A-2 • JUNE 3, 2013 • BEARDEN Shopper news
Kyle Testerman was being served surreptitiously – and illegally. Testerman says that after that was done he didn’t think it was quite fair that the members of the three country clubs in town – Cherokee, Deane Hill and Holston Hills – could imbibe in those facilities, but “working stiffs” had no place to get a drink. He leaned on his friends to shut down the bars at the country clubs, and the referendum passed by a margin of almost two to one. Skilled in financial matters, Testerman set about finding other ways to bring cash to the city. The potential for tourist dollars that a zoological park would bring came to mind. The joke around town at the time was that the Knoxville Zoo consisted of a couple of cows and a monkey or two. That wasn’t much of a stretch. Testerman hired Guy L. Smith III and told him to build a real zoo. Money was appropriated, land was purchased, plans were drawn, facilities were built for animals, and a few years later, Knoxville had a modern zoo that brought in tourists and their dollars. That expansion and growth has continued. Today the zoo is a world-class attraction expected to generate some $25 million in revenue this year. Testerman was also determined to stop any waste he could find in city government. When he heard that a lot of employees driving city vehicles weren’t putting in a full day’s work, he had city cars painted in what can best be termed “Easter egg colors,” – bright robin’s egg blue, neon yellow and other hues easy for the mayor to spot as he drove around town. After all, no automobile manufacturer was sell-
From page A-1 ing vehicles in such horrendous shades. The mayor can laugh about it now, recalling that he found more than a few of those cars parked at bars around town. But at the time he was dead serious. Imagine the shock when the mayor walked in to surprise the drivers and take away their car keys.
The garbage workers strike Testerman says his greatest challenge that first term was a garbage workers strike in 1974. He refused to negotiate, fired the 300 striking workers, and ordered his staff at city hall to join him in driving trucks across the city to pick up garbage. The mayor set the example: at one point, he worked 24 straight hours on a truck with no sleep. Nearly 40 years later, Testerman now reveals that during the strike a union organizer out of Memphis swaggered into his office one day after hours, poked a finger in the mayor’s chest, and angrily told him, “Blood is going to run in the streets of Knoxville because of you.” Testerman says he poked the man right back and suggested he turn around and take a look at the two very large and heavily armed Knoxville police officers who had quietly arrived in the outer office. “I told him ‘you had better get out of town fast or it’s going to be your blood running in the streets.’” Testerman chuckles, recalling that he later heard the fellow called federal officials to ask for protection – and quickly left town. The garbage strike was adjudicated in court, and the city was forced to pay back wages and reinstate
Kyle Testerman: a short bio Kyle Testerman was born in Knoxville in 1935 and grew up in the Ft. Sanders area. He graduated from The McCallie School in Chattanooga and received undergraduate and law degrees from UT. A businessman and attorney, he was serving on City Council when elected mayor of Knoxville in 1971. Sworn into office in 1972, he served until 1976. He held the office a second time from 1984 to 1987. Testerman is retired and spends time at his homes in North Carolina and Knoxville. His children – Muffet Testerman Buckner, Ben Testerman and Janet Testerman – all live in Knoxville.
the workers, but Testerman had made his point: he would do whatever it took it took to protect what he thought was in the best interests of the city, and no one was going to shove him around.
Moving toward the 20th Century The next individual who gave it a try was a manager at Cherokee Country Club who tried to block entry to an invited guest when Testerman, a long time club member, hosted a Christmas party there for his City Hall staff. Bob Booker, local civil rights leader, former state legislator and well-respected historian, was the staffer. He was the mayor’s legislative liaison. At that time no black person had ever been admitted as a guest at the club. Testerman stood his ground and Booker made history. The mayor’s next challenge was, as he said at the time, “to bring Knoxville kicking and screaming into the 20th century.” West Town Mall had opened, suburban shopping centers were going up from one end of the county to the other, and downtown was suffering mightily. Stewart Evans of the Downtown Knoxville Association appealed to the mayor to take
steps to try to save downtown merchants. That was when Testerman named the committee to explore the possibility of bringing a World’s Fair to Knoxville. He appointed 19 members to the group and named as chair another brash young man – banker Jake Butcher. Testerman served another term as mayor from 1984 to 1987. In a strange twist of fate, his major challenge then was untangling the financial mess and looming city debt left after the World’s Fair closed and the Butcher banking empire collapsed. When asked about highlights of that second term, which included the merger of city and county schools, he says only, “It wasn’t nearly as much fun.” (Note: Writer Anne Hart covered Testerman’s first term as a reporter for the Knoxville News Sentinel. She later worked on his staff.)
From page A-1
and four others from acting as Devanshire HOA board members. Members of the dissident group were elected in June 2012 after Johnson and several other sitting board members walked out of an annual meeting. Chancellor Mike Moyers ruled that the election was invalid for lack of a quorum. Faughnan, who remains as a board member, finds herself in the peculiar position of being both a named defendant and a member of the plaintiff board. She has lived there for 17 years and bought into an 88-unit condo development with amenities appropriate to a community of that size. Over the years, however, she says she watched with alarm as three other “phases” were added to the subdivision, swelling its population to more than 320 units, all of which have rights to use the small on-site pool. She says that roof and other repairs, which are the responsibility of the HOA, go unaddressed while money is poured into projects, like installing speed bumps and repaving the swimming pool parking lot. “I told them we should be fiduciaries of our condos, and we should take care of them first,” she said. “My shingles were so brittle that when they bent them back, they popped. I gave them three years’ notice, and then I wrote a letter telling them I would like for this to be addressed by April 3. After that, I went to the courthouse and sued. I gave them ample warning.”
After much wrangling, Faughnan got her new roof, but says others haven’t been as successful. “My neighbor, who pays his assessment fees every month, says it’s no use fighting them. His roof still is not done.
HOA history At first, Faughnan dealt with developer Jim Carlton, who also ran the HOA in accordance with the Tennessee Horizontal Properties Act (which was superseded by the Condominium Act in 2009). In 2002 he turned the HOA over to the members, as required by state law after 75 percent of the units are sold. The bank balance was zero, Faughnan and Hedden say. Jim Wright says serving on a homeowners association board is a thankless task. The attorney for the HOA admires Johnson, who, he says, “has the patience of Job. He’s just trying to do the right thing.” Wright says most of the arguments are over how to stretch a finite amount of money to do what needs to be done, and he would like to know what members of the dissident group would do differently. Faughnan, Gross, Hedden and others stand by the complaint they swore on the civil summons they filed last May, when they said the HOA had breached its contract to collect dues because its actions were “not in accordance with (HOA) bylaws” and it had failed to provide services and denied the right to speak and vote.
Bee Friends to meet June 6 Bee Friends is a local beekeeping group and meets at 6:30 p.m. every first Thursday at the Tazewell Campus of Walters State in the auditorium. On Thursday, June 6, Tennessee Beekeeping Association president Lynda Rizzardi and A. C. Mann will demonstrate how the small beekeeper can extract and bottle honey. Watch for a yellow sign with directions from the parking lot when you enter the Walters State campus. Info: 617-9013.
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