WYSH Local Information News
All web content is property of Clinton Broadcasters Inc., unless otherwise cited, and may not be re-published, re-broadcast or otherwise distributed without express written consent.
UPDATED July 1, 2015
LIVE LOCAL SPORTS ON WYSH
SATURDAY JULY 4TH AT 7 PM...NASCAR XFINITY SERIES SUBWAY FIRECRACKER 250 FROM DAYTONA!
SUNDAY JULY 5TH AT 6:30 PM...NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES COKE ZERO 400 POWERED BY COCA-COLA FROM DAYTONA!
AC Preschool information
The Anderson County Preschool is made up of Early Head Start, Head
Start, PreK and the Afterschool Program.
Did you know you can WATCH Trading Time each day on Comcast Cable Ch 12 on BBB TV. If you are in Anderson or Roane County turn on your TV and watch Trading Time and Ask Your Neighbor. Plus call WYSH for advertising specials on TV
Novel idea dies on the vine
A novel approach to finding money to provide much-needed raises for employees in the Anderson County school system died a quiet death on Tuesday, one day after it was presented to Commissioners. County Commissioner Rick Meredith on Monday night, proposed earmarking $1.1 million in new revenue generated by industrial growth in the county for use as a one-time donation from the county government to the schools to pay for raises for all school workers. Under the proposal, which was met with a mix of skepticism and support, the money would have been given to the schools only after $1.1 million in new revenue found its way into county coffers. Monday night, law Director Jay Yeager indicated that a case in McMinn County may have set a precedent that would prevent that from occurring and after further review on Tuesday, confirmed that assertion. In McMinn County, officials wanted to give money to the schools for capital projects using payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILTs (PILoTs) but after a court case that was upheld on appeal, it was determined that those PILT funds could not be used for such a purpose because it would violate the way that money is supposed to be allocated to schools operating in the county and its cities. Locally, that means the money would have to be divided between the county, Oak Ridge and Clinton school systems based on student attendance ratios and could not be used as a one-time contribution from the county government to its school system alone. No decisions about the county budget have been made as of yet and the Commission will resume its budget deliberations on July 20th. The new fiscal year begins today but with questions still swirling about the state-certified tax rate not having been set following property value reappraisals, the budget and the tax rate have not been finalized. The tax rate in the county is expected to climb by at least 14 cents due to a 4% property value decline in the most recent appraisal, but the final numbers have not been decided upon.
More delays in Corwin case
The court case for the ex-Marine accused of killing an Oak Ridge native last year in California has been delayed for a second time. The of 25-year-old Christopher Brandon Lee was originally scheduled for May 26, but the prosecution asked for a continuance, which was granted. The case was rescheduled for yesterday, but on Tuesday, a second continuance was granted. A pre-trial motions hearing is now scheduled for July 27. Lee pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Erin Corwin, whose body was found at the bottom of a remote desert mine shaft after she was reported missing from the military base where she was living with her husband, also a Marine, in California. Corwin was missing for weeks before her remains were found. Sunday marked one year since Corwin’s disappearance. Investigators say that Lee killed Corwin in order to conceal from his wife that he and Corwin were having an affair.
ORPD searching for robbery suspects
Oak Ridge Police are searching for two suspects in an armed robbery at a check cashing store on Friday. The robbery at Check Into Cash at 361 South Illinois Avenue was reported about 3:15 p.m. Friday. When officers arrived, they were told that the suspects were a black man and a black woman, each armed with handguns, and had fled on foot following the robbery. Officers canvassed the area and talked with an eyewitness who told them that both suspects were last seen running between buildings at the Manhattan Apartment complex in the 200 block of North Purdue Avenue. A section of North Purdue was temporarily closed while police established containment around the three apartment buildings the suspects were believed to have fled, however, nos suspects were located. Anyone with any information about Friday's robbery is encouraged to contact the Oak Ridge Police Department at (865) 425-4399 or (865) 425-3503. The investigation remains active and ongoing.
Kingston man accused of abuse
A 21-year-old Kingston man accused of breaking a 3-year-old girl's jaw and fracturing her skull has been arrested on a four-count indictment charging him with aggravated child abuse. Dakota Cain Lamping was indicted last week by a Roane County grand jury and posted a $10,000 bond shortly after his arrest Friday. Kingston Police say that on October 11th, 2014, Lamping carried the unconscious daughter of his girlfriend into the ER at the Roane Medical Center. Lamping claimed he and the child were in the basement of their apartment wwhen the girl fell, got up and then stumbled again. The incident report stated that in addition to the skull and jaw fractures, the girl had several bruises in various stages of healing as well as a host of other old and new injuries that led investigators to suspect child abuse.
AC Committee to meet
The Anderson County Employee Insurance Board of Trustees will meet at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 16, in Room 102 (Human Resources office) at the Courthouse, 100 North Main St., Clinton.
ASAP racking up proclamations after award
(ASAP) Eight representatives from Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) of Anderson County joined nearly 2,700 substance abuse prevention specialists and advocates from across the country at Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA) 25th Annual National Leadership Forum, the nation's largest and premier training event for substance abuse prevention and treatment professionals and researchers. CADCA’s National Leadership Forum took place Feb. 2-5 in National Harbor, Md. This year’s event was especially important for ASAP as they were honored with the CADCA’s GOT OUTCOMES! Milestones Award on February 5 at an awards luncheon. The coalition trained store clerks with certification classes to increase compliance with underage drinking laws, and distributed materials to notify shoppers of identification requirements. The coalition has successfully increased alcohol outlet compliance by 36 percent, decreased the number of youth reporting alcohol use at a friend’s home by 29 percent, decreased the number of youth being drunk or high at school by 40 percent, and decreased the number of alcohol-related school discipline events by 78 percent. Recent surveys indicate that in just a couple of years, past 30-day use of alcohol among youth has also decreased significantly and the coalition expects to sustain this long-term outcome. “We were so excited to be honored with this award, but also to be able to spend several days with other similar organizations from across the country, learning and honing our prevention skills so we can continue to improve our community,” said Stephanie Strutner, Executive Director. “We came back reenergized with new strategies under our belt to tackle drug use in Anderson County.” ASAP was also honored when they returned home with proclamations from Anderson County Commission and Clinton, Norris, Oak Ridge, Oliver Springs, and Rocky Top City councils congratulating them on their award and thanking them for their dedication to the community. CADCA’s National Leadership Forum featured nearly 80 courses to help participants learn effective strategies to address drug-related problems in their communities. Training sessions addressed some of the most pressing issues facing communities today – from how to prevent prescription drug abuse and marijuana use among youth, to how to reduce tobacco use and underage drinking. ASAP staff Stephanie Strutner and Stacey Pratt along with neighboring coalition RCADC staff Sarah Harrison and Dr. Wayne Stephenson were also asked to present their recent Benefit: Cost Analysis to a session of over 100 advanced coalition workers from around the country. The analysis shows how investing dollars in prevention on the federal, state and local levels can reduce the public burden spending used to “shovel up” the consequences of failing to prevent substance abuse. The coalition also met with Representative Chuck Fleischman at the CADCA Forum’s Capitol Hill Day event on Wednesday, Feb. 4 to educate him about effective ways to reduce substance use and abuse, and about the importance of community-based prevention. Rep. Fleischman heard from all eight coalition members in a private meeting and recognized the need for substance abuse prevention in his district. Representative John Ragan was present in Anderson County on June 29th to recognize this achievement and present ASAP with State of Tennessee House Joint Resolution No. 134 on the steps of the Anderson County Courthouse. The resolution honored ASAP for their measurable achievement in reducing underage drinking in Anderson County.
CHS football tix on sale at Xtreme Automotive Thursday
Clinton High School football season tickets are available. For the convenience of the community, the CHS Cheer Booster Club will be available on Thursday, July 2 from 11-5 at the Xtreme Automotive on Hiway Drive for our fans to come by and pick out their seats/tickets. For more information they can contact Cheerleading Booster Club at firstname.lastname@example.org. This season Clinton High School is selling football season tickets in a package deal. For $60.00 you will receive 5 tickets, a parking pass, a Dragon Card, a free oil change,and a hot dog for each game, plus $2.00 off hat or visor, $20.00 off any $100.00 merchandise purchase and a free lanyard with t-shirt purchase. 1200 of these packages are available.
CPD arrests one after one departs early from car
Clinton Police arrested a woman Saturday after investigators determined that she had allegedly thrown her sister out of a moving car. Kimberly Stout told officers that she and her sister, Rebecca Mashburn, had been arguing in Mashburn's car and when Stout attempted to get out of the vehicle, her sister drove off, causing her to fall to the pavement. Stout was treated for injuries to her right leg at Methodist Medical Center. An eyewitness verified her story to investigators, who then made contact with Mashburn. Mashburn told officers that her sister had in fact jumped out of the car and that she had not driven off. Mashburn was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment and released after posting bond.
DOE picks up UCOR option
The Department of Energy has exercised its option to extend the contract of environmental cleanup contractor UCOR. The company has managed cleanup efforts on the federal reservation since 2011 but their contract was set to expire next spring. The option exercised by the DOE this month extends that deal through mid-2020. Officials say that picking up the option early will allow UCOR to get some of the remaining cleanup work done3 ahead of schedule. Company officials say that UCOR has saved the federal government more than $122 million on cleanup projects over the past four years and is about $26 million under budget on projects still underway. UCOR is wrapping up demolition work on K-31, a former uranium-enrichment facility, and preparing for the demolition of K-27 — the last of the big buildings that once processed uranium for use in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors. The company expects to complete the demolition of K-27 by the end of 2016 and plans to have all of the cleanup work done at the site now known as the East Tennessee Technology Park by the time the contract runs out.
Ex-teacher pleads to probation violation
Former Clinton High School teacher Megan Baumann, who was convicted in 2010 on charges that she had inappropriate relationships with students, pleaded guilty Monday to violating the terms of her probation. The violations reportedly occurred in 2014, when the now-33-year-old Baumann dated a man with a child under 18 and four times in 2014 visited public ballparks where minor children were present. Her five-year probation was extended by an additional year. Baumann pleaded guilty in November of 2010 to one count each of statutory rape by an authority figure and sexual battery by an authority figure and two counts of displaying sexually explicit material to minors. She received a three-year prison sentence, was compelled to register as a sex offender and forced to surrender her teaching license.
TDOT announces lane closures
TDOT has announced that it will suspend all construction-related lane closures on interstates and state roadways during this weekend's 4th of July holiday weekend. Work will cease at 12:01 am Friday July 3rd and resume at 6 am on Monday July 5th. AAA is projecting that almost 42 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this weekend, with an estimated 85% of them taking to the nation's roadways. In Tennessee, AAA expects about 844,000 of us to drive to our destinations.
THP announces 4th of July enforcement efforts
(THP) The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) will conduct a variety of traffic safety tools and utilize data-driven enforcement during the Fourth of July holiday period to help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes across the state. The traffic safety campaign will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 3 and conclude at midnight on Sunday, July 5. Twelve people were killed in Tennessee during last year’s 96-hour Fourth of July holiday period. That’s down from the 19 vehicular deaths during the 2013 July 4th holiday. Of last year’s 12 traffic fatalities, seven were vehicle occupants and five were motorcyclists. Four (57%) of the individuals killed were not wearing seat belts and three of the traffic deaths were alcohol-related. State troopers arrested 125 individuals statewide on suspicion of impaired driving and cited 1,504 motorists for violation of the seat belt law during last year’s Fourth of July period. “We will utilize all of our resources to keep those traveling in Tennessee safe this Fourth of July holiday,” Trott added. During the first six months of 2015, preliminary statistics show that 50 percent of the state’s traffic fatalities are from unrestrained motorists and 18 percent are due to an alcohol-impaired driver. As of June 29, preliminary statistics indicate 416 people have died on Tennessee roadways in 2015, compared to 455 fatalities at this same time in 2014.
Bailey arrangements announced
Following up on a story we first reported Monday, longtime Rocky Top Fire Chief Sam Bailey, Jr., who passed away Sunday after a battle with melanoma, will be remembered on Wednesday in Briceville. The 54-year-old Bailey served as Fire Chief in Rocky Top since 2003, when the town was still known as Lake City, and had previously been part of the Briceville Volunteer Fire Department. Ronnie Spitzer has been serving as interim chief during Bailey's illness, but is unclear who the next permanent chief will be. Sam Bailey, Jr.'s family will receive friends Wednesday from 4 to 8 pm at Laurel Branch Baptist Church in Briceville with his funeral service to follow in the chapel. He will be laid to rest Thursday morning at 11 am at the Oak Grove Cemetery.
AC budget update
The Anderson County Commission met in a special called session Monday night to continue deliberating this year's budget. The new fiscal year starts Wednesday but no decisions were reached Monday during a three-and-a-half-hour-long meeting. Commissioner Robin Biloski proposed removing $75,000 from the Election Commission budget, targeting salaries of workers that she called “seasonal” in nature but with no Election Administrator present to defend his employees, that motion was deferred for further discussion. Election Administrator Mark Stephens was out of town. Commissioner Steve Emert questioned County Mayor Terry Frank on the seemingly doubling of her office's budget since she took office and ultimately, made a motion to eliminate the position of Chief of Staff, a position he pointed out had never been part of the mayor;'s office before. Mayor Frank said that while it appears her office's budget has doubled, she contends that she has saved the county over $161,000 by making cuts when possible and consolidating operations that were spread out over the courthouse under the mayoral umbrella. She also says that many of the savings realized though her office have come through the work of Chief of Staff Richard Burroughs. The motion received eight votes for and seven votes against with one absence but failed as nine votes were needed to approve the measure. Talk turned to employee raises for a significant portion of the meeting with the general consensus seeming to be that “if one employee gets a raise, then all employees should get raises.” Money for salary increases is not readily available so commissioners will continue to comb through the general fund budget to find cuts to fund raises for county employees. Raises for school system employees, whose pay increases of .7% over the past five years have not kept up with the rising cost of living, was also addressed. Commissioner Rick Meredith on Monday proposed using $1.1 million in anticipated new revenue from growth in the county economy to fund a one-time donation to the county school system that would be earmarked for raises for all certified and classified school employees. Meredith's proposal would provide no money to the schools, though, until the new revenue reached that $1.1 million threshold. The County Commission, as Meredith pointed out, cannot tell the School Board how to use that money but officials received assurances Monday that if they were to get this money, it would be used for raises as the BOE has set them as a priority. The proposal was deferred until the July 20th Commission meeting so that Law Director Jay Yeager can weigh in on the legality of the measure and so that other commissioners can learn more about exactly how this would work. The next scheduled meeting of the Commission is July 20th and it remains to be seen if any additional meetings will be called for between now and then.
CPTC hosting seminar
(Submitted) Will Pye is a social entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, writer, mentor, wisdom teacher and has had a successful business career in charity fundraising. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago at the age of 31. He was able to experience this event in complete peace and joy, and with a sense of opportunity. He has rigorously studied human potential and personal exploration through the transformative practices of meditation, yoga, QiGong A Course in Miracles and Zen. Through this, he developed a psychological technique, “Radical Gratitude”, inspired by the latest science to create a habit of happiness through spiritual awakening allowing love, healing and your heart’s desires. Will has written a book, “Blessed With a Brain Tumor” which is not all about surviving cancer or escaping death, but rather about thriving in life with the richness and joy that we each have available to us at every moment. He will be at Clinton Physical Therapy Center on Thursday, July 16 to discuss his experiences and life lessons at 6:30 PM. Come join us in this wonderful opportunity to share an evening with Will Pye while he is in United States traveling from Australia. There is a suggested donation of $10 for your attendance. Please call Kelly Lenz at 457-1649 or email email@example.com for more information. The meeting will be held in the upper building behind Clinton Physical Therapy Center. Please park in the upper lot.
AC Chamber offers team-focused seminar
(Submitted) The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce welcomes Dr. Stacy Myers, Advanced Management, Inc. who will present a seminar, “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team” model, based on Patrick Lencioni's NYT best seller the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, scheduled for Wednesday, July 15, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Chamber office. The model is used to help team members learn to work together more efficiently and effectively and become a more cohesive team. A productive high-functioning team:
This program will create a learning experience that helps individuals and organizations reveal what it takes to build a truly cohesive and effective team in the most approachable, competent, and effective way possible. Focusing on trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results, the assessment and accompanying program can take your intact work teams to the next level. This preview of the program will explore the various components of the model and explain how participants can gain access to this remarkable tool. Stacy Myers founded Advanced Management, Inc. in 1988 and is President of the company. He has served as a consultant and/or facilitator to over a hundred of the Fortune 500 companies. He is very active professionally in the American Society for Training & Development and the Society for Human Resources Management. The seminar is free for Chamber members and $10 for non-Chamber members. A limited number of seats are available. Reserve your space for this valuable presentation by Tuesday, July 14. Call the Chamber at 865-457-2559 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.
RT woman dies after Friday wreck in Knox
A 24-year-old Rocky Top woman died over the weekend from injuries she sustained in a four-vehicle accident early Friday morning. Knoxville Police say that 24-year-old Kristin Woods of Rocky Top was driving a Ford Mustang which had slowed for the beginning of a construction zone on the off ramp to I-275 North from I-40 West just before 5 am Friday when she was rear-ended by an SUV driven by a 26-year-old man who KPD officers say was using his cell phone when the crash happened. The chain-reaction crash collected two other vehicles. All of the drivers and the passenger in Woods' car, identified as 52-year-old Lesha Massengill, were taken to UT Medical Center for treatment. Woods succumbed to her injuries late Friday afternoon. The driver of the SUV, William Jerde, is facing charges pending the completion of the KPD investigation.
Merle once again a part of OR 4th
The fireworks display sponsored by the City of Oak Ridge will begin at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 4. The display will be shot from A.K. Bissell Park. The fireworks will be accompanied by music played live on-site by Merle 96.7 FM. Radio host Jack Ryan will be transmitting live from the park beginning at 6 p.m. and will conclude the live broadcast with a patriotic medley as the fireworks are shot. The countdown to the fireworks begins at 9:30 p.m. Listeners can tune their radios to 96.7 Merle FM and enjoy the show. The Oak Ridge Community Band will perform its annual Fourth of July concert at the A.K. Bissell Park Pavilion beginning at 7:30 p.m. Public parking will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking will not be allowed on the shoulders of South Illinois Avenue or Oak Ridge Turnpike, a press release said. These roads will remain open throughout the event. The press release said the best view of the show will be from the east end of Bissell Park. Badger Avenue will close beginning at 9:30 p.m. and will not reopen until the conclusion of the fireworks display.
4 CFD Ffs attain advanced certification
Four City of Clinton firefighters received their Advanced EMT Certification from Roane State Community College earlier this year. Lt Daniel Adams, Fire Fighters Jeremy Bray, Bradley Bittinger and Brice Kidwell all received certification after the completion of their two semesters of college-level training. The course consisted of two full-time college semesters with over 500 hours of classroom learning, 276 hours of ambulance clinicals, state level skills check offs and a National Registry computer-based examination. The skills included in this level of training include, but are not limited to.: advanced airway management techniques, intravenous therapy (IV), cardiac arrest management, pediatric intraosseous infusion (IO), and medication administration, among others. We are extremely proud of these firefighters and they may now provide a better service to all the citizens of Clinton.
ACSD stresses Independence Day traffic safety
Independence Day is one of America’s favorite holidays. And why not? Families and friends gather to celebrate our country with food, parades, parties, picnics, and fireworks. For many, the celebration includes alcohol, but the holiday quickly goes from festive to fatal when people choose to drive after drinking. From 2009 through 2013, nearly 40 percent of all traffic fatalities over the Fourth of July period occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. To crack down on drunk driving this Independence Day weekend, Anderson County law enforcement will be out in full force, aggressively targeting those who put lives in danger. Sheriff’s deputies will be out working to make our roadways safe. “The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department is ramping up their enforcement to make our roads safer this Fourth of July,” said Sheriff Paul White. “For everyone’s sake, don’t drink and drive or you will be arrested. The ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign means zero tolerance for drunk driving – no excuses.” This effort is supported by a grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Wells honored with Tourism Award
The Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council recently announced that Stephanie Wells, Director of the Anderson County Tourism Council, is the recipient of the 2015 Chuck Davis Tourism Award. The award is named in honor of a long-time industry professional who worked in several counties in the region and was the founding chairman of the East Tennessee Crossing Byway (Hwy. 25 E). Davis passed away in April 2006, but his legacy serves as an example of leadership to our regional Chambers and Convention and Visitors Bureaus. "Stephanie's marketing expertise and leadership has served the entire region," said, Molly Gilbert, Director of the 16-county regional non-profit marketing Council. During Wells’ tenure with the Tourism Council, she has created numerous advertising campaigns and promotional materials that has contributed to an increase in the economic impact of tourism from $65 million to $111 million for Anderson County. Tennessee Department of Tourist Development East Tennessee Regional Director Dave Jones assisted in recognizing Wells at the 49th Annual Awards Banquet for the East Tennessee Development District and the East Tennessee Human Resource Agency. “It is a great honor to receive the Chuck Davis Award,” said Wells. “Chuck was one of my mentors and he was just as focused on seeing the region succeed as he was on seeing his county succeed. I take great pride in receiving an award given by professionals in my industry.” The Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council (METTC) was established in 1980 to jointly market tourism in Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Sevier, Scott and Union Counties. Wells has served three separate terms as chairperson of METTC and has served on the board for 15 years.
June is Dairy Month
This June we are celebrating 78 years of National Dairy Month and the farm families of the Southeast who provide you and your family with nature’s perfect beverage. When you sit down to dinner, think about how you get more with milk. You get more protein, you get more vitamins, you get more muscle.... We want to take this opportunity to say thank you to hard working dairy farmers and their families. They are dedicated to dairy and to your good health. Visit my instagram, facebook and twitter pages @got_dairy and visit www.southeastdairy.com for delicious recipes, nutrition tips and much more. The dairy farm families of the Southeast are your neighbors and friends and they appreciate your support. We are also promoting The Great American Milk Drive to help get more milk into local food pantries. To participate log onto www.milklife.com/give4HEastern. GET MORE WITH MILK!
AC busy for the 4th, rest of July
July 4th Celebration
and Anvil Shoot - July 4 at Museum of Appalachia
Rocky Top July
4th Celebration – July 4th at Rocky Top Community Center
July classes at the
Appalachian Arts Craft Center
Concert and Firework Show – July 4 at A.K. Bissell Park
Sundown Saturday’s at
Anderson County Fair
– July 13-18
21st Annual Samuel
DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry – July 20-24 at
CDF Haley Farm
Golden Dragon Acrobat
Show – July 25 at Oak Ridge High School
Dragon season ticket sales go mobile
CHS Football Season tickets are ready for purchase! For the convenience of the community, the CHS Cheer Booster Club will be available on Monday, June 29 and Monday, July 6 from 5:30 – 8 pm at the Clinton Community Center for our fans to come by and pick out their seats/tickets. For more information they can contact Cheerleading Booster Club at email@example.com. Remember this is what is included the CHS football season ticket packages: This season Clinton High School is selling football season tickets in a package deal. For $60.00 you will receive 5 tickets, a parking pass, a Dragon Card, a free oil change,and a hot dog for each game, plus $2.00 off hat or visor, $20.00 off any $100.00 merchandise purchase and a free lanyard with t-shirt purchase. 1200 of these packages are available.
Grants for 6 arts organizations in AC
Tennessee legislators announced Friday that seven arts grants worth $72,190 have been awarded to six organizations in Anderson County. The recipients include the Children's Museum of Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge Community Playhouse, Oak Ridge Civic Music Association, Oak Ridge Community Art Center, Tennessee Mountain Writers, and Appalachian Arts Craft Center. The grants include two grants with a combined total of $20,800 for the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge in the categories of Arts Education-Community Learning and Partnership Support.
The other grants include:
The grants are from the Tennessee Arts Commission. They are made possible through an appropriation of state funds by the Tennessee General Assembly, federal dollars from the National Endowment for the Arts, and by Tennesseans who buy specialty license plates, a press release said. The grants were announced Friday by Tennessee Senator Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican; Senator Ken Yager, a Kingston Republican; Representative John Ragan, an Oak Ridge Republican; Representative Dennis Powers, a Jacksboro Republican; and Representative Kent Calfee, a Kingston Republican. According to Tennessee Art Commission Executive Director Anne Pope, the Arts Commission will award approximately 1,000 community grants in both urban and rural areas through the 2016 fiscal year, totaling $5.3 million. The allocation process involves a review by citizen advisory panels made up of Tennesseans with expertise in appropriate disciplines and a final review by the full 15-member Commission.
ORT Follow-up: More on ouster suit appeal
(Oak Ridge Today) The Tennessee Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed the decision of a trial court to dismiss an ouster complaint filed against Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager. Twenty-two Anderson County residents tried to remove Yeager, who was appointed law director in September 2006, from his office under Tennessee’s ouster law. The complaint was originally filed in Anderson County Chancery Court in May 2014 and amended the next month. The Anderson County Chancery Court issued an order granting Yeager’s motion to dismiss on September 22, 2014, but the case was appealed. On Thursday, a three-judge panel of the court, which heard oral arguments in April, upheld the trial court’s decision to grant the motion to dismiss, which was issued by Special Judge Don R. Ash. “I deeply appreciate the County Commission and the Legal Services Advisory Committee for their continued support and confidence during these very difficult times for myself and my family,” Yeager said Thursday morning. The debate hinged on whether the county law director is a public office subject to the ouster law or if he or she is instead a public employee. The ouster law provides a method for removing individuals from public office, but it does not apply to workers who are considered public employees. The trial court concluded that the law director’s position is not a public office. The Tennessee Court of Appeals agreed, saying the county law director is subject to oversight by an 11-member advisory committee that may remove him or her at any time with the subsequent approval of the county legislature. The appellate court said the purpose of the ouster law is to “rid the public of unworthy officials” and “to improve the public service, and to free the public from an unfit officer.” Certain procedures put into place by the Tennessee General Assembly demonstrate the legislature’s intent to provide a speedy method for removing unfit public officials, the court said. “Without such a mechanism, it is possible that a public official could openly engage in willful misconduct without fear of losing office prior to the expiration of his or her term,” the three-judge panel said. “Such a situation is certainly untenable. However, that possibility does not exist where, as is the case here, the position in question is subject to oversight by a committee with the power to remove its holder at any time, with or without cause.” In this case, the judges said, the private act of 2006 that created the law director’s office created an oversight committee that is capable of removing the county law director “at any time, for any reason.” Yeager could be removed by a two-thirds vote of the Legal Services Advisory Committee and then a two-thirds vote of the Anderson County Commission. But so far, no members of the committee or the commission have asked for him to be removed. “Though the position of county law director has some of the characteristics commonly associated with a public office, as opposed to mere employment, we conclude that because the position is subject to the oversight of an advisory committee, which may remove the individual holding the position with the approval of the county legislative body, it is not a public office under the ouster law,” the judges said. “We therefore affirm the ruling of the trial court dismissing the petitioners’ action. Costs of this appeal are taxed to the petitioners.” Through attorney Greg Brown, Anderson County resident Lynn Byrge and his fellow petitioners said they were disappointed by the Court of Appeals ruling and have authorized their attorneys to prepare an application for rehearing by the Court of Appeals or review by the Tennessee Supreme Court. For more, including reaction from the plaintiffs, visit www.oakridgetoday.com.
(Summary of Appeals Court ruling) The petitioners filed this action seeking to remove the respondent from the position of county law director of Anderson County pursuant to Tennessee’s ouster law, found at Tennessee Code Annotated section 8-47-101. The respondent filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted after concluding that the position of county law director is not a public office subject to the ouster law. On appeal, the petitioners argue that the trial court erred in concluding that the position of county law director is not a public office. Because the county law director is subject to oversight by an advisory committee that may remove him or her at any time with the subsequent approval of the county legislature, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.
ORT: Statute of limitations favors MMC
(Oak Ridge Today) A three-judge appeals court panel has ruled in favor of Covenant Health and two other defendants in five lawsuits that alleged that the absence of shielding in part of the emergency department at Methodist Medical Center exposed five X-ray and radiologic technologists, including two who were pregnant, to excessive radiation. The unanimous opinions by the three Tennessee Court of Appeals judges were filed June 9 in Knoxville. They affirmed an order by Anderson County Circuit Court Judge Donald R. Elledge granting a summary judgement in favor of the defendants: Covenant Health, Rentenbach Engineering Company, and TEG Architects LLC. The lawsuits were filed in January 2014 by Connie Raby, Keith Gillis, Michael Phillips, Mary Ridenour on behalf of her and her child, and Micah Noelle Lewellen on behalf of her and her child. The lawsuits alleged that the technologists were exposed to excess radiation for several years at Methodist Medical Center because some walls in and around a radiology imaging center in the new emergency department, which opened in February 2006 as part of a hospital remodel, were built without the required lead shielding, elevating the workers’ risk of health problems, including cancer. But the defendants filed motions for summary judgment, and Elledge granted them. The defendants argued that a construction statute known as the statute of repose had expired. But the plaintiffs appealed, arguing that the statute of repose did not run because the absence of the required shielding in the radiology facilities meant the project was not substantially completed on the date determined by the Anderson County Circuit Court. The Tennessee Court of Appeals disagreed. “We hold…that the radiology facilities, while perhaps defective, were used for their intended purpose and were substantially complete as found by the trial court,” the three-judge panel said in its unanimous decision. “The construction statute of repose expired and serves to defeat plaintiffs’ claims. We affirm the trial court.” For more, visit www.oakridgetoday.com.
K-31 demolition completed
Demolition was completed Friday of the K-31 Building in Oak Ridge, the fourth of five gaseous diffusion buildings removed from the former uranium enrichment site. The East Tennessee Technology Park, once called the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, was built in the 1940s as part of the Manhattan Project to enrich uranium for the atomic bombs that would end World War II. It later produced enriched uranium for commercial and defense purposes. Operations ceased in 1985 and the site was shut down in 1987. The U.S Department of Energy then began cleanup operations. Most of the hazardous materials from the K-31 building were removed in 2005. The remaining building, K-27, is projected to be demolished by next year. Under DOE’s reindustrialization program, property at ETTP is being transferred to the private sector as the agency works to make the site a private sector industrial park.
Missing Boy's body found
The body of the five-year-old boy who went missing Wednesday afternoon was found in a pond near his family’s home in Anderson County, authorities said. Ground search teams working with K-9s tracked the missing child, Odin Elwood Fitton, to a pond in the creek near the family home on Brushy Valley Road, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said. “Our dive team was called to search the water, and sadly, the child’s body was found,” Lucas said Wednesday night. Odin was reported missing at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, and ground and air searches began shortly after that. His family’s home is in the 1600 block of Brushy Valley Road near Interstate 75. Lucas said about 100 people were involved in the search, including law enforcement officers and personnel from fire and rescue agencies from across the region. “This not only included deputies from our agency but officers from many others, including search and rescue teams from the Knoxville Police Department, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, and the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office,” Lucas said. “Other teams were from the Anderson County Rescue Squad, the Andersonville Fire Department, and many other fire and rescue agencies not only from Anderson County but Campbell and other counties as well.” Lucas said the Tennessee Highway Patrol helped search Interstate 75 and nearby roads. K-9 bloodhounds from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, and the Knoxville Police Department were used to aid the search teams. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office provided a helicopter for air searches throughout the day. “Our thanks to all those who came to assist,” Lucas said. “Our thanks to the community and the neighbors who came to assist as well. We also wish to thank the many others who came and were standing by, ready and willing to help if needed. It is truly a blessing to see our community come together to help others even as we are sad at the tragic ending. Our hearts are heavy, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family in their time of sorrow.”
Clinton OKs tax hike
The Clinton City Council approved a new city budget at its meeting Monday night, but it is still unknown how much the property tax rate will increase. The city council passed the $11,159,716 budget on a 6-1 vote. Mayor Scott Burton was the lone dissenting vote. The increased property rate tax cannot be decided until the county finishes a reappraisal of various homes, businesses and industries. The city's current tax rate is 76 cents per $100 assessment. Mayor Burton did not have an estimate for how much the current property tax rate would increase.
SECRET CITY FESTIVAL
Rumor that circulated widely this month said this was going to be the last year for the Secret City Festival. But city officials said it’s premature to say that. It is true that a Special Events Advisory Task Force has been studying changes to the annual festival, including moving it from June and making it into an expanded celebration in the fall, starting in October and continuing through Veterans Day (November 11). It could be renamed the Secret City Celebration, implemented by a new nonprofit expected to become self-sustaining within five years, and add events while continuing to include the Secret City Festival. At a Wednesday evening meeting, Task Force members said many of the current festival activities could continue, including music, World War II re-enactments, historical displays, and children’s activities. But they also said there could be opportunities for new partnerships with other organizations, including Wounded Warriors and Oak Ridge Playhouse. And it’s not clear that the Secret City Festival would continue to be a two-day event. Task Force members say they’re hoping to help create something bigger and better. “This committee is not recommending the demise of the Secret City Festival,” Oak Ridge City Council member Trina Baughn said after the meeting. Baughn is chair of the Task Force.
Secret City Festival sets records
(Submitted) The 2015 Oak Ridge Secret City Festival drew record attendance, despite the heat, on June 12-13. Concerts by the Marshall Tucker Band and Three Dog Night attracted the highest number of spectators in festival history. “We were ecstatic with the turnout for both concerts,” says, Marc DeRose, Executive Director of the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau, “we knew the bands would be popular but didn’t expect to see quite so many people. It was outstanding!” Attendances for The Marshall Tucker Band and Three Dog Night were 2,200+ and 3,500+, respectively. The previous record was 2,300 for the Rick Springfield concert in 2013. “After seeing how many tickets were sold at the gate for Friday’s Marshall Tucker concert, we decided to move the concert fences back to accommodate the expected additional 1,000+ spectators for Three Dog Night.” explains DeRose. Throughout the day on Friday and Saturday festival-goers took part in various activities, from waterslides to the TN Creates Juried Art Show, by entertainers, vendors and exhibitors. The most popular event during the day on Saturday was the World War II Battle of Normandy Reenactment. In the extreme heat of the afternoon, WWII reenactors gave their all to portray the battle in a spectacular visual. The thunderous discharge of weaponry including tanks, artillery and the anti-aircraft weapon, Flak 88, could be heard from all over Oak Ridge. “The success of the 2015 festival was really due to the hard work of our city staff and our numerous volunteers. We are also very grateful for the generous contributions of our festival sponsors, without whom we could never have put on the festival.” Said Jon Hetrick, Director of Recreation and Parks for the City of Oak Ridge.
'Food for Fines' Returns to Clinton Library
Patrons of the Clinton Public Library can take advantage of the “Food for Fines” program during the first week of July. From July 6th to July 11th, you can bring in an unexpired, nonperishable food item for each dollar you might owe in overdue fines and have those fines forgiven. All donations will go to Anderson County Community Action. For more information, visit www.clintonpubliclibrary.org, call 865-457-0519 or stop by 118 South Hicks Street in Clinton.
OS Council approves budget, 30-cent tax rate increase
The Oliver Springs Town Council met Thursday and passed their budget despite not having a Roane County certified tax rate, as much of their city is in Anderson County, and passed a 30 cent property tax rate increase. The Council approved it on a 5 to 1 vote with Alderman Robert Miller voting against it after indicating he would have supported a 15 cent increase but felt the30 cent increase was just too high. The cost of inflation and not having raised taxes in the past several years was identified by city officials as the biggest reasons why the rate will increase from its current rate of $1.02 per $100 of assessed value to $1.32, and could increase even further when the state sets the certified tax rates following five-year property value reappraisals in both Anderson and Roane counties. The budget passed Thursday will go into effect July 1st. Last Thursday the council met for a budget workshop, where they settled upon the proposal that was adopted last night and there was little discussion before the vote. Earlier this month the Oliver Springs Council in its role as the town's water board, decided to raise water rates by 15%. The Council only has to pass their budget on one reading and no citizens spoke up against it. Property values in both Anderson and Roane counties are expected to drop by about 4%, but several large appeals of business reappraisals in Anderson and problems with Roane County completing the overall reappraisal process have led to delays in the state Board of Equalization setting the certified tax rate, which is the rate that ensures that local governments bring in as much revenue from property taxes as they did before the reappraisals. With property values dropping that means that the tax rate must increase to meet that statute and in Anderson County, it appears likely that increase will be around 14 cents. The City Councils of Clinton and Oak Ridge are looking at possible tax hikes and the Anderson County school system is asking the County Commission to consider a 22-cent tax increase to pay for raises for teachers and cover the costs of state-mandated capital projects and those budget processes will play out over the next few weeks.
Claxton Principal headed to OR central office
Claxton Elementary School Principal Myles Hebrard has accepted the position of special education supervisor at Oak Ridge Schools beginning July 1. Hebrard replaces Hal Jernigan, who will retire at the end of this month. Hebrard was principal of Claxton Elementary School in Anderson County Schools for the past seven years, and spent several years at Clinton Middle School before that. He has a master's degree and education specialist degree from the University of Tennessee and is currently working on his doctorate in educational leadership.
Airport Authority budget includes OR funding
The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority on Wednesday approved a 2016 fiscal year budget that will provide about $33.5 million for capital improvements at McGhee Tyson and Downtown Island airports as well as money to help in the development of a proposed airport in Oak Ridge. The capital improvement program budget includes for $31.2 million for McGhee Tyson Airport, $2.3 million for Downtown Island Airport and $722,500 toward a proposed Oak Ridge general aviation airport.
EVC Early Learning Center named “Golden Sneaker” facility
(AC Mayor's Office) The Emory Valley Early Learning Center, in Oak Ridge, recently completed all requirements to be considered a “Gold Sneaker” facility by the State of Tennessee. And, on June 10, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and employees of the Anderson County Health Department presented Emory Valley Learning Center with its Gold Sneaker incentives. The Gold Sneaker Initiative designation, developed by the Tennessee Department of Health, is an enhanced certification for daycares in Tennessee and requires that these centers maintain rigorous standards of physical activity, nutrition and a tobacco-free campus. “The team at Emory Valley Center was so proud of their recognition, as they should be,” Mayor Frank said. “A focus on health and wellness during the early years is assuredly an investment in a healthy adulthood. I congratulate their wonderful team’s hard work and commitment meeting the standards of the Governor and the Department of Health.” The Emory Valley Early Learning Center has completed all required trainings from the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Department of Human Services and received a Certificate of Achievement signed by Governor Bill Haslam. The Emory Valley Early Learning Center also received two “Gold Sneaker” stickers placed at the entrance to the facility; recognition on the Gold Sneaker website; and access to an electronic “Gold Sneaker” logo for use on its promotional materials. In addition, Emory Valley Early Learning Center received an incentive package of materials to help provide learning experiences for children related to physical activity, nutrition and a tobacco-free environment. Research has confirmed that early childhood is the optimal time to establish healthy lifestyle habits. Emory Valley Early Learning Center has always been in the forefront of innovative and healthy daycare programming and this newest step confirms their commitment to helping Anderson County children be the healthiest they can be.
OR basketball now a family affair
Oak Ridge High School announced Wednesday that they have hired Paige Green, the wife of boys' basketball coach Aaron Green, as the next coach of the Lady Wildcat basketball program. This will be her first head coaching job at the high school level but has an extensive basketball background, including her time as a standout player as Bradley Central High School and then later at Vanderbilt University. She will succeed David Scott, who stepped down earlier this year to spend more time with his family.
Rocky Top announces 4th plans
The city of Rocky Top has announced its plans for their annual Independence Day celebration. The fun will take place, of course, on July 4th on the George Templin Memorial Athletic Field near the Community Center and will include a petting zoo, games, live music, inflatable attractions and great food all day, culminating with the annual fireworks display at 10 pm.
Sunday wreck in Union claims life of AC woman
The Tennessee Highway Patrol says that an Andersonville woman was killed in a single-vehicle accident early Sunday morning in Union County. According to the THP, 32-year-old Amanda Blevins had been headed east on Sharps Chapel Road near Brewer Hollow Road shortly after 1:30 am Sunday when her 2002 Volkswagen Beetle ran off the right side of the road, went into a ditch and collided with a large boulder. Blevins, who was not wearing her seatbelt, died in the accident. No other vehicles were involved and Blevins was the lone occupant of the car.
Report: Haslam in Norris Friday
According to the Norris Bulletin, Governor Bill Haslam will be in Norris on Friday to announce that the city has been awarded a $347,000 grant by TDOT to build a new sidewalk along East Norris from Dairy Pond Road to the intersection with Highway 61. The grant will also provide financing for a new crosswalk that will permit easier pedestrian traffic and easier access to the existing retail shops on the other side of the highway. Officials told the Bulletin that a significant amount of preliminary engineering and design work will be required before construction on the project can begin and say it is likely that no actual work would begin for at least a year. The grant requires the city to provide matching funds of approximately $80,000. As of now, the exact time for Governor Haslam’s Friday meeting with city officials had not been finalized.
ORT: Cinder calling it a career in OR
(Oak Ridge Today) Gary Cinder, who has been Oak Ridge public works director for 24 years and interim city manager twice, is retiring September 4. Cinder has been in public service for 33 years. He could go to work in the private sector, possibly as a consultant. Besides Oak Ridge, Cinder has also worked with public utilities in the Orlando, Florida, area. Cinder served as interim city manager in 2003 and 2004 before Jim O’Connor was hired in March 2004. Cinder served as interim city manager again after O’Connor resigned in January 2010 and before current City Manager Mark Watson was hired in August 2010. Cinder’s retirement follows the retirement of Oak Ridge City Engineer Steve Byrd, who was also a Public Works Department employee. Roger Flynn is the acting city engineer. For more on Cinder's career and accomplishments, visit our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com.
Clinton, OR educators to serve on Governor's Teacher Cabinet
One teacher from Oak Ridge and one teacher from Clinton have been selected to serve on the first Governor’s Teacher Cabinet. The Clinton teacher, Abbey Kidwell, is a fourth-grade teacher at South Clinton Elementary School. The Oak Ridge teacher, Cathy Ginel, is a seventh-grade science teacher at Robertsville Middle School. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced the appointment of the 18 teachers to the cabinet on Tuesday. The cabinet will meet quarterly with Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to share real-time information from the classroom, give advice on policy considerations, and provide a direct line of communication to schools and communities. Directors of schools were asked to nominate one teacher from each of their districts, and 18 classroom teachers were selected from across the state based on the following criteria: The teachers should be focused on student achievement, encourage collaboration among colleagues, demonstrate leadership, be solutions-oriented, and relentlessly pursue excellence, according to a state press release. It said the teacher cabinet includes a diverse mix of backgrounds and experience. Members represent each of the state’s three grand divisions as well as cities, suburbs, and rural areas and have varying years of experience teaching first through 12th grades.
BBB: Exercise turns into actual emergency response
UCOR conducted an emergency exercise at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) at 7:30 this morning but several hours into it an actual emergency took place at one of the buildings on-site that was being decommissioned, where 6 workers were exposed to Hydrogen Sulphide emissions and had to be checked out by emergency staff already on scene for the exercise. BBB confirmed at around 10.30 am that Kingston Fire personnel were sent to K-25 to assist in the hazardous leak issue. The 6 workers received the all-clear at around 11 am and the leak was contained. The exercise concluded as the real emergency was taking place. The simulation was being conducted in coordination with the Department of Energy and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. It involved participants from multiple state agencies; the city of Oak Ridge; and Anderson, Knox, Loudon, and Roane counties. This full-participation exercise is conducted every three years at ETTP. These exercises are also held on alternate years at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex.
AC Senior Center continues march to fruition
The Anderson County Commission approved a measure Monday night that knocks down one more hurdle in senior citizens' quest for a new senior center. Commissioners voted unanimously to ask Mayor Terry Frank to formally request, in writing, that ETHRA voluntarily end its contract to operate the Office on Aging and instead cede control to the county. That, coupled with the formality of submitting a Request for Proposals—or RFP—for vendors with a possible site, means that the Office on Aging is indeed one step closer to moving into a new and larger building. Currently, they have an offer for a lease on a building on South Seivers Boulevard in the heart of Clinton to serve as a new Senior Center and all indications are that once the bureaucratic hurdles are cleared, they could begin moving in by the end of this summer. Also on Monday, commissioners voted to start an ankle bracelet pilot program to monitor indigent, non-violent, misdemeanor offenders at a cost of roughly $7 per day. To house an inmate in the jail costs between $50 and $60 a day and this measure was recommended by the Alternatives to Incarceration Committee. No more than 20 offenders per month would have the monitoring devices and would wear them for up to 60 days at the discretion of county judges. The Commission will meet next Tuesday June 23rd at 6:30 pm to discuss this year's budget proposal. If needed, a second special called meeting would be held on Monday June 29th. In the event that the state has not certified a tax rate following reappraisals by July 1st, the start of the new fiscal year, Commissioners on Monday did adopt a continuing resolution that will keep the government funded until the tax rate can be finalized.
Bartley no longer suspected in Sunday robbery
Monday afternoon, the Anderson County DA's office rescinded its arrest warrant for convicted Campbell County school shooter Kenneth Bartley after investigators determined that he was not responsible for a Sunday morning armed robbery outside Rocky Top. Investigators had identified him as a suspect in the robbery at the Marathon gas station on Lake City Highway but after traveling to Vienna, Virginia, where authorities had picked him up on a fugitive warrant, officials determined that he was not the man seen in surveillance camera footage robbing the clerk at gunpoint, although there is a strong resemblance. Underscoring that conclusion, Bartley's attorney Greg Isaacs, on Monday produced several pieces of evidence that exonerated his client, including data from a GPS program on his cell that he says proves that it was “literally impossible” for Bartley to have robbed the store and then made the seven- or eight-hour drive back to Northern Virginia. He also produced a ticket from the Washington DC public transit system—the Metro—and a time-stamped photo of him in Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia as well as a statement from his former counselor Erin TePaske, with whom Bartley lived until the death of her 3-year-old son in an incident that authorities have so far called an accidental fall. TePaske told investigators that she and Bartley had hiked on Saturday and that he had stayed overnight at her home and hadn't woken up until Sunday afternoon. Despite a warrant for his arrest on violating his probation out of Campbell County, he was not brought back to Tennessee because the underlying charges he is on probation for are misdemeanors. Isaacs called the ACSD's decision to name Bartley as a suspect and issue an arrest warrant a “rush to judgment” and said that it could have created a dangerous situation, both to his client and to the public as an armed robbery suspect is still on the loose. Despite what Isaacs called the ACSD's “mistake,” he said he does not plan to file any legal action against the county. Meanwhile, authorities have turned their attention to a similar robbery committed on May 18th in Huntsville in Scott County, in which a man wearing the same glasses and toboggan seen worn by the suspect in Sunday's robbery robbed a convenience store. That man might be the same suspect who robbed a gas station in Kentucky on May 20th and punched and kicked a female clerk in the face before fleeing with cash. If you have any information about Sunday's robbery in Anderson County, call the ACSD at 457-2414.
OS garbage truck crash causes diesel leak
A Waste Management garbage truck overturned Monday morning as it entered Tri-County Boulevard from Windrock Road in Oliver Springs. The driver in the 6:30 am accident received only minor injuries and was taken to Methodist Medical Center for treatment. The crash became a hazardous materials incident when approximately 35 to 40 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from the truck in to nearby Indian Creek. A hazmat team joined the HazMat team from the Oak Ridge Fire Department in containing and cleaning the spill. Oliver Springs Police and Fire were also on the scene.
TWRA I.D.s drowning victim
State officials have identified the man who died in a boating accident on Norris Lake on Sunday as Roman Martin Weaver, 29, of Jonesville, Virginia. Investigators from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said that Weaver was killed after falling from an inner tube being towed behind a rented pontoon boat being operated by Blake Oliver, age 28, also of Jonesville. According to investigators, Weaver fell from the inner tube around 1:30 p.m. Sunday and could not be located by Oliver or bystanders who helped. TWRA and rescue crews from Union County and Paulette Rescue Squads recovered Weaver’s body at about 8:05 p.m. Sunday in 60 feet of water by using a remote operated vehicle, or ROV.
OR Community Band announces 4th plans
The Oak Ridge Community Band Independence Day Concert will be held at 7:30 pm, July 4 at A.K. Bissell Park, 1403 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge. This is a FREE concert but donations are gratefully accepted to help offset expenses. The concert is followed by the annual Oak Ridge City Fireworks Display. Bring lawn chairs or blankets for outdoors seating and come early to get good seats for both the concert and fireworks. The concert program will feature special guest vocalists as the band performs patriotic, swing, and show tunes. Razzleberry's Ice Cream Lab will provide refreshments. For more information, visit www.orcb.org or call 865-482-3568.
CHS football season ticket packages offered
This season Clinton High School is selling football season tickets in a package deal. For $60.00 you will receive 5 tickets, a parking pass, a Dragon Card, a free oil change,and a hot dog for each game, plus $2.00 off hat or visor, 2$0.00 off any $100.00 merchandise purchase and a free lanyard with t-shirt purchase. 1200 of these packages are available.
June is National Dairy Month
(Submitted) This year is the 78th annual celebration of the National Dairy Month. The theme this year is "Get More With Milk". Jordan Bowling is a rising 8th grader at Norris Middle School and a member of Anderson County 4-H. She was selected by the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association to serve as the Anderson County 4-H Dairy Month Chairperson. Tennessee 4-H is proud to join Feeding America in The Great American Milk Drive to help deliver nutrient rich gallons of milk to hungry families in our local communities. June Dairy Chairpersons are serving as Ambassadors of this milk drive. Each of the three (3) 4-H Regions in Tennessee have a unique donation URL . The Eastern Region URL is: milklife.com/give4HEastern. Help all of Anderson County celebrate June Dairy Month by marketing this year's theme "Get More With Milk". To access awesome dairy recipes and nutritional facts, please visit her Instagram and my facebook page @got_dairy or at www.southeastdairy.org.
ACSD IDs Bartley as suspect in robbery, investigators in Virginia
The Anderson County Sheriff's Department says that its investigators traveled to Vienna, Virgina Sunday to interview convicted Campbell County school shooter Kenneth Bartley in connection to an armed robbery reported Sunday morning at the Marathon Gas Station on Lake City Highway near Rocky Top. The incident occurred at around 8 am, when a white male matching Bartley's description came in to the store and displayed a pistol before making off with an undisclosed amount of cash. Witnesses described the suspect and the investigation identified Bartley as the suspect. Anderson County authorities say they have obtained an arrest warrant for Bartley on a charge of aggravated robbery and after he was located in Virginia, sent investigators to interview him. WBIR TV reports that he is in custody in Vienna. Bartley's attorney, Greg Isaacs said Sunday that his firm has “proof” that Bartley was not in the state of Tennessee at the time of Sunday's incident. Isaacs also says that he has been in contact with his client and has continued to urge him to return to the state to face a violation of probation charge out of Campbell County stemming from his previous convictions on domestic violence charges involving his parents in separate incidents. Isaacs urged law enforcement and the public to not “rush to judgment” in this case. No one was injured in the robbery. Anderson County authorities have not disclosed what led them to pinpoint Bartley as a suspect. When more information becomes available we will pass it along to you.
CPD arrests robbery suspect in Knoxville
Clinton Police arrested a man on aggravated robbery charges early Sunday following an armed robbery at the BP gas station next to the interstate on Seivers Boulevard Saturday night. The incident occurred around 10:30 pm Saturday when a white male later identified as Wallace wade Tidwell III entered the store and used the restroom. The clerk told officers that he had come out of the bathroom, approached the counter and demanded the cash from the register. The clerk was then ordered to go in to the back and count to 500 as the suspect fled. Tidwell was located by Detective Sergeant Russell Barker with the Clinton Police Department at the Scottish Inn on Callahan Drive in Knoxville. Tidwell refused to leave his motel room for about two and a half hours, but eventually surrendered and was taken to the Anderson County Jail, where he was booked on the robbery charge at 6 am Sunday. No one was hurt in the incident.
THP: Friday Roane wreck kills 1
A wreck Friday on I-40 in Roane County killed a Knoxville woman and injured another. The Tennessee Highway Patrol says that the crash involved only one vehicle and occurred at around 11:15 am on I-40 East near mile marker 350. Troopers reported that 31-year-old Tonya Word had been driving a 2003 GMC Envoy when she lost control while negotiating a right turn and left the roadway. The SUV flipped several times and landed on the passenger side. The passenger, 52-year-old Dorothy Currie, was injured in the crash. Both women were wearing seatbelts, according to the THP.
ORT: Trio rescued after getting lost on Haw Ridge
According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, the Oak Ridge Fire Department used cell phone signals and a search crew in a boat to rescue mountain bikers lost at Haw Ridge Park after dark on Sunday. Dispatchers received a call that the three young men were lost at about 10 p.m. Sunday. Three firefighters launched a boat stored at East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, by about 10:45 p.m. from a boat ramp at Solway Park, which is near Haw Ridge Park. The mountain bikers were found at about 11 p.m. between an island and power lines that cross over the Clinch River to Solway. Rescuers used cell phone pings and the men’s cell phone coordinates to help find them. They were reported to be about three miles from the parking area at Haw Ridge Park on Red Shore Trail. The three were not injured, and firefighters shuttled them from a boat ramp at Solway Park back to their vehicle at Haw Ridge Park. Their identities were not immediately available.
GSMNP encourages hiking with the family
Never been hiking with your kids? Great Smoky Mountains National Park is presenting a series of programs this summer to help introduce families to hiking in the park. These ranger led programs will give you advice on how to prepare for a hike, what to take, what to watch out for, and some fun activities that you can do with children while hiking. Not sure about bringing your toddler or your 5 year old on a hike? There will be some suggestions for bringing along these young ones too! Hiking can be a “must do” family activity just like going to the pool, eating watermelon, and playing baseball. There is no better way to spend part of the day, than walking the trail discovering grasshoppers, splashing in a stream, and burning off some energy. Top that off with a lunch of PB&J sandwiches and you’ve had a fun day and some tales to relive next time you see grandma, of course, she may join you for the hike! The park is kicking off these family programs on Saturday, June 20 with a guest speaker and an opportunity to try out some family friendly camping and hiking equipment. Saturday, June 20 at 10:30 a.m. - Jeff Alt, author of Get Your Kids Hiking: How to Start Them Young and Keep It Fun, will kick off the series with a program for parents and kids. This short family stroll turns a walk in the park into a fun-filled, multi-dimensional adventure. Parents will learn how a few simple techniques and some basic equipment can turn any walk in the woods into a safe and fun hike that kids of all ages will enjoy. Those interested should meet in front of the Sugarlands Visitor Center for this short walk in the woods. All children must be accompanied by an adult caregiver.Saturday, June 20 from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – A mock campsite will be set up outside of Sugarlands Visitor Center to showcase different types of family friendly hiking and camping equipment. This program will give children an opportunity to check out a tent, sleeping bags, and some cool hiking gear. Infant backpack carriers will also be available for parents to test. The park is partnering with Nantahala Outdoor Center for this learning opportunity. If you can’t make it on Saturday, June 20, three other ranger led hikes, especially designed for families, will be held throughout the summer. Tuesday, June 23 at 10:30 a.m. – Hike to Fern Branch Falls along Porters Creek...Join a ranger for an easy to moderate hike along beautiful Porters Creek to explore old log cabin, wildflowers, and waterfalls. Distance roundtrip is 3.6 miles and is designed for youth ages 5-8. Program will last 3 ½ hours so please bring a picnic lunch and plenty of water. Sign up at Sugarlands Visitor Center. Tuesday, July 21 at 10:00 a.m. – Hike Hen Wallow Falls...Beat the crowds at this “hidden gem” and see a beautiful waterfall, search for salamanders and see some of the Smokies’ oldest trees with a park ranger on this moderate hike. Recommended for youth ages 7-10, the hike will cover a distance of 4.3 miles and last 4 hours. Please bring a picnic lunch, snacks and plenty of water. Sign up at Sugarlands Visitor Center. Tuesday, August 11 at 9:30 a.m. – Hike to Chimney Tops...Get your heart pumping on this high elevation strenuous ranger-led challenge hike. If the climb doesn’t take your breath away the view from Chimney Tops surely will! Recommended for youth ages 10 and up, the hike will include some rock scrambling and will cover a distance of 4 miles round trip lasting 4 hours. Bring a picnic lunch, snacks and plenty of water. Sign up at Sugarlands Visitor Center.
For more information and to sign up for the Tuesday hikes please call (865) 436-1291.
Can't make this up: Car wrecks in driving school parking lot
From the irony department today, a Wednesday morning traffic accident in the parking lot of the Driving School at 205 Main Street in Clinton injured no one. A woman apparently lost control of her 2008 Ford Fusion in the parking lot and her car went over an embankment at around 8 am Wednesday. The woman was not injured and the car was removed from the scene. At the request of the driver, no formal accident report was filed by Clinton Police.
Report: AC man convicted of attempted murder
According to the News-Sentinel, a Clinton man was convicted Thursday by an Anderson County jury of attempted murder in an incident that occurred in 2011. 24-year-old Kenneth Fisher was convicted after about two hours of deliberation by the jury in Criminal Court and taken in to custody to await sentencing. He will be sentenced to between 15 and 60 years in prison by Judge Don Elledge in August. Fisher was convicted despite testifying that his plan to kill his estranged wife was merely a “terrible [and] disturbing fantasy.” Fisher was arrested by Clinton Police on August 26th, 2011 after his father and a concerned friend called 911 to report that he was headed to Lafollette to kill his estranged wife, armed with an M14 rifle, over 100 rounds of ammunition and several knives. He was dressed in military fatigues when arrested walking to the friend's home in Clinton and reportedly told then-Detective Vaughn Becker in detail of his plan to torture and murder the woman. Fisher's defense attorney argued that his plan was merely a homicidal fantasy and that while he may have started to travel to Campbell County and kill the woman, he eventually had turned around and driven back to Clinton after the concerned friend urged him to come to his house instead. He was convicted of attempted first-degree murder after a two-day trial.
Love the Clinch River? Sign up for the Big Clinch River Cleanup
The third annual Big Clinch River Cleanup starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday,
July 25, with a breakfast and briefing for all registered volunteers at
the Museum of Appalachia, 2819 Andersonville Highway, Norris. The
cleanup will wrap up about 2 p.m.
WBIR: Y-12 building closed to tours
(WBIR) During a two-month period five individuals experienced throat irritation and were coughing due to possible air quality irritants upon entering Building 9731 at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Research activities in Building 9731 were suspended for a month after the second event. Public Affairs Manager Steven Wyatt with the National Nuclear Security Administration said Y-12 Industrial Hygiene has taken extensive air samples in the building to detect any unknown irritants in the building. On Feb. 27 the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board issued a report from a Feb. 12 investigation when the plant shift superintendent dispatched fire department personnel and a hazardous materials team to Building 9731. The report states, "Building 9731 is a legacy facility and not normally occupied, but a technician from the development organization was conducting a researched-related work activity in the facility that required the evaporation of lithium hydroxide solution." Since 1974, the building has been used as a "development facility" for testing of small-scale processes, two of which are going on now. It was used in World War II to help produce Uranium-235 for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, that helped end the war against Japan. It continues to house the shell remains of the original Alpha and Beta prototype calutrons used in the research and uranium production process. Tours have been conducted in the building because of its historic significance. However, no tours were led through the building during the operation of the equipment, and no visitors were exposed to the air quality irritants. Wyatt said at this time tours have been suspended.
ACSD charges man in shooting death of girlfriend's mother
The Anderson County Sheriff's department says that an Andersonville man has been arrested on murder charges in the shooting death of a 66-year-old woman early Wednesday morning. Sheriff's deputies responded to a shooting call at 4:45 am Wednesday at 460 Lone Mountain Road and, upon their arrival, found the body of 66-year-old Karen Zahrobsky, who had been shot. Investigators processed the scene and conducted interviews to determine the circumstances that led to the shooting, assisted by the TBI. The Sheriff's Department says that investigators worked throughout the day and evening before issuing arrest warrants late Wednesday night for 48-year-old William James McMillan, who has been charged with first degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. He is being held at the Anderson County Jail on bonds totaling $625,000. McMillan is charged with shooting Zahrobsky, his girlfriend's mother, who lived at the Lone Mountain Road home with her daughter, 45-year-old Christin Dixon and McMillan. The investigation is continuing and no further information is being released at this time. As more details do become available, we will pass them along to you here on the air and online.
(TBI release regarding Andersonville death) A joint investigation with Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and deputies with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office has resulted in the arrest of an Andersonville man who is charged in the shooting death of his girlfriend’s mother. At the request of 7th District Attorney General Dave Clark, TBI Special Agents, working alongside deputies with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, began investigating the death of 66-year-old Karen Zahrobsky on the morning of June 10th. The victim’s daughter called 911 to report a disturbance with her boyfriend at 460 Lone Mountain Road in Andersonville and indicated that her mother was injured. When deputies arrived at the scene, they found the victim deceased from a gunshot wound. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that the daughter’s boyfriend, James William McMillan, was the individual responsible for the death of Karen Zahrobsky. On Wednesday, McMillan was taken into custody by deputies with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. Late last night, TBI Agents obtained warrants charging the 48-year old with one count of First Degree Murder, one count of Voluntary Manslaughter and one count of Aggravated Assault. McMillan was booked into the Anderson County Detention Facility, where he is being held on a $625,000 bond.
Clinton announces plans for the 4th
The city of Clinton's annual 4th of July event will begin at 5pm on Saturday July 4th, and end with fireworks at 10pm at Lakefront Park. Several family-friendly activities will be going on that day. Backyard Bouncers will have a Bongo Bounce House, Bungee Run, Home Run Baseball Game, Spaceball 2000 Human Gyro, 68ft Army Boot Camp Obstacle Course, 22 ft 2 Lane Tsunami Water Slide with Slip-n-Slide, Race Car Combo with Water Slide, Human Hamster Ball and Pirate Bounce House are available for the public. Free of charge but kids must have a wrist band to ride. Laser Tag will be available for those kids up for the challenge, also free of charge. There will be several food vendors set up in the lower Lakefront parking lot and the parking lot by the concession area including Bojangles, Bruster’s Ice Cream, Pizza Express, Riverview Grille, Coldwater Farms and Hibachi Truck. A corn-hole tournament will get started at 7pm with registration at 6pm. Trophies will be awarded for first and second places. Live musical entertainment sponsored by WYSH will feature the Leon Thomas Band on the men's field from 7 to 9:45 pm. The Clinton Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America will have some antique cars displayed on the men’s field. The event is sponsored by Bojangles’, ORNL Federal Credit Union, Y-12 Federal Credit Union (Clinton Express and Clinton I-75 Branches), Holley Gamble Funeral Home, Fox Toyota Scion, Bruster’s Ice Cream, Anderson Farmers CO-OP, Parker Transport, Fox and Farley, Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, Farm Bureau-Clinton, Sellers Realty, Clinton Drug Store, Clinton Utilities Board, Herbie Clark State Farm, Regions Bank, Ameriprise Financial, Backyard Bouncers, WYSH, and the City of Clinton.
Follow-up: THP identifies driver killed in interstate wreck
Following up on a story we reported Tuesday, the Tennessee Highway Patrol has identified the man killed in a single-vehicle accident that occurred early Tuesday morning on I-75 in Anderson County as 46-year-old Scott Davis of Jacksboro. The THP says that Davis had been driving a 2001 Ford F150 pickup truck south on I-75 at around 6:45 am Tuesday when the truck left the left side of the roadway. Davis apparently over-corrected, causing the truck to flip approximately seven times, according to Trooper Stephen Barclay's report. Davis, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the vehicle. In addition to the THP, units from the Anderson County Sheriff's Department, Anderson County EMS, Anderson County Rescue Squad and the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the scene.
ORPD arrests wanted man
A man wanted by Oak Ridge Police on several charges including attempted first-degree murder was arrested in Oak Ridge on Tuesday afternoon. Oak Ridge Police say that 36-year-old Michael Q. Ray was taken into custody without incident at 101 North Walker Circle Authorities had been searching for him on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon stemming from a June 3 incident at the McKenzie Acres Apartments on Utica Circle in which multiple gunshots were fired,. The operation to apprehend Ray involved officers from the Criminal Investigations and Patrol Divisions as well as SWAT personnel. The investigation into the shooting at the McKenzie Acres Apartments remains ongoing, and authorities say that no further information will be released at this time.
Courier: CHS given OK to look into a new sports complex
The Anderson County School Board has given officials at Clinton High School the go-ahead to start exploring the possibility of constructing a new multi-sport facility at no cost to taxpayers. According to Sunday's Courier News, the complex would measure some 12,000 square feet and be used as a practice facility for several sports as well as hosting volleyball matches and wrestling meets. The proposed project, spearheaded by CHS alumni, would also renovate the existing, but aging football fieldhouse, and include a second story with office space for coaches. A second and separate part of the proposed project would also renovate the Don Lockard Gymnasium. According to the Courier, when the BOE gave its approval to the project, which will be funded entirely by private donations, it also gave approval to CHS to start accepting donations from the public. People can donate to either fund and that money can only be used for the specific project it is donated for. The paper reports that CHS was given permission by the School Board to “solicit donations, secure an architect, get bids from contractors, and return to the board to submit a final, formal proposal.” We will keep you updated on this project as it moves forward. For more information, visit www.cshslegacy.com.
Teen charged with BB gun robbery
A teenager reportedly armed with a BB gun robbed three people just before midnight Monday and was booked early Tuesday morning on three counts of aggravated robbery. 19-year-old Jhavon T. Parker of Oak Ridge is accused of the robbery, which occurred in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express on Tulsa Road. The holdup was reported at 11:49 pm and officers responding to the scene arrested Parker a short time later, reportedly finding him with a BB gun in his possession. Parker was reportedly accompanied by a juvenile at the time of his arrest but the younger individual was not arrested.
Diabetes workshop coming to AC Health Department
A partnership of UT Extension and the Anderson County Health Department is offering Take Charge of Your Diabetes, a 6 week workshop to assist diabetics as well as their families and caregivers. The classes are free; however, you must pre-register to attend as class size is limited. Classes will be held at the Anderson County Public Health Department on consecutive Tuesdays beginning July 7th from 4 to 6 pm. All people with a diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes along with their families and/or friends are welcome to attend. A textbook, CD, and other materials will be provided. Class participation and the sharing of what has worked to help you manage your diabetes are both encouraged. Due to the amount of material covered, attendance at all 6 classes is highly recommended. Topics covered in class include:
• Techniques to deal with symptoms of diabetes, including fatigue, pain, hyper/hypoglycemia, stress, and emotions such as depression, anger, fear and frustration;
• Exercises for maintaining and improving strength and endurance;
• Healthy eating;
• Appropriate use of medication;
• Working more effectively with health care providers
• Preventing or delaying complications
• Designing your own effective self-management program
• Getting the support you need
The Anderson County Health Department is located at 710 North Main Street in Clinton, north from downtown. To register or if you have questions, please call either Kathy Scruggs at the Anderson County Health Department at 865 425-8768 or you can e-mail her at Kathy.Scruggs@tn.gov or Abbie Carey, UT Extension, at 865-457-6250 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer Feeding Program at NCES
The Clinton City Schools are launching a summer feeding program at North Clinton Elementary School. Director of food services for the school system Heather Byrd says that the program is designed to feed kids 18 and under a nutritious lunch that they may not normally get when school is out for the summer. It is free to anyone under 18 regardless if they attend Clinton City Schools or not. Lunches will be served on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from June 8th through June 26th and again from July 6th to July 24 from 11 am to 12 noon at North Clinton Elementary. The program is funded by the USDA and, again, is open to all kids aged 18 and younger. For more information, contact Byrd by phone at 865-457-0159 or by email at email@example.com.
ORT: Man ditches dirt bike, arrested by ORPD
According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, an Oak Ridge man riding a dirt bike reported to be stolen from Staples lost control of the motorcycle and dropped it in front of a police patrol car before fleeing Thursday evening. Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Sherrill Selby observed two dirt bikes on South Benedict Avenue at about 7:45 p.m. Thursday, and they were “riding wheelies at a high rate of speed,” according to warrants filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court. In the warrants, Officer Scott Carroll said the defendant, Seth Montez Davis, 19, rode toward him. When Davis saw him, Carroll said, “he locked up the brakes and slid into my lane of traffic.” After Davis dropped the bike, he ran behind a home on South Benedict, Carroll said. The officer said he chased Davis through a field and back up to South Benedict, where he was caught. “While chasing the defendant, I yelled for him to stop numerous times, but he kept running,” Carroll said. After detaining Davis, Carroll said he ran the vehicle identification number on the motorcycle and learned that it had been reported stolen from the Staples parking lot. “After hearing this, I contacted the owner of the dirt bike,” Carroll said. He said the owner came to the scene and confirmed that the bike was stolen. Davis has been charged with theft by possession ($10,000 to $59,999), evading arrest, and reckless driving. He was released from the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on Friday, and his bond has been set at $57,500, according to court records.
OR man arrested on weapons charge
Oak Ridge police arrested a convicted felon who was asleep in a bedroom with an AK-47 rifle within reach. Officers responded to a Highland View home at about 7:30 am Tuesday after receiving a report of a man in the roadway causing a disturbance and impeding traffic. When police arrived, the man told officers that he was the victim of an armed robbery that had occurred at the home earlier. The victim identified the suspect and officers made contact with the tenant at the home and were given permission to search the premises. Officers located 22-year-old Brad Gorman of Oak Ridge asleep in a bedroom with an AK-47 rifle within reach. The victim in the alleged robbery identified Gorman as the man who robbed him and officers subsequently learned that Gorman was a convicted felon and immediately arrested him on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Man pleads to attempted sexual battery
An Anderson County man pleaded guilty Monday in Criminal Court to reduced charges of attempted aggravated sexual battery in connection to an incident that occurred in March of 2011. 41-year-old Armando Figueroa was arrested in 2011 after investigators determined that he had carried a then-12-year-old girl into a storage building, locked it before fondling and kissing her. On March 1st, 2011, Figueroa asked the girl—who was his neighbor--to get some trash out of the storage building and he tried to fondle her but she ran away. He chased her down and carried her, kicking and screaming, back into the shed, where the assault occurred. She did not report the incident until several weeks later when her mother noticed that she became nervous and agitated whenever Figueroa was nearby. In exchange for his plea Figueroa, who has already served over a year behind bars, received a six-year sentence that will be served on supervised probation, was added to the state sex offender registry and ordered to remain on mandatory supervision for the rest of his life.
AC Senior Center a step closer to reality
Monday night the Anderson County Operations Committee unanimously voted to approve a five-year lease with B&B Properties on a building in Clinton that will serve as the home of a new Anderson County Senior Center. The next step in the process will be consideration by the full County Commission on Monday of the $1896-a-month lease for the building at 439 South Charles Seivers Boulevard. If approved by the Commission, the Anderson County Office on Aging hopes to be in the new facility by the end of July. Supporters of a senior center have long decried the lack of adequate space to conduct activities and programs for seniors in the current home of the Office on Aging on Leinart Street. This is the same property officials thought they had an agreement to lease earlier this year that fell through due to a higher-than-expected monthly rent. The Office on Aging will be providing WYSH with a list of needed items for the new facility in the next few days and we will pass that information along to you when it becomes available.
OR Council delays budget vote
(Oak Ridge Today) Monday night the Oak Ridge City Council delayed a vote on the first reading of next year's budget due to continuing uncertainties and unanswered questions. The Council had been scheduled to consider the budget in the first of two readings on Monday and consider the budget on second and final reading on June 15. But the five-year property reappraisals in Roane County are not yet complete, and it’s not clear when they will be. Officials said property assessments there are likely to go down as they have in Anderson County, where they’ve fallen 4 percent. A drop in property values will require an increase in the tax rate because the revenues after the reappraisals have to remain the same as they were before. The state has become involved in completing the Roane County reappraisals. Mayor Warren Gooch made the motion to defer the budget vote for one week, expressing reluctance to take action until some of those questions can be answered. A few City Council members supported an in-depth or line-by-line review of the budget, so Council scheduled a work session from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, June 15. The City Council meeting will follow the work session and start at 7 p.m. The city budget presented last week includes a one-cent increase in the property tax rate. It would help maintain city services and allow for a 2 percent pay raise for city employees. City officials said there has been, roughly, a $700,000 reduction from last year’s budget in sales tax revenues from Roane County, primarily at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Meanwhile, the Oak Ridge schools budget asks for the equivalent of a seven-cent tax increase. It would help cover a deficit and add money for salaries and staff, including a 3 percent pay raise. That budget has already been approved by the Oak Ridge Board of Education. If the Council isn’t able to pass a budget by June 30 because of the Roane reappraisals, the city would continue to operate under current appropriations and the current property tax rate, which is $2.39 per $100 of assessed value. The new fiscal year starts July 1.
Fire destroys AC mobile home
A Sunday evening fire destroyed a single-wide mobile home on Cedar Grove Lane. The fire was extinguished by crews from the Marlow Volunteer Fire Department with assistance from both the Clinton and Oak Ridge fire departments and no injuries were reported. The resident of the mobile home, Michelle Turnbill, told an Anderson County Sheriff's deputy that she had grilled hot dogs on a small grill on the front porch and said that she had checked it when she was done to make sure that the coals were out and told the deputy that it appeared to be cool to the touch. After going back inside, she heard what sounded like the grill turning over and looked out to see the indoor/outdoor carpet on the front porch ablaze. She and her family made it out safely and called 911. She told investigators that there had been three dogs and a cat inside the home at the time of the fire but the report does not indicate their fate.
4th of July in Norris
(Submitted) This 4th of July the Norris Lions Club will be sponsoring their 47th annual Norris Day celebration on the Norris Commons. This day long tradition includes fun runs, dog show competitions, decorated bike parades, famously-delicious barbecue, the Great Water-Ball Battle, spectacular fireworks, and more. Proceeds from the barbecue support community projects such as Habitat for Humanity, Remote Area Medical, Kids Sight Screening as well as hearing aids for the hearing impaired. Events begin at 8:30 am and will continue throughout the day until after the fireworks display.
2 arrested in OR on drug charges
Two Oak Ridge men were arrested Friday morning on drug and weapons charges after police responded to a report of drug activity at the Days Inn on South Illinois Avenue in Oak Ridge. Police went to the motel shortly after 10 am Friday and detained 30-year-old Christopher Samuelson and 30-year-old Anthony Gallaher for questioning. Inside one of the rooms at the motel, officers reported finding meth, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, a pistol and money believed to have come from the sale of narcotics. In a car near the motel room, officers also reported finding a second handgun. A search was also conducted at a home in Oak Ridge that police say resulted in the seizure of more drugs. Both men were charged with felony possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana for resale, possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia as well as violating a drug-free school zone. Samuelson was also charged with possession of a legend drug while Gallaher picked up a charge of possessing Schedule IV narcotics. At last check, both men remained in custody at the Anderson County Jail.
Drink up, the water is fine
Clinton City Manager Roger Houck says an apparent mis-routing of information may be the reason at least one city resident received a “Notice of Water Advisory” this weekend. In a post on the city's Facebook page, Houck says: “We have confirmed that the web address and phone information included in the advisory is for Clinton, Utah, not Tennessee. When you go to the Utah website.. you'll will see that they, indeed, have issued an advisory for their area.” A Mariner Point Dr woman told officials that she received an email and a phone call saying that local water samples had tested positive for E-Coli, and customers should assume the water is unsafe to drink unless it is boiled. So far only one Clinton, TN resident has reported getting the Utah advisory. City Manager Houck said officials do not know how the message ended up in Tennessee, but he wants to assure all C.U.B customers that our water supply is clean and safe to drink.
GSMNP: Bear attacks sleeping teen
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have closed several trails and backcountry campsites in the Hazel Creek section of the park due to a bear incident occurring at approximately 10:30 p.m. on June 6. A 16-year old male from Ohio was pulled from his hammock by a bear and injured at backcountry campsite 84 which is 4.5 miles from the Fontana Lake shoreline near Hazel Creek in NC. The father was able to drive the bear off from the area. Immediately following the incident, the young man and his father hiked to the lakeshore where they were transported across the lake to Cable Cove boat dock by campers at backcountry campsite 86 who had a boat. Graham County Rescue EMS transported them to a landing zone where the injured party was flown by Mountain Area Medical Airlift (MAMA) to Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC at approximately 3:00 a.m. this morning. The young man received multiple injuries including lacerations to the head. He remained conscious throughout the incident and is in stable condition at this time. Park rangers and wildlife biologists are responding to the backcountry campsite area to investigate the scene and to clear the area of other campers. Hazel Creek Trail, Jenkins Ridge Trail, Bone Valley Trail, Cold Spring Gap Trail and backcountry campsites 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, and 88 are closed until further notice. Derrick Knob shelter along the Appalachian Trail has also been closed to camping until officials can determine whether recent bear activity at the shelter may also be related to the same bear. “While incidents with bears are rare, we ask park visitors to take necessary precautions while hiking in bear country and comply with all backcountry closures,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The safety of our visitors is our number one priority.” The father and son were on a multi-day backpacking trip in the Smokies. Both campers were sleeping in hammocks approximately 10 feet apart and had all equipment, food, and packs properly stored on aerial food storage cables. For more information on what to do if you encounter a bear while hiking, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/black-bears.htm. To report a bear incident, please call 865-436-1230.
GSMNP: Search and rescue gear donated
Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers were presented with 15 high-performance search and rescue jackets by donors to support field rangers in inclement weather. Rangers respond to approximately 100 search and rescue incidents annually, many of which occur during hazardous weather conditions in the backcounty. Local community members in Sevier County led efforts to raise funds for the park’s search and rescue operations through a crossfit competition event, Mountainfit Throwdown, held at Outdoors in the Smokies in March. In addition, recently rescued Eric Keller, and his wife Diane Petrilla, made a donation in gratitude of the care Keller received through his 36-hour rescue from Mt. Le Conte in April. “After going through Eric’s frightening medical situation at the top of Mt. Le Conte, we were overwhelmed with appreciation for the professionalism and warmth provided by the National Park Service rangers and the Gatlinburg medic,” said Petrilla. “We are honored to give a donation in expression of our gratitude to help these very special rangers continue to do their jobs in challenging conditions.” Through this generous donation, the park was able to secure 15 jackets specifically designed for extreme conditions including prolonged rains and extremely cold temperatures. The reflective, yellow jackets also provide high visibility to aid in air-rescue operations. The jackets are rainproof, windproof, and durable for backcountry conditions. “Our rangers respond to assist people in need across the park in a variety of hazardous weather conditions,” said Acting Chief Ranger Steve Kloster. “We do our best to ensure our rangers have what they need to accomplish their duties safely and this gift better enables our staff to protect themselves in extreme conditions.” The park has approximately 40 park rangers with a primary duty to aid in search and rescue operations. Many of these rangers receive additional, specialized training for technical rescues, water rescues, and air operations. These jackets are being distributed to rangers who most frequently respond to rescues during hazardous conditions throughout the year.
ORT: AC woman charged with DUI
Hibbett Sports opening in Clinton
ORNL FCU to break ground on new branch
ORNL Federal Credit Union will have a groundbreaking for its new branch on South Rutgers Avenue on Tuesday, June 9. The groundbreaking is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at 215 South Rutgers Avenue, the vacant property next to the Credit Union’s headquarters and main branch. The original branch on that property was demolished in fall 2014 as part of a larger Credit Union plan that includes the remodel and redesign of its headquarters and the development of a regional center at Northshore. The former Realty Executives building was also demolished. Those in attendance on Tuesday will include local elected officials, ORNL FCU leadership, employees and members, and community supporters, among others. ORNL FCU announced in September that it had started demolition of its location at 215 South Rutgers Avenue. That location was the Credit Union’s sole branch between 1969 and 1987, before housing the Operations and Imaging departments for the last 27 years. The current main branch/headquarters building at 221 South Rutgers Avenue will be remodeled and redesigned to consolidate the Credit Union’s back office operations, officials said in September. Earlier in 2014, ORNL Federal Credit Union announced its plans to develop a three-story, 24,000-square-foot regional center at Northshore, which will become the home office for CU Community LLC, a credit union service organization. The Northshore facility will include a new “branch of the future” for ORNL FCU members and a state-of-the-art work environment for employees, the release said.
ORT: Crash knocks out power to clinic, stoplights
The driver was taken to the hospital and power was temporarily out near the Family Clinic of Oak Ridge after a van crashed into a utility pole at New York and Vermont avenues on Saturday morning. The crash was reported at about 9:05 a.m. Saturday. Kristin Nevius said she was driving a Chrysler Town and Country van southbound toward Oak Ridge Turnpike on New York Avenue when the other van narrowly missed her vehicle and crashed into the pole while headed north on New York Avenue. Nevius and passenger Peggy VandenBurg and Nevius’ two children were not injured, but they said they were upset by the near-miss and crash. The driver of the crashed van, which had DEEM company lettering on its back doors and sides, was reportedly alert and talking to emergency responders when taken to the hospital. The crash appeared to affect power to the stoplights at the intersection of New York Avenue and Oak Ridge Turnpike, among other locations. The Oak Ridge Fire Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, and Oak Ridge Electric Department all responded to the crash.
RT woman accused in SUV assault
A Rocky Top woman was charged with aggravated assault after she was accused of trying to run a man over in her SUV. 45-year-old Kimberly Ann Ezell’s Honda CR-V allegedly hit Justin Johnson as he was walking on Bryant Circle on Wednesday, injuring his right hand. There were marks on the right side of Ezell’s vehicle consistent with Johnson’s statement, deputies reported. Ezell denied trying to run over Johnson and instead said he punched and kicked her vehicle.
ORFD, AC EMS, Lifestar honored
The Oak Ridge Fire Department, Anderson County Emergency Medical Services, and University of Tennessee Lifestar have been honored for helping to save a cyclist after a medical emergency on Bethel Valley Road in March 2014. Thomas Berg experienced a sudden medical emergency while on a bicycle ride on March 30, 2014, causing him to crash in the middle of Bethel Valley Road, a press release said. David Smallwood was riding with Berg, and Smallwood called 911 and began CPR as soon as he saw the crash. Emergency crews from the Oak Ridge Fire Department and Anderson County EMS responded, and they found Berg in cardiac arrest, the release said. Berg was flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center by UT Lifestar. “Today, Mr. Berg has made a full recovery and is once again enjoying cycling,” the press release said. The ORFD, Anderson County EMS, and UT Lifestar crews were honored by Tennessee Emergency Medical Services for Children at the Seventh Annual Star of Life Awards in Nashville at Rocketown on Thursday, May 14. The ceremony recognized EMS crews who are on the frontlines of emergency care, the press release said. The ceremony reunited the EMS personnel on stage with the patient, Thomas Berg. Smallwood was also honored during the ceremony. Below are the recipients for Region 2:
Region 2—City of Oak Ridge Fire Department, Anderson County EMS, and UT Lifestar
The 2015 Star of Life Awards Star Partners were Air Evac Lifeteam and Erlanger Children’s Hospital and Erlanger Health Systems. The mission of the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services for Children Foundation, the host of the EMS Star of Life, is to ensure that every child in Tennessee receives the best pediatric emergency care in order to eliminate the effects of severe illness and injury, the press release said. The Star of Life Awards are designed to honor Tennessee’s excellent prehospital providers for their lifesaving care.
Clinton woman indicted on charges she shot at husband
A Clinton woman who allegedly shot at her husband has been indicted on a charge of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated domestic assault. 33-year-old Cheryl Freels was indicted Tuesday and will be arraigned June 29 in Criminal Court. She is free on $100,000 bond. The incident occurred April 6, 2014, at the Freels’ home after an argument with her husband, who told deputies he saw his wife point the 9mm pistol at him while he was watching TV while in the living room. Robert Freels told investigators stood up, moved as she fired, and the round struck the wall behind him. the warrants state. He said his wife pointed the gun at him again, pulled the trigger, and the weapon jammed. The husband said he took the gun away from his wife, retrieved his son and left the home.
OS teen dies after brave cancer fight
An Oliver Springs teenager whose battle against cancer inspired his classmates and community has passed away. As we reported last fall, 13-year-old Mikey Carter wanted to play football for Norwood Middle School but couldn't because of his battle with bone cancer. Mikey’s brave battle inspired his teammates to "Fight Like Mikey," and his former elementary school renamed its football field in his honor. His family will receive friends on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at Beech Park Baptist Church in Oliver Springs. A celebration of life service will follow.
Follow-Up: Baby born by roadside doing well
Following up on a story we first brought you on Tuesday, the baby boy delivered by the side of Seivers Boulevard by two Clinton firefighters and an Anderson County EMT is said to be doing well. Federal privacy laws prevent us from identifying the proud parents and the baby but we have been in communication with the baby’s father and after he consults with the baby’s mother, we hope to share that information with you. Also, Thursday morning, we will be speaking with Firefighters Josh Queener and James Blakeney, who along with EMT Lauren Gillette, helped bring the baby in to the world Monday night.
OR woman sues Clinton couple over deck collapse
An Oak Ridge woman has filed a lawsuit against a couple whose deck collapsed while she stood on it last August for $625,000. The lawsuit was filed by Patricia Graham against Garrett and Mary Weaver of Clinton in connection to an incident that occurred on August 10th of last year. The lawsuit filed in Anderson County Circuit Court says that Graham had been invited to the Weavers’ home to possibly purchase a puppy, but as she stood on the deck waiting for the door to be opened, it collapsed underneath her. She fell about six feet, injuring her head, neck and back in the fall, before a ladder fell off the remaining portion of the deck and struck her in the back of the head. The lawsuit alleges the Weavers were negligent in failing to ensure that the deck was safe and that the accident left her with several permanent injuries.
State recognized for economic development
(TDEC) Tennessee has once again ranked among the best states in economic development by Area Development, a leading publication focused on site selection and facility planning. Tennessee, along with Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas, were named recipients of the magazine’s 2015 Gold Shovel Awards in recognition of projects undertaken in 2014 which created a significant number of high-value-added new jobs as well as investment. The Volunteer State last received Gold Shovel awards in 2012 and 2009 and Silver Shovel awards in 2011 and 2010.
“This award demonstrates the intense focus our state places not only on supporting existing industry growth, but also the importance of recruiting new projects which ultimately create high quality jobs for Tennesseans,” TNECD Commissioner Randy Boyd said. “I am grateful to Area Development for recognizing Tennessee’s efforts in economic development and look forward to continuing our work to build a robust pipeline of projects in the future.”
Area Development’s annual shovel awards recognize state economic development agencies that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions that attract new employers as well as investments in expanded facilities. The Gold Shovels are presented annually to the states that have achieved the most success in terms of new job creation and economic impact.
“The states and their communities receiving 2015 Shovel Awards have proven that they understand the makings of successful economic development strategies,” Geraldine Gambale, editor of Area Development, said. “They deserve special recognition for their efforts to grow their economies and provide well-paying jobs in a time of intense competition for new investment.”
A report on the 2015 Shovel Award winners is published in the Q2/2015 issue of Area Development and posted online at www.areadevelopment.com/shovels.
Two Clinton firefighters deliver baby by side of road
Two Clinton firefighters and an Anderson County EMT delivered a baby by the side of the road Monday night on Seivers Boulevard. Clinton Police had pulled over a speeding car on Seivers, in front of Clinton Rental, shortly after 7 pm Monday and were told by the driver that her daughter was in labor and that the baby was coming any minute. Clinton firefighters Josh Queener and James Blakeney responded to the scene and determined that the baby’s arrival was imminent. As it happened, an Anderson County ambulance was returning from a public relations event and the driver—Lauren Gillette—stopped to see if she could help. The firefighters quickly agreed and moved the pregnant woman from her car on the side of the road to the back of the ambulance, where they delivered a healthy baby boy. While firefighters train for these sorts of situations, this is believed to be one of the first babies delivered by the Clinton FD. Hats off to FFs Queener and Blakeney as well as EMT Gillette.
Woman accused of stealing from employer
A now-former employee of the Git N Go Markets was recently cited to General Sessions Court after admitting that she had stolen approximately $800 in cash and lottery tickets. Company officials called Clinton Police on Friday and told them that she had noticed several shortages in the deposits made by Git-N-Go employee Morgan Leann Fowler of Clinton, and that an inventory showed several missing lottery tickets. After Operations Manager Carol Wilshire confronted Fowler, she gave Wilshire a written statement indicating that she had stolen $25 in cash on May 17th and that she had been taking four or five lottery tickets at a time on several occasions “but not every night,” according to the report. Fowler was not only fired, but also banned from all properties owned by Git-N-Go’s parent company, Hollingsworth Properties. She was also cited for theft and will answer to that charge in general Sessions Court later this summer.
OR budget proposals seek 8-cent tax rate increase
The budget proposals for the Oak Ridge government and schools were formally presented to the Oak Ridge City Council on Monday night. The city’s budget request calls for a one-cent increase in the city’s property tax rate, which City Manager Mark Watson says will help maintain city services and provide city workers with two percent pay raises. The school system’s budget proposal would necessitate the equivalent of a seven-cent hike in the property tax rate in Oak Ridge that would go toward covering a budget deficit and add some money for salaries and staff, including a three percent raise for school employees. Officials estimate that if approved, the tax increase would mean an additional $29 in city taxes for the owner of a $145,000 home. Watson told Council members Monday that while sales tax revenues from the Anderson County portion of the city have increased by about two percent, sales tax collections in the western part of the city that lies within Roane County have dropped by about $700,000 this year. While money for capital projects is limited, the budget proposed Monday includes $150,000 for the city’s matching portion of a state-funded project to add an eighth lane at the city’s rowing course, $200,000 for roof repairs at Willow Brook Elementary School and money to hire an additional dispatcher for the city’s 911 center. While the budget might be set later this month, it may be some time before we learn what the actual tax rates in Anderson and Roane counties and their cities might be due to the fact that both counties operate on a five-year property tax reappraisal cycle and that process is being done this year. In Anderson County, overall property values have dropped by about four percent while Roane County’s is well behind schedule, with some appraisals not having been completed yet. Property tax revenues for local cities and counties cannot change under state law based on the reappraisals, so with assessments dropping, the tax rate will have to be increased. That process is still being carried out by state officials, who are in charge of setting the certified tax rate and by some estimates that may not be completed until August or even September by some accounts. Officials in Clinton will consider a 15.5-cent property tax rate increase this month and the Anderson County school system has asked for the equivalent of a 22-cent tax increase to pay primarily for salary increases for its employees, who have not seen a significant boost in pay in the past several years. We will follow all these budget deliberations for you. For more on the Oak Ridge budget, visit our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com.
ORT: More money likely needed for parking lot redux
(Oak Ridge Today) The Oak Ridge City Council will consider increasing the amount of money to be used for parking lot work at Blankenship Field, and members will also consider awarding a contract for the project during a meeting tonight (Monday, June 1).
The City Council agreed in May 2014 to use $180,000 in traffic camera money for improvements to the lower parking lot at Blankenship Field, which is used for football games and high school graduation.
Council agreed to increase that amount to a maximum of $250,000 in July 2014, Oak Ridge Public Works Director Gary Cinder said in a May 26 memo to City Manager Mark Watson.
But the work could cost $264,791, according to a proposed contract from Rogers Group Inc. of Oak Ridge that the Council will consider tonight.
And the city has a $10,000 agreement with Michael Brady Inc. for project design, which leaves $240,000, Cinder said.
“With the current bid of approximately $265,000, a total authorization of $275,000 is necessary, therefore requiring the proposed amendment,” Cinder said.
Cinder said the improvements to the lower parking lot was a key item proposed by the Blankenship Revitalization Committee. The committee hopes to have the work completed before the first home football game.
The work could include resurfacing, striping, and accessibility improvements.
Norris Dam State Park pool open
The Norris Dam State Park swimming pool is now open for the season. The Norris Dam pool is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Admission is $5 per person ages three and older and $2.50 for park campers and cabin guests. Lounge chairs are available and there are several picnic tables nearby.
ORT: Van crashes into house
The driver of a van that crashed into a house on Providence Road early Sunday was taken by ambulance to a hospital, authorities said. The name and condition of the driver weren’t immediately available. According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, it also wasn’t clear what caused the crash, which was reported at about 1:07 a.m. Sunday. Providence Road on the north side of Oak Ridge High School. The Oak Ridge Police Department is investigating the crash. Authorities said the driver was taken by ambulance to UT Medical Center. The GMC van damaged the wall, siding, and porch post of the home. There were no reports of injuries to anyone inside the home. ORT reports that the van appeared to have left the roadway and traveled through a short section of a neighboring yard before taking out a section of shrubs between the two homes and crashing into the house at 110 Providence Road. The Oak Ridge police and fire departments both responded to the crash.
OR Dragon Boat Festival wrap-up
The second annual Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival on Friday and Saturday included dragon boat races, music, vendors, food trucks, a youth area for kids, Drummers’ Parade, and Lanterns on the Lake ceremony. The Dragon Boat Festival raises money for local charities. As many as 32 dragon boat teams had registered this year. Each team has 20 paddlers and a drummer to ensure that the paddlers are propelling the boat in synchrony.
This year, the festival started on Friday evening with the Dragon Boat Beer Garden Bash at Melton Lake Park followed by a full day of boat racing on Saturday. The festival is organized and sponsored by the three Rotary clubs of Oak Ridge.
The winners this year were:
8 die in state over holiday, none in alcohol-related crashes
State safety officials say eight people were killed in Tennessee traffic crashes during the Memorial Day holiday period this year. According to the preliminary reports released this week by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, that's one less than the number of fatalities recorded during the 2014 Memorial Day period. Officials say five of the people killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts, while two of the traffic deaths were motorcycle riders. There were zero alcohol-related traffic fatalities. The Tennessee Highway Patrol's "no refusal" enforcement resulted in 31 DUI arrests and 316 seat belt citations in the nine participating counties during the holiday period. The "no refusal" law allows law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers. Three people were arrested under the “No Refusal” law in Anderson County.
THP: Wrecks kill one each in Morgan, Campbell
The Tennessee Highway Patrol says that two people were killed in separate one-vehicle accidents on Thursday and that neither of the victims was wearing a seatbelt. The first fatal accident happened in Morgan County at around 4:45 pm when 62-year-old Arthur Trail of Petros was driving south on Highway 27 in Oakdale in a 2004 Toyota Tundra pickup. Troopers say that the right front wheel of the pickup went off the shoulder of the road and Trail overcorrected, causing the truck to cross over the opposite side of the road, where it slammed into a dirt embankment, partially ejecting the driver. The trooper’s report indicates that a seatbelt may have saved Trail’s life had he been wearing one. The second fatal accident occurred shortly before 11 pm Thursday in Campbell County. The THP reports that 63-year-old Patsy Smiddy of Jellico had been headed east on Highway 90 in the White Oak community in a 2010 Chevy HHR when, while negotiating a curve, the car left the side of the road and collided with a large tree before coming to rest about 40 feet off the roadway. She was also not wearing a seatbelt. No other vehicles were involved in either accident and both drivers were alone in their vehicles.
State launches industrial land search program
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced today it has launched the Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program (PEP). The goal of this new tool is to improve the inventory of industrial sites and buildings in Tennessee by evaluating potential properties and advising counties on where investment may be most beneficial and what steps may be needed to address issues.
“We think of available and developable sites as product on a shelf, and through PEP, we are doubling down our efforts to keep these shelves well-stocked,” Commissioner Randy Boyd said. “If there is no product available to sell, businesses aren’t going to grow and locate here. PEP will help us make sure our counties have product and are better prepared for economic growth.”
Based on the principals of the department’s Select Tennessee Site Certification Program and with the assistance of site selection firm Austin Consulting, PEP will benefit counties through emphasizing the importance of and assisting with planning for the future. This includes both readying industrial properties for near-term development as well as creating a pipeline of properties for future development.
“Prepared and available properties are essential for a county to be competitive for industrial recruitment,” TNECD Site Development Director Leanne Cox said. “PEP will provide counties with a comprehensive assessment and professional advice to help evaluate properties under consideration for development.”
"The Property Evaluation Program allows communities to take a fresh look at their current and potential industrial sites,” Austin Consulting Senior Location Consultant Jonathan Gemmen said. “The process provides unbiased feedback on which sites can most quickly be readied to accommodate new industrial investment, as well as which sites offer inherent advantages for industry. Most important, it sets the table for community leaders to develop and implement an industrial real estate strategy for the next decade or longer."
A limited number of counties will be selected each round to participate for free through a competitive application process. Selection will be based on the ability to demonstrate local need and market demand for industrial properties and also on the county’s ability to assemble viable properties with market potential.
For counties selected to participate, the program includes: an educational webinar on the site selection process and PEP; a review and on-site visit by Austin Consulting; and a comprehensive assessment addressing each property’s strengths, weaknesses and recommended next steps to improve marketability.
The application process begins with the submission of the Letter of Interest, available here. Upon receipt of the letter, counties will be provided with the application. Completed applications must be received by August 7 to be considered for the fall 2015 round. Applications received after this date will be considered for the spring 2016 round.
AC BOE revises budget proposal, 22-cent tax hike would be needed
Tuesday night the Anderson County School Board voted to approve a revised budget that, if approved as-is, would require the equivalent of a 22-cent property tax increase. The amended proposal adopted during a special called meeting Tuesday still asks for 4% pay raises for school employees—who have not seen significant salary increases in the past six years—as well as $178,000 to pay for needed school roof repairs and state-mandated upgrades to physical education facilities and $178,000 to start a new program under which students would receive an electronic tablet. The revised budget proposal includes several cuts to the original proposal, which would have necessitated the equivalent of a 56-cent tax increase. School leaders say that over the past six years, system employees have seen only slight increases in their salaries, which do not keep up with the rate of inflation, hence the request for funding for raises. The budget proposal recommended by the County Budget Committee provides no new money for the school system, keeping their funding at current levels in to the next year, and does not call for a tax increase. The county budget will be the subject of a public hearing this evening at 6:00 in room 312 of the Courthouse in Clinton.
Electrical problem blamed for house fire
A Tuesday morning fire destroyed a house in Andersonville but injured no one, according to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. Deputies were among those who responded to a fire at 334 Brooks Gap Road shortly after 7 am Tuesday. When deputies arrived, they found crews from the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department battling the blaze which had completely engulfed the structure. The home’s owner, Darryl Webber, told officials that his father had passed away last year and left him the house, which he said he checked on every day to make sure it was OK, adding that three lights were continuously left on inside the home. The fire was called in by Webber’s aunt—who lives next door—after she went outside to have her coffee and saw smoke and fire coming from the air conditioning unit. She, too, said that she checked on the house on a regular basis. While firefighters were battling the blaze, several rounds of ammunition inside discharged but no one was injured. Investigators say that faulty wiring in the 40-year-old home was to blame for the fire.
New exhibits at AMSE
(AMSE) Space exploration, supercomputing, and neutron science are featured in three new hands-on exhibits at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge.
The exhibits showcase national science topics with local ties to research at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“Bringing more of the modern lab into AMSE enhances our mission,” said AMSE director David Moore. “In addition to learning about our past, we hope visitors enjoy learning about the fascinating scope of research ongoing at ORNL.”
In the supercomputing exhibit, visitors can learn about ORNL’s Titan, currently the second most powerful computer in the world, through its miniature counterpart, “Tiny Titan,” which is built with an Xbox videogame controller, Raspberry Pi processors, and a television screen.
The colorful Tiny Titan computer is designed to interactively teach the basics of parallel computing. Unlike serial computers, which only have one processor per core, parallel computers have multiple processors on each core, enabling much faster calculations.
“Tiny Titan uses an interactive, visual simulation to show how multiple computers can work together to speed up the same scientific problem,” said Robert French, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility staff scientist and one of the creators of Tiny Titan.
Each of Tiny Titan’s nine cores displays a different colored light, and images on the connected monitor use the same colors to show what each processor is doing. The more colors that light up on the computers, the faster the program will run.
AMSE’s new Cassini exhibit features the pioneering spacecraft’s mission to Saturn.
Deep-space probes such as Cassini get their power through the thermoelectric effect, using heat from the decay of plutonium-238 to generate electricity. ORNL is leading DOE’s production of plutonium-238 for NASA.
ORNL also was one of several facilities that helped produce the radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or RTGs, used on Cassini. The exhibit contains models of the Cassini spacecraft and a RTG as well as videos explaining the mission’s findings.
Finally, AMSE visitors can “become a neutron” in an exhibit that guides people through a simulation of the Spallation Neutron Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility at ORNL. The SNS is a one-of-a-kind research facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development.
The exhibit explains how non-charged particles called neutrons help scientists “see” into materials without damaging them. Neutrons are used in a wide range of research projects, from finding cracks in fighter jet wings to helping design new therapeutic drugs.
A long-time Smithsonian Affiliate Museum, AMSE became a NASA Affiliate Museum this past year and has launched a number of new public programs. The museum hosted the world premiere of Alvin Weinberg, a documentary on the nuclear scientist who was ORNL’s first laboratory director, and the museum is exploring ways to introduce cutting-edge technologies like robotics and 3D printing into exhibits and programs.
AMSE, located at 300 South Tulane Avenue in Oak Ridge, is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. AMSE tells the story of the World War II Manhattan Project that created the Secret City of Oak Ridge and the science that evolved. AMSE visitors can use interactive exhibits on basic science, fossil fuels, alternative energy sources, including nuclear, and participate in live demonstrations with audience participation. For more information on AMSE admission, membership, exhibits, programs and classes, go towww.amse.org. To schedule a group visit, call AMSE at (865) 576-3200.
UT-Battelle, the managing contractor of ORNL, operates AMSE on behalf of the Department of Energy.
CUB earns national safety award
(CUB/Staff reports) Clinton Utilities Board (CUB) earned second place in the American Public Power Association’s Safety Award of Excellence for safe operating practices in 2014. CUB competed with public power utilities from across the nation with 110,000 – 249,999 worker-hours of annual worker exposure. Kenneth Roberts, chair of the APPA Safety Committee and line supervisor, Huntsville, Alabama, Utilities, presented the award on May 18 during the association’s annual Engineering & Operations Technical Conference held in Sacramento, California to CUB’s Assistant General Manager and Director of Engineering & Operations, Ernie Bowles.
“Working day-in and day-out with the power of electricity is not something we take lightly. We can’t afford to,” said Roberts. “The recipients of this award understand the essential nature of safety in our line of work. It’s embedded in their work culture.”
The Safety Awards have been held annually for the last 55 years. More than 290 utilities from across the nation entered the program this year, which is the highest number of entrants in its history. Entrants were placed in categories according to their number of worker-hours and ranked based on the most incident-free records during 2014. The incidence rate, used to judge entries, is based on the number of work-related reportable injuries or illnesses and the number of worker-hours during 2014, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Locally, with 110 employees working a combined 196,132 work-hours, CUB had only one incident that caused a worker to miss any days at work, giving them an incidence rate of 1.02, good for second in the nation among utilities of a similar size.
“We are proud of the service and reliability we provide to our customers,” said Greg Fay, CUB’s General Manager. “But above all else, we are proud of our safety record—proud that we do everything we can to send our people home to their families day after day.”
APPA is the national public power organization representing more than 2,000 not-for-profit, community and state- owned electric utilities.
CUB’s electric system spans six (6) counties in East Tennessee and includes some 1,500 miles of high voltage distribution lines supplying electric service to approximately 30,000 customers.
Follow-up: Lost ATVers located by couple, not rescue Squad
Two ATV riders who went missing after a ride on Saturday evening were found by citizens and not the Anderson County Rescue Squad as we had first reported. Family members tell our partners at Oak Ridge Today that 27-year-old Travis Lampkin of Knoxville and his 11-year-old brother Austin Turner of Andersonville left a family member’s home near Windrock Park on an ATV ride Saturday evening. They became worried when the duo did not return home by nightfall and called authorities, who were unable to help at that time. Relatives then organized their own search party and scoured Windrock on ATVs during the night to no avail. The man and boy were located Sunday at around noon about six miles away from their ATV, which had apparently flipped over the night before and then run out of gas, stranding the pair. They were able to stay warm after Travis built a fire and they were both able to sleep in the ATV. They were found by a man and a woman in a Jeep, who brought them to another location where they were able to use their radio and call for help. The Rescue Squad helped bring both down off the mountain. Neither was injured.
OR man arrested after wild night
An Oak Ridge man was arrested Friday night after Oak Ridge Police say that he deliberately swerved his vehicle while driving drunk and tried to hit pedestrians, before threatening a neighbor with a machete after the neighbor complained about his driving. 40-year-old Jonathan Stauffer is accused of crossing his vehicle into oncoming traffic Friday evening in an attempt to strike pedestrians with his car and then threatening his neighbor with a machete and a knife after they got into an argument about Stauffer’s driving. When Oak Ridge police arrived and searched his car, they found a nearly-empty bottle of vodka, which reportedly prompted Stauffer to remark: “Maybe I shouldn’t have drank [sic] as much as I did.” As of this morning, Stauffer remained in custody on bonds totaling $51,500 on two charges of aggravated assault and one count of DUI. No one was hurt in the incident.
RT man facing child porn charges
A Rocky Top man is in custody following his arrest on an indictment charging him with five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. 21-year-old Thomas Blake Karnuth was indicted in April and arrested on Saturday by Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies. The indictments accuse Karnuth of downloading images of pornography, including images of a “minor engaged in sexual activity or simulated sexual activity that was patently offensive” on to his computer between August of 2013 and September of 2014. As of this morning, he remains in custody at the Anderson County Jail on bonds totaling $25,000.
Corwin’s accused killer appears in court
The ex-marine charged with murdering an Oak Ridge native and dumping her body at the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft in California appeared in a California court Tuesday morning. 25-year-old Christopher Brandon Lee has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges in the death of Erin Corwin. Lee’s pre-trial hearing was continued to June 30th. Corwin, the wife of a Marine stationed in California, disappeared last June. Her disappearance came after she texted a friend in Tennessee to say she thought that Lee, with whom she was having an affair, was going to propose. Instead, after an exhaustive search of the High Desert area of Southern California, a rescue team found her body dumped at the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft in a remote corner of the desert. Prosecutors believe Lee lured Corwin into the desert, then killed her to try and hide their affair.
ASAP support ‘Born Drug-Free Tennessee’
(ASAP) Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) of Anderson County has collaborated with numerous community agencies across East Tennessee toward eliminating Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) diagnoses from babies born in East Tennessee. Babies born with NAS can suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as fever, seizures, blotchy skin, continuous crying, rapid breathing, respiratory problems, and extreme sensitivity to sounds and light. The “Born Drug-Free Tennessee” campaign was designed to provide support and resources to mothers during their pregnancies so they have the best opportunity to deliver a healthy baby and become the mother their child needs them to be.
This project is being implemented by the East Tennessee NAS Task Force, representing agencies across the region, including: East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention of Anderson County, Metropolitan Drug Commission, Blount County Substance Abuse Prevention Action Team, Rescue 180, HEAL of Sevier County, Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services, and Mary Beth West Communications.
“We are thrilled to be able to roll out this important campaign in the community,” said Stephanie Strutner, Executive Director of ASAP. “NAS is 100 percent preventable and we have an opportunity to significantly improve the health of newborns in Anderson County.”
So far in 2015, 303 cases of NAS have been reported in Tennessee, but there is hope. There are many ways to help both women of child-bearing age and expectant mothers lessen or eliminate drug withdrawal for their baby.
Mothers, family, friends, and practitioners each have a special section on the www.BornDrugFreeTN.com website where information and resources are specifically geared toward their anticipated needs. At this site, mothers and women of child baring age can learn what medications can cause drug withdrawal in newborns, how to prevent pregnancy until they can quit taking medications harmful to their baby, and other sensitive and legal issues.
Practitioners can access information on guidelines, tools used to identify abuse, and treatment options. The site also includes answers to frequently asked questions, helpful hints, and screening tools for women, which their family and friends can benefit from as well.
ASAP is continuing to further disseminate this information by delivering posters, provider information, and patient information to doctors’ offices throughout Anderson County. “It is our coalition’s goal to get as many doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and social service agencies to partner in this campaign as possible. We hope the community will help us spread this important message,” said Strutner.
For more information about the Born Drug-Free Tennessee campaign or to request printed materials contact Chris@ASAPofAnderson.org or call 865-457-3007.
Man’s alleged peep show nets charges
A 60-year-old Oak Ridge man was charged earlier this month with indecent exposure after reportedly masturbating in front of five women, two of whom were juveniles.
Michael B. King, of Oak Ridge, was arrested on May 10 after a report was filed with Oak Ridge Police accusing him of repeatedly standing naked at the sliding-glass door at the rear of his home, which faces the back door of his alleged victims. Officers reported that the females told them King intentionally engaged in sexual conduct while in view of the victims on several occasions. Court record indicate that while an Oak Ridge police officer and a probation officer were at the scene, King allegedly walked “to his rear glass door naked and masturbated while looking at the victims.” King was booked into the Anderson County jail for indecent exposure and later released on bond.
Household Hazardous Waste Collection coming to Campbell
(TDEC) The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s mobile household hazardous waste collection service will be in Campbell, Tipton and Warren Counties on May 30. “Our household hazardous waste mobile collection service provides the people of Tennessee with a safe, environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted household chemicals and other potentially hazardous wastes at no cost,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “This service travels across the state holding collection events in local communities, and we encourage all Tennesseans to take advantage of the opportunity to utilize it.” On Saturday, May 30, any Tennessee resident may bring his or her household hazardous waste to the following locations. (Note that hours listed indicate the local time for events.)
· Campbell County – Campbell County Recycling Center at 745 Towe String Road in Jacksonboro from 8 a.m. until noon. The local contact for this HHW collection event is Walt Sutton at (423) 562-1811.
Since the program’s inception in 1993, more than 322,000 households have properly disposed of more than 21 million pounds of material. HHW material is considered flammable, toxic, reactive and/or corrosive and should not be placed with regular garbage. Typical items to dispose of include cleaning fluids, pesticides, mercury thermometers and thermostats, fluorescent lamps, lithium and button batteries, aerosols, adhesives, medications, brake fluid, swimming pool chemicals and paint thinner. Items not accepted include ammunition, explosives, alkaline batteries, paint, electronics, medical waste and any empty containers. While household waste may be disposed for free, there is a cost for disposal of Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator Waste (i.e. wastes from non-household sources such as businesses, schools, farms, churches, etc.). An appointment is also necessary. Call (615) 643-3170 to request a price quote and schedule an appointment. Many counties and municipalities meet the needs of local residents by providing collection of batteries, oil, paint, antifreeze and electronic scrap – or BOPAE as it is sometimes called. When handled correctly, these BOPAE materials are minimally hazardous, but inappropriate for collection at household hazardous waste events. Contact your local city or county solid waste department to find BOPAE collection sites in your area. When transporting materials to the site, place containers in sturdy boxes lined with newspaper to prevent spills and cross-contamination in the trunk of a car or back of a truck. Be sure to keep materials away from children and pets. Materials should be kept in the original containers whenever possible. If not, place each waste in a separate plastic container with a secure lid and label its contents. For more information on the household hazardous waste mobile collection service, please call 1-800-287-9013 or visit http://www.tn.gov/environment/solid-waste/solid-waste_household-waste.shtml .
New cross-country coach at CHS
Senior Master Sergeant (retired) Timothy J. Kumes has been a faculty member at Clinton High School as one of two United States Air Force Junior Reserves Officer Training Course (AFJROTC) instructors since the fall of 2011. Prior to taking the Clinton High Dragon Cross Country Coaching job, he was co-coach of the Clinton High boys and girls golf teams. Kumes is thrilled to have the chance to coach a sport that has been a big part of daily routine over the course of his 24 years of service in the United States Air Force –- and one that stretches all the way back to his days as a youth. “As part of family that included two other brothers as well as serving in the USAF, running and sports is a piece of me that I couldn’t imagine my life with out—my day is not complete unless I have some type of physical activity…and most days, it includes at least a 5 mile run.”
Kumes background in running and sports started in his days of youth in the back yard of his parent’s Rhode Island home but peaked as a High School athlete—playing basketball and football. Upon graduation from West Warwick High School, Kumes attended Plymouth State for one semester before enlisting in the military. It wasn’t until his enlistment, that Kumes found his fondness for distance running. “ It was so simple—lace up your sneakers and go run.” “I find the simplicity of the run to be amazing—but also the inner challenge that each run can bring as an internal motivator to be better each time.” Kumes believes that each day is the chance to improve EVERY aspect of your LIFE. Coach Kumes believes that running is the key to balance in his life’s MIND, BODY and SPIRIT mantra.
Coach Kumes has been active in the local running scene over his 16 years living in East Tennessee. He has run the Knoxville Marathon multiple times as well as the Whitestone 30k race. Kumes believes that the self-discipline honed over his years of military service as well as the time and preparation his has put into his own running life will serve the Dragon Cross Country team in ways that will be evident during his first season at the helm. According to AD Jenkins, “Kumes is a dedicated faculty member who spends his days motivating and inspiring all he comes in contact with – and he will do GREAT things with the cross country team.”
Outside of teaching at Clinton High, Kumes enjoys spending time with his wife Taiya and two daughters – Avery Grace age 10 and Camryn Reese age 7.
Clinton city manager rebuts newspaper article
Over the weekend, Clinton City manager Roger Houck issued a statement after the Courier News made an error in calculating how a 15.5-cent property tax rate increase would affect homeowners in the city. As we reported last week, the Council passed its budget on first reading last Monday, which includes a 15.5 cent tax increase to pay for additional firefighters and police officers, among other items. This weekend’s Courier estimated that the proposed increase would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $380 on their tax bills. Houck wrote in the statement issued Saturday on the city’s website and through its various social media platforms, that “[t]his is not correct. The homeowner would only pay an additional $37.50.” Last week, Houck explained that part of the tax hike will be used to make up for the expiration of a FEMA grant that paid for four additional firefighters, which allowed the city to open a downtown fire hall last year. That new fire hall cut down on emergency response times and helped the city’s fire protection rating—or ISO—improve from a “4” to a “2.” Calling the opening of that new fire hall a “gamble,” Houck says he believes it will pay off for many homeowners, who depending on who carries their insurance could see a decrease in their homeowners’ insurance premiums. He explained using his own home as an example: “My homeowners’ insurance went down $230 this year because of that, so I saved $230. On my home, a 16-cent tax increase (half-a-cent higher than what is currently being proposed) equals to $68. Taking that $68 and subtracting it from the $230, I am still $132 to the good.” What that new tax rate will actually be remains a mystery as officials estimate that the State Board of Equalization will not have the new certified tax rate—the rate following reappraisals that generates the same amount of revenue currently being brought in through property taxes by a municipality—until August or September. A public hearing on the budget is set for June 28th. You can read the entire statement from Houck on our website.
(Response from City Manager Roger Houck) In response to a story that appeared in the local newspaper this weekend, Clinton City Manager Roger Houck has issued the following statement:
"I would like to make a couple of corrections to the May 23rd edition of the Courier News. It was stated, in the paper, that the Clinton City Council passed on first reading a 15 and a half to 15 percent tax increase. The article actually should have said a 15 cent ($.15) tax increase, not 'percent'. The newspaper story also stated that a house valued at $100K would pay an additional $380.00 per year in property taxes. This is not correct. The homeowner would only pay an additional $37.50. The City of Clinton is very sorry that the incorrect information was communicated through our local media. We will work with them in the future to correct the problem."
CFD puts out small, intentionally-set brush fire
The Clinton Fire Department was able to quickly extinguish a small brush fire allegedly started by what a witness described as a “small boy” at Lakefront Park on Friday afternoon. Police and fire units responded to the park shortly before 5:30 pm after a man called 911 after seeing a small boy in an orange shirt and riding a black bike start a small fire near the riverbank. The blaze caused minimal damage, according to the incident report filed by Officer Weston Hazelhurst.
Fire destroys Clinton home
A fire early Friday morning destroyed an unoccupied home on Baker Avenue in Clinton. Clinton firefighters were dispatched at 6:08 am Friday and arrived within three minutes to find heavy smoke and fire coming from the rear of the home. Clinton Utilities Board cut off electricity to the scene as fire crews began their attack. After gaining entry in to the house and battling flames in a back room, two firefighters were ordered back out due to the ferocity of the flames burning in the basement and the attic. Continuing the battle from outside, crews eventually were able to get back in and finally brought the blaze under control. Firefighters left the scene just after 8:15 am. No injuries were reported but the house suffered extensive damage. In addition, the owner’s son and some other family members arrived on scene and said that there were some items missing from the house and the CPD was called in to investigate.
ORHS AP Chem students #3 in national competition
Advanced Placement Chemistry students at Oak Ridge High School placed third in the nation in chemistry in the National Science League competition, the school’s Science Department said. The students are in the AP Chemistry class taught by Eddie Anderson at ORHS. The test was given to all AP Chemistry students, the Science Department said.
“They all contributed to our third-place finish,” the Department said in a press release.
Here are the top scorers:
It is a bright end to the school year for the school’s Science Department, which has been rocked in recent weeks by the suspension of Anderson, a reported police investigation into allegations of “improper conduct with a former student” and his subsequent retirement.
Area hospitals lauded for safety
(Covenant Health) Methodist Medical Center, Fort Loudoun Medical Center, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System, and Parkwest Medical Center have been recognized for their dedication to patient safety by being awarded an “A” grade in the Spring 2015 Hospital Safety Score, according to a press release. The Safety Score rates how well hospitals protect patients from preventable medical errors, injuries, and infections within the hospital. In addition to receiving As for the spring quarter, both Methodist Medical Center and Parkwest Medical Center received “Straight A” recognition, signifying that the hospitals have never received a grade lower than “A” from the Hospital Safety Score since the Score first launched in June 2012. They are among 182 hospitals to receive the recognition. The Hospital Safety Score is compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading patient safety experts and administered by The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization focused on initiating improvements in safety, quality, and health care affordability for Americans. The first and only hospital safety rating to be peer-reviewed in the Journal of Patient Safety, the Score is free to the public and designed to give consumers information they can use to protect themselves and their families when facing a hospital stay.
Developed under the guidance of Leapfrog’s Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, the Hospital Safety Score uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to produce a single A, B, C, D, or F score representing a hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe from preventable harm. More than 2,500 U.S. general hospitals were assigned scores in April 2015, with about 31 percent receiving an “A” grade. The Hospital Safety Score is fully transparent, offering a full analysis of the data and methodology used in determining grades on the website.
To see how Covenant hospitals compare locally and nationally, and to access consumer-friendly tips related to hospital safety, visit www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. Consumers can also follow The Hospital Safety Score on social media and download the free Hospital Safety Score app for mobile devices.
ORT: OR Council OKs expanded contract with MTAS
(Oak Ridge Today) The Oak Ridge City Council on Thursday approved a review of turnover and morale in the Oak Ridge Police Department that could cost close to $23,000 and not be complete until October.
The review by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service at the University of Tennessee could include interviews with about 125 people, including roughly 76 current ORPD employees as well as several dozen former workers who have left in the roughly four years since Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi started.
The review, which will also study administrative policies, was initially expected to be free, last 30 days, and use interviews with a random pool of workers. But the City Council expanded the scope of the inquiry during a special meeting in April, and MTAS said it would now have to charge $50 per hour for the work.
Council members approved the proposed new agreement with MTAS in a 4-3 vote. Voting for it were Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch, Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Smith, and Council members Kelly Callison and Charlie Hensley. Voting against it were Council members Trina Baughn, Rick Chinn, and Chuck Hope.
MTAS will still have to agree to the new proposal approved by City Council on Thursday.
Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said the money for the review will have to come from the mayor and City Council’s budget in the current fiscal year, although there’s currently no money available. But he said city officials will accommodate the unanticipated expense. For much more on this story visit our partners at Oak Ridge Today online at www.oakridgetoday.com.
TVA seeking public comments on ash storage at Bull Run
(TVA) The Tennessee Valley Authority is asking for public input on its plans to expand the dry onsite storage of ash and other coal combustion products generated at Bull Run Fossil Plant in Claxton. TVA is proposing to build a new dry storage area on TVA property next to the plant to provide greater capacity for managing coal combustion products at Bull Run. TVA is seeking public comments on an environmental review of the project. Bull Run Fossil Plant, which has state-of-the-art air pollution controls, is expected to play a continuing role in TVA’s coal-fired generating fleet, a press release said. “The Bull Run storage project is consistent with TVA’s commitment to convert all wet coal combustion product storage systems to dry systems,” the release said. To ensure that the full range of issues and resources are addressed, TVA invites comment on the scope of the environmental impact statement. TVA will accept written comments electronically and by conventional mail from May 21 to July 6. Written comments should be sent to Anita E. Masters, Project Environmental Planning, NEPA Project Manager, Tennessee Valley Authority, 1101 Market St., Mail Stop BR 4A, Chattanooga, TN, 37402. Comments also may be submitted on the project website at http://www.tva.com/environment/reports/index.htm or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AC woman arrested in Knoxville assault
An Andersonville woman has been arrested and charged in an attack that critically injured another woman at a North Knoxville motel this week, according to the Knoxville Police Department. 38-year-old Denise Henry was arrested Wednesday night at a home on Strawberry Plains Pike and is being held on a $30,000 bond on a charge of aggravated assault for allegedly beating a woman outside America's Best Value Inn and Suites on Merchant Drive. KPD officers found 36-year-old Diana Trent unresponsive with severe head trauma about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. Trent was rushed to UT Medical Center where she underwent emergency surgery.
Robbery suspect nabbed in Rocky Top
Wednesday morning, authorities arrested a man suspected of being involved in at least two armed robberies at a motel in Rocky Top. 21-year-old Walter John Meachum III of Caryville was taken into custody without incident and is being held on an aggravated robbery charge out of Knox County but other charges are likely pending. Campbell County authorities believe that Meachum is the man who robbed a gas station outside Lafollette last week and shot a 12-year-old girl in the leg. Knox County authorities suspect Meachum of robbing a Pilot Gas Station on Raccoon Valley Road in Heiskell early Tuesday morning. In the Pilot robbery, a man wearing a skull mask and armed with a pistol robbed the store and fled in a silver convertible with a black top that was recovered later in the day. Late Tuesday night, another vehicle connected to the crime was spotted parked at the Scottish Inn in Rocky Top by Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies, who alerted neighboring agencies and established a perimeter in case Meachum tried to leave the scene. Anderson County and Rocky Top law enforcement officials were joined by officers from the Knox and Campbell County Sheriff’s Offices Wednesday morning as they took Meachum into custody. The robbery last week at Lee’s Food Market resulted in a 12-year-old girl being shot in the leg when the suspect—believed to be Meachum—started randomly shooting inside the store. She is expected to make a full recovery. Meachum is being held in Knox County on charges there and could be charged in connection to last week’s incident as soon as today.
Report: ACHS student graduates after judge steps in
According to the News-Sentinel, an Anderson County judge signed an emergency restraining order last week to prevent school officials from keeping a senior from taking part in graduation ceremonies. The paper reports that the complaint was filed last week by the Anderson County High School student’s parents in Circuit Court and seeks $175,000 in damages from the School Board for causing the girl “emotional distress” and the possible loss of scholarship assistance. Judge Don Elledge signed the order Friday and the girl was able to take part in graduation ceremonies held Sunday in Knoxville. The lawsuit states that the girl was captain of the Lady Mav soccer team this past season and graduated 19th in her class. The suit alleges that two vice principals at the school told the girl that she would not be allowed to participate in graduation activities due to her involvement in what the suit calls a “harmless school prank.” The suit says that the girl and some of her senior classmates were going to sleep in hammocks in the school parking lot. The girl admitted to drinking a beer before going to the campus and to throwing the can out on campus. The lawsuit claims that she was interviewed twice the following day by two vice principals, once with a police officers present but neither of her parents. The officer reportedly left the room where the interview was being conducted when her mother arrived. The lawsuit accuses Vice Principals Travis Freeman and Travis Hutchinson of lying to her by telling her they had video of her with a can of beer. The suit seeks a jury trial.
OR accident injures one
The driver of a car involved in a single-vehicle accident in Oak Ridge Wednesday afternoon was flown to UT Medical Center for treatment of their injuries. The Wednesday afternoon accident happened on what our partners at Oak Ridge Today described as a curvy stretch of Highway 95 near the western entrance to Y-12 on Bear Creek Road. The car, a Chevy Cavalier, left the roadway, crashed through a guardrail and came to rest after striking a rock embankment below a DOE haul road that crosses over 95. The driver, whose name and condition were not immediately available, was taken to the nearby Horizon Center and flown to UTMC by Lifestar.
State: Economy rebounding
(Secretary of State Hargett) The number of new entity fillings and annual reports in Tennessee grew during the first quarter of 2015. The state recorded 8,685 new entity filings between January and March 2015, representing a 9.3% increase compared to the same time last year, according to a new economic report. On a year-over-year basis, new entity filings have increased 14 consecutive quarters. The Tennessee Quarterly Business and Economic Indicators report is created to provide a periodical snapshot of the state’s economy based on a variety of information, including new business data from the Division of Business Services. It’s published through a partnership with Secretary of State Tre Hargett and the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “Every quarter we see the state’s economy continue to grow,” said Secretary Hargett. "Tennesseans should remain positive about our state's economy, and the encouraging data shows why businesses continue to choose Tennessee.” Davidson County led the way with 1,509 new filings. Shelby County was a close second with 1,195 filings. The report shows Tennessee’s economy had slow, but steady growth during the first quarter of 2015, while the U.S. economy experienced sluggish growth. Tennessee’s unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in March, compared to 6.6% in February. That is still well above the national unemployment rate of 5.5%, yet below the state’s rate of 6.4% a year ago.
Clinton Council OKs budget, 15.5-cent tax increase
Monday night, the Clinton City Council voted to approve its budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1st on first reading. The budget does include a 15.5 cent property tax increase. Last week, we told you that a 3 or 4 cent tax increase would be necessary to pay for an increase in insurance costs and to pay for the salaries and benefits of four full-time firefighters. The costs associated with those firefighters were paid for by a FEMA grant for the past two years but this year, become the city’s responsibility. Following a late-week budget workshop, another seven cents was added to the proposed tax increase to pay for the city taking over all of the costs associated with School Resource Officers at the city’s three schools ($62,000), hiring a codes enforcement/police officer ($50,000) and to set aside $100,000 to start a street-paving fund aimed at preventing the city from having to borrow money for street improvement projects in the future. The 10-cent tax increase passed 5-1 with Mayor Scott Burton casting the dissenting vote. (Editor’s Note: Originally we indicated Mayor Burton had voted for the 10-cent increase, but that was not the case. WYSH regrets the error.) A motion was made to hire three new firefighters and four new police officers but was later amended to reflect hiring two people in each department. Those four new hires added another five and a half cents on to the tax rate, and that proposal was passed 5 to 1 with Mayor Burton casting the only dissenting vote. Tuesday morning, Houck said “You never want a tax increase [but] I hope that people understand I think we’ve done it for the right reasons…we’ve done them for public safety [and] infrastructure improvements, so I think we have done it for the right reasons.” Houck also said that while not every homeowner in the city will reap this benefit, the opening of the new downtown fire station made possible by the hiring of those 4 FEMA-funded firefighters, helped knock the city’s fire protection rating or ISO, down from a “4” to a “2.” Many homeowners, depending on their insurance carriers, will see a decrease in their rates because of that improvement, which could help offset the increase in city taxes. The current property tax rate in the city is 76 cents per $100 of assessed value. The state has not yet certified the new tax rate and indications are that the certified tax rate may not be set until August or even September. Second and final reading of the budget—with or without the new certified tax rate—will be held next month.
Lab seizures on sharp decline
Anderson County law enforcement officials’ persistent pursuit of meth cooks is paying off as recently-released statistics indicate that the number of meth labs seized in the county has significantly declined over the past three years. At one time, Anderson County led the state in the number of labs seized, reaching its peak at 124 in 2012. Since that time, however, the number of labs seized by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department has steadily declined to a mere 20 in 2014 and only three so far this year. Law enforcement officials have long attributed the high numbers of lab seizures to their aggressive enforcement efforts and say that directly targeting meth has played a large role in the continuing decline as has targeting other types of illicit drug activity. Two large-scale operations involving federal, state and local agencies resulted in 42 indictments in 2013 and 59 indictments in 2014, all on various drug charges. Locally, law enforcement officials also say that the arrests of several so-called “smurfers” who purchase cold medications containing pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in meth, have also contributed to the decline in the number of labs seized. Smurfers often trade the pills for either cash or the finished product. While not as much meth is being made in Anderson County, officials say they have seen an uptick in crystal meth being brought in from outside the county.
AC Commission moves ahead on possible Glen Alpine site
Monday night, the Anderson County Commission voted 12-2 to exercise its option on a $280,000, 11-acre tract of land that could be the next home of the often-discussed Glen Alpine convenience center. The parcel in question is located directly across Charles Seivers Boulevard from the current home of the convenience center, which has been the source of controversy for several years now. The county-owned center is located inside the Clinton city limits and city officials want it moved due to its location in the heart of a commercial district. The county has tried to find a suitable location to move it but the best option they came up with landed the county in court. Officials decided to move it two years ago to a vacant parcel at the back of the county-owned David Jones Industrial Park, but industrial tenants of the park sued, claiming that the move violated the county’s own covenants regarding how sites within the park could be used. That matter remains in the legal system. In addition to voting to exercise its option on the property, the Commission voted Monday to “engage the services of an architect to prepare specifications to bid the project,” according to Commission Chairman Robert McKamey. Clinton City Manager Roger Houck said Tuesday that the parcel in question is still within the city limits but is flanked on all sides by county land, meaning that all the county will have to do is ask the city to de-annex the tract and rezone it as they see fit.
Lawsuit blames crash on officer
A man has sued the Rocky Top Police Department, the city and one of its patrol officers for $350,000 in connection to an accident last fall. William Patrick Cotter III filed the suit in Anderson County Circuit Court over the September 16th, 2014 accident on I-75. In his suit, Cotter alleges that he had been riding his motorcycle north on I-75 when a patrol car driven by Officer Todd Johnston pulled out in front of him from a paved median crossover separating the north- and southbound lanes of the interstate, and the vehicles collided. Cotter alleges that Johnston was at fault for failing to exercise due care and failure to yield and also accuses the officer of violating state laws regarding those interstate median crossovers. The suit accuses the city and the Police Department of failing to properly train or supervise their employee. The city’s response asks that the suit be dismissed because the RTPD is a subdivision of the city and therefore “is not an entity capable of suing or being sued.” In addition to $350,000 in damages, Cotter is also seeking a jury trial and payment of his legal fees by the city.
Report: Man files suit against OR over fall
The retired conductor of the Oak Ridge Symphony and Chorus is suing the city of Oak Ridge for $100,000 over an incident last fall in which he fell outside the Civic Center. The News-Sentinel reports that the suit was filed by Serge Fournier of Oak Ridge and alleges that the city was at fault in his November 15th, 2014 fall that left him with injuries to his face, mouth and teeth. Fournier alleges that the curb edge he tripped over was not marked or painted, which created a dangerous situation.
OR woman arrested after hammer attack
An Oak Ridge woman was arrested over the weekend on charges that she assaulted a woman with a hammer. 50-year-old Ruth Ann Evans is facing charges of aggravated assault and vandalism connected to the incident, which occurred last Friday. Police say that several witnesses told them that Evans had hit the alleged victim several times with her fists and pulled her by the hair before the other woman fled to her car. Police say that Evans went in to a nearby business and came back with a hammer, which she allegedly used to break the driver’s side window of the woman’s car and continue the assault, striking the woman’s chest and arms.
One dead in I-75 crash in Campbell
The Tennessee Highway Patrol says that one person has died following an early-morning accident on I-75 in Campbell County. The crash occurred shortly before 1 am near mile marker 147. Troopers say that 30-year-old Christopher Reed of Georgetown, Kentucky was standing outside his vehicle, which was stopped in the right-hand lane when a truck driven by an Indiana man was unable to stop and collided with the rear of Reed’s car and with Reed himself. No charges or citations were issued.
Campbell animal shelter gets new boss, deep cleaning
The Campbell County Commission agreed Monday night to Mayor EL Morton’s request to temporarily shut down the county animal shelter. Morton requested all of the animals be removed so the kennels can be thoroughly cleaned to avoid another outbreak of the deadly parvovirus. The commission also approved Morton’s nomination of one of his employees, Megan Elizabeth “Mez” Bruce, as the new shelter director. Cleaning began Tuesday morning and the shelter will not reopen for at least two weeks.
UCOR announces grant recipients
UCOR, the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup contractor at the Oak Ridge Reservation, has announced the 33 winners of the UCOR Education Mini-Grant Program. UCOR is a partnership between URS and CH2M Oak Ridge LLC. The company said one of its primary objectives is to support and encourage education initiatives. “The Mini-Grant Program was designed to recognize and support excellence in teaching by providing funds to assist classroom teachers for specific projects or curricula, focusing primarily on science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM,” a press release said.
The UCOR Mini-Grant committee has selected the following projects:
Applications were screened and awardees selected using a blind process that prevented members of the selection panel from knowing the names of the teachers or the schools. Schools in Roane, Anderson, Loudon, Knox, and Morgan counties were eligible to submit proposals. UCOR’s Mini-Grant Program has awarded the grants annually, since 2012.
ORT: Eschenberg leaving federal service
(Oak Ridge Today) John Eschenberg, federal project director for the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, announced Monday that he’s retiring from federal service on May 30. Eschenberg said his decision to leave federal service is driven by a desire to “focus on new career opportunities in the private sector and to further my focus on serving nonprofit organizations.” Eschenberg said he is heavily involved with the Emory Valley Center (an institution for the developmentally and intellectually disabled) and its plan to start construction of a new facility in Oak Ridge later this fall.
Eschenberg has been the federal project director of the Uranium Processing Facility for almost three years, and he has been in Oak Ridge nearly six. He has served under six different U.S. Department of Energy secretaries, in five different states, and in all of its major programs, Eschenberg said in an email announcement obtained by Oak Ridge Today. Eschenberg said there is never a perfect time for a transition of key leadership roles, but “given the project’s stability, now feels like the optimum time to me.”
He said Dale Christenson, who has been serving as the deputy federal project director for almost five years, will serve as acting federal project director during the process to formally hire a replacement. Eschenberg said his family plans to maintain a primary residence in Oak Ridge, with one son a student at Maryville College and the other a student at Oak Ridge High School.
The UPF is the largest DOE investment in Tennessee since World War II. It’s also the largest ever-construction project for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a separately organized DOE agency that oversees work at Y-12 and other sites such as the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas.
The UPF would replace aging World War II-era buildings at Y-12, the hub of the nation’s uranium processing operations. It’s expected to be completed by 2025 and cost no more than $6.5 billion. Federal officials celebrated what they called the first milestone on the project in March: the completion of site readiness work, delivered on time and under budget. The work included the relocation of Bear Creek Road, a new bridge, and construction of a haul road.
ORPSEF to award grants
(ORPSEF) As part of its “Making the Critical Difference” campaign, the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation will award more than $93,000 in grants to Oak Ridge teachers at a ceremony this Wednesday, May 20. Oak Ridge alumni and WBIR Anchor Moira Kaye will be the featured speaker at the event for what she has described as her career’s “last personal appearance.” The ceremony is open to the public, and it will be held in the Oak Ridge High School cafeteria beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Demonstrations and displays of some of the projects and technology funded by the Foundation will be given after the formal ceremony.
The 2015 grant recipients are as follows:
The grants program is a key component of the Foundation’s mission to support the highest-quality education for all students.
Including this year’s grants, the Education Foundation has awarded more than $665,000 in total grant funding. In 2012, the Foundation kicked off its “Making a Critical Difference” campaign. The campaign goal is to raise $100,000 per year specifically for teacher grants each year through 2017.
For more information about the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation or to make a donation, contact Jessica Steed at (865) 241-3667 or Jessica.Steed@orau.org or through the newly designed website at http://www.orpsef.org/.
Saturday fire injures none
A fire early Saturday caused heavy damage to a home on Cove Lane just outside Oliver Springs. The fire was reported at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, May 16th at 1014 Cove Lane. The Marlow Volunteer Fire Department was first on the scene and the Oliver Springs Fire Department responded to a request for mutual aid. All told, fire crews were on the scene for about three hours. No injuries were reported.
AC Park Manager assaulted
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an incident that occurred last week at Anderson County Park. The park manager, Paul Schilling, called deputies on Sunday May 10th and told them that at around 9:30 pm that night, he had confronted a group of six people who were throwing rocks toward the public swimming area at the park and jumping on and off picnic tables. When he told them to stop, Schilling says that one of the men punched him in the nose and another hit him from behind. While he escaped serious injury, Schilling did tell deputies that his glasses were broken in the assault. One of the individuals also grabbed Schilling’s county-issued cell phone as he tried to take pictures of the suspects’ vehicles and license plates and smashed it on the ground.
Y-12 trio freed from prison
Three Catholic peace activists who vandalized the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials facility at Y-12 nearly three years ago were released from prison on Saturday. 85-year-old nun Sister Megan Rice was released just hours after 66-year-old Michael Walli and now 60-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed—he celebrates his birthday today—also were let out of prison. The trio was ordered released by a federal appeals court on Friday, about a week after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned their 2013 sabotage convictions and ordered re-sentencing on their remaining conviction for injuring government property at Y-12. The three have spent two years in prison. In handing down Friday’s order, the court said they likely already have served more time than they will receive for the lesser charge. On Thursday, their attorneys petitioned the court for an emergency release, saying that re-sentencing would likely take several weeks if normal court procedures were followed. Prosecutors responded that they would not oppose the release, if certain conditions were met. Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed, in July 2012, cut through several fences to reach the most secure area of the Y-12 complex. Before they were arrested, they spent two hours outside the bunker that stores much of the nation's bomb-grade uranium, hanging banners, praying and spray-painting slogans, and chipping away at the exterior walls with hammers.
CCWF hosts annual Briceville field trip
(CCWF) The15th Annual Briceville Elementary School history field trip was held on Friday. Brooklyn Lowe was named winner of the 2015 Coal Creek Eisteddfod Literary Competition, an annual poetry and essay contest for Briceville Elementary School Students, sponsored by the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation (CCWF). Lowe earned $100 for her winning essay on the history of Coal Creek miners during the era of the convict lease system by the State of Tennessee, which brought armed conflict to the area in 1891-1892. A permanent replica artillery piece, part of the CCWF’s ongoing history education for students of the area, was scheduled to be dedicated May 15 for the event. Because of an illness to the cannon maker, the permanent cannon wasn’t ready by dedication day and a substitute was found to take its place on the famed hill along a shank of Vowell Mountain in Anderson County. Steve Cameron led a group of Civil War re-enactors with the Burrough’s Battery of Blaine in the firing of an exact replica of the howitzer used during actual events 123 years ago. The event was based on one of the county’s more turbulent times—the Coal Creek Convict Wars of 1891-1892. Militia Hill served as the operational base for Tennessee National Guardsmen, then called state militia, to put down an insurrection by Welsh coal miners, a rebellion that began when inmates from state prisons replaced miners. At the time, the state claimed it needed to lease much of its prison population and put convicts in the mines, replacing paid Welsh miners. This would provide desperately needed revenue to the state from coalmine operators for reconstruction projects after the destruction of the Civil War. Many militia members brought to Coal Creek during the struggle were Civil War veterans. The actual cannon used on Militia Hill in 1892 was the exact same piece fired by Cameron and members of Burrough’s Battery. The howitzer blast disgorged enough white smoke to hide a copse of pine trees overlooking the town below. Its blast and recoil shook the earth behind the cannon. In Coal Creek, Briceville, Fraterville and elsewhere where coal was being mined in the Cumberland Mountains, along the spiny rib cage of Walden Ridge, Welsh coal miners fought convicts and militia. For two years (1891-92) they struggled to keep their livelihood and to ensure the future of their children. It was a classic battle that eventually led to changes in state law, the defeat of Gov. John “Buck” Buchanan and drastic changes in mine safety. After what became known as the Coal Creek Mine Wars, two mine explosions—Fraterville in 1902 and Cross Mountain in 1911—changed lives with the deaths of 300 miners in both disasters, but brought on federal laws and new governmental regulations and agencies. In 1891, Congress passed a loosely written law to upgrade mine safety. In 1910, the Bureau of Mines was created to oversee mine safety in a time when more than 2,000 miners were dying annually. Today, the Mine Safety and Health Administration says 16 coal miners died in accidents in 2014. CCWF officials say it is important for the students to understand the rich cultural history in their area that is as alive today as it was 123 years ago. For more, visit www.coalcreekaml.com
Girl, 12, shot in leg during robbery
A 12-year-old girl was sent to the hospital Thursday night after Campbell County Sheriff’s deputies say she was shot during an armed robbery in Campbell County. The incident happened at around 10 p.m. at Lee’s Food Mart on Gen. Carl Stiner Highway near LaFollette. The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office says the suspect began shooting randomly inside the store, striking the girl in the leg. Officials say she is expected to be okay. Deputies are still searching for the suspect, who was reportedly wearing a motorcycle helmet, which has prevented a detailed description from being released. As more information becomes available we will update you.
OR Council extends lease on Senior Center, opens doors to all
The Oak Ridge City Council has extended its lease agreement with the Anderson County government to continue using 10,000 square feet of the former Daniel Arthur Rehabilitation Center as a senior center. The new lease agreement will run through May 31st, 2017 and the city will pay the county a reported $5170 per month. The agreement calls for the Senior Center to be referred to from now on as the “Anderson County/Oak Ridge Senior Center” and will be open to all residents of Anderson County. During a protest last week in front of the County Courthouse in Clinton, area seniors asking for a county takeover of the Office on Aging and a new senior center complained that non-Oak Ridge residents were not allowed to use the facility. The extension could give Oak Ridge leaders more time to develop a plan to either relocate or replace the aging center off of Emory Valley Road, which residents have long said is too small and inadequate to serve their needs.
THP: Morgan wreck kills one
A Wednesday afternoon traffic accident in Morgan County killed a 29-year-old Crossville woman, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The single-vehicle accident happened shortly before 3 pm on Wednesday as Nancy McCloud traveled east in a 1998 Jeep Cherokee on Shady Grove Road in the Lancing community. The THP report indicates that the Jeep left the side of the roadway and struck an embankment, partially ejecting McCloud—who was not wearing a seatbelt—before coming to rest on its roof.
Ethics complaint filed against AC Mayor
An Oak Ridge man has filed an ethics complaint against Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank. Kevin Rice, in a letter sent Tuesday to Law Director Jay Yeager—who also serves as the investigative ombudsman for the county Ethics Committee—accuses the mayor of instructing now-former county building inspector Lisa Crumpley not to cooperate with a TBI investigation into Public Works Director David Crowley and allegedly “told [Crumpley] that she would be terminated” if she did so. Crumpley was fired by Crowley the same day he turned himself into authorities on a five-count indictment charging him with inspecting buildings without the proper certifications. The letter also accuses Frank of spending almost $23,000 for a part-time employee who Rice says was instructed to “investigate our County law Director,” which resulted in an audit finding after state auditors determined that money had been spent despite the County Commission denying a request from the mayor to do so. Mayor Frank told the News-Sentinel that the employee never investigated the office but rather, conducted a “cost comparison” between Anderson and other counties and what they spend on county attorneys or other legal services. The letter also accuses Frank of spending money to install “listening and tracking devices in county vehicles without written permission” an allegation the mayor flatly denies. The fourth complaint centers on the mayor’s chief of staff, Richard Burroughs, who Rice says “has done an abundance [of] private work for the mayor on the county government payroll.” In a post on her blog, iloveandersoncounty.com, Mayor Frank says that she “welcome[s] a review of any and all of my activities while mayor, although not by Mr. Yeager,” who she writes “lacks the fundamental capacity and character to evaluate ethical issues.” Yeager told the News-Sentinel Wednesday that it is likely that the mayor “would have an issue” with him conducting the investigation and that if the complaint moves forward, the County Commission would likely have to appoint an interim ombudsman. Frank and Yeager have been at odds—to put it mildly—since she was first elected in 2012 and she has tried to strip him of his duties as delinquent tax attorney, while Yeager has publicly stated his belief that she is behind an effort to have him ousted from office. A citizen-filed ouster suit was dismissed last year, but is currently on appeal. Recently, mayor Frank released an audit of the Public Works Department conducted by Burroughs that alleges that Crumpley herself inspected around 400 properties while also lacking the proper certifications and alleging that several county officials were aware of the violations. Crumpley has filed a federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination, which has reportedly been ordered into mediation. Crowley’s trial on the five-count indictment returned against him last fall will take place later this year.
AC budget committee recommends no tax increase
The Anderson County Budget Committee has voted to recommend a no-tax-increase budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1st to the County Commission. The budget contains no pay raises for county employees nor does it include any new money for the county school system. School leaders proposed a budget that included 4% pay raises for school employees who have not seen significant pay hikes in several years and $851,852 to pay for unfunded state mandates dealing with upgrades to physical education and sports facilities. The schools had also asked for the creation of a special reserve fund that would allow the system to begin purchasing hand-held computer devices for students as the state moves more and more toward online testing. All told, to fully fund the School Board’s request, it would have required the equivalent of a 56-cent increase in the county’s property tax rate, a request that County Mayor Terry Frank, in a press release issued Wednesday, “would move us backward” in trying to lure more residents and businesses to the county. She wrote: “I am encouraging the schools to wait for more funding until we achieve it through growth, not taxation.” The proposal put forth by the Budget Committee keeps the school funding at its current level of $54.8 million. The $25 million general fund budget, while not including salary increases, also does not include an increase in what county workers have to pay in health insurance costs. The proposal also includes seed money for an on-site medical clinic at the Courthouse for county employees that Frank states will be a “convenience to employees, reduce their pharmacy cost for common medications, reduce lost work time and also benefit the taxpayer by increasing wellness of employees.” The budget proposal, which was passed unanimously by the committee, will be the subject of a public hearing on May 28th and the full Commission will take it up next month. You can read the mayor’s press release about the budget on our website.
(AC Mayor Press Release) Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank has presented her administration’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Frank’s proposed general fund budget, as presented to the Budget Committee Tuesday afternoon, keeps most county departments at current-year spending levels and includes no tax increase. It was unanimously approved at Thursday evening’s budget meeting.
The balanced $25,088,157 budget for the county’s general operating fund proposes maintaining a focus on stabilizing spending levels until we have full economic recovery.
“Budget committee recognizes the rising costs of living for citizens, and to keep on a steady path of keeping more money in the hands of Anderson County citizens, we’ve presented no increase in property taxes. Original requests for funding put us over $2.5 million out of balance, but with understanding and the continued help of our county departments, we whittled that down,” said Mayor Frank.
Going into the budget cycle, Mayor Frank relied heavily on the Budget Committee when putting together the budget with Budget Director Christopher K. Phillips and Deputy Budget Director Connie Aytes. Budget Committee has spent the year consistently tracking revenues and expenditures. As the budget process unfolded, the committee agreed that revenues were not meeting requests and directed Budget Director Phillips to return to departments with a request to hold to their current levels. Budget Committee members are Mayor Terry Frank, Chairman, Commissioner Phil Warfield, Commissioner and Commission Chairman Robert McKamey, citizen Leonard Abatiello and citizen Dusty Irwin.
The budget proposal showed a benefit to employees in terms of no increase in the cost of health insurance. Part of the budget proposal includes funding start-up costs for an on-site medical clinic for employees. The proposed clinic will serve as a convenience to employees, reduce their pharmacy cost for common medications, reduce lost work time, and also benefit the taxpayer by increasing wellness of employees. “On-site clinics in the private sector have shown proven benefits to both the employee and the bottom line when it comes to health care costs, and budget committee is proud to work with our new Human Resource Director Russell Bearden to accomplish this goal,” said Mayor Frank.
“We have received a lot of praise by financial ratings institutions who like Anderson County’s financial direction. We’re going to stay committed and we know fiscal stability is one of the key factors in attracting families, business, and industries,” said Mayor Frank.
“I know the schools have proposed what amounts to a 56 cent tax increase, but when our main challenge is recruiting families to live here, such a tax increase would move us backwards,” said Mayor Frank. “We have had numerous new business and industry locations and expansions, but we do have a lag between the announcements and when the capital investment begins to actually affect our revenues. I am encouraging the schools to wait for more funding until we achieve it through growth, not taxation. At our joint meeting last night, I asked if they could wait another year to see additional revenue through growth, not taxation,” said Mayor Frank.
Some of the factors in not funding the schools request and recommending current funding levels are the reality that the number of students in the system is down and a number of students from other counties are being educated in our system with no offsetting revenue stream in place. “The schools have also requested over $2 million for salary increases for a 4% across the board raise, however, those numbers are not adding up. If we calculate 4% of their entire budgeted salaries, 4% amounts to $1,340,011.72--so we are not sure what the extra funds are for. We also will need to study what Governor Haslam and the legislature have allocated, because our understanding was that they funded the 4% raises,” said Mayor Frank.
Budget Committee also passed a recommendation to further strengthen fund balance policy by requiring the county to increase its unassigned General Fund balance to $4.5 million from $3.5 million. Such a move would require a supermajority vote from County Commission to dip into reserves below $4.5 million.
“While this year’s budget process posed many challenges, I feel that the proposal headed now to County Commission is a solid, workable and a fiscally sound plan. Again this year, budget committee worked through and made some tough decisions that safeguards the taxpayers from increased taxes, protects the fund balance and provides good stewardship of citizens’ tax dollars. While Anderson County is seeing some very positive movement in the industrial arena, we need to continue to do the financially prudent things with taxpayer money that attracts families and retail businesses to locate here. To me, that’s the key to the long-term financial health and quality of life we want to see Anderson County achieve,” said Budget Director Chris Phillips.
The next steps in the budget process will be a public hearing set for May 28 in room 312 of the courthouse and then a presentation to full Commission.
ACSD investigating robbery
The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a report of an armed robbery that occurred late Wednesday night near Rocky Top. The victim, Jacob Fry, called deputies just after midnight Thursday and told them that he had been assaulted and robbed by three people, two of whom he knew. Fry said that a man he knew called him at around 10 pm and asked if he wanted to play basketball and Fry agreed. A short time later, the man and a woman—whom he also knew—picked him up and the three drove to the Pine Hill community park in Rocky Top. Fry later told deputies that he thought that the woman had been acting strangely on the ride. When they reached the park, the man said he was going to call another man to play ball with them and while Fry stood outside the truck smoking, he said he heard the man tell his friend that they “were just outside and to come out an meet them.” Fry did not know the other man, according to the report. The four of them drive to basketball court at the end of Beech Grove Drive and Fry said that the second man who they had just picked up asked him to come speak with him at the rear of the truck. At that point, Fry says that the man began telling him that his sister and her friend were using drugs and that “he had a list of people that he thinks were giving the drugs to them” and that he had “narrowed his list down to one” and that it was Fry. Fry said that before he could respond, the man punched him in the face and continued assaulting him until he then felt something in the back of his neck and the man threatened to “blow his (expletive) brains out” if he moved. At that point, Fry said that the man stole several items, including a wallet, his shoes and a knife. The driver of the pickup allegedly kicked Fry several times as well before he, the other man and the woman fled in the pickup at a high rate of speed. Fry walked to a nearby home and called 911. Fry identified all three suspects to investigators using Facebook but attempts by deputies to reach them by telephone were unsuccessful. When more information becomes available and when charges are filed, we will pass it along to you.
UT students donate 2600+ items to 12 area charities
(Submitted) University of Tennessee students in Beth Meredith’s English 255 public writing courses were tasked with a semester long assignment advocating for a local charity of choice, including planning, promoting, and holding supply collection drives. With twelve different collections occurring during the months of March and April, her students were able to raise over 2,600 items for twelve different local charities.
All of the assignments in the course were focused on the non-profit’s cause and the collection drives. The students learned to effectively create and use brochures, websites, posters, flyers, and social media to raise awareness for the non-profits and to promote their collection drives.
When asked about the practical applications of the assignment, one student commented, “It was extremely smart for Professor Meredith to combine learning and serving in the same course. It would be awesome if more teachers could find a way to do this in their classrooms.”
However, another student, Conlon Griesmer, said it was more about helping people: “I did enjoy learning about all the different forms of public writing, but in many ways, giving back to our own community is way more important. I feel that many students find themselves in a ‘UT Bubble’ and don’t know much of Knoxville besides the restaurants on The Strip. Professor Meredith challenged us to look past ourselves and give our time and energy to those who are less fortunate, something college students don’t often do.”
Given the complexities of the semester long assignment, Hannah Murrey said she at first privately complained because the assignment seemed “too much.” But over the course of the semester, “I learned that I am a lucky person. There are people out there who are not so lucky. Those are the people that we should be helping. I am thankful for my teacher that helped me understand this hard lesson to learn. My heart is in a much better place now that I have seen life in a whole new perspective because of this assignment.”
The local non-profits benefiting from the collection drives are Knox Area Rescue Ministry (KARM), Second Harvest, Special Spaces, Crisis Center for Women, Young-Williams Animal Center, Angelic Ministries, Boys and Girls Club, Oak Ridge Animal Shelter, YWCA, Love Kitchen, Ronald McDonald House, and Columbus Home for Boys.
(Editor’s note: Beth Meredith is the wife of WYSH/WMYL owner Ron Meredith.)
Correction: tax increase still on table in Clinton
Correcting a story we brought you Tuesday, when the Clinton City Council meets to consider the new budget on first reading next week, a small property tax increase is still on the table. Tuesday we indicated the proposed budget included no new taxes but City Manager Roger Houck says that may not be the case. Describing the budget process as “fluid,” Houck says that the expiration of a FEMA grant awarded two years ago to pay all of the costs associated with four full-time firefighters and an increase in health insurance costs could mean that municipal taxes could increase for the first time in several years by about 3 to 4 cents. After a budget workshop last week, the budget as proposed is about $121,000 out of balance. Houck says that another possible “new” expenditure for the city could include fully funding the School Resource Officers at the city’s three elementary schools. If the Council were to vote for a tax increase, Houck says that other projects that have been discussed over the years could also be funded, including additional police and firefighters and the creation of a street paving fund to keep the city from having to borrow money for those types of projects. Currently, the city’s property tax rate is 76 cents per $100 of assessed value, one of the lowest in the state for a city of this size that provides the types of services Clinton does. The City Council will meet Monday at 5:30 pm at City Hall, a week earlier than usual to avoid a conflict with Memorial Day the following Monday.
ORPD officers, bystanders hailed as heroes
Three Oak Ridge Police officers and at least one bystander lifted an Emory Valley Center van off of a woman who was partially pinned underneath it after a crash in Woodland on Tuesday morning. Witnesses told our partners at Oak Ridge Today that the right arm and shoulder of the female passenger—reportedly an EVC employee—were pinned underneath the passenger side of the van after the crash, which was reported at about 10 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of Northwestern and North Purdue avenues. The three officers were identified as Cassen Garrison, Brandan Sharp, and Sergeant Pete Nance. Garrison’s right arm was bandaged by paramedics after witnesses said he used his hands to break out a back window of the Chevrolet Express van and rescue a male EVC client in the back of the van before he and the others got the three-ton vehicle back on its wheels. The female passenger was flown to UT Medical Center by Lifestar while the other three people involved, including the driver of the car, were taken by ambulance to area hospitals. Oak Ridge Today reports that Ed Taylor, who lives at the Manhattan Apartments, also helped lift the van and witnesses said other neighbors helped as well. As soon as we learn more about yesterday’s accident, including the names and conditions of those involved, we will let you know about it on WYSH.
CCWF Scholarship winners announced
(CCWF) The Coal Creek Watershed Foundation has awarded 36 scholarships to Briceville students over the past 13 years. The only requirement is that scholars must serve as role models for current Briceville students at our annual Coal Creek Scholars Day event in December.
Rev. Roy Daugherty was a founding board member of our organization who passed away a few years ago. When facing a tough decision, I can still hear Rev. Roy say, “Ahh, sometimes all you need is a little faith.” Well today is one of those days when we will be awarding seven scholarships totaling $60,000. Roy, I don’t know how we can afford it, so we need you to put in a good word for us up there.
We started a postgraduate scholarship program last year to help Lyndsey Phillips go to law school. This year, we’re helping Jonathan Towe go to medical school. He chose East Tennessee State University for its Rural Family Medicine program because his goal is to set up his practice in Anderson County someday and be known as Doc Towe.
Anderson County High School graduating seniors earning scholarships this year are Paul Long, Holley Smith, Tallen Roldan, Nick Cox, Emily Phillips and Kimberly Phillips. Special appreciation goes to Kim for putting blond streaks in her hair. Now, for the first time in 12 years, I can tell the difference between Kim will study criminal justice with a goal of going to law school. Em aspires to be a forensic pathologist, while Holley will study nursing. Tallen will attend business school and Paul will go to accounting school. Nick’s goal is to study wildlife biology and fisheries, “So I can make Coal Creek even more beautiful than it already is.” Kim and Em.
They earned their scholarships by participating in community service projects and submitting essays on improving the quality of life in the watershed. Pick a work day over the past four years and you’ll see photos of the Class of 2015 Scholars. CCWF President, Barry Thacker, P.E. says, “Our favorite day of the year is when our scholars in college return to serve as role models for current Briceville students. We may need to hold next year’s event in the gym, but that’s a good problem to have.”
CCWF board-member Carol Moore says, “Our goal is to give every Briceville student the incentive to excel in middle school and high school because they know they have the potential to get a college education.”
Nantglo is Welsh for Coal Creek and these scholarships recognize the contributions of the Welsh miners who helped East Tennessee rebuild after the Civil War. They came to Coal Creek to escape persecution in Great Britain. Here is where they wrote about their new land in their native language at a time when it was illegal to do so in Wales. Those books now reside at Harvard University where they are still used as references by students today.
The importance of education to the Welsh is recognized on one of the new historical markers at Briceville Public Library, which Scholars from the Class of 2015 helped install. The other historical marker at the library tells how Condy Harmon, a former Briceville student, quit school to become a miner and support his family after his father died in the 1902 Fraterville Mine explosion. Kim, Em, Holley, Tallen, Paul, and Nick honor his sacrifice by completing high school and attending college.
OR company celebrates milestone
Monday, an Oak Ridge company celebrated a milestone. Monday’s event was hosted by Smoky Mountain Solutions, or SMS, which is a joint venture between BES Technologies—or BEST—and Omega Technical Services, a company that handles low-level radioactive waste. The milestone was BEST’s recycling of 1 million gallons of radioactive water. SMS cleans and decontaminates between 1500 and 2000 hazmat suits and respirators per week so they can be reused and in turn, decontaminates that water for re-use in the industrial-sized washing machines used to clean the suits. BEST is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business and currently is a protégé with Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Mentor-Protégé Program. BEST/SMS provides respirator, laundry, water, and other environmental services to the radiological community.
Lock your car doors!
We bring you this next story to remind you to lock your car doors whenever you are away from your vehicle. Over the past week, three burglaries from automobiles have been reported in Clinton and in two of them, the victimized vehicles were unlocked. That was not the case in the first incident, reported Thursday on Hollingsworth Lane, where a woman reported that someone had broken the passenger side window of her car and stolen her purse containing two credit cards sometime the previous night. Later that same morning, a woman came to the police station and reported that she had forgotten to lock her car outside her home on Skyline Drive and came out to discover that a laptop computer and a briefcase had been stolen. The most recent incident was reported Sunday on Eagle Bend Road, where a woman called and said that her photo ID from work and some keys had been stolen from her unlocked vehicle. With the weather warming and more people out and about, remember to lock your car doors outside your homes, places of employment or when you are out shopping to help reduce your chances of being victimized by opportunistic thieves.
AP: Sabotage convictions overturned against Y-12 trio
(AP) An appeals court has overturned the sabotage convictions of three peace activists who broke into a facility storing much of this country's bomb-grade uranium and painted slogans and splashed blood on the walls. In a 2-1 opinion issued on Friday, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the most serious conviction against 85-year-old Sister Megan Rice, 66-year-old Michael Walli and 59-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed. The court upheld a conviction for injuring government property. On July 28, 2012, the activists cut through several fences at Y-12 in Oak Ridge to reach the uranium storage bunker. Once there, they hung banners, prayed and hammered on the outside wall of the bunker of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. At issue was whether the nonviolent protest injured national security. The majority opinion of the appeals court found that it did not. "If a defendant blew up a building used to manufacture components for nuclear weapons ... the government surely could demonstrate an adverse effect on the nation's ability to attack or defend. ... But vague platitudes about a facility's 'crucial role in the national defense' are not enough to convict a defendant of sabotage," the opinion says. Rice is serving a sentence of just less than three years, while Walli and Boertje-Obed are each serving sentences of just over five years. Defense attorney Bill Quigley said he hopes they will be re-sentenced to time served and released from prison.
Campbell among counties receiving state historic preservation funds
(Tennessee Historical Commission) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Historical Commission announced 36 Historic Preservation Fund grants were awarded to community and civic organizations for projects that support the preservation of historic and archaeological resources.
Awarded annually, 60 percent of the project funds are from the federal Historic Preservation Fund and 40 percent of project funds come from the grantee.
“These grants contribute to the study and protection of a wide range of Tennessee’s treasured historic places-buildings, archaeological sites and communities. These places help make our state unique and contribute to our quality of life,” said Patrick McIntyre, State Historic Preservation Officer and Executive Director of the Tennessee historical Commission.
Grants are competitive and this year the Tennessee Historical Commission staff reviewed 67 applications with funding requests totaling approximately $1.5 million, nearly double the amount of funding available. This year’s selection included building and archaeological surveys, design guidelines for historic districts, rehabilitation of historic buildings, posters highlighting the state’s history and archaeology and training for historic zoning staff or commissioners.
One of our grant priorities is for projects that are in Certified Local Governments, a program that allows communities to participate closely in the federal program of historic preservation. Eleven Certified Local Government communities were awarded grants this year. Additional priorities include areas experiencing rapid growth and development, other threats to cultural resources, areas where there are gaps in knowledge regarding cultural resources, and the restoration of the state’s historic buildings that are owned by civic or non-profit organizations. Properties that use the restoration grants must be listed in the National Register.
“Protecting Tennessee’s historic places is critical to preserving our state’s heritage,” Haslam said. “Today’s announcement of more than $700,000 in assistance to communities across the state helps ensure that Tennessee’s rich history will continue to be shared with future generations.”
The grant recipients and/or sites of the projects include:
UWAC fundraising continues wane
Fundraising was again down for the United Way of Anderson County during its 2014 campaign. Officials announced that the campaign had raised $1.044 million to be distributed among its 33 partner agencies at Thursday’s annual breakfast meeting. The amount of money raised each year has declined since hitting a highwater mark of almost $1.5 million in 2008-2009. Out of the money raised, some $313,000 goes to United Way overhead, with the rest distributed among member agencies. Officials say that the economic climate coupled with changes at some of the larger, corporate donors is leading to the reduction in funding. Officials have decided not to set a monetary goal for this year and say they are prioritizing their allocations of funding to those groups and agencies that provide basic human needs like food and shelter until fundraising picks back up.
FEMA expands disaster declarations from Feb. ice storms
(FEMA) The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved nine additional counties for the State of Tennessee’s recent disaster declaration from the severe winter storm of Feb. 15-22. Claiborne, Cocke, Davidson, DeKalb, Greene, Hawkins, Pickett, Rhea and Wayne counties join the list of 36 other counties already receiving federal assistance as a result of the presidential disaster declaration signed April 2, 2015.
The counties were added to the declaration following new damage assessments requested by the state, and conducted by local officials, representatives of Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and FEMA.
Previously declared counties include: Anderson, Bedford, Bledsoe, Blount, Campbell, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, Fentress, Giles, Grainger, Grundy, Hamblen, Hancock, Hardeman, Hardin, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Loudon, Marshall, McMinn, McNairy, Meigs, Monroe, Moore, Morgan, Obion, Overton, Putnam, Roane, Scott, Sevier, Van Buren, Warren and White.
Eligible government entities and certain private non-profits in the declared counties can apply for reimbursement of specific expenses related to disaster response and recovery under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. The Public Assistance Program provides a 75 percent funding reimbursement for costs related to debris removal, emergency protective measures and rebuilding and repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, buildings, utilities and recreational facilities.
