LOUDON, Tenn., Feb. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Don't let the peaceful, upscale retirement communities with the great views of the Great Smoky Mountains and seemingly endless lakes fool you. When energetic people like Lloyd Donnelly retire and move to Loudon County in the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley® of East Tennessee, they get involved.
"Retirees come here from all over the country and contribute to make this a better place," says Pat Phillips, president of the Loudon County Economic Development Agency. "They have fresh ideas, time on their hands, and plenty of idealism. You'd be amazed at all the social, environmental and political activities where they're making a positive difference."
Ranked by Where to Retire magazine among the top 100 places to retire, Loudon County recently won another honor: designation as one of only 11 "Retire Tennessee" counties in the state, a distinction based upon quality of life criteria developed by the American Association of Retirement Communities Seal of Approval Program.
Donnelly, who spent his working career at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, now has a busy schedule as newly-elected president of the Watershed Association of the Tellico Village (WATeR). It is not a ceremonial title. He and his friends, many of whom are fellow retirees, are about to hold the group's 10th annual cleanup. In the past decade, the group figures it's collected some 80 tons of trash. This year, Donnelly expects 400 people to show up in a not-so-small flotilla. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) helps haul the trash away.
The group has also built 18 miles of trails and gotten involved in a $300,000 federal project to improve the water quality of streams in the region.
"Many of the people are boaters," says Donnelly. "They want clean water and clean shores."
Loudon County and the surrounding Innovation Valley region is sometimes referred to as the "Great Lakes of the South" because of the huge network of TVA-controlled rivers and lakes. Boating magazine ranks this region a top 10 location in the country for living and boating.
Other retiree-activists move to Loudon County and turn their energies to social issues.
Roberta Burwell and her husband Gene Burwell, for instance, founded The Good Neighbors Shoppe in Lenior City in 2002. The store collects and sells donated goods. Profits go to several local charitable organizations. In the past eight years, the non-profit has donated more than $600,000 to local charities and last year awarded $128,000 in college scholarships. Gene Burwell passed away, but Roberta carries on the work with the help of a large group of volunteers.
"I've never seen a community like this," said Burwell, a retired banker from Florida. "I hardly know anyone who doesn't volunteer."
Much of this activism is centered around the county's principal retirement communities – Avalon, Tellico Village, Tennessee National, Rarity Bay and Rarity Pointe.
Loudon County also enjoys the economic momentum fostered by the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley® partnership, which promotes education, workforce development and high tech research and job growth.
For more information about the Retire Loudon County program, visit www.retireloudoncountytn.com or call 877-318-6780.
Media representation: Clark Miller Communications.
SOURCE Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley