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UPDATED April 24, 2015

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FRIDAY APRIL 24TH AT 7 PM...NASCAR XFINITY SERIES TOYOTA CARE 250 FROM RICHMOND!

SATURDAY APRIL 25TH AT 6 PM...NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES TOYOTA OWNERS 400 FROM RICHMOND!

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AC Preschool information

 

The Anderson County Preschool is made up of Early Head Start, Head Start, PreK and the Afterschool Program. 
Head Start and Early Head Start are comprehensive federally funded programs designed to serve low-income families. EHS serves children ages
6 weeks-3yrs. and pregnant moms. HS serves 3 and 4 yr. old children. Income eligibility is based on the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
The PreK program is state funded and serves primarily 4 yr. old children meeting the free and reduced lunch guidelines, have a disability or considered to be at risk.
Afterschool is a fee based program which provides extended hours to working parents.  
For more information and links to find out more or register your child, visit http://www.preschool.acs.ac/.

 

Relay for Life venue change

 

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life of East Anderson County, originally scheduled to be held on Saturday starting at 2:00 PM on the streets surrounding the Anderson County Courthouse in downtown Clinton, will instead be held inside Clinton Middle School due to the threat of rain.  The schedule of events listed on wyshradio.com and at www.relayforlife.org/eastandersontn is still correct, but all of the events will be held inside Clinton Middle School. 

 

Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival Friday & Saturday

 

Organizers of this weekend’s inaugural Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival have worked out a contingency plan in case the weather does indeed turn wet.  The festival will be held at the George Templin Memorial Athletic Field at 214 Main Street in Rocky Top tonight and Saturday.  Tonight, the gates open at 4:30 pm and music begins at 6 with Flatt Lonesome, Blue Highway and Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice.  Tonight’s weather should be fantastic.  With a chance for rain in the forecast for Saturday, festival organizers have procured one very large tent and several smaller ones to keep festival-goers dry, so don’t let the predictions keep you from heading out to this weekend’s event, the first major cultural event in Rocky Top since the town changed its name from Lake City.  Saturday’s music begins at 11 am and should run through about 11 pm with Steve Gulley & New Pinnacle, Blue Moon Rising, Flatt Lonesome, the Boxcars, the Lonesome River Band and festival headliner Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press.  Tickets for Friday are $25, tickets for Saturday are $35 and two-day tickets are $50.  You can get them at Rocky Top City Hall, Mark’s Pharmacy in Rocky Top, at the studios of WYSH and at the gate.  Kids 10 and under get in free with a paid adult.  Don’t miss a weekend of world-class bluegrass at the Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival. 

 

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.

Crowley.

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. 

 

AC Animal Welfare Task Force meeting April 30th

 

The next meeting of the Anderson County Animal Welfare Task Force will be at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 30, in Room 118A at the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton.

 

Yager on hand for donation

 

State Senator Ken Yager will be at the Michael Dunn Center in Kingston on Friday, April 24 at 3:00 pm.  Brown-Forman Corporation will announce a major donation to the Michael Dunn Center, which is a non-profit that provides services to the intellectually and developmentally disabled, at the suggestion of Senator Yager. 

 

GSMNP:  Economic impact of park over $806 million in 2014

 

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 10,099,276 visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2014 spent $806,719,900 in communities near the park. That spending supported 12,759 jobs in the local area.

“After a record setting year in 2014, we are pleased Great Smoky Mountains National Park continues to provide not only an incredible resource for visitors to explore and enjoy, but also serves as a driving economic force in the local community,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash.  “As the National Park Service moves into its second century, we hope visitors will continue to find their park here in the Smokies.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz.  The report shows $15.7 billion of direct spending by 292.8 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 277,000 jobs nationally; 235,600 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $29.7 billion.

According to the 2014 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (30.6 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.3 percent), gas and oil (11.9 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.9 percent).

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.  To learn more about national parks in North Carolina or Tennessee and how the National Park Service works with North Carolina and Tennessee communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/NorthCarolina  orwww.nps.gov/Tennessee.

 

GSMNP announces dates for synchronous firefly viewing

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the dates for the firefly viewing event in Elkmont. The ticketed event will take place from Tuesday, June 2 through Tuesday, June 9. The online ticketing system, operated through www.recreation.gov, will again provide visitors with guaranteed parking passes for Sugarlands Visitor Center where ticket-holders will park for reserved shuttle service to Elkmont.

Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously. Access to the viewing area during the 8-days of predicted peak activity is provided through a shuttle service beginning at Sugarlands Visitor Center. All visitors wishing to view the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont must have a parking pass.

The parking pass covers a maximum of 6 persons in a single passenger vehicle (less than 19 feet in length). Four passes for oversize vehicles, like a mini bus (19 to 30 feet in length and up to 24 persons), will also be available. Each reservation costs $1.50. Parking passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued. There is a limit of one parking pass per household per season. Each reservation through www.recreation.gov will receive an e-mail confirmation and specific information about the event.

The number of passes issued each day is based on the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot capacity. Passes will be issued with staggered arrival times in order to relieve congestion in the parking lot and for boarding the shuttles. The shuttle buses, which are provided in partnership with the city of Gatlinburg, will begin picking up visitors from the Sugarlands Visitor Center RV/bus parking area at 7:00 p.m. The cost will be $1.00 round trip per person, as in previous years, and collected when boarding the shuttle.   

The shuttle service is the only transportation mode for visitor access during this period, except for registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. Visitors are not allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance road due to safety concerns. 

The parking passes will be available online for sale beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 30. The park will hold back 85 passes for each day to accommodate individuals who did not learn of the need to pre purchase tickets. These 85 passes will go on sale online at 10:00 a.m. the day before the event and will be available until 3:30 p.m. on the day of the event or until the passes are all reserved. 

Passes can be purchased at www.recreation.gov. Parking passes may also be obtained by calling 1-877-444-6777, but park officials strongly encourage the use of the online process because it provides more information to visitors about what to expect when they arrive at the park. The online process is also faster which enables a better chance to secure a pass. The $1.50 reservation fee covers the cost of processing the request for the passes. The park will not receive any revenue from the parking reservations or the shuttle tickets.

For more information about the synchronous fireflies, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm

 

AC Legal Services Advisory Committee to meet May 4th

 

The Anderson County Legal Services Advisory Committee will meet on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. in room 312 of the courthouse in Clinton.  During the meeting, committee members will receive a status update on discussions with the County Technical Advisory Service—or CTAS— and recommendations for the policies, principals and practices review of the Law Director’s office. 

 

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. 

 

Clinton schools set graduation ceremony date

 

The Clinton City School system has announced the date for its annual 6th grade graduation ceremony.  Once again, the graduation ceremony will be held at the Ritz Theater on Main Street in downtown Clinton on Friday may 22nd at 9 am.  The guest speaker will be Clinton School Board member David Queener.  If anyone has any questions about the Clinton City Schools’ 6th-grade graduation ceremony, call Staci Lollar at 865-457-2784,

 

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.

 

Volunteer opportunities for teens at library

 

Teens between the ages of 13 to 18 are invited to volunteer at the Clinton Public Library this summer.  Volunteers will be registering children and adults for the Summer Reading Club, assisting at programs, helping to prepare for story times, and more.  All teens interested in volunteering at the Library this summer must attend an orientation at the Library on Thursday, May 7 or on Tuesday, May 19 at 5:30 p.m.  This orientation will provide you with more information about volunteering and prepare you to complete tasks.  All teens must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.  Only 20 volunteers are needed, so please call the Library at (865) 457-0519 to reserve a spot.  Clinton Public Library is located at 118 S. Hicks Street in Clinton.

 

AC budget workshop schedule

 

The Anderson County Budget Committee has announced the schedule for meetings and workshops as officials prepare for the budget process.  During budget workshops, no motions are made and these meetings are used for discussion and formulation only.  All of these meetings will be held in room 312 of the Courthouse in Clinton

  • Tuesday April 28th, 5pm
  • Thursday April 30th, 5pm
  • Tuesday May 5th, 5pm 
  • Tuesday May 7th, after regular Budget Committee, voting on final submission of budget to full Commission 
  • If needed – Thursday May 14th 5 pm, voting on final submission of budget to full Commission 
  • Thursday May 28th, 6pm Public Hearing 
  • Monday June 15th, Presentation of budget to Full Commission for consideration of passage

The new fiscal year begins July 1st.

 

Career Coach in Clinton next week

 

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Mobile Career Coach will be at Express Employment Professionals in Clinton located at 1199 North Charles Seivers Boulevard on Monday, April 27th, from 9:00a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Express Employment Professionals will be there helping job seekers find work and helping businesses find qualified employees. Career Coach staff will be on-site helping people to create resumes and register with www.Jobs4TN.gov where there are more than 90,000 jobs available.

 

AC Chamber Job Fair April 30th

 

The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce will host a Job Fair to recruit employees for local businesses and industries on Thursday, April 30, 3 – 7 p.m., Y-12 New Hope Center, 602 Scarboro Road, Oak Ridge.  This one-day event allows job seekers to connect face-to-face with local businesses and industries seeking employees.

Job Fair exhibitors to date include:  3M, Aisin Automotive Casting Tennessee, Carlstar Group, Clayton Homes, Eagle Bend Manufacturing, Emory Valley Center, Express Employment Professionals, Greenfield Senior Living, MAG-USA, Inc., Mountain Staffing, Premier Solutions International, Roane State Community College, SL Tennessee, Techmer PM, TempSystems/TSI Industrial, Tennessee Army National Guard, Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Knoxville, Tusculum College and Y-12 National Security Complex.  Career Specialists from the TN Dept of Labor & Workforce Development will on site to assist job seekers with online applications, resumes & www.jobs4tn.gov  The Job Fair is free and open to the public.  Attendees may be able to submit resumes, complete applications, schedule interviews and make contacts for future job openings.  Limited Vendor Space is available for employers.  An 8 x 8 space with 6 ft. table, 2 chairs will be provided.  Rooms will be available for on-the-spot interviews.  Cost:  $150 for Chamber Members, $200 for non-Chamber Members.  For a vendor registration form, visit www.andersoncountychamber.org/jobfair/.  For more information contact the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce at 865-457-2559 or email:  accc@andersoncountychamber.org.  

 

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. 

 

Alternatives to Incarceration meeting April 29th

 

There will be a meeting of the Anderson County Alternatives to Incarceration Advisory Committee to discuss Alternatives to Incarceration updates. It will be held on Wednesday, April 29th at 4:00 PM at the Anderson County Courthouse in room 118A.

 

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!

 

Thursday Night dance April 23rd

 

A Band Dance will be held at the Clinton Community Center on Thursday April 23rd from 6:30 to 9 pm.  Sponsored by the Thursday Night Dance Group, the event will feature music by the Dave Correll Orchestra.  It’s ballroom dancing at its best and the admission is $6 per person and attendees are asked to bring a finger food.  For more information call Bea at 865-457-1840 or Alene at 865-457-9416.

 

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. 

 

Weekend crazy-busy in AC

 

This weekend is ridiculously busy across East Tennessee in general and Anderson County specifically.  Here is a quick look as you begin to plan your weekend:

Friday April 24th & Saturday April 25th:  The 1st Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival at the George Templin Memorial Ball Field in Rocky Top will feature world-class bluegrass musicians like Bobby Osborne and Rocky Top Express, the Lonesome River Band, Blue Highway and more.  A complete schedule and ticket information can be found at www.rockytopbluegrassfestival.com.

Saturday April 25th:  The East Anderson County Relay for Life will be held from 2 pm to 12:01 am Sunday in the streets surrounding the Courthouse in Clinton.  This is the 15th local edition of the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event.  For more, visit www.relayforlife.org/eastandersontn

Saturday also features a Kerbela cornhole tournament at the Clinton Community to benefit kids at Shriners Hospitals, a wrestling event at Andersonville Fire Station #3 Saturday night, a food distribution Saturday morning at the Clinton Church of God and a free community meal at First Baptist Church of Clinton.  For more on these events and information on even more, like the big Earth Day festival in Oak Ridge, check out the Local Information News and/or Community Bulletin Board pages at www.wyshradio.com.  

 

May busy at Main Street Baptist Church

 

Main Street Baptist Church in Rocky Top will be very busy in May and invite you to be part of their big month.  On Saturday May 2nd, from 8 am to 12 noon, they will host a UT Health Fair in the Family Life Center.  Additionally, UT’s Mobile Mammography Unit will be there from 8 am to 3 pm and if you would like to utilize that service, call 865-305-9753 for an appointment.  Later on the 2nd, you are invited back as Main Street Baptist will hold a Chili Cook-Off in the parking lot from 5 to 7 pm. 

The following weekend, Main Street Baptist Church will hold its Spring Tent Revival and Crusade featuring evangelist Ken Freeman.  It begins during the Sunday morning service at 10:45 am in the main sanctuary on May 10th and continues Sunday evening through Wednesday evening at 6:30 pm at the George Templin Memorial Ball Field downtown. 

Finally, on May 23rd, the church will hold its annual Main Street Golf Classic at Three Ridges Golf Course in Knoxville, with a shotgun start at 8 am.  The cost is $75 per person or $300 for a foursome.   

Call the church office at 865-426-2184 for additional information.

 

Relay for Life April 25th brings something for everyone

 

Residents of Anderson County are asked to come out and enjoy the community festival at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life event which will be held inside Clinton Middle School.  The event will begin on Saturday, April 25th at 2:00 PM and will conclude with closing ceremonies at 12:01 AM on Sunday.  This will be the 15th anniversary of the event in Clinton which has raised more over 1.35 million dollars through the years.  

The event will begin with opening ceremonies at 2:00 PM Saturday afternoon as area cancer survivors are individually recognized and then as a group take the Victory Lap while being cheered on by their family, friends and the public.  This is followed by the Parade of Teams.  This is an opportunity for participating teams to strut their stuff with banners, custom made t-shirts and costumes which fit with the theme of their team.  This year the overall even theme is, “Relay”opoly – Fighting Cancer is Not a Game”, so teams will have various themes consistent with games of all types.  

Throughout the event the music groups performing include the Leon Thomas Band at 2:45 (country band from Sevierville), The Tenos at 7:00 PM, Handsome and the Humbles at 8:00 PM (alt-country band with strong harmonies and rich guitar tones), and The Oliver’s at 9:15 PM.  There will be a demonstration from the US Taekwondo Academy at 6:00 PM.  The public is invited to join in on Zumba at 6:30 PM led by Joy Winchester from the Take Charge Fitness Program and Karaoke at 11:00 PM.  In addition, there will be a silent auction on the front porch of the courthouse and a live auction around 4:30 PM.  There will be kid’s activities and games throughout the duration of the event on the lawn of the Clinton Middle School with The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Canine Unit doing a demonstration at that venue at 7:00 PM.  The Clinton Regional Antique Car Club will have a “Cruise-In For a Cure” with cars lining Leinart Street.  The luminaria ceremony will be held at 10:00 PM with hundreds of luminaria bags being lit in the dark as we remember those persons we have lost to cancer and honor our survivors with a special tribute.  

Hoskin’s Drug Store will have food and ice cream available with proceeds going to the Relay For Life.  Other teams will also be selling pizza, hot dogs with chili/cheese, funnel cakes, snocones, baked goods and much more.  What better way to contribute to fighting cancer than to bring your family down for a late lunch or dinner on Saturday! 

You do not have to be on a team to participate.  The public is invited to come throughout the afternoon, evening and night to take a lap or two around the walking path on Main and Leinart Street in memory or honor of someone they know whose life has been touched by cancer.  The teams will also keep the public entertained with the Celebrity Look-A-Like contest at 4:15 PM and the Game Piece Boxcar Race at 7:00 PM.  

EVERYONE IS INVITED to attend and enjoy the entertainment, food and activities.  This is a great way to show your support for anyone who has survived their battle with cancer, to remember someone you have lost to cancer and to Fight Back by helping raising money for research so hopefully you or a family member won't be the next one diagnosed with this terrible disease.  Our efforts continue to pay off with new treatment options and declining death rates.  For further information, please call Kelly Lenz, event public relations chairperson at 457-1649 or email her at cptcklenz@aol.com.  You may also access the event website at www.relayforlife.org/eastandersontn

 

Earth Day celebration April 25th

 

(Submitted) Keep Anderson County Beautiful (KACB) will be hosting the eighth annual Earth Day festival in Oak Ridge on April 25th from 11 AM to 4 PM at A.K. Bissell Park (Oak Ridge Turnpike and Tulane Rd.).  East Tennesseans living in or around Oak Ridge are invited to participate in the festival that features free activities and events that promote healthy living, environmental education and encourage individuals to create and contribute to a sustainable community.

There will be a Trashformations art exhibit created by local area students made from recycled/found materials.

Sponsored in major part by KACB and Leidos, Earth Day 2015 will feature out door games for children, music, healthy food vendors, exhibitors showcasing educational booths, an on-site scavenger hunt and neighborhood games such as hopscotch, bocce, croquet, flying discs, ladder ball and a special reduce, reuse, recycle game.  There will be a special area for pre-school children.  In case of rain, the event will be moved indoors to the Oak Ridge Civic Center gym at Bissell Park.

The popular “Erase Your Trace” special recycling program will be held from 10 AM till 3 PM at the ORAU parking lot on Badger Road by the Friendship Bell in A.K. Bissell Park in Oak Ridge. The drive-through event will collect old computers and peripherals, personal documents for on-site shredding (sponsored by Enrichment Federal Credit Union), gently worn shoes, books, eyeglasses, cell phones, rechargeable and button batteries (no alkaline batteries), and old towels, blankets, and  bed-spreads (for the animal shelter).  This is a rain or shine event at the parking lot. 

Earth Day 2015 will also have an entire month devoted to exploring the city and its greenways.  To find clues that lead to hidden prizes with its Geo-Expedition event, check www.orearthday.org. .

Festival organizers are expanding the festival this year to encompass not only Oak Ridge and the immediate surrounding counties, but the cities of Knoxville and Lenoir City as well, “We want people to come join us and see what we’re all about, the more people that come, the more we can get the word out about how important sustainable communities are” says Pat Imperato, a member of the KACB planning committee.

You can find out more about the event, sponsorships and volunteering plus local drop-off centers for shoe collection at www.orearthday.org.  

 

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. 

 

Final Breakfast with the Legislators April 27th

 

This year’s final Breakfast with the Legislators will be held on Monday, April 27, at the Oak Ridge Civic Center. State Senators Ken Yager and Randy McNally and State Representatives John Ragan and Kent Calfee have been invited to speak about and sum up the legislative activities of this session of the Tennessee General Assembly and to respond to questions from the audience, a press release said.  The breakfast is scheduled from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. April 27 in the Social Room of the Oak Ridge Civic Center, which is at 1401 Oak Ridge Turnpike. A free continental breakfast will be served.  Breakfast with the Legislators is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge, and it is held on the fourth Monday of every month while the legislature is in session.  For additional information, contact Voter Service Chairperson Doris Sklad at (865) 483-5239.

 

Report: Standoff ends with man shot in chest

 

According to the News-Sentinel, a Morgan County man shot himself in the chest Friday night after setting a garage on fire.  The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office says deputies responded around 8:30 p.m. to find the garage ablaze at Armes Road in Petros. The man’s family told deputies he had also shot at the garage and some four-wheelers.  When deputies approached the man, who was sitting on a railroad crosstie, he shot himself in the chest with a .22-caliber.  The man was taken to UT Medical Center in Knoxville in critical condition, and his name wasn’t immediately released.

 

ORT:  Preschool paint fix project comes in WAY under nudget

 

The Oak Ridge City Council had agreed to use $150,000 in red-light camera money to repair the lead-based paint on the city’s Preschool, but the low bid came in significantly lower—$24,700, Public Works Director Gary Cinder said last week.  The five bids ranged up to about $112,000, Cinder told the Oak Ridge City Council.  The low bidder has done some of this type of work at the Preschool before, Cinder said.  The work is expected to be done by this fall. It provides what officials hope will be a temporary fix while they develop a plan to permanently repair, replace, or move the Preschool.  The repairs, which could be done by August 3, were approved by City Council in February.  For more, visit our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com

 

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

 

OR Planners to discuss Main Street OR PUD

 

The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission will consider a revised master plan for Main Street Oak Ridge, the project to redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall, during a Thursday meeting.  It’s a planned unit development, or PUD, master plan.  The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 23, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom.

 

GSMNP celebrates Junior Ranger Day

 

(GSMNP) Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with special activities at Sugarlands Visitor Center, Cades Cove Visitor Center, and Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

Children and their families can join in a variety of free, hands-on activities including ranger-guided walks, historic toy making, talking to a real wildland firefighter, making dinner bells at a blacksmith shop, and visiting touch tables with animal skins, skulls, and scat. Information about specific programs is available at each visitor center.  Children can earn their free Junior Ranger patch by completing three specially planned activities. 

Junior Ranger Day is a special event during National Park Week celebrated this year between April 18 and 26. National Park Week is an annual presidentially proclaimed week for celebrating and recognizing National Parks. In honor of the upcoming National Park Service Centennial, parks throughout the country invite you to Find Your Park through ceremonies, interactive games, and special events designed to connect children with the resources found in national parks.

"Junior Ranger Day is one of the important ways we are connecting and inspiring our next generation of advocates and stewards for Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “This is important to note as the National Park Service enters into its second century of service in August 2016 when the National Park Service turns 100.”

For information and questions about Junior Ranger Day, please contact Lloyd Luketin at Lloyd_Luketin@nps.gov or 865-436-1292. Visit www.NationalParkWeek.org to learn more about how you can join parks, programs, and partners in celebrating National Park Week across the country. 

 

Community meal Saturday

 

Please join First Baptist Church Clinton on Saturday April 25 for Shepherds Table, a free community meal. We will begin serving at 11am.