DA, TBI: Crime in AC down for eighth straight year
According to the findings of a recently-released TBI report, crime in Anderson County declined for an eighth straight year in 2014. Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark issued a press release Wednesday that says that crime in Anderson County and all of its cities declined by 12% last year. The release also states that the county has seen a 42% decrease in the crime rate over the past eight years. Clark writes “during that same period…crime was also down across the state of Tennessee by an impressive 16%. However, locally, we have more than doubled the crime reduction that has been accomplished across the state.” Clark chalks up the local success to improved communication and cooperation among the county’s law enforcement agencies, as well as participation by citizens in Neighborhood Watch and other crime prevention programs. Clark also says that while local authorities “are pleased with [their progress], [they] are not satisfied, writing “We are going to work hard and try to work smart and together to continue to make Anderson County and its cities better and safer places to live, work and invest.” The statistics indicate that there are 3000 few crimes in Anderson County per year than there were in 2007.
FBI releases more on Y-12 FCU kidnapping, extortion plot
Authorities continue to investigate a kidnapping and extortion plot involving the Y-12 Federal Credit Union in Oak Ridge last week, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has released some information describing the three suspects. The alleged kidnapping and extortion started at about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 28, when a credit union employee’s family was kidnapped from the Whittington Creek neighborhood in west Knox County in an effort to extort money from the credit union, the FBI said in a press release on Wednesday. The employee’s family was held at gunpoint for a period of time before being released in the Gettysvue Country Club parking lot in Knoxville, around 9:25 a.m. Upon being released, the victims were able to seek help from a nearby residence. During the law enforcement response, the suspects fled and remain at large. No injuries were reported, and no money was taken from the credit union. The FBI said initial descriptions of the subjects were limited because the victims were blindfolded during the incident. But authorities have developed some descriptive information during the investigation, and they are sharing it to help identify the suspects.
Male Subject A
Male Subject B
The Oak Ridge Police Department responded to the Oak Ridge branch of Y-12 Federal Credit Union on Lafayette Drive at about 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, April 28. The credit union was cordoned off and closed the rest of that day and the next day, Wednesday, April 29, although the credit union’s headquarters, which share a five-story building with the local branch, remained open. The incident is being investigated jointly by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF), comprised of the FBI, Knoxville Police Department, and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the KCSO Major Crimes Unit, and the Oak Ridge Police Department. Members of the public are encouraged to report information about this incident to the Knoxville FBI at (865) 544-0751 or KCSO at (865) 215-2444.
ORPD arrests man who ‘stabbed’ car
Oak Ridge Police arrested a man on charges of aggravated assault and vandalism after an incident Monday morning that began with an argument at an apartment complex. 55-year-old Timothy Phillips of Oak Ridge is facing those charges, which stem form an incident that occurred Monday morning at McKenzie Acres Apartments. Police were called out to the apartments on a report of a man with a knife and learned that Philli8ps had been arguing with several people who were visiting a tenant. The argument escalated near the entrance when Phillips is said to have produced a knife and “began stabbing the hood of a vehicle” with it. The driver of that vehicle fled on foot but was pursued by Phillips until the driver turned around and punched him in the head, causing him to fall to the ground. Phillips was arrested and taken first to Methodist Medical center for treatment of a cut to his forehead and a split lip before being taken to the Anderson County Jail. The driver whose car was stabbed suffered a minor cut on one finger.
Roane man arrested in lighter-fluid-spraying case
Authorities in Roane County responded to a domestic assault call at a home in Kingston last week and arrested a 22-year-old man. Tyler Wright was arrested on charges of aggravated domestic assault after his girlfriend told police that the couple had been arguing but when she tried to leave, Wright grabbed her clothes, dowsed them and her with lighter fluid and set the clothes on fire. The woman was not injured in the incident. Wright's bail was set at $2,500 and he is scheduled to appear in Roane County General Sessions Court on June 15.
Gooch says Main Street OR on schedule for June 30th groundbreaking
(Oak Ridge Today) Groundbreaking and demolition for Main Street Oak Ridge, the $80 million redevelopment of the former Oak Ridge Mall property, is on schedule to begin by June 30, Mayor Warren Gooch said Tuesday. The mayor made his remarks during Lunch with the League sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge. Crosland Southeast, the North Carolina-based company that has proposed the project, announced last week that MDC Development Group of Atlanta will be the hotel developer at the site. Gooch told attendees at Lunch with the League that he learned Monday that the retail leasing component of Main Street Oak Ridge is “moving forward,” along with negotiations with a developer for the multi-family housing component of the project..
Report: Anderson steps down amid probe
According to the News-Sentinel, longtime Oak Ridge High School head track coach and science teacher Eddie Anderson is being investigated for allegedly having “inappropriate contact with a former student.” The school system announced last week that Anderson had been placed on unpaid leave while Oak Ridge Police investigated at-the-time unspecified allegations. The News-Sentinel reports that Anderson submitted his retirement papers last Friday, effective June 2nd. In addition to his coaching duties, Anderson also taught chemistry and AP chemistry while serving as the chairman of the school’s science department. Specific details of the allegations being investigated by the police have not been made available. The paper also reports that Anderson was reprimanded just last month after school administrators looked into several allegations made against Anderson following a track team trip to a meet in South Carolina. Anderson was disciplined for allowing the team to stay at a hotel deemed “unacceptable and dangerous” by fellow staff members, allowing students to choose their own rooms—which allegedly led to an “inappropriate” situation involving a male and female student, and not having a meal plan in place for team members. According to the KNS, “Anderson also didn’t answer the phone when students’ parents called…and he left early the next morning after the track meet and took the girl and boy who ‘engaged in inappropriate contact’ home.” He was also taken to task for allegedly failing to notify assistant coaches that he was leaving, which left those three assistants supervising 55 students.
ORPD arrests man after chase, shots fired
Oak Ridge Police say that the drivers of a car and a truck rammed each other during a police chase last week and the driver of the sedan fired shots at the truck before he was arrested. Oak Ridge officers responded to a home in the Hendrix Creek subdivision shortly before 11 pm on Wednesday April 29th after someone called and said that a man later identified as 44-year-old David Dunlap Jr. of Oliver Springs had been there with a pistol making threats. When officers arrived, they were told Dunlap had gone to a house in the Highland View neighborhood and they headed that way. While en route, officers encountered two vehicles, a sedan and a truck, on Outer Drive near New York Avenue traveling at a high rate of speed, a press release said. Officers reported that as the two vehicles got closer to their position, Dunlap, who was driving the sedan, fired shots at the truck.. Officers began pursuing both vehicles eastbound on Outer Drive and then southbound on New York Avenue. Police say that Dunlap and the driver of the truck continued to ram each other’s vehicles repeatedly. The driver of the truck stopped at the intersection of New York Avenue and Nolan Road, while Dunlap continued south on New York Avenue, reportedly tossing his pistol out the window as he fled. Dunlap continued fleeing from police until he was stopped on Vermont Avenue, taken into custody and charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and evading arrest. Dunlap’s gun, a .45 caliber revolver, was recovered on New York Avenue. Dunlap was taken to the Anderson County Jail. The driver of the truck was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries and officers indicated that further charges could be pending in this case.
AC LSAC makes no progress on review
The Anderson County Legal Services Advisory Committee met Monday night to continue discussing a possible review of the policies, practices and procedures of the County Law Director’s office. After an hour of discussions, which at times became somewhat heated, members voted to postpone the discussion for another month. This is another front in the high-profile battle between County Mayor Terry Frank and Law Director Jay Yeager, which has raged unchecked since she took off ice on the fall of 2012. Earlier this year, the Committee, which along with the County Commission has the authority to hire and fire the law director under the private act that created the office in 2006, voted to conduct a third-party review of the office. Committee member and County Commissioner Myron Iwanski said Monday that none of the three agencies he approached about conducting such a review agreed to do so, and he blamed what he called the “toxic political atmosphere” in the county. He said that UT’s County Technical Assistance Service—or CTAS, a law director in another county and a UT professor all declined to conduct the review but added that he did find a Nashville attorney willing to conduct the review for $150 an hour, which is said to be a discounted rate. Mayor Frank, meanwhile, says that the review should be conducted by the State Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility, which conducts oversight of all attorneys in Tennessee. The date of the next meeting of the Legal Services Advisory Committee has not been announced as yet.
AC Chamber: Job Fair a “Success”
(Submitted) The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Job Fair at the Y-12 New Hope Center on April 30 with 25 companies representing 1,600 job opportunities. Over 1,100 applicants from Scott to Morgan County and beyond visited the Fair to vie for the jobs.
Organized by the Chamber’s Education/Workforce Council and assisted by the Chamber Ambassadors, the event was designed to connect employers and applicants.
Chamber President Rick Meredith, “We were ecstatic with the response from employers and the number of applicants. It is rewarding to see job seekers connect with employers. We look forward to hosting a similar Job Fair in the fall.”
Rep. John Ragan issued this statement through Facebook …… GREAT NEWS FOR ANDERSON COUNTY-- March Labor Reports show unemployment numbers falling.
Anderson County's unemployment rate has fallen from 7.0% in March 2014 to 6.0% in March 2015. Oak Ridge's unemployment rate has fallen from 6.5% in March 2014 to 5.9% in February 2015 and is projected at 5.2% in March 2015. For more information visit: http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/lmr/
The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce mission is to encourage economic development, government initiatives, and community initiatives that result in prosperity for members and citizens of Anderson County. For more information contact the Chamber at 865-457-2559 or email: email@example.com.
ORT: Teacher, coach on leave pending investigation
An Oak Ridge High School science teacher and track coach has been suspended from his teaching duties without pay pending an investigation by the Oak Ridge Police Department. Our partners at Oak Ridge Today report that “undisclosed information [concerning Eddie Anderson] was reported to the Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent’s Office on Thursday morning.” The matter was referred to the Oak Ridge Police Department for its consideration and investigation. Anderson has been suspended from his teaching duties without pay while the investigation is under way. “If Mr. Anderson is vindicated or reinstated following the investigation, he shall be paid full salary for the period of his suspension,” school officials said. Anderson teaches chemistry and AP chemistry, and he has been a track and field coach at ORHS since 1979 and the ORHS head coach since 1996. In the meantime, officials said Oak Ridge Cross Country/Track Coach Allen Etheridge will be filling in as interim track and field coach.
Larger-scale review could cost OR
The expanded scope of a review of issues within the Oak Ridge Police Department could mean that the city will have to pay the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service—or MTAS- $50 per hour for its work. MTAS had initially proposed a limited review of turnover, morale, and administrative policies in the Oak Ridge Police Department at no charge to the city. That review, which would have included interviews with a random sample of ORPD employees, was approved by the Oak Ridge City Council during a March 27 special meeting. But the City Council asked to start over after the initial list of employees to be interviewed was sent to several people, including the police chief, raising concerns about the confidentiality and impartiality of the review.
During an April 21 special meeting, City Council agreed 5-2 to start over by asking MTAS to interview all employees and try to interview former employees who have left since Police Chief Jim Akagi started on July 1, 2011. However, that vote meant the city’s contract with MTAS, which had already started the initial review, must be renegotiated. According to Oak Ridge Today, Thursday, MTAS sent Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch a letter asking for more information about the expanded scope of the inquiry. Those questions will be discussed during a City Council work session on Tuesday, May 5. In the letter to Gooch, MTAS Executive Director Jim Thomas said the expanded inquiry “presents a very significant change to the original scope of work…it already appears that the MTAS resources needed to meet the new scope of work are significantly greater than under the original scope,” he said. “Assuming this to be the case, and should MTAS and the city move forward together, it is very likely that MTAS will charge the city $50 per hour for future MTAS work on this project.”
Thomas said he couldn’t estimate a total cost yet, but the additional information will help MTAS develop an estimate.
Among the questions from MTAS:
The Tuesday work session starts at 5 p.m. in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Training Room. You can read much more about this story, including the letter from MTAS to the city, at www.oakridgetoday.com.
ORT: Hotel developer chosen for Main Street OR
(Oak Ridge Today) Crosland Southeast, the developer of the $80 million, 60-acre Main Street Oak Ridge project, announced Thursday that Atlanta-based MDC development group, through its affiliated company Canterfield Hotel Group LLC, will build a new 120-room hotel at the site. The hotel brand has yet to be determined, and feasibility studies are ongoing to determine which brand would best complement the Oak Ridge community. In addition to hotels and restaurants, MDC has been a force in the senior housing industry, the press release said. Currently, the company is developing and operating its “Canterfield” brand of independent and assisted living housing in Tennessee (including Oak Ridge), Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. Read more about the announcement at www.oakridgetoday.com.
Property Assessor: Property values decline, tax rate to go up
As we reported last week, Anderson County property values have declined by an average of 4% since 2010, the date of the last appraisal. In an op-ed piece, Property Assessor John Alley Jr. said “In the past, values have always increased. I promised a fair and accurate assessment for Anderson County, and I feel that is what I have delivered to the property owners.” Alley’s letter, which you can read in its entirety on our website, explains the process of reappraisals and what effect it may have on property owners moving forward. Alley says it is the first time he has seen a decrease in property values. Anderson County property values are assessed every five years. The main purpose of reappraisal is to determine the current market value for real property throughout the county. The reappraisal, according to Alley, is used to ensure that residents and businesses are not paying too much or too little taxes based on property values. Assessment Change Notices were mailed out on April 24 to more than 37,000 residents that have had a value change in their property. Although there is an overall drop in property assessments, not every property will see a decrease. Alley says, as an example, that if sales are up in a particular area versus what they are currently assessed, then there would be an increase, or if someone improved their property or made additions, then that property would see an increase as well. Alley says that if property owners have questions, or do not agree with the new assessed value, they may call the Property Assessor’s Office at (865) 457-6225 Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm between through May 8. Taxpayers can also schedule an appointment to come to the office if needed after this time period. The local Anderson County Board of Equalization starts meeting June 1 to hear appeals not settled during early phone-in appeals and meetings. The State Board of Equalization begins 45 days after the local board dismisses. A new certified tax rate will be determined the State Board of Equalization and that new certified tax rate will be determined, most likely, in July. Since the total assessment decreased, and in order to ensure the same level of funding for county and city governments, the certified tax rate will see an increase. The new certified tax rate will be adjusted up or down to the point that the “taxing jurisdiction” will receive the same amount of property tax revenue as it did the previous year, prior to the reappraisal. Cities and counties are prohibited by state law from using the reappraisal to generate new tax revenue. After receiving your Assessment Change Notice, you may call the Property Assessor’s Office at (865) 457-6225 to appeal over the phone if you feel your assessment is too high or too low. If you want to meet in person with someone from the Property Assessor’s Office, you may schedule an appointment at this time as well. Due to the expected high volume of calls and walk-ins, an appointment is recommended.
CPD investigating bogus checks
Clinton Police are investigating the cashing of fraudulent checks at Wal-Mart. According to an incident report, a store manager told officers that on April 22nd, two black males entered the store and cashed one check each—one for $4733, the other for $4006. The checks turned out to be bogus, which means the store is out a total of $8739. The manager said that he believes one of the suspects was recently arrested for cashing a fraudulent check at a different Wal-Mart in Knox County, but the other has not been identified. The incident is being investigated by the CPD’s Criminal Investigation Division and when charges are filed, we will identify the suspects.
Disturbance at elementary school
While the following incident may not be “news worthy,” we tell you about it just to remind people to be nice to one another. Tuesday, Clinton Police were called to Clinton Elementary School after a man allegedly threatened a woman for sitting in his seat. The woman told officers that a man she did not know approached her as she sat in the school auditorium and told her that she was sitting in her seat. The woman replied that she had not seen him sitting there and pointed out several empty seats nearby. At that point, she said the man became irate and cursed at her while threatening to “knock her head off” when they got outside. He then reportedly took several photographs of her and said he would post them on Facebook. An officer made contact with the man outside the school and he said that he had been in the auditorium but needed to step outside and that when he came back, she was in his seat. The man admitted to the officer that his actions were inappropriate and said “I will apologize to you but not to her.” The officer then made the man delete the pictures he had taken of the woman. In the meantime, the school principal was made aware of the incident and warned the man that he will be banned from school property if another incident of this type continues. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Men, don’t ever threaten to hit a woman, especially at an elementary school, and everyone, please find a calmer way to resolve disputes.)
FBI searching for 2 men, woman in kidnap, extortion, robbery attempt
It sounds like the plot of a movie but it happened in Oak Ridge and West Knox County on Tuesday. The FBI is searching for two men and woman in connection with an alleged kidnapping and robbery scheme involving the main branch of Y-12 Federal Credit Union in Oak Ridge, its president and his family. According to the FBI, at approximately 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, a credit union employee and his family were threatened as part of a plot to steal money from the credit union. The family was kidnapped from their home in the Whittington Creek subdivision and held for a little over an hour before the alleged kidnappers dropped them off in the parking lot of the Gettysvue Country Club in West Knoxville. At around the same time, FBI agents, deputies from the Knox County Sheriff's Office and Oak Ridge Police officers converged on the Y-12 Credit Union at 501 Lafayette Drive in Oak Ridge on a report of a bank robbery, kidnapping and extortion. While officers were responding, the suspects who had been holding the family fled, according to the FBI. No one was injured and no money was taken from the credit union. Federal authorities have not identified the family held Tuesday morning, but it is believed to be that of Mark Ziegler, the CEO of the credit union, whose house authorities converged on in West Knoxville late Tuesday morning. Authorities are asking for the public's help as the investigation continues. Agents say they are particularly interested in hearing from anyone who may have seen anything unusual in the Whittington Creek neighborhood of West Knox County between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. or the Gettysvue Country Club parking lot between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. The area of specific focus in Whittington: around Whittington Creek Boulevard., South Northshore Drive, and/or Scott Lane. Agents would like to hear from anyone who may have noticed a vehicle following a 2010 gold Lexus RX350.during that timeframe. If you have any information on Tuesday’s incident, you are asked to call the Knoxville office of the FBI at 865-544-0751 or the Knox County Sheriff's Office at 865-215-2444. The Lafayette Drive branch was closed during the investigation on Tuesday and remains closed on Wednesday, but it will re-open for normal hours on Thursday. The credit union’s headquarters, which share a five-story building with the branch, remained open during Tuesday’s investigation and is open today as well. Authorities have not released specific details of the robbery plot, but as soon as more information becomes available, we will pass it along to you. .
(FBI/KCSO press release) The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), and the Oak Ridge Police Department (ORPD) responded to the Y-12 Credit Union at 501 Lafayette Drive, in Oak Ridge Tennessee today on a report of a bank robbery, kidnapping, and extortion.
Preliminary reports indicate that at approximately 8:15 a.m. today, an employee of the credit union, and the employee’s family, were threatened in an attempt to obtain money from the credit union. The employee’s family was held for a period of time before being released in the Gettysvue Country Club parking lot in Knoxville, around 9:25 a.m. During the law enforcement response, the suspects fled and no injuries have been reported, and no money was taken from the credit union.
Law enforcement agencies are looking for two male subjects and one female subject (no further descriptions are available at this time). Members of the public who were in the vicinity of the Whittington Creek neighborhood (around Whittington Creek Blvd., South Northshore Drive, and/or Scott Lane), in Knoxville between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., or the Gettysvue County Club parking lot in Knoxville between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., who may have noticed a vehicle following a 2010 gold Lexus, RX350, or any unusual activity, are asked to call the Knoxville FBI at 865-544-0751, or KCSO at 865-215-2444.
This matter is being investigated jointly by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF), composed of the FBI, KPD, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Major Crimes Unit, and the Oak Ridge Police Department.
UWAC has new executive director
According to a press release from the organization, Naomi Asher has been selected as the next executive director of the United Way of Anderson County. She starts Monday, May 4. Asher was picked for the position by the United Way of Anderson County Board of Directors. “Ms. Asher has the unique set of experiences the Search Committee was looking for in candidates,” said Tom Hilton, incoming president of the United Way Board of Directors. “She knows the community and can hit the ground running on May 4.” The organization conducted a national search.
“We advertised the position nationwide and were very pleased that we found the perfect match for the organization in our own backyard,” said Greta Ownby, outgoing president of the United Way Board of Directors. Asher follows long-time Executive Director Rick Morrow. Morrow announced his plans to retire after 10 years with the organization in January, and he stayed through March 31. Asher is a graduate of Oak Ridge High School and most recently served as the executive director of CASA, a United Way partner agency. “I am very excited about the opportunity to lead the United Way and am looking forward to what the future holds for the organization, our partner agencies, and our community,” Asher said. The United Way will hold its Annual Meeting and Campaign Announcement event on Thursday, May 7, at 7:30 a.m. at New Hope Center in Oak Ridge. For more information about the United Way of Anderson County, call (865) 483-8431.
(Updated) Judge issues order in Rocky Top legal saga
A federal judge on Friday granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Rocky Top Marketing and Manufacturing from profiting on t-shirts and other merchandise. It is the latest development in the legal battle between House of Bryant Publications and the company formed after the town of Lake City changed its name to Rocky Top last year. The company, which owns the rights to the iconic bluegrass song “Rocky Top,” alleges that the company is infringing on its trademarks and has filed suit in federal court to force the town to drop its new moniker and shut down any attempts to profit off the name. The order handed down Friday by US District Court Judge Thomas Varlan, who had previously denied a similar injunction, does not bar the town from using the name, but does prevent the developers from using the name on merchandise. Varlan initially denied House of Bryant’s request for a preliminary injunction against the developers saying it was premature since the developers asserted that they did not have plans to use or sell the trademarks. House of Bryant asked the judge to reconsider his decision after RTTMM submitted eight applications for trademarks and announced an agreement with a Knoxville-based fashion designer to sell apparel and souvenirs. Varlan’s ruling from last year is being appealed by House of Bryant to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the defendants in the lawsuit have indicated they could appeal Friday’s ruling as well and let the appeals court decide the matter. Rocky Top Marketing and Manufacturing has argued that the name “Rocky Top” refers only to a geographic location and not trademark infringement. A trial is currently set for February 2016.
GSMNP names Soehn Employee of Year
(GSMNP) Great Smoky Mountains National Park is pleased to announce the selection of Dana Soehn as the Park’s 2014 “Employee of the Year.” This marks the 31st anniversary of an important partnership between the park and its neighboring communities which recognizes the outstanding work of park employees in all disciplines. A public event will be held on Monday, May 4, at 11:30 a.m. on the lawn at Park Headquarters. The annual event, sponsored by the Smoky Mountain Tourism and Development Council, will also observe National Tourism Week. In conjunction with this observance, a visiting family to the Smokies will be selected to participate as “tourist family of the day.” Jimbo Whaley, singer and songwriter and General Manager at Hearthside Rentals, will serve as the Employee of the Year event emcee.
Soehn began her career at the Smokies in 1989 as a Student Conservation Association Resource Assistant. After her internships, Dana spent 15 years as a member of the Resource Management and Science Division. In 2005, Dana became the Parks as Classrooms liaison between the park and Pi Beta Phi Elementary School. In 2009, Dana returned to the National Park Service as the park-wide Volunteer Coordinator where she directed the park’s 3,000+ volunteers, creating lifelong stewards of the national park. In 2012, then Superintendent Dale Ditmanson selected Dana to serve as the park’s management assistant, the park’s primary spokesperson and liaison with community groups and friends groups.
In 2014, Dana’s role in the superintendent’s office transition along with her continued community service made her a clear choice for the Employee of the Year award. As Management Assistant, Dana guided three acting superintendents through their details at the Smokies, organizing public meet and greets, introductions to park partner groups and community organizations. In this position Dana also organizes several events and programs with partner organizations, including the Student Conservation Association’s National Park Service Academy. Dana and her co-workers have streamlined processes regarding Freedom of Information and Special Use permit requests over the past year. Finally, as the primary spokesperson for the park, Dana has maintained an excellent relationship with local, national, and international media outlets.
“Working with Dana every day, I see firsthand her passion for this special place,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “She represents the Smokies, and the National Park Service, with the highest degree of enthusiasm and professionalism.”
Dana lives in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with her husband, Heath and their two sons, Grant and Garrett. As a family, they have traveled to many of the national parks throughout the country. She shares her time in the community through volunteer service at her church, in local schools, the Gatlinburg Planning Commission, Keep Sevier Beautiful and many other organizations.
Co-hosts of the 2015 event include: Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism, Gatlinburg Department of Tourism, Sevierville Chamber of Commerce, Smoky Mountains Tourism Development Council, Blount County Partnership, and Cocke County Partnership.
AC Property Assessor: Property values decline
(AC Property Assessor's Office) The 2015 reappraisal in Anderson County shows an overall drop in total assessments. “In the past, values have always increased,” Anderson County Property Assessor John K. Alley Jr. said. “I promised a fair and accurate assessment for Anderson County, and I feel that is what I have delivered to the property owners.”
The primary purpose of this article is to explain the reappraisal process and set the guidelines for making an appeal, if desired. 2015 is a reappraisal year for Anderson County.
Counties must reappraise every four, five, or six years. Anderson County is on a five-year reappraisal cycle. The main purpose of reappraisal is to arrive at current market value for real property throughout the county. Reappraisal is mandated by T.C.A. code 67-5-1601. Reappraisal is used to ensure that residents and businesses are not paying too much or too little taxes based on property values.
Assessment Change Notices were scheduled to be mailed out on Friday, April 24, to more than 37,000 residents that have had a value change in their property.
“This is the first time (I have) seen property values decrease,” Alley said.
The total assessment of Anderson County properties—including homes, farmland, businesses, and industries—has declined 4 percent overall.
Although there is an overall drop in property assessments, not every property will see a decrease. For instance, if sales are up in a particular area versus what they are currently assessed, then there would be an increase, or if someone improved their property, i.e., new improvement or added an addition to that property, then that property would see an increase as well.
But, overall, for the first time, many residents will see a drop in value as sales ratios are not meeting the current assessed values from the 2010 reappraisal.
If you wish to discuss, have questions, or do not agree with your new value, property owners may call the Property Assessor’s Office at (865) 457-6225 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. between April 24 and May 8. Taxpayers can also schedule an appointment to come to the office if needed after this time period.
The local Anderson County Board of Equalization starts meeting June 1 to hear appeals not settled during early phone-in appeals and meetings.
The State Board of Equalization begins 45 days after the local board dismisses.
Reappraisal assessments will primarily be based upon qualified real estate sales from January 1, 2014, to January 1, 2015.
A new certified tax rate will be determined by the executive secretary of the State Board of Equalization. The new certified tax rate will be determined toward the end of the local appeals, typically in July.
Since the total assessment decreased, and in order to ensure the same level of funding for county and city government, the certified tax rate will see an increase. The opposite occurred during the 2010 reappraisal: With values increasing more than 20 percent, there was a decline in the certified tax rate, so there would not be an increase in tax funds.
The new certified tax rate will be adjusted up or down to the point that the taxing jurisdiction will receive the same amount of property tax revenue as it did the previous year, prior to the reappraisal. Jurisdictions cannot use the reappraisal to generate new tax revenue.
Any tax rate different than the certified tax rate, which is determined by the State Board of Equalization, must be approved by the local legislative body, which are city councils for Oak Ridge, Clinton, Norris, Oliver Springs, and Rocky Top, as well as the Anderson County Board of Commissioners.
New greenbelt values are established by the State Board of Equalization. Greenbelt is the Agriculture, Forest, and Open Space Act of 1976 that helps preserve those lands. The new greenbelt values received from the State Board of Equalization will see an increase in greenbelt use values. However, this value is still the lowest assessment for forest, agriculture, and open space land meeting the requirements.
After receiving your Assessment Change Notice, you may call the Property Assessor’s Office at (865) 457-6225 to appeal over the phone if you feel your assessment is too high or too low. If you want to meet in person with someone from the Property Assessor’s Office, you may schedule an appointment at this time as well. Due to the expected high volume of calls and walk-ins, an appointment is recommended. Thank you in advance for your patience.
2015 Reappraisal Time Line
April 24, 2015—Mail Assessment Change Notices
April 27-May 8, 2015—Informal hearings by telephone and in person
May 11, 2015—Begin reviewing appeals
May 18, 2015—Mail results from informal hearings and appeals
June 1, 2015—Local Board of Equalization begins meeting for formal appeals
Anderson County Property Assessor
The function of the property assessor is to appraise each parcel of taxable real estate within the county at its market value or a percentage of market value stipulated by statute. The property assessor does not determine the property tax rate or collect any taxes.
Anderson County Commission
It is the duty of the Anderson County Commission to adopt a budget and to appropriate funds for the ensuing fiscal year for all county departments and agencies. The Anderson County Commission is responsible for setting the Anderson County property tax rates.
Oak Ridge, Clinton, Norris, Oliver Springs, and Rocky Top city councils
It is the duty of the City Councils to adopt a budget and appropriate funds for the ensuing fiscal year for all city departments and agencies. The city councils are responsible for setting the city’s property tax rate.
OR schools name new ORHS principal
The Oak Ridge school system announced Monday that Martin McDonald of High Point, North Carolina, has agreed to become the principal of Oak Ridge High School effective July 1. He will succeed current principal David Bryant, who is retiring. Bryant was an assistant principal and interim principal before he was named full-time principal at ORHS in January 2014. Byrant has also been an administrator at the Alternative Program, and he began his career with Oak Ridge Schools as a special education teacher in 1985.
McDonald was selected following the screening of applications and interviews of selected candidates by a committee including administrators, Oak Ridge High School staff members, and both a student and parent representative from ORHS.
McDonald spent his early years in Knoxville because his father was employed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, school officials said. He attended the University of Tennessee, where he received a bachelor’s degree in history in 1999. He also earned his master’s degree in education at the University of Tennessee in 2001. In 2008, he completed his master’s degree in school administration at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in Greensboro, North Carolina. McDonald’s educational career began in 2001 as a social studies teacher at Smith High School in Greensboro, North Carolina. From 2005 to 2010, he was the assistant principal of Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, North Carolina. Since 2010, he has served as principal of Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City, North Carolina. While serving as principal, McDonald led Jordan-Matthews High School to be ranked the 12th- and fourth-best school in North Carolina by US News and World Report. The school also made Newsweek’s list of the top 500 schools in the country for working with high poverty students and has raised its graduation rate from 61.8 percent to 79.8 percent. Additionally, McDonald oversaw the implementation of a 1:1 laptop program at Jordan-Matthews and was selected to represent principals across the state of North Carolina for the Distinguished Leadership in Practice program on the Digital Transformation of Schools.
“We are very excited to have Mr. McDonald join our team in Oak Ridge,” Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers said in a press release announcing the hire. “His experience, knowledge of our area, and proven success will be an asset to Oak Ridge High School and the community.”
ORPD probes gunfire, no witnesses
Oak Ridge Police responded to a complaint of gunfire in the 200 block of South Benedict Avenue at about 10:06 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, but when they arrived, officers were unable to locate any suspects, victims, or witnesses, a press release said. Officers canvassed the area to locate witnesses and checked on the welfare of numerous occupants of nearby homes; however, no personal injuries or property damages were found or reported. “All those interviewed claimed to have neither heard nor seen anything,” the release said. “Investigating officers located and collected several spent shell casings apparently fired from a small-caliber handgun that were lying in the street near the location of the reported gunfire.” The release said anyone with any information regarding this incident should contact the city’s dispatch non-emergency line at (865) 425-4399.
Clinton car lot hit by thieves
For the third time in a month, a Clinton auto dealership was hit by thieves over the weekend. The first two instances occurred at Fox Toyota, where a horse trailer and a 2015 Toyota 4Runner were stolen over the past few weeks. Saturday, Clinton Police were called to Ray Varner Ford on Seivers Boulevard on a report of a stolen SUV. When they arrived, officers were told that a black 2012 Ford Explorer valued at $28,000 had been taken from Varner’s lot sometime between March 31st, when employees put new tires on it, and Saturday morning. The vehicle’s information has been entered into the NCIC and an investigation is underway.
Sex offender indicted on 2010 charges
A 77-year-old man listed as a violent sex offender has been indicted on a charge of child rape in a case dating back to 2010. George Moore pleaded guilty in 2012 to reduced charges of attempted child rape in a case involving a child under the age of 13 that occurred in late 2009. In exchange for his plea, he was placed on 20 years probation, ordered to stay away from any child under the age of 18 and added to the state sex offender registry. The new charges, to which he pleaded not guilty Monday in Criminal Court, stem from allegations dating back to 2010 and allegedly involved another child under the age of 13. While he is on probation for his 2012 plea, he is not facing a violation charge because the alleged crimes occurred before he was placed on probation. Explaining the delay in filing the new charges, prosecutors say that delays in charges like this could be a byproduct of waiting for potential victims to be ready to testify, or realizing exactly what happened to them. Moore is in custody at the Anderson County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court on July 13th.
CHS academic achievement noted
Recently released data from the education-focused website SchoolDigger.com, Clinton High School is now ranked in the top 25% of all high schools in Tennessee. According to the website, CHS is one of only three East Tennessee high schools with comparable populations and demographic make-ups to receive a four-star rating on a five-star scale. The most recent ratings are for academic year 2013-2014. Those statistics show that Clinton is ranked 79th out of 294 Tennessee high schools and the website says that the student-teacher ratio at CHS of 16.5 students to 1 teacher is one of the best in East Tennessee. School administrators are quick to give the credit to the teachers and students at the school for the uptick in academic achievement and are very optimistic about the possibilities for future success.
(Relay for Life of East Anderson County) The 15th annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life event for East Anderson County was held on Saturday, April 25th from2:00 PM until midnight. Due to the threat of severe weather, a change in venue was made from downtown Clinton to Clinton Middle School although the storms didn’t arrive until after the conclusion of the event. The administration and staff at ClintonMiddle School should be commended for welcoming this event at the last minute and providing staff to open up the gymnasium for a “Kids Zone” attended by many area youth. The event totals approximately $60,500 to date, but more money is expected to come in from the teams participating. Thanks to Bear Stephenson, a live action held during the event raised over $5,000 with the big ticket item of a used Ford Taurus from Ray Varner Ford. The money raised will be used by the American Cancer Society to fund research, community support programs, education programs and advocacy efforts.
Area cancer survivors were welcomed at 1:00 PM for special activities and refreshments and were then honored at opening ceremonies at 2:00 PM. The Star Spangled Banner was sung by Asha Moody and Clinton High School Air Force Junior ROTC presenting the Stripes. Mayors Terry Frank and Scott Burton welcomed the crowd as the cancer survivors took to the street for the Victory Lap led by bagpiper Jesse McCrary while being cheered on by the participants and public in attendance. The Parade of Teams took the second lap including: Aisin Automotive, Clinton City Schools, Clinton Middle School, Clinton Physical Therapy Center, Enrichment Federal Credit Union, Hoskins Drug Store, Norwood Elementary, St. Mark United Methodist Church, Team Riley Mozingo, Walgreens, Y12 Federal Credit Union and Team Russell Stansberry with over 75 team members present supporting him in his brave fight against cancer.
Throughout the day people participated in good food, games, contests and entertainment. Bands performing included the Leon Thomas Band, The Tenos Band, Handsome and the Humbles Band and the Oliver’s. The US Taekwondo Academy provided a demonstration and Kim Lay and her dog Al from the Anderson County Sheriff’s department also provided a demonstration. A large crowd worked their dinner off with 30 minutes of Zumba led by a very energetic Joy Winchester from Take Charge Fitness Program. As always the event came was closed with the 10:00 PM luminaria ceremony with an hour of reflection on those people who have lost their battle against cancer, encouragement for those still fighting the battle and celebration for those who have won the battle against cancer.
Everyone in the community who participated as a volunteer, participated as a team member, donated money or just came out to enjoy the event should be proud of the part they took in fighting this terrible disease. A special thanks also to corporate sponsors: Methodist Medical Center, Thompson Cancer Survival Center, Clinton Physical Therapy Center, Y12 Federal Credit Union, Powell-Clinton Utility, ORAU, Ameriprise Financial Keeton & Associates, Star102.1, WATE-TV, Crown Industrial Services, Prism Litigation Technology, DRM Trucking, Herbie Clark State Farm Insurance, Allen Edmonson Electric, AutoMedic, Thrift Tools and Drives & Conveyors. The Clinton event is still accepting donations. Checks may be made out to the American Cancer Society and mailed to Clinton Physical Therapy Center at P.O. Box 916, Clinton, TN 37717-0916. Also, it is not too early to decide you would like to participate in the 2016 event by entering a team or volunteering to help on a committee. Please contact team development chairperson, Patty Lay at 806-8326 or PlayHouseHome@gmail.com, if you would like more information. Together we can win this battle!
Roane wreck kills baby
A single car accident killed a one-year-old boy and injured a 23-year-old woman. The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that 23-year-old Keanna Garner of Knoxville had been driving a 2012 Dodge sedan south on Patton Lane in Rockwood at around 12:30 am Saturday when she did not stop at a three-way intersection on Patton Lane. Troopers reported that the car went almost 150 feet off the road without braking before it hit a tree. 1-year-old Kalel Love died in the crash despite being properly secured in a child seat. Garner was taken to UT Medical Center where her condition was not immediately available.
ORT: Man faces drug charges after traffic stop
According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, police said they found large vacuum seal bags that contained suspected crystal methamphetamine residue and $29,000 in a pickup truck pulled over for speeding in Oliver Springs on Tuesday. Also found in the vehicle were tracking numbers, numerous shipping envelopes and rubber bands, addresses, documents related to the sale of controlled substances, deposit slips, and packing tape. 53-year-old James Phillip Chase was charged with money laundering, simple possession of a Schedule II drug (methamphetamine), and speeding. The traffic stop for speeding—Chase was allegedly driving at 70 mph in a 45 mph zone—occurred at about 4 p.m. Tuesday on Tri County Boulevard in Oliver Springs. After the stop, Oliver Springs Police Department Patrol Officer Shannon Runyan requested a K-9 unit. Ben Haines, an ORPD K-9 officer, responded. The K-9 alerted on the gray Nissan Frontier pickup truck, which had a Utah registration, court records said. Runyan said Chase was very angry, admitted to driving too fast, and was very hostile to him, using expletives. “Through prior felony drug case investigations and arrests directly involving James Chase, investigators have learned that Chase utilizes mail and shipping companies to obtain controlled substances,” officers said in an arrest warrant. Authorities say those cases resulted in the seizure of numerous pounds of marijuana, about 270 Schedule II tablets, and about $50,000. Agents from Anderson County’s Seventh Judicial Crime Task Force and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration were also called to the scene.
Washington Post rates ORHS #11 most challenging HS in Tennessee
Oak Ridge High School has been ranked number 11 on a list of the most challenging high schools in Tennessee, according to a ranking published by The Washington Post. Other East Tennessee high schools on the list are West High School in Knoxville (#6), Farragut High School in Knoxville (#7), Morristown West in Morristown (#10), and Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport (#12). The top five high schools are all in the Nashville area: Hume-Fogg Magnet in Nashville (#1), Martin Luther King Magnet in Nashville (#2), Brentwood in Brentwood (#3), Hillsboro in Nashville (#4), and Ravenwood in Brentwood (#5). The Washington Post said it ranked schools through an index formula that’s a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year. A ratio of 1.000 means the school had as many tests as graduates. The rankings list also includes information on the percentage of students who come from families that qualify for lunch subsidies and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career.
Audit: Ex-building official illegally inspected 400 properties
According to an audit of Anderson County building permit files conducted by the County Mayor’s Chief of Staff, a former employee of the Public Works Department conducted approximately 400 inspections while uncertified or did not perform them at all. The findings of the audit conducted by Richard Burroughs were released by County Mayor Terry Frank in a six-page letter to county commissioners that was also sent to local media outlets on Thursday afternoon. The audit was ordered by the mayor following the indictment of Public Works Director David Crowley on charges he illegally performed 4 or 5 building inspections without the proper certifications and the termination on the same day the indictment was returned of Building Inspector Lisa Crumpley. In her letter, the mayor calls the findings “alarming” and says she immediately contacted the DA’s office. In the executive summary of the audit, which began last year and was completed in March, Burroughs accuses Crumpley of performing over 40 uncertified plumbing inspections in 2012, “more than half of which were conducted after she received not one, but two, cease and desist warnings from the state.” The report also says Crumpley failed to conduct 177 footer, foundation and/or slab inspections at residences; 39 residential framing inspections and 33 residential plumbing inspections. Burroughs’ audit also accused Crumpley of performing mechanical inspections without certification while she was cooperating with the TBI’s investigation into Crowley. The report also alleges that Crumpley entered false inspection reports for about 100 additional homes. In her letter to Commission, Mayor Frank accuses Law Director Jay Yeager and then-County Mayor (now Commissioner) Myron Iwanski of knowing about Crumpley’s violations but “sweeping [them] under the rug” and failing to alert her administration in the fall of 2012 about ongoing issues in the Public Works Department. She also states that while Yeager “described to [commissioners] as ‘great’ the potential liability from the 4-5 inspections for which Mr. Crowley was indicted. I leave to your imagination the words to described liability from hundreds of inspections.” Yeager calls the allegations “false” and says he welcomes an investigation, calling them another attack on his character by the mayor, with whom he has been involved in a long-running and highly publicized dispute since she took office in 2012. Iwanski, in an e-mail response to his fellow commissioners and also sent to local media outlets, says that he was aware of one incident involving Crumpley, but “took immediate action to correct the situation.” Iwanski also says that he is not aware of the “issues regarding inspections in the Public Works department Mayor Frank is claiming,” adding that he welcomes a review of the situation. The letter from mayor Frank can be found on the Local Information News page of wyshradio.com. We will continue to follow this story for you on WYSH.
(Mayor Frank’s letter to County Commissioners, media outlets) “In mid-2014, Mr. Steve Page and Mr. David Crowley first learned of a previous 2012 Plan of Corrective Action ("POCA") between Anderson County and the state of Tennessee. This led them to conduct a spot audit of files. The result of that spot audit was a precipitating factor in the termination for cause of Ms. Crumpley, our building inspector, for failure to maintain inspection reports as required by her job description as well as the 2012 POCA between Anderson County and the State Fire's Marshal's office. Following Ms. Crumpley's termination and the indictment of our Public Works Director and Building Commissioner for alleged violations of the building inspection laws, I set in motion a request to account for all permit files in the office. That was a lengthy task. But was accomplished and recorded. When that task was completed, I assigned Mr. Richard
Burroughs, my Chief of Staff to conduct an in-depth audit of the permit files separate and independent from the spot audit of files that had been conducted by Mr. Page and Mr.
Mr. Burroughs completed his audit on March 15, 2015th, and submitted his report to me. It is an enormous volume of work and has taken me a great deal of time to read and digest. His findings are nothing short of alarming. and led me promptly to disclose them to the District Attorney General.
In short, while Mr. Crowley was indicted for performing 4-5 inspections in the few weeks after his certification grace period allegedly expired, the audit identified approximately 400 inspections performed by Lisa Crumpley and others while uncertified or simply not performed at all. The uncertified inspections conducted by Ms. Crumpley first occurred over a period of several months from approximately October 2011 through early 2012, and were fully known by Mr. Yeager, then-Mayor Iwanski, and then-Building
Commissioner Brian Jenks (who also was not certified). While the State Fire Marshal's office responded to the many uncertified inspections with multiple cease-and-desist letters, then-Mayor Iwanski and Mr. Yeager otherwise swept these violations under the rug, failed to disclose these ongoing issues to my administration in September 2012, and allowed Ms. Crumpley to continue her misfeasance without taking adverse employment action or seeking prosecution by the District Attorney General. As a result, Ms. Crumpley's knowing failure to enforce the building inspection laws continued from 2012 until the eventual discovery of her misfeasance (by people other than Mr. Yeager and
Commissioner Iwanski) and her termination for cause in mid-2014. The actions of Ms. Crumpley and the associated inaction of then-Mayor Iwanski and Mr. Yeager have now exposed Anderson County to a liability potentially one hundred times the magnitude of the 4-5 uncertified inspections for which Mr. Crowley has been prosecuted. Mr. Yeager described to you as "great" the potential liability from the 4-5 inspections for which Mr.
Crowley was indicted. I leave to your imaginations the words to describe liability from hundreds of inspections.
At my request, for the purposes of providing this information to the District Attorney
General, I asked Mr. Burroughs to provide an Executive Summary of the audit. The following is what he provided to me:
The purpose for this audit was four-fold;
1. Determine Anderson County's compliance with the 2014 plan of Corrective Action (POCA) agreed to between Mayor Frank and the State Fire Marshall's Office.
2. Determine Anderson County's compliance with the 2012 POCA agreed to by the previous administration.
3. Determine the number of residences that require re-inspection because mechanical inspections were improperly performed or not performed at all.
4. Determine the number of residences where footer, foundation and/or slab inspections were improperly performed or not performed at all.
A POCA was put in place by Mayor Frank on January 13, 2014, with the Fire Marshal's Office regarding Mr. Crowley. The same day, she provided written instructions to Mr. Crowley not to "perform or conduct building inspections." The State Fire Marshal's Office then issued a "Cease and Desist Order" to Mr. Crowley on January 3l, 2014, as the original order was apparently delivered to Mr. Yeager rather than the intended recipient, Mr. Crowley. My finding in the audit was that Mr. Crowley did comply with the POCA, the Mayor's instructions, and the Cease and Desist Order. The POCA for Mr. Crowley was lifted by the State on September 12, 2011.
Neither the County nor Lisa Crumpley complied with the April 27, 2012, POCA that was put in place with the Fire Marshal's Office by the previous administration when it was discovered that she had been conducting uncertified inspections for several months. Mr. Crowley brought the County into compliance with the 2012 POCA in the summer of 2014 after he was made aware of its existence. The 2012 POCA for the County was lifted by the State at the same time as the POCA for Mr. Crowley. In spite of this, Ms. Crumpley continued to conduct uncertified mechanical inspections, her last one performed on September 17, 2014.
In all, Ms. Crumpley performed more than 40 uncertified plumbing inspections in 2012, more than half of which were conducted after she had received not one, but two, "Cease and Desist Warnings" from the State. Even after Ms. Crumpley reported Mr. Crowley to Mr. Yeager for conducting building inspections without certification, and while she was cooperating with the TBI in their investigation, she herself was conducting her own illegal mechanical inspections without the requisite certification. Since the State requirement for performing mechanical inspections was put in place on October l, 201I, the County failed to perform mechanical inspections at I24 residences until Mr. Crowley brought the County into compliance in the summer of 2014. There are approximately 177 residences where Ms. Crumpley did not perform footer, foundation, and/or slab inspections; approximately 39 residences where she failed to perform framing inspections; and approximately 33 residences where she failed to perform plumbing inspections.
Finally, there are approximately an additional 100 residences where false inspection reports appear to have been entered into the permit files by Ms. Crumpley, creating a false public record. This occurred during 2014 as Ms. Crumpley was enjoying the protection of "whistle-blower" status as she cooperated with Mr. Yeager and the TBI in their investigations. As for having inspectors who are certified to perform inspections, until Mr. Crowley brought the County into compliance in 2014, the County did not have a fully certified Building Inspector despite assurances from Mr. Yeager that it did.
For example, under the previous administration, plumbing inspections performed by Ms. Crumpley were conducted without the requisite plumbing certification at 29 residences. Furthermore there were six mechanical inspections performed by Ms. Crumpley during 2014 without the requisite certification while she assisted Mr. Yeager and the TBI in their investigation of her supervisor.
Mr. Perez, a witness in Mr. Crowley's investigation, performed a mechanical inspection for the County apparently without proper mechanical certification. Colleen Cardwell, the previous Zoning Officer, performed a framing inspection for the County without certification. Johnnie Beeler, who was hired by the previous administration to oversee the expansion of the detention facility, performed six building inspections for the County without certification. And Brian Jenks, whose resignation led to the hiring of Mr. Crowley, performed four building inspections outside his one-year grace period. In addition, one residence was inspected by someone identified only as "Other" and accepted into the file by Ms. Crumpley.
I am not an attorney, but I do recognize this report as a public record and as such, have released it in response to one public records request, and likely will produce it in response to other requests.
I understand the liability issues that this audit presents for Anderson County, and believe that this liability will be magnified because of the actions of Mr. Yeager and others, who have brought us to a place in time where by Mr. Yeager's own crafted definition of "illegal" inspections, Mr. Crowlev has been "investigated" and prosecuted, yet Ms.
Crumpley, Mr. Jenks, Ms. Cardwell and Mr. Beeler were not. Mr. Yeager was aware of this liability, Commissioner Iwanski was aware of this liability, and from comments made in public meetings it is clear that at least one other commissioner was aware of this liability yet (l) did nothing to address the potential liability issues from Ms. Crumpley’s actions, (2) condoned the attacks and criminal prosecution of Mr. Crowley, and (3) publicly criticized Building Commissioner Crowley for terminating Ms. Crumpley for good cause.
As you will recall, Mr. Yeager stood before you and accused Mr. Crowley of crimes, while publicly promoting Ms. Crumpley. He did so with direct knowledge that Ms.
Crumpley had conducted many uncertified inspections, even after cease and desist orders from the State Fire Marshal. It is my belief that Mr. Yeager has crafted a plan so insincere at best and diabolical at worst, to have placed Anderson County in the position of promoting and condoning discriminatory practice. I cannot be silent without subjecting my own personhood and office to liability.
Mr. Yeager directly assisted the prior mayor's office, the Human Resource office, and the
Public Works Office in establishing the 2012 POCA. He breached his duty to inform me or my appointed Building Commissioner of this POCA upon entrance into office in
September of 2012. Minutes from staff meetings, correspondence with the state, emails and various other documents create a clear and unmistakable record of direct involvement by Mr. Yeager and then-Mayor Iwanski, in not only the POCA, but the certification and continued employment of Ms. Crumpley. True to form, Mr. Yeager has disingenuously denied his involvement after I first reported it to you, but his misrepresentations in this regard are belied by the public records of this county.
I notified the District Attorney General of the audit findings in writing on April 9th, and informed his office that should Mr. Yeager's definition of "illegal" be the standard, then my letter served to provide notice to his office of other alleged criminal violations. We met on Monday, April 13,2105, and discussed those issues with a follow up meeting planned. Although he sought and obtained the indictment of Mr. Crowley, I am not aware that any action has yet been taken regarding Ms. Crumpley.
I have also submitted the findings and the entire audit to the State Fire Marshal's office so that they are aware. I have also alerted them to other findings that did not fit inside the parameters of the audit, but that I felt were noteworthy, including the following:
l. Ms. Crumpley appeared on a job site where Mr. Wayne Williamson, a fully certified inspector, had inspected and issued an approval for a mechanical inspection. Ms. Crumpley re-inspected Mr. Williamson's work, and though she still to this day has no certification authorizing her to conduct mechanical inspections, our paperwork shows that she issued an inspection report that purportedly "unapproved” Mr. Williamson's work.
2. Though the State does not recognize letters from HVAC professionals as meeting the definition of certifications from design professionals or engineers, Ms. Crumpley placed into county files several HVAC letters in a disingenuous attempt to meet the standard for mechanical inspection requirements. In addition, the records appear to be altered and falsified. I have submitted those documents to the Office of the Comptroller for review to pursue, verify or investigate, as my office is not an investigative office.
I wish this letter could serve to notify you that this is the end of the issue, but I believe it is only the beginning of a new chapter and a new set of challenges for us as leaders in Anderson County. I have requested further investigation. as it now appears that false documentation may have been created and inserted in our public records, showing that inspections occurred when they did not. I will notify you once that review is complete.
I have made the office of Public Works aware of the nature of our findings, and have established a procedure for citizens who may be concerned of the findings. It is my recommendation that Anderson County fund the cost of re-inspections of all mechanical inspections that did not occur or were inspected without Ms. Crumpley or others who did not possess proper certification. Decisions regarding re-inspection of building or plumbing inspections that were not properly conducted may be made on a case-by-case
basis, depending on the nature of the work that was performed.
As you know, certified re-inspection of the four properties that were inspected by Mr. Crowley, after his one-year grace period allegedly had expired, have shown that there never was any risk to those homeowners, much less an "immediate danger." The criminal charges against him are scheduled to proceed to trial on May l4th. Should he be found guilty notwithstanding the absence of any danger to homeowners, then Anderson County is faced with a much greater problem due to the actions of Ms. Crumpley.”
Man accused in 2011 pawn shop shooting death deemed unfit for trial
The man accused of shooting and killing an employee at a Clinton pawn shop in 2011 has been deemed incompetent to stand trial. During a hearing this week, a mental health expert testified that 67-year-old James Allen Green’s mental and physical conditions have deteriorated to the point where he is not fit to stand trial in the death of 59-year-old Larry Snellings. Allen is accused of walking into South Clinton Pawn ion Clinch Avenue on November 7th, 2011, asking to see a shotgun, then loading it with shells he had brought from home and shooting Snellings. As he fled the scene, the store owner fired his own weapons, striking Green. Green was arrested after he returned home and his wife called 911. Three years ago, Green was deemed unfit to stand trial but was soon declared fit and transferred from a mental health facility to the Anderson County Jail, where he has been incarcerated since. Green’s trial was scheduled to begin earlier this month but now prosecutors find themselves in a holding pattern as they await the court’s decision as to where Green will be housed until such time as he his ruled competent to stand trial.
Man arrested after alleged break-in, threats
Tuesday night, Oak Ridge Police arrested a man who allegedly entered his ex-girlfriend’s home without permission and threatened to assault her. Officers responded to the home on Inn Lane shortly before 10:30 pm Tuesday. Police say that 36-year-old Thurman Bates of Oak Ridge allegedly entered without permission. Officers said the victim escaped her house by crawling out a window and running to a neighbor’s to call the police. When they arrived, officers entered the victim’s residence in search of Bates, who had barricaded himself behind the door of a room inside the home. Officers forced entry into the room and found Bates hiding in a closet. Bates was taken into custody with the assistance of a police K-9 unit after he briefly resisted arrest. Bates was arrested and transported to the Anderson County Jail, where he was charged with aggravated burglary, domestic assault, and resisting arrest. No injuries were reported.
OR Council expands review of ORPD
During a special called session of the Oak Ridge City Council Tuesday night, Council members voted 5 to 2 to expand the scope of the review of turnover, morale and administrative policies in the city police department. The 30-day review was approved last month and Council voted to enter into a deal with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service—or MTAS—to conduct the review. Initially, MTAS was set to interview randomly selected members of the police department, but after their first list became widely known, Council members Tuesday voted to have consultants interview all department personnel as well as former officers who have left the Oak Ridge PD in the three and a half years since Jim Akagi took over as chief. Akagi has been the subject of controversy since a memo issued to City Manager Mark Watson by Council member Trina Baughn raised questions about turnover and morale in the department as well as accusations of vindictiveness and volatile behavior on the part of the chief. The Council also approved a motion to establish a temporary e-mail account where citizens can send comments about the chief and the ORPD as long as they provide their names and addresses. That vote was also 5-2. Akagi is also facing scrutiny from the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training—or POST—Commission about whether or not he violated terms of a protection order filed against him by his ex-wife during their divorce by carrying a weapon as part of his job. The News-Sentinel reports that two complaints against Akagi have been filed over the issue and last week the POST Board voted to have the US Attorney’s Office and the Anderson County DA’s office look into the matter to determine if any federal or state laws were broken. Akagi’s lawyer told the paper that the protection order was temporary and did not require Akagi to surrender his weapons. We will continue to follow this story for you.
