'Extreme Makeover' cost the city more than $62,000 in OT

A Knoxville Police Department cruiser sits at a makeshift entryway on Robinson Road in West Knoxville as volunteers for 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' build a new home for Daniel and Mandy Watson Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012 // Buy this photo

A Knoxville Police Department cruiser sits at a makeshift entryway on Robinson Road in West Knoxville as volunteers for "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" build a new home for Daniel and Mandy Watson Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

What was paid

Police Department: $45,379.63 — Five officers and one supervisor on site worked 1,244.5 hours of overtime to provide road closure and security.

Fire Department: $11,295 — Included 376.5 hours of overtime for paramedic and EMT needed on site around the clock, with trips from a third person to stock supplies and refuel a city-owned generator.

Codes/Inspections: $3,311.85 — A total of 93.5 hours worked by inspectors for building, plumbing, gas/mechanical and electrical.

Public Service: $2,652 — Crews logged 86 hours of OT for jobs such as cleaning storm drains and road repairs.

Source: City of Knoxville

The city paid more than $62,000 in overtime to employees who worked to assist in the production of an "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" program here.

The figure was released after a News Sentinel request for city expenses related to the longtime network television show, which is ending this year.

Show producers met with city staff in late 2011 before the show's arrival to tell them what they needed from Knoxville. While those talks were going on, a rezoning for the property on Robinson Road sped through public meetings.

City staff under then-Mayor Daniel Brown agreed to give the television show what it needed, according to Bill Lyons, deputy to Mayor Madeline Rogero.

He and others compared the $62,638 in extra pay incurred for city employees to the national exposure Knoxville should expect when the show airs on ABC-TV in November. The program has been watched by millions..

"Internally, we decided that it was a good opportunity for the city," Lyons said.

That included, among other staffing needs, police to close Robinson Road, where the house was built, to through traffic for at least a week starting Jan. 10.

Others who used the narrow winding road had to go elsewhere while crews built a new home for Daniel and Mandy Watson and their nonprofit that helps single mothers.

"This show is going to be airing, I think, on Thanksgiving," said Councilwoman Brenda Palmer, who represents the area. "It will pump the community up."

She also said the project brought volunteers together for a common goal. Some unemployed volunteers even found jobs with contractors through their help, she said.

"We pay overtime to all those agencies for any kind of big event that we have," she said of the overtime costs. "I'm not sure why this is a concern."

The television show, which focuses on building structures for the downtrodden and needy, has been on ABC for nine seasons. In its last episode, the show focused on tornado victims in Joplin, Mo. The pharmacy CVS put together emergency supply kits for the town while Sears helped build a park, among other deeds.

The show was cancelled in December after declining ratings, and a few specials remain to air such as the one filmed in Knoxville.

Ultimately, the decision to offer free services to the production came down to competition from other places, according to Lyons.

"Our sense was there were other cities that would love to have 'Home Makeover'," he said.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 Knoxville.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Already activated? Login