By Mike Steely

The Knoxville Office of Neighborhoods, which had to cancel its annual Neighborhood Conference last year because of the pandemic, held it virtually Saturday, March 27, in a pre-produced yet interactive event.

Dr. Charles Lomax Jr., director of community empowerment, was the keynote speaker and talked about his childhood as a viewer of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” and those values he learned from that iconic program. He compared those values to the past year in Knoxville, the things neighborhoods did for each other during the crisis, and finalized by asking everyone to join and sing “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Commissioner Courtney Durrett hosted much of the virtual meeting along with Office of s Director Debbie Sharp. Mayor Indya Kincannon announced the three neighborhoods being honored for their efforts and announced the Diana Conn Neighbor of the Year.

The Historic Fourth and Gill Neighborhood, the Mechanicsville Neighborhood Association and South Woodlawn Neighborhood each received an award.

Eric McAnly was selected as Good Neighbor of the Year. The mayor recognized McAnly as going above and beyond his community service to Pond Gap, Bearden and beyond for the health and well being of the area. She said he “models a life of service to the community.”

The virtual event permitted viewers to watch various workshops and learn about the police department, the Police Advisory and Review Committee, a mental health workshop, learn about local government and more.