 

ACM Award winners

 

Here are the winners for the 50th Annual ACM Awards, held Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas:

Entertainer of the Year
Luke Bryan

Male Vocalist of the Year

Jason Aldean

Female Vocalist of the Year
Miranda Lambert

New Artist of the Year
Cole Swindell

Album of the Year
Platinum, Miranda Lambert

Song of the Year (Award to Songwriter)
"Automatic," Miranda Lambert
Single Record of the Year
"I Don't Dance," Lee Brice
Vocal Group of the Year
Little Big Town
Vocal Duo of the Year
Florida Georgia Line
Vocal Event of the Year
"This Is How We Roll," Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan

Video of the Year
"Drunk on a Plane," Dierks Bentley

 

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.

 

Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood coming to Knox

 

Garth Brooks will make his first appearance in Knoxville in over 18 years as he brings his world our—and wife Trisha Yearwood—to Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville Friday may 29th and Saturday May 30th at 7:30 pm each night.  Tickets will go on sale Friday, April 24th at 10 am.  There is an eight-ticket limit and there will be no ticket sales at the venue of at ticket outlets that day.  You can get your tickets exclusively by visiting www.KnoxvilleTickets.com/Garth or by calling 1-844-4GarthB (1-844-442-7842)

 

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 engineering,” ANS President Mikey Brady Raap said.
Sites or facilities nominated should have been placed in service at least 20 years prior to nomination.  HFIR joins the Graphite Reactor, Tower Shielding Reactor, Oak Ridge Electron Linear Accelerator, the Molten Salt Reactor and the Radiochemical Processing Plant (Building 3019) as
ANS Nuclear Historic Landmarks at ORNL.

The reactor was recognized by the ANS honors and awards committee with approval by the board of directors.

 

Benefit golf tourney in May

 

A benefit golf tournament will be held at Whittle Springs Golf Course on May 23rd at 8 am with a shotgun start.  Lunch will be provided.  The cost is $40 per player.  The tournament is for a man named Chris Janeway.  He is a 41 year old father to three girls.  He has had 3 heart attacks and many complications including but not limited to congestive heart failure, a-fib, he had less than 15 % of his heart left and the doctors here in Knoxville told him that there wasn’t anything else they could do.  He went to Vanderbilt to see if he was a candidate for the LVAD (left ventricle assistive device) which works as a bridge to keep him alive until he can get on the heart transplant list.  He was chosen and has since had the procedure and is in therapy.  He has to stay in Nashville for 6 weeks to make sure there are no complications.  His sister in law came from Montana to stay with him.  The reason for the tournament is that he can go on the heart transplant list after the 6 weeks but has to have 10,000 in the bank for rejection medication before they will put him on the list.  If you have any questions please feel free to call me, my name is Dan Hatmaker and you can reach me at Daniel.Hatmaker@mcnabb.org or 865-318-9710.

 

CRCTU May meeting to focus on fishing the Clinch

 

How to fish the Clinch River tailwater for trout (spin casting and fly casting) will be the topic Saturday, May 16, at a free, public on-the-river seminar sponsored by the Clinch River Chapter, Trout Unlimited.

Experienced Clinch River anglers will introduce newcomers to fishing the Clinch through classroom instruction and guided fishing in the river. The group will gather at 8:30 a.m. in the parish hall at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 158 W. Norris Road, Norris (children must be accompanied by an adult).

Classes start at 9 a.m., with John Thurman discussing the Clinch tailwater and its history plus trout biology and what trout eat; Buzz Buffington discussing fishing safety and sportsmanship; Clayton Gist leading a class on fly fishing for trout; and Dennis Baxter leading a class on spin fishing for trout.

Participants are asked to provide their own lawn chairs, picnic lunches, beverages and, if possible, fishing gear (rods, reels, waders, boots, flies/lures). With advance arrangement, some fishing gear will be available to borrow; contact Jerry Van Fossen, jerryvanfossen@comcast.net or (865) 463-8999.

From about 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., newcomers will be paired with experienced anglers and will disperse along the river to fish. From 12:30 to 1:30, participants will picnic and discuss the day's events before heading for home. If there is light drizzle that day, the entire event will proceed as scheduled; in case of lightning or heavy rain, classes will be held at the church but fishing will be canceled.

The Clinch River Chapter's mission is to conserve and protect the Clinch River tailwater trout fishery and its watershed, through conservation projects and through education of children and adults in aquatic natural resources. Meetings are held the second Thursday of the month at St. Francis Episcopal Church except when outdoor activities are scheduled.

 

CHS Band fundraiser April 28th

 

The Clinton High School Band invites you to join them Tuesday, April 28 from 5pm to 8pm at the Clinton McDonald's at the intersection of Seivers and Sunset for the first ever McBand Night to benefit the CHS Band Uniform Fund!  The Band will receive a donation of 20% of the sales during this event.  Members of the Band will be there to play music while you dine!  Please come support the Band!

 

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.

 

Wanted:  1 person to serve on Conservation Board

 

The Anderson County Commission and its Nominating Committee are looking for one citizens interested in serving out the remainder of an unexpired term on the county Conservation Board that expires in December of this year.  The Conservation Board is made up of five people appointed by the County Commission and its purpose is to oversee parks and recreation in the county.  With that in mind, all applicants must be Anderson County residents.  If you would like to serve on the Conservation Board through the end of this year, you can pick up a request-to-serve form outside the Commission office on the first floor of the Courthouse or download it from www.andersontn.org.  Interested applicants can also send their resumes to:  County Commission Office c/o Courthouse, 100 North Main Street, Clinton, TN 37716.  For information, you can call the Commission office at 865-463-6866.  The deadline to be considered as a possible nominee will be noon on Tuesday May 5th

 

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. 

 

Mark your calendars for 11th Annual Clinch River Spring Antique Fair

 

(Submitted) The 11th Annual Clinch River Spring Antique Fair will be held on Saturday May 2nd, 2015, 9 am – 5 pm, in Historic Downtown Clinton, Tennessee. 

The Spring Antique Fair will kick-off with a party on Friday evening, May 1st from 6:00 to 9:00 pm in Hoskins/Lane Park on Market Street with live musical entertainment. Back, by popular demand are The Real McCoys. 

While you are enjoying the music you can also enjoy food from local food vendors that will be offering BBQ, baked goods, hotdogs and burgers and new this year, gyros. In addition to food and music there will also be plenty of latenight shopping in the antique district with shops remaining open till 9 pm. All events are held rain or shine and there is plenty of free parking.

Saturday, May 2nd, is the main event with Market and Cullom Streets closed to traffic as antique dealers’ line the streets for the 11th Annual Clinch River Spring Antique Fair.  Over 100 antique dealers, from Tennessee and surrounding states, will line Market and adjoining side streets to present a fantastic antique show offering a wide range of antiques and collectibles to suit every taste. Plus, don't forget to also visit the 20+ antique shops in town that will be having their annual spring sales. The antique shops will also be open on Sunday from 1-5 pm. 

The day’s events are scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Main Street will have a display of antique automobiles by the Clinton Region of the AACA.  Local food vendors will again be set up in Hoskins/Lane Park to help keep up your energy for a full day of exploring and shopping. 

The fair is sponsored by the Antique Merchants Guild of Clinton and Anderson County Tourism Council in conjunction with the City of Clinton and Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge.  For additional information please call (865) 457-5250(865) 463-8699 or (865) 457-4542

 

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. 

 

Relay fundraiser will beautify your garden

 

The Clinton Physical Therapy Center Relay for Life Team will be selling beautiful hanging flower baskets during the month of April and early May to benefit the American Cancer Society.  This is a great way to spruce up your yard for spring and they make great Mother’s Day presents.  What a great gift for your loved one while also supporting the American Cancer Society!  The plants are being provided by Stanley’s Greenhouse in Knoxville which is one of the premier greenhouses in the region.  There are many options available including, but not limited to:  New Guinea Impatiens, several colors of Calibrochoa, several Petunia varieties, large ferns, hanging begonia varieties, fushia, geraniums, shade plants that the hummingbirds like and much more.   Flowers can be pre-ordered by calling 457-8237 or stop by the Clinton Physical Therapy Center facility at1921 N. Charles G. Seivers Blvd. to look at the inventory on premises or to place an order.  Baskets are $17 each.   There will also be flowers for sale at the Relay for Life event on Saturday, April 25th from 2:00 – 10:00 PM.  For more information call CPTC/TCFP at 457-8237 or email Kelly Lenz at CPTCKLenz@aol.comto place your order.

 

THP:  Nelly arrested on drug charges in Tennessee

 

A Tennessee state trooper arrested internationally known hip-hop artist "Nelly" on felony drug charges in Putnam County on Saturday morning. 
Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Haynes was charged with felony possession of drugs, simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.  
At approximately 9:20 a.m. on Saturday, Trooper Michael Loftis stopped a Prevost motor coach bus on Interstate 40 near the 275 mile marker for failure to display a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA) sticker on the vehicle. The investigating trooper planned to conduct an inspection on the bus when he noticed an odor of marijuana emitting from the vehicle. 
Trooper Loftis, assisted by THP Sgt. Donald Jennings then conducted a probable cause search of the bus. The troopers discovered in the sleeper area a plastic bag that contained five colored crystal-type rocks that tested positive for methamphetamine, as well as a small amount of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia. Further investigation revealed approximately 100 small Ziploc bags that are commonly associated with the sale of narcotics and numerous handguns, including a gold-plated 50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol, a 45-caliber Taurus pistol, and a 500 magnum Smith and Wesson. 
The bus was occupied by six subjects, one of whom was identified as Brian Jones, 44, of
St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Jones, a convicted felon, was also in possession of a handgun and was charged accordingly.
Nelly, 40, also of
St. Louis, Missouri and Jones, who were traveling to St. Louis when the traffic stop occurred, were transported to the Putnam County Jail.  

The weapons and drugs were seized in accordance with state law. 

 

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. 

 

Optimist Club Poker Run

 

The Clinton Optimist Club will present its 4th annual Poker Run on Saturday May 16th with registration beginning at 9:30 am at Tommy’s Motor Sports in Clinton.  Kickstands go up at 11 am and the ride will end behind the Clinton Community Center at the football stadium, where there will be food, prizes and fun.  Cash awards will be given for the best Poker hand and there will be a 50-50 drawing.  Registration is $15 per bike in advance and $20 per bike the day of the ride.  Proceeds will go toward the purchase of new cheerleading uniforms.  For more information, call Terry Benjamin at 865-457-0155 or Bryant Ellis at 865-806-0246.

 

Cornhole tourney to raise money for sick kids

 

The Kerbela Motor Corps presents a cornhole tournament to benefit the “Stuffed with Love Project” on Saturday April 25th at the Clinton Community Center.  Registration will run from 11 am to 1 pm and a co-ed registration will be $50 and a single registration will be $25.  First prize in the Co-Ed competition earns $175 and a plaque while the winner of the singles competition gets $75 and 2nd place earns a plaque.  All proceeds will be used to purchase new, high-quality stuffed animals, which will be given to post-op patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greeneville, SC and Lexington, KY.  The event is sponsored by H&H Body Shop and Steve Pyatt Insurance in Clinton and co-sponsored by the Clinton Optimist Club.  For more information call Dusty Carroll at 865-388-5141.

 

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.

 

AC National Day of Prayer observance May 7th

 

Anderson County is pleased to announce its participation in the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 7, 2015.   The National Day of Prayer provides Americans an opportunity to come together to pray for matters concerning present-day America and our nation’s future.  Anderson County’s National Day of Prayer will be held from noon to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 7, 2015, on the front steps of the Anderson County Courthouse, 100 North Main St., Clinton.  The Courthouse will be open, but with limited staff during the ceremony, so citizens are asked to be patient if they have business to conduct.   All Anderson County citizens are invited to attend the local ceremony, during which prayers will be offered for county officials, our nation, education, the U.S. military, community relationships, and churches and families.  Local pastors will lead those assembled in prayer, and local citizens and students will provide musical selections.

 

AC schools transfer window open

 

The window of opportunity for "Request for Transfer" applications for out of zone or system students seeking to enter, or switch schools within, the Anderson County school system is from April 1st - May 1st, 2015.  For more information contact: Terri Ferry @ 463-2800 Extension 2823.  

 

Big Ed’s Golf Tourney to benefit Community Mediation

 

The annual Big Ed’s Memorial Golf Tournament benefiting Community Mediation Services will be held on the final Friday of April, April 24th at the Oak Ridge Country Club.  Players can register by calling the CMS office at 865-463-6888 and mailing payment using a check or money order, or you can pay online.  The tournament cost includes a continental breakfast, a wonderful lunch, cart and green fees, along with a tournament shirt.  Players will be able to purchase mulligans and other add-ons the day of the tournament. Please bring cash or checks.  For more information or to register, visit

http://www.cms-tn.org/fundraisers/big-eds-memorial-golf-tournament

 

(CMS Release) Spring is finally here, and so is the 14th Annual Big Ed’s Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, April 24.  Online registration is available through the website: www.peacefulresolution.org. Registration forms are available by calling (865) 483-6888 or e-mailing info@cms-tn.org. Early registration is due by Thursday, April 16.  The Big Ed’s tournament is a 14-year-long tradition in Anderson County. It combines a great day of golf at the beautiful Oak Ridge Country Club with an active commitment to youth and families in our area, a press release said. The Tournament honors the community spirit and caring of “Big Ed” Neusel, founder of Big Ed’s Pizza, and David Neusel, and their belief in giving to others while seeking recognition from no one.

Big Ed’s partnership with Community Mediation Services of Anderson County helps promote peaceful resolution of concerns in our community, the release said.

CMS is now addressing school attendance (truancy) issues with a new mediation program. Other successful, ongoing programs include the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP); Visitation Mediation; and Teen/Parent Mediation. Well-trained volunteer mediators don’t take sides or make decisions, but they do help people solve problems in ways that are decided and agreed upon by all.

The Tournament is a two-session, scramble format with a morning tee time of 8 a.m. and an afternoon tee time of 1:30 p.m. Complimentary continental breakfast, beverage cart, and lunch as well as a variety of prize contests are available: first-, second-, and third-place finishing teams, longest drive (men and women), Par 3 closest to the hole, putting contest, and a new car, courtesy of the Sexton Automotive Group, is the hole-in-one prize. Free shirt for all golfers and numerous door prizes are included. Major sponsors include Big Ed’s Pizza, Centrus Energy, C & J Wealth Advisors, Stone and Hinds P.C. Attorneys at Law, and Enrichment, ORNL, and Y-12 federal credit unions.  “Come join us!” organizers said. “Plan on a team, or play as an individual, and we will put you on a team! You’ll have a wonderful time on the golf course, and you’ll be supporting a valuable community resource.”

 

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:

  • Best Mobile App – Gold to Innovalysis
  • Best Radio Promotion (Budget Under $250,000) – Bronze to two radio stations, including 96.7 Merle FM

SFEA presented the 2014 Secret City Festival with four awards:

  • Best Children’s Area – Gold to The City of Oak Ridge
  • Best Sponsor – Gold to UT Battelle
  • Best Photo – Silver to Rob Welton
  • Best Volunteer – Silver to Lloyd Stokes

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 hr@cvmr.ca.  Vendors can send their information to supply@cvmr.ca.  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. 

 

US 25 Yard Sale June 4-6

 

The 2015 US 25 Yard Sale will be held June 4th through the 6th.  The sale stretches from Woodfin, North Carolina all the way to Covington, Kentucky, all the while following US 25, US 25E and US 25W.  Almost every city and town along the route participates in some form or fashion and organizers say the US 25 Yard Sale is a great way for non-profit, church and school groups to set up shop and raise a little money alongside individuals holding more traditional yard sales.  If you own property along 25W, you can set up in your yard but not in the rights-of-way absolutely free.  Some businesses may rent out space in their parking lots during the sale, but be sure to check and see.  If you would like more information on the US 25 Yard Sale here in Anderson County, call 865-457-4542 and fore general information about the sale, call 859-779-3005.

 

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. 

 

CPD reaching out for suspect info on Facebook

 

Clinton Police officers are asking for your help in locating a vehicle used in a weekend theft from a Clinton auto dealership. The driver is wanted for questioning in the theft of a horse trailer. The trailer was taken from Fox Toyota this past weekend. The CPD has posted pictures of the suspect vehicle on its Facebook page and encourage citizens to take a look at them.  If you can provide any information call: Lt Carl Bailey or Detective Jason Lawson at 865-457-3112.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clinton-Police-Department/113737988681196

 

Clinton Police detectives are looking for a suspect (or suspects) involved in the burglary of Scrap Metal Solutions, on J.D. Yarnell Industrial Parkway. According to the initial investigation, it's believed the break in occurred sometime over the weekend.  The CPD is asking you to take a look at a video posted on their Facebook page. If you know the suspect or have any information please contact Lt Carl Bailey or Detective Jason Lawson at 865-457-3112

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clinton-Police-Department/113737988681196

 

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:

Phase I

  • Main Entrance—ticket booth at field level with plaques honoring Oak Ridge and Wildcat historical events and people
  • Front Parking Lot and Lighting—with walkway from main entrance to Jackson Square
  • Large LED Scoreboard—with video and media options
  • Installation of Turf Field—featuring wrought iron fencing and decorative brick columns and donor recognition wall
  • Visitor’s Side Concessions and Restrooms
  • Advanced Energy-Efficient Lighting and Communications

Phase II

  • Home Side Stadium Building—with expanded locker rooms, press box, skyboxes, and club seating

Funding sources are proposed to include:

  • 60 percent public contributions,
  • 20 percent grants,
  • 10 percent city and school participation, and
  • 10 percent grant of in-kind services.

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 atmmullins@ortn.edu. 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.  

 

Luminaria honored at Relay

 

During this year’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life of East Anderson County in Clinton, participants will have the chance to remember loved ones and honor those battling cancer with a special luminaria ceremony. This moving ceremony will be held at 10:00 PM on Saturday evening, April 25th in downtown Clinton on the city streets around the courthouse as hundreds of these beacons of hope are illuminated.  Each luminaria represents the love that families and friends have for a survivor who has won the battle against cancer, for the memory of someone who lost the fight or as a symbol of hope for those who are currently battling cancer.  

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life began in 1985 and remains a celebration of survivorship and remembrance that raises funds for and awareness of the fight against cancer. The Relay’s luminaria ceremony symbolizes the hope and courage with which we continue to work toward a cure for this deadly disease.  After sunset at each of the more than 5,000 Relay For Life events nationwide, luminaria decorated with the names of those who have battled cancer are lit and left glowing throughout the night to remind everyone of the incredible importance of their contributions. 

Luminaria can be purchased for a minimum donation of $5.00.  Forms are available from any team participating in Relay for Life.  Several area businesses also have forms, including Clinton Physical Therapy Center, Enrichment Federal Credit Union, Hoskins Drug Store and the Y12 Federal Credit Union across from Anderson County High School.  Luminarias can also be purchased the day of the event.  For further information, please contact Kelly Lenz at 457-1649 or cptcklenz@aol.com 

For more information about Relay for Life or cancer, please contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or www.cancer.org.  Or visit the Relay for Life website at  relayforlife.org/eastanderson.tn.  The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service.

 

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.

 

Clinton Kindergarten screening announced

 

Kindergarten screening for children who will be attending Clinton City Schools for the 2015-2016 school year will be Thursday, May 14, 2015 at the Clinton Community Center.  If you are a city resident, to schedule an appointment for this screening, you must call Central Office beginning Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 457-0225.  If you are a non-city resident, please come by Central Office to fill out the transfer form and pay the non-refundable $25.00 fee.  You will be contacted before August 1st to let you know if your transfer request has been approved.

At the time of Kindergarten screening the following items will be needed:

  • Proof of Residency
  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Up-to-date Immunization and Physical
  • Court Documentation if Applicable

This screening is required for all upcoming kindergarten students who will be attending Clinton Elementary, North Clinton Elementary, or South Clinton Elementary for the 2015-2016 school year.  Children must be five years old on or before August 15, 2015 to meet age requirements.  If you have any questions, you may contact Lori Smith, Clinton City Schools, at 457-0225 or email smithl@clintonschools.org.

 

GSMNP looking for volunteers

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting volunteers to participate in the Adopt-a-Trail (AAT) program, an effort that helps to maintain the park’s 800-mile trail system.  The Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program has integrated volunteerism into many of the park operations, including trail maintenance that covers everything from picking up litter to removing tree-falls and reporting trail problems to the park.   

AAT volunteers should be prepared to preform basic trail maintenance, and are to hike/patrol the trail(s) at least four times per program year-- March through October.  Specific trail duties include: Collect and remove litter; clean water bars and drainage systems; perform brushing and removal of small windfalls or branches (hand tools only); perform minor trail tread maintenance; remove illegal campsites and fire rings found along trail; inspect trail and trail signs; and promote Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. 

Trainings will be held throughout the year.   Interested participants can register by contacting Alan Chapman, Trails Volunteer Coordinator by phone at (828) 497-1949 or by email at Alan_Chapman@nps.gov.  Part of the training is held outside and participants should wear appropriate clothing including sturdy footwear. 

 

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.
FARM vendors will offer a wide variety of spring bedding plants, fresh produce, grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, artisan bread and cheese, local honey and fresh eggs. As the season goes on, they offer the freshest produce possible, including just-picked strawberries, peaches, sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes.
Farmers’ markets are the most effective way to support local agriculture. According to American Farmland Trust, farmers only receive about $1.58 per $10 spent by consumers at a grocery store. But at a farmers’ market, farmers receive closer to $8-9 per $10 spent. For every $10 spent at a farmers’ market, studies show that $7.80 is re-spent in the local community.
Opening Day at each
FARM market will feature a drawing for 20 Market Dollars! Locations are as follows:
·      Oak Ridge Farmers’ Market opens every Saturday, 8 a.m. – noon, beginning April 18, in Historic Jackson Square, 281 Broadway Ave., with the drawing at 11:30 a.m. The
Oak Ridge market is also open Wednesdays 3-6 p.m., beginning May 6. Seniors over 60 get 5% off every Wednesday at the Oak Ridge Market!
Unlike most farmers’ market organizations, East TN
FARM performs periodic inspections of its vendors to ensure they are growing the products they sell.  “You can be sure that everything East TN FARM sells is locally made,” said Colvin.
Several FARM vendors are designated Certified Naturally Grown, which is a similar standard to USDA Organic, but less expensive for smaller growers. Other FARM growers use as few pesticides and chemical fertilizers as possible.
FARM’s weekend markets at Lakeshore Park and in Oak Ridge will feature live music, children’s events, and workshops and lectures on topics such as herb gardening and composting.  FARM also offers weekly email reminders to customers, and a free FARM Fan Club text reminder and shopping rewards program. Sign up for both at its website, www.EastTNFarmMarkets.org.