ORHS student receives prestigious honor
Oak Ridge High School senior Abby Ridneour has received the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for her efforts in East Tennessee. Lane Gordon with Prudential Financial, Inc. in Knoxville presented the award to Abby on Wednesday along with Oak Ridge High School principal David Bryant. Ridenour was one of six Distinguished Finalists from Tennessee for the Prudential Spirit of Community awards and the only winner from East Tennessee. Ridenour has impacted her community through several service efforts. Just a few of her initiatives include, starting the "Blessings through a Blankie" program at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, providing blankets for newborns. She also organized a pageant for girls with special needs called "The Miss Sparkle Princess Pageant." The Prudential Spirit of Community Award honors middle and high school students who make meaningful contributions through volunteer service.
Man arrested after allegedly trying to trade drugs for child sex
Campbell County Sheriffs deputies arrested a man in LaFollette for trying to exchange drugs for child sex acts. Police arrested 60-year-old Alonzo Adam Branson at his home on River Drive after investigators determined he hoped to lure children into his home for sex, reportedly telling them he was interested in children between the ages of 9 and 12. Branson was charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex act, two counts of solicitation of a minor and possession of drugs, most likely morphine. As of Wednesday morning, Branson was being held in the Campbell County Jail. He is scheduled to have a bond hearing Monday in court. The investigation is ongoing.
CPD investigating theft from Fox
For the second time in less than a month, Clinton Police are investigating the theft of a vehicle from the lot at Fox Toyota. A couple of weeks ago, someone drove on to the lot after hours, hooked up a horse trailer to their truck and drove off. Sunday night, someone drove on to the lot and stole a 2015 Toyota 4Runner valued at just under $38,000. Dealership employees called police Monday morning and showed them security camera footage from the previous night that showed that, just before 10 pm, a dark-colored SUV, possibly another 4Runner, drove on to the lot and parked next to the white 2015 model. An individual got out of the dark SUV and within just a few moments, gets into the 2015 model and both vehicles then leave the scene. The stolen 4Runner’s information was loaded into the NCIC database and the Criminal Investigation Division is now handling the case.
Man jumps hotel counter, steals cash
A man jumped the counter at the Country Inn & Suites in Clinton Sunday night and stole money from the cash register. Clinton Police were called Monday and told that shortly after 10 pm Sunday, au unidentified white male had jumped the front desk and stolen $185 in cash. The incident was captured on security cameras and footage shows a white male in a blue button-up shirt and khaki pants watching the front desk clerk from the coffee area in the lobby for several minutes. After the clerk finished helping customers, the man approached the front desk and distracted the clerk, causing her to leave the counter unattended. As soon as she left, the man jumped the counter and stole the money before fleeing the area. Hotel officials did not want to pursue charges but wanted a police report for documentation purposes. No one was injured in the incident.
Arrest made in botched 2013 ATM heist
Back on Christmas day 2013, someone tried to steal a Y-12 Federal Credit Union ATM from a parking lot in Oak Ridge but failed miserably. Oak Ridge Police have made an arrest in the case. 25-year-old Stanley Junior Wallace of Kingston is charged with auto burglary, theft over $10,000, aggravated trespassing, conspiracy, felony vandalism and joyriding. Early on Christmas Morning 2013, Wallace and an unidentified accomplice are accused of stealing a large pickup truck and a Bobcat from the parking lot at Waste Connections’ facility on warehouse Road, then making the short trip to the ATM. The pair allegedly tried to knock the ATM off its concrete pad after one of them disabled the alarm system, but that did not work. They then used the Bobcat to break the cash machine off the foundation but failed to load it into the bed of the truck. They failed so hard in that attempt, the Bobcat tipped over. After trying—once again unsuccessfully—to pull the cash box from the machine with the pickup, the pair fled empty-handed. The incident caused over $46,000 worth of damage to the ATM and the vehicles. Wallace is also facing attempted burglary charges in connection to an incident that occurred in October in Oak Ridge. Wallace was taken into custody on March 26th and remains in custody at the Anderson County Jail.
Report: OR traffic ordinance runs contrary to state law
According to the News-Sentinel, an Oak Ridge city ordinance passed last year prohibiting local judges from offering options like driving school in cases where someone is caught speeding in a school zone has been deemed to be in violation of state law. The ordinance passed last year states that the city “shall not defer imposition of judgment or allow the defendant to enter into a diversion program, including but not limited to a driver education training course, that would prevent such defendant’s conviction…from appearing on the person’s driving record.” The state attorney general says, however, that the ordinance runs contrary to state law, which grants judges the discretion to use whatever penalty they feel is appropriate—whether it is a fine, driver’s school or some other option—to sentence someone convicted of a moving violation.
CHS AD honored
During a meeting Tuesday of the Tennessee Interscholastic Athletic Association, Clinton High School Athletic Director Dan Jenkins was named Tennessee Athletic Director of the Year. Congratulations to Dan Jenkins and keep up the good work!
Charges against elderly judge dropped
Aggravated assault charges against a 94-year-old former acting Oak Ridge city judge have been dropped. Prosecutors dropped the charge against Lawrence Tunnell this week after the alleged victim in the case indicated to them that he no longer wanted to prosecute and now cannot be located. The incident occurred on November 21st of last year after Good Samaritans helped Tunnell get up and back into his car after taking a fall. The victim, Charles Smallwood, told Oak Ridge Police that he and others were trying to get Tunnell to hang around after the fall so that he could be checked out by paramedics but Tunnell refused. Smallwood reportedly stood in front of Tunnell’s car and the now-former judge cursed at him and told him to move or he would run him over. When Smallwood refused to move, Tunnell is accused of hitting him with the car and driving off. Smallwood was treated at UT Medical Center for minor injuries but now says that he does not wish to prosecute. With that, all charges were dropped.
Alternatives to Incarceration in AC getting new life
Last week an informal meeting was held among judges, law enforcement and other stakeholders as efforts are being renewed to revitalize the Anderson County Alternatives to Incarceration program aimed at reducing the daily inmate population at the Anderson County Jail. The program was started in 2011 as part of an overall plan to address overcrowding and other issues that threatened to lead to jail decertification. However, that initial effort failed as the first director proved unpopular with those he was supposed to work with within in the court system, and Mike Baker resigned. The program now has a new director, Mary Ann Young, who is meeting with rave reviews from the judicial and law enforcement communities for her openness and willingness to listen to the concerns of others. Last week’s meeting allowed participants to bandy about some ideas about how to keep the jail from filling back up, including a drug court for misdemeanor, non-violent offenders and increasing the emphasis on police officers to issue citations rather than arrest people on minor charges like driving on a suspended license. Other ideas that have been brought up previously, some of which have been implemented, include an expanded use of electronic monitoring devices and converting the jail into a work house.
AC DA steps in, appoints Yeager delinquent tax attorney
Friday, Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark stepped into the dispute over who should serve as the county’s delinquent tax attorney, appointing Law Director Jay Yeager to that role. Clark’s decision, announced Friday afternoon in a four-page memorandum, trumps the appointment of Doyle “Trippy” Teno by Trustee Rodney Archer and Mayor Terry Frank to handle the pursuit of back taxes from the 2013 tax year. Mayor Frank removed Yeager from the role of delinquent tax attorney, a role he had served in since 2006, earlier this year as their long running dispute continued. Archer initially tried to re-appoint Yeager but was vetoed by the Mayor. Archer then selected Teno, a selection approved by the mayor, and negotiated a $40,000 salary to serve as delinquent tax attorney. In his memo, Clark writes that the payment arrangement for Teno was “unlawful” because it was a flat salary and state law requires compensation be limited to a percentage of the taxes collected. Clark also wrote that he had the option to file a lawsuit against the Mayor and Trustee for failing to have a delinquent tax attorney on the payroll by April 1st but ultimately decided against that, writing simply “Anderson County already has too much litigation.” Clark also indicated in his memo that delinquent tax collection is a complex issue and Yeager is very familiar with it, having done it since 2006, and that training someone new would cause a delay in collections and other issues. Clark also points out that Yeager also serves as the delinquent tax attorney for several cities in the county and that having a different attorney going after the county’s back taxes than the one collecting municipal back taxes would present a “number of problems and inefficiencies.” Clark said that while the mayor and law director have what he called “a troubled working relationship,” that does not supersede the fact that the private act that created the law director’s office was specifically designed for the law director to act as the delinquent tax attorney.
ORT: State grant will allow ORRA to expand course
A $250,000 state grant announced Sunday will be used to help build an eighth lane at the Oak Ridge rowing course. And that’s expected to significantly increase the economic impact of rowing races, or regattas, officials said. The eighth lane has been on the city’s wish list for years, and it will allow the Oak Ridge Rowing Association to compete for bigger races and international regattas. According to preliminary estimates, the eighth lane could cost about $350,000 total, meaning the city of Oak Ridge might have to contribute up to $100,000 to complete the project. State Representative John Ragan said the regional impact of the regattas in Oak Ridge is estimated at $13 million now, but it could increase to $33 million, according to a University of Tennessee study. Russell Byrd, board president for the Oak Ridge Rowing Association, said international regattas require an eighth lane. The city’s rowing course, which is on the Clinch River at Melton Lake Park in east Oak Ridge, now has seven. Ragan said the state funding should be available July 1. Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said the city will have to discuss its contribution during budget talks this spring. Officials said permits from the Tennessee Valley Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been approved, and work has to be started within the three-year time period of those permits. The timeline for construction is not clear yet. Sunday’s announcement was made at the Oak Ridge Rowing Association’s boathouse as the Southern Intercollegiate Rowing Association championship regatta was under way. For more, visit www.oakridgetoday.com.
Man charged after bribery attempt
A Clinton man was charged with bribery of a public servant after he allegedly offered to pay a probation officer $40 to help him pass a court-requested drug test, authorities said. Ronald Lynn Fox, 55, allegedly offered the money to probation officer Chad McNabb on Monday, April 13, because he was afraid he might not pass the drug screen. McNabb told deputies that Fox told him he had taken a Subelex pill and offered $40 to help him pass the drug test. McNabb told Fox that he would not help him and then contacted the sheriff’s office to respond to the third floor of the courthouse, where the alleged bribery occurred.
ORT: Most Jackson Square work will be done in time for festival
The interactive fountain won’t be in place by the Lavender Festival in June, but other perimeter work around the Jackson Square parking lot should be completed. Construction work on the $1 million rebuild of the parking lot area at Jackson Square started in January. The construction contract was awarded to Rich Construction Inc. of Lenoir City by the Oak Ridge City Council in October. The work is funded with help from a $741,609 Tennessee Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant that was awarded to the city in June 2012. The TDOT grant covers 80 percent of the work, and it requires a 20 percent city match. Jackson Square is Oak Ridge’s original town center. The perimeter work should be complete by mid-June. The rest of the work could be complete within about 30 days after the Lavender Festival. The work includes removing the existing traffic islands and trees, cleaning the site, and adding to relocating utilities, including electrical lines that are now above ground, said Angel Rich Johnson, president of Rich Construction. Underground water lines will supply a new interactive water feature to be installed in the center of the parking lot. There will also be benches, parking, new lights, changes to the angle parking, and lots of landscaping and other improvements. City officials have said the landscaped pedestrian plaza will also have stone pavers, curbing, sidewalks, and upgrades under the American with Disabilities Act. The work will include some green space and a newly configured and modernized parking lot. For more, visit our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com.
ORT: Estimates for Blankenship parking lot fix in
A parking lot paving project at Blankenship Field could cost $225,000, according to an engineering estimate. The City of Oak Ridge is working with the Blankenship Field Revitalization Foundation to address some questions about the work. The Oak Ridge City Council agreed in May 2014 to use $180,000 in traffic camera money for improvements to the lower parking lot at Blankenship Field, which is used for football games and high school graduation. The work could include resurfacing work at the lower parking lot and access to the lower levels and visitors bleachers under the American with Disabilities Act. The project had been reviewed by the city staff, city officials said at the time, and it could include resurfacing, ADA improvements, handicapped parking, and new pavement and striping.
It was expected to complement a now-completed project to replace the demolished visitors’ bleachers at Blankenship Field, a project that was unanimously approved by the Oak Ridge Board of Education in March 2014 and had a low bid of about $525,000. The bleachers had been deemed unsafe. The school board agreed to use the school system’s fund balance to pay for the replacement bleachers. The work is also expected to complement work planned by members of a Blankenship Field Revitalization Foundation and a separate Jackson Square revitalization project that started in January 2015 and is using a roughly $800,000 state grant. For more on this, visit www.oakridgetoday.com.
Missing man found dead in Campbell pond
Authorities in Campbell County have discovered the body of a missing man in a car found submerged in a pond. 27-year-old John Sellers was last seen about a week ago in the Elk Valley Community of Campbell County. Troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol found his car in a pond near State Highway 297 and Brickplant Lane in Jellico on Wednesday. The investigation shows Sellers exited Highway 297, traveled through thick underbrush, then crashed into the pond, which is about ten feet deep. THP is waiting on a medical examiner's report to confirm how Sellers died.
Fire displaces 13 in OR
13 residents of an Oak Ridge apartment complex were displaced after a fire early Friday morning. Fire Chief Darryl Kerley says the fire started accidentally in one of the four apartments on West Outer Drive in Oak Ridge. The man living there woke up to flames, and tried to put them out, before waking his neighbors, who called 911. The Oak Ridge Police Department said when they arrived on the scene shortly after 3am they saw fire coming from the rear of the quad-plex apartment. All four units in the apartment building were damaged in the fire, and the Red Cross will assist the three families living there with food, clothes, and lodging. Two of the families may be allowed back into their apartments after an inspection on Monday. Two dogs and five cats displaced in the fire will be taken care of by a local animal shelter.
Protomet awarded Incumbent Worker Training funds
(TDLWD) Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips have awarded $24,450 in Incumbent Worker Training Grants to Protomet Corporation in Oak Ridge. Incumbent Worker Training grants assist employers with upgrading skills to avoid layoffs of their employees.
“We have to make sure that we have the trained workforce to fill the jobs companies want to create in Tennessee, and these grants are a part of the effort to meet the demands of a very competitive marketplace,” said Governor Haslam.
“So far this year, we have awarded more than $546,000 in Incumbent Worker Grants to 25 Tennessee businesses benefiting 537 workers,” said Commissioner Phillips. “Since the program’s inception, Incumbent Worker Grants have assisted 675 businesses by providing nearly $16 million to train approximately 53,000 employees.”
The following criteria must be met to qualify for the Incumbent Worker Training Program. Employers must be in operation in Tennessee for at least one year prior to application date. Employers must have at least five full-time employees, demonstrate financial viability and be current on all state tax obligations. Funding priority is given to businesses whose grant proposals represent a significant layoff avoidance strategy and represent a significant upgrade of skills.
In their application for the grant, Protomet Corporation stated this grant would provide training to teach critical thinking and Lean philosophies. This will allow employees to be more efficient in operational issues. This training also would promote teamwork skills, which would allow employees to make changes and increase production, reduce downtime, and increase market share.
The East Tennessee Human Resource Agency played a key role in awarding the grant to Protomet Corporation.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the Incumbent Worker Training program. The program has been structured to be flexible to meet the business's training objectives. The business may use public, private, or its own in-house training provider based on the nature of the training.
ORT: OR Electric Department shows off hybrid vehicle
(Oak Ridge Today) The Oak Ridge Electric Department has a new hybrid bucket truck that uses quiet electricity rather than noisy diesel to power its bucket boom, making it easier for workers to communicate and reducing emissions and neighborhood noise. Workers said the electric-powered boom is as fast as traditional diesel-powered booms, and the improved worker communications with the new, quieter booms helps them stay safe.
Officials said the city’s Electric Department is one of several local power companies partnering with the Tennessee Valley Authority to bring energy-efficient, hybrid electric-powered bucket trucks to the Tennessee Valley. The new trucks are funded in part by a grant from TVA, the Electric Power Research Institute, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Oak Ridge received one plug-in hybrid bucket truck in October and is awaiting delivery of a plug-in hybrid pickup truck.
Data about the truck’s diesel and electric use will be recorded and given to EPRI for analysis. Officials said there could be a 50 percent reduction in fuel use.
The hybrid truck does not electricity for its propulsion system. Suggs said power generated when the driver applies the brakes will help recharge the batteries.
TVA said 17 of the utilities it serves are receiving the plug-in hybrid system, including 12 in Tennessee, two in Mississippi, two in Alabama, and one in Kentucky. Other participating utilities in East Tennessee are Knoxville Utilities Board and Bristol Tennessee Essential Services.
A total of 53 hybrid trucks will be distributed: 27 medium-duty bucket trucks and diggers, and 26 light-duty pickups and vans.
As part of the program, electric charging stations have been installed in two locations in the Oak Ridge area. One is where the bucket truck is housed. The other location is in the customer parking lot at the city’s Central Services Complex at 100 Woodbury Lane. The public charger will be open and free for use for five years. TVA is providing these charging stations to participating utilities and will provide partial funding for installations.
TVA said the project is part of its pledge to improve air quality in the region. The public utility said the trucks with the plug-in hybrid system can achieve up to 50 percent improvement in fuel economy when compared with trucks using traditional diesel- or gasoline-fueled engines. Fuel savings come not only while driving, but also when the truck’s onboard rechargeable electric batteries are used to operate its boom. Since the boom is nearly silent, crews can more easily communicate with each other, supporting Oak Ridge and TVA’s safety initiatives.
ORNL team’s bio-energy research part of huge study
(ORNL) A major United Nations report on bioenergy and sustainability released Tuesday concludes the sustainable production of bioenergy can be an important tool for addressing climate change. Two researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory contributed to the multinational UN document, which offers science-based evaluations of bioenergy issues including food and energy crop production and bioenergy as a climate change mitigation strategy.
Keith Kline of ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division contributed to a chapter on land use for the UN Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) Bioenergy and Sustainability Report. "Misconceptions about the availability of land needed for growing food crops and about the opportunities and synergies possible from combined production systems could undermine investment in a key strategy for climate change mitigation," Kline said.
The land use chapter explores the subject of biomass and food crop production, concluding that the two can co-exist or be complementary. Projected land demands for biofuel production fall well within conservative estimates of current and future land availability, and integrated systems for food and energy production can improve food security.
Said Kline, "Biomass production not only has potential to make increasingly meaningful contributions to energy supply but can also support practices to improve management of soils, forests and croplands that are essential for increased mitigation of, and resilience to, impacts of climate change over time.”
Virginia Dale, a Corporate Fellow researcher also in ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division, co-authored a chapter on biodiversity and ecosystem services. "Deploying biofuels in a manner to reduce effects on biodiversity and associated ecosystem services can be done with planning, monitoring and appropriate governance," Dale said.
"Negative effects of biofuels can be avoided or reduced by conservation of priority biodiversity areas, recognizing the context-specific effects of biofuels, and adopting location-specific management of production systems. Developing those management strategies takes time and effort," she said.
The SCOPE Bioenergy & Sustainability Report is the collective effort of 137 researchers at 82 institutions in 24 countries that documents and analyzes impacts, benefits and constraints related to the global expansion of bioenergy. Peer reviewed data and scientific evidence from more than 2,000 sources were used to evaluate the documented and predicted effects of expansion of bioenergy production and use on energy security, food security, environmental and climate security, sustainable development and innovation.
SCOPE was established by the United Nations International Council for Science in 1969 as an interdisciplinary body of natural science expertise that addresses constraints of society on the environment as well as the human response to environmental issues. The SCOPE Bioenergy & Sustainability volume is downloadable from http://bioenfapesp.org/scopebioenergy/index.php.
Dale and Kline's work was supported by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
OR woman convicted of abuse charge
A 37-year-old Oak Ridge woman will spend the next 15 to 25 years in a state penitentiary after an Anderson County jury needed less than 20 minutes Tuesday to convict her of aggravated child neglect following a trial in Anderson County Criminal Court. Melissa Lopez was charged with failing or refusing to seek emergency medical care for her then-10-month-old son, who had suffered what the District Attorney’s Office described as “horrible,” second-degree chemical or thermal burns and injuries to his eyes in November of 2008. DCS began an investigation after someone called and told them about the infant’s injuries, and DCS workers compelled Lopez to take the boy to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, where he was admitted to the ICU for treatment of his injuries. DCS also brought in Oak Ridge Police to investigate and their probe determined that the boy had received the burns on November 19th, 2008 but did not receive medical treatment until seven days later, following the DCS visit. The cause of the burns is unknown. Lopez was stripped of her custodial rights to the child, who has since been adopted by what the DA’s office described in a press release as a “loving family.” Following her conviction, Lopez was taken into custody and transported to the Anderson County Jail, where she will remain until her sentencing hearing on July 13th. Her then-boyfriend, Matthew Armstrong, is also facing charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect in connection to the baby’s injuries and he is free on bond pending a trial set to begin in September.
AC Budget Office recognized…again
The Anderson County government’s Accounts and Budgets Office has again received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the county’s comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014. The Certificate of Achievement has been awarded by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada. Records indicate Anderson County consecutively has received the award from GFOA for more than 20 years, according to a press release announcing the designation.
“All of our employees work hard and do a great job,” County Commission Chairman Robert McKamey said in the release. “I’m proud of our Accounting Office, and knowing this is not the first time we’ve received this award, that makes it even more special, and this just proves the quality of their work,” he added.
“I can’t brag enough on the accounting team for their continued commitment to excellence,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said. “This is by no means an easy award to win. Deputy Director Connie Aytes deserves additional praise for her leadership on our county financial reports.”
“I cannot understate the significance of this award, as it is the highest form of recognition by the Government Finance Officers Association. The award is well-deserved for the entire team, and also should give our citizens assurance that our Accounting Office is top-notch,” Mayor Frank said.
The release states that the Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. The award of a Certificate of Achievement by the GFOA means that Anderson County’s comprehensive annual financial report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the GFOA program including demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate the county’s financial story and motivate potential users to read the CAFR.
ORT: Two charged with robbery
According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, two men have been charged with robbery after allegedly attacking a boy riding a skateboard in a parking lot at Central Baptist Church in Oak Ridge on Sunday and stealing his skateboard. 19-year-old Nicholas A. Turnbill of Harriman allegedly came up behind the victim and hit him on the back of the head with a closed fist and “turned back around, kicking him in the head while the victim was on the ground,” according to court records. An accomplice, 21-year-old Brandon L. Harmon of Oak Ridge, allegedly stole the victim’s skateboard while Turnbill attacked the boy, authorities say. Turnbill was also charged with criminal impersonation because he gave a false name to Oak Ridge police during the investigation. Bond for both Turnbill and Harmon has been set at $50,000 on the robbery charges. Both remained jailed in the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on Wednesday afternoon. Bond for Turnbill on the criminal impersonation charge has been set at $5,000.
AC fire injures none; microwave suspected
A Tuesday night fire on Bland Road in Anderson County is being blamed on microwave oven. The fire was reported at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, and the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department responded, as did deputies from the Sheriff’s Office, who reported heavy smoke pouring out of the front door of the home but no visible flames. By the time deputies arrived, firefighters were already inside trying to extinguish the blaze. Homeowner Wilbur Wheeler Jr. said he had been outside the home with his dogs when he heard a popping sound from inside, Poole said in an incident report. Wheeler said he opened the front door and saw flames and heavy smoke coming from the kitchen area. He called 911. AVFD Fire Chief Del Kennedy said that he thought the fire started in the microwave and saw nothing suspicious about the fire. No injuries were reported.
ACSD reminds everyone to be safe during prom, graduation season
With prom and graduation season almost upon us, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department is once again reminding students, parents, business owners and the community about the importance of making good decisions during what is traditionally a festive time of year. Unfortunately, according to the ACSD, some teenagers believe the deadly mix of alcohol and driving is also a part of this tradition. Too many are injured or killed after the prom or graduation, Sheriff Paul White says in a release. Students headed to the prom and from graduations are reminded not to drink and drive. Sheriff White says deputies with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department will be out in force on prom nights and after graduations and remind everyone that DUI, illegal drugs, and underage drinking will get you a ride to jail. The Sheriff Department also reminds teens that getting caught drinking while under the age of 21 can result in losing their driver's license, getting suspended from school, ejected from sports teams, and even banned from graduation ceremonies. Businesses that sell alcohol are reminded to ID. Underage sales and purchases will be prosecuted and deputies will be conducting an information campaign with local beer permit holders to remind them of the importance of carding to ID all beer purchases. Spot checks of beer sellers will also be done and not only will the clerks who sell beer be cited but underage purchasers will be charged as well. The Anderson County Sheriff's Department, local police agencies, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol will also be busy with saturation patrols throughout the prom and graduation weeks. This traffic safety effort is supported by a grant from the Governor's Highway Safety Office, Tennessee Department of Transportation. In the release, Sheriff White asks the community to help his office stress the fact that deaths from alcohol related crashes are preventable.
Ouster suit dismissal appeal heard Tuesday
Oral arguments were heard by the Tennessee Court of Appeals Tuesday in the appeal of the dismissal of an ouster suit filed by 22 Anderson County citizens last year seeking the ouster of Law Director Jay Yeager. The lawsuit filed last May accuses Yeager of forging a signature on a county contract and failing to keep commissioners in the loop on legal matters, among other allegations of misconduct. The suit was dismissed last fall by a senior judge who ruled that since the Law Director’s office is an appointed, not an elected, position it does not fall under the state’s ouster guidelines. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued Tuesday in front of the three-judge appeals court that Yeager holds what they referred to as an “office of trust” subject to ouster statutes and that he is basically in a position of supervising himself in a very powerful position within the county government. Yeager’s attorneys countered by saying that the Law Director’s office does not qualify as an “office of trust,” instead referring to Yeager as an “employee at will” who could be fired at any time for any reason by the Legal Services Advisory Committee and the County Commission. Yeager’s side also argued that since there is no fixed term for the law director’s service, it does not fall under ouster guidelines. Plaintiffs expressed confidence after the hearing that the appeals court will side with them but also indicated that if the ruling does not go their way, they are prepared to take the case all the way to the state Supreme Court. No timetable has been discussed as far as when that ruling may be handed down by the appeals court.
ORT: New traffic light OK’d for OR Turnpike at ORHS
The Oak Ridge City Council approved a contract to install a stoplight on Oak Ridge Turnpike in front of Oak Ridge High School in a 4-3 vote on Monday. Officials say the light will be green most of the time on Oak Ridge Turnpike. But it will turn red when cars are leaving the High School, giving those drivers a green light. The traffic signal lights will turn all-red when pedestrians are crossing. City officials said the new light could eliminate the need for a crossing guard. Installing it could cost roughly $177,000. It will be paid for using unspent money from the Special Programs Fund, the fund set up for traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle safety projects using money from the traffic cameras that were removed last year. The contract was awarded to S&W Contracting Company Inc. of Murfreesboro. That company submitted the lower of two bids. City officials had said the light could be installed by August, but the postponement of the contract vote from last month to this will likely delay the completion date, possibly until after school starts later this year. For more, visit www.oakridgetoday.com.
2 firefighters injured in Roane wreck
Two people with the Midtown Volunteer Fire Department suffered minor injuries late Tuesday afternoon when the fire truck they were in ran off the road in Roane County and overturned, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol report. 19-year-old Travis May of Harriman was driving the truck at around 5:45 p.m with 21-year-old Ty Puckett, also of Harriman as his passenger. May was driving a 1986 Chevrolet Pumper Tanker west on U.S. Highway 70 when it ran off the road into a grassy area. May then over-corrected, and the tanker flipped on to its roof and skidded about 100 feet before coming to rest. Both were taken by ambulance to Roane Medical Center for treatment of injuries thought to be minor. Crews had to empty the load of water the truck had been hauling back to the station after the truck responded to a traffic accident before they could get it back upright and towed it from the scene.
ORNL reactor receives historical status
(ANS) The American Nuclear Society (ANS) honored the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) with the ANS Nuclear Historic Landmark Award on April 13. The HFIR has been providing neutrons for research and isotope production for five decades, including neutron analysis used in the investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The HFIR is the sixth ANS Landmark designation for the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The ANS Nuclear Historic Landmark Award identifies and memorializes sites or facilities where outstanding physical accomplishments took place, and which were instrumental in the advancement and implementation of nuclear technology and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. This year, the HFIR celebrates its 50th year of providing advancements and contributions to the nuclear industry.
"As we mark HFIR's half-century and the American Nuclear Society's Landmark Award, this facility remains one of the world's top destinations for reactor-based neutron science, isotope production and materials irradiation research," ORNL Director Thom Mason said. "That is truly a testament to HFIR's original design and to the excellence of its operation over the years. We expect many more years of cutting-edge science from this research reactor.”
The HFIR has the highest continuous thermal neutron flux in the world
and remains one of the world's sole sources of the unique radioisotope
californium-252, used in medicine, research, and industry. Its
capabilities have influenced environmental studies, nuclear forensics,
and criminal forensics. HFIR is currently a Department of Energy Office
of Science User Facility and, most recently, it was used to discover and
confirm the existence of man-made element 117.“The American Nuclear
Society Nuclear Historic Landmark Award signifies that a nuclear
facility has played an important role in nuclear science and
ANS President Mikey Brady Raap said.
The reactor was recognized by the ANS honors and awards committee with approval by the board of directors.
OR woman charged with TennCare, drug fraud
An Oak Ridge woman was indicted last week by an Anderson County grand jury on 16 counts of doctor-shopping. 47-year-old Cathy Moore of Oak Ridge was indicted on eight counts of TennCare fraud and eight counts of prescription drug fraud following an investigation by the TBI. Investigators allege that Moore visited several doctors between February and April of last year attempting to get prescriptions for controlled substances. Moore, who has been in jail on a probation violation charge since January, will be arraigned on these charges later this month. She remains in custody at the Anderson County Jail.
Trip to store ends with trip to jail
A Jellico man apparently misunderstood the phrase “I’m running in to the store to grab a couple of things.” Clinton Police were called to Wal-Mart at around 2:30 Monday afternoon by store loss prevention personnel after a man tried to leave the store with a folding knife and a car battery without paying for them. When store security confronted the suspect, later identified as 34-year-old Sharrell D. McDonald, dropped the items and fled on foot toward the shops at nearby Tanner Place. McDonald was located within a few minutes by Detective Jason Lawson and Sergeant Danielle Duncan and detained in a yard of a home in the Hunters Trail subdivision. Officer Brian Galloway brought McDonald back to the store, where loss prevention officers identified him as the suspect. McDonald was taken to the Anderson County Jail and charged with theft.
ORT: New solar array up and running
(Information from Oak Ridge Today) A new one-megawatt solar array at the Heritage Center in west Oak Ridge will provide enough clean energy to power 133 average-size homes per year, officials said.
Company and nonprofit executives joined city and federal officials for a ceremonial “plugging in” of the new Powerhouse Six photovoltaic solar array on Thursday.
The $1.8 million array has 3,268 solar modules, and it will be used to sell electric power to the Tennessee Valley Authority through the Oak Ridge Electric Department.
“We’re going live today,” said Gil Hough, renewable energy manager for RSI, or Restoration Services Inc., the Oak Ridge-based company that developed the array.
Powerhouse Six is located on a five-acre “brownfield” site that can’t be used for other development. The property, which has giant underground power conduits beneath it, was acquired under a long-term commercial lease agreement with the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee, or CROET. The site is near a speculative industrial building at Heritage Center. It’s the third solar installation at Heritage Center, the former uranium-enriching K-25 site. For more on this story, visit our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com.
Report: OR water customers could see rate hike
Oak Ridge water customers will likely see a water rate hike of from 6 to 10 percent next year because of a change in a state water discharge permit. The News-Sentinel reports that the state has ordered Y-12 to quit bolstering the flow into East Fork Poplar Creek, which starts as a spring in the heart of the nuclear weapons complex. A previous state order required Y-12 to supplement water flow into the creek. Years ago, the DOE acknowledged releasing more than 100 tons of mercury into the creek and while significant cleanup efforts have greatly reduced the release of the toxic substance, however, mercury still seeps into the spring from huge buildings where it was once used to process lithium for hydrogen bombs. The state at one time required Y-12 to boost the creek’s flow rate under the theory that it would dilute the mercury levels but subsequent research has shown the increased water flow was also increasing the transport of mercury. According to the News-Sentinel, Y-12 had been buying raw water to enhance the creek flow from Oak Ridge, which pumps water from Melton Hill Lake through an intake pipe near Clark Park, but with the new state order in place, those water purchases are no longer necessary, meaning that the city is losing some $200,000 a year in revenue, which in turn, will likely lead to water rate increases. DOE is the city’s biggest water customer, buying some 53 percent of the 10 to 12 million gallons treated daily, according to city officials.
TWRA: Accidental gun discharge nets one-day suspension
A Morgan County wildlife officer accidentally fired his gun while teaching a hunter safety course in a classroom at Sunbright School and was issued a one-day suspension without pay that is being served today. The incident involved Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Officer Travis Buchanan and occurred while Buchanan was teaching a nighttime course after school that was attended by adults and children, TWRA officials said. A statement from TWRA called the discharge an “unfortunate mistake,” but added that “Because of proper firearm handling, the firearm was pointed in a safe direction when the Wildlife Officer accidentally discharged the firearm.” The gunshot was fired into the classroom floor. King said Buchanan was using his TWRA-issued .357-caliber Glock semi-automatic during the March 19 course. TWRA said the gun was fired during a demonstration and discussion on gun parts. Buchanan apparently tried to clear a round out of the weapon’s chamber, but the magazine was still in place, and it loaded another round. No one was injured, and the hunter safety course resumed. Buchanan has been a TWRA employee since August 2004, King said.
CCWF: 29 assist in museum cleanup
On Saturday 29 volunteers, including nine Coal Creek Scholars, gathered to help prepare the new Coal Creek Miners Museum building for the future. The museum will feature lessons in the rich history of Coal Creek and honor the Coal Creek miners and their families and teach the history of coal mining from the mid-1800s to the present, including the innovations and safety measures used today based on lessons learned during the settlement of the area by the Welsh immigrant coal miners, the Coal Creek War, and the Frateville and Cross Mountain mine disasters. www.coalcreekaml.com/Legacy.htm Volunteers cleared out ceramic tile and carpet, removed old wood and debris, swept, dusted, cleaned windows, vacuumed, and cleared the two floors to make ready for future school field trips and tourists. Coal Creek Scholars earned credit towards scholarships by performing community service at this fun event.
Violations lead to changes in Harriman hoops
Harriman High School is searching for a new boys’ basketball coaching staff after Head Coach Wesley Jones resigned and two assistants were removed from their positions following an investigation into the program by the school and the TSSAA because of violations involving AAU basketball. Harriman self-reported the violations of the basketball sports calendar and recommended the penalties, which also included suspending spring practice for the boys’ program this school year. Assistant coaches Quentin Young and Darren Payne both coach AAU teams during the offseason, which isn’t illegal as long as their rosters don’t include players from a coach’s regular-season team. The TSSAA says Young had impermissible contact in an AAU coaching capacity with Harriman players during four practices and six games. Payne coached Harriman players in three practices and three games, including one tournament, according to TSSAA. The self-imposed ban on spring practice includes weight training, conditioning and the use of open facilities. The TSSAA didn’t take any further action and Harriman was not fined, placed on probation banned from the postseason because of the penalties. Jones resigned last week and school officials say he had prior knowledge of the violations. The assistants were officially notified after the school received a letter from TSSAA on Tuesday.
Knox robbery suspect nabbed in Norris
A man wanted for allegedly robbing a Knox County clothing store was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Anderson County. 40-year-old Anthony White was charged by Knox County authorities with aggravated robbery. Deputies say he robbed the Burkes Outlet in Halls on Monday night. He’s accused of pulling a pistol on the store clerk and demanding cash from the register. No one was injured in the robbery. White was arrested by Knox County deputies Wednesday afternoon without incident at a park in Norris with the assistance of the Norris Police Department.
OR man jailed after gun incident
An Oak Ridge man has been charged with seven counts of aggravated assault after he was accused of waving a pistol at bystanders on Utica Circle on Monday night. Oak Ridge Police responded to the Utica Circle Apartments at about 11:23 p.m. Monday in response to a complaint of a man threatening others with a firearm. Upon arrival, officers reported that they found 20-year-old Deshon Meadow on the premises waving a pistol at bystanders. Meadow was ordered by officers to lay the weapon on the ground. Once he surrendered the weapon, he was taken into custody and transported to the Anderson County Jail, where he was charged with the seven counts of aggravated assault. Meadow remained in custody as of this morning on bonds totaling $175,000.
Secret City Fest honored, Merle snags award
(Secret City Festival) Each year festivals around the country offer festival-goers an almost endless array of activities and events. The Secret City Festival in Oak Ridge, TN is no different offering concerts, children’s learning and recreation, science and technology exhibits, military reenactments, and much more. The International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) and the Southeast Festivals and Events Association (SFEA) are two prestigious organizations that evaluate and recognize outstanding festivals. According to the IFEA and the SFEA, Oak Ridge’s Secret City Festival was among the best in 2014. The IFEA and SFEA awarded the 2014 Secret City Festival with three and four awards, respectively. Awards received by the 2014 Secret City Festival are listed below,
IFEA presented the 2014 Secret City Festival with three awards:
SFEA presented the 2014 Secret City Festival with four awards:
The Secret City festival is honored to work with such outstanding people and organizations. We are very proud that their exceptional efforts have been recognized by these prestigious festival organizations. The festival is presented by The City of Oak Ridge, The Oak Ridge Arts Council and the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau in addition many generous sponsors and volunteers. The 2015 Secret City Festival will be held on June 12-13 and music, crafts, children’s exhibits and activities, and a WWII reenactment. For more information, visit www.secretcityfestival.com .
ORT: CVMR contact info for applicants, vendors
(Oak Ridge Today) CVMR, the Toronto company that announced last month it is moving its headquarters to Oak Ridge, has provided contact information on its website for job applicants and vendors interested in employment and service opportunities at its Oak Ridge office. Job applicants can send their resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org. Vendors can send their information to email@example.com. The contact information is also available on this Web page. The CVMR website is available here. CVMR plans to invest $313 million in Oak Ridge and add 620 jobs.
Roane deputy hurt, 4 arrested
A Roane County Sheriff’s deputy was injured while taking down a suspect on a motorcycle late Monday night. Deputies had received information that a wanted person was living in a storage building behind a home on Roane State Highway and several deputies arrived at the house at around midnight. Deputies reported that while they were on the scene, a motorcycle ridden by 32-year-old Roy Potter approached at a high rate of speed and drove past officers and the shed before coming to a stop and revving the bike right in front of Deputy Tyrel Lorenz. When Potter gunned the bike, Lorenz took evasive action while also delivering a strike to the side of Potter’s helmet that caused the suspect to crash with Lorenz on top of him. Lorenz was treated for minor injuries to his arms, legs and throat at Roane Medical Center and released. Deputies found meth and drug paraphernalia on Potter when they searched him and he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on an officer and drug-related charges. The three people who were in the shed surrendered and investigators found more meth-related evidence inside the storage building. All three were charged with manufacturing meth and are identified as 46-year-old David Kilby of Oakdale, 47-year-old Joyce Mayton of Rockwood and 33-year-old Leigh Ann Barnett of Rockwood.
Ailing OR police officer needs assistance
(Oak Ridge Today) Chris Winningham is a veteran member of the Oak Ridge Police Department, but he’s currently on leave and unable to work for an undetermined amount of time due to complications with pneumonia and pleurisy, friends say. Officer Winningham has also been diagnosed with an enlarged heart and diabetes, and doctors are concerned that he may be going into congestive heart failure, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help raise money for his family. The diagnoses affecting Officer Winningham come on the heels of the loss of his daughter Courtney to cancer in January, the page said. “This stress and strain is not only physical,” said the GoFundMe page, set up Tuesday by Heather Ashley of the ORPD. “We are therefore asking for financial donations for the Winningham family to help pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance, and other financial needs during this time Chris remains out of work.” See the GoFundMe page here: http://www.gofundme.com/r9xvy4.
Oliver Springs’ football coach resigns
Oliver Springs High School head football coach Wiley Brackett has resigned in order to spend more time with his family. The 38-year-old Brackett compiled a 42-57 record in nine seasons on the Bobcats’ sideline and led the team to its deepest playoff appearance, a 2011 run to the state 2A semifinals. A search is already underway for his successor.
Morgan carbon monoxide victims IDed
Morgan County authorities have identified the three people killed and the two others who are being treated for apparent carbon monoxide poisoning at a home on Saturday night. Morgan County Sheriff's deputies were called to a home on Susack Lane in Wartburg about 9 p.m. Saturday. They found 44-year-old Anthony Carroll, his 17-year-old son Jacob and his nephew, 8-year-old Jamon, dead in the home. Carroll's wife, 41-year-old Penny Carroll and 19-year-old son, Dylan, were both taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center for treatment. The woman was treated and released, but Dylan is still hospitalized. Investigators said there was no power to the home, but the family was running a generator in a mud room with no apparent ventilation. That was the source of the deadly carbon monoxide fumes that flooded the house. There was no carbon monoxide detector in the home. The investigation into the deaths is continuing, but authorities said it appeared to be an accident. Authorities say generators aren't the only things that can produce carbon monoxide. Gas furnaces, fireplaces and water heaters can all be sources of the gas. Firefighters advise everyone to install a carbon monoxide detector in their home. They're available for $30 to about $100 at any major retail outlet.
Harris already back in custody
An Oak Ridge man already facing charges in connection to a March shooting is back in jail today after allegedly threatening someone he thought had witnessed that event. 23-year-old Asante Harris was arrested last week on charges of attempted first-degree murder, reckless endangerment and felony vandalism in connection to an incident that occurred on March 23rd in which he is accused of trying to shoot his ex-girlfriend and released on bond. Just days after his release, though, Harris was arrested by Oak Ridge Police after a woman reported that he had parked his car outside her home early Saturday morning and pointed a pistol at her when she opened the door. Oak Ridge Police allege that while Harris believed that the woman was a witness to the March 23rd incident, she was not. Harris faces a new aggravated assault charge and as of this morning, was being held at the Anderson County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Report: 2 AC politicos switch affiliations
According to the News-Sentinel, two longtime county officeholders have left the Democratic Party and will instead become Republicans. The paper reports that County Clerk Jeff Cole and Register of Deeds Tim Shelton, both of whom are serving in their third, four-year terms, will formally announce their decisions and sign an “oath of allegiance” to the GOP as early as Wednesday. Both men indicated their beliefs that their personal values and views line up more with present-day Republicans rather than with Democrats.
OR WWII Vet receives Bronze Star, other medals
An Oak Ridge World War II veteran was awarded the Bronze Star and several additional awards Monday. Private First Class Melvin Kallio received the honors from Congressman Chuck Fleischmann at Brookdale Assisted Living Facility in Oak Ridge. The Bronze Star is a United States decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for acts of heroism, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone. He spent about three years in the Army, much of that time overseas. Nearly seven decades later he was honored for his heroism during that time, particularly for his actions during the Battle of the Bulge. Kallio, who is now 92 years old, also received the Combat Infantry Badge and the Victory Medal.
WBIR: Norfolk Southern responds to lawsuit
Norfolk Southern says in court documents that it's not at fault for a train crash that killed two people and hurt two others last year. Last May’s crash killed two Roane State Community College basketball players: Roderick Drummond and Jadah Gallaher and injured two others: the driver and Gallaher's brother, Darius Gallaher, and Hunter Crass. In January, the survivors and the family of Judah Gallaher filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern claiming the train crew did not sound the horn before the collision and there was poor visibility at the crossing. Norfolk Southern refutes those claims. In court documents it says the "huge and highly visible train was blowing its horn repeatedly, ringing its bell repeatedly" and was "shining its headlights." The railroad says the car's driver should have stopped or slowed down.
ORT: Organizers have ambitious plans for Blankenship
(Oak Ridge Today) A nonprofit foundation wants to revitalize Blankenship Field and Jack Armstrong stadium and create a world-class gathering place that can accommodate more than 20,000 people in a natural amphitheater for sporting and other events, organizers said.
The Blankenship Field Revitalization Foundation has been formed by private residents, and it is led by Tennessee Senator Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican. Organizers said the foundation is coordinating the revitalization project and fundraising activities in cooperation with the City of Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge Schools.
They hope to make the revitalization a vital part of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park, connecting Jackson Square and the original site of Oak Ridge High School. The new Manhattan Project park includes Oak Ridge; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington. The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to create the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II.
“For over 70 years, Blankenship Field has not only been the home of Oak Ridge High School Wildcat football team, it has been an important gathering place for the city that brought the world into the atomic age,” organizers said. “Seventy-plus years of wear are now showing, and it is time to restore and maintain this critically important Oak Ridge landmark.”
The proposed project is split into two phases:
Funding sources are proposed to include:
Organizers said the Blankenship Field Revitalization Project will be completed in conjunction with the Jackson Square Revitalization Project ($1 million) and the recent completion of the Guest House renovation ($5 million). Contributions are tax deductible. For more information, call Oak Ridge High School Athletic Director Mike Mullins at (865) 425-9603 or send him an email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the Foundation’s website at blankenshiplegacy.org.
For more, visit www.oakridgetoday.com.
3 dead after apparent carbon monoxide poisoning
A man and two children died from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the fumes of a gas-powered generator being used inside a Morgan County home Saturday. Deputies were called by a neighbor about 9 p.m. Saturday to a home on Susack Lane, east of Wartburg, where they found the three family members dead, along with a fourth person suffering serious injuries. The victims include a 44-year-old man and his 17-year-old son, along with an 8-year-old boy who was a visiting relative, Cochran said. The man's other teenage son was transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center with possible brain damage. The generator, which was being used for electricity, appeared to be the only power source in the home. Autopsies will be performed at the Regional Forensic Center to verify the causes of death. The victims’ names have not been released.
More delays for Glen Alpine suit
The trial that could go a long way toward resolving the long-running question of what to do with the Glen Alpine Convenience Center has been delayed again. In 2012, four businesses located in the county-owned David Jones Industrial Park filed a lawsuit against the Anderson County Commission and the Anderson County Economic development Association—or ACEDA—seeking an injunction to prevent the county from using a vacant parcel in the rear of the park as the site of a relocated convenience center. That came after both bodies had voted to amend the covenants regarding land use in the industrial park to allow for a convenience center. One day before the trial was finally set to begin—last Tuesday March 31st—in Anderson County Chancery Court, attorneys for the plaintiffs filed a motion asking that Chancellor Nichole Cantrell recuse herself due to a possible conflict of interest due to her husband Dail’s participation on the ACEDA Board of Directors. That means another judge from outside the county will have to be brought in to hear the case and a new trial date could be announced within the next month or so. The convenience center is located on annexed land belonging to the city of Clinton but city officials have wanted it moved for over a decade now as they would like to see the area around the current site developed for retail or commercial use. An agreement between the city and the county for a resolution to the dilemma has been extended a couple of times while county officials seek an alternate site in the event they are not successful in the court case now awaiting another new trial date.
DA Dave Clark attains certification
Anderson County’s District Attorney General is now a certified criminal investigator after completing training and certification through the TBI. Dave Clark, whose 7th District is comprised of Anderson County, recently wrapped up a three-week academy-style course at the TBI headquarters in Nashville. The training, which was co-sponsored by the state DCS, focused on investigating reports of child sexual or physical abuse. Among other topics, Clark and the other participants were trained in areas such as interviewing, analyzing statements, reconstructing injuries and learning more about the medical issues associated with child abuse.
2 rescued from Smokies
Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers and members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol Special Operations and Aviation Section rescued two individuals from the park’s backcountry near the Spence Field Shelter on Saturday. At 6:10 a.m. park dispatch received a call from an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker advising of a pair of hikers in distress near Spence Field Shelter.
The hikers, a father and son, got separated from a third member of their party while trying to make their way from Derrick Knob Shelter to Spence Field Shelter on Friday night, a distance of 6.3 miles. After leaving Derrick Knob the weather deteriorated and the hikers were left traversing over rocky terrain in the dark, driving rain and thunderstorms. Only one member of the party made it to Spence Field Shelter as planned.
In the morning thru-hikers, headed Northbound from Spence Field, were on the lookout for the two hikers that had not made it the night before, and quickly came upon the first individual, who had a knee injury and could not walk unassisted. Not long after the call came in to dispatch of the initial party, other hikers found the father farther north near Thunderhead Mountain.
Two rangers responded on horseback from Cades Cove with a wrangler from the Cades Cove Riding Stables. The hiker with the knee injury was taken out on horseback, while rangers continued on foot to assess the condition of the father who was several miles down the AT. After an assessment by park rangers, it was determined that air extrication would be the best option for rescue.
Tennessee Highway Patrol was able to assist. The individual was extricated via helicopter at 7:32 p.m. and flown to McGhee Tyson Airport where he was transported by Rural Metro to UT Hospital.
Farmers’ Markets returning to ET
East Tennessee Farmers Association for Retail Marketing (FARM), a
nonprofit organization, is pleased to announce the opening of its 39th
season of farmers’ markets in East Tennessee, in three convenient
locations in Knoxville and Oak Ridge. Established in 1976, FARM is
Tennessee’s longest continuously operating farmers’ market organization.
McNally lauds area schools
(Submitted) Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) today applauded the work of students, parents, teachers and local government officials in Anderson, Loudon, and Knox Counties for the great successes they have had in educational attainment. McNally made the announcement after receiving a new report regarding successes in the fifth senatorial district as produced by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
According to the Tennessee Higher Education County Profiles Annual Report, all three counties surpass the state of Tennessee as a whole in the percentage of adults with a high school diploma, per capita personal income, and low unemployment rates. Anderson and Knox Counties have higher postsecondary enrollment rates and Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship renewals than the rest of the state.
“My district has made great strides in improving local schools and helping to stimulate the economy of our state,” said Senator McNally. “I am proud of the hard work put in by the local governments, teachers, students and families whose work made these significant accomplishments possible.
High school graduates in Anderson County, specifically, have higher ACT scores than the state of Tennessee and the United States average. Loudon County outranks the state as a whole in public high school graduation rate, rate of population growth, dual enrollment grants and Hope Scholarship recipients.
“Our communities place a high priority on education and it shows in this report. I look forward to continuing to see improvements moving forward,” he concluded.
State TU honored
The Tennessee Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) has presented the 2015 Friends of Fisheries Award to the Tennessee Council of Trout Unlimited. The award recognizes the council and all eight Tennessee TU chapters for their work to conserve, restore and enhance trout and trout habitat in the state. Projects supported by TU dollars and volunteers have included:
The AFS, founded in 1870, is the oldest and largest professional society representing fisheries scientists. The society promotes scientific research and enlightened management of resources for optimum use and enjoyment by the public. The Tennessee Chapter is composed of professionals, students and others with an interest in all areas of fishery science. In announcing the award, Travis Scott, president of the Tennessee Chapter of AFS, said the society recognizes and appreciates the efforts of Tennessee Trout Unlimited. When he surveyed AFS members for nominees for the award, Scott said he received endorsements from several agencies who partner with TU in the state, including TWRA, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and TVA. The award was presented during the 2015 meeting of the Tennessee Chapter of AFS, held Feb. 19-20 at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. Invited to the Feb. 19 banquet were representatives of not only the Tennessee Council but also the Great Smoky Mountain, Little River, Hiwassee and Appalachian chapters of TU, especially honoring their contributions to Southern Appalachian Brook Trout restoration in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest, TWRA’s Tellico Hatchery and the Tennessee Aquarium.
ORPD arrests 4 in robbery, conspiracy
Four young Oak Ridgers have been charged with aggravated robbery and criminal conspiracy in an alleged plot to rob a woman for rent money. The incident occurred on Highland Avenue at about midnight April 1, according to Oak Ridge Police.
The victim said three men with their faces covered had robbed her at gunpoint and fled in a black Chevy sedan. An Oak Ridge officer located the car at the intersection of State Route 61 and State Route 62, and he pulled over the car on Midway Road in Oliver Springs. One of the defendants, 21-year-old Whitney T. Stewart of Oak Ridge, was driving. 20-year-old Raymond R. Gray, 20-year-old Christopher D. Ramsey and 19-year-old Tevin M. Springs, all of Oak Ridge—were passengers in the car. Gray and Ramsey admitted, after being read their Miranda rights, to committing the robbery.
Investigators also determined that the four had conspired together to rob a different, male however, they could not find him and decided to rob the victim to obtain rent money for Whitney Stewart. Gray, Ramsey, and Springs have all been charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and criminal conspiracy. Stewart was also charged with aggravated robbery, criminal conspiracy, as well as violation of the implied consent law, and driving under the influence. Officers reported immediately smelling a strong alcoholic odor coming from Stewart, and noted that her eyes were bloodshot and glossy, and she was belligerent. Stewart would not provide a blood or breath test “because she knew she was drunk,” and she said she had had five to six shots of vodka, according to the warrants. The four were arrested at 3:26 a.m. Wednesday, April 1.
THP: Traffic stop yields bust
(THP) Trooper Jonathan Scott of the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s East Bureau Interdiction Plus team initiated a traffic stop that led to the discovery of approximately 600 prescription pills and the arrest of an Ohio woman on felony drug charges in Knox County on Wednesday.
Trooper Scott stopped a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee for a traffic violation on Interstate 75 southbound in Knox County at approximately 2:12 p.m. on Wednesday. The vehicle was occupied by a male driver and female passenger, who shared conflicting stories regarding their travel destinations.
Further questioning raised the suspicions of the investigating trooper, and he requested and received consent to search the vehicle. THP Interdiction Plus Sergeant Greg Roberts arrived on the scene to assist.
The troopers then found throughout the vehicle a total of approximately 600 prescription pills in the passenger’s name, multiple identification cards from different states and medical documentation from doctor’s offices and emergency rooms from various states. Trooper Scott also discovered a bottle of urine commonly used to falsify a drug screen under the passenger’s seat.
Charlene Smith, 48, of Pleasant Plain, Oh., the passenger and owner of the vehicle, was arrested and charged with felony possession of schedule II drugs with the intent to sell and deliver and felony possession of schedule IV drugs with the intent to sell and deliver. Smith was also found to have had 13 Oxycodone and two Xanax pills, neither prescribed to her, on her person.
She was transported to the Knox County jail without incident.
The driver, of Hoskinson, Ky., was issued a warning for traffic violations and released to continue his travels.
ORT: OR teachers, principals seek salary boost
(Oak Ridge Today) Oak Ridge teachers and principals have requested a 4 percent salary increase in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Teachers said they’ve “gone backwards” in terms of real buying power during the past decade. And administrators said it’s become more difficult to attract quality applicants in part because of salaries.
It’s not clear yet if the requested increases will be approved or if the money is available or would require a property tax rate increase. There are a number of steps to complete before the budget receives final approval in June. Among other things, it has to be considered by both the Oak Ridge Board of Education and Oak Ridge City Council.
Robertsville Middle School Principal Bruce Lay said he knows the school board and administrators want to provide pay increases, but the “funding just has not been there.”
Also, new tenure requirements may, when combined with salary, make it more difficult to recruit today, school officials said.
