeing Duncan’s seat?

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

State Sen. Doug Overbey, who is looking at a 2018 race for governor, says he “has strong reservations” on philosophical grounds over indexing the proposed gas tax increase without legislative action as recommended by Gov. Bill Haslam.

Indexing gas to the Consumer Price Index would place a gas tax increase on automatic pilot. This appears contrary to what most principled conservative lawmakers would favor in terms of voting each time a tax increases. It appears this provision will be dropped if the gas tax has a chance to pass.

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Bearden’s Latus is multifaceted achiever

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Karen Latus teaches Spanish at Bearden High School, but her mission is to help kids learn life skills.

“I consider Spanish the platform for what I do, but in the end I’m in the classroom to help kids grow up. We’re learning about how we interact with each other and how we manage our emotions and how we deal with conflict. For me, that’s what it’s about,” she said.

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Notes on a peculiar winter

Dr. Bob Collier
Nature notes

The month of February has certainly added on to what has been a peculiar winter. Our big weather has been a 2-inch snow on Jan. 6 and 7; since then we’ve had mostly spring weather. Warm temperatures, occasional showery days. The temp reached 77 degrees on Feb. 12, an all-time record for the day. The trees haven’t come out yet (at time of writing), but the allergists hereabouts report that they are already making pollen. Allergy season has begun.

We had jonquils blooming for Valentine’s Day, and blue, and blue-and-white, violets are in bloom in my yard. I noticed a small fruit tree of some sort down on Woodland Avenue on Feb. 15, covered with pink blossoms. Up along Grove Drive in Fountain City is a very large Chinese, or saucer, magnolia, usually the earliest tree to bloom out in the spring (and usually the first to get frozen back). We noticed it had big pink buds ready to go on the Sunday of Feb. 12.

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