 

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:

  • Re-establishment and expansion of native strains of Southern Appalachian Brook Trout in streams of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • More than 20 years of stream water quality sampling in the Smokies to study acid deposition
  • Partnership with government and conservation agencies in supporting the Tellico Brook Trout Hatchery and the associated Southern Appalachian Brook Trout Foundation

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.

 

GSMNP encourages you to “Find Your Park”

 

(GSMNP) Great Smoky Mountains National Park joins parks, programs and partners across the country to encourage everyone to find their park and share their stories online at FindYourPark.com. Launched Monday by the National Park Service and the National Park FoundationFind Your Park is a public awareness and education campaign celebrating the milestone centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 and setting the stage for its second century of service.

Find Your Park invites the public to see that a national park can be more than a place -- it can be a feeling, a state of mind, or a sense of American pride. Beyond vast landscapes, the campaign highlights historical, urban, and cultural parks, as well as the National Park Service programs that protect, preserve and share nature, culture, and history in communities nationwide.

“Find Your Park” is also the theme for this year’s National Park Week, April 18 – 26. “National Park Week is a time for visitors, of all ages, to get out and experience their national parks, especially the Great Smoky Mountains,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash, “I hope during the National Park Week and over the next year as we celebrate the Natioanl Park Service’s second century, everyone will take the opportunity to Find Your Park.” This year, the park, will offer annual special programs during National Park Week and a variety of special activities in conjunction with Find Your Park. 

Find Your Park Junior Ranger Day April 25:

National Park rangers and volunteers will offer a variety of programs throughout the day at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and other areas throughout the park including: Find Your Park, Design Your Own Junior Ranger Arrowhead, Meet a Ranger,and much more. 

Ranger Led Programs throughout National Park Week:

Throughout National Park Week visitors can attend ranger led programs focusing on all the incredible things that make the Great Smoky Mountains special. Programs include hands-on activities led at visitor centers and short ranger-led hikes around the park. A full listing of ranger led programs can be found on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm/calendar.

Visit www.NationalParkWeek.org to learn more about how you can join parks, programs, and partners in celebrating National Park Week across the country.

 

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:

  • increasing the base salary by 4 percent;
  • maintaining funding for all staff positions—certified and teaching assistants;
  • increasing all eligible personnel by one experience increment;
  • and maintenance of health, eye care, and dental insurance benefits at current rate levels.

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.

 

RT April meeting schedule

 

Here is the April meeting schedule for the City of Rocky Top:

  • April 8, 2015 at 8:00 AM – City Court
  • April 9, 2015 at 5:00 PM – Special Called Meeting and Budget Workshop immediately following
  • April 13, 2015 at 5:30 PM – Water Board Meeting
  • April 16, 2015 at 7:00 PM – City Council Meeting
  • April 21, 2015 at 6:00 PM – Planning Commission

 

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. 

 

Fire in Harriman

 

A fire at a Harriman apartment complex displaced five residents but injured no one.  The call came in to dispatchers at around 10:20 pm Wednesday about a fire at the Willow Creek Apartments on Hassler Mill Road.  The fire apparently started in a downstairs unit but spread to the unit above.  Quick response by firefighters from Harriman and two other Roane County fire departments helped limit the most serious damage to two of the four units in the affected building but residents of all four were displaced due to the fire.  No injuries were reported and a complete damage report had not been made available by the time this report was filed.  Tune in to BBB-TV for more on this story. 

 

Secret City Festival announces headliners

 

The Secret City Festival is proud to present The Marshall Tucker Band as the Friday night concert headliner on June 12, 2015.

Three Dog Night bring will bring its hit-filled show to the UCOR Concert Main Stage Saturday, June 13th (doors open at 6PM). 

Tickets will go on sale May 1st, 2015.  Further ticket information will be released soon.

At this time, 17 sponsoring corporations, including the City of Oak Ridge, have contributed to make this year’s festival a success.  Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Visit www.secretcityfestival.com for more information about the festival and becoming a sponsor. Visit www.facebook.com/SecretCityFestival for announcements, contests and more!

The 13th annual Secret City Festival is presented by the City of Oak Ridge, the Arts Council of Oak Ridge, and the Oak Ridge Convention & Visitors Bureau.  The festival also features a Battle of Normandy WWII Reenactment, special events at the American Museum of Science and Energy, a children’s area, arts and crafts vendors, and nationally known concert entertainment.

 

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.

 

GSMNP needs volunteers

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting volunteers to assist a Trails Forever trail crew on rehabilitation projects on the Alum Cave Trail every Wednesday from May 20th through October 28th.  The Trails Forever program provides opportunities for both skilled and non-skilled volunteers to work along-side national park crews to complete various trail projects. Trail volunteers perform a wide range of trail maintenance and rehabilitation work from rock and root removal, rebuilding trail tread, cleaning drainage ditches, constructing drainage features (water bars), and adding fill material.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park will provide all the safety gear, tools and equipment needed for the projects.  Volunteers are required to wear boots and long pants. They should also bring a day pack with food, water, rain gear and any other personal gear for the day.  Work shifts run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., however arrangements can be made for shorter shifts upon request.  The Trails Forever program is a partnership between the national park and Friends of the Smokies.  The volunteer component gives individuals the opportunity to work alongside professional trail workers and make lasting improvements to trails throughout the Park. Interested parties should RSVP before the events by contacting Alan Chapman by phone at (828) 497-1949 or by email at Alan_Chapman@nps.gov. For more information on the Trails Forever restoration projects visit, www.smokiestrailsforever.org/Trails-Forever-Projects/Projects.aspx

 

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. 

  

Relay for Life April 25th

 

On Saturday, April 25th at 2:00 PM, the Relay for Life of East Anderson County will kick off the 2015 event in downtown Clinton on the streets around the courthouse.  Area cancer survivors and their families or caregivers are invited to come as early as 1:00 PM to check in at the Survivors Tent which will be located on the front lawn of the courthouse.  Upon check-in they will receive a medallion, cancer survivor event shirt and a voucher for one free meal at one of the Relay team’s campsites.  There will also be special activities and entertainment at the Survivor Tent.  The Relay for Life event will kick-off at 2:00 PM with The Survivor Ceremony.  This allows the public the opportunity to cheer on our area cancer survivors as they walk in the special Survivors Lap, a moving experience honoring those who have defeated cancer and encouraging those who are currently battling cancer.  Survivors will join together to walk the lap, unified in victory and hope.  This empowering celebration is just a small piece of the special experience of Relay for Life.  The teams participating in the 2015 Relay for Life event will then take part in the Parade of Teams where teams will walk in their various themed shirts and costumes. 

Relay for Life is a unique grassroots fundraising event in which individuals and teams of participants in over 6,100 communities nationwide walk throughout the night to celebrate the lives of those who have faced cancer, remember loved one lost, and commit to fight back against the disease. The money raised through Relay for Life supports the efforts of the American Cancer Society to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. 

All area cancer survivors are invited to participate in the survivor ceremony at the East Anderson County Relay for Life event in Clinton.  There will be a golf cart available for persons who are unable to walk the Survivors Lap.  All cancer survivors, their families and caregivers are invited to spend the afternoon and evening enjoying the festivities of music, food, games and entertainment as we all come together as a community fighting against cancer.  For further information about cancer survivor events, please contact Jill Ferrie at justjill0712@gmail.com

 

TDEC offering free radon test kits

 

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), in observance of Earth Day, will offer free radon test kits for a limited time as part of its ongoing efforts to inform Tennesseans about the dangers of radon exposure.  “It is important for Tennesseans to test their homes because radon acts unpredictably,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “We are pleased to provide a simple do-it-yourself test kit that can determine the presence of radon in the home and can help prevent exposure.”

According to the EPA, Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. This can be problematic, as radon is a naturally occurring gas that can seep into homes through cracks and openings in the foundation. Radon cannot be seen, tasted or smelled, but in concentrated levels can pose a threat to human health.  The EPA estimates approximately 70 percent of Tennessee’s population lives in high risk or moderate risk radon areas. According to the EPA, radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.  Radon test kits are the first step toward a solution and are easy to use. Tennesseans can visit radon booths at the following events to receive a complimentary short-term test kit:

  • Nashville’s Earth Day Festival at Centennial Park in Nashville on April 18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Knoxville’s Earth Fest at World’s Fair Park in Knoxville on April 18 from 10 a.m.to 7 p.m.

For additional information about radon and to register for a complimentary test kit, please visit http://www.tn.gov/environment/sustainable-practices_radon-program.shtml or contact the Tennessee Radon Program at 1-800-232-1139.

 

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.

 

Teno appointed AC tax attorney

 

Last week, Anderson County Trustee Rodney Archer named Clinton attorney Trippy Teno to serve as the county’s delinquent tax attorney.  That appointment was confirmed by County Mayor Terry Frank, who had earlier refused to confirm Archer’s initial appointment of Law Director Jay Yeager to serve in that role.  Yeager has served as the delinquent tax attorney since his office was created in 2006 and last year, turned over some $107,000 to the county’s general fund that was used to help offset the budget for his office.  Frank removed him from that role late last year, citing misgivings about his job performance and ethics, as part of their long-running, high-profile dispute.  State law requires the trustee to recommend, and the mayor to approve, the appointment of an outside attorney to handle the process of collecting past-due taxes.  The County Commission is expected to tackle the question of approving the funding for the $40,000 salary Archer negotiated with Teno when it meets on April 20th.  Typically, state law says that a tax attorney must be in the fold and a delinquent tax notice filed by April 1st, but Archer says he has obtained state approval to wait until after the meeting on the 20th to file the suit so that he knows what commissioners decide to do.  Earlier this month the commission deferred approving funding for the post, with many lamenting the fact that they would prefer Yeager handle those chores in-house. 

 

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. 

 

ETTAC clients to benefit from computer drive

 

The Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary club is sponsoring a computer Drive for the East Tennessee Technology Access Center Saturday, May 2nd from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm in the parking lot of Tn Bank on the corner of Illinois Ave and Rutgers Avenue. (Not the branch near the post office).  ETTAC will accept working computers that are XP or newer, desktop or laptop, Macs, iPads, iPods, monitors and accessories. You can be assured that ETTAC wipe them clean of all your personal information and then give or loan them to people with disabilities who cannot afford to purchase a computer.  Please don’t remove the hard drives.  Currently ETTAC has a waiting list of 45 people who want a computer.  

The Breakfast Rotary Club is doing this because typically one would have to drive to South Knoxville to drop it off at ETTAC’s office.  ETTAC serves people with disabilities in 24 counties, with Anderson being the third largest in the region.  If someone wants to donate a printer, they will be accepted, but only if the ink cartridge is in it, so the recipient knows which replacement cartridge to buy.  And once again, it must be in working condition.  

 

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.

 

AC Chamber to hold Job fair April 30th

 

The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce will host a Job Fair to recruit employees for our local businesses and industries on Thursday, April 30, 3 – 7 p.m., New Hope Center, 602 Scarboro Rd., Oak Ridge.  This one-day event allows job seekers to connect face-to-face with local businesses and industries seeking employees.

Job Fair exhibitors to date include:  Eagle Bend Manufacturing, Express Personnel Professionals, MAG-USA, SL Tennessee, Temp Systems, Inc., Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Knoxville, and Y-12 National Security Complex. 

Attendees may be able to submit resumes, complete applications, schedule interviews and make contacts for future job openings.  Free admission and free parking.

Space is available for employers seeking employees.  An 8 x 8 space with 6 ft. table, 2 chairs will be provided.  Rooms will be available for on-the-spot interviews.  Early Registration:  Chamber Members - $100, Non-Chamber Members -$150.  After April 1 Registration:  Chamber Members $150, Non-Chamber Members - $200.  ($50 may be applied to Chamber membership).

For a registration form or for more information contact the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce at 865-457-2559, email:  accc@andersoncountychamber.org,or visit: www.andersoncountychamber.org.

 

Main Street Oak Ridge update

 

(Information from Oak Ridge Today) The developers who want to convert the former Oak Ridge Mall into Main Street Oak Ridge signed their first anchor store lease last week, and three to five more leases could be signed in the next month or so according to officials with Crosland Southeast, the North Carolina-based company that has proposed the redevelopment.  Main Street Oak Ridge would turn the nearly-vacant mall in to a mixed-use project expected to include retailers, restaurants, residential units, and possibly a hotel. The existing space between the two remaining anchors, Belk and JCPenney, would be demolished, although those two stores would remain.  Main Street Oak Ridge could include three anchors in addition to Belk and JCPenney, although the new retailers will probably be in smaller spaces than the two existing stores.  The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission unanimously recommended a rezoning for Main Street Oak Ridge on Thursday, and members also unanimously recommended a planned unit development, or PUD, master plan for the project.  The rezoning and PUD master plan will be considered by the Oak Ridge City Council on first and second reading in April, with the first meeting scheduled for April 13.  Crosland Southeast hopes to close on the property this summer, begin demolition and construction at about the same time, and have Main Street Oak Ridge open in the fall of 2016. 

 

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. 

 

Cannon to be dedicated on Militia Hill

 

Fort Anderson on Militia Hill served as the base of operations for the Tennessee National Guard during the Coal Creek War, when miners rebelled against the use of convict labor in the mines.  Although the miners lost the final battle, they won the war when the State of Tennessee abolished convict-leasing and built Brushy Mountain State Prison.  The Coal Creek Watershed Foundation says that 4th and 5th graders from Briceville Elementary School will dedicate a cannon on Militia Hill on May 15th, with historical re-enactor Bill White serving as cannoneer. 

 

Nature walks this spring on OR reservation

 

Five more nature walks are planned this spring on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation with themes of frog calls and bat monitoring, wildflowers and forest growth, bird watching, invasive plants, reptiles, and amphibians.

The bird nature walk is scheduled between 7:30 and 11 a.m. Saturday, April 25, in the area around ponds and wetlands close to Poplar Creek and the Clinch River near ETTP. Jim Evans of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will conduct the tour that will hopefully lead to viewing red-headed woodpeckers, migrating warblers and perhaps even a sora. Binoculars and a field guide to birds are recommended. Limited to 25 participants including children, the group should meet at 7:30 a.m. at the ETTP visitors overlook.

The invasive plant identification and treatment walk will be from 9 until 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at various sites along the reservation. Conducted by ORNL employees Kitty McCracken (Environmental Sciences Division) and Jamie Herold (Facilities and Operations Directorate), multiple sites will be visited to focus on identification, impacts to other local flora and fauna and treatment options for invasive plants. Limited to 20 participants including children, the group will meet at the West Guardhouse at 9 a.m.

The final spring walk features reptiles and amphibians from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, June 7, in the Solway Bend area. Led by John Byrd of the Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization (CRESO), the group will collect several turtle species and discuss local snake identification and management of local herpetological populations. Children are encouraged on this 20-person walk and will have opportunities to get involved and learn about the animals. Participants should meet at 1:30 p.m. in the parking lot south of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education at the corner of Bethel Valley and Pumphouse roads.

Most of these walks will be along dirt and gravel roads of between one and two miles. Participants should dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring bug spray and water. A reliable flashlight or headlamp is also recommended during the April 4 night walk. Pets are not permitted.

Reservations for each walk must be made in advance by calling Tracy Clem at 865-574-5151 or bodinetm@ornl.gov. If a walk needs to be postponed, a message will be placed at least two hours before the scheduled walk on ORNL’s Information Line at (865) 574-9836.

For more information, contact Trent Jett at (865) 574-9188 or jettrt@ornl.gov.

 

Lost military ring’s owner sought

 

Someone in the Clinton area has found a military ring and is searching for its owner.  If you have a lost a military ring in the past couple of days, please call 865-457-3696 and describe it. 

 

AC Purchasing Department vendor breakfast held

 

(AC Purchasing Dept.) Tuesday, the Anderson County Purchasing Department hosted the inaugural Vendor Breakfast event.  Inspired by the City of Knoxville’s vendor events, the program was designed to educate local people and businesses on how to do business with Anderson County Government.  Anderson County Purchasing partnered with both the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce and Vendor Registry to help spread the word, and also to answer questions.  In all, 28 vendors attended Tuesday’s event.  For fiscal year 2014/2015, Anderson County is managing more than $65 million in goods and services.  The fiscal year 2014/2105 budget is approximately $108 million, and of that amount, $65 million is flowing through the Purchasing Department. 

“We hope to expand on this event each year to assist Anderson County vendors in becoming familiar with the county’s purchasing process,” Purchasing Agent Pamela Cotham said. “Ultimately, we want to have local businesses procurement dollars reinvested back into the local economy. I would like to thank Brian Strong with Vendor Registry for partnering with us to sponsor this event.” 

“The vendor event was about spreading the word about the opportunities that are available to do business with Anderson County.  We want more business people in our community and in our region to know about the business they can do right here at home.  And, we also recognize that healthy competition is good for the taxpayers and enables Anderson County to serve more people with the dollars we are entrusted to manage,” County Mayor Terry Frank said. 

“Pamela Cotham and her team – Toni, Karen, and Shelia — have enormous responsibility and I am extremely proud of how efficiently they manage the volume of purchasing work that comes through their office,” said Mayor Frank.  

The Anderson County Purchasing Department has the responsibility to make the most economical acquisition of quality materials and services that will assure efficient operation of county departments.

 

New top trooper in Knox District

 

(THP) Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Colonel Tracy Trott today announced the appointment of Jessie W. Brooks to Captain of the agency’s Knoxville District. Brooks had served as the Captain in the THP’s Chattanooga District since 2013. This new assignment is effective March 30. 

This appointment is prompted by the retirement of Captain David McGill, who began his career with the agency in 1986. He oversaw the Knoxville District since 2013, and prior to that, served as captain of the 12-county Chattanooga District for just over two years.  

“We appreciate David’s contribution to the THP in both the Knoxville and Chattanooga Districts. He has been a tireless worker and a dedicated employee who will be missed,” Colonel Trott said. 

Captain Brooks is a 32-year veteran of the THP. Prior to leading the Chattanooga District, he served as Administrative Lieutenant in the Knoxville District for four years. In that role, he oversaw the operations of the office and staff. Brooks also held positions as Safety Education Lieutenant, Troop Sergeant, and Litter Sergeant in Knoxville. He also has extensive experience in dignitary protection. 

“Jessie has served the state well in Chattanooga and deserves the right to return to his home district of Knoxville. With his leadership, the Knoxville District will continue to be in good hands,” Trott said. 

Brooks started his career with the THP as Road Trooper in 1981, assigned to Roane and later Knox Counties. He served as a Deputy in the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department from 1975 to 1981.  Brooks is also a veteran of the United States Navy Reserve.  

Brooks earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Bethel University and is working towards a master’s degree. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command School.  

The new Chattanooga District Captain will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

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:

  • Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
  • Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes 
  • Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
  • Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
  • Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes

“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.

 

County Road Relief Act of 2015

 

(Sen. Ken Yager) Legislation returning millions of dollars to taxpayers in the form of road infrastructure improvements was approved by the full Senate on Monday night.  The “County Road Relief Act of 2015,” sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), changes the way Tennessee currently manages its State Aid Road Grant Program to make it easier for counties to access state funds to upgrade, repair and improve roads. 

“This legislation helps to unlock local money that has been sitting unused to help aid communities with making needed road improvements,” said Senator Yager.  “Counties may have state road aid accounts, but cannot access those funds because they can’t afford the match.  This will help get needed road work done in all 95 Tennessee counties.” 

Currently, to receive funding through the State Highway Aid System, a 25 percent local match must be made by local governments.  Senate Bill 1005 would allow a county to use state highway aid for a project, as long as they contribute at least two percent of the approved project cost or provide in-kind work as approved by the Department of Transportation.  The legislation is particularly helpful to rural counties whom are struggling financially.  “I am very excited about the potential that this legislation brings not only to provide better roads for our citizens but to bring in new industry and jobs to our communities,” Yager added.  The legislation is modeled after the County Bridge Relief Act of 2014, also sponsored by Yager, which lowered the match to allow local governments to access unused funds in Tennessee’s State Aid Bridge Grant Program.  That program has allowed counties to access unused funds to improve bridges which had fallen into disrepair.   

 

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. 

 

Kite Festival returns to OR

 

First Cumberland Presbyterian Church Of Oak Ridge announced today the 9th Annual Family Kite Festival on Saturday April 25, 2015 beginning at 12 Noon until 4 PM on the front lawn of the church located at 127 Lafayette Drive, Oak Ridge, TN 37831 on the corner of Lafayette Drive and Laboratory Road.  The 9th Annual Family Kite Festival is totally free with free registration, treats, water and even a free Family Kite Festival Kite Workshop beginning at 12 Noon where kids and parents can build and decorate their own kite with free supplies and kit builder instructors provided by the event staff.  Each Kite Kit includes plastic kite, sticks, kite tail & handle with string. Plus, every participant will receive a 9th Annual Family Kite Festival Certificate Of Participation.  All children and parents need to do is contact First Cumberland Presbyterian Church Of Oak Ridge at 483-8433 any weekday between 9AM until 3PM and register for the event and kite workshop.  Pre-registration is recommended to insure availability of Kite Workshop supplies the day of event. First Cumberland Presbyterian Church has been part of the Oak Ridge Community since 1953 and we look forward to presenting this exciting family event to the entire community.  Contact Carol Williams at 865-483-8433 for more information or online at www.1stcpc.org

 

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. 

 

Volunteers for Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival sought

 

If you are interested in volunteering to work at next month’s Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival scheduled for Friday April 24th and Saturday April 25th, contact Sharon Disney at 865-387-2774 or by email at skd042015@gmail.com.

 

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.   [2] 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.  [3] 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. 