“It’s just becoming more difficult to attract quality individuals,” Lay said.
Meanwhile, teachers said they’ve had an average increase of 1.5 percent during the past 10 years, while the cost of living has gone up an average of 2.38 percent per year.
“In real buying power of the last 10 years, we’ve actually gone backwards,” said Mike Haygood, co-president of the Oak Ridge Education Association.
“Oak Ridge teachers have been required to do more and more with less and less for years now,” OREA Co-president Steve Reddick said.
A presentation by Haygood said the OREA is requesting:
Haygood’s presentation said Oak Ridge ranks 15th in the state for those with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, with a $36,407 average. Oak Ridge teacher pay ranks 16th in the state for those with at least a master’s degree with an average salary of $40,048.
AC property values decline
Anderson County property values have decreased by approximately four percent since the last reappraisal in 2010. The figures for this year’s reappraisal process—which happens every five years—are being finalized and assessment change notices should be mailed to property owners by the end of this month. With property values declining, that means that in order to generate the same amount of property tax revenue to keep the local government funded at this year’s levels, property tax rates across the county will likely have to be increased. Work on the reappraisal began last year and Property Assessor John Alley Jr. and his staff pored over property sales records from across the county and all five of its cities to determine the fair market prices of over 35,000 properties across the county, whether they be agricultural, commercial, industrial or residential. Alley says it is believed to be the first time that property values have declined in the five years since the last cycle. The largest declines in residential property values were seen in Rocky Top (down 9%); along with the portion of Oliver Springs that lies within Anderson County, and the unincorporated areas of the county (down 8%). Norris and Oak Ridge each saw 6% decreases in property values, while Clinton’s residential property values declined by 4%. Commercial and industrial property values in Clinton and Oak Ridge each slightly increased, while similar properties in Oliver Springs held steady and declined in Rocky Top by 2% and by 5% in Norris. Farmland property values have declined by about 11% since 2010. Officials say that while it appears, the numbers of properties being sold are increasing but they are not attracting the purchase prices they had been.
ORAU awarded NRC contract
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has awarded Oak Ridge Associated Universities a five-year, $7.3 million contract to support radiation training activities for the agency. ORAU has assisted the NRC with similar training since 1992.
“We are pleased that NRC has chosen ORAU to continue supporting training for its employees as they carry out their critical mission of ensuring the safety of our nation’s nuclear facilities,” said Andy Page, ORAU president and chief executive officer. “Our team of health physicists have built in-depth knowledge of radiation sciences that extends back to our founding in 1946 as the Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies. We welcome the opportunity to share our expertise through our long-standing partnership with the NRC.”
Under the new contract, ORAU will conduct traditional lecture and laboratory-based training at its facility in Oak Ridge as well as develop and host online training for professional development in the field of radiation sciences. Additionally, ORAU will continue to develop and maintain NRC’s Technical Training Center in Chattanooga.
In 2014, ORAU designed, procured, and installed a state-of-the-art radiation instructional lab as part of this center. The lab—used by NRC inspectors, radiation specialists, and others from around the country—provides one-stop education and training on technology used by health physicists in teaching the fundamentals of health physics, radiation detection, and radiation protection. NRC instructors at the lab are supplemented by ORAU personnel in providing classroom training and lab-based exercises.
Tech 2020-led effort awarded grant
A proposal team led by Technology 2020, or Tech 2020, in Oak Ridge has received a $250,000 federal grant to create a seed capital fund. The goal is to establish a permanent source of professionally managed, seed-stage investment capital focused on technology-generating institutions, entrepreneurs, and young companies in Tennessee, a press release said. The grant was announced this week by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
Tech 2020 led a proposal team that included Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Meritus Ventures, and Innova Memphis. The team proposed to create the “TennesSeed Fund.”
The TennesSeed Fund team will receive the $250,000 grant, and it will be supported by Meritus and Innova to conduct an assessment of best practices, and then organize and launch a new seed fund focused on “proof of concept” financings in Tennessee. The initial focus of investments will be intelligent and sustainable transportation and logistics, which is an industry cluster where Tennessee has a competitive advantage bolstered by strong research, development, and commercial activity, a press release said.
Tech 2020 is among the first 26 recipients of the 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies program grants. The Regional Innovation Strategies, or RIS, program, which is run by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is a new initiative designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country through three different types of grants: i6 Challenge grants, Cluster Grants for seed capital funds, and Science and Research Park Development Grants.
Early access to capital is crucial for startups, but it can be difficult to obtain outside traditional startup hubs, the release said. Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds provide technical assistance funding to support the feasibility, planning, formation, or launch of cluster-based seed capital funds, which will help improve access to capital for entrepreneurs across the United States. The total amount of funding for the U.S. Cluster Grant for Seed Capital Funds under RIS is nearly $2 million.
For more information about the Regional Innovation Strategies Program, including a full list of the 2014 grant recipients, visit http://www.eda.gov/oie/2014-risp-competition.htm.
ORNL part of climate change research
Researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory will play key roles in an expansive new project that aims to bring the future of tropical forests and the climate system into much clearer focus by coupling field research with the development of a new ecosystem model.
The project is called the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments-Tropics, or NGEE-Tropics. Its goal is the development of a model that represents how tropical forests interact with Earth’s climate in much greater ecological detail than ever before. This will help scientists explore, more accurately than is possible today, how rising temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns, increasing greenhouse gas levels, and other natural and human-induced changes affect tropical forests’ influence on Earth’s climate.
Led by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the effort includes collaborators from Oak Ridge, Brookhaven, Los Alamos, and Pacific Northwest national laboratories. The study also includes researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA and several institutions from other nations.
The planned ten-year, $100 million project is supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
ORT: Woman escapes duplex fire
(Oak Ridge Today) An Oak Ridge woman was able to escape from her home as her attic burned Tuesday afternoon thanks to help from her neighbors. The woman, Barbara Osborne, was not injured, although two firefighters who were overheated were treated, Oak Ridge Fire Department Chief Darryl Kerley told our partners at Oak Ridge Today. The firefighters, Captain Mike Friley and firefighter Casey Payne, were working close to the fire, near a lot of radiant heat. Firefighters were also looking for a female cat, Honey, who belonged to the Osbornes. The duplex on Riverview Drive was destroyed, Kerley said.
The cause of the fire, which appeared to have started in the attic in the garage area of the home, wasn’t immediately known. It took between 16 and 18 firefighters about 45 minutes to extinguish the fire, which burned intensely over the garage on a windy Tuesday afternoon. Barbara Osborne said a neighbor knocked on her door at about 3 p.m. Tuesday. But by the time Barbara, who uses a walker, got to the door, he was gone. But Barbara looked outside and saw three or four people there. “Someone yelled, ‘Get out of there! Your house is on fire!'” Barbara said. Barbara Osborne said she had seen smoke in her kitchen, where she was working, and checked to make sure the oven was off. After her neighbors warned her about the fire, she went back into the home through the front door to try to get her cat and came out through the garage, hoping to move her car. But police officers told her not to move the car, which was in the garage, where most of the flames were, and instead get out of the house, Barbara said. The fire, which dropped down into part of the home below the attic, scorched the siding on an adjacent single-family home.
Fed fugitive arrested in OR
After receiving an anonymous tip, the Oak Ridge Police Department arrested a man who was wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday morning, according to a department press release. Desmond Slater was wanted for violation of his federal supervised release. His original charge was being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The ORPD received an anonymous tip on Slater’s whereabouts at about 6 a.m. Tuesday, March 31 that led them to a home on South Dillard Avenue. Several officers responded, making contact with a resident who told them Slater was inside and granted permission to enter the house to arrest him. Police say Slater was found in a bedroom and upon initial contact with officers, he immediately tried to escape on foot through the living room. The struggle ended up outside, where Slater was wrestled into custody. During the fight to subdue Slater, an Oak Ridge police officer took some “friendly fire” as he was bitten on his leg by a police dog. The officer was transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, and Slater, who was also charged with evading arrest and resisting a lawful arrest, was transported to the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton without further incident.
ORT: Man arrested in OR shooting incident
(Oak Ridge Today) A 23-year-old Oak Ridge man has been charged with attempted first-degree murder in connection to a shooting in the Scarboro neighborhood last week. Asante Devon Harris allegedly used a handgun to shoot at his ex-girlfriend on South Dillard Avenue at about 9:45 a.m. Monday, March 23, according to an arrest warrant filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court. The Oak Ridge Police Department reported that Harris turned himself in at about 11:30 p.m. Monday, March 30. The warrant said the ex-girlfriend was not hit, and the Oak Ridge Police Department said last week that no injuries were reported. The ORPD said last week that it was searching for Harris and considered him armed and extremely dangerous. Investigators determined that Harris fired several shots, the Police Department said. The ORPD said then that it had secured three felony warrants for Harris on charges of attempted first-degree murder, felony reckless endangerment, and felony vandalism. Harris was arrested overnight and booked into the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton, where he remained jailed on Tuesday morning. His bonds total $150,000.
The ex-girlfriend told Buckner she was at a home on South Dillard Avenue talking to another person when Harris stopped his gold Infinity near the home, got out of the car, and asked, “Where the (expletive) is my system?” Harris then allegedly produced the handgun and started to shoot at her, the victim told investigators. “[She] stated she was in fear for her life and knew he was trying to kill her,” the warrant said.
The woman said she ran behind a home on South Dillard and continued to run until she made it to a friend’s house on South Fisk Avenue, where she hid behind the home. The victim said that she heard more gunshots after she ran and saw Harris driving toward the house where she was hiding and then continue to drive north on Fisk. Two witnesses corroborated the victim’s story.
UT-Battelle to continue operating ORNL
UT-Battelle has been awarded a new five-year deal to continue managing the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy. The new deal was not a surprise to anyone, as the DOE had made it known over a year go it intended to extend the company’s contract by five years. The new deal goes into effect Wednesday April 1st. UT-Battelle has managed ORNL since 2000.
Ex-nurse indicted on inmate death charges
A former nurse once employed by a company with a contract to provide medical services to inmates at the Anderson County Jail entered a not-guilty plea Monday in Circuit Court in a case in which he is accused of falsifying information on an inmate who later died of an apparent drug overdose. Billy Joe Brockman waived the reading of the indictment prior to entering the plea. A pre-trial motion deadline is set for June 8, and the deadline set for a plea is June 29. Christopher Charles Sullivan died of complications from the interaction of alcohol and drugs in his system at the Anderson County Jail on July 4, 2014. Brockman—who has since been fired from his position with Advanced Correctional Healthcare—was indicted this month by an Anderson County grand jury on the charge of filing a false report, a Class D felony. According to District Attorney General Dave Clark, “the indictment against Brockman indicates that he unlawfully reported to Anderson County Sheriff’s Department that he had measured and recorded the vital signs of Christopher C. Sullivan while knowing that, in fact, he had not measured or recorded the information.” Brockman posted a $25,000 bond and was released following his arrest on the indictment.
TDOT traffic counters swiped
TDOT devices used to count the number of cars that travel on area roadways were reported stolen on Friday, according to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. A TDOT employee told deputies that on Thursday morning, he had placed one device at a location on Sulphur Springs Road and another on Dutch Valley Road but when he returned the next day to retrieve the devices, found that both had been stolen Each device is valued at around $1000 and there are no suspects at this time.
Dog killed in Briceville fire
A dog was killed in a house fire Friday afternoon in Briceville. The fire at the home on Duncan Road was reported at around 3 pm and was put out by crews from the Briceville Volunteer Fire Department. The homeowner, Eric Harris, was the only human at home at the time of the fire and he was able to get out safely. However, a dog was not able to make it out and died in the blaze. Harris said that he had heard a loud sound outside his window and had looked out to find his front porch on fire. His wife told firefighters that they typically hung heat lamps on and underneath the porch for their outside dogs in cold weather and firefighters, in turn, told deputies that the fire appeared to have started in that area.
ORT: Council OKs review of PD
(Oak Ridge Today) The Oak Ridge City Council on Friday approved a proposal from the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Advisory Service—or MTAS—to review, rather than investigate, the Oak Ridge Police Department and Chief Jim Akagi, focusing on turnover, morale, and administrative policies. A series of motions by City Council member Trina Baughn, who has pushed hardest for an investigation of the ORPD and its police chief, were rejected. The 30-day review that was approved Friday was first proposed by Oak Ridge City Council member Kelly Callison during a February meeting. The review would use Rex Barton of MTAS. According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, a few people, including Baughn, suggested that MTAS and Barton could have a conflict of interest. But others disputed the conflict-of-interest claim, and Callison said Barton has more than 18 years of experience as a policeman and 20 as an MTAS consultant, and he’s conducted more than 50 similar reviews across Tennessee. He said the review wouldn’t cost the city any money, and interviews would be conducted off-site.
The review was approved in a 5-1-1 vote during a 2.5-hour special meeting on Friday. Voting “yes” were Callison and Smith, Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch, and City Council members Rick Chinn and Charlie Hensley. Baughn voted “no,” and Chuck Hope abstained.
A motion that said there is merit in placing the police chief on administrative leave also failed. Baughn cast the only vote in favor; all other Council members voted “no.” Under the Oak Ridge City Charter, City Council can’t directly put the police chief on leave but could direct the city manager to do so.
The ORPD review approved last month followed an earlier call by Baughn to open an investigation into the police chief in three areas. But two of Baughn’s proposals were rejected in 2-5 votes last month, and the Oak Ridge City Council unanimously approved the third-party review proposed by Callison.
The calls for an investigation or review started after a late January email by Baughn. She expressed concern about what she suggested is a high turnover rate in the Oak Ridge Police Department and allegations contained in a grievance filed by former ORPD Officer Christopher Bayless as well as letters to the editor by several former Oak Ridge officers, including former Police Chief David Beams. Baughn and Chinn requested Friday’s special meeting earlier this month.
Among other things, Baughn’s proposals would have required all Police Department employees to spend at least 10 minutes with the investigator, regardless of whether they wanted to say anything; sought to interview all former workers who have left since May 2011, when Police Chief Jim Akagi was hired; given those interviewed a chance to participate in a “no confidence” vote against the chief; and look into Akagi’s previous history, including his prior employment with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Council also rejected a motion by Baughn to investigate the allegations included in a grievance filed by a former police officer and claims made in letters by former officers.
ORFD offering Code Red In OR
The Oak Ridge Fire Department is encouraging home and business owners to commit to being a leader for weather readiness by signing up on the CodeRed Severe Weather Alert System.
The system is designed to help spread the word about severe weather and make employees and members of the community better prepared, a press release said.
“Know the risks, take action, and be an example by signing up,” a press release said.
The city announced the system when it promoted Severe Weather Preparedness Week in mid-February.
Visit this City of Oak Ridge page and click on Sign Up For CodeRed to register your personal cell phone number, home phone number, and/or business address. For example, when a tornado warning is issued for this area by the National Weather Service, you will receive a notice on your cell phone to take protective actions. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the protection of the lives of citizens and visitors, the release said.
Information on the different types of severe weather such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flooding is available at www.weather.gov and www.ready.gov/severeweather or the Spanish- language web site www.listo.gov.
Oops! OR business locked down over days-old news report
(Oak Ridge Today) The Oak Ridge Police Department responded to a Jackson Square office that had been locked down on Thursday morning because of reports of an active shooter, but officers could find no signs of one, a press release said.
The office lockdown was reported at about 11:10 a.m. Thursday, March 26, at the Jacobs Engineering offices on Broadway Avenue. The ORPD received several calls that the offices were locked because of an active shooter, the release said.
“Officers spoke with Jacobs management at the location, then checked the office complex to verify that all employees were safe and sound,” the City of Oak Ridge said in the release. “It was discovered that approximately 25 minutes before the call was received, Jacobs management had notified employees by email that lobby doors would be locked because of an ‘active shooter’ in the Oak Ridge area.”
The message included a link to a local news report concerning a suspect wanted for a shooting that occurred in Oak Ridge on Monday, March 23. The news report was based on a press release issued by Oak Ridge Police.
Charges upgraded in Roane shooting
The former police officer accused of shooting his ex-wife Saturday has had the charges against him upgraded from aggravated assault to attempted second-degree murder, according to Roane County DA Russell Johnson’s office. 41-year-old Jeremy Alexander Gambrell, who goes by “Alex,” will still face an aggravated assault charge in connection to him allegedly firing a gun at a second person at his ex-wife Jenny Gambrell’s home. That person was not struck by the gunfire but Jenny Gambrell was hit several times but is recovering in the hospital. Alex Gambrell—a former Lenoir City and TVA police officer—remains in custody on a $50,000 bond but that amount is expected to increase following his arraignment on the upgraded charge.
AC Courthouse security gets new “toys”
Members of the Anderson County Courthouse Security Committee have approved the purchase of a wide variety of equipment designed to make the Courthouse and the people who work there safer. The committee is comprised of the county’s five judges, court personnel and other courthouse officials and is charged with maintaining the security of all of Anderson County’s courts. Those efforts are funded by approximately $68,000 a year from fees and other costs associated with court appearances and, according to the News-Sentinel, currently has about $292,000 in its coffers, including some $20,000 for equipment purchases. This week, the committee okayed the purchase of up to 16 bulletproof vests for judges and court security personnel to replace older vests whose warranties have expired. Also purchased were panic buttons for each courthouse office designed to silently alert law enforcement of any disturbances, courtroom surveillance cameras and five so-called “strike lights” that give off a distracting strobe light and emit a high-pitched squeal that cane be tossed by court security officers to distract suspects or audience members who cause courtroom disturbances. The purchases were approved on Wednesday.
WATE: Man arrested…for 69th time!
A Campbell County man was arrested last month for the 69th time since 1998, according to WATE-TV in Knoxville. 43-year-old Lowell Murray of Lafollette was arrested on February 23rd after a police officer saw him walking down the middle of a road. He emitted a strong odor of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet and was charged for the 20th time with public intoxication. He has been arrested 49 other times on charges including rape, sexual battery, domestic violence and vandalism.
AAA: Distracted driving huge problem among teens
(AAA) The most comprehensive research ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers has found significant evidence that distracted driving is likely much more serious a problem than previously known, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The unprecedented video analysis finds that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes, which is four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. Researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle event recorders. The results showed that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied; including 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes. NHTSA previously has estimated that distraction is a factor in only 14 percent of all teen driver crashes.
“Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”
The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:
“This research confirms that passengers and cell phones are the two most prevalent distractions for teen drivers involved in crashes,” said Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Consultant Matt Nasworthy. “That is why it is so important for states to review their graduated driver licensing and distracted driving laws to ensure they provide as much protection as possible for teens.” AAA recommends that state laws prohibit cell phone use by teen drivers and restrict passengers to one non-family member for the first six months of driving. Graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws allow new drivers to gain practical experience in a relatively safe environment by restricting their exposure to risky situations. Thirty-three states have laws that prevent cell phone use for teens and 18 states have passenger restrictions meeting AAA’s recommendations.
Parents play a critical role in preventing distracted driving. AAA recommends that parents teach teens about the dangers of cell phone use and restrict passengers during the learning-to-drive process. Before parents begin practice driving with teens, they should create a parent-teen driving agreement that includes strict ground rules related to distraction. AAA offers a comprehensive driver education program, where teens can learn specifically how using a cell phone affects driving abilities and increases their crash risk. For more information, visit TeenDriving.AAA.com.
Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States. About 963,000 drivers age 16-19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013, which is the most recent year of available data. These crashes resulted in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths. The full research report and b-roll video of teen driver crashes is available on the Foundation’s website. The Foundation partnered with researchers at the University of Iowa to conduct this study.
AC fleet service department receives ASE certification
(AC Mayor’s Office) The Anderson County Fleet Service Department recently earned the Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of vehicle repair and service by means of testing and certification for automotive repair and service professionals. “It is a great honor for me to see Anderson County Fleet Service employees, through hard work and dedication, achieve this goal and be recognized as professional repair and service technicians,” Fleet Service Director John Vickery said. “Anderson County Fleet Service continues to focus on training, advancement, and automotive excellence. I am extremely proud of Mr. Vickery and his team. Not only does our team care about safety and the people in the departments they serve, but their commitment to raising the bar shows their concern for the taxpayers. It really warms my heart to see men like John and his team who are constantly aspiring to be the best they can be,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said in a press release. The achievement was recognized by Mayor Frank during a brief presentation before last week’s March meeting of the Anderson County Commission. In addition to the ASE Certification, Anderson County Fleet Service staff members also hold the Emergency Vehicle Technician certification.
ORT: OR school nurse honored
(Oak Ridge Today) Betsy Jernigan of Oak Ridge Schools has been named the Tennessee School Nurse Administrator of the Year. This honor is awarded annually by the membership of the Tennessee Association of School Nurses, or TASN, to the school nurse administrator who demonstrates excellence in her field, based on the American Nurses Association Scope and Standards for Nurse Administrators, a press release said. Jernigan (BSN, RN) began her nursing career as a hospital nurse after graduating with a diploma in nursing from East Tennessee Baptist Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee. After she obtained her BSN from the University of Tennessee, she was offered a part-time position as a school nurse with Oak Ridge Schools, the press release said. She worked as a school nurse for eight years and then was promoted to nurse coordinator as additional nurses were hired. Jernigan served on a state committee to update the state health guidelines for schools. During the second year she worked in school nursing, Jernigan sat for the NCSN (National Certification for School Nurses) exam and currently maintains this certification. In 1996, she was elected president of TASN. The organization’s membership had grown from 30 to more than 100, which led to the beginning of TASN meetings at hotels and having two- to three-day conferences. Jernigan also served TASN in the role of director to NASN from 2004-2008, during which time the NASN (National Association of School Nurses) summer conference was hosted in Nashville. It was the largest attendance at any NASN conference on record. She continues to work as a school nurse for the Preschool Program and Alternative Program as well as supporting four elementary schools, two middle schools, and a high school as a sub nurse and procedure nurse. In addition to her work as a school nurse and activities in the TASN, Betsy currently participates in annual fundraising for the United Way of Anderson County and is a trained Stephen Minister through the United Methodist Church.
Ex-officer charged with aggravated assault in Saturday shooting
Roane County investigators have charged a former police officer with two counts of aggravated assault after he allegedly shot his ex-wife and shot at her new boyfriend on Saturday. 41-year-old Jeremy Alexander Gambrell has worked in the past as a police officer in the Lenoir City and TVA Police Departments, but today, is in custody at the Roane County Jail. The incident happened at his ex-wife Jenny Gambrell’s home on Bridges Drive near Blair Road Saturday afternoon and while authorities have described the shooting as part of an ongoing divorce proceeding, the exact motive for Saturday’s incident remains unclear. Jeremy’s father David Gambrell told the Roane County Sheriff’s Office that he heard gunshots and saw Jenny on the ground, and Jeremy was next to her apologizing and telling her he loved her. Jenny Gambrell was hit multiple times by gunshots and taken to UT Medical Center, where she underwent surgery Saturday. She is said to be recovering at this time. A witness, Brice Dick—reportedly Jenny Gambrell’s new boyfriend—said Jeremy Gambrell was armed with a pistol. Dick told TBI agents that Gambrell had pointed the gun at him and fired as Dick sought cover. Gambrell was taken into custody after a four-hour long standoff with officers and was taken to Roane Medical Center after telling deputies he had taken 20 Adderall pills. The TBI is assisting in the investigation of Saturday’s shooting.
Ex-cop arrested in Roane shooting
A former police officer was arrested after he allegedly shot his estranged wife several times on Saturday afternoon near Harriman. The Roane County Sheriff’s Office says that 41-year-old Jeremy Alexander Gambrell was taken into custody after a four-hour long standoff at a home on Blair Road and faces multiple charges in connection with the incident. Officials say that a domestic disturbance tied to an ongoing divorce led to Saturday’s shooting, which left the victim suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. She was flown to an area hospital, where she underwent surgery and is said to be recovering. Investigators say four people were at the house at the time of the shooting, namely Gambrell and his father, Gambrell’s wife and her boyfriend. An argument via text message between Gambrell and the boyfriend may have played a role in the incident, which came to an ultimately peaceful resolution about four hours after deputies first arrived on the scene when Gambrell was arrested. Deputies say he appeared to be under the influence of narcotics at the time he was taken into custody. Gambrell previously worked as a police officer with the Lenoir City and TVA police departments. The TBI is assisting the Roane County Sheriff’s Office in its investigation into the shooting. No one else was hurt in the incident.
OS Council takes interim tag off Campbell
The Oliver Springs City Council voted unanimously Thursday to take the interim tag off of City Manager Becky Campbell’s title and install her in that position on a full-time basis. She will be paid slightly more than the previous City Manager, whom she replaced in October of 2014. Campbell, who has been an Oliver Springs employee for almost 18 years, will not be subject to the standard 90-day probationary period and, according to our partners at BBB-TV, would not have accepted the job had that been part of the deal. The Council also voted to hire Lisa Relford as Campbell’s assistant. Relford currently serves as a dispatcher for the Oliver Springs Police Department.
State implements new driver license systems
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security today announced the implementation of a new statewide driver license system that will increase efficiency at state driver services centers. This is the first major upgrade to the state’s driver service system in 30 years. The new system, referred to as A-List, launched statewide February 17 on time and within budget. The A-List driver license system has reduced or, in some cases, eliminated paperwork for driver license examiners and has increased automation of what were previously manual processes. Examiners now utilize a single, web-based interactive screen, as opposed to moving between multiple displays in the previous system. “This new system allows driver license examiners to process transactions more efficiently and effectively and interface with modern technology that did not exist 30 years ago,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. “The new features will help us improve service and reduce wait times at driver services centers, which have been top priorities under this administration,” he added.
The A-List driver license system also increases online driver services. In addition to renewing or replacing driver licenses, citizens may now visit www.tn.gov/safety to:
· Pay reinstatement fees and obtain reissued driver licenses after reinstatement, if eligible;
· Schedule road skills tests (while prohibiting duplicate appointments scheduled by the same person, which has increased wait times in the past);
· Add emergency contact information;
· Receive electronic communications from the department via text messages or e-mail; and
· Start the driver license application online before visiting a driver services center (for citizens who have relocated to Tennessee).
Additionally, the A-List system is more secure and reduces the potential for customer and employee fraud. For example, A-List determines the types of licenses or classifications for which a customer qualifies and will only allow those types of transactions. It also prevents duplicate social security numbers from being entered into the system.
“Our driver license examiners have provided positive feedback on use of the new system. We believe it will vastly improve our processes at the driver services centers and help us provide better customer service,” Assistant Commissioner Lori Bullard said. Bullard oversees the department’s Driver Services Division.
The department offers various options for citizens to renew or replace driver licenses. In addition to online services available at www.tn.gov/safety, Tennessee residents can renew or replace licenses by mail, at one of the many driver license self-service kiosks across the state, or at a one of the department’s county clerk partners. For information on these options and locations, visit http://tn.gov/safety/dlmain.shtml.
Follow-up: Archer explains tax attorney issue, confusion
Following up on a story we have been following for you here on WYSH, Anderson County Trustee Rodney Archer says that despite the County Commission’s failure to establish a maximum percentage that an outside attorney could be paid to act as the county’s delinquent tax attorney, he has no choice but to move forward with naming someone to act in that capacity before the state-mandated deadline for him to file a delinquent tax suit. Archer told WYSH this morning that he could possibly make his decision on who will serve in that role by the end of the day today (Thursday March 19th) but that the person chosen will likely have to agree to work on a pro bono basis until the Commission approves the compensation package he negotiates with that attorney.  The state allows a maximum of 10% of the base taxes owed on a delinquent property to be paid to an attorney hired to handle those cases and Archer sought that maximum amount in order to negotiate a deal.  Archer says that whether or not an attorney is retained by then, he is required by state law to file a delinquent tax lawsuit by April 1st or else be subject to an audit finding from the state. At issue is Mayor Terry Frank’s refusal to sign off on Archer’s recommendation that Law Director Jay Yeager be used as the delinquent tax attorney as he has since the creation of his office in 2006. Frank relieved Yeager of those duties late last year as part of their long-running dispute. By law, Archer is required to appoint someone to serve in that capacity and he appointed Yeager, but Mayor Frank—who, by statute has final approval of his recommendation— has not backed off her position. Archer says a compromise that will allow him to choose the attorney and negotiate the best deal for the county with regards to their payment has been worked out. Some commissioners expressed their concern that in the event an outside attorney is retained, all of the money from the collection of back taxes would not flow back into county coffers, but some would instead go to lawyers. Archer took some of the blame for the confusion that seemed to dominate Monday night’s meeting, indicating his belief that he did not explain the situation “that well.” He says in the days following the meeting he has been in contact with several commissioners, some of whom apologized for failing to take action and, in effect, tying his hands in regards to negotiating. Archer says that while there is money in his budget to pay for an outside attorney to serve in that role through the end of June, state law prohibits him from doing so. The Commission’s role appears to be solely to say “yes” or “no” to the compensation package he is able to negotiate. He also cautioned commissioners to be careful about voting “emotionally” or too quickly on this issue, as ultimately, some people could lose their property over failure to pay their taxes and that is a decision not to be made lightly.
3M gets permit to expand Clinton facility
Clinton city officials confirmed this morning that the 3M Company, which announced late last year that it had purchased the former Food Lion Distribution Center in the Eagle Bend Industrial Park, has obtained a building permit to make roughly $18 million worth of upgrades and improvements to the facility and build a 45,000-square-foot addition. 3M, one of the world’s largest manufacturers, says that product for the oil, gas and automotive industries will be made at the Clinton facility, but have not said exactly what they will be producing. The company announced last year that it plans to create as many as 100 new jobs in Anderson County with hiring set to begin later this year. The bulk of the renovation will include the removal of old food coolers and the creation of office space, according to Building Official Curtis Perez, and the upgrades will focus on the electrical and plumbing systems. The planned new building will house processing equipment for at least one of the yet-to-be-announced products. The existing facility measures approximately 772,000 square feet and became available when Food Lion closed the distribution center three years ago. Perez says the company paid $36,000 for the building permit, explaining that the fee is based upon the cost of the construction project. We will continue to follow this story for you.
Campbell cold case gets new life
Investigators hope that the exhumation of the body of a woman in a more than 15-year-old cold case in Campbell County will lead to her identity and eventually, her killer. Wednesday, authorities exhumed the body of a woman killed in 1998. The victim was stabbed and shot and buried in a shallow grave in the Stinking Creek area. Authorities were never able to determine her identity and she was later buried in Peabody Cemetery under a grave marker that listed her name as “Unknown.” In the years following her murder, volunteers with an organization called the National Missing and Unidentified Person Systems, or NaMUS, became involved in the case. Based on the victim’s bones, they created sculptures and renderings of what they believe she may have looked like. They believe she was a 30 to 40-year-old black woman with brown hair and dark eyes who likely was about five feet, six inches tall weighing around 130 pounds. . She had no identifying marks on her body. Investigators are hoping DNA will determine who she is.
Greenway project to connect Knox, OR
The region's paved greenway trail system is set to expand, according to new plans unveiled Wednesday. The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) announced plans to link West Knoxville and Knox County to Oak Ridge. An additional 13.2 miles will be added to the more than 100 miles of paved greenway trails that already exist throughout the area. The project is estimated to cost $8.8 million. The project will link three existing greenways: the Ten Mile Creek Greenway in West Knoxville and West Knox County, the Pellissippi Greenway in West Knox County and the Melton Lake Greenway in Oak Ridge.
Area educators receive recognition
Several area educators have been honored by their peers for their service to our children. Clinton High School Principal Eric Snider was voted the Anderson County school system’s Principal of the Year by the 16 other principals in the system. Snider, who is in 5th year as the Chief Dragon, was named the High School Principal of the Year last year. Previously, the system gave separate awards for Elementary, Middle and High School principals. The Clinton City schools named Clinton Elementary School Principal Jenna Sharp its Principal of the Year for this, her first year in that post. Clinton Elementary’s Teacher of the Year is 6th grade reading/language arts and social studies teacher Lauren Murphy. North Clinton’s intervention specialist Lynn Neal was named that school’s Teacher of the Year and the South Clinton Elementary School teacher of the Year is second-grade teacher Lauren Neal. All of these honorees and others will be honored on Tuesday March 31st at the Family Life Center of First Baptist Church in Clinton during an awards banquet.
Chancellor rules no conflict on school propane deal
A specially-appointed Chancellor has ruled on a seemingly routine propane gas contract awarded last year that became controversial when some county officials learned of a possible conflict of interest. Last spring, the county awarded a propane gas contract to Blossman Gas Incorporated to supply propane to the county school system after it had gone through the Purchasing Committee. Scott Daugherty, the manager of Blossman’s Knoxville location, is an Anderson County resident and serves on the Purchasing Committee. When this particular contract came up, Daugherty told fellow committee members he was employed by Blossman and recused himself from the vote. Blossman’s bid was the winning proposal and the committee approved the deal, which was also later approved by the full County Commission. Shortly after the Commission vote, however, some county officials became concerned about the possible conflict of interest posed by Daugherty’s inclusion on the Purchasing Committee and voted the following month to rescind the contract. County Mayor Terry Frank sought a chancellor’s opinion and Anderson County Chancellor Nicki Cantrell recused herself from the case. Knox County Chancellor Michael Moyers heard the case and last week, ruled that because Daugherty is a salaried employee of Blossman who receives no commission or bonus based on the contract in question, or any other contract, he received no “personal beneficial interest,” and no conflict existed. The Chancellor wrote in his opinion, filed last week, that “Mr. Daugherty’s employment with Blossman Gas has no bearing on the validity of the Blossman contract.” That cleared the way for the deal to be reinstated but commissioners on Monday voted to table the issue until next month so that they can read the legal opinion, which they did not receive until shortly before this month’s meeting, for themselves. Some question whether or not Daugherty’s previous employment by a competing bidder may constitute a conflict, but as far as the question before the court, the deal has legal approval. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Blossman Gas is the title sponsor of WYSH’s high school football talk show in the fall.)
Fire destroys vacant Marlow house
A vacant home in the Marlow community was destroyed by a fire Monday afternoon. The property owner told Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters that the house at 143 Talley Lane had been vacant for eight years after a previous fire destroyed much of the structure. She said her son had been cleaning the property the previous day and had started a burn pile about 50 feet from the home to get rid of trash and wood from inside the building. There was no power to the home but a CUB crew came and checked wires near the house for any damage and a gas can identified by the owner as her son’s was found near the back door of the house. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental and no injuries were reported. The blaze was extinguished by the Marlow Volunteer Fire Department.
Chemicals start fire in storage building
A storage building on Foster Lane in the Medford community was destroyed by a fire Tuesday afternoon. Property owner Terry Foust told deputies and firefighters that he had been cleaning out the building in order to tear it down at around 3:45 pm when the roof collapsed and a fire broke out. Foust said there were several chemicals like paint, thinner and others stored in the building, some of which had leaked on to the floor. Medford volunteer firefighters say the chemicals likely caused the fire. No injuries were reported.
OR Mall re-do ‘on track and on schedule’
(Information from Oak Ridge Today) Executives from Crosland Southeast, the North Carolina-based company that wants to redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall property as the mixed-use Main Street Oak Ridge could close on the purchase of the property in June. The project is expected to include a mix of retail shops, restaurants, and residential units, as well as a hotel. Belk and JCPenney, the two remaining anchor stores at the mostly empty mall, would remain, said James Downs, partner in Crosland Southeast. Main Street Oak Ridge will include a total of about 325,000 square feet of retail space, as well as 153 residential units, including spaces for rent in three-story buildings above retail outlets, open space near the center of the development, and possibly as many as 30 retailers or more. Downs said Monday that the project is “on track and on schedule” and that the developers hope to celebrate a grand opening in the fall of 2016. Downs says that several tenants have already committed to the project and that others are expected to sign on in the not-too-distant future, adding that it will be up to the individual tenants to announce their involvement. Construction work and the demolition of enclosed space between anchor stores could start at about the same time as the closing. The project could include a new stoplight on Rutgers Avenue and outdoor dining and outdoor seating near the open space. Existing buildings could get facelifts. Downs said Crosland Southeast is finalizing a contract with a hotel manager. He said Walmart and the Cinemark Tinseltown Theater are outside the project, but Crosland Southeast is working with them. The theater is now an island, and the redevelopment is expected to provide good pedestrian connectivity between the theater and Main Street Oak Ridge, including its restaurants. Wilson, East Main, and West Main streets would be brought up to high standards and become public roadways, developers said. The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission will consider a rezoning and planned unit development, or PUD, plan for Main Street Oak Ridge on March 26. The Oak Ridge City Council will then consider the rezoning and PUD plan on first and second reading in April. For much more on this story, visit our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com.
Merle lands another big name
In its second major announcement in less than a week, Merle 96.7 (WMYL/Knoxville) today announced the addition of Hall of Fame Program Director and Music Consultant Mike Hammond. “Mike brings four decades of country music knowledge and relationships from Nashville to Knoxville to Merle FM,” says Jack Ryan, Merle afternoon show host and station partner. “I’m pleased to have him available on a professional level as well as a personal one.”
In addition to the professional aspect of Hammond’s presence at the radio group, there’s a personal one: Mike is Jack’s father. “While Jack’s air name is Ryan, his last name is Hammond,” says Mike. We’re both excited to be working together again in this way.”
Hammond serves as the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk. "This is my focus each day, and I am proud of what our team has accomplished. Working with Merle on the weekends will be another extension of my public service as I work with artists and musicians to give them the chance to have their music heard on the radio."
"In my 40 year career in country radio, music has been my passion. The
chance to hear new artists like Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift and see
their careers go worldwide has been a source of pride to me. I hope to
continue that tradition with Merle FM. Ron and Jack are passionate
about the music and I look forward to working with them to bring not
only new music from Nashville but music from our local artists as well."
begins his new role April 1. He can be reached via e mail at
AC BOE, Foster sued
Anderson County school director Larry Foster and the County School Board have been sued for over $1.5 million by the former principal of Norris Elementary School, alleging libel and breach of a written agreement regarding her employment. Jess Anne Cole alleges in the lawsuit filed last week in Anderson County Circuit Court that the stress caused by her removal from her post after she alerted central office personnel of alleged irregularities and impropriety in the purchase of several items from the company owned by the daughter of the system’s special education director caused her to have a stroke and suffer from stress-related incidents. Cole alleges that she told Foster about her concerns over some $119,000 in purchases from a company run by Sue Voskamp’s daughter only to be removed from her position over allegations that she created a hostile work environment for teachers at Norris, but according to the suit, was never offered specifics. The suit claims that Foster libeled her in an article in the Courier News in which he allegedly said that Cole had known about the purchases for some time but only went public with them after her conduct was questioned. Cole went on medical leave in the summer of 2013 and returned to work in May of last year, believing she had a written agreement with school officials that she would be reinstated as principal at Norris but was told that was not going to happen. The lawsuit claims she was assigned to central office duties designed for her to fail and that the stress from the situation caused her to fall ill. School officials say an internal investigation into the purchases in question determined there was no conflict of interest because Voskamp did not personally benefit from them. The suit asks for a total of $1.508 million.
THP: Man killed, boy injured in Wednesday wreck
A Heiskell man was killed and a 12-year-old boy injured in a single-vehicle crash last week, according to a fatality report released Sunday by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. 65-year-old Ronald Henderson of Heiskell was not wearing a seat belt when 1994 Ford Mustang ran off the road and struck a utility pole Wednesday morning, according to the THP. The investigating trooper indicated in his report that a seat belt could have saved Henderson’s life. Henderson was traveling north on Brooks Gap Road shortly after 7:30 am Wednesday (3/11) when he failed to stop at a stop sign, crossed the intersection onto Buffalo Road and struck the pole. Authorities say that a medical condition may have contributed to the crash. His passenger, 12-year-old Nicholas Ty Monday of Heiskell, was injured. Monday was buckled up.
Cemetery vandalized in Roane
Unknown suspects vandalized the Swan Pond Baptist Church Cemetery in Harriman last week. The culprits knocked over several tombstones, stole dozens of vases, and a few benches. They also drove through the grounds and over some graves. The church estimated the damage costs around $2,000.
ORPD arrests suspect in golf course break-in, theft
Officers from the Oak Ridge Police Department have arrested a man suspected of burglarizing a clubhouse at Centennial Golf Course. A former employee of the golf course identified as 22-year-old Christopher John Queen of Knoxville was arrested and charged with one count of burglary. Officers said they responded to the golf course, just after midnight last Monday (3/9 and found a glass door shattered and a set of golf clubs stolen. The value of the stolen and damaged property was estimated at just under $1700. Detectives identified the man in surveillance video as Queen. Queen was taken to the Anderson County Jail, but was released after posting bond.
OR man arrested
An Oak Ridge man was arrested Wednesday on charges connected to an early-morning incident in which he allegedly backed into a vehicle behind him, almost hit two police officers who were walking back to check on the incident, and then sped away at more than 100 mph. 20-year-old Rayshawn L. Freeman, 20, is accused of aggravated assault, two counts of reckless endangerment, evading arrest, reckless driving and speeding. The incident occurred just after 4 a.m. on Sunday March 8th on South Illinois Avenue, according to police. Two officers were conducting a traffic stop when they saw Freeman stop in the middle of the roadway behind them, blocking traffic. After striking a vehicle behind him, Freeman allegedly drove toward the officers as they were walking back to investigate. Freeman then sped off at more than 100 mph and led police on a brief chase that ended on Phillips Lane, where Freeman bailed out and fled on foot.
Canadian company moving to OR, bringing 600+ jobs
(TDEC) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd along with CVMR officials today announced the company will establish its global headquarters in Roane County. CVMR is moving all of its current operations from Toronto, Canada to a Tennessee manufacturing facility located at 103 Palladium Way in Oak Ridge. CVMR is investing $313 million to establish this facility, create the CVMR Centre of Excellence for Innovation in Powder Metallurgy and production facilities for a wide spectrum of advanced metal products, resulting in 620 new jobs for Roane County.
“Today is exciting not just for Oak Ridge and Roane County but for all of Tennessee, and I want to thank CVMR for its significant investment in our state, making us the home of its corporate headquarters, research and development and manufacturing,” Haslam said. “This announcement sends a clear signal around the world about our skilled workforce, Tennessee’s commitment to innovation and its ability to compete in the global marketplace.”
“By leveraging unique resources like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee is in an extraordinary position to support long-term growth of advanced manufacturers like CVMR,” Boyd said. “The Centre of Excellence for Innovation in Powder Metallurgy sets the stage for future innovation and makes a real statement about the strength of Tennessee’s workforce. Through workforce initiatives, like Drive to 55, we are developing and maintaining a pipeline of students who will be ready to work at some of the most sophisticated manufacturing facilities in the world. I appreciate CVMR’s commitment to Tennessee and the 620 new jobs they are creating in our communities.”
“We evaluated four States before we decided to move our Head Office to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Tennessee has the infrastructure that our operations require. It has a great University that can supply the scientists and engineers we need. The proximity of Oak Ridge National Laboratories and their willingness to cooperate on a number of projects with us, the availability of first class transportation facilities and ability to use the river, all were contributing factors to our final decision,” Kamran M. Khozan, Chairman and CEO, CVMR (USA) Inc., said. “But above all, the efficiency with which the State, county and city officials dealt with us and made us feel welcomed, made our final decision quite easy. It was an honour and a privilege for me to meet with Governor Bill Haslam. His style of leadership and efficiency of his government was a major positive influence in our final decision.”
“Oak Ridge is a community receptive to new technologies for manufacturing, innovative science, and industrial production,” Michael C. Hargett, President, CVMR (USA), said. “A combination of superior local resources, an ability to leverage cutting-edge knowledge, and emerging demand for high-performance products makes East Tennessee the place for the CVMR headquarters, manufacturing and production. This environment supports investment and further development of CVMR technologies.”
CVMR USA is a new company formed to use the technologies and metallurgical expertise of CVMR to address market demands for products manufactured from metal powders in the US. CVMR USA will refine and manufacture high-value metals and metal products directly from raw ore, scrap metals, concentrates and mattes.
CVMR plans to begin operating by the end of May 2015 and will transfer to Oak Ridge the production of advanced metal materials for a variety of industries, including aerospace, energy, automotive and medical devices. CVMR plans to quadruple its production capacity at the site over the next three years and will begin construction of additional facility in June 2015.
The Oak Ridge facility will house CVMR USA’s corporate headquarters, research and development, production of nano materials and metallurgical coating services, customer support, product development and planning for US production facilities. The CVMR Centre of Excellence for Innovation in Powder Metallurgy will collaborate with academic, industrial, government and businesses entities interested in the development of advanced materials and innovative technologies. The Centre will focus on production of new metallurgical products that can benefit the metal industry.
“Roane County is proud to welcome CVMR as our newest industry,” Roane County Executive Ron Woody said. “Having such an innovative company locate here strengthens and diversifies our economy and increases our impact on the rest of the world, which is already significant through our partners at the Department of Energy and our existing companies.”
“As Mayor of Oak Ridge, I want to be the first to welcome the CVMR world headquarters to Oak Ridge. CVMR’s location to Oak Ridge adds to the distinction of our community as a place of innovation and advanced composite discoveries for the world,” Oak Ridge City Mayor Warren Gooch said. “As we diversify our economy for additive manufacturing, CVMR is at the center of the world of 3D printing and advanced metallurgy. Oak Ridge will be by their side as a partner in establishing a hub for new technologies and advanced composite businesses for Oak Ridge and the region.”
"TVA and the Oak Ridge Electric Department congratulate CVMR Corporation on its announcement to locate and create hundreds of new jobs in Oak Ridge,” TVA senior vice president of Economic Development John Bradley said. “We are pleased to partner with the state of Tennessee, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the City of Oak Ridge, many Oak Ridge community leaders, and Roane County to facilitate CVMR’s new location decision.”
"We're welcoming CVMR to Tennessee because a lot of people worked together to show them our area's unique resources," Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and chairman of the regional Innovation Valley partnership, said. "ORNL's leadership in additive manufacturing is a perfect fit for CVMR, for instance. In partnership with Roane County, the city of Oak Ridge, TVA and others, we're seeing Tennessee build a manufacturing sector at the forefront of current technologies."
CVMR will immediately begin hiring people with experience as materials specialists, chemical technicians, product development, and those with advanced degrees in these particular areas.
Oak Ridge and Roane County are represented by Rep. Kent Calfee (R – Kingston), Rep. John Ragan (R – Oak Ridge), Sen. Randy McNally (R – Oak Ridge) and Sen. Ken Yager (R – Kingston) in the Tennessee General Assembly.
ORT: More on CVMR announcement
(Oak Ridge Today) A company that manufactures high-purity metal powders and super alloys is moving its operations to Oak Ridge from Toronto, Canada, and investing $313 million here and creating 620 jobs, officials said Friday.
CVMR, which has operations in 18 countries, will use the former Theragenics building at Horizon Center in west Oak Ridge for its headquarters and research and development. The company closed on that building, which is on 21 acres, on Friday, but executives declined to name the sale price.
The first employee was hired yesterday, said Kamran Khozan, chairman and chief executive officer of CVMR (USA) Incorporated.
The company could expand that 65,000-square-foot building; infrastructure that is already in place allows it to be doubled. The company could put 218 people to work right away in its new headquarters and add 402 high-paying (non-federal) manufacturing jobs later, a state official said.
“I can promise you that this is the start of a wave,” said Randy Boyd, the new commissioner of Tennessee Economic and Community Development.
The manufacturing facility could be built about two miles away on 25 acres at an old steam plant near the former K-25 site, now known as Heritage Center. That property is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The news was announced early Friday afternoon at the new CVMR headquarters on Palladium Way in Horizon Center. Guests included local, state, and federal officials, and CVMR executives.
“This is obviously an exciting announcement for Oak Ridge and East Tennessee,” Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said.
“We expect to be much bigger and invest much more in the next five years,” Khozan said.
He said there could be about 120 PhD researchers at the company’s new Oak Ridge headquarters.
CVMR executives said about five million tons of ores per year will be concentrated overseas in places such as the Phillipines, Indonesia, and African countries, and then shipped or sent by barge to Oak Ridge. About 10 percent of that, or about 500,000 tons could be processed in Oak Ridge.
CVMR USA Presidnet Michael Hargett said the company has commitments to manufacture by June 2015. Systems and equipment that are now in Toronto will be moved to Oak Ridge, he said.
CVMR uses the ore concentrates to create pure metal powders. Those then go to manufacturers that make parts for customers, such as NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense. CVMR works with 52 medal powders and produces about 34 unique products, using metal concentrates such as nickel, iron, and cobalt, and they can be used in batteries, 3D manufacturing, medical instruments, defense equipment, and the aerospace industry.
DOD is CVMR’s largest customer, but others include NASA, General Electric, and General Dynamics.
A state press release said a large part of the U.S. plant will be used to produce metal powers for 3D printing and graphene for advanced products.
There will be state incentives for the company, but Haslam said those haven’t been finalized yet.
Besides Boyd, Haslam, Khozan, and Hargett, speakers at Friday’s ceremony included Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch, Roane County Executive Ron Woody, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason.
Khozan said about 75 percent of metal parts use metal powders and alloys. And the industry is growing at about 26 percent in the United States, compared to 13.5 percent in China.
He said Tennessee has a business-friendly environment, cited the importance of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, and said the City of Oak Ridge has first-class infrastructure. Hargett said the labor force is also central; employees can work in a high-tech setting that complies with global standards, he said.
CVMR plans to begin operating by the end of May 2015 and will transfer to Oak Ridge the production of advanced metal materials for a variety of industries, including aerospace, energy, automotive and medical devices. CVMR plans to quadruple its production capacity at the site over the next three years and will begin construction of the additional facility in June 2015.
Feds, others celebrate UPF site-readiness
Federal officials and contractors celebrated the completion of site readiness work for the multi-billion dollar Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex on Friday morning. The UPF site readiness work includes a Bear Creek Road extension and the creation of a haul road. Officials say that site readiness is the first major step for the UPF. The $6.5 billion project is expected to be completed by 2025 and when finished, will represent the largest single construction project in state history. “Completion of this stage of the field work to prepare for building UPF signifies a move forward toward the National Nuclear Security Administration’s commitment to complete UPF and move out of the aging 9212 facility.” The Friday morning event featured a host of dignitaries, including NNSA Administrator General Frank Klotz; Congressman Chuck Fleischmann; Lieutenant Colonel John Hudson, commander of the Nashville District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; UPF Federal Project Director John Eschenberg; Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC President and CEO Jim Haynes; and UPF Project Director Brian Reilly. Upcoming UPF site readiness work includes more site infrastructure and services. CNS is preparing plans for other components of this key scope.
Frank, Phillips review 2014, preview 2015 financial picture
Thursday, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and Budget Director Chris Phillips released an overview of the county’s 2014 finances and provided a preview of this year’s budget cycle. You can read the op-ed piece in its entirety on our website’s Local Information News page, but some of the 2014 highlights included the county being identified as a low-risk auditee rather than high-risk for a second consecutive year and the undesignated fund balance being increased to $4 million. Frank and Phillips also noted that the minimum undesignated fund balance was increased by over $1.7 million in revenues over expenditures and that “tight spending practices helped Anderson County experience a year of surplus revenue over expenditures, and we continue to strive to limit debt.” Writing that, “while 2014 was another year of stability and continued improvement, there are challenges on the horizon. Reappraisals are expected to note a decline in some areas. A shrinking fund balance for our school system may result in cash-flow challenges that might require Tax Anticipation notes in years to come.” Frank and Phillips also say that a problem with a Medicare administrative contractor has created a significant cash-flow problem in the county EMS that will likely result in a budget shortfall of between $600,000 and $800,000. Basically, the problem has been created because the EMS, which is normally self-sufficient, is not being paid for answering 911 calls. Until the situation is corrected, EMS has implemented a spending freeze on all expenditures except for essential equipment, supplies, and payroll. County officials are working closely with Senator Alexander’s office in an effort to resolve the issues. Even with those difficulties, Frank and Phillips say the “tight spending practices” of government leaders has allowed “Anderson County to build [its] fund balance so that we are able to weather such a storm.” Again, you can read the entire op-ed summarizing 2014 and previewing 2015 on our website.
ORPD nabs sex offender near school after theft…from church
A convicted rapist with a violent past was arrested this week near an elementary school after the pastor at an Oak Ridge church Heritage Fellowship Church saw him steal mail from the church. Oak Ridge officers arrested 47-year-old Gregory Scott Tyree about half a mile from Heritage Fellowship Church near Willow Brook Elementary School on Robertsville Road. Investigators also recovered evidence near Robertsville Middle School with help from the pastor, who had followed Tyree after watching him take the mail. After Tyree was taken into custody on misdemeanor theft charges, officers discovered he was convicted in 1994 for aggravated rape and sexual battery. So, Wednesday, he was charged with violating the state sex offender registry law. Tyree is in custody at the Anderson County Jail.
ORAU awarded DOE contract
The Department of Energy has awarded ORAU a five-year, $23 million contract to continue managing its National Supplemental Screening Program. ORAU has managed this worker health screening program for DOE since 2005. The screening programs are free for former energy workers who may have been exposed to hazardous substances at work. To provide the NSSP services, ORAU partners with Comprehensive Health Services, Inc., National Jewish Health, the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center and Axion Health.
The program managed by ORAU is one of six such programs funded by DOE. The ORAU-managed program serves workers from the Hanford Site in Washington, Savannah River Site in South Carolina, Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, Kansas City Plant in Missouri, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey, Pinellas Plant in Florida and Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Lab both located in Illinois. Through this program, the NSSP also provides screening for workers from other sites living outside their screening area or who are not covered by the other established programs. Workers can go to the NSSP website (http://www.orau.org/nssp) to learn more about the program, eligibility and enrollment details.
In the past ten years, nearly 16,000 former DOE workers from around the country have enrolled in this program. Through its partner, Comprehensive Health Services, Inc., ORAU works with nearly 2,000 medical facilities across the country to secure screening at a location convenient to the worker. These screenings are designed to identify certain occupational diseases, such as respiratory illnesses or cancers. Since the beginning of this program, these tests also made more than 85 percent of those participating aware of previously undiagnosed, yet addressable, non-occupational health conditions, such as elevated blood sugar or blood pressure.
ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Learn more about ORAU at www.orau.org.
