Some parents 'salivating' at thought of extra funds

Jan. 31, 2013 @ 11:38 PM

If voters here legalize liquor by the drink in the March 14 referendum, city schools will receive half of the state's 15-percent tax on it.

When parent-teacher organization members consider the funds, "We start salivating," said Jennifer Dyer Tuesday night at a meeting of Forging Ahead, the group that campaigns for liquor by the drink.

Dyer is treasurer of the Pigeon Forge Middle School PTO. Both her children attend Pigeon Forge schools.

"I get chill bumps," Dyer said. "We can tell teachers, 'You don't have to pay for stuff that you're paying for out of pocket, Germ-X, tissue. We can help you.'"

Additionally, the liquor-tax funding would improve students' educations, so "you can hire better employees," Dyer told about 40 people in the conference room of Comfort Inn & Suites, 3712 Parkway.

Many local students stay in Sevier County and work in the tourism industry after they graduate, Dyer said. "They're who you're hiring, and you need them to be the brightest and the best."

Children regularly participate in school fundraising activities, Dyer pointed out. "Show of hands," she said. "Who has bought wrapping paper, coupon books, magazines that go in the trash?" Many hands went up.

"Our kids bring home one fundraiser, and another, and another," an attendee said. "Why make the children work that hard when the need to be concentrating on school?"

"I love Pigeon Forge," said Dyer, who noted that Sevier County parents may send their children to any of the county's schools. "However, I love my kids more. My God-given responsibility is to take care of my children. So I choose to send my kids here. If that becomes an issue, if they're not receiving what other places can provide, I may have to rethink that. And that saddens me."

According to an email announcing Tuesday's meeting, staff members of Pigeon Forge schools were to have addressed the group about schools' needs. However, at the beginning of the meeting, Forging Ahead chairman Ken Maples announced that they had, in the end, declined.

"They got concerned," he said. "They were afraid that if they showed up, it may have been construed as an endorsement of liquor by the drink."

Maples continued, "We hope to invite them back."

kburns@themountainpress.com