 

AC Commission meeting wrap-up

 

The Anderson County Commission met for the first time since January Monday night and voted unanimously to release the $20,000 in funding that had been held back from the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department and place them back in the rotation (beginning next year) for county purchase of a new fire truck after the department abandoned its controversial and wildly unpopular subscription program and returned to all-volunteer status.  Commissioner Phil Warfield said that the department “went above and beyond what Commission asked of them” as far as making things right with county leaders and more importantly the citizens they serve.  Commissioners were also introduced to the new fire chief, Del Kennedy. 

Commissioners also voted to authorize Law Director Jay Yeager to file a public nuisance lawsuit against a resident of Foust Carney Lane in Claxton over the 75-plus chickens and roosters he keeps in his yard, which is in a subdivision.  Neighbors say that the odor—especially in the summer— and noise—from roosters who crow at all times of the day— are a nuisance, with one neighbor saying that, at times, they feel like “prisoners” in their homes.  Neighbors also contend that the chickens themselves are being kept in less than ideal conditions. Yeager also cited concerns over the potential contamination of nearby waterways from chicken feces run-off during rainy periods.  Yeager recommended that the county begin the process of drawing up ordinances dealing with poultry in residential areas. 

In other business, the Commission also voted to set aside money from capital outlay funds for the possible construction of a temporary animal shelter ($25,000) to alleviate some of the county’s animal control problems and money ($34,000) for the possible purchase of land behind the Claxton convenience center to relocate the current facility, which is small and has limited access.  In both instances, that money was not allocated but rather, set aside for possible use in the future.  Commissioners also voted to allocate $20,000 for the care of animals picked up by Animal Control officers.  Currently, the Oak Ridge Animal Shelter is overcrowded and not able to accept animals collected in the county.  Instead the county is in many cases sending animals to the Roane County shelter and the bills for that have already topped $16,000 for the first quarter of 2015. 

Commissioners voted to overturn County Mayor Terry Frank’s veto of a resolution that prohibits her, or anyone else, from firing a department head or abolishing a department of the county government established by the Commission. 

One item that no action was taken on, but will certainly be revisited in the future, was a request from Trustee Rodney Archer to establish a maximum percentage that could be paid in the event the county has to retain a delinquent tax 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 at a lower rate.  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.  At issue is Mayor 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 pending the Mayor's approval and he appointed Yeager, but Mayor Frank has not backed off her position.  Archer and others reached a compromise that will allow him to choose the attorney and negotiate the best deal for the county with regards to their payment.  Commissioner Steve Mead said Monday night that it is his understanding that in the event that the Trustee and Mayor cannot agree on an individual to serve in that role, state law dictates that the District Attorney appoint someone as delinquent tax attorney.  Some commissioners expressed their concern that in the event an outside attorney is retained, the money from the collection of back taxes would not flow back into county coffers, but would instead go to lawyers.  Archer says he can pay for an outside attorney in that role through the end of June with “excess” money in his budget but will not be able to do so once the new fiscal year beings on July 1st.  Commissioners voted to table the question until next month despite Archer’s objections, and a vote to rescind that delay failed, meaning that he will not be able to negotiate with any outside legal counsel.  This issue will certainly be revisited over the next few months as the saga of the Law Director/Mayor conflict continues to play out. 

 

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.  

 

More on Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival

 

Bobby Osborne and Rocky Top X-Press will headline the First Annual Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival sponsored by Merle 96.7 FM.  The festival will be held on Friday, April 24th from 5:30 to 11 p.m. and Saturday, April 25th from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the George Templin Memorial Athletic Field located at 214 North Main Street, Rocky Top, Tennessee. 

"Mr. Osborne contacted us because the Osborne Brothers were the first to perform and record “Rocky Top" and he wanted to be the first to perform the song in our newly named town of Rocky Top, Tennessee", said Mike Lovely, Mayor of Rocky Top.  "As a result of his interest, we decided to have a festival featuring some of the top groups in bluegrass."
Bobby Osborne and his band Rocky Top X-Press will be joined by other well known groups including Lonesome River Band, Blue Highway, Junior Sisk and Rambler’s Choice, The Boxcars, and the 2014 International Bluegrass Music Association Emerging Artist of the Year, Flatt Lonesome.  
This two day event will also feature arts and crafts as well as food vendors.  Spaces for vendors are still available and may be reserved by calling the Anderson County Tourism Council at 1-800-524- 3602.  The fee for arts and crafts booths are $50 and $100 for food vendors.  Vendors are required to be set up for both days. 

Out of respect for our food vendors, backpacks and coolers will not be allowed in the festival area. 

Free parking for the event will be in designated areas and shuttles will be provided to the festival area.  Maps for parking areas are available online at www.rockytopbluegrassfestival.com. Gates will open at 4 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday. 

Tickets may be purchased online at www.rockytopbluegrassfestival.com or in person at the WYSH AM Studios in Clinton, Rocky Top City Hall and Mark's Pharmacy in Rocky Top.   Prices are $25 plus tax for Friday, $35 plus tax for Saturday, or $50 plus tax for a two day pass and children under 10 years of age are free.  
Lodging options include campgrounds, hotels, cabins, and condos.  Some lodging facilities are offering discount packages and some will have shuttle service to the festival area. For a complete list of lodging options and their offers, visitwww.rockytopbluegrassfestival.com and click on lodging or call 1-800-524-3602
For a complete list and schedule of entertainers as well as other information, visit rockytopbluegrassfestival.com.

Proceeds from the Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival will benefit the Coal Creek Miners Museum building fund, the North Anderson County Boys and Girls Club, and the soon to be renamed Rocky Top Elementary and Middle Schools.

The First Annual Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival is sponsored by Merle 96.7 FM, WDVX 89.9 FM, the City of Rocky Top, the Rocky Top Chamber of Commerce, and the Anderson County Tourism Council.

 

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."  Hammond begins his new role April 1.  He can be reached via e mail at radiomike0@gmail.com.  
Ron Meredith built Merle FM 96.7 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 last week and, Mike Hammond today the Merle FM staff will have more than 190 years of combined broadcasting experience and will work to become Knoxville’s number one radio station.  “It is our goal to move Merle FM into the top spot in Knoxville radio.says Meredith. People the caliber of Ed Brantley and Mike Hammond combined with our already successful staff Jack Ryan, Dan Bell, Phil Jarnagin, Jennifer Alexander and a host of others, that goal may be attained much faster.

 

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. 

 

Local agencies aid in Knox pill mill probe

 

(US Attorney’s Office) A federal grand jury in Knoxville has returned indictments charging multiple individuals for their roles in the proliferation of several “pill mills” in Knox and adjacent counties over the past few years. The primary defendant in the investigation, Sylvia Hoffstetter, 51, of Knoxville, is charged with conspiring with other pain clinic operators or sponsors of pill shopping organizations to distribute oxycodone, and to launder the proceeds generated by those clinics.  Hoffstetter, who was arraigned on Mar. 10, 2015, before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley, Jr., is accused of being responsible for the distribution of a quantity of oxycodone sufficient to generate clinic revenue of at least $17.5M between April 2011 and March 2015. She was ordered to be jailed upon the government’s motion until a detention hearing is conducted on Friday, Mar. 13, 2015. Several others were arrested on Tuesday and made their initial appearances before the court. Other arrests are pending.  If convicted as charged, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1M on the drug trafficking charge and up to another 20 years and a fine of up to $500,000 on the money laundering charges. There is no parole in the federal system.  U.S. Attorney William C. Killian and FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Edward Reinhold announced that this indictment is the result of an investigation by the FBI High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The FBI HIDTA is composed of FBI special agents and investigators assigned to the task force by Blount County Sheriff James Berrong, Clinton Police Chief Rick Scarborough, Harriman Police Chief Randy Heidle, Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J. J.” Jones, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch, Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider, and Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton. SAC Reinhold also expressed his appreciation to Jefferson County Sheriff Bud McCoig and Kingston Police Chief Jim Washam for providing assistance in the arrests of some of these defendants.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy L. Stone and Anne-Marie Svolto will represent the United States in the prosecution of these cases.

 

Smokies announce spring opening dates

 

(GSMNP) Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announce the spring opening schedule for park facilities for the 2015 season. Campgrounds and secondary roads will begin opening Friday, March 13. The schedule follows:

Roads – Secondary Roads are scheduled to open as follows: Forge Creek Road will open on March 6; Clingmans Dome Road will open on April 1; Round Bottom/Straight Fork Road will open April 3; Parson Branch, Rich Mountain Road, and Little Greenbrier will open on April 10; Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain roads will open on May 22. Roaring Fork Nature Trail is scheduled to reopen May 1, pending completion of bridge replacement project.

Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed for bicycle use only on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10:00 a.m. from May 6 through September 23.

Operating Hours for Visitor Centers – The three visitor centers are open daily and the operating hours through March are as follows:  Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, 9:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m., and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, hours will be 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Hours are extended for each location as the season progresses. Clingmans Dome Visitor Information Center will open April 1.

Operating Hours for Backcountry Office – The Backcountry Office located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, is open every day from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Backcountry reservations and permits can be obtained online at www.smokiespermits.nps.gov or by calling 865-436-1297.

www.Recreation.gov provides visitors an opportunity to make reservations to many federally-managed recreation areas, including National Park Service areas, all across the U.S.  The park’s developed campgrounds of Cataloochee, Elkmont, Cades Cove, Smokemont, and some sites at Cosby are on the reservation system for at least a portion of their seasons. The system allows campers to reserve specific campsites and to make reservations 6 months in advance. Group campsites and picnic pavilions can be reserved up to 12 months in advance. Visitors can make reservations at the five campgrounds, all group campsites, horse camps, and picnic shelters by booking sites online at www.Recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777.

Campgrounds will open on a staggered schedule starting March 13. See the following schedule for exact dates.  Reservations are recommended at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont for the period from May 15-October 31 (for other dates, the three campgrounds are first come, first serve). Advance reservations are required at Cataloochee Campground throughout the entire season. Cosby Campground, which has mostly first-come, first-served campsites, has a limited number of reservable sites during its season.  Camping fees range from $14 to $23 per site per night. 

Campers have an opportunity to camp in generator-free campsites at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont campgrounds. The generator-free loop sections of these campgrounds are reservable through www.Recreation.gov

Group Camping will be available at seven campgrounds (see schedule for opening dates) and reservations must be made through Recreation.gov.  Group camping is available at Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Cades Cove, and Smokemont.  The cost for group camps ranges from $26 to $65 per site per night.

Horse Camps at Cataloochee, Round Bottom, and Tow String will open April 3.  Anthony Creek will open on April 1 and Big Creek on April 11. Reservations are only available through Recreation.gov.  The horse site fees are $20 at all horse camps except for Big Creek where it is $25.

CAMPGROUND SCHEDULE

NC Campgrounds    Fee     Open   Group Sites    Horse Camp ($20, $25)

Balsam Mountain       $14     May 22          N/A

Big Creek       $14     April 10         April 10         April 10

Cataloochee   $20     April 3 April 3 April 3

Deep Creek    $17     April 10         April 10

Round Bottom                              April 3

*Smokemont  $17, $20        Year-round    May 15

Tow String                                  April 3

TN Campgrounds    Fee     Open   Group Sites    Horse Camp ($20, $25)

Abrams Creek $14     May 22          N/A

Anthony Creek                                      April 1

*Cades Cove $17, $20, $23 Year-round    March 13

Cosby  $14     April 10         April 10

*Elkmont       $17, $20, $23 March 13       April 24

Look Rock      Closed

*$20 per site during the reservation period May 15-October 31.  At Elkmont, riverside sites are $23 during reservation period only.

Picnic Areas at Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms picnic areas are open year round. Chimneys picnic area will open on March 14 and Collins Creek picnic area will open on April 3. Big Creek and Cosby picnic areas will open shortly after on April 10. Heintooga picnic area will open on May 22. The opening of Look Rock picnic area is yet to be determined. 

The park’s largest picnic pavilion at Twin Creeks opens on April 1 and reservations are required through Recreation.gov. Twin Creeks’ fees range from $35-$75 depending on the number of people. In addition, picnickers can reserve five other picnic pavilions on Recreation.gov.  They are located at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, and Greenbrier picnic areas.  The cost is $20, except at Greenbrier where it is $10. 

Horseback Riding - The opening dates for the three horseback concessions located on the Tennessee side of the Park are:  Smoky Mountain Riding Stable on March 1; Sugarlands Riding Stable on March 1; and Cades Cove on March 7.  In addition to horseback rides, Cades Cove Riding Stable will offer their customary carriage rides and hay rides which are wheelchair accessible.  The Smokemont Riding Stable in North Carolina will open March 28 providing guided horseback rides along with horse-drawn wagon rides along the route of the historic Oconaluftee Turnpike.

LeConte Lodge, accessible only by trail, will open on March 23.  Reservations are required and can be made by calling 865/429-5704, fax 865/774-0045 or email: reservations@lecontelodge.com.  One night at the lodge costs $136 per adult and $85 for children 10 and under (tax not included). The price includes two meals--dinner and breakfast.   Day hikers and backpackers can purchase a prepared bag lunch and snacks/beverages at the lodge. Please note that Alum Cave Trail will be closed Monday through Thursday beginning on May 3 through November 19 for trail restoration. Hikers will need to choose one of the other five trails to reach LeConte Lodge on those days.

Campground Concessions – The Cades Cove Campground Store has been open since March 13.  The store provides groceries, camping supplies, firewood, ice, vending, limited food service, souvenirs, and bike rentals.  The Cades Cove Store has multi-speed comfort bikes, single speed cruisers, and electric assist bikes for rent.  The Elkmont Campground concession opens on March 13.  The concession provides firewood, ice, limited camper convenience items, and vending of soft drinks, newspapers, and snacks. 

For more information on park events, please visit the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/calendar.htm.

 

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.  

 

ORT:  OR schools have 2 snow days to make up

 

(Oak Ridge Today) According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, the Oak Ridge school system used nine snow days this year but only needs to make up two.  “As we have gone through the process of examining our snow day allocation, we discovered that, in addition to the three extra student instructional days we had built into our calendar, we were also entitled to three stockpiled snow days because of our longer school days as compared to state minimum requirements,” Chris Marczak, assistant superintendent of Oak Ridge Schools told ORT. He added, “The state acknowledged on March 9 that these three stockpiled snow days were due to Oak Ridge Schools for this school year and for future school years. We therefore have six total possible snow days, rather than three.”  In addition to these six days, Oak Ridge was just awarded a waiver from the state for one additional snow day, meaning that only two days will need to be made up. 

 

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:

  • For the second year in a row, Anderson County qualified as a low-risk auditee instead of high-risk status.
  • Fund balance policy was strengthened again, and its unassigned General Fund balance is now increased to $4 million, up from $2.5 million in 2012 and $3.5 million in 2013.  Any dip into reserves below this threshold requires a supermajority vote from County Commission.
  • For the year end, we increased the General Fund balance by $1,744,824 (revenues over expenditures).  While 2013/2014 saw a fractional decrease in property taxes, 2014/2015 saw property taxes remain the same, with no increases. (It must be noted that some of the surplus is already dedicated to certain projects or commitments.)
  • Tight spending practices helped Anderson County experience a year of surplus revenue over expenditures, and we continue to strive to limit debt.  For fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, Anderson County issued refunding bonds that lowered interest rates, saved more than $150,000 over the life of the bonds, but did not extend the maturity of the debt.
  • Creation of a capital projects fund with an assigned tax rate that did not increase the overall county tax rate.
  • Passage of budget without costly tax anticipation notes.

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.

 

Snow day waivers granted to AC, Clinton schools

 

At least two local school districts will not have to make up all of the extra days of school they missed due to last month’s winter storms.  Dozens of systems used more snow days than they had built into their 2014-2015 calendar. The state requires schools to have 180 instructional days every year, and in most cases, they would have to find ways to make up those unexpected days out of the classroom.  However, because the storms resulted in Governor Haslam declaring a State of Emergency, schools were allowed to apply for a waiver of up to three instructional days. The deadline for those requests is March 31.  So far, the commissioner of education has granted snow day waivers for more than a dozen districts in our area, including Anderson County, which had three days waived and the Clinton City Schools, which was granted a waiver for two days. 

 

Tennessee 4-H has new leader

 

(UTIA) A life-long educator, Richard Clark is dedicating his career to giving young people in Tennessee every opportunity to grow and succeed. It starts as early as the fourth grade and continues through the college years.  Clark recently started work at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture as the new leader of Tennessee 4-H, the youth development program for UT Extension, and Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC), a department in the Institute’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. These two units – service-oriented and academic – have been merged in an effort to better serve Tennessee youth.   

“I’ve been involved in 4-H and ag education in some capacity for almost my entire career,” says Clark. “The new department of 4-H and ALEC has the opportunity to serve as a model for other universities for impacting the lives of young people from elementary school through college. 4-H and ALEC have a common, underlying youth development and education knowledge base which makes this merger ideal.” 

Clark’s main responsibilities will be providing leadership to the state 4-H staff in Knoxville and county 4-H agents all across the state. He will also serve in an academic capacity, developing curriculum for faculty and students here at UTIA. 

“My first goal is to inspire students of all ages to reach for their dreams and empower them with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in life,” says Clark. “The second goal is for the department to become a national leader in scholarship related to youth development in both non-formal and formal education. We will continue to engage in cutting-edge research and showcase innovation in university teaching and in outreach through 4-H.” 

“Dr. Clark brings a diverse background and experiences that make him an ideal leader for our new 4-H/ALEC Department,” says UTIA Chancellor Larry Arrington. “This newly created department pulls together all of our faculty and staff working in the areas of youth development and leadership. This will allow UTIA to better serve the state of Tennessee – including 4-H and FFA programs throughout the state.”
Clark comes to UTIA from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, where he served as Associate Director of Agricultural Education from 2009 to this year. He also led the Illinois 4-H program during that time as Interim Director. In his career, Clark also led the 4-H program in New Jersey for Rutgers University, and had administrative appointments at Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech. He holds his doctorate from Ohio State, and also has degrees from Virginia Tech. He is a native of Danville, Virginia, and very early in his career worked at the county level in 4-H in that state.  The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and outreach through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.

 

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

 

OR schools present budget request

 

The Oak Ridge school system’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1st asks for an additional $2.7 million over the current budget, a request that would require the equivalent of a 23-cent property tax rate increase in order to fully fund.  The proposed budget was revealed to City Council budget committee members on Tuesday and includes three percent salary increases for employees.  Last year, the schools asked for what would have amounted to a 37-cent tax increase but received no new, additional funding.  The budget request, which is still in its early stages, also includes funding for a program aimed at getting tablets in to students’ hands, funding for the addition of eight new full-time employees and funding to erase a deficit of over $658,000.  The school board and city council will continue to meet over the next few months to fine-tune the budget, which will likely be voted on by the Oak Ridge City Council sometime in June. 

 

Y-12 trio to appeal convictions

 

The three anti-nuclear activists convicted of sabotage and damaging the exterior of a Y-12 uranium facility in July 2012 will seek Thursday to convince a federal appeals court that their convictions should be overturned.  Attorneys for Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed argue in court documents that the sabotage charge was government overreach that should not have been applied for the activists' symbolic, nonviolent actions. They also object to a prosecutors' invocation of 9/11 during closing arguments.  Early on the morning of July 28, 2012, the three illegally entered a secure area where the U.S. keeps most of its bomb-grade uranium. Despite setting off alarms, they were able to spend more than two hours inside the restricted area before they were arrested.  They spray-painted slogans such as "the fruit of justice is peace" on the exterior walls of the $548 million Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. They also splattered the walls with blood and they hammered on the exterior wall.  Thursday's hearing will be before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The trio was tried and convicted in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.  Attorneys argue what the trio did does not amount to true sabotage. In addition, they say what the three did did not threaten national security.  They also argue federal prosecutors went too far in seeking charges against their clients.  The government argues in court documents that the activists can be charged with sabotage because they "intended to injure, interfere with, or obstruct the national defense." Prosecutors say the activists own statements attest to this. At trial and at sentencing, they said their goal was nuclear disarmament, and they hoped their actions would somehow bring that about.  Prosecutors also argue that Y-12 is critical to the national defense. Because of the break-in, all nuclear operations at the site were suspended for 15 days. In addition, the intrusion damaged Y-12's reputation as the "Fort Knox of uranium."

 

Alexander holds line on UPF budget, timeframe

 

(Sen. Alexander’s office) U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the top Republican on energy appropriations, today (3/11) held a hearing on the National Nuclear Security Agency’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016, in which he said there “is a lot more work to be done” to keep large government construction projects, such as the Uranium Processing Facility in (Oak Ridge) Tennessee, on time and on budget as he and other senators work to fund critical defense priorities.

“Construction of the Uranium Processing Facility’s uranium buildings isn’t supposed to begin until the buildings are at 90 percent design, the project isn’t supposed to exceed $6.5 billion, and it needs to be completed by 2025,” Alexander, chairman of  the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development, said in a statement. “That’s the agreement.”

At the subcommittee hearing today, Alexander cited the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 in Tennessee, the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina and the Plutonium Facility in New Mexico – which combined could cost as much as $20 billion – as projects he wants to help keep on time and on budget. He also cited as major priorities effectively maintaining the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile and supporting the nuclear Navy.

Alexander continued, “The National Nuclear Security Administration has an important national security mission, but faces many challenges. That’s why we need to do what we were sent here to do – to govern. Governing is about setting priorities, and we are going to have to make some hard decisions this year to make sure the highest priorities are funded.” 

 

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. 

 

ASAP breaks down cost of substance abuse

 

(ASAP guest column) Studies show the cost of substance abuse in the U.S. is over $500 Billion dollars.  These figures include the impact of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use and include resource and productivity costs.  Two local anti-drug coalitions were interested in finding out how much substance abuse costs the local taxpayer in Tennessee and how much of that money could be saved by investing in substance abuse prevention. 