Nurse indicted in connection to AC inmate death
A nurse and former employee of a company providing medical services to inmates at the Anderson County Jail has been indicted on a felony charge of making a false report in connection to the death of a 34-year-old man while in custody at the jail last summer. 34-year-old Christopher Sullivan died on July 4th, just hours after being arrested on drug possession, public intoxication and contributing to the delinquency of a minor charges by Oak Ridge Police. According to a release from DA Dave Clark’s office, Sullivan appeared to be impaired but was “able to walk, talk, write and successfully [complete] the booking process.” He was then placed in a holding cell where he laid down on a bench and appeared to fall asleep. Three and a half hours later, a jailer tried to wake him and found Sullivan unresponsive. Despite the efforts of EMTs, Sullivan died and an autopsy later determined he had died from alcohol and morphine intoxication. The ACSD notified the DA’s office and the Coroner’s Office and also began its own internal probe into Sullivan’s death. The evidence was turned over to the DA’s Office, which took it to the grand jury. The grand jury indicted 49-year-old Billy Joe Brockman of Clinton on a Class D Felony charge of making a false report. The investigation determined that Brockman “unlawfully reported to…investigators that he had measured and recorded” Sullivan’s vital signs despite knowing that he had not. Videotape of the booking area reportedly shows that Brockman did not take or record Sullivan’s vital signs. At the time of Sullivan’s death, Brockman was employed with Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc., which is contracted to provide medical services to county inmates. The DA’s office says it is believed he is no longer with that company. DA Dave Clark will refer this matter and all the evidence in the case to the State Nursing Board “for its consideration for action with respect to [Brockman’s] nursing license. Brockman was taken into custody by Sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday and released from the ACDF after posting a $100,000 bond. He will be arraigned in Criminal Court on March 30th.
1 killed, 2 hurt in Campbell crash
One person was killed and two people were injured Wednesday night in a two-vehicle accident in Campbell County and state troopers say that alcohol may have played a role. The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports that the accident happened just after 11:15 pm Wednesday when a 1999 Jeep Cherokee driven by 33-year-old Michael Kidd of Jellico failed to yield the right of way while attempting to turn on to State Highway 297 from Little Elk Creek Road and collided almost head-on with a 1995 Dodge Ram Pickup driven by 54-year-old Buford Trammell of Pioneer. The passenger in Kidd’s Jeep, identified as 33-year-old Della Foust of Rockholds, Kentucky, was killed in the crash while Kidd and Trammell were both injured. None of the three were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash and the report indicates that Kidd had been drinking. Blood tests were ordered and the report indicates that charges and citations are pending. The conditions of the injured were not immediately available.
Ex-jailer indicted for assaulting inmate
A former Anderson County corrections officer has been indicted on a misdemeanor assault charge after he allegedly struck an inmate last fall. Dustin McCoig turned himself in on Wednesday on the charge contained in the indictment handed down last week and was released after posting bond. Inmate Joshua Bryant says that he was assaulted by McCoig on October 22, 2014 while he was incarcerated and McCoig was on duty. The Sheriff’s Department began an internal affairs investigation and turned the findings of that probe over to the DA’s office, which in turn presented the case to the Anderson County grand jury on March 3rd. He was indicted on a charge of assault, a Class A misdemeanor. McCoig, according to a release from the DA’s office was “separated from employment with the Sheriff’s Department” as a result of the investigation. DA Dave Clark said that while he is “disappointed that charges of this type have arisen from our local detention facility…I am pleased at the response of the Sheriff’s Department in policing itself…It is critical that law enforcement hold itself to appropriate standards to insure safety, justice and to preserve public confidence in our criminal justice system. Bryant remains in custody at the Jail, where he has been incarcerated since last June and McCoig will be arraigned March 30th in Criminal Court.
2 indicted on child sex abuse charges
Two people have been arrested in the past two days on separate, unrelated cases of child sexual abuse after indictments were handed down last week by the Anderson County Grand Jury. 44-year-old Gerald Wayne Condon of Maryville and 50-year-old Roger Dale Lindsay of Clinton were charged after investigations by the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Unit. Condon was indicted on twenty-five (25) counts of child sexual abuse offenses on one underage victim that occurred over the last four years. He faces five counts each of Rape; Statutory Rape By Authority Figure; Sexual Battery by an Authority Figure; Sale, Loan, Or Exhibition of Material To Minors and Incest. Condon was arrested on Tuesday, March 10, and released after posting $100,000.00 bond.
Lindsay was indicted on eighteen (18) counts of child sexual abuse offenses on two underage victims that occurred over the last six years. Lindsay was indicted on six counts each of Sexual Battery by an Authority Figure and Incest, five counts of Rape of a Child and one count of Statutory Rape by an Authority Figure. He was arrested Wednesday, March 11, and is currently in jail on $100,000.00 bond. Both of these cases were recently reported to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department and were presented to the Anderson County Grand Jury after investigation. Due to the age of the victims, the identity and relationship to the offenders and other information can not be released at this time.
Merle welcomes Ed Brantley to the Radio Ranch
Merle 96.7 (WMYL/Knoxville) today announced the addition of Ed Brantley. Ed brings four decades of leadership in East Tennessee radio and is a member of The Knox County Commission. Says Merle FM managing partner Ron Meredith, “We couldn’t be more pleased to have Ed Brantley at Merle FM. He has extensive experience and success in all aspects of country music radio and will help this company grow a great deal in every facet of our operation.”
“Merle FM is a high-quality operation from the ground up,” said Brantley. “Merle sounds great, and it keeps strong relationships within the community among both listeners and advertisers. I am excited to begin working with the staff using the knowledge, experience, and relationships formed over the years and help move Merle FM to the next level. I’m honored at the warm welcome here and ready to get started.”
Brantley’s opportunities at Merle will include consulting on all departments within the station including programming, community relations, and advertising sales. He was on the air at WIVK for 27 years, being voted #1 afternoon radio personality in America and later became its sales manager and general manager. He managed five stations overseeing a staff of more than one hundred with annual revenues of eight figures. He became General Manager and morning show host at WNOX where he dealt daily with the needs of the people of Knox County and East Tennessee. Ed started Coats for the Cold, and The Knoxville Award and has served United Way, Boys
and Girls Clubs, and Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service and others.
Merle FM 96.7 signed on in 2007. It is now the highest rated and most successful locally-owned radio station in the Knoxville market. With the addition of afternoon drive host now partner Jack Ryan in 2012 Merle FM accelerated the climb to the top of Knoxville’s Radio market. Now, with the addition of Ed Brantley, the Merle FM staff will have more than 150 years of combined broadcasting experience and will work to become Knoxville’s number one radio station. Merle FM was nominated Station of The Year by The Academy of Country Music in 2012 along with Jack Ryan as Air Personality of The Year. Its Big D and Bubba morning show recently won Air Personality of The Year and will receive its award next month in Dallas at The ACM Awards Show.
Meredith also owns WYSH AM 1380/FM 101.1 in Clinton. WYSH is Anderson County’s top-rated radio station, reaching half-again more Anderson Countians than the next highest rated Knoxville station. He has hosted WYSH’s Country Club Morning Show for over 25 years of that station’s 55 year history. Ron is an active supporter of Anderson County and its public initiatives as part of his role as owner of WYSH. He was a key supporter of Stan Brock’s Remote Area Medical efforts in the area.
“I’ve been blessed,” says Meredith on the station format he designed, “There are a lot of people that like Blake Shelton but still want to hear Willie Nelson. They tune in. They like what they hear, and they stay. I’m honored that so many great people want to be a part of it.”
Op-Ed: AC Mayor, Budget Director review 2014, look ahead
(Mayor Terry Frank & Budget Director Chris Phillips) [Anderson County] recently finished its Popular Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, and we wanted to share a snapshot of Anderson County’s financial health. While there are many factors that go into evaluating our county’s overall ability to promote prosperity for the people of our county, our financial health as a county government has a direct impact on the lives of families who live here and the business and industry that operates here.
Noteworthy accomplishments from 2014:
While 2014 was another year of stability and continued improvement, there are challenges on the horizon. Reappraisals are expected to note a decline in some areas. A shrinking fund balance for our school system may result in cash-flow challenges that might require Tax Anticipation notes in years to come. Interest on Tax Anticipation notes cuts into normal operational funds, and is therefore a measure we take only when there are no other options.
A major challenge has recently developed with Emergency Medical Services and will impact this year’s budget as we close out the year and move into next year. Currently, we are facing challenges with a Medicare Administrative Contractor and the processing of documentation related to submission of our 911 Emergency calls. This processing issue has created substantial cash-flow problems as the county has not received the revenue for services billed. To alleviate the problem, EMS has worked with us on a spending freeze on all expenditures except essential equipment, supplies, and payroll. We are working closely with Senator Alexander’s office and thank them for assisting us in an effort to resolve the issues. However, in the short term, Anderson County EMS will be seeing a $600,000 to $800,000 shortfall by the year end, meaning Anderson County will have to address the shortfall until the issues are resolved and the revenues are finally received. To boil the issue down, the financial challenge is the result of not being paid for answering 911 calls.
Tight spending practices by your government leaders over the last few years have enabled Anderson County to build our fund balance so that we are able to weather such a storm. Prudence and fiscal discipline have enabled us to see an increase in bond ratings and climb out of our problem of limited reserves, but obviously with the challenges ahead, there is no time to rest.
As we enter the budget season, please know we will remain committed to fiscal discipline and serving Anderson County in the best, most responsible way. Anderson County is in good health, but we must stay committed. We take seriously our responsibility to manage your tax dollars.
AC man faces rape charges
A Clinton man was indicted last week by an Anderson County grand jury on charges that he sexually assaulted a girl between the ages of 13 and 18 last year. 59-year-old Rockie Williams was arrested Sunday on charges of rape and aggravated statutory rape in connection to the incident, which is alleged to have occurred in late November 2014. As of this morning, Williams remained in custody at the Anderson County Jail. He is due in court for an arraignment on March 30th.
Johnson Gap Road bridge back open
The bridge on Johnson Gap Road in Anderson County’s Dutch Valley community is back open today, a year and a half after it was shut down due to safety concerns. State inspectors ordered the 100-year-old wooden bridge closed in July of 2013 after finding that the wooden support structures were compromised and posed a safety hazard. The bridge owned by CSX Railroad is the primary shortcut that Dutch Valley residents use to get to and from Clinton and Oak Ridge and the shutdown frustrated many. Last year, the railroad offered Anderson County leaders two options for getting the bridge back open. The first option was to give the bridge to the county and have the local government replace the bridge at county expense and the second option was to allow the railroad to repair the bridge and bring it back up to code at the company’s expense. The County Commission went with option number two, but the frustration continued to mount as CSX would give officials a tentative start date but then push that date back, blaming labor and other internal company problems. Work to repair the bridge finally got underway last month and, again, has paid off as the Johnson Gap Road bridge is once again open to traffic.
2 indicted in social media-based assault, robbery
Two Clinton men have been indicted on charges they posed as a woman on a social media site and lured a man to a meeting where they are then accused of attacking him with a baseball ball bat and a hammer, and stealing his cash, cell phone and wallet. 20-year-old Kavonte Jamar Carson and 19-year-old Shawn Dillon Summers were indicted last week on charges of aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, auto burglary and theft. The men are charged with using text messages to lure a 19-year-old man to what turned out to be a bogus address in the Marlow community. When the victim arrived, he tried to find the address and, after failing to do so, was walking back to his vehicle when Carson is accused of hitting him in the lower back with a baseball bat, forcing him to the ground. Summers is then accused of striking the man in the back of the head with a hammer and ordering him to empty his pockets. The men allegedly rummaged through the victim’s car and stole his wallet before fleeing into nearby woods.
ORT: OR Council approves Main Street OR rezoning
(Oak Ridge Today) Leasing, financing, and pre-construction work on the Main Street Oak Ridge project is progressing as planned, a developer said in late February, and a change to the city’s zoning ordinance approved on Monday will help the redevelopment.
Crosland Southeast hopes to start construction late in the second quarter of 2015. It’s part of a plan to have a grand opening in the fall of 2016. Survey crews from Cannon and Cannon have completed a boundary survey of the 60-acre site, the former Oak Ridge Mall, and field work is under way, said Ray Evans, the city’s retail consultant.
The amendment of the city’s zoning ordinance had been recommended by the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission in February. It allows multifamily units in what is known as UB-2 zone, a unified general business district. The City Council approved the ordinance change in the first of two monthly readings on Monday.
Evans said Cannon and Cannon submitted a request on Monday to rezone the property to UB-2 with a planned unit development, or PUD, overlay. The Planning Commission is expected to consider the request on March 26, and Council could consider it in April. Evans said the UB-2 zoning with the PUD overlay gives Crosland Southeast, the company that has proposed the complex redevelopment, flexibility for lot lines, configurations, setbacks, and uses. It allows multifamily and retail in the same zone, among other uses.
Evans said ORNL Federal Credit Union, one of the local lenders that had hoped to help with the tax increment financing, or TIF, loan of the project is not able to participate. But a local lending group led by David Bradshaw is pulling together that lending portion without ORNL FCU, Evans said.
ORT: Man demands tours of fed facilities, arrested
(Oak Ridge Today) A California man was arrested by Oak Ridge police and questioned by federal agents after he demanded tours of the New Hope Center at the Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Friday evening. The Oak Ridge Police Department responded to the call at about 6:22 p.m. Friday. A man had been found trying to get into the New Hope Center through a rear door. An employee at the New Hope Center confronted the man, who demanded a tour of the building. After he was denied a tour, the man reportedly left the area in a maroon-colored Jeep sport utility vehicle bearing a Texas license plate. ORPD officers converged on the area in search of the vehicle and man. Within 15 minutes, they located the vehicle on Bethel Valley Road at the east portal of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory after it was stopped by ORNL security officers. After being stopped, the driver demanded a tour of ORNL.
ORPD officers detained the driver, identified as 24-year-old Rishi Chatterjee Malakar of Fremont, California, for investigation. It was determined that Malakar’s California driver’s license was suspended, and he was subsequently arrested Malakar was transported to ORPD Headquarters, where he was interviewed by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Energy Inspector General’s Office. Malakar was later transported to the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on a charge of driving with a suspended license. He remained in custody as of this morning on a bond of $1000.
A little bit of shaking going on
A small earthquake rattled Roane County Sunday afternoon. The 2.5 tremblor happened at 1:35 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicenter was located about seven miles east southeast of Kingston. Officials haven't taken any reports of damage.
ORT: 3 cars go up in flames
(Oak Ridge Today) It took Oak Ridge firefighters about 40 minutes to control a carport fire that destroyed three cars and involved about 50 gallons of gasoline on Hampshire Circle early Thursday morning. The Oak Ridge Fire Department responded to the fire at 2:44 am. The first firefighters on the scene reported that three cars under the carport were engulfed in flames and while they worked quickly to extinguish the blaze, their efforts were complicated by the approximately 50 gallons of gasoline in the fuel tanks of the vehicles. Firefighters tried to contain the fire and burning gasoline to the carport area to prevent any run-off into a nearby creek and storm drains, the release said. The three cars were destroyed. A nearby car and some windows on an adjacent multi-family residence were damaged during the fire. There were no injuries reported, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
CHS anglers qualify for BASS tounrey
Clinton High School fishermen Ryan Winchester and Justin Burris recently placed 5th in a national tournament in Birmingham, Alabama out of over 200 teams. That means they have qualified for the national BASS tournament again this summer.
GSMNP: All streams in the park open for fishing
(GSMNP) Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the reopening of Lynn Camp Prong to fishing effective March 6, 2015 following a seven-year native, brook trout restoration project. The reopening of the 8.5 mile-stream sections marks the first time, since the park’s establishment in 1934, that all streams in the park are open to fishing.
By preserving a healthy, reproducing population of brook trout, the park not only ensures the long-term protection of a unique species, but also the opportunity for future generations to experience and preserve the Southern Appalachian tradition, heritage, and culture associated with brook trout fishing. Southern Appalachian brook trout are the only trout species native to the southern Appalachian Mountains and are genetically unique from brook trout found north of New River, VA. In the southeast, less than 5% of all areas formerly occupied by brook trout prior to European settlement remain. Select park streams provide a unique opportunity to restore, protect, and preserve native brook trout habitat for the entire region.
“The opening of all streams in the park to recreational fishing marks an incredible milestone for the park and speaks to the commitment and dedication of our biologists and partners in restoring fish populations in the Smokies,” said Park Superintendent Cassius Cash.
The park has 2,900 miles of streams, of which an estimated 20% are large enough to support trout populations. Rainbow trout occupy 15.2% of these streams followed by brook trout which are found in 8.6% of the streams and brown trout which are found in 4.6% of the streams. Brook trout lost 75% of their former range in the park after prolific logging in the early 1900s left streams silted and degraded. Throughout the early part of the 20th century, non-native rainbow and brown trout were introduced to park streams to provide fishing opportunities. These trout quickly outcompeted and displaced native brook trout throughout many park streams. In the last 30 years, acid rain has further reduced trout populations at elevations above 3,000 feet due to low stream pH. Since 1986, park biologists have restored brook trout to 27.1 miles of 11 different streams in the park greatly expanding their range. These restoration efforts were made possible with support from hundreds of local volunteers and including volunteer groups such as Trout Unlimited, Federation of Fly Fishers, Friends of the Smokies, and local universities.
Using data from long-term monitoring and a recent study, fisheries biologists have determined that recreational fishing under current park regulations has no population level effect on brook trout populations (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/upload/fishing-study.pdf). In addition to fish restoration projects, park biologists are also working hard to improve water quality across park streams. Continued efforts to improve water quality and restore native fish populations will expand habitat for all fish species and these fish-bearing streams will provide a unique mountain fishing experience for visitors of all ages well into the future. For more information about the fisheries program in the park, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/naturescience/fish.htm .
Current park fishing regulations include a 7-inch size limit, 5 fish possession limit and the use of single hook, artificial lures only. For more information about fishing regulations, please visit the park website at (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/fishing.htm).
OR conducting stormwater system survey
As a requirement of the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System—or MS4—Program mandated by the state’s Department of Environment and Conservation, the Oak Ridge Public Works Department is conducting am inventory of the city’s stormwater system. According to the Tennessee Municipal League, the survey requires documenting all facets of the stormwater system including, but not limited to streams, ditches, pipe inlets and outlets, catch basins and detention basins and could take several years to complete. To conduct the survey, the city has partnered with UT and Roane State to utilize interns enrolled in environmental sciences and GIS programs. The students will be driving marked city vehicles and carry ID badges, and, according to the TML, will never need to enter a home or business as part of the survey. Right now, the interns are working Mondays through Thursdays each week.
Chase leads to DUI charges
Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Claxton man Tuesday night on DUI and other charges after he led them on a high-speed pursuit. Deputy Robert Collins reported that he was on routine patrol on Edgemoor Road shortly before 10 pm when he spotted a pickup truck pulling into the Marathon gas station. The deputy turned around when he saw the truck drive on the sidewalk in front of the building and at that point the driver, later identified as 24-year-old Thomas Jay Smith, got back into the truck and drove off. Collins attempted to pull the driver over, but Smith turned on to New Henderson Road and accelerated, at one point leaving the side of the road but regained control and continued at speeds of up to 70 miles an hour as the pursuit turned on to Old Blacksferry Road. Smith jumped out of the truck and ran inside a home on Jones Lane. Deputies made contact with the homeowner, Smith’s stepfather Tim Searles, and he told them that Smith was in his room. Deputies were allowed inside and made contact with Smith, who was taken outside, where he failed several field sobriety tests. After being taken to the Anderson County Jail, Smith took two breathalyzer tests, blowing a .115 and a .117, which is above the legal limit of .08. Smith was charged with two counts of evading arrest and one count each of DUI, reckless driving and driving on a revoked license. At last check, he remained in custody on bonds totaling $25,000.
Roane commissioner arrested on DUI charge
A Roane County commissioner was arrested Monday on suspicion of DUI by a state trooper from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. 59-year-old Greg Ferguson is one of three commissioners representing District 2 on the Roane County Commission. At around 6 pm, a state trooper pulled Ferguson over for a seatbelt violation at the intersection of Highway 70 and Old Harriman Highway and smelled alcohol. Ferguson, who was elected in August of 2014, posted bond and was released from custody.
Oops! State sends out erroneous licenses
Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security today announced that it had re-issued new permanent driver licenses or photo ID cards to citizens who recently received a card with incorrect content due to a printing error. The driver licenses or ID cards were incorrectly issued with the phrase “Not for Federal Identification” to 3,500 Tennesseans. The cards were issued to citizens who applied or renewed their driver license or ID card at state driver services centers on February 17 through February 19. The department is in the process of sending a new permanent card, without the misprint, to those affected.
Citizens who received the misprinted card will soon receive a letter that explains the misprint and requests the incorrect card to be returned to the department. A self-addressed and stamped envelope will be included with the letter. Citizens affected should continue to use the interim paper license or photo ID until the new, correct, license or photo ID is received.
WBIR: Roane could end up paying for fire clean-up
Roane County could end up paying the bills for cleaning up after a January fire that destroyed the old Miller & Brewer Building in downtown Harriman despite that city's hopes the former owner would be made to pay. According to WBIR-TV, the county is poised to become the owner of the property. It went up for sale last April at auction because the owner, Fikret Gencay of Knoxville, had failed to pay taxes on the building. The county was required to bid on the building at auction by state law when no one else stepped forward, meaning that if Gencay refuses to pay his taxes, Roane County's bid will stand and it will secure the deed. The cost of the clean-up from the massive January 8th fire that smoldered for several days is estimated to be at least $100,000. It had formerly been a department store. Gencay purchased it in the early 2000s and had used it for apartments and then storage, according to WBIR. The city of Harriman has been trying for years to get Gencay to repair the decaying building and bring it into compliance with codes. Gencay owns several parcels in Harriman, according to records. Gencay has until April to pay his property taxes. He could retain ownership of the building if he pays. Crews had to demolish two other buildings next to the Miller & Brewer Building because they were so badly damaged in the blaze they could not be saved. The city wants Gencay to pay for cleanup costs.
Roane murder trial delayed…again
The trial for a man charged with murdering his ex-girlfriend has been pushed back once again. A Roane County Criminal Court judge agreed to delay Shawn Smoot's trial to give his latest new attorney time to examine evidence in the case. His trial in the October 2011 shooting death of his former employee and ex-girlfriend Brooke Morris was supposed to start this month. Morris’s body was found by the side of a rural Roane County road and authorities say that she was shot to death. Since then, Smoot has been in and out of jail, spent time in a mental hospital in Chattanooga and fired several attorneys, much to the dismay of Morris’s parents, who have been waiting for over three years to get justice for their daughter. A trial date was set for December 8th in Roane County Criminal; Court and Smoot is expected back in court on August 3rd.
More problems for Campbell animal shelter
The Campbell County Animal Center is working to clean up after a parvo outbreak last week. The disease in dogs is highly contagious and can become life-threatening. The center had to euthanize twelve dogs because of the outbreak, according to officials, who also said the center is working to improve the floor so that it's easier to clean. Donations of cleaning supplies and floor sealant solution are being accepted. The center is still taking in animals and handling adoptions and has recently hired a full-time vet tech to help run the shelter more effectively. Back in November, the center temporarily suspended animal adoptions and owner surrenders due to confusion over its adoption process and reimbursement of veterinarians for spaying and neutering services.
2 win regional awards from Project Healing Waters
(CRCTU) Dan Moneymaker of Knoxville and Wayne Nobles of Oak Ridge have been awarded regional honors by Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing for wounded and disabled veterans—Moneymaker as Tennessee Valley Region Participant of the Year, Nobles as Tennessee Valley Region Volunteer of the Year. The region includes the states of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Both men have been active since the beginnings of the 2-year-old Knoxville Chapter of PHWFF, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the emotional and physical rehabilitation of wounded and disabled military veterans and active military members through fly fishing.
Steve Thompson of Maynardville, chapter founder and lead, nominated the two for regional honors. Moneymaker's story is similar to those of many Vietnam veterans, Thompson said: He had become a loner, spending many hours daily in his basement doing nothing. Thompson met him at a PTSD function, invited him to join a fly tying class—"and the rest is history," Thompson said.
In 2014, Moneymaker tied more than 1,700 flies including flies donated to Casting for Recovery, to the Smoky Mountain Grand Slam Challenge fishing tournament and to participants in an outing with veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project. He also has served as an instructor at fly tying classes and taught children to tie flies at Kids Fish Free Day, sponsored by the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a PHWFF partner.
"Dan is an ambassador for our program," Thompson said, working with Vet to Vet and in statewide training for police departments on dealing with returning soldiers who have PTSD.
Nobles is a veteran who is disabled, though not from his military service. He is a retired commercial photographer and movie producer, and has taken over communication for Knoxville PHWFF. "He has seeded the idea of a support group and is committed to communicating on a regular basis to understand what is going on with each veteran," Thompson said. "If there is a need, he fills it," including arranging press and TV coverage of chapter events.
"Wayne always has a positive attitude even with his declining health," and his infectious demeanor is the thread that keep veterans together, involved and included, Thompson said.
Nobles will receive a Temple Fork Outfitters rod of his choice; Moneymaker will be awarded an Orvis fly rod, reel and line.
1 injured in OS wreck
A crash between a Jeep and a Dodge Ram pickup sent one man to UT medical Center by Lifestar. The wreck occurred at about 6:30 p.m. Friday on Harriman Highway (Highway 61) near Scandlyn Hollow Road in Roane County. The Jeep’s driver—identified as 33-year-old Joshua Brown of Oliver Springs, was flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, according to the THP. Brown was listed in critical condition at UTMC at last check. Crews from the Roane County Rescue Squad, the Blair Fire Department, and the Oliver Springs Fire Department extricated Brown. State troopers say that the driver of the pickup truck, Jon Hopper of Clinton, suffered some minor injuries as did the passenger in the Jeep—Candace Pritchard. The THP said Brown’s westbound Jeep appeared to have crossed the center line before the crash, crossing almost all the way into the eastbound lane. Both vehicles sustained extensive damage and were mangled, according to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, but the pickup truck was hit on the passenger side in what troopers described as a “glancing blow.” Traffic on Harriman Highway was diverted while the crash was investigated and the roadway cleared.
Roane dump truck involved in crash
A Roane County Highway Department dump truck was involved in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Highway 70 and Ruritan Road in Midtown Saturday afternoon at around 4.30. The THP investigated the accident and said the dump truck was driven by Micah McMillan of Rockwood was heading east on 70 when he apparently failed to yield to a van turning left at the light in front of him driven by Robert Stanley of Harriman. The impact sent the truck into a utility pole, causing its fuel tank to leak an estimated 50 gallons of fuel, bringing the hazmat truck to the scene. With assistance from the Midtown Fire Department, workers were able to soak it up before any leaked into the water system. Neither driver was injured but charges are pending, according to the THP report. .
Kelly, DOE ORO manager, passes
Larry Kelly, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office since July 2012, has died at the age of 58 following a two-year battle with cancer. Before he became DOE-ORO manager, Kelly served as the acting deputy manager and acting manager. He joined the ranks of the federal government’s highest level, the Senior Executive Service, in 2008, serving as the assistant manager of ORO’s Environment, Safety, and Health program. In this capacity, he supported DOE’s mission and programs in safety, health, quality assurance, and environmental protection at the agency’s sites in Oak Ridge and nationally. Prior to joining DOE in 1990, he worked with the Tennessee Valley Authority for nine years, where he supported the design, construction, and operation of commercial nuclear power plants. He also worked for International Paper Company as an environmental engineer at the Natchez Mill.
A native of Oxford, Mississippi, Larry received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Mississippi and his master’s degree from the University of Tennessee.
In April 2014, Ole Miss selected Larry for its 2014 Engineer of Distinction Award. It is the highest award given by the School of Engineering to recognize the professional accomplishment of a graduate who has reached a pinnacle in their career. He is survived by a wife and daughter.
CHS, Git N Go #4 win red Ribbon Rivalry
(ASAP) The Red Ribbon Rivalry heated up this year as Anderson County High School tried to avenge last year’s loss to Clinton High School but students at Clinton continued their winning streak, to beating Anderson County once again, but ACHS came much closer this year than last year. Both schools were recognized at the Clinton versus Anderson County Basketball game and Clinton Principal Eric Snider, School Counselor Mary Tuskan, and students Sarah Thomas, Kelli Kent, and Reagan Wolfe accepted the trophy on behalf of Clinton High School.
Businesses across the county also participated in the Red Ribbon Rivalry this year including Ace Hardware, Clinton Drug Store, Countryside Tire and Auto, Coal Creek Smokehouse, Git ‘n Go Markets, Hoskins Drug Store, Nikki’s Smartcutz, Powell Clinch Utility District, Say Ow Tattoo, and Secret City Pies. The rivalry among businesses was also closer this year than last, but Git ‘n Go Market #4 came out on top.
The Red Ribbon Rivalry is not only a way to raise money for substance abuse prevention in Anderson County, but also a way to raise awareness. In many instances, our culture tends to focus on the negative; this year, ASAP focuses on the positive by celebrating the achievements Anderson County has reached in substance abuse prevention over the past few years which includes a reduction in the rate of past 30 day use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana by 6th through 12th graders in Anderson County. Funds raised during the rivalry will stay right here in Anderson County and be used to continue Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) of Anderson County’s mission to prevent and reduce youth substance abuse by collaborating with community partners to implement effective intervention strategies. To learn more about ASAP or to make a donation, go to www.ASAPofAnderson.org or call 865-457-3007.
Meredith next AC Chamber president
(Submitted) The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is proud to announce Rick Meredith has been selected as the incoming Chamber President effective April 1, 2015. Meredith will replace current President Jackie Nichols who announced her retirement effective May 1, 2015.
My compliments and appreciation to the search committee for their time commitment and to Chamber Board Chairman Stephen Harris for his leadership during the hiring process”, said Chamber President Nichols. “Meredith was a highly qualified candidate and I believe the perfect selection to continue the Chamber’s current momentum and growth.”
Meredith brings to the table 20 years of leadership and experience in economic and community development as well as knowledge of both state and local planning. He has a proven track record in the implementation of new programs to foster the creation of jobs and sustained economic growth in both urban and rural areas. His areas of expertise include budget management and planning, the supervision of a large staff, and state and federal grants.
He joined the Hollingsworth Companies in 2010 as Senior Vice-President for Community Development. In this position, he is responsible for recruiting industry throughout Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. He also manages a private industrial park and serves as an adviser to the President of the company on other economic development projects.
Meredith formerly served in Governor Phil Bredesen’s administration as Assistant Commissioner of the Community Development Division of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. He was responsible for overseeing the Main Street, Retire Tennessee and Three-Star programs, as well as programs pertaining to Energy Policy, Local Planning and Grants and Loans. In this role, Meredith pioneered several state programs designed to help business owners. He developed and implemented the Tennessee One Stop Business Resource, an interdepartmental state government cooperative that allows business owners to easily register their business online. Since its implementation, more than 900 businesses have registered and only two other states in the nation have a similar tool. Meredith also organized the first-ever Business Enterprise Resource Office Business Matchmaking event providing small businesses with procurement opportunities. He also assisted in the implementation of the $62.5 million federally funded Volunteer State Solar Initiative, comprised of the Tennessee Solar Institute at the University of Tennessee, the West Tennessee Solar Farm, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Prior to joining the Bredesen Administration, Meredith served as the Anderson County Register of Deeds. He managed all public recording of instruments and an annual budget of approximately $250,000.
Meredith is currently serving his second term on the Anderson County Commission. He is Chairman of the Government Operations and Agriculture Committees and is a member of the Legislative and Human Resources Committees.
He attended the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service, and is a Certified Public Administrator. A lifelong resident of Anderson County, he resides in Clinton with his wife, Kim.
Grand Ole Opry House added to National Historic Register
The Ryman Auditorium gained its status as a national landmark in 2001. Many people thought it would only be a matter of time before the Grand Ole Opry House joined its ranks. The Tennessee Historical Commission announced this week that the National Register of Historic Places has recognized the Grand Ole Opry House as a cultural resource worthy of preservation. Since it was constructed in 1972-74, the performance hall and — at the time of completion — the largest broadcast studio has affected popular culture, entertainment and the communications industry, which is what drove the National Register's decision. The building, which is the Opry's sixth home, represents a new era in country music, when the industry was becoming more mainstream and using new sounds, marketing and production techniques. Not only a home for country music singers, the Opry House has hosted U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries, award shows, TV tapings and numerous special events in its 41-year history.
ORPD nabs wanted suspect
Oak Ridge Police arrested a suspect who had been wanted for weeks on charges he fled several times from officers who tried to stop his vehicle. Marvin J’von Slater faces a slew of charges including drug possession, reckless endangerment, driving on a suspended or revoked license, evading arrest, aggravated assault and failure to appear. Police say he fled from officers on several occasions, disregarding traffic laws and endangering officers, the general public and himself. Exercising an abundance of caution, officers decided to use less obvious means to apprehend Slater, including fixed and mobile surveillance. As a result, officers were able to arrest Slater Tuesday at the BP gas station on S. Illinois Avenue around 4:30 p.m. Two other people were also arrested, which resulted in the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine and a vehicle.
House fire injures none
No one was injured in an early-Wednesday-morning fire at a house on Briceville Highway that is believed to have started near the dryer. Firefighters and other emergency personnel responded to 1433 Briceville Highway just after midnight this morning and spoke with resident Zeb Trett, who told them that he had been almost asleep on his couch shortly before midnight when he heard a loud popping sound coming from the back of the house. He got up to investigate and saw clothing in a laundry basket on fire, woke up his wife and got her out of the house. Briceville firefighters extinguished the blaze and told deputies that it appears to have started near the dryer. There was no indication on the incident report of how much damage was done to the house, but again, no one was injured.
$1800 worth of camera equipment stolen
Thefts from the Clinton Wal-Mart happen so often, we typically do not report on them but Clinton Police are investigating the theft of over $1800 worth of digital cameras. Police were called to the store on Saturday afternoon and told by a loss prevention officer that a white male had opened an unlocked display case, removed a Sony camcorder, four Canon digital cameras, and a Samsung digital camera. Altogether the items were valued at $1804. The suspect then took the cameras to the sporting goods department, removed them from their packages and concealed them in his clothing before walking out with out paying for them. The suspect was seen getting into a car and driving off but the tag came back as being registered to a black male from Knoxville. The investigation is ongoing.
Follow-up: AC Legal Services committee votes for review
(WYSH/ Oak Ridge Today) The Anderson County Legal Services Advisory Committee met Monday to hear complaints from citizens regarding Law Director Jay Yeager. After hearing a few complaints from citizens about issues not already included in the citizen-led ouster lawsuit against Yeager and after hearing from some citizens who support Yeager, the committee voted unanimously to select an independent third party to “review the policies, procedures, and practices in the Anderson County Law Director's office.” The third-party review was proposed by County Commissioner Myron Iwanski. “I’m not accusing Jay of anything,” said Iwanski, who modeled his proposal after a recent resolution to review turnover, morale, and administrative policies in the Oak Ridge Police Department. “It’s not an investigation. We’re just getting a review of practices.” According to the resolution that passed Monday, the review will be conducted within 30 days after the party is selected and the findings will be turned over to the Committee—which was established in 2006 to oversee the law director’s office—for any necessary action. Ideally, the committee hopes to utilize a consultant from the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS), but if CTAS is not able to perform the review, then the review will be done by an independent person recommended by CTAS. Lynn Byrge, who has spearheaded the ouster effort, said the review approved by the county committee wouldn’t satisfy the petitioners but added that the suit would “go away” if county officials would just remove Yeager from office. Greg Brown, attorney for the petitioners, said the ouster suit was dismissed only on the question of whether Yeager is a public official or employee, and the underlying allegations still need to be investigated. The resolution also authorizes the chairman of the Legal Services Advisory Committee, Commissioner Steve Mead, to make arrangements for the third-party review but Committee members agreed to work with the third party to identify citizen concerns and reconvene to give guidance to the third party as a group.
AC committee votes for 3rd party review of Law Director’s office
The Anderson County Legal Services Advisory Committee met for the first time in several years on Monday to hear complaints from citizens regarding Law Director Jay Yeager. After hearing a few complaints from citizens about issues not already included in the citizen-led ouster lawsuit against Yeager and after hearing from some citizens who support Yeager, the committee voted unanimously to select an independent third party to “review the policies, procedures, and practices in the Anderson County Law Director's office.” According to the resolution that passed Monday, the review will be conducted within 30 days after the party is selected and the findings will be turned over to the Committee—which was established in 2006 to oversee the law director’s office—for any necessary action. Ideally, the committee hopes to utilize a consultant from UT’s County Technical Advisory Service, but if CTAS is not able to perform the review, then the review will be done by an independent person recommended by CTAS. The resolution also authorizes the chairman of the Legal Services Advisory Committee, Commissioner Steve Mead, to make arrangements for the third-party review. We will have more on Monday’s meeting for you on the air and on line as soon as possible.
DOE appoints 4 to ORSSAB
(Submitted) The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has appointed four new members to its Environmental Management advisory board in Oak Ridge. Leon Baker, Richard Burroughs, Terri Likens and Ed Trujillo were introduced during the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board’s (ORSSAB) February meeting.
ORSSAB is a federally chartered citizens’ panel that provides independent advice and recommendations to DOE for the cleanup of the Oak Ridge Reservation.
Leon Baker is a logistics coordinator with DOW Chemical. Previously, he was a health physics technician with Denuke, Inc., a company that provides a variety of services to the nuclear industry. He has also worked with the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program through Oak Ridge Associated Universities. Baker received associate’s degrees in mechanical engineering technology from Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville and in science from Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Georgia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in health care management from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, and a master’s degree from Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia. Baker, who lives in Oak Ridge, is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Health Physics Society.
Richard Burroughs is the chief of staff in the Anderson County mayor’s office. Prior to that post, his professional experiences were related to his background as a registered professional geologist with extensive hydrogeological expertise in aquifer characterization and remediation in soil and groundwater environments. His employment history includes 25 years working primarily with Resource Conservation Recovery Act and Comprehensive Environmental Restoration Compensation and Liability Act projects. Burroughs received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology from Southern Illinois University and the University of Arkansas, respectively. He is a resident of Oak Ridge.
Terri Likens is the editor of the Roane County News. She has worked in several states as an editor, a reporter, and a freelance journalist. She has received numerous honors for her work from a number of organizations, including the Tennessee Press Association. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She is a member of CASA of the Tennessee Heartland (a children’s advocacy group), the Tennessee Press Association, and Conservation Fisheries, Inc. Likens lives in Kingston.
Ed Trujillo retired from Bechtel Corporation in 2012. His most recent project involved managing the engineering and construction of a maintenance facility for heavy mining equipment in Chile, from 2011 until 2012. From 2008 until 2011, he managed three environmental projects for Bechtel at the DOE East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge. During his 35-year career, he has worked on a wide variety of projects at DOE, the U.S. Air Force, and private sector facilities. Trujillo received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Wisconsin in Platteville, Wisconsin. He is a resident of Oak Ridge.
ORSSAB meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Office of Science and Technical Information, 1 Science.gov Way in Oak Ridge. Meetings of the board and its committees are open to the public, and notices are posted on the board’s web site: www.energy.gov/orssab.
ORT: Driver in car vs. house (and cars) arrested for DUI
(Oak Ridge Today) The driver of a car that allegedly caused a four-vehicle crash and damaged a home on Robertsville Road has been charged with driving under the influence, authorities said.
Officers located Brandon Kyle Baez, 18, of Oak Ridge, after he walked away from the crash at 184 Robertsville Road and tried to hide in a wooded area, Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Ben Higgins said in a warrant. The crash occurred at about 10:40 p.m. Thursday just east of North Illinois Avenue. An SUV-type vehicle driven by Baez allegedly left the road, drove through the front yard of one home on Robertsville Road, crashed into a Ford four-door sedan parked in the driveway, and pushed it about three or four car lengths into a neighbor’s front yard—and reportedly caused a collision with two cars parked in the neighbor’s driveway (the home of Mike and Judy Coen).
Higgins said he could smell a strong alcoholic odor coming from Baez after officers found him, and his eyes were bloodshot and glossy.
“The defendant appeared to be uneasy on his feet as well,” Higgins wrote in the warrant.
Baez told the officer he’d had one shot of whiskey and had rinsed his mouth out with mouthwash as well, according to the warrant.
Baez, who was allegedly driving with a suspended license, told police he lost control of the vehicle and left the scene because he was scared.
ORPD Officer Grant Gouldie said Baez had been “skidding and yawing” approximately 150-200 feet before he hit the first vehicle, according to the warrant.
“Officer Gouldie further advised that the skid and yaw marks started on the wrong side of the road, indicating that the defendant was on the wrong side of the roadway, and that the defendant was obviously traveling at speeds too fast for the road conditions and above the posted 25 mph speed limit,” the warrant said. Baez told Higgins that he was driving on the wrong side of the road because he was trying to avoid ice.
Baez was also charged with reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, duty to render aid, and joyriding, according to the Anderson County General Sessions Court. Baez remained jailed in the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on Friday afternoon.
ORT: Clinton man escapes OR car fire
(Oak Ridge Today) Clinton resident Mark Bunch escaped a car fire on Lafayette Drive in Oak Ridge on Sunday night. Bunch said he had just left a shop on Midway Lane about a quarter-mile away when other drivers started flashing their lights at him. Then, he noticed a glow by his left front tire. Bunch pulled over between Hendrix Drive and Emory Valley Road just before 8 p.m. Sunday. He was able to exit the car on the driver’s side, although he was a little worried about the flames shooting up from the front of the 2007 Subaru station wagon. Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames using a 1.75-inch line, said Todd Derrick, Oak Ridge Fire Department battalion chief. There were no injuries. Derrick said the ORFD would attribute the fire to mechanical failure. Bunch had said the Subaru was missing or sputtering before it caught fire, Derrick said. The front of the car was heavily damaged, and part of the windshield melted.
ORT: Car hits house, 3 other vehicles
(Oak Ridge Today) No one was injured in a four-car crash that damaged a home on Robertsville Road on Thursday night. The crash occurred at about 10:40 p.m. Thursday just east of North Illinois Avenue. An SUV-type vehicle reportedly left the road, drove through the front yard of one home on Robertsville Road, crashed into a Ford four-door sedan parked in the driveway, and pushed it about three or four car lengths into a neighbor’s front yard—and then hit two cars parked in the neighbor’s driveway (the home of Mike and Judy Coen). One of those cars, a Toyota Tercel used by Mike Coen, was shoved into the side of the house, damaging siding at the corner of the Coens’ home. The SUV-type vehicle reportedly came to rest with its back end partially on top of another vehicle in the driveway, a Saturn used by Judy Coen, crushing its rear end. “It rocked our house,” said Judy Coen, who said the couple was in bed watching television when the crash occurred. “We thought it was an explosion.” The right side of the Ford owned by the Coens’ neighbors was caved in and heavily damaged. There were no injuries, said Todd Derrick, Oak Ridge Fire Department battalion chief. The Oak Ridge Police Department appeared to be searching for someone west of North Illinois Avenue, at Robertsville Middle School, although it wasn’t immediately clear if that search just before 11 p.m. was connected to the crash.
Follow-up: Stabbing victim dies
Following up on a story we brought you last week, a man allegedly stabbed by his stepson during an argument in Roane County last week has died. Fred Silvey died from his injuries on Sunday morning at UT Medical Center, according to authorities. His alleged killer and stepson Steven Edward Jones, was shot by his mother Carolyn Silvey following the attack, and is currently being treated at UT Medical Center, where he is being kept under guard. He is in stable condition at last check. The incident occurred at the Silvey home on Dry Hill Road last Wednesday night. Authorities say that Jones stabbed his stepfather Fred Silvey several times after an argument and that he assaulted his mother before she shot him and he fled into the woods. He managed to elude search teams from several different agencies that included helicopters and K-9 units until early this morning when he reportedly returned to the Silvey home and asked for medical treatment for a gunshot wound to his chest.
Roane wreck kills one, injures five
One man was killed and five people injured in a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 70 in Roane County Saturday afternoon. The crash happened around 1:44 p.m., according to Tennessee Highway Patrol, when Robin W. Ledbetter of Harriman was traveling west in a Chevy Trailblazer and the vehicle crossed the center line and struck Terrance A. Clark's Toyota Tacoma head-on, killing Clark. The THP says that Robin Ledbetter’s passengers were Alexis Robarge and Daniel R. Ledbetter, Jr, both of Harriman while Tabitha Clark and Leafe Clark, also of Harriman, traveled with Clark. The THP report indicates that Ledbetter may have been under the influence of drugs and that blood tests have been ordered. Five of the victims, including Terrance Clark, were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. Citations and criminal charges are pending.
JMS team wins LEGO competition
The Atomic Eagles of Oak Ridge’s Jefferson Middle School won the Champions Award at the 15th Annual FIRST LEGO League East Tennessee Championship held Saturday at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville in a 48-team field of children ages 9-14 from East and Middle Tennessee.
Coach Janie Shanafield said her team worked every day since last summer aiming toward the tournament.
“We would meet every Monday and Wednesday, some Saturdays and Sundays to work on our robot, our project and our presentation,” Shanafield said. “The kids did a lot of good work – they did all the work. “
The coach said her middle school age team continued to mature throughout the preparation.
“In their programming skills, their ability to work as a team and show the core values, they’ve matured tremendously with both engineering and with presentation skills,” Shanafield said. The Jefferson team advances to compete in a LEGO invitational tournament scheduled for May at the University of Arkansas.
Maryland kid arrested after Roane threat
Roane County officials say that an arrest has been made in Maryland after a threat was made on social media involving Rockwood High School. State police in Maryland arrested a middle school student Thursday. The Roane County school district was alerted to the threat around 7 a.m. Thursday by a student. The post claimed something would happen to cause a lockdown. The Rockwood Police Department responded as did an officer from Harriman police with expertise in Internet crimes. Officers were able to trace the threat to Maryland where the young suspect was arrested. The school was never on lockdown, but extra officers were called in to make sure the school was well covered. The threat was allegedly made after an online “discussion” in the comments section of a social media site.
Roane domestic disturbance turns violent, suspect in custody
A domestic disturbance turned violent in Roane County’s Dry Hill community and led to a manhunt that lasted into the early morning hours and involved officers from several agencies. Our partners at BBB-TV report that 46-year-old Steven Edward Jones was taken into custody early this morning and taken to UT Medical Center after he was hot by his mother. The incident occurred at the home of Fred and Carolyn Silvey on Dry Hill Road at around 8 pm Wednesday night. Authorities say that Jones stabbed his stepfather Fred Silvey several times after an argument and that he assaulted his mother before she shot him and he fled into the woods. He managed to elude search teams from several different agencies that included helicopters and K-9 units until early this morning when he reportedly returned to the Silvey home and asked for medical treatment for a gunshot wound to his chest. During the search for Jones, who police believed could have been armed and was certainly to be considered dangerous, nearby residents were asked to stay inside and lock their doors. Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton says that Jones had recently been released from prison. The nature of the argument that led to the stabbing has not been revealed.
ASAP: Foster Ally of the Year
(ASAP) The votes are in and the 2015 Anderson County Ally of the Year award goes to Larry Foster! Mr. Foster competed against other candidates who were nominated for their passion to create a healthy and productive Anderson County. Other candidates included Tom Byrge, Ronnie Fox, Tim Isbel, Robert Jones, and Bear Stephenson. Citizens were then able to “vote” for the candidate or candidates of their choice by making a donation to Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) of Anderson County. Each dollar counted as one vote and in the end Mr. Foster came out on top. Following closely behind in second place was Robert Jones followed by Ronnie Fox in third place. Each candidate conducted their own campaign, but all of the candidates were united by one goal: to use their leadership, influence and communication skills to raise funds to help prevent and reduce substance abuse in Anderson County. Over $4,600 was raised during the one month campaign, all of which will stay in Anderson County to support ASAP’s mission to prevent and reduce youth substance abuse in Anderson County by collaborating with community partners to implement effective intervention strategies. Please congratulate Larry Foster and all of the candidates who did a great job for a great cause. To learn more about ASAP or to make a donation, go to www.ASAPofAnderson.org or call 865-457-3007.
Bell named OR Teacher of the Year
(Oak Ridge Today) Amelia Bell, a librarian at Glenwood Elementary School, has been named Teacher of the Year for the Oak Ridge school system.
Oak Ridge Schools announced their pick on Tuesday.
Bell is a librarian with 20 years of teaching experience, a press release said. She is a member of the Glenwood Leadership Team and has presented at several conferences, including the Tennessee Afterschool Summer Symposium and the American Association of School Librarians National Conference. She has also served as a lecturer in the School of Information Science at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
In addition, Bell is a prolific grant writer, the release said. She has been instrumental in writing grants to support Glenwood’s after school programs, “learning lunches” to increase science instruction during the school day, book studies linking science and literature, and summer reading opportunities. Bell was awarded the Tennessee Association of School Librarians Innovative Library Award for creation of the lunchroom library so that students could read for pleasure after finishing lunch.
The press release said Bell collaborates with classroom teachers in order to link information literacy and literature to curriculum standards. She also incorporates information skills that can be applied across the curriculum, such as interpreting information from charts, tables, and graphs. Bell shares her passion for history and government by teaching information literacy skills in the context of social studies.
The release said Bell has led the development of student-based conferencing and coordinates family events such as Family Math Night, Science Saturday, and book fairs.
“Not only does Ms. Bell serve as librarian, she consults with classroom teachers about units of study and standards they are covering and then creates lessons to support classroom instruction in other content areas,” said Pearl Goins, principal of Glenwood Elementary School. “She has also formed a special reading club whereby students can establish goals and are rewarded with a special lunch with her in the library.”
The Teacher of the Year program in the State of Tennessee recognizes and honors outstanding teachers. The program is designed to “promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teacher, to stimulate interest in teaching as a career, and to encourage public involvement in education.”
Teachers of the Year must be facilitators of learning, be poised, articulate, enthusiastic, and energetic, the press release said. They must have a superior ability to inspire in students a love of learning, and they must show active involvement and leadership in extra-curricular activities, among other criteria.
Wells: Tourism important to AC
(Submitted by AC Tourism Director Stephanie Wells) The average family can expect to have an extra $1,475 in their budget this year if gas prices stay under $2, according to Dr. Steve Morse, Director and Economist of the Hospitality and Tourism Program at the College of Business at Western Carolina University. Addressing State Senators, Representatives and Mayors from across the 16-county region gathered for the Annual East Tennessee Tourism Legislative Brunch on Friday, Jan. 23, Dr. Morse predicted positive news for the Tourism industry in 2015.
“There’s a psychological effect of gas prices being down. You feel wealthier,” Dr. Morse said. “People will be able to stay an extra day on their vacation.”
Each household in Anderson County saves $254 in state and local taxes as a result of the taxes generated by tourist spending.
When tourists come to town, they pay sales tax each time they put gas in their cars, eat in the restaurants, pack their bags with souvenirs, and sleep at one of our local accommodations. They pay state and local taxes that result in savings for local residents and help fund local schools, roads and other infrastructure projects and essential services.
In Anderson County, those tourist expenditures added up to $111.63 million, according to the Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee Counties 2013 by the U.S. Travel Association. In other words, the tourism industry generates $6.42 million in state tax revenues and $2.38 in local tax revenues. Additionally, tourism sustains 900 jobs and $18.03 million in resident wages.
“Anderson County’s economy is very diverse with industrial, commercial and tourism development. Having a diverse economy with tourism playing a vital part is the reason our county has grown and will continue to grow,” said Stephanie Wells, Anderson County Tourism Council Director.
The 16-county region has once again realized the benefit of a clean, green industry that quickly feeds tax dollars into the system. Tourist expenditures were just over $3.56 billion and the tourism industry employed over 32,495 people with $831.62 million in payroll for residents, generating $296.73 million in state and local taxes in 2013.
Molly Gilbert, Director of the Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council, said, “Even though tourism looks different in each of our 16 counties, tourism is an investment in quality of life for residents as well as a reason for tourists to visit. With nine lakes and five motorcycle driving trails, as a region we are leveraging our history and heritage, scenic beauty and outdoor adventure.”
Report: Suit filed against ORPD over wrongful arrest
According to the News-Sentinel, an Oak Ridge man has filed a lawsuit against the Oak Ridge Police Department over his erroneous arrest in January of last year. Trevis Reynolds was arrested in connection with a shoplifting that occurred at the Oak Ridge Wal-Mart even though the security camera footage clearly showed his roommate was the actual alleged shoplifter. The giveaway was that his roommate Randy Armes has multiple tattoos, including on his face and neck and Reynolds has no tattoos. The lawsuit alleges that Reynolds’ constitutional rights were violated by his wrongful arrest and seeks $1.5 million in damages. The lawsuit claims that Reynolds loaned his car to Armes that day and Armes was the man seen on video stealing items from the store. He was followed out of the store by loss prevention personnel and they wrote down the license tag of the car he was driving, which led police to Reynolds. In addition to the lack of tattoos, the lawsuit states that Officer Jeremy Upham should also have noted that Armes has short, dark hair and Reynolds has long, red hair. Despite those differences, the lawsuit states that Upham swore under oath that he had compared the video footage with Reynolds’ driver’s license picture and made a “positive match.” Prosecutors dropped the charges a little less than a week later after comparing the images for themselves. In addition to the ORPD, the lawsuit filed last month in US District Court in Knoxville also names Upham as a defendant. Reynolds is being represented by Clinton attorney Phil Harber.
AC creating task force on animal shelter needs
(County Mayor’s office) Because of increasing needs and a changing environment, Anderson County Government’s Operations Committee on Monday endorsed the idea of a Task Force to examine the potential for a county Animal Shelter.
“Anderson County has had a strong, long-standing relationship with the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter over the years and continues that solid, working partnership. However, as their shelter has moved more towards the housing and adoption of animals, the available contracted space for county animals has diminished. There have been two occasions where the Oak Ridge shelter was closed and there are times of overcapacity in Oak Ridge when fortunately, we were able to partner with the Roane County animal shelter to house animals. Simply put, there have been times when there is just no room,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said in a press release issued Wednesday.
“We appreciate both officials in Oak Ridge as well as Roane County, but we also realize a long-term solution is needed for Anderson County,” said Mayor Frank. In the short-term, the county Budget Committee has authorized $25,000 for the construction of a small housing facility modeled after the facility operated by the City of Norris. This facility will serve to comply with state guidelines regarding minimum statutory holding requirements as a way to address some of the overcrowding in the Oak Ridge shelter and keep animals in Anderson County if a pet is lost. The Anderson County Commission will take up this recommendation at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 17.
In the short-term, animals picked up by Anderson County Animal Control officers will continue to be transported to either the Oak Ridge or Roane County facility.
Anderson County has two animal control officers, Brian Porter and Jimmy Miller.
Taking the lead on the Task Force are County Commissioner Theresa Scott, Mayor Frank, and Robin Biloski, who has devoted many hours to animal control in Anderson County in her position as county commissioner. The Task Force will take shape over the next few weeks and anyone interested in submitting ideas or volunteering in the effort is encouraged to call Commissioner Biloski, Commissioner Scott or Mayor Frank.
