When Pellissippi State set out to purchase its new campus at the Strawberry Plains Pike exit on Interstate 40, they found a billboard on the property. They included the potential revenue in the cost projections to the State Building Commission in a preliminary request to purchase the property.
But a state audit in the wake of the purchase says that, in the final negotiations, the seller—an investment group headed by Sam Furrow—retained an easement to keep the billboard. The audit notes that there is an agreement in place to prevent an advertisement that wouldn’t be appropriate on the campus.
The audit faulted Pellissippi State for leasing the property for a year at a cost of $22,800 during the negotiation without notifying and getting permission from the Chancellor of the Board of Regents. The purpose of the lease was to keep it available for purchase and to use for fund-raising, according to the audit.