Over the past 7 months, Stephanie Strutner, Executive Director-ASAP, Sarah Harrison, Executive Director- RCADC, Wayne Stephenson Ph.D., and Stacey Pratt, Project Coordinator-ASAP, have spent over 400 hours researching the cost of substance abuse and the financial benefit of prevention.  The project found that $3,023,687,696 of taxpayer funding is spent in Tennessee “shoveling-up” the costs of the failure to prevent substance abuse.  The good news is the project also found that for every $1 invested in substance abuse prevention at the state level $4.60 can be saved in burden spending.  The benefit of local tax dollar investment in prevention is even greater at a savings of $16.76 in Anderson County and $14.66 in Roane County.  

The authors of the report were invited to present their findings at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s National Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. on February 3, 2015.  More than 100 people attended the session to learn how this research can be adapted for their own localities.  This knowledge helps Anti-Drug Coalitions plan for the future and ensure that investments made to substance abuse prevention are being responsibly spent, having a positive outcome on their community, and saving taxpayer money from having to be used to clean up the mess substance abuse can leave behind. 

For more information about the project or to find out more about local Anti-Drug Coalitions call 865-457-3007 or visit www.ASAPofAnderson.org.

 

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.

 

Poneman named CEO of Centrus

 

(Centrus) Daniel B. Poneman, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, has been picked to be president and chief executive officer of Centrus Energy Corporation.  Centrus was formerly known as USEC Incorporated, and it has operations in Oak Ridge.  The selection of Poneman by the Centrus Board of Directors was announced Thursday. Poneman will join Centrus immediately and become the chief executive later this month. He will also be a member of the board.   

Centrus Energy Corporation supplies enriched uranium fuel for a growing fleet of international and domestic commercial nuclear power plants. The company said it is working to deploy the American Centrifuge technology for commercial needs and to support U.S. energy and national security.  Centrus announced last fall that it had emerged from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  In January, the company announced that UT-Battelle, the contractor that operates Oak Ridge National Laboratory, had added another six months to an agreement being used to develop new uranium-enrichment technology through Centrus operations in Oak Ridge and Piketon, Ohio.  By exercising that option, UT-Battelle extended the American Centrifuge Technology Demonstration and Operations Agreement, or ACTDO Agreement, from March 31 to September 30, 2015.  ORNL had previously exercised an option to extend the agreement through March 31, 2015.

 

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. 

 

State accepting snow day waiver applications

 

The state of Tennessee is allowing school systems to apply to have up to three educational days waived after many systems went over their amount of allotted snow days due to last month’s winter weather.  Education Commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen says many school systems have inquired about relief from the statutory requirement of 180 days of student instruction. Because Gov. Bill Haslam declared a Level II State of Emergency due to the extreme weather conditions throughout the state, the state is accepting requests to waive a maximum of three instructional days.  Pursuant to Tennessee law, the commissioner of education may waive the 180-day instructional requirement in very limited cases, including "natural disasters.”  The state will look at each request on a case-by-case basis, and will look at the specific circumstances of each school system, the number of stockpiled days and how they were used, and the inability to make up those days.  The deadline for school systems to apply is March 31.  This morning, Clinton Schools Director Vicki Viollette said that her system will apply for one day of the waiver in the event another day of instruction is missed due to weather as they have exhausted all of their snow days.  If their application for the waiver is denied, then a planned in-service day for teachers set for April 6th would turn into an instruction day.  Anderson County Schools Director Larry Foster says he will recommend to the School Board that the system apply for the full three-day waiver, but in the event its application is denied, will also recommend using in-service days on April 6th and May 18th for instruction.  Foster added that there is a high probability the application could be denied since the system did not set aside 13 days—the maximum allowed by state law—for snow days.  Foster also said the school year could be extended by adding instructional days at the end of the calendar.  We will keep you updated on WYSH.

 

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.

For more information about Knoxville PHWFF, please contact Steve Thompson at Stevethefishingguy@gmail.com or (865) 773-3343.

 

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.

 

Bartley’s move out of state approved by judge

 

Convicted Campbell County school shooter Kenny Bartley Jr. has been cleared to move to Virginia so that he can take part in a comprehensive transitional care plan designed to rehabilitate him.  Criminal Court Judge E. Shayne Sexton signed an order this week that will allow the now-23-year-old Bartley to be released from the custody of Campbell County authorities.  He is moving to Virginia to live with Erin TePaske, who previously counseled Bartley when he was a teenager.  On Monday, Bartley pleaded guilty in Campbell County to the domestic assault of his mother in October. As part of an agreement to resolve that case, his probation for a prior case involving his father was extended two years.  Bartley’s attorney, Greg Isaacs presented the court with a plan that calls for Bartley to get psychological help.  He'll also get counseling to help find permanent employment, Isaacs said. He must make a written report every 45 days on his progress.

 

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. 

 

State:  Tennessee’s economy growing

 

(TN Secretary of State) More than 7,000 new businesses were formed in Tennessee during the final quarter of last year, according to a new economic report. The number of new businesses created during the fourth quarter of 2014 was up 8.8 percent from the same time period during the previous year.  The reports are produced quarterly by the Secretary of State's office and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's Center for Business and Economic Research. They draw on information provided to the Secretary of State's office regarding business filings and dissolutions, as well as other economic information drawn from other sources.  The report can be found online at http://tn.gov/sos/be_reports/201502.pdf.  "The increase in the number of new business filings is a positive sign for the state's economy," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "It is one of several encouraging economic indicators that can be found in our latest report."  Statewide, personal income growth is up 3.7 percent compared to the same period last year. Total tax revenues grew 4.7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of last year.  Non-farm employment increased 2.4 percent. However, the state's unemployment rate remains a full percentage point above the national average.  Nationally, there are promising signs as well. The gross domestic product and sales of light vehicles continued to grow, while gasoline prices were at a five-year low.

 

Weather likely to blame for Campbell death

 

Authorities in Campbell County say that the winter weather likely played a “significant role “in the death of a 32-year-old man whose body was found in a wooded area Sunday.  27 deaths across Tennessee are now blamed on the winter weather that entered the state last week.  Hunters found the body of 32-year-old Kenneth Mozingo of Duff in the Tackett Creek area.  The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office says it appears Mozingo became stranded after his vehicle either got stuck or broke down in a wooded area several miles off the main road.  An autopsy was scheduled for Monday at the Regional Forensic Center in Knoxville to determine the cause of death and toxicology results.

 

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.

 

Vann back in Campbell court

 

Former LaFollette Middle School teacher Lonnie Vann who has been charged with the murder and kidnapping of Rhonda Daugherty was back in court Monday.  During Monday’s hearing, he pleaded not guilty to additional robbery and kidnapping charges.  Vann was originally charged with three counts for the kidnapping and murder of Rhonda Daugherty.  Six additional counts of robbery and kidnapping have been added to the list of charges against him.  Vann now faces nine charges in the case. Counts one through three are the charges of the murder and kidnapping of Rhonda Daugherty. Counts four through nine accuse Vann of robbing and kidnapping or confining two people to facilitate fleeing after committing first degree murder.  Vann is also facing a separate case for earlier charges of solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault for his alleged inappropriate conduct with a student in 2013.

The attorney on that case stepped down Monday and the judge appointed the same public defender to handle both cases. Vann will be back in the courthouse in April for a status check in both cases.  Daugherty’s body has still not been found. Investigators have spent weeks searching Norris Lake.

 

Bartley pleads to assault charges

 

Convicted Campbell County school shooter Kenneth Bartley pleaded guilty Monday to domestic assault in connection with an October incident that involved his mother as part of a plea agreement that includes what his attorneys call a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.  Bartley was arraigned on the assault charge and for a violation of probation that stemmed from an incident last year in which he pleaded guilty to assaulting his father.  Bartley was 14 in 2005 when he opened fire inside an office at the high school where he was a student, killing Assistant Principal Ken Bruce. After eight years behind, Bartley was acquitted of first-degree murder, and found guilty instead of reckless homicide. He was freed in April 2014.  A psychologist who counseled Bartley when he was a teenager proposed a “transitional care plan” Monday that would extend his probation while allowing him to receive treatment, said defense attorney Gregory P. Isaacs.  Campbell County Criminal Court Judge E. Shayne Sexton granted Bartley 2½ years’ probation to allow him to live with the psychologist and her family while undergoing drug and alcohol treatment in Virginia.   Bartley will also be required to wear a bracelet that will monitor him for alcohol use. The judge will also require written reports on Bartley’s treatment every 45 days.

 

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.

 

Union judge to hear case against Tunnell

 

A judge from Union County will preside over the case involving aggravated assault charges against 94-year-old Lawrence Tunnell, a former acting judge for the city of Oak Ridge.  Tunnell is accused of hitting a man with his car after the alleged victim and other witnesses helped him get back into his car after he took a fall in a parking lot.  When he tried to leave, Charles Smallwood stepped in front of Tunnell’s car to try and prevent him from leaving before EMS personnel arrived and Tunnell allegedly hit him, knocking Smallwood to the ground and sending him to UT Medical center for treatment of minor injuries.  Both of Anderson County’s General Sessions court judges stepped aside, recusing themselves because they know Tunnell personally.  Union County General Sessions Judge Darrell Edmonson will preside over Tunnell’s next scheduled court appearance on April 24th.

 

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. 

 

AAA offers cold-weather driving tips

 

Extremely cold weather is moving across the southeastern U.S. and AAA warns motorists to be careful and make sure their vehicles are prepared for an emergency. According to data from the Federal Highway Administration, each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet.

“The safest place to be during adverse weather conditions is indoors and that’s not always possible” said Don Lindsey, TN Public Affairs Director, AAA - The Auto Club Group. “It is imperative that motorists prepare their vehicles before winter conditions hit.”

Simply following safe driving habits like planning ahead, driving distraction free, and taking time to prepare your vehicle for winter weather driving conditions can help ensure you stay safe in the elements. According to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey, 47 percent of motorists are concerned with skidding or losing control of their vehicle while driving in winter weather; therefore, AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:

Emergency road kit - Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. Make sure to include the following items:

  • Charged cellular phone
  • Blankets
  • Food
  • Water
  • Medication
  • Ice scraper
  • Flashlight
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Sand or cat litter 

Battery and charging system - Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. For electric or hybrid-electric vehicles, several things can be done to minimize the drain on the batteries. If the vehicle has a thermal heating pack for the batteries, make sure your vehicle is plugged in whenever it is not in use. If the vehicle has a pre-heat function to warm the car interior, set it to warm the passenger compartment before you unplug it in the morning.

 

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.

 

Teachers, principals to be honored

 

Mark your calendars for March 31st as the Education Foundation for Clinton City and Anderson County Schools will host its annual Teacher & Principal of the Year Banquet.  The event will begin at 6:30 pm on March 31st at the Family Life Center of First Baptist Church in Clinton.  One teacher from each Clinton City and Anderson County school selected by their peers will be recognized as a “Teacher of the Year,” and four principals will also be honored.  Sponsorships of all kinds are also still available for companies, groups and businesses and if you would like more information, call 865-463-1017 or visit www.TheEducationFoundation.info.  

 

CHS Band update
 

Four Clinton HS Band members (Cameron Moore, baritone, 11th grade, Bryson Light, trombone, 9th grade, Danny Stone, Director of Bands, Clinton High School, Matthew Tolson, tenor saxophone, 9th grade, Chris Webb, clarinet, 9th grade) recently earned placement in the East Tennessee School Band & Orchestra Association All East Band. Students from all over East TN gathered in Gatlinburg in early February to practice and perform as a group. Students participate in clinics & try out against students from across East TN for placement in the prestigious concert band.  Moore and Tolson also earned the honor to participate in the even more exclusive All State Band that will perform in Memphis on April. Webb earned placement in the Jazz Clinic Band playing bass guitar. The Clinic was held in Cleveland, TN in January.
Most of the costs associated with traveling and overnight stays required to participate in these clinics are paid for by band fundraising campaigns like fruit sales and the Clinch River Classic Marching Band Competition hosted by the band. The band is still hoping to raise more than more than $50,000 to buy new uniforms. At least 20 students will not have band uniforms for the 2015-16 school year. To contribute, please visit www.clintonband.com, or send tax deductible contributions to Clinton High School Attn: Boosters, 425 Dragon Drive, Clinton, TN 

 

The Drum Line will be at a competition at Halls High School on Saturday. The performance starts around 4:40 and open to the public. The next band concert will be presented Feb 26 in the gym at 6:30. 

 

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. 

 

More on Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival 2015

 

The City of Rocky Top, Tennessee will present the inaugural Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival 2015, featuring 2 days/nights (Friday night and all day Saturday ) of pickin', singin', and dancin' in Good Ole' Rocky Top, Tennessee! The Festival kicks off Friday, April 24th and continues Saturday, April 25th at George Templin Memorial Athletic Field, located at 214 Main Street in Rocky Top, Tennessee!

Friday

  • Flatt Lonesome
  • Blue Highway
  • Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice

Saturday

  • Flatt Lonesome
  • Blue Moon Rising
  • Steve Gulley and New Pinnacle
  • The Boxcars
  • Lonesome River Band
  • Bobby Osborne and Rocky Top X-Press

Gates Open 4:30pm Friday.   Music starts at 6pm.  Music start at 11am Saturday

Tickets are $25.00 for Friday, $35.00 for Saturday or $50.00 for both days.

Children 10 and under get in free with a paid adult.

Buy tickets on line at  http://www.rockytopbluegrassfestival.com/ or at Marks Pharmacy in Rocky Top, and at Rocky Top City Hall.   

For information, you can also contact Stephanie Wells at the Anderson County Tourism Council by phone at 865-457-4547 or by e-mail at stephaniewells@yallcome.org 

Special area accommodation packages are being offered including the following at KOA Campgrounds:

Packages include 2 nights camping plus 2 tickets for both days of festival.

All prices INCLUDE TAX

No Hook up Tent Site  134.16

Tent site with Electric   151.10

Water and Electric Only  160.00

Full Hook up 30 amp  172.30

Full Hook up  50 amp  176.54

Rustic Cabin sleeps 4   185.02

Rustic Cabin sleeps 6   195.62

Deluxe Cabin with bathroom  sleeps 4   263.46

Check out the site types (with Pictures) on KOA.COM

May purchase extra tickets at campground office………Call 1-800-562-8513 and use BG as discount code for these rates

Clinton / Knoxville KOA

Phone: (865) 494-9386

Email: camp@clintonknoxkoa.com

Online: www.clintonknoxkoa.com

 

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.

 

CPD K-9 officers to take part in Read Across America

 

Clinton Police K9 Officers and their four-legged partners will help celebrate the upcoming "Read Across America" event at North Clinton Elementary School on March 2nd. Chief Rick Scarbrough said Sgt .Josh Queener and Officer Matt Howell are more than ready to read to the school's students, along with their partners “Mozzy “ and “Bronco.”  The National Education Association's Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.

 

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.

 

Smoky Mountains Trout Adventure Camp sign-ups underway

 

(Submitted) The fifth annual Great Smoky Mountains Trout Adventure Camp for middle school girls and boys, sponsored by the Tennessee Council of Trout Unlimited, will be June 15–20 at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont (GSMIT) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Trout Adventure is designed to give kids an appreciation and understanding of the importance of our aquatic resources with an emphasis on conservation, protection and restoration of coldwater ecosystems. Participants learn about stream ecology, brook trout restoration, stream physics and chemistry, fishing etiquette and aquatic entomology. They experience fly tying, fly fishing and snorkeling in Little River and its Middle Prong, along with some hiking and swimming.

GSMIT is a private, nonprofit residential environmental learning center in Walker Valley on the banks of Middle Prong, a coldwater stream containing brook, brown and rainbow trout. Facilities include dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, outdoor meeting shelters, bookstore/gift shop and full-time professional staff.

Trout Adventure 2015 will begin on Monday afternoon, June 15, and end at noon on Saturday, June 20. Girls and boys 12 to 15 years old as of June 15 are eligible to apply; Trout Unlimited will accept a total of 14 participants (a minimum of two girls). Tuition is $495; insurance coverage is supplied by GSMIT.

Campers should be in good physical condition. While Trout Adventure is not akin to a military boot camp, activities may be more physically demanding than some boys and girls are accustomed to.

Applications are being accepted from now through May 20 at http://www.tntroutadventure.org. Applications can be completed and submitted online, or can be mailed or emailed to John Thurman, jthur727@bellsouth.net, P.O. Box 546, Norris, TN 37828. Applicants will be notified of their status within three days of receipt of their application.

When families are notified that their children have been selected, they will be provided a GSMIT registration form and other information. Financial assistance may be available through your area’s Trout Unlimited chapter.

 

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:

  • First Place ($750) – Farragut Middle School – Team 1  – Farragut Middle School (Farragut) will travel to Washington, D.C., April 30 – May 4, 2015, to compete in the DOE National Science Bowl
  • Second Place ($500) – Jefferson Middle School (Oak Ridge) – Team 1
  • Third Place ($250) – Cedar Bluff Middle School (Knoxville)

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

 

OR Schools on the Run 5K coming in March

 

The first Oak Ridge Schools on the Run 5K is scheduled for March 21, organizers said.  “Come join the schools, city, and community of Oak Ridge in their first annual 5k,” the Oak Ridge Track Club said in a notice posted on its website. “The race will be held at the beautiful Melton Lake Park!”  The standard registration is $25. It’s $20 for school and municipal employees, and $10 for students.  There will be awesome T-shirts for all pre-registered runners,” the notice said. Race-day T-shirts will be available as supplies last.  There will be awards for the overall top male and female finishers, the top three in each age group, masters, grand masters, and senior grand masters.  Any Oak Ridge student who participates in a morning exercise program can register for free with a paying adult, the notice said.  Registration will begin at Melton Lake Pavilion at 6:45 a.m. Saturday, March 21. The race will start at 8 a.m.

See the Oak Ridge Track Club website for more information, including online registration.

 

Jacksboro detective laid to rest

 

Hundreds of people in Campbell County assembled Thursday to mourn the loss of a longtime and popular detective with the Jacksboro Police Department.  Mike Starrett was killed on January 23rd while responding to a fatal accident on Highway 116 when his car was hit head-on by another driver.  He passed away late Friday January 30th at UT Medical Center.  His funeral service was held Thursday morning at the Indiana Avenue Baptist Church in Lafollette and after the service, his funeral procession was joined by dozens of officers from nearby law enforcement agencies and some citizens lined the route of the procession to pay their respects.  Starrett was a Campbell County Sheriff’s deputy for four years before joining the Jacksboro Police Department 12 years ago.  He was also a founder of the Justice Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club. 

 

Coal Creek Scholars busy this spring

 

(Submitted) Coal Creek Scholars are organizing the annual trash cleanup activity along Fraterville Miners Memorial Highway (i.e. Highway 116) from Briceville School to Joe Day Bridge.  A tentative date for the event is Saturday, March 14th from 9:00 am until noon.  We will meet at Briceville School at 9:00 am to organize into teams.  A cash prize of $100 will be awarded to the team collecting the most trash.  Details from past cleanup events can be found at http://www.coalcreekaml.com/TrashDayLinkPage.htm.

 

(Submitted) The Coal Creek Miners Museum board/volunteers and the City of Rocky Top have been applying for grants to fund the remodel of the new Coal Creek Miners Museum building.  Before the holidays, they applied for an Appalachian Resource Commission grant and two other grants from private foundations.  Meanwhile, a Spring Cleaning Day will be held at the future home of the museum. If you would like to help, plan on meeting at the future museum on April 11th at 9 a.m.  We will work until noon. The museum cleaning will be the last community service opportunity for Coal Creek Scholars who are seniors at Anderson County High School to qualify for CCWF scholarships. 

 

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. 

 

Mark calendars:  K’garten Round Up coming in May

 

The Anderson County School System has scheduled its Early Kindergarten Registration or “Kindergarten Round-up” for students entering school for the first time. Children must be age 5 on or before August 15, 2015. The Kindergarten Round-up dates listed below are for each of the Schools within the Anderson County School System. Please choose the school for which your child is zoned. If you are unsure of which Anderson County School zone in which you live, please contact the Transportation Department at 457- 7789 with your current address and they will assist you.  If, for any reason, you cannot attend Kindergarten Roundup at the School for which your child is zoned, please come to the elementary school your child is zoned for to complete the registration process for your child. Registration is open Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at this location. However, please have your up-coming Kindergarten child registered on or before June 2, 2015 in order for the School System to make important arrangements, such as hiring adequate personnel and ordering sufficient materials and supplies for the correct number of students prior to the first day of school.

Anderson County School System’s Kindergarten Round-up Schedule 2015-16 School Year

  • May 4, 2015 Monday Lake City Elementary 8:30a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • May 5, 2015 Tuesday Fairview Elementary 8:30a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • May 6, 2015 Wednesday Dutch Valley Elementary 8:30a.m.-10:30 a.m.
  • May 7, 2015 Thursday Claxton Elementary 8:30a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • May 8, 2015 Friday Briceville Elementary 8:30a.m.-10:30 a.m.
  • May 11, 2015 Monday Grand Oaks Elementary 8:30a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • May 12, 2015 Tuesday Andersonville Elementary 8:30a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • May 13, 2015 Wednesday Norwood Elementary 8:30a.m.-11:30 a.m.
  • May 14, 2015 Thursday Norris Elementary 8:30a.m.-11:30 a.m.

 

Parents must bring the following documents in order to complete the Registration Process for their child:  

PROOF OF AGE - State issued birth certificate or “mother’s copy” will be sufficient.·  SOCIAL SECURITY CARD – If for some reason you cannot locate your child’s Social Security Card, you should go to the Social Security Office to apply for a duplicate card. You may bring your copy of this application with the number on it for Registration purposes.  

PROOF OF PHYSICAL EXAM & IMMUNIZATION RECORD– Your Child’s Physical Exam must have been done on or after January 1, 2015. All Immunizations must be up to date and placed on the state required form that you may obtain from the Anderson County Health Department or your doctor’s office. Health Department personnel will transfer your child’s immunizations to the official immunization form if you take an immunization record with you. However, if you do not have an immunization record for your child, you may obtain one from the Anderson County Health Department.  