Follow-up: More on deputy-involved shooting in Roane
We now have more information on Monday night’s deputy-involved shooting in Roane County. Authorities have identified the man shot as 34-year-old Christopher Lee Powers of Rockwood and say that he has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2001. Powers was driving a Hyundai clocked going over 100 miles an hour on Highway 27 in Harriman at around 9 pm Monday night. That car was spotted and pursued by veteran Roane County Deputy John Mayes and the pursuit ended up headed west on I-40, where Powers allegedly tried to elude Mayes by driving in the emergency lane and passing other drivers recklessly. The chase ended at the Airport Road exit when Powers lost control of the car and crashed into a guardrail. Mayes blocked the car in and got out, ordering Powers to do the same. He was standing next to his cruiser when Powers hit the gas and slammed into the patrol car, which did not suffer significant damage. At that point, Mayes opened fire, hitting Powers through the windshield in the jaw, chest and right hand. Powers was taken to UT Medical Center where at last check he remained in serious condition. The woman in the car with him, identified as Stephanie Foland, was treated for injuries unrelated to the shooting at Roane Medical Center and released. However, she was then taken into custody on several outstanding warrants. Mayes, a K-9 officer with over ten years’ experience with the Sheriff’s Department, was not injured but has been placed on standard administrative lead while the TBI completes its investigation into the incident.
Campbell schools closed all week due to illness
Campbell County Schools will remain closed through Friday due to widespread illness among teachers and students alike. School officials say that by the end of the day Tuesday, 1100 students were out sick, just one day after about 1000 students missed class for illnesses that include primarily the stomach bug that has made the rounds this winter but also include a few cases of the flu. Crews will work to clean the schools during the long weekend. Students already had an extra day off Monday, Feb. 16 because of Presidents Day.
Follow-up: More on Clinton antique mention in national publication
As we told you this week, Fodor’s Travel, one of the leading travel publications and websites has released its list of the 10 Best Antiquing Towns in the U.S., and Clinton came in at #9. The list included Charleston, South Carolina, as well as several small towns, ranging from Hazel, Kentucky to locations in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. In signing the praises of Clinton, Fodor’s cited the presence of Clinton’s 12 Market Street area shops. Fodor’s publishes a wide array of travel guidebooks, websites and publications worldwide, relying heavily on local correspondents with in-depth knowledge of dining, shops and other travel information to assist tourists in learning about new and interesting destinations before they arrive.
TBI probing deputy-involved Roane shooting
The TBI is investigating an officer involved shooting in Roane County after a police chase ended with a sheriff's deputy firing his weapon through a car’s windshield. TBI says the shooting occurred at the Airport Rd. exit of I-40 West. A Roane County sheriff’s deputy clocked a Hyundai traveling at more than 100 miles an hour on Highway 27 in Harriman. The deputy turned on his lights and sirens and gave chase but instead of pulling over, the car entered I-40 westbound and the pursuit continued to the exit ramp at mile marker 340. There, the driver lost control and the car spun into a guardrail, where it came to a stop. The deputy got out of his car and was standing by his cruiser when the driver of the Hyundai drove forward and rammed the patrol car. That's when the deputy fired through the windshield, hitting the driver twice. The driver of the Hyundai was taken to Roane Medical Center in Harriman and was later transferred to UT Medical Center. A female passenger was also taken to the hospital for injuries unrelated to the shooting. The identities of those involved were not immediately released.
ORT: OR Council OKs ORPD investigation
(Oak Ridge Today/staff reports) The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday agreed to conduct an independent third-party review of turnover and morale in the Police Department but rejected a proposal to investigate the relationship between Police Chief Jim Akagi and City Manager Mark Watson, and possible violations related to an order of protection issued against the police chief in Blount County in 2012 and dismissed in 2013. The resolution to conduct an independent third-party review of the ORPD turnover was proposed by Council member Kelly Callison during a four-and-a-half-hour-long meeting on Monday night. It passed 7-0 after being amended to include a study of morale issues and administrative policies. Later in the meeting, Oak Ridge City Council member Charlie Hensley withdrew a motion to reprimand fellow Council member Trina Baughn for the way she has publicly handled the concerns about the Police Department. Baughn sent a memo to Watson last month that she also copied to several media outlets raising concerns about what she called the high turnover rate in the ORPD and complaints she had heard from current and former officers describing the chief as a tyrant and vindictive. The drumbeat of dissent in the city continued when some of those former officers, including Akagi’s predecessor David Beams, issued missives containing similar complaints and asking for a Council investigation into the department. Over two dozen residents and several former officers addressed the Council on Monday, some speaking against Akagi and others lauding his performance since talking over in 2011. The review is expected to be completed within 30 days of a firm being selected and the report will be delivered to City Council and the city manager.
ORT: OR Council OKs Preschool paint fix
(Oak Ridge Today) The Oak Ridge City Council Monday agreed to use $150,000 in red-light camera money to repair the lead-based paint on the city’s Preschool, providing what officials hope will be a short-term solution while they develop a plan to permanently repair, replace, or move the Preschool. The repairs, which could be done by August 3, were approved in a 6-0 vote. Oak Ridge City Council member Rick Chinn abstained because a family member owns a building on Mitchell Road that the city and schools could consider leasing. The City Council also endorsed a recommendation from the Oak Ridge Board of Education that could have children in a new building by the 2016-2017 school year. That resolution calls for further study of options for the Oak Ridge Preschools and Robert J. Smallridge School Administration Building on New York Avenue. It also would set up a joint city-schools committee, consider buying the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce building for school administration offices, and remodel the G Building at Oak Ridge High School. Officials say the Preschool building needs to be renovated or vacated for the Head Start program to receive federal funding in the 2015-2016 school year. They are hopeful that their plan to fix the lead-based paint on the decades-old home of the Preschool by early August will satisfy federal officials. A remediation plan could be submitted to federal officials and Anderson County education officials by March 4. The building is owned by the city, and the municipal staff would lead the repair project. The Preschool is used by about 200 students, including those in the Head Start program. Several options have been considered for the Preschool, including repairing the current building, constructing a new facility, leasing a new home for the preschool (or using a lease-purchase option), and splitting up the Preschool among the city’s elementary schools. The last option has been largely ruled out.
Middle School Science Bowl Round-Up
(DOE) The fifth annual U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) East Tennessee Middle School Science Bowl held Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Roane State Community College, Oak Ridge Campus highlighted the academic expertise of students representing 12 Tennessee middle schools. The Middle School Science Bowl is a competition which tests participants’ knowledge in mathematics and the sciences. This year 16 teams, composed of the state’s brightest middle school students, were quizzed in a fast-paced question and answer format similar to the Jeopardy television game show. Each team included four student competitors, an alternate, and a coach who also served as the team’s advisor.
After an intense competition, three winning teams emerged. The winning teams also received monetary awards:
Schools participating in this year’s competition include Blount Home Education Association, Jefferson Middle School, Webb School, St. Mary’s School, Cedar Springs Homeschool, Norris Middle School, Powell Middle School, Concord Christian School, Farragut Middle School, Cedar Bluff Middle School, Trinity Christian Academy and Oliver Springs Middle School. For additional information about the DOE’s East Tennessee Middle School Science Bowl visit http://www.amse.org/.
One killed in Friday Roane wreck
A Friday afternoon traffic accident in Harriman killed an Oakdale man. The Tennessee Highway Patrol says the crash happened at around 12:40 pm Friday when 74-year-old Samuel Norman of Harriman attempted to turn left from Little Emory Road on to State Highway 61 in his Chevy SUV and failed to yield to a Nissan sedan being driven by 77-year-old Merley Tilson of Oakdale, pulling into the car’s path. Tilson’s car was knocked off the roadway into a large ditch, where his car overturned. Norman’s SUV spun and came to rest in the westbound lanes of Highway 61. Tilson was injured and a passenger in his car identified as 79-year-old Elmer Solomon of Oakdale died in the crash despite wearing his seatbelt. Norman was not injured in the wreck and the THP report indicates that no charges or citations have been filed.
ORT: More ex-ORPD officers asking for investigation
According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, four former Oak Ridge police officers have asked the City Council to investigate some of the concerns recently raised about the Police Department and its chief, or to hear the concerns of officers. The officers were responding to recent news reports about the police department and concerns raised about its turnover rate, as well as alleged policy violations included in a mid-January grievance filed by former Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Christopher Bayless. The officers expressed a range of concerns that include the alleged policy violations by Police Chief Jim Akagi and a Blount County order of protection in effect from April 2012 to June 2013, questions about the turnover rate and the chief’s leadership, and decisions about promotions, spending, and weapons.
The City Council will consider dueling resolutions on the topic during its Monday night meeting.
The first, requested by Council member Trina Baughn, would open an investigation into the police chief, including the allegations raised by Bayless, and the concerns raised by Beams, Mansfield, and someone who has written to City Council under the pseudonym “Bobby Hill.” It would also investigate the relationship between Akagi and Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson before the police chief was hired and determine whether Akagi violated the order of protection, which was issued in Blount County by Circuit Court Judge Tammy M. Harrington.
The second resolution to be considered Monday, which was requested by Council member Charlie Hensley, would reprimand Baughn, remove her from all committee assignments, and ask her to stop “premature release of biased and negatively spun information” before it’s been verified and discussed by the entire Council.
It’s not clear which resolution, if either, the Council might support. Either one would require a second for discussion and four votes to be approved.
Besides Hensley, a few other Council members have also expressed concern about the process used by Baughn, and one member, Kelly Callison, said last week that he might propose an alternative to the resolutions proposed by Baughn and Hensley.
The Council will also consider spending $150,000 to address lead-based paint concerns on the exterior walls of the city’s preschool and establish a procedure to begin looking for a replacement for the decades-old facility. The City Council meets tonight at 7 pm in the Courtroom of the Oak Ridge Municipal Building.
Clinton’s antique district earns national recognition
National travel magazine Fodor’s has ranked the city of Clinton as the ninth best place in the nation to go antiquing. Here is what the writers of the article had to say about Clinton and its antique district:
“Dedicate at least a day to the wonders to be found on the Clinton Antique Trail, Tennessee’s antique hub that hugs the Clinch River. With a population of almost 10,000, Clinton offers visitors small-town, southern charm with an emphasis on antiques. Featuring nearly everything from American and European to Primitive period furnishings, start your picking with handcrafted furniture and fun home décor items at Burrville Antiques, the area’s oldest antique shop. The next stop on the trail is The Antique Market, where a 1900s era building houses antiques, primitives, and quality collectibles. The trail continues on to another 12 antique shops with seemingly endless piles of treasure.
Insider Tip: Though there is no relation to the famed television series, a visit to Golden Girls Restaurant is a must while visiting Clinton, as their breakfasts speak to the country appetite (fresh biscuits and grits) and are as affordable as they are delicious.” View the complete list and pictures at http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/10-best-antiquing-towns-in-the-us#!1-intro
TSSAA shines spotlight on OR AD
(Oak Ridge Today/TSSAA) Mike Mullins, the athletic director at Oak Ridge High School, has been recognized by the TSSAA for his distinguished service as an administrator. The TSSAA, or Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, administers junior and senior high school sports. A story in the Winter 2015 issue of TSSAA News said Mullins is finishing his ninth year as athletic director at ORHS and his 29th year in interscholastic athletics and education. The TSSAA article said Mullins has spearheaded a number of capital improvement projects. “The most striking undertaking is the Wildcat Arena, a part of a $61 million renovation to Oak Ridge High School,” the story said. “This state-of-the-art facility is home to the Wildcat basketball and volleyball teams and is one of the finest high schools in the state.” Other upgrades completed under Mullins include the Pro2Serve soccer complex, newly renovated weight room, and many locker room enhancements. There are also plans for a multi-million dollar renovation of historic Blankenship Field. Before he was named athletic director in 2005, Mullins was assistant athletic director for the Oak Ridge Wildcats for four years. Since Mullins became AD, the Wildcats have won six state championships, had five runner-up finishes, and earned “countless sectional, regional, and district titles,” the story said. There have been individual awards as well, and Mullins has assembled a highly regarded coaching staff and been awarded the 2009-2010 A.F. Bridges Athletic Director of the Year Award, TSSAA News said. Mullins and his wife Karla, a teacher at Oak Ridge High School, live in Oak Ridge, and they have two sons, Aaron and Austin.
Clinton issues demolition permit for Magnet Mills
The city of Clinton last month issued a demolition permit for the historic, but long-vacant Magnet Mills building on Charles Seivers Boulevard. Clinch River Properties LLC has six months from the date the permit was issued—January 23rd—to begin the demolition project. The city says it will hold periodic hearings to receive updates on the project, the first of which is scheduled for February 26th. A tenant who had been using the former mill as a storage facility was evicted last year by the property owners and the city has given Clinch River Properties until February 24th to remove several junk vehicles from the property. City leaders have long been exploring ways to either have the building renovated or demolished. Coupled with TDOT’s replacement of the green bridge on Highway 25W—Clinton Highway/Clinch Avenue—that connects Clinton and South Clinton later this year, the face of Clinton’s riverfront will look radically different by this time next year.
National Signing Day local recruiting round-up
Wednesday was national Signing Day for high school athletes and as you have no doubt heard by now, the University of Tennessee brought in a recruiting class ranked among the top 5 by most football scouting services. Among the student-athletes who signed with UT was Coalfield lineman Zach Stewart, a two-time Mr. Football Award winner. He was actually the first member of the class of 2015 to fax the school his signed letter of intent. Anderson County standout running back Matt Fox signed to play at ETSU while fellow Maverick Bronson Black is headed to the University of the Cumberlands. Oak Ridge had several football players sign scholarship offers, led by Isaac Chapman heading to UT-Martin. Shawmain Fleming of Oak Ridge will head to Tusculum while his high school teammates Zach Kassner and Ted Mitchell are headed to Carson-Newman. Midway’s Hayden Hester will also play at Carson-Newman and Kingston’s Zach redden will play for Tusculum. Former Clinton, Lenoir City and West High School standout Camion Patrick, who had once committed to UT, signed to play major college football at Indiana. He spent last season at a junior college. Clinton High School’s Nick Bowling signed a swimming scholarship to Union College. Congratulations to all of these student-athletes and good luck. We know you will make the area proud.
Woman’s suicide prompts lockdown at Fairview
Fairview Elementary School was placed on lockdown early Tuesday afternoon while law enforcement investigated a woman’s death. According to Joe Forgety with the Anderson County School system, a man found a suicide note written by his wife that indicated she was “headed to Fairview.” Officials were not clear as to her destination and placed the school on lockdown. The woman apparently parked her car adjacent to the school, walked into the woods on the opposite side of the playground and shot herself. The lockdown was lifted and parents were brought in a separate entrance to pick up their children while the investigation took place. The reason for the alternate entrance was that the road directly in front of the school was identified as the best staging area for deputies and other emergency personnel. The school was never in danger. WYSH does not identify suicide victims.
ORT: Controversy over ORPD headed to Council
According to Oak Ridge Today, the brewing controversy over the Oak Ridge Police Department and its leadership under Chief Jim Akagi will head to the City Council Monday night. Oak Ridge City Council member Trina Baughn has called for an investigation of the police chief. Fellow Council member Charlie Hensley meanwhile wants the Council to reprimand Baughn. The two Council members have submitted dueling resolutions that could be considered on Monday. Either resolution would require a second from another Council member to be discussed, and four votes to be approved. Both resolutions come after over a week of accusations and allegations focused, in particular, on the management of the Oak Ridge Police Department by Chief Jim Akagi and raised questions about the ORPD’s turnover rate and whether it is high. Some of the most blistering criticism has come from former Oak Ridge Police Chief David Beams. Our partners at Oak Ridge Today report that some city officials and business owners are concerned that the negative publicity surrounding this controversy might have a negative impact on economic development and the recruitment of residents while others argue that there are legitimate concerns that need to be investigated. Baughn’s resolution calls for a City Council investigation of certain alleged actions by the police chief as well as his relationship to the city manager. Hensley’s resolution, meanwhile, asks City Council to show its disapproval and officially rebuke Baughn. It wouldn’t have legal weight, but it would serve as a reprimand. It would ask Baughn to “cease premature release of biased and negatively spun information prior to verification and discussion by City Council as a whole.” In an email to city officials, Hensley said Baughn has released negatively biased information and unverified accusations to the media without consideration, discussion, and deliberation by the Council. Hensley’s resolution also requests that Baughn be removed from all of her current committee assignments. The Oak Ridge City Council will meet Monday, February 9th at 7 p.m. in the Courtroom of the Oak Ridge Municipal Building. For much more on this story, please visit www.oakridgetoday.com.
ACSD: 2 arrested in recent weeks on child pornography charges
Two men have been arrested in recent weeks on unrelated charges dealing with the possession of child pornography after indictments were returned in January by the Anderson County Grand Jury. 29-year-old Mario Luis Castilla of Rocky Top was indicted on three counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and arrested on January 8. 30-year-old Jeremy Keegan Cosgrove of Oak Ridge was indicted on two counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and arrested on January 31. These are separate, unrelated cases in which charges were filed after two investigations by the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Unit along with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of which the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department is a member. Each was indicted for allegedly having images of child pornography on their computers. Both are free on bonds totaling $75,000 each.
Follow-up: More on bridge repair project
Following up on a story you first heard about on WYSH, crews on Monday began the long-awaited repair of the bridge on Johnson Gap Road in Anderson County’s Dutch Valley community. In July of 2013, state inspectors ordered the bridge closed immediately after determining it was unsafe for travel due to structural problems. Residents of Dutch Valley routinely used Johnson Gap, and consequently, the bridge as the primary shortcut to and from Clinton and Oak Ridge, and complained about having to take longer alternate routes. While some officials had worried about longer emergency response times, those problems did not surface, but residents still grew increasingly frustrated over the railroad’s delays in getting the project started. The bridge is owned by CSX and after its closure, offered the county two options. The first option was to take over the bridge from the company and replace it with a concrete structure at county expense and the second was to have the company fix it and foot the bill. County commissioners last spring voted for the latter offer but officials and residents became frustrated all over again when the company offered tentative starting dates and then would extend its timetable. CSX has addressed the labor and other problems that led to their many delays and late last year, awarded a contract to repair the 100-year-old bridge. Weather permitting, the project is expected to be wrapped up within the next four weeks.
ORT: 3 OR teachers earn honors
(Oak Ridge Today) Oak Ridge Schools has announced three of its teachers of the year. The three building-wide teachers of the year are:
In a press release, school officials said they will soon announce the selection of the system-wide Teacher of the Year, selected from one of these three candidates.
Amelia Bell, Glenwood Teacher of the Year, is a librarian with 20 years of teaching experience. She is a member of the Glenwood Leadership Team, a prolific grant writer, and has been awarded the Tennessee Association of School Librarians Innovative Library Award, the press release said.
Bell has led the development of student-based conferencing, and she coordinates family events such as Family Math Night, Science Saturday, and book fairs. Bell is also the extended school day program grant manager.
Bell shares her “passion for history and government by teaching information literacy skills in the context of social studies,” the press release said.
Amy Fuqua, Linden Teacher of the Year, is a second grade teacher with 16 years of teaching experience. Fuqua is a data coach and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) innovator for Oak Ridge Schools and also serves as a member of the Linden Leadership Team.
Fuqua does a lot of work with technology in the classroom, from the Promethean Board, to Dreambox Learning, to iPods.
Lisa Meidl, Willow Brook Teacher of the Year, is a librarian with 5.5 years of teaching experience. Meidl is secretary for the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature at the University of Tennessee. She learns the state standards for all elementary grade levels in order to better collaborate with classroom teachers and help students set and meet their goals.
The Teacher of the Year program in the State of Tennessee recognizes and honors outstanding teachers. A Teacher of the Year candidate must be a full-time certificated teacher in a public school. The candidate must spend the majority of the school day in direct instruction of students, be in at least the fifth year of teaching in Tennessee public schools, and have a track record of exceptional gains in student learning. Teachers of the Year must be skilled in implementing creative teaching strategies, exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled, and have a superior ability to teach, the press release said.
The City of Rocky Top has announced its meeting schedule for the month of February.
For more information call Rocky Top City Hall at 865-426-2838
CONTACT CareLine announces board appointments
CONTACT Care Line of East Tennessee is proud to announce five new members of its board of directors. Entering its fifth decade of providing a listening ear to neighbors in crisis, CONTACT joined the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, launched a chat service, and expanded its Reassurance service to elderly men and women who need a daily call.
“Our new board members bring strong professional backgrounds and a desire to make sure no one feels alone when they’re facing difficulties,” board Chairwoman Roslyn Robinson said. “A simple telephone call to CONTACT can stop a downward spiral, connect callers with community resources and, many times, even save a life.”
Board members who began three-year terms in January are:
· Chris Elledge, assistant professor of clinical psychology, University of Tennessee.
· LaShanda Miller, director of talent management, ORAU.
· Mary Jinks, who recently retired as vice president of public service for the University of Tennessee.
· Matt Shafer-Powell, director of news content/executive producer, WUOT.
· Susan E. Joyce Schmiesing, healthcare services coordinator for United Health Care.
· Liz Clary, vice president of behavioral services at Covenant Health
Founded in 1973, CONTACT trains volunteers to field telephone calls and chat messages from individuals with a variety of needs.Volunteers help callers through moments of crisis or bring trained professionals to the conversation when warranted.
In 2014, CONTACT joined the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, fielding calls from Knox County as well as local Crisis Line calls. Over the summer, CONTACT launched a new Crisis Chat Portal to better serve at-risk youth. The Reassurance and Crisis Line programs give people the emotional support they need and reduce the barriers to getting mental health services. These programs are vital for addressing undiagnosed and untreated mental illness—a major risk factor for suicide. To learn more about the crisis call center or make a donation online, please visit contactcarelinetn.org/donate.
ACSD nabs suspected burglar, carjacker
Friday, Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 27 year-old Oliver Springs man after a series of crimes at a home on Talley Lane in the Marlow community. John Joseph Pixley II was arrested after the homeowner observed a truck on her surveillance cameras via a web feed and a suspect, later identified as Pixley, was seen walking around her residence. The property owner called the Sheriff’s Communications Center around 8:30am Friday to report the incident, left work, and drove home. Upon arriving, according to a release from the ACSD Pixley was seen leaving with items from the residence in the bed of his truck. As the driveway was only wide enough for one car, Pixley attempted to drive around the homeowner’s car but instead went up an embankment and overturned, striking the woman’s vehicle. A co-worker of the homeowner also arrived driving his tow truck. Pixley broke out his own window, extricated himself from his overturned pickup, ran to the tow truck, and, after a fight with the co-worker, stole the tow truck and fled. Several deputies responded to this call and the stolen tow truck description was broadcast to area law enforcement agencies. A short time later the truck was spotted by officers from the Oliver Springs Police Department and was stopped. Pixley was taken into custody by deputies and taken to the Anderson County Detention Facility, where he is being held without bond pending his arraignment on charges of theft, theft of a motor vehicle, carjacking and two counts of aggravated assault.
Suspect in woman’s disappearance fired from UT gig
A man described as a person of interest in the disappearance of a Middle Tennessee woman has been fired from, his custodial job at the University of Tennessee. Nikki Burgess was last heard from in May 2014. A few days later, investigators searched the Anderson County home of Caleb Cannon for clues in her disappearance. Cannon, the father of Burgess’ son, has been named a person of interest. A Nashville Metro Police investigator said that cadaver dogs twice “alerted to the presence of human decomposition.” One of the hits from the dogs was in Burgess’ Hermitage home. The second was in the trunk of a vehicle registered to Cannon. A detective says in court documents that he believes Burgess was killed and her body taken from her home to an unknown location inside the trunk of the vehicle belonging to Cannon. Cannon was fired on Tuesday from a custodial job at UT, and because he was still under probation, the university said it does not need to give a reason to fire him.
Jacksboro PD Detective dies from wreck injuries
A Jacksboro Police Department detective who was critically injured in a head on collision last Friday afternoon has died, according to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Det. Mike Starrett was on his way to assist at the scene of a crash on Highway 116 in Caryville when he was hit head-on. Starrett underwent several surgeries since the accident. Officials say Det. Starrett died Friday evening at UT Medical Center. The driver who struck his cruiser will face citations and criminal charges according to the THP report.
ORNL welcomes Girl Scout leader
Girl Scouts of the USA Chief Executive Officer Anna Maria Chavez visited the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to learn about its efforts on behalf of science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) programs and how they can be incorporated into the Girl Scouts national program. “We have actually always been focused on science and math with girls and Girl Scouts from the earliest days when our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, was teaching girls about science activities,” Chavez said. “She was teaching them to weld. Clearly, that has been part of our DNA for 102 years. We also knew that girls wanted those activities and they were correlated activities to their school work.” Using the example of Liane Russell, who helped develop ORNL’s renowned mammalian genetics program following World War II, Chavez said the Laboratory’s past and present are filled with women making a difference in science. “She was before her time,” Chavez said of Russell. “They even have a scholarship named in her honor. I was telling to the director here how important it is for girls to see role models in the science, engineering, technology and math fields because girls can’t be what they can’t see.
ORT: Controversy, acrimony fly in OR
(Oak Ridge Today) According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said he has “absolute confidence” in Police Chief Jim Akagi and has no plans to further investigate concerns raised last week by City Council member Trina Baughn. Baughn raised concerns about the turnover rate in the Oak Ridge Police Department and claims made in a grievance filed by former officer Chris Bayless. In a Sunday email, Baughn said her calculations showed that the police force had lost 30 members in 3.5 years under Akagi, and that equates to 11.7 per year, or an estimated 15 percent turnover rate. Baughn said some officers who have resigned felt “forced out,” while others who remain are “just counting the days” until they can leave. “I believe that our turnover issues are not a reflection on the character of the majority of our men and women in blue; rather they are attributable to leadership,” Baughn said in an email to Watson and carbon-copied to Oak Ridge City Council members and reporters. She said she is ready to help Watson “immediately address these problems and stabilize our police department.” But city officials questioned Baughn’s numbers and said they don’t think the turnover rate is significantly out of line with what it has been previously. On average, 7.25 employees per year have left in the last four years due to resignations, retirements, or being asked to leave, Watson said Thursday. “I don’t think it’s a significant change,” he said.
Watson said police departments can have the second-highest turnover for municipal governments, trailing only the lowest-level jobs.
Watson said he has not had concerns about the management of the Oak Ridge Police Department. Many prospective officers want to work in Oak Ridge, Watson said, pointing out that 65 people applied the last time there was an opening.
He said the department is more professional than before, security has improved, and employees have new office space while officers have new cars.
“We’ve come a long way,” Watson said.
Watson said no other Council member besides Baughn has expressed concern about the Police Department.
Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch, who was elected in November, said he has talked to thousands of residents during the past six months, and very few mentioned dissatisfaction with the Police Department or with crime.
“Oak Ridgers that I talk to are focused on and concerned about the development of Main Street, the Preschool, the new national park, and funding for the Department of Energy missions in Oak Ridge,” Gooch said. “That’s what I’m focused on.”
Watson and other city officials expressed concern about the impact the negative publicity this week might have on economic development and projects ranging from the Preschool to Main Street Oak Ridge.
The information published this week has included excerpts from a letter from former Oak Ridge Police Chief David Beams that was highly critical of Watson and Akagi, relying in least in part on what Beams has heard from officers and supervisors, and claims by Bayless that, among other things, he was going to be sanctioned with a letter of reprimand and 48-hour suspension only after he submitted his resignation notice this month (it was effective January 23) for an incident that occurred in November. He said he had never had any disciplinary action before then, and he perceived the proposed punishment as an attempt to humiliate him and “diminish my moral character and professional career.”
Watson overruled that disciplinary decision this month, saying it was time to let the officer move on. “That thing was handled,” Watson said Thursday. He said he thinks the city needs to avoid having disciplinary issues play out in public because it affects careers, families, and employees.
Bayless, who had other complaints about the chief as well, called for an investigation of the Police Department, claiming that officers are leaving due to Akagi’s lack of leadership skills. Read much more on this story, including Chief Akagi’s response to the letter from former Police Chief David Beams at www.oakridgetoday.com.
DOE: Y-12 building “worst of the worst”
A building at Y-12 in Oak Ridge now holds the dubious distinction of being the "worst of the worst" in a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report detailing its high-risk facilities. The agency declared the Alpha-5 building at Y-12 the "worst of the worst" of more than 200 facilities in an audit released earlier this week. Alpha-5 was built in 1944 as part of the Manhattan Project and through the years, had been used in a number of missions that used materials like uranium, mercury and beryllium. The facility still houses utilities that serve production facilities at Y-12, but it hasn't been operational itself since 2005. An assessment of Alpha-5 conducted last year revealed that the building's roof was leaking, spreading hazardous and radioactive materials inside the building. Officials also indicated in the audit that there's a risk of explosion. "Overall, the assessment concluded that this facility presents a high risk to the workers and environment and should not be accepted," according to the report. Corroded pipes and deteriorating roof panels also caused substantial flooding in 2008. The DOE has spent more than $24 million in operating and maintenance costs since the 2008 evaluation of Alpha-5. The DOE audit concluded that the only safe option is to tear down the large building.
ORT: Suicidal woman points gun at arriving officers
(Oak Ridge Today) A woman who said she wanted to end her life was pointing a handgun out the doorway of an Orange Lane home and pulling the trigger as officers arrived on a welfare check Wednesday night, authorities said. The Oak Ridge Police Department responded to the home at 8:01 p.m. Wednesday. They were dispatched to check the welfare of a resident who was reported to be intoxicated and attempting to commit suicide with a handgun. “Upon arrival, Officers Derek Burchfield and Timothy Buckner observed a 64-year old female subject at the front door of the residence, pointing a handgun out the doorway and pulling the trigger,” the ORPD and City of Oak Ridge said in a press release. “Officers immediately took cover and ordered her to place the weapon on the ground,” the release said. “After a short verbal exchange, she complied with the officers’ commands and was taken into custody, whereupon she stated that she wanted to end her life.” The woman, who was not identified, was taken to Methodist Medical Center for evaluation and treatment. A Ruger semi-automatic pistol was recovered at the scene and seized by officers for safekeeping, the press release said.
Traffic stop ends with arrest
A late night traffic stop ended with the arrest of a Clinton woman by Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies on Tuesday. Corporal Bradley Prewitt reported that he had clocked a Honda Accord traveling 63 miles an hour in a 45 mile an hour zone on Laurel Road at around 10 pm Tuesday and pulled over 27-year-old Heather Kohler of Clinton, who the deputy noted appeared extremely nervous. When asked if she had drugs in the car, Kohler replied that she was not sure if she “cleaned all of them out following her last arrest,” according to the incident report. Kohler agreed to a search of the car and inside, Prewitt reported finding two small baggies of a white powder Kohler admitted was subutex that she had ground with the intent o sneak it into the jail if she were to be arrested. Prewitt found other controlled substances in the car along with several items commonly used to make meth, including a plastic baggie filled with approximately 130 grams of pseudooephedrine that had been ground into powder. A grinder was also found in the car. After being read her rights, Kohler told investigators that she had been going to meet a man in Rocky Top she described as the “last big meth cook around.” Based upon the evidence and Kohler’s statements, deputies charged her with initiating the manufacture of meth; the manufacture, delivery or sale of meth; two counts of simple possession and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. Her car and $92 in cash were seized. As of this morning, she remained in custody at the Anderson County Jail on bonds totaling $25,000.
State: Problems found in Rockwood Revitalization
(State Comptroller’s Office) An investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has uncovered several issues related to Rockwood Revitalization, Inc., in Roane County, Tennessee. Rockwood Revitalization was organized to stimulate downtown economic development for the City of Rockwood. The organization is primarily funded from grants and donations. The investigation centered around a 2012 State of Tennessee, Department of Economic and Community Development, revitalization grant. The $15,000 grant was intended to help develop a new visitors’ center by including a public restroom. Investigators found that Rockwood Revitalization did not comply with the grant contract. Although building materials were purchased, no work ever began on the visitors’ center during the grant period. Furthermore, in February 2014 Rockwood Revitalization submitted false information to TNECD by indicating the visitor center and restroom facilities were completed on the grant close-out report. Rockwood Revitalization eventually used the purchased materials to develop and open a welcome center in October 2014. Comptroller investigators also noted questionable business practices within Rockwood Revitalization, and found the organization did not follow its bylaws. All of the findings and recommendations have been reviewed with the district attorney general for the 9th Judicial District. “Grant money can play an important role in spurring economic development throughout the state,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Taxpayers deserve to know their money is being used appropriately and all the rules are being followed.” To view the investigation online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/. If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at (800) 232-5454, or file a report online at: www.comptroller.tn.gov/hotline. Follow us on twitter @TNCOT
Man sentenced to 25 years for abuse
An Anderson County judge on Monday sentenced a Knoxville man convicted last year on charges of aggravated child abuse to three, 25-year sentences to be served concurrently. 48-year-old David William Lowery was convicted of breaking over 30 bones in his 10-week-old son’s body in 2008. Doctors first noticed a hand-shaped bruise on the baby’s back during a wellness check in January of 2008 and soon determined that the baby had suffered numerous broken bones, injuries doctors at Children’s Hospital said could not have been accidental. Anderson County Circuit Court Judge Don Elledge imposed the maximum sentence on Lowery, who will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
AC McNabb Center celebrates grand opening
Tuesday, officials celebrated the official grand opening of the Anderson County Helen Ross McNabb Center in Oak Ridge. The mental health center originally opened in 1948 in Knoxville and since that time, has grown in to a center that serves over 25,000 people from all over East Tennessee. The new facility in Oak Ridge has actually been open and serving clients since early December and is located at 158 Fairbanks Road. The staff there provides a wide range of services including psychiatric evaluations, medical management, nursing services and other. Officials say the “new” facility will mean that Anderson County residents, who have had to travel in the past to Knox or Campbell counties for service, will now have a much shorter drive. The center is open weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm and is accepting new a\patients. Visit www.mcnabbcenter.org or call 865-637-9711 or 865-483-7743 for more information.
OS teen killed in Monday accident
An Oliver Springs boy died Monday morning when his dirt bike was struck by a car in Morgan County. The Tennessee Highway Patrol said that the accident happened at around 6:45 am Monday on State Highway 62 near Coalfield and left 17-year-old Aaron Gunter dead. Gunter had been headed west on a 2005 Suzuki dirt bike when 75-year-old Sharon Morton of Andersonville, also headed west, was blinded by the lights of a car headed east and could not see Gunter, who was reportedly riding without a headlight or taillights. Gunter was not wearing a helmet and the THP report indicates it might have made a difference had he had it on. Ms. Morton was buckled up and escaped without injury. No citations were issued and no charges are expected.
CTAS: Mayor must sign deed
Following up on a story we have been following for you, last week the Anderson County Commission voted to approve a motion that would complete the sale of land erroneously labeled as a delinquent tax property. The land in question is the Daya property in Clinton and the sale of the land back to Rocky Daya was approved by the committee for $46,000. County Mayor Terry Frank has refused to sign the deed, claiming that she does not trust the legal advice of Law Director Jay Yeager and that she feels he is trying to get her to sign the document illegally. The motion approved Tuesday would allow the deed to be signed by the mayor—as is the case currently—or the County Commission Chairman. Daya has pledged no further legal action against the county over the sale as part of the deal aimed at closing at least one of the legal cases currently ongoing against the county. Commissioner Steve Mead asked for a legal opinion over the mayor’s refusal to sign the deed despite the recommendation of the committee and this week, the University of Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service—or CTAS—gave its opinion. The opinion, penned by CTAS consultant Wesley Robertson, indicates that the Commission Chairman cannot sign the deed and that the Mayor is required to sign the document. The applicable state code reads: “Conveyances of the land shall be made without warranties of any sort, and deeds shall be executed by the county mayor or other chief fiscal officer of the county and the county trustee, who shall collect the purchase price at the time of the execution of the deed.” Commissioner Mead, in an e-mail sharing the opinion with his fellow commissioners wrote, “It also says that the Mayor SHALL sign the deed once the agreed price is presented. Shall means she has no authority to not sign.” We will continue to follow this story for you on WYSH.
Report: Family of victim, survivors file suit in Roane train crash
Two survivors and the family of a young Roane County woman killed when a Norfolk Southern train collided with a car in May 2014 in Roane County are suing the railroad and three employees. The plaintiffs allege among other things that the train crew failed to properly sound a horn, make the car aware of its presence, that there was poor visibility at the crossing and that the railroad uses a flawed "Operation Lifesaver" training program that gives inadequate training and instruction. The defendants are Norfolk Southern Railway Co., Norfolk Southern Corp., division superintendent Jeff Sliger, track maintenance superintendent Edgar Keller and Rusty Layne, signal and crossing manager. Filing the suit in Roane County Circuit Court were crash survivors Hunter Crass and Darius J. Gallaher and Willie J. Gallaher and Melissa D. Gallaher, the parents of Jadah A. Gallaher, who died in the crash. Also killed as a result of the collision was Roderick Drummond. Crass was riding in the front passenger seat. Darius Gallaher was driving the 2000 Nissan Maxima. His sister Jadah Gallaher and Drummond were passengers in the car. Several in the car played basketball at Roane State Community College. After the collision at the Mountain View road crossing near U.S. Highway 27, Jadah Gallaher was found outside the car, leaning against the driver's side rear wheel. She died later at a hospital. Crass and Darius Gallaher were pinned inside the car and suffered multiple injuries. A preliminary report last year from the Tennessee Highway Patrol stated Gallaher's vehicle was heading westbound when it attempted to cross the railroad crossing and was hit by the train. According to the lawsuit, rescue and emergency medical personnel asked the train crew to move the train so that Crass could be removed for emergency care but that the crew declined until a railroad supervisor arrived. Plaintiffs seek a trial and a "fair and reasonable sum for compensatory and punitive damages."
AC historian aids Morgan counterparts
(Submitted) Longtime Anderson County Archivist and Historian Mary Sue Harris last week hosted three volunteer archivists from Morgan County who wanted to learn what it takes to catalog and maintain a county’s historical documents. Sharon Kreis, Forrest Stewart and Barbara Langley, all from Morgan County, on Friday morning visited the Anderson County Courthouse to meet with Harris; they’ve been voluntarily working for the last three years to restore and maintain Morgan County’s historical documents, Kreis said.
“We’ve visited several other counties’ historical archives, and we were told that Anderson County’s (archives) are what it all should be modeled after,” Kreis said.
Organization and maintenance of historical documents isn’t an overnight task.
“Just be patient,” Harris told the volunteer archivists.
Harris herself has worked for more than 50 years to restore and maintain Anderson County records, the oldest of which date back to 1802.
“Mrs. Harris continues to be an asset not only for Anderson County, but for all who love and value history,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said. “Just days ago, Anderson County hosted the Anderson County Youth Leadership class and after Mrs. Harris spoke, students and county officials all erupted in unexpected applause. It was a wonderful and well-deserved moment.
“We want to congratulate Morgan County for their Archivist Award, and we wish them much success on their program,” Mayor Frank said.
Through the efforts of Kreis, Stewart and Langley, the Morgan County Archives received the 2014 John H. Thweatt Archival Advancement Award from the Society of Tennessee Archivists (STA). Thweatt was a professional archivist with the Tennessee State Library and Archives for many years. The award that holds his name is presented to “individuals, groups and organizations that have made significant contributions to the advancement of archives and archival issues in Tennessee,” according to the STA.
The Morgan County Archives and Family Heritage Center is housed at the historic Morgan County Jail in Wartburg. Archival records kept there date back to the late 1800s.
Caryville wrecks kill 2, injure 2
A man and his 6-year-old son were killed and a Jacksboro police officer was seriously injured in two separate but related accidents in Caryville Friday afternoon. The Tennessee Highway Patrol says 44-year-old Bobby L. Coker Jr. was driving his GMC Envoy with 8-year-old daughter Marissa Coker and 6-year-old son Skyland Coker on Highway 116 just before 4:00 p.m. Troopers say Coker was making a left around a turn when his vehicle left the roadway, traveled through a ditch, and crashed into a tree. Coker Jr., was not wearing his seatbelt, and was ejected from his car. He and Skyland Coker were killed, and Marissa Coker was injured. Troopers also say Jacksboro Police Detective Mike Starrett was responding to the crash on Highway 116 at Little Cove Creek Road when his unmarked cruiser was struck by 1993 GMC pickup truck driven by David Muse. Other vehicles had pulled to the shoulder due to the emergency traffic, but Muse was unable to stop and hit Starrett’s car head on. Starrett was taken to UT Medical Center by ambulance. Muse was taken to Lafollette Medical Center and has been charged with failure to maintain control and failure to exercise due care. The roadway was reopened around 8 pm, about four hours after the initial crash.
The family and doctors of Jacksboro Detective Mike Starrett are asking for blood donations to replace what has been used since he’s been in the hospital and replenish other blood supplies at the UT Medical Center. Blood type does not matter, but they are asking that you use the name Det. Mike Starrett when donating. There are various locations you can make a donation:
Kingston man jailed in Y-12FCU heist
Knoxville Police and the FBI have arrested a man in connection to a Friday robbery of a Knoxville credit union. 43-year-old Bryan Samples of Kingston was taken into custody by Knoxville Police officers and agents of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force. At last check, Samples was being held at the Blount County Jail. Friday’s robbery happened around 4:49 p.m. when a man entered the Y-12 Federal Credit Union, 6640 Clinton Highway, passed the teller a note demanding money and left with cash, according to the FBI.
ORT: OR man charged with firing gun during parking dispute
(Oak Ridge Today) An Oak Ridge man who allegedly fired a gun into the ground during a parking disturbance on Tucker Road on January 18 has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault. Justin Kane Hornung, 37, told Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Christopher W. Wallace that he did not have space to park his vehicle on Tucker Road when he came home because guests of a neighbor had filled the on-street parking spaces, according to warrants filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court.
A discussion between Hornung and his neighbor about the parking situation reportedly escalated into a disturbance, and the victim allegedly told Hornung he was going to “kick his (expletive)” and yelled other obscenities, according to the warrants. Hornung told Wallace that he felt threatened by the victim’s statements, so he pulled a handgun, pointed it at the victim, and fired one shot into the ground, the warrants said.
“The victim stated he was in fear for his life when the defendant fired the shot,” Wallace wrote. “Additionally, the defendant’s daughter (a nine-year-old juvenile) was also in the roadway at the time of the incident,” the warrants said. Wallace said District Attorney General David Clark recommended arresting Hornung for aggravated assault. “The defendant intentionally and knowingly placed the victim in fear of imminent bodily injury by displaying and discharging a firearm,” Wallace wrote in the warrants. Hornung remained in the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on Friday. His bond has been set at $100,000, according to court records.
ORT: Man accused of attempted kidnapping
(Oak Ridge Today) An Oak Ridge man allegedly broke into a home this month, assaulted the mother of his children, threw a five-inch kitchen knife at a man at the home, and tried to kidnap two kids, authorities said. Justin L. Williams, 23, is accused of going upstairs at the Knoll Lane home armed with a five-inch kitchen knife and confronting the woman in the hall, shoving her against a door and to the floor, and assaulting her again outside while taking her car keys to get child seats, according to arrest warrants filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court. The woman, who had a laceration to her right big toe, reportedly called 911 on her cell phone during the assault at about 4:18 a.m. January 14, the warrants said. “The defendant took the cell phone away from (the woman) and ended the call before she could report the crime in progress,” Oak Ridge Police Department Officer Benjamin Haines wrote in a warrant. Haines responded to the home to investigate the 911 hang-up call. Williams also is accused of brandishing the knife at the second victim, who fled the house in fear, the warrants said. Williams allegedly threw the knife at the man from 20 feet away in the parking lot. After assaulting the woman and forcing the man out of the home, Williams allegedly removed a three-year-old girl and a two-year-old girl from their beds, took them to the parking lot, and placed the children in his vehicle.
“When further confrontations occurred over the children’s car seats, the defendant abandoned his kidnapping and fled the area,” the warrants said. Williams has been charged with two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, aggravated domestic assault, interfering with a 911 call and theft. He remained jailed in the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on Friday afternoon. The court documents said Williams and the woman have two children in common and had lived together for several years until four days before the alleged crimes, but Williams had moved out as part of a break-up. He allegedly entered the Knoll Lane home by breaking a kitchen window and crawling into the house. Williams allegedly took the woman’s pepper spray, valued at $25, when he fled the scene. Haines said Williams and the woman are not married, and the woman retains full custodial rights to the children.
Follow-up: A&S not the only Campbell company closing
As we reported Thursday, NCI Building Systems—commonly referred to as A&S Building Systems—will close its Caryville manufacturing facility on March 22nd, costing 164 people their jobs. A&S will keep two other East Tennessee facilities open but are consolidating operations. The company notified its employees and the state of the closure this week and say it will offer severance packages to all workers who can stay on through March 22nd. Officials in Campbell County say that two other businesses will also be closing their doors within the next month or so. TrailManor Manufacturing in Lafollette is phasing out operations at the end of the month and has already begun phasing out workers. The Carmike Cinema in LaFollette is also closing and its final day will be February 19th. County leaders will soon meet to discuss what can be done to help people who lost their jobs. Plans are already in the works to bring more companies into Campbell County.
Suspects lead police on three-county chase
Late Thursday night, a par of Knox County robbery suspects led police in three counties on a high-speed chase that ended when spike strips were deployed in Maynardville. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department provided assistance to Knox County Sheriff’s deputies and Knoxville Police officers as the chase began in north Knox County, crossed through Anderson County and terminated in Union County. The pursuit began at around 9:45 pm in Knox County and ended about an hour later when a Union County deputy laid down spike strips on the road and the suspect’s car swerved to avoid them and crashed into a ditch near the Hickory Star Marina. A man and a woman were taken into custody a short time later after a brief foot chase by Knoxville Police. No injuries were reported. 32-year-old Jeremy Shane Howard of Knoxville faces several charges in connection to the incident and the woman caught with him was released from custody without charges being filed. In addition to the Knox County agencies and the ACSD, officers from the Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol participated in the pursuit.
ORT: 7 first responders recognized
(Oak Ridge Today) Four emergency medical workers in Anderson County were honored Tuesday for helping with baby deliveries, and three rescuers were recognized for their courage in pulling a woman from a burning home in November.
Those who helped deliver the babies received a Stork pin, said Nathan Sweet, director of Anderson County Emergency Medical Services. The four were honored during a Tuesday meeting of the Anderson County Commission. They are Critical Care Paramedic or CCEMTP Billy Sharp, Paramedic Student Chris Bice, AEMT Stephanie Fox, and Paramedic Gage Whitman.
They helped with baby deliveries in October, November, and December.
“Each delivery occurred prior to arrival at the hospital,” Sweet said.
The three rescuers honored for pulling a woman from a burning home in the Orchard Knob subdivision in November were Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Wiley Maloney, Reserve Deputy Gene Rose, and Captain Zach Pressnell of the Marlow Volunteer Fire Department. They were honored with Valor presentations, Sweet said. He said the three men exposed themselves to great harm.
The 65-year-old woman, Martha Babb Bailey, was burned and seriously injured after she went into the burning home to try to save pets inside. She later died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
A&S to close doors, lay off 164
WYSH has confirmed with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development that A&S Building Systems—sometimes called A&S Steel—will be permanently shutting down its manufacturing operation on Highway 116 in Caryville, effective March 22nd. The closure will cost 164 employees their jobs. A&S’s manufacturing facility and corporate offices have been in their location since 1973 and the company was purchased in 1992 by a company called NCI, one of the largest suppliers of metal building products. Some workers received their notices of separation on Wednesday night and the state says more information could be released later today (Thursday 1/22). No reason for the closure was given to the state and WYSH has reached out to officials at A&S for comment. As of the time this report was filed, we were awaiting a response.
OR dealing with school building problems
Oak Ridge city and school officials are working to deal with problems at the school system’s preschool and administration building. The 70-year-old building is starting to exhibit structural problems and lead paint has begun to flake off the sides of exterior walls. Officials say that the immediate problem of the lead paint must be addressed quickly or the system will have to vacate that building before the next school year begins. City officials held two work sessions recently with the school board to work on a solution to the problem and say they have a couple of options to choose from. Those options are basically to fix the lead paint problem and then work toward a longer-term solution for the other deficiencies in the building, or to begin working toward building, buying or leasing a new facility. City leaders say that Oak Ridge would either have to make room in its budget for a new structure, or look for grants to help buy a new facility. The school board meets Monday, January 26 and reportedly aims to make a decision on their next move.
Brushy Mountain plans moving forward
Brushy Mountain State Prison in Morgan County could be reopened with a new purpose as soon as next year. A distillery, museum, RV trailer park and restaurant are all in the making to replace the old prison that closed down six years ago in 2009. The state officially handed old Brushy Mountain State Prison to Morgan County Economic Development officials. The tourist attraction is expected to open in spring 2016. Rutherford says it will bring more than 100 jobs to the area. .
Roane railroad crossings receive safety money
Roane County has received a grant to help make safety improvements at a railroad crossing where two young people died last year. The accident happened in May 2014 at the crossing of U.S. Highway 27 and Mountain View Road in Harriman. Two teens were killed when a train hit their car and another person was seriously injured. The Roane County Highway Department learned Tuesday they have been awarded a 100 percent, federally-funded grant to help prevent similar accidents in the future. Changes include new signage which will be farther back on 27, as well as on both sides of the highway, repaving Mountain View Road and pushing the painted railroad crossing signs closer to a nearby neighborhood by 500 feet. Railroad companies, local highway departments, and TDOT will conduct an engineering study to look at the number of cars and trains that pass, the chances of a collision, visibility and train and car speed to determine which element would be best for the crossing. Plans also call for the installation of flashing lights at the crossing.
Clinton man indicted in 2014 stabbing death
A Clinton man has been indicted by an Anderson County grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder in the April 2014 stabbing death of his girlfriend. Clinton Police reported that the time that 22-year-old Heather McKamey died early on the morning of April 19th, 2014 after she was allegedly stabbed by 26-year-old Kieth Pittman during an argument in their driveway on Park Avenue. After she was stabbed, McKamey managed to run to nearby McAdoo Street, where she knocked on doors asking for help. When officers responded to the area to investigate, they found McKamey’s body in the front yard of a home. Pittman reportedly told investigators that he had grabbed a knife from the kitchen before following McKamey out of the house, but did not know why he did it. Police and an Anderson County judge classified the case as second-degree murder, but the grand jury opted for the more serious, first-degree murder charge. Pittman remains in custody at the Anderson County Jail on bonds totaling $1.010 million and will be arraigned on January 30th.
ORNL FCU donates $64,861 to UWAC
(UWAC) ORNL Federal Credit Union raised $64,861 for the United Way of Anderson County’s annual giving campaign, bringing the total for the last two years to more than $131,000. Donations to UWAC are an investment in the community, a United Way press release said. “Donations are used to support critical services in our community throughout the year,” the release said. “Local volunteers determine where to allocate money’s to make the greatest impact based on demonstrated need and efficacy.”
“ORNL FCU’s investment in Anderson and surrounding countries is critical, making up over 5 percent of our total revenue,” said Rick Morrow, UWAC director. “In 2013, UWAC dollars touched people’s lives more than 37,000 times. ORNL FCU’s investment means that someone is there to help 1,850 times through the course of the year.” The press release said UWAC funds go to support 32 agencies and 50 different programs that provide services Anderson County residents. For more information about UWAC services and to donate to provide this type of assistance to our neighbors, go to www.uwayac.org or call UWAC at (865) 483-8431. The press release said UWAC has made donating simpler this year, and you can use their PayPal link to establish an ongoing gift.
Follow-up: AC hires Alternatives to Incarceration Director
Following up on a story we brought you last week but may have gotten lost in the excitement surrounding the presidential visit, Anderson County is one step closer to having a full-time director for its Alternatives to Incarceration program. Last week, the committee in charge of finding someone to head the department unanimously recommended hiring Clinton resident Mary Young to fill the position. She will be responsible for finding ways to reduce the jail population through programs that could include expanded use of electronic monitoring devices; “day reporting”—described as a way to have offenders work on community projects during the day while still sleeping in their own beds at night; and offering more classes like anger management to help offenders deal with some of the underlying issues that led to their arrests and subsequent incarcerations. She will operate out of the Anderson County Jail and officials say that she has worked in a similar program in California. She is expected to begin work on February 2nd. This will be the second attempt to develop a program to deal with overcrowding issues at the Jail. In March of 2013, the program’s first director resigned, saying that he was meeting with resistance from county officials and judges while those same officials said that Baker did not seem to understand the issues specifically faced by Anderson County. Since then, two expansions have created a jail capacity of 565 inmates, one of which—a minimum-security dormitory—is currently not being used because the newly opened 212-bed expansion has allowed inmates to be classified properly, one of the main concerns voiced by state officials, who last month removed the jail from its plan of corrective action. Officials say that even with thousands of unserved warrants still pending, the expanded jail should take care of the county’s needs for the next decade or so. As of this morning, 313 people were listed as being in custody on the Jail website.
CPD investigating man’s death
According to a police report on file at the Clinton Police Department, investigators are looking into the death of a 36-year-old Clinton man. The incident occurred on December 27th when Clinton Police were called to a home on Lee Lane and found 36-year-old Jason Sharp unconscious on the floor, bleeding from his mouth and not breathing. Despite the efforts of first responders, Sharp died shortly after arriving at Methodist Medical Center. The report indicates that witnesses told police that Sharp had been involved in a physical altercation with a 29-year-old male relative and that he had been hit in the face during that fracas. The report indicates that the CPD investigation is ongoing and that no charges have been filed at this time. We will keep you posted as developments warrant.
THP: Man injured in December crash dies
A man injured in a late December accident in Roane County died from his injuries Friday night, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The crash happened on I-40 near Gallaher Road in Kingston on December 27. Troopers say that a car driven by Josephine Yeager had been trying to change lanes when it collided with a Cadillac being driven by Norma Craig. That collision forced the Cadillac into the median. The car became airborne and landed on a concrete divider. Both Craig and her passenger, Jack Craig of Cookeville were injured. Troopers say that Jack Craig passed away from his injuries Friday night. Troopers say that citations were filed in the crash, however, charges were not.
Two charged in Clinton store robbery
According to the Clinton Police Department, two Clinton men are in custody following a weekend convenience store robbery. Officers responded to the call, Sunday morning, at the Git N Go Market on South Charles G Seivers Blvd in Clinton. A clerk told police that two men entered the store between 3 and 3:30 am. She says one man hit her in the head and held her down while the other removed about $255 from the cash register. Two cartons of cigarettes were also taken during the robbery. 21-year-old Jordan Scott was arrested just a few minutes after the incident. Police spotted him walking along the roadway. The second suspect, 21-year-old Danial James Poore, turned himself into police later in the morning. They are charged with robbery.
ORT: ORFD Captain injured fighting Claxton fire
According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, an Oak Ridge Fire Department captain was injured Sunday morning while assisting on a mutual aid assignment in the Claxton community at 134 Allen Lane, a city press release said. “It appears that a pressure surge in the water supply caused the captain to lose his grip on a hose line that he and his firefighter were operating in the front yard of the residence,” ORFD Deputy Chief Josh Waldo said. “The nozzle on the line came back and struck the captain in the face causing serious injuries.” The Oak Ridge Fire Department reported that the unidentified captain had on all of his protective equipment, but the nozzle hit just below the bottom of his helmet. The captain underwent three hours of surgery to repair multiple fractures in his face, the press release said. He has since been released from the hospital, but is expected to be out of work for several months.
ORT: OSFD’s new policy cuts down on response time