BOE Land Deal To Be Investigated

The much discussed 2006 land purchas by the Loudon County Board Of Education will hopefully come under formal investigation. The board voted at Thursday's meeting to request a formal investigation by either the TBI or District Attorney into the transaction.

The eighty acre plot located on Hwy. 321 near the I-40 exit has raised numerous questions ever since the BOE paid the 2.2 million for the land. The links below give the details of the transaction.

Property Report #1
Property Report #2
Property Report #3

County School Board approves investigation

Author: Mary E. Hinds News Herald

The Loudon County School Board requested a legal investigation into the purchase of land along Hwy. 321 for future school development possibilities.

By a vote of seven to one, they requested Director of Loudon County School Wayne Honeycutt contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and District Attorney General Russell Johnson about a possible investigation.

The school board purchased 80 acres for $2.2 million in 2006 following much debate about where to buy land. It was later revealed that Knoxville developer Richard Eisenbach who owned the land had retained 22 acres of the property’s road frontage. It also came to light that Eisenbach made a hefty profit in a relatively short period of time after he purchased the land from the long-time landowner a few weeks prior to selling it to the board.

Board member Van Shaver had the item on the agenda and said at the meeting it was time to “put it to bed.” He said he had heard from people in the community who didn’t understand why the land was purchased and why the board paid so much for it. He called for a “full legal investigation” into the matter. Shaver, who was not on the school board when the land was purchased, said he was not accusing anyone of wrongdoing but he was concerned at the public perception of what happened.

Bobby Johnson, Jr., who was on the board and voted in favor of the purchase, said he had no problem with an investigation because he had nothing to hide. “We looked at a lot of land,” Johnson said at the meeting. He also noted many of the tracts the board considered were more expensive than the one they decided to purchase. “We didn’t just jump on this trying to spend,” he concluded. Board member Larry Proaps agreed, reminding Shaver and the rest of the board that the land on Highway 321 was purchased when land prices were “booming” and land was being scooped up by developers.

The board voted to recommend Honeycutt ask for a review and possible investigation with Proaps recusing himself and board member Gary Ubben voting in opposition. Board member Craig Simon was absent.

“I think the purchase of the property was not a wise decision in the first place,” Ubben explained after the meeting. “However, from what the director had said at an earlier point was that in his investigation there was no mismanagement and we in fact own the property. It seemed to me there was no purpose, ultimately, in conducting an investigation at this point. We had more important things to do, such as the building program.  I saw no reason to waste our time on an investigation.”