PROOF OF RESIDENCE – You must bring an appropriate item that verifies the correct physical address of where the child actually resides. If your driver’s license has the correct address, this will be sufficient. Other acceptable items include (but are not limited to): a piece of mail addressed to you with your correct mailing address, a copy of the lease or rent receipt with a current date, utility service hook-up card, etc.  LEGAL DOCUMENTATION – If the child does not reside with both legal parents, a copy of the· legal paperwork must be provided. This provides the School System with the legally correct information pertaining to child custody and prevents future problems from developing. We are always concerned for the safety and welfare of your child. This is an exciting time for your child and possibly a frightening time for the parent when enrolling a child into school for the first time. School System Personnel are always eager to meet and greet our new young students and their parents. We encourage you to become an active participant at the school where your child will be attending. Research has proven many times that a child receives the very best education possible when the parent and school personnel work together AS A TEAM in educating a child! Your child and your child’s school really need your help and support!  For more, visit us online, visit the school system’s website at www.acs.ac or call Brittany Bradley at 865-463-2800, extension 2829.

 

AC Senior Center about to become reality

 

The Anderson County Office on Aging and the Council on Aging have found a location to open up an expanded Office on Aging and create a full-blown Senior Center serving Clinton and Anderson County.  The new location will be in the old Food Stamp building on Charles Seivers Boulevard, just west of the intersection of Clinch Avenue and Seivers.  The new center is being rented to the Office and Council on Aging at a discounted rate because, as Director Cherie Phillips said this morning, “they want to give back to the community.  The new facility measures some 7500 square feet and will be used for health education classes, activities, social events, lunches, evidence-based programs, meetings on issues affecting seniors and anything else that “will help seniors have a better life,” according to Phillips.  The exact date of the move has not been nailed down but it will be soon, according to Phillips.  In the meantime, officials need dozens of items to run the Senior Center the way they feel it should be run and are asking for donations from the community.  You can see a complete list of the needed items on the Local Information News page of our website.  For more information, you can call the Office on Aging at 865-457-3259. 

 

Items  needed for new building

Donated or sponsored by :

2 wheelers

ACOA

bags : Cloth , for 2nd harvest etc .

 

Baskets for Activities supplies

 

Big screen TV

Stanley Foust

bingo items

 

bingo prizes

 

board games

 

Book cases  several

 

books Fiction & Non Fiction : for reading area

 

bowls : all sizes

 

Bowls : serving Size about 30 -50

 

bulletin boards: several

 

chairs : Lots

ETHRA,

chalk boards : 2 or Dry Erase boards

 

cleaning supplies

 

cleaning supplies for Clients in need

 

Clocks : Large

 

Coat Rack/s

 

Coffee : for senior center

 

coffee cups

 

coffee maker large : 2

Janice Johnson : Nutrition Dept , Renee Burchfield

coffee table

 

computers for computer classes (used is fine )

 

condiments (all kinds)

 

containers with lids : all sizes

 

Cook stove

 

Cook Ware

Office on Aging

couch

 

craft paper

 

croc/knitting items

 

dart board

Donna Medley

décor

 

Deep fryers

Felicia Foust

Depends

 

Desk several

ETHRA, Jim Hackworth

dish towels

 

Dishes

 

Display stands  several

 

Drinking Straws

ACOA

drinks of all kinds

 

dry erase boards

 

dry erase markers

 

ensure

 

Exercise equipment : limited area

 

file cabinets  several

Jim Hackworth, ETHRA, ACOA

freezer

 

fridge/ more then one

 

HB products for Clients in need

 

ice machine

 

Kettles : large

 

kitchen table and chairs - Several for Sr lunches

 

knifes

 

laminator / electric one

 

lamps

 

Large crock pots

Janice Johnson : Nutrition Dept

large standing  ezels  at least 2

 

Large Trash Cans : about 6

 

locking cabinets : several

 

magazines : for reading area

 

markers

 

Money or gift cards to purchass items

 

movies : DVD's for movie days

 

napkins

 

other cookers

Renee Burchfield

other Utensils

 

Paper cups

 

paper note books for seniors for Classes

 

paper plates

 

paper products for clients in need

 

pens

 

plants : for décor

 

plastic ware

 

Plates : about 50

 

Playing Cards : Several

 

pool table

Robert Phillips

popcorn : for movie day

 

popcorn machine

 

puzzles & puzzle books

 

Radio with tape/cd player

 

rubber bands

 

rugs for door areas

 

scissors : several

 

shelving / shelves lots

 

sign for Senior Center

 

Silver ware

 

sponsor for Basic Cable TV

 

Stand for Sign in Center

 

standing cooler : for drinks and food items

 

storage bags : all sizes

 

tables  several , folding : for activities

 

Tea Pitchers : a few

 

thumb tacks

 

tinfoil, plastic wrap etc.

 

totes : need a lot , for storage of Activities etc

 

towels : Small hand towles

 

Trays for lunches : about 50

 

walkie talkies : 4

 

wireless headphone for telephone

 

 

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:

  • Amelia Bell, Glenwood Elementary School;
  • Amy Fuqua, Linden Elementary School; and
  • Lisa Meidl, Willow Brook Elementary School.

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.

  • February 10, 2015 – Water/Sewer Committee Meeting, 5:30 p.m.
  • February 11, 2015 –City Court, 8:00 AM
  • February 17, 2015 – Planning Commission, 6:00 p.m.
  • February 19, 2015 –City Council Meeting, 7:00 p.m.

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.

 

Free tax assistance for AC residents

 

The Rocky Top Public Library will once again be a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Tax Site!! This is a FREE service offered to the community by appointment only!! Please make an appointment by calling the library at 865-426-6762 or asking at the front desk!!  Again, the service will be offered by appointment only so call the library today and schedule your time to come in and get your taxes done.  Appointments are being set this week and tax preparation begins next week. 

 

The Oak Ridge Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Group (VITA) is providing free income tax preparation assistance at the former Trinity United Methodist Church building, 320 Robertsville Road, Oak Ridge. Income taxes will be prepared and electronic transmittals will be available - all at no cost to the taxpayer. Taxpayers should bring in their last year's return, all social security cards, W-2's or 1099's, photo identification and current health insurance information.  Also, taxpayers who own their homes should bring all property taxes paid on the home in 2014. All returns will be filed electronically with the IRS - and bank account numbers and routing numbers will be needed for direct deposit of refunds.  VITA will not have IRS forms and Publications available.  The service will be available February 2nd through April 15th.  The service is open to walk-ins only and no appointments will be scheduled.  Hours for tax prep will be from 3 to 7:30 p.m. weekdays and from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm on Saturdays.  For further information contact John Murray at 865-483-6870

 

Tax season = scam season

 

It is tax season and that means it also scam season and the IRS and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department want to warn citizens about a scam making its way into the area.  In the scam that is targeting East Tennessee right now, a scammer calls your house and threatens you with arrest for not paying your taxes.  Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said in a release issued Wednesday that “The Anderson County Sheriff's Department has not received any crime reports on this scam but has been told citizens have been receiving such calls.”  The ACSD and the IRS want to make sure you know that the IRS does not make calls like this and that the IRS does not call you about taxes you might owe without first mailing out a notice.  The IRS will never demand that you pay taxes without allowing you, the taxpayer, to appeal the amount you owe.  Additionally, the IRS does not ask you to use a specific payment method like a prepaid debit or credit card, nor does the IRS ask for credit or debit card numbers over the telephone.  Lastly, the IRS wants you to know they will not threaten you with arrest by a local law enforcement agency for refusing to pay.  If you receive one of these calls, do not give the caller any personal information and please notify your local law enforcement agency immediately.  For more information on this scam please visit: www.irs.gov.

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Scam-Phone-Calls-Continue;-IRS-Identifies-Five-Easy-Ways-to-Spot-Suspicious-Calls
 

Report:  Roane sex offender charged with rape

 

According to the News-Sentinel, a Harriman man listed as a violent sex offender has been charged with repeatedly forcing two Roane County High School special needs students to perform oral sex on him.  28-year-old Matthew Brandon hall was placed on the sex offender registry after pleading guilty in 2008 to charges that he molested at least two children.  The incidents for which Hall now faces charges allegedly occurred the weekend of January 17th and 18th at a house in Harriman and involved a 17-year-old boy and an 18-year-old boy.  The KNS reports that both victims told Roane County Sheriff’s investigators that Hall had been repeatedly forcing them “by physical threats and force” to perform oral sex on him for the past year.  Halls is charged with two counts of rape and with one count of aggravated assault stemming from an alleged incident involving the same teens in December during which Hall is accused of holding a knife to one of their throats during a dispute about a video game.  Hall is being held at the Roane County Jail. 

 

ORT:  Dragon Boat races to return to OR this spring

 

(Oak Ridge Today) The second annual Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival will be held Saturday, May 30, at the Oak Ridge Marina and Pavilion in Melton Lake Park. The annual festival was launched a year ago by the three Rotary clubs of Oak Ridge.

This year, the festival will be preceded by an evening social event and beer garden on Friday, May 29, at the park. For the dragon boat paddlers and other visitors from out of town, the host hotel is Comfort Inn of Oak Ridge.

The festival’s organizing committee is headed by Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson, immediate past president of the Rotary Club of Oak Ridge. Chairs and members of the steering committee and subcommittees are members of this club, the Breakfast Club, and the Sunset Club.

An estimated 5,000 people attended the all-day event last year. Thirty teams competed in dragon boat races. A team from Charlotte, North Carolina, captured the most wins, and two teams from Oak Ridge National Laboratory finished in the top five.

Event sponsorship levels are $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000. The entry fee for one dragon boat team is $850.

A dragon boat is a long, low boat adorned with a snarling dragonhead at the boat’s front end, as in the Chinese tradition. Dragon boat races have become popular events in many U.S. cities, ranging in size from Philadelphia to San Francisco to Chattanooga.

The Dragon Boat Festival races will be an entertaining competition among teams of 20 persons each—18 paddlers, a caller, and a steerer (provided by Dynamic). The teams will come from community employers and organizations, many of which are signing up to become corporate sponsors of the event.

The goals of the committee are to double the number of teams in the races and bring in twice as much money for the Oak Ridge Rotary Community Fund, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The purpose of the fund is to meet needs in the community in educational, children’s, and health programs.

“All proceeds from the event will stay in Oak Ridge and Anderson County,” said Kelly Callison, president of the Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club. “The funds will support literacy projects, science fairs, musical organizations, and local nonprofit service organizations such as the Free Medical Clinic, Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., and Children’s Museum.”

For more information, email Leslie England at jadablade@comcast.net or call her at (865) 318-1910. To register, visit the Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival website at http://oakridge.racedragonboats.com/. You can also access the Oak Ridge Dragon Boat Festival page on Facebook to see announcements and photographs.

 

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. 

 

Charges against Bartley headed to grand jury

 

A Campbell County grand jury will consider possible assault charges against convicted school shooter Kenneth Bartley Jr.  Bartley is facing a charge of with domestic abuse involving his mother following an incident in Caryville in October, some eight months after he was released from prison for the 2005 death of Campbell County High School Assistant Principal Ken Bruce and the wounding of two other school administrators.  Bartley's mother, Rita Broyles, told police he tried to choke her at her Caryville home in October. She managed to break free and call police but by the time they arrived on scene, Bartley had taken off.  He was arrested several hours later and later in the month, was denied bail after a judge said he could be a danger to the community and was considered a flight risk.  On Tuesday, he was in court for a preliminary hearing on a domestic abuse charge and is expected back in court next month on a probation violation stemming from the October incident. 

 

Report:  Man pleads guilty in Roane road rage

 

According to the News-Sentinel, a man accused of road rage has pleaded guilty to felony reckless endangerment in Roane County.  Jefferson Douglas Wyrosdick of Dandridge was accused in an incident on June 8, 2014, where the father of NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne was the victim.   Rocky William Bayne and Wyrosdick were traveling in separate vehicles on Interstate 40 in Roane County when Bayne told a state trooper that Wyrosdick was in front of him and fired a handgun three times in the air, and the shell casings hit his windshield.  Bayne told investigators that Wyrosdick had been tailgating him before passing him as they drove east on I-40. Wyrosdick admitted to the trooper that he fired the shots to scare Bayne and reportedly said "that if he had stopped and confronted the victim, he would have shot him.”  Wyrosdick pleaded guilty Monday to felony reckless endangerment in Roane County Criminal Court and was placed on probation for two years and ordered to attend anger management classes and traffic school.  Wyrosdick also forfeited the 9 mm handgun used in the incident and surrendered his handgun carry permit as he is now a felon prohibited form carrying a gun. 

 

CNS aiding homeless veterans

 

(Submitted) Consolidated Nuclear Security’s donation of $25,000 to the Helen Ross McNabb Center’s Veterans Housing Project served as one of the final building blocks in the $1.83-million effort to provide permanent housing to homeless veterans who have mental illnesses. On Dec. 15, the ribbon was cut on the first apartment building, and the first four homeless veterans moved into their new homes in time to celebrate Christmas. 

The CNS donation helped fund the newly constructed Cedar Crossing apartment building on Coster Road in Knoxville, which provides eight one-bedroom units. The second phase of the project is rehabilitating a former apartment complex off Washington Pike that will provide another 15 apartment homes. The three-building Washington Oaks renovation is expected to be completed by March 2015. 

“The CNS donation helped the Helen Ross McNabb Center meet its goal to complete 23 units of housing for homeless veterans living with mental illness. We would not be able to complete the project without your support,” said Helen Ross McNabb Center Director of Community Relations Emily Scheuneman. She added that three additional veterans are preparing to move into Cedar Crossing. Counting the unit manager, the building will be filled.  

CNS Chief Operating Officer Morgan Smith attended the ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the apartments. 

“A significant number of veterans continue their service to our country through their work at the Y-12 National Security Complex.  CNS has made this donation in honor of them, and all veterans, in recognition of their willing sacrifice to our country.  It is our sincere hope that Cedar Crossing will provide a vibrant home for veterans who are having a difficult time readjusting to civilian life,” Smith said.

Jerry Vagnier, president and CEO of the Helen Ross McNabb Center, said the housing project will provide veterans with more than merely a temporary roof over their heads. Veterans Administration case managers and their counterparts from the Helen Ross McNabb Center will provide ongoing services to the permanent residents. 

“This new facility will provide veterans facing mental illness and homelessness with stability and a place to call home,” Vagnier said “In this type of environment, they can get the help and support they need to lead healthy and successful lives. 

“For the McNabb Center to be able to provide housing for people that are homeless and are veterans, there really is no higher calling. It's just amazing, and the community support we've had on this project just blows me away frankly," he said. 

In addition to the CNS donation, funding for the project was provided by the United Way of Greater Knoxville, the City of Knoxville, Knox County Government, Tennessee Housing Development Agency, Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, the Mike Hammond Concert Series, and private donors.

 

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:

  • Monday January 26th, 11am-6pm, Badcock Home Furniture 511 West Central Ave. in Lafollette
  • Tuesday January 27th, 8am-3pm, Tennessee Technology Center, 265 Elkins Road in Caryville
  • Friday February 6th, 12n-7pm, Jacksboro United Methodist Church behind the courthouse in Jacksboro.

 

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.

 

Centrus announces extension with UT-Battelle

 

(Submitted)  Centrus Energy Corp. announced today that UT-Battelle, LLC, as operator of the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has exercised its option to extend the American Centrifuge Technology Demonstration and Operations Agreement (ACTDO Agreement) by six months from March 31 to September 30, 2015. ORNL had previously exercised an option to extend the agreement through March 31, 2015.

Centrus, which has invested more than $2.5 billion to develop the only U.S.-origin uranium enrichment technology available for national and energy security purposes, acts as a subcontractor to ORNL through its wholly owned subsidiary American Centrifuge Operating, LLC. The national laboratory has been tasked by the Department of Energy (DOE) to assist in developing a path forward for achieving a reliable and economic domestic uranium enrichment capability that supports national security.

The ACTDO Agreement requires the company to furnish technical reports and data to ORNL from the cascade operations at Centrus' Piketon, Ohio, facility and from the core American Centrifuge research and technology activities at Centrus' Oak Ridge, Tenn. facilities.

"Our American Centrifuge team continues to make solid progress executing the ACTDO agreement," said Steven R. Penrod, vice president, American Centrifuge. "We are operating a cascade of machines and demonstrating this remarkable uranium enrichment technology that is capable of supporting our country's national security objectives. We appreciate ORNL's confidence in our team's work through their support of this six-month extension."

Under the extended subcontract, Centrus will continue these operations in Ohio and Tennessee. The FY2015 omnibus appropriations bill signed by President Obama on December 16, 2014, provides $97.2 million in funding for domestic uranium enrichment research, development and demonstration. This appropriation provides funding for the continuation of the ACTDO Agreement for the remainder of the federal government's fiscal year through September 30, 2015. A bipartisan consensus in Congress and the administration recognized the importance of maintaining the American Centrifuge technology for national and energy security purposes.

The ACTDO Agreement is a firm fixed-price contract. The agreement provided two options to extend the contract for six months, each at a price of $41.7 million for each option period. The total price of the contract including options is approximately $117 million.

Pursuant to the FY2015 omnibus appropriations bill, DOE is currently examining long-range options for meeting the government's need for enriched uranium to support national security. DOE is expected to report its findings to Congress later this year. Centrus remains committed to working closely with DOE and Congress to maintain and deploy this technology to serve national security and energy security needs.

 

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. 

 

Elderly OR attorney appears in court

 

Following up on a story we brought you Wednesday, 94-year-old alternate Oak Ridge Judge William Tunnell made his first appearance in court on an aggravated assault charge stemming from an incident that occurred in November.  Tunnell remains free on a $50,000 signature bond in connection to the November 21st incident.  Tunnell is accused of hitting a man with his car after the victim and some other passersby helped him up after he fell walking to his car at the intersection of Waltham Lane and West outer Drive in Oak Ridge.  Charles Smallwood told investigators that he and the other good Samaritans had noticed a large cut on the back of Tunnell’s head and tried to get him to stick around until first responders arrived.  Smallwood said that he stood in front of Tunnell’s car to prevent him from leaving, but Tunnell allegedly cursed at him and threatened to run him over before putting the car into “drive” and striking Smallwood, who was treated at UT Medical Center and released that same evening.  Tunnell has denied the allegations.  During Wednesday’s appearance in Oak Ridge General Sessions Court, Judge Roger Miller recused himself on the grounds that he knows Tunnell, whose office is next door to the court building.  Judge Don Layton will also likely have to recuse himself and it will be up to him to find an area judge who does not have any potential conflicts of interest.  

 

THP:  Woman killed on I-75

 

A 66-year-old LaFollette woman was killed in a Wednesday-morning traffic accident on I-75 North in Campbell County.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol says that Janice Osborne had been haded north in a 2008 Toyota RAV4 at around 10:20 am and was traveling in the inside lane near mile marker 160 south of Jellico, when her car crossed into the path of a 2004 GMC pickup truck driven by an Ohio man.  After the collision with the pickup, Osborne’s car crashed through the guardrail and came to rest just off the interstate.  Osborne died in the wreck despite wearing her seatbelt.  The occupants of the other vehicle—Steven and Tara Kniceley of Hamilton, Ohio—were injured in the accident but the report does not indicate the nature or severity of their injuries. 

 

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

 

ORT:  Tunnell charged with aggravated assault

 

According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, 94-year-old William Lawrence Tunnell, an alternate Oak Ridge city judge who is believed to be the oldest practicing attorney in Tennessee, was arrested January 13 for allegedly hitting a man with his car and knocking him to the ground in November.  Tunnell has been charged with one count of aggravated assault and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning.  The incident occurred on the evening of November 21st at the intersection of West Outer Drive and Waltham Lane.  Witnesses and victim Charles Smallwood said Tunnell had fallen while walking back to his vehicle and said they helped Tunnell to his feet and then back to his vehicle. The witnesses and victim said they noticed a large cut on the back of Tunnell’s head and tried to get him to stay at the scene until medical personnel could respond.  Smallwood told officers that he stepped in front of Tunnell’s vehicle to prevent him from leaving. 

At that point, Tunnell allegedly cursed at Smallwood and threatened to hit him with his car, before “[placing] his vehicle in the drive position and [striking] the victim, knocking him to the ground.”  Smallwood was taken by ambulance to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.  Contacted Tuesday by Oak Ridge Today on Tuesday, Tunnell denied any wrongdoing.  Tunnell is also the oldest judge in Tennessee and is on the list to be an alternate city judge but hasn’t served in at least a year, according to the Oak Ridge City Court Clerk.  For more, visit www.oakridgetoday.com.  

 

Follow-Up:  More on January Commission meeting

 

The Anderson County Commission held its quarterly day meeting this morning.  One of the early highlights of the meeting was the formal introduction to commissioners of Mary Ann Young, a Clinton native who was recently hired as the director of the county’s Alternatives to Incarceration program.  Also introduced to commissioners—and whose hiring was unanimously approved by the Commission—was new Human Resources Director Russell Bearden.  Bearden replaces Kathy Best, who left her post for a job in the private sector.  Prior to coming to Anderson County, Bearden has spent over 20 years in human resources, primarily in industries, most recently at Kimble Chase Life Science/Gerresheimer in Rockwood, a company that makes glass labware components. 

Commissioners unanimously approved up to $4200 to match a grant received by the Marlow Volunteer Fire Department for 16 air packs for firefighters. 

The Commission also 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 Mayor Frank requested a legal opinion on changing the language of the resolution to ostensibly strip her of that power. Chairman Robert McKamey assured commissioners and members of the audience that he will await a legal opinion before signing the deed. 

Commissioners unanimously voted to fund one-time bonuses for the county’s 336 employees to help make up for the fact that they have not received pay raises in several years due to tight budgets.  Employees who were on the county’s payroll as of January 1st, 2014 will receive a bonus of approximately $675.  The money will come from money in the county’s undesignated fund balance—or rainy day fund—over the $4 million minimum threshold established last year by the Commission for the general fund. 

The Commission also unanimously approved passage of amended language to the Private Act that that created the Law Director’s office in 2006 to replace language suggesting that the Law Director also act as the county’s delinquent tax attorney upon selection by the Trustee and approval of the mayor to require the law director to act in that role. That private act also gives final approval of the Trustee’s choice for delinquent tax attorney to the County Commission, replacing the mayor.  Mayor Frank says she will veto the private act and seek an opinion from the State Attorney General’s office as to whether the commission’s maneuver passes constitutional muster.

The Commission also approved a Private Act that will maintain the presence of satellite locations for the County Clerk and Trustees’ offices in the northeast section of Anderson County and in Oak Ridge. 

The final major piece of business was an override of the mayor’s veto of a resolution that would require any bills for outside legal counsel to be vetted by the Commission Chairman and the Law Director.  The override passed overwhelmingly.

 

Several area football players recognized

 

The News-Sentinel’s PrepXtra Football Team was announced this morning and several area players are represented.  The First Team Offense features Campbell County QB Ethan Jeffers; Anderson County RB Matt Fox; Oak Ridge WR Tee Higgins and Coalfield OL Zach Stewart.  The Second team Offense includes Clinton QB Tyler Thackerson; Campbell County WR Trey Torres; Oak Ridge TE Darel Middleton and Oak Ridge OL Isaac Chapman.  The First Team Defense features Oak Ridge punter Brandon Nickle.  The Second team Defense includes Anderson County DB Garrett Johnson and four Oak Ridge players—DL Shawmain Fleming, DBs Jemiah Hall and Ted Mitchell and Athlete Brandon Bonds.

 

ORAU awarded EPA contract

 

Oak Ridge Associated Universities recently won a five-year contract worth up to $89 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to manage the EPA Environmental Research and Business Support Program, which provides opportunities for exceptional undergraduate and recent bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral graduates to participate in the EPA-sanctioned research and administrative projects.

Through this work, ORAU will recruit and place employees at 13 EPA Office of Research and Development laboratories and research centers across the U.S.  These participants in both business, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields will receive hands-on training in real-world settings at these laboratories and research centers while contributing to EPA’s mission, a press release said.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to support EPA’s research and administrative goals,” said ORAU President and CEO Andy Page. “ORAU has a long history of successfully managing large-scale science and education programs, and we are already taking applications for this exciting new program.”

Interested students and recent graduates can learn more about these opportunities and apply for appointments for this program by visiting www.orau.org/epa.

 

4 ORHS students receive computer awards

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Four Oak Ridge High School students won state honors, and one student was a national winner—the first from East Tennessee—in computing awards given to young women in 2015.

The Award for Aspirations in Computing by the National Center for Women and Technology honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests, a press release said. Awardees are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.

The four ORHS students were among 11 state winners from Tennessee. The Oak Ridge students are Olivia Bookout, Patricia Edou, Serena French, and Indigo Jackson.

Edou was also one of 35 national winners for the 2015 Award for Aspirations in Computing, the first national winner from East Tennessee, and the second-ever national winner from the state of Tennessee.

All winners are students of Keith Jackson, math and computer science teacher and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) coach at Oak Ridge High School.

The press release said the winners were selected from a record 2,691 applicants from across the nation. The 2015 state winners will be honored at Tennessee Technical University on February 21.

The national winners will also be honored at the Bank of America Technology Stars of the Future Showcase and Awards Ceremony on March 7 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Each national winner will receive a $500 cash prize, laptop computer, and two engraved trophies, one for her and one for her school.

 

THP:  One killed in big rig wreck

 

A Warren County man was killed in a single-vehicle accident Friday afternoon in Roane County.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol says that 49-year-old Timothy Seaman of Rock Island, Tennessee had been driving a tractor-trailer hauling wooden posts north on Harriman Highway shortly before 12:30 pm Friday when the truck left the right side of the road and slammed into a utility pole.  Trooper Anthony Lay reported that Seaman had been wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.  The cause of Friday’s wreck remains under investigations but early indications are that Seaman may have suffered a medical episode in the moments before the crash.  No other vehicles were involved and no one else was traveling in Seaman’s rig. 

 

Man facing numerous charges after wreck, chase

 

A Clinton man was arrested on several charges Thursday night after a series of events that began with him allegedly leaving the scene of an accident and culminated with him allegedly assaulting emergency responders.  Deputies responded to a report of a wreck on Clinton Highway at Bull Run Road in Claxton at around 8 pm Thursday and were informed while en route that one of the vehicles had left the scene.  A short time later, a call was received about a car stopped in the middle of the roadway on Bull Run and when deputies responded, they found 34-year-old Larry Eugene Ward Jr. slumped over in the driver’s seat.  The car had heavy front-end damage and when the deputy spoke to Ward, he reported that he could smell alcohol and that Ward told him he was parked in front of the Hitching Post on Clinton Highway.  When Deputy Robert Collins called for a paramedic to check Ward out, Claxton Deputy Fire Chief Donnie Shipley responded as did Constable Jennings Foust.  As Collins briefed the other two men, Ward started the car and tried to drive off.  Foust reached in and tried to remove the key from the ignition and had it not been for Shipley and Collins pulling him away, would have been dragged by the car or under it, as it narrowly missed running his legs over.  After a brief chase, Ward allegedly turned around in the front yard of a nearby home and collided with the deputy’s cruiser, then got back on the road and collided with an EMS vehicle and Foust’s car as they tried to block his escape.  Ward’s car became disabled and he fled on foot into a field.  Shipley and Collins tried to restrain Ward, who did not comply with commands to surrender until threatened with a taser.  Foust suffered only minor injuries in the incident.  Ward was charged with three counts each of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and reckless driving; two counts each of evading arrest and resisting arrest; and one count of public intoxication.  He is also facing a list of moving violations too long to mention here and, as of this morning, was being held at the Anderson County Jail without bond pending arraignment.  

 

Accidental fire damages home

 

A fire damaged a home on West Wolf Valley Road early Thursday morning.  Shortly before 1 am, a neighbor called 911 to report that the home at 3244 West Wolf valley was on fire.  The Claxton, Medford and Andersonville Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the scene and extinguished the blaze.  The homeowner was out of town and was reached by telephone, telling deputies he would return to Anderson County sometime today (Friday).  The cause of the fire is unknown but appears to have been accidental.  There is no estimate on damage done to the home included in the ACSD’s incident report. 

 

State:  Fire deaths in TN on the decline

 

Tennessee's fire mortality rate is continuing to decline. In 2014, 72 people died in an accidental fire, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office. In 2013, the number was 98.  Fire officials say education is a key in the reduced number of deaths and encourage citizens to check and replace their smoke alarm batteries each time the time changes going into and out of daylight Savings Time.  Fire authorities encourage all residents to plan an exit route should fire break out. They also urge residents to get out promptly and stay out. No one should go back into a burning structure, authorities warn.  Tennessee historically has had a high fire mortality rate in the U.S., along with other Southern states, according to state officials.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, the fire death rate per million people has been going down significantly over time since 1980.  Mississippi had the highest average fire death rate in the most recent five years of data analyzed, 2006-10.  Poverty, smoking, a rural location and household education appeared to be common factors among leading states.

 

CPD, ACSD brief media on POTUS prep

 

Of course, last week’s big news in Anderson County was the visit to our fair little town by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.  Many people lined the streets to watch the spectacle of the presidential motorcade roll through town and let the White House contingent know we appreciated their visit to our community.  What many people were not aware of was the amount of work and preparation that went into securing the motorcade’s route on the part of local officials.  Earlier this week, Clinton Police Chief Rick Scarbrough and Anderson County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Lucas gave the press a brief rundown of their respective departments’ involvement and that of other agencies in making sure the visit went smoothly.  Describing the week as “exciting but stressful,” Scarbrough said he was notified of the potential for the visit during halftime of the Tennessee bowl game against Iowa, the Friday before the visit, and received confirmation of the visit Sunday afternoon.  That began a week filled with meetings with the Secret Service and an amazing collaboration of resources.  The effort included not only the CPD and ACSD, but also contributions from the city Fire and Public Works departments, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and TWRA.  While Secret Service agents focused on security, local authorities blocked off some 51 intersections between the Oak Ridge city limits and the Eagle Bend Industrial Park and focused on traffic and crowd control.  The ACSD had 48 officers take part in the operation while some 40 to 45 public safety personnel and another 10 to 15 Public Works employees took part in the local effort.  Chief Lucas said that the pre-existing cooperative relationships between local agencies made the coordination of resources easier.  The cost of the endeavor to the city and the county has not yet been tabulated, but Chief Scarbrough said that in addition to making sure the visit was safe for the travelers from Washington, the massive effort also allowed officials to determine where their coordinated efforts need some work in the event of a future mass-turnout event like last week’s visit.  There were no incidents along the motorcade route except for a Sheriff’s patrol car that was rear-ended by an inattentive driver, causing only minor damage and no injuries.  Both men said the Secret Service indicated they were pleased with the city and county’s performance during last week’s historic visit.

 

Lillard re-elected State Treasurer

 

(State Treasurer’s office) Members of the 109th General Assembly reelected, by acclamation, David H. Lillard to a fourth term as Tennessee State Treasurer. The State Treasurer is a Constitutional Officer elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term. In his official capacity, Treasurer Lillard oversees the Tennessee Treasury Department and its more than 250 employees. The Treasury Department internally manages over $45 billion in state and local government funds. Since he was first elected, Treasurer Lillard has championed issues of financial literacy and has strived to provide Tennesseans with financial tools to lead to a better quality of life, such as creating the Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission and the TN Stars™ 529 College Savings Program. In late 2014, the TNStars 529 College Savings program was recognized as one of the top direct-sold plans in the nation based on one year investment performance. The Tennessee Financial Literacy Commission has worked to educate approximately 2,000 Tennessee K-8 school teachers to incorporate the nationally recognized Financial Fitness for Life™ curriculum in their classrooms. Teachers receive training by attending one of the many regional summits held across state. Both the training and the curriculum are provided at no cost to the teacher. 

Under Treasurer Lillard’s leadership, the Treasury Department proposed, and the 108th General Assembly enacted, reforms to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement Systems (TCRS), the state pension plan. These reforms created a hybrid pension plan with cost controls effective for state, higher education and K-12 teachers hired on or after July 1, 2014. The restructured plan has been recognized as an aggressive, innovative reform that substantially reduces the costs to the state while providing a sufficient and sustainable benefit for State and higher education employees, K-12 public school teachers and employees of electing local government entities. TCRS is valued at more than $42 Billion and was recognized by Standard and Poor’s as the sixth best funded public employee defined benefit retirement system in the Nation. 

“It has been an honor to serve our state in this position since 2009. With the support of the General Assembly, the Treasury Department has been able to accomplish a lot of great things for our state.” said Treasurer Lillard. “I am honored to serve a fourth term and grateful to the General Assembly for the opportunity to continue to serve Tennessee as a faithful steward of our state’s financial and human resources.” 

Treasurer Lillard is active as an advocate for Tennessee’s position on national financial issues that impact our state and our nation through the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST). He was elected by state treasurers across the county to serve as the national President of NAST for 2015. He is the first Tennessee Republican to serve as president of NAST.

 

Wilson re-elected State Comptroller

 

(State Comptroller’s office) The members of the Tennessee Senate and House have re-elected Justin P. Wilson to serve as the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury. The vote by acclamation was taken during Wednesday’s joint convention of the 109th General Assembly.   

Wilson is Tennessee’s 34th Comptroller of the Treasury and was re-elected to his fourth two-year term. He leads a staff of more than 500 employees. 

The Comptroller’s duties include the audit of state and local government entities and participation in the general financial and administrative management and oversight of state government. 

“I am very pleased to serve a fourth term as Tennessee’s Comptroller,” said Comptroller Wilson. “I appreciate the General Assembly’s support and confidence, and I pledge to continue our office’s mission of improving the quality of life for all Tennesseans by making government work better.” 

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.

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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

 

Our partners at Oak Ridge Today report there were no injuries in a house fire late Thursday morning on Foxwood Circle in Oliver Springs.  The Oliver Springs Fire Department was able to respond quickly—arriving within four minutes—because of a new standby program. That program uses the Fire Department’s volunteers to staff the station with firefighters to improve staffing levels and allow faster response times, said Justin Bailey, Oliver Springs assistant fire chief.  He said Thursday’s porch fire at 120 Foxwood Circle was reported at 11:50 a.m., and it extended into the home’s attic. The fire was brought under control within 30 minutes with help from the Oak Ridge Fire Department and Marlow Volunteer Fire Department through an automatic mutual-aid program.

Bailey said fire damage was contained to the back porch and attic space. Other damage included smoke and water to lower levels of the structure.  The American Red Cross was notified to provide help to the family during the extremely cold weather conditions, Bailey said. There were no injuries to the occupants or firefighters.  Bailey said the new standby program started January 1, and Thursday’s fire was the first structure fire since it started.  “There is no increased cost to the citizens of Oliver Springs with the implementation of this program,” Bailey said.

 

Vann pleads not guilty in Daugherty disappearance, presumed death

 

A former Campbell County teacher, accused of murdering and kidnapping a LaFollette woman, pleaded not guilty in court Monday morning.  A grand jury indicted 44-year-old Lonnie Lee Vann of Jacksboro on charges of  first-degree murder and kidnapping in the disappearance of 49-year-old Rhonda Daugherty. According to court documents, the grand jurors found that Vann "intentionally and with premeditation" killed Daughtery on Dec. 2, 2014 or around that date. Authorities haven't supplied information as to why Vann is linked to Daugherty's presumed death.  Authorities accuse Vann of fleeing the area after he killed Daughtery.  Police in Myrtle Beach pulled Vann over on Highway 501 and arrested him without any problems on Dec. 12th.  Three days before Vann's arrest, officials claim he followed a couple into a hotel, broke into their room, and stole their wallets.  Less than a week before that robbery, officials said Vann robbed a Campbell County couple at gunpoint.   Authorities also accuse Vann of trying to kiss and hug a 13-year-old female student in Campbell County in Oct. 2013. Investigators claim Vann left LaFollette Middle School with the student and took her to a nearby church. Officials said after the incident, Vann altered images on the church's security camera recordings.  In July, a grand jury indicted Vann on charges of solicitation of a minor, tampering with evidence and assault.  Rhonda Daughtery's husband, Charles, is a witness in that case.  Vann's next court hearing is scheduled for April. The court appointed him a lawyer on Monday.

 

THP urges caution in cold weather

 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) is urging citizens to prepare for weather-related problems on the roads across the state this winter. Motorists are encouraged to dial *THP (*847) from a mobile phone for state trooper assistance in case of a roadside emergency. 

“We want to make sure all Tennesseans are prepared in case they become stranded on the roads this winter. State troopers are standing by to assist motorists in the event of a roadside emergency during these extreme cold temperatures,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said.  

Citizens who dial *THP (*847) from their cell phones will be connected to the nearest THP Communications Center. The next available state trooper will be dispatched to the area to assist.  

Motorists should also prepare their vehicles in case of an emergency on Tennessee roadways. Emergency supplies in vehicles should include, but are not limited to, blankets, water, a windshield scraper, a flash light with fresh batteries, jumper cables and a first aid kit. Additionally, motorists should ensure the vehicle has plenty of fuel and that tires are properly inflated.  

During ice or snow in Tennessee, if you must travel, please use extreme caution and take the roadways that have been treated with salt or brine.  

Most importantly, motorists should always buckle up and make sure all passengers are properly restrained in the vehicle at all times, especially during inclement weather. 

Visit the following link for road safety tips from the state’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security:http://www.tn.gov/safety/10things2know.shtml.

 

ORT:  More on presidential foray in to ET

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Inspired by programs in Tennessee and Chicago, President Barack Obama has unveiled a proposal to make two years of community college free for anyone who’s willing to work for it, the White House said Thursday.

The White House said 57,000 students representing almost 90 percent of the state’s high school graduating class applied for the Tennessee scholarship program, which is called Tennessee Promise, in the first year. It provides two years of community or technical college to graduating high school seniors free of tuition and fees.

The federal program is called America’s College Promise, and it could benefit roughly nine million students each year, officials said. A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year.

The president is expected to announce the proposal in Knoxville on Friday, when he visits Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley and manufacturer Techmer PM in Clinton. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill will join Obama on the East Tennessee trip.

The president is also expected to discuss his proposal during the State of the Union on January 20.

Under Obama’s new proposal, students would be able to earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree, or earn the technical skills needed in the workforce—all at no cost to them, the White House said.

During his Friday visit, Obama is also expected to launch a new manufacturing innovation hub.

Here are the proposed requirements for America’s College Promise:

Students must attend community college at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 grade point average, and make steady progress toward completing their program.

Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that are either:

  • academic programs that fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges and universities, or
  • occupational training programs with high graduation rates that lead to in-demand degrees and certificates. Community colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes.

Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. Participating states will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate the tuition for eligible students.

The president also proposed a new American Technical Training Fund to expand innovative, high-quality technical training programs similar to Tennessee Tech Centers that meet employer needs and help prepare more Americans for better paying jobs, the White House said.

Specifically, the fund will award programs that:

  • have strong employer partnerships and include work-based learning opportunities,
  • provide accelerated training, and
  • accommodate part-time work.

The White House said an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree by 2020, and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree.

 “The America’s College Promise proposal would create a new partnership with states to help them waive tuition in high-quality programs for responsible students, while promoting key reforms to help more students complete at least two years of college,” the press release said. “Restructuring the community college experience, coupled with free tuition, can lead to gains in student enrollment, persistence, and completion transfer, and employment.”

 

Vann charged with Rhonda Daugherty’s kidnapping, murder

 

Former Campbell County middle school teacher turned TBI Most Wanted Fugitive Lonnie Vann has been indicted by a Campbell County grand jury on charges of kidnapping and first-degree murder in the now-presumed death of 49-year-old Rhonda Daugherty, who disappeared from her home in the Coolidge community on December 2nd.  Her body has never been found, but the TBI said during a press conference Wednesday that agents “developed information” that led them to look at the 44-year-old Vann as a suspect but declined to specify what that information was.  Vann was added to the TBI’s Most Wanted List in December after allegedly robbing a Campbell County couple of cash and weapons at gunpoint, tying them up and taking their car to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  There, he is accused of robbing another couple at gunpoint and was arrested following a traffic stop and held on charges from both Tennessee and South Carolina.  He is currently being held in South Carolina on a $1 million bond and authorities hope to return him to Tennessee to face charges in the Daugherty case.  At the time of his alleged December “crime spree,” he was already under indictment on charges of soliciting a minor, tampering with evidence and assault in an incident in the fall of 2013 in which he is accused of taking a 13-year-old girl off-campus while employed as a teacher and tried to kiss her in the parking lot a church, Coolidge First Baptist Church, where he is also accused of altering video surveillance tapes to conceal evidence in the case.  According to court documents, Rhonda Daugherty’s husband Charles is listed as a witness against Vann in that case but the TBI and Sheriff’s Department officials declined to discuss any possible connection between that fact and her disappearance and presumed death.  The search for Rhonda Daugherty has involved dozens of volunteers and the assistance of several area search and rescue agencies but so far has yielded no sign of her.  If you have information in the case, the CCSO encourages you to call them at 423-562-7446.  A $10,000 reward for information in the case is being offered.  

 

(TBI) A former Top 10 fugitive who had been wanted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for armed robbery has now been charged with killing a woman who had been reported missing in Campbell County more than a month ago.  Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of kidnapping, the TBI said in a press release Wednesday, the same day a Campbell County grand jury returned the indictments.  At the request of 8th District Attorney General Jared Effler, TBI special agents, helped by investigators from the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies in East Tennessee, began investigating the disappearance of Rhonda Daugherty on December 4. The 49-year woman went missing from her home on December 2.  “Through the course of the investigation, special agents developed information that led them to Lonnie Lee Vann as the individual responsible for Mrs. Daugherty’s death,” the TBI said.  On December 5, Vann was placed on the TBI Top 10 Most Wanted list as a fugitive wanted for two counts of armed robbery from an incident earlier that day in Lafollette. Vann was captured without incident in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a week later and has been held there since his arrest.  Vann is a Jacksboro resident and former Campbell County middle school teacher. He is awaiting extradition back to Campbell County. He is being held on a $1 million bond on the new charges, the press release said.

 

Fire at Clinton Towers injures none, displaces 30

 

What was described as a “room and content” fire at the Clinton Towers on Seivers Boulevard Wednesday night caused some damage and displaced about 30 residents.  The fire was reported at around 11 pm inside a room on the second floor injured no one as Fire Chief Archie Brummitt says that the sprinkler system inside the room “did its job,” allowing firefighters to completely extinguish the blaze within just a few minutes of their arrival, but described the room as a “total loss.”  Several other rooms suffered smoke and water damage.  The cause of the fire appears to be accidental and while the exact cause is unknown, the fire may have started in the room’s heating unit.  The Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.  We will bring you more information as it becomes available. 

 

Isbel invites Obama, Bidens to Rocky Top

 

Anderson County Commissioner Tim Isbel has written a letter to the White House asking that on Friday, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, include a stop in Rocky Top as part of their foray into Anderson County and east Tennessee.  Describing the town formerly known as Lake City as a “small, impoverished coal mining community…[where] 50% of the current population lives below the poverty level,” Isbel lays out the transformation to Rocky Top and some of the ambitious plans to revitalize the city.  Those plans include a proposed 450-acre waterfront amusement park and “an American owned and operated Denim jeans manufacturing plant where all the jeans will be 100% American made with 100% American materials.”  Isbel’s letter—posted on our website’s Local Information News page—he invites the trio to visit the proposed sites as a way to “propel these business ventures to reach fruition and provide over a thousand Americans employment opportunities.”  The letter also offers incentives in the form of custom-made Marc Nelson Rocky Top Tri Star jeans and Marc Nelson Rocky, Top Tennessee 37769 t-shirts to the President, Vice President and both of their wives.  As of this morning, Isbel had not received a response from the White House but we will keep you posted. 

 

(Commissioner Isbel’s letter to the White House) 

I am writing this letter to respectfully ask for your assistance in the resurgence of a small impoverished coal mining community that was very instrumental in the development of this great nation, during the Industrial Revolution, due to the ability to produce coal.  Since the decline of the coal industry, this community has suffered economically and 50% of the current population lives below the poverty level. 

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Tim Isbel, the Anderson County Commissioner that represents this community of Lake City, Tennessee.  Just over a year ago, the Mayor and City Council of Lake City and myself set out to change the direction of the city.  This city, nestled between Norris Lake and the Cumberland Mountains, has the assets of having two major interchanges off the I-75 corridor, an abundance of uninhabited property, existing infrastructure, and just 25 miles from Knoxville, Tennessee and interstate I-40.  We realized that there was not a city named Rocky Top in Tennessee.  We petitioned the state of Tennessee to change our name to Rocky Top to draw attention to the area and make our town a tourist destination.  The state of Tennessee has allowed the name change and also awarded this community a three year tax incentive to assist in the development.  This undertaking has yielded several opportunities such as a proposed 450 acre waterfront amusement park and an American owned and operated Denim jeans manufacturing plant where all the jeans will be 100% American made with 100% American materials.

The mayor and city council of Rocky Top, Marc Nelson with Marc Nelson Denim, and myself would cordially like to invite you, Vice President Biden, and Mrs. Biden to visit the proposed site for the denim manufacturing plant and proposed waterfront amusement park.  We feel your blessings could propel these business ventures to reach fruition and provide over a thousand Americans employment opportunities.  Marc Nelson would like to present you, Mrs. Obama, Vice President Biden, and Mrs. Biden a custom pair of Marc Nelson Rocky Top Tri Star jeans and a Marc Nelson Rocky Top, Tennessee 37769 T-shirt, American made items to be manufactured in Rocky Top, Tennessee.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

 

Tim Isbel

Anderson County, TN Commissioner, District 4

 

Despite party differences, Frank calls visit “honor”

 

Despite the president's admitted lack of popularity in Anderson County, a county that twice heavily voted against him in Presidential elections, most people seem to share the sentiment that the historic visit by the President and Vice President is indeed an “honor” and will have a long-lasting positive impact on Clinton and Anderson County.  County Mayor Terry Frank, herself a staunch Republican, called the visit a “big win” for the county and added:  “When the President comes, it’s going to shine a spotlight on our accomplishments.  Why is he here?  He’s here because we know how to work hard, we know how to bring business, we know ho to get the job done, we know how to generate profits for businesses that generate more profits and create prosperity for people in this country.”  She also remarked that while presidents have in the past visited the region, never before “have the President and Vice President come right into the heart of [Anderson County]…the Sheriff’s department and the Clinton Police Department been engaged in the security detail, and the traffic detail and so this is an ‘all-in’ moment for Anderson County.  That’s pretty exciting…and of course, the pageantry of a Presidential motorcade is going to be exciting.”  With the guest list at Techmer PM a closely-guarded secret and apparently very exclusive, Mayor Frank says that she has not received an invitation to the event in Clinton, saying that to her knowledge, the only local official who has told her he has been invited is Clinton Mayor Scott Burton.  WYSH will cover the Presidential visit beginning Friday morning on the Country Club Morning Show. 

 

City Manager:  Visit an ‘honor,’ cost to city unknown

 

Clinton City Manager Roger Houck told WYSH this morning that for a city of Clinton’s size, being chosen for a presidential visit is an honor and worth the extra effort that local officials have been making this week.  Houck also talked about how the visit will give national attention to the city, its attractiveness for both companies and potential employees and even more economic development.  Houck also said that the extra costs to the city associated with the visit, which will not be reimbursed by the White House, are unclear at this time but will be worked out over the next couple of weeks. 

 

AC Health Department offering free flu shots

 

Flu season is here, with seasonal influenza cases now reported across Tennessee.

The Anderson County Health Department is working to protect the entire community by providing free flu vaccinations to area residents until vaccine supplies are depleted. Appointments must be made to receive flu vaccine, and they are now being scheduled at the clinic.  “Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, and the Anderson County Health Department, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the CDC recommend that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year,” said Art Miller, county director. “It takes about two weeks to be protected after you get the flu vaccine, so we want everyone who hasn’t had their flu shot to get one right away.”  Flu shots will be provided at no charge to patients. Both adults and children may receive flu vaccine at the clinic.  Please call the Anderson County Health Department at (865) 425-8801 today to book your appointment or for more information.  The clinic is located at 710 North Main Street in Clinton, and it is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 

Statewide traffic deaths down, up in Knoxville area counties

 

(TDOSHS) Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer today announced the preliminary number of traffic fatalities in Tennessee last year and the state’s strategic highway safety plan for 2015. The 2014 traffic fatality numbers include vehicular deaths reported by all Tennessee law enforcement agencies. 

Early figures indicate there were 961 vehicular deaths on Tennessee roadways in 2014. That’s the second lowest traffic fatality number since 1963 and the fifth time traffic deaths have dipped below 1,000 since that year. 

The 2014 traffic fatality figure also represents a 3.4 percent decrease in the number of traffic-related deaths in Tennessee compared to the 995 traffic fatalities in 2013.

While the state saw an overall decrease, the Knoxville District saw an 8 percent increase in the number of deaths from 2013 to 2014, with fatalities climbing from 151 to 164.  Anderson County saw the biggest jump in traffic deaths with 17 last year compared to 10 the previous year.  Traffic deaths in Knox, Blount and Morgan counties declined, but elsewhere Campbell County and Roane County saw an increase from nine the previous year to 11 in Campbell County in 2014 and 10 in Roane.  Union County saw fatalities increase from 3 to 5 last year. 

“Commissioner Schroer and I have a shared goal to make an impact on traffic fatalities in our state,” Commissioner Gibbons said. “Tennessee has experienced record low numbers in three of the last four years; and we hope to continue that trend in the future. We’ll continue to deploy our resources to help reduce fatal crashes across the state,” he added.  

Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Colonel Tracy Trott credited DUI and seat belt enforcement for the decline in traffic-related deaths. State troopers arrested nearly 2,000 more individuals on suspicion of DUI in 2014, compared to 2013. Subsequently, there was an 18.6 percent drop in alcohol-related traffic fatalities from 2013 to 2014 in Tennessee

THP personnel also have experienced a 149 percent increase in the number of DUI arrests since 2010.   

“I know that our traffic enforcement efforts are making a difference in Tennessee,” Colonel Trott said. “Those numbers are not by accident; they are by design. We’ve placed a greater emphasis on removing impaired drivers from our roadways in the last few years and the traffic fatality figures are a result of those efforts.”  

Seat belt and child restraint device education and enforcement efforts were also a priority for the THP.  Tennessee state troopers issued 102,758 seat belt citations in 2014, approximately 28,000 more than the 74,277 citations handed out in 2013. That represents a 225 percent increase in seat belt citations since 2010. 

“Unrestrained motorists still accounted for 50 percent of vehicle occupants killed in 2014,” Trott said. “Seat belts save lives. We have to change driver behavior in order to make a difference there.”   

Other contributing factors in fatal crashes included speed and distracted driving, with 132 and 41 deaths, respectively.

“We’ve made vast improvements in all areas of traffic safety; however, we have much more to accomplish and hope to see even better results in 2015,” Commissioner Gibbons said. 

TDOT Commissioner Schroer presented the department’s plan to improve highway safety in 2015. The Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Tennessee’s comprehensive transportation safety strategy, was first developed in 2004.  

The latest plan adopts a “Toward Zero Deaths” vision statement, which is a national strategy to improve highway safety. The plan’s primary goal is to reduce the number and rate of fatalities by 10 percent within the next five years. 

“Reducing the number of fatalities by 10 percent is a realistic, but challenging goal,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “By designing safer roads, using data driven enforcement and educating drivers, we can make drastic improvements and save hundreds of lives.” 

The Strategic Highway Safety Plan addresses emphasis areas utilizing the “Four E’s of Transportation Safety”: Engineering, Enforcement, Education, and Emergency Response. Strategic Highway Safety Plan emphasis areas include:

·         Data Collection & Analysis

·         Driver Behavior

·         Infrastructure Improvements

·         Vulnerable Road Users

·         Operational Improvements

·         Motor Carrier Safety 

Public safety partners involved with the development of this plan include, TDOT, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Rural Planning Organizations, Tennessee Regional Safety Council, Tennessee Transportation Assistance Program and American Automobile Association.

 

Rockwood PD arrests suspect in City Hall break-in

 

Police in Rockwood have arrested a man they say broke into city hall.  Investigators say Dustin Scarbrough is the man captured on surveillance video Saturday night showing  a man breaking a window at the building.  Officers say Scarbrough got away with about $150 that was in the overnight drop-box.  Police say social media was crucial in Scarbrough's capture.  Scarbrough faces several charges.

 

CHS offensive coordinator to take over Powell program

 

Clinton High School football offensive coordinator Rodney Ellison has been named the new coach at Powell High School in Knoxville.  He previously was head coach at Wartburg for one season in 2011 before coming to Clinton, where he helped revitalize the Dragon program with an up-tempo, spread-style offense. 

 

President Obama, both Bidens headed to Clinton

 

The rumors are true.  President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden’s wife Jill will visit Pellissippi State Community College in west Knox County and Techmer PM right here in Clinton during their visit to East Tennessee on Friday.  The president, vice president, and the vice president’s wife will stop at Pellissippi State in west Knox County to discuss new initiatives that Obama will propose to help Americans go to college and get the skills they need to succeed.  Later, the trio will travel to Techmer PM in Clinton—which manufactures additives and colors for a wide range of plastics—to highlight the administration’s efforts to create new, well-paying manufacturing jobs.  Techmer PM issued a statement on Monday saying, "We're excited that the president and vice president have chosen Techmer PM and Clinton, Tenn., to see our technology."  Local economic development officials hope that the president's visit will help businesses continue the momentum Anderson County and Clinton have picked up over the past couple of years by attracting more skilled labor to the region and getting more companies interested in moving to the area.

Few details of the visit have been released for obvious security reasons, but we did catch up with Clinton Police Chief Rick Scarbrough Tuesday morning to find out what role the CPD will play on Friday:  “Our role is going to be coordinate site security with the Secret Service…we’ve already met with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department and the [numerous] other local agencies that will be involved.  We’ve had briefings and will continue to work throughout the week.  It’s a great opportunity for Clinton to be showcased and we are excited to do whatever we can.”  As far as the logistics of the visit, Scarbrough called it a massive undertaking with a lot of moving parts.  The timing of the visit is being kept under wraps but it is expected to happen in the early afternoon following a morning visit to Pellissippi State.  Scarbrough did tell us that between his department and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, dozens of intersections along the motorcade’s expected route will have to be covered in addition to whatever Oak Ridge Police will have to cover.  Preparation, meetings and briefings will continue throughout the week but Scarbrough says that despite the logistical hassles of a presidential visit, it will be worth it because “just the idea that the President of the United States has chosen to come to Clinton is an honor for us.” 

The visit is part of a week-long, cross-country tour to promote presidential policies on housing, economic development, and education. The president also plans trips to Detroit and Phoenix this week before ending his week in Tennessee.

It will be Obama’s second visit to Tennessee in recent weeks and his third in the last 13 months. The president visited Nashville in December, when he touted the city’s diversity and blossoming immigrant community in a speech highlighting his actions on immigration reform. In January 2014, he visited McGavock High School to call attention to Nashville’s academies as models for successful high school education.

 

ORT:  Jackson Square construction underway

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Construction work has started on the $1 million rebuild of the parking lot area at Jackson Square, Oak Ridge’s original town center.

Crews started putting up construction fencing on Monday. Project executives and city officials plan to complete the work in 180 days, or roughly six months—before the Lavender Festival in June.

The construction contract was awarded to Rich Construction Inc. of Lenoir City by the Oak Ridge City Council in October.

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, said Johnson and Roger Flynn, Oak Ridge Public Works engineer. 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.

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.

Construction workers are trying to reduce the impact on the businesses in Jackson Square.  At the request of merchants, the project was delayed until after January 1—after the holiday shopping season was over, she said.

On Monday, workers were putting up a chain link fence around the parking lot—but continuing to allow access to the sidewalk in front of the Jackson Square businesses. The fence will secure the inner work area and heavy equipment.

The city has improved the Farmers Market parking lot on the north side of Broadway to help with parking while the Jackson Square parking lot is being renovated.

The city’s share of the construction project is estimated at $293,617. The city is responsible for 100 percent of the cost of engineering services for project design and for 100 percent of any construction costs over the 80 percent TDOT budget amount.

The City Council awarded a $150,000 contract for design services for the Jackson Square project in February 2013.

 

Hetrick new OR Rec & Parks director

 

Jon Hetrick has been appointed director of the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department, City Manager Mark Watson announced Friday. Hetrick has been the acting director since Josh Collins retired in October.

As director, Hetrick will manage and direct the activities the city’s recreation and parks programs, services, and facilities, including the Civic Center, and Scarboro and Senior centers, as well as the Centennial Golf Course. His work responsibilities will include overseeing summer programs and supervising a staff of more than 80 seasonal and regular employees.

Hetrick has served as the division director of Parks and Parks Maintenance since 2003. He has been active in planning, design, and maintenance of city facilities, and has recently worked with the city manager on the possible transition of Clark Center Park to the city. The press release said he helped oversee the construction of the new PetSafe dog park, and also the building and development of the popular trail system along Melton Lake Drive and Haw Ridge.

A Pennsylvania native, Hetrick has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and landscape design from the University of Tennessee. His work history includes management and supervisory positions in private nurseries, landscaping companies, and residential construction. His salary is $69,805.

 

Tennessee voted State of the Year by leading business magazine

 

(State of Tennessee) Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced Monday that Business Facilities, a leading national publication focused on site selection and economic development, has named Tennessee its 2014 State of the Year for a second consecutive year.

Tennessee becomes the first state in the award’s history to win back-to-back honors for economic development efforts and the first state to win the designation three times, winning in 2014, 2013, and 2009, a press release said.

“It is an honor to be the first state to receive this recognition two years in a row,” Haslam said. “We have a great story to tell in Tennessee. Businesses continue to make the decision to locate, expand and grow here, and we are grateful for those strong partnerships. We will continue doing all we can to make sure we offer an attractive business climate and skilled workforce to be the number one location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Some of Tennessee’s top economic development projects in 2014 included Volkswagen Group of America’s Chattanooga expansion creating 2,000 jobs with an investment of $600 million, Under Armour’s new Mount Juliet fulfillment center creating 1,500 jobs with an investment of more than $100 million, SL Tennessee’s Clinton expansion creating 1,000 jobs with an $80.5 million investment, and Conduit Global’s new Memphis call center creating 1,000 jobs with an $8 million investment.

“Being named first of 50 states for economic development for two consecutive years underscores the effectiveness of the new operating model we’ve deployed in Tennessee—one whose success is enhanced through our field network and through close coordination with our local partners,” Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty said. “Our historic wins validate the incredible momentum, fierce competitiveness, and promising future that Tennessee possesses and emphasizes our intense focus on recruiting expanding and new companies.

“More and more business leaders around the world are recognizing that Tennessee is the best location and smartest choice for successful business operations. I am very proud of our department and our statewide partners who have worked tirelessly to drive us toward the goal of being number one.  Brand Tennessee continues its meteoric rise.”

The press release said the magazine cited Tennessee’s successful execution of a diversified growth strategy, as well as an emphasis on infrastructure and education, as key factors in securing consecutive victories.

“Tennessee is one of a handful of states that have clearly made economic development priority number one,” Business Facilities Editor-in-Chief Jack Rogers said. “With a powerhouse automotive cluster, world-class infrastructure, and the nation’s most improved education system, we could be looking at a State of the Year dynasty in the making.

“We thought it would be hard for the Volunteer State to match last year’s performance, but the folks in Tennessee keep reeling in one mega-project after another,” Rogers said. “Most impressive, Tennessee seemed to pick up momentum as they went along.”

The press release said Tennessee has also fared well in Business Facilities’ annual rankings report, finishing first in the “Education: Race to the Top” category, second in “Best Infrastructure,” and being named the top state for “Automotive Manufacturing Strength” for four of the past five years.

“For two years in a row, Tennessee has notched one of the strongest across-the-board showings in our annual State Rankings Report,” Rogers added.

For more information on the State of the Year competition and Business Facilities, please visit BusinessFacilities.com.

 

GSMNP changes firewood regs to protect forests

 

(GSMNP) Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced regulation changes that will help protect park forests by limiting the type of firewood brought into the park. Beginning in March 2015, only heat-treated firewood that is bundled and displays a certification stamp by the USDA or a state department of agriculture will be allowed for use in park campgrounds.  Heat-treated firewood will be available to purchase from concessioners in many of the campgrounds as well as from private businesses in the communities around the park. Certified heat-treated firewood is packaged in 0.75 cu-ft. bundles clearly displaying a certification stamp. The wood is a high-quality hardwood product that has been heated for 60 minutes at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The wood lights easily, burns well for campfires, is safe to cook over, and is already available at over 85 locations near the park that can be viewed on an interactive map by visiting www.nature.org/firewoodmap. In addition, visitors may still collect dead and down wood in the park for campfires. 

“The threat of these new pests coming into our forests, both in the park and regionally, compels us to do all we can to reduce the risk to our forests,” said Acting Superintendent Clayton Jordan. “While a ban on the importation of non-treated firewood will not entirely halt the spread of destructive forest pests and diseases, it will greatly slow it down. This allows time to develop and implement new treatment strategies to help control the impacts from these non-native pests and diseases.” 

Non-native, tree-killing insects and diseases can unknowingly be introduced through firewood transported from infested areas. A variety of destructive pests lay eggs or stowaway in firewood. These insects from Asia and Europe have the potential to devastate over 30 species of hardwood trees native to the park. New infestations threaten our forests with widespread tree mortality that could devastate wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and scenic views. The use of firewood that has been heat treated eliminates the threat posed by these pests through the movement and use of wood in campfires. 

National parks throughout the Appalachian region have taken action to limit the spread of insect pests in firewood including, in many cases, the banning of imported firewood. For the past three years, the Smokies has prohibited the importation of firewood from areas quarantined by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service. Park rangers have been working over the past year with numerous partners representing federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, and universities to mitigate the risks associated with movement of firewood including a public education campaign with campground programs and regionally placed billboards. The park also hosted public meetings and developed an informational handout that was provided to all Smokies campers throughout the summer inviting public comments. 

For more information about firewood and forest and insect pests in the park, please visit the park website athttp://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/firewood-alert.htm.

 

Update:  Archer says he will choose delinquent tax attorney

 

As we have been reporting, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank removed Law Director Jay Yeager from representing the county as its delinquent tax attorney this week.  In a letter dated Monday, Frank cites language in the Private Act that created the law director’s office that states the law director may act as the county’s delinquent tax attorney “upon selection as such by the county trustee and the approval of the county mayor.”  Frank writes that “I do not believe that you have acted properly, ethically, or legally performing the role of Delinquent Tax Attorney…effective immediately, you do not have the approval of the County Mayor to act” in that role.

In a separate Monday letter, this one to Trustee Rodney Archer, Mayor Frank recommends that Archer work with County Purchasing Agent Pamela Cotham and issue an RFP (request for proposals), or accept proposals from qualified and experienced attorneys who might offer to perform the functions based on the lowest possible percentage.

Archer issued a formal response Wednesday to the mayor’s suggestion by stating that he will make the appointment as written in the Private Act on or before February 27th and that he will “oppose any measure to take away the right for the Trustee now, or in the future, to appoint the county’s delinquent tax attorney.”  When the Private Act was enacted in 2006, Archer was serving as a commissioner and says that he believes the intent of act was “for the County Law Director to serve in the role of delinquent tax attorney for Anderson County in order to offset the department’s budget,” according to his letter to Mayor Frank, in which he also writes “I am concerned that deviating from the current arrangement could cost the taxpayers a significant amount of money.”  Archer says there are several ways to address the issue, which could include asking for permission and funding from the County Commission to hire an outside attorney or appointing the Law Director.  Archer states that he will make his recommendation in writing before the end of February and submit it to the mayor’s office. 

 

(County Trustee Rodney Archer’s response to Mayor Frank)

Dear Mayor Frank:

The Private Act that you referenced in your letter to me dated December 29, 2014 was enacted during my tenure on the County Commission. I believe that the intent of this Act was for the County Law Director to serve in the role of delinquent tax attorney for Anderson County in order to offset the department’s budget. The Board of Commissioners, at that time, saw the need to fund a full time County Law Director and used the proceeds received from the delinquent tax attorney to assist in funding the full time Director’s position and their overall department. I am concerned that deviating from the current arrangement could cost the taxpayers a significant amount of money.

There are several ways in which this issue can be resolved. The Trustee may request permission and funding from the Board of Commissioners to hire or contract with a staff attorney to serve as the delinquent tax attorney, the Trustee may simply appoint an attorney in private practice to serve in this capacity, or the Trustee may appoint the County Law Director. Let me be clear: I will oppose any measure to take away the right for the Trustee now, or in the future, to appoint the county’s delinquent tax attorney. 

You are correct that the appointment of the delinquent tax attorney is subject to the approval of the County Mayor. By statute, the delinquent property taxes are to be turned over by the Trustee on or before April 1st each year, therefore a decision must be reached before that date. I will not be issuing an RFP for such services as the statute is clear that the Trustee shall make the appointment. I intend to make my decision/appointment on or before February 27, 2015. The decision/appointment will be made in writing and submitted to you for your approval, if necessary.

Sincerely,

Rodney Archer

Anderson County Trustee

 

Commissioner and former interim County Mayor Myron Iwanski weighed in on this latest controversy, telling WYSH:  “This is just another attempt to discredit Jay based on misleading information.  The Mayor's proposal will only end up costing the taxpayers more money since we will need to use tax revenue rather than delinquent tax sales fees to fund his office.  In all the years Jay has worked for the multitude of elected officials, we have never had the kinds of issues the Mayor claims since she has been in office.  I am very concerned that this and all the lawsuits the Mayor is behind will lead to a tax increase - something none of us on Commission want.  County Commission needs to look at all of its options for dealing with this, including the private act.”

 

AC man killed in apparently accidental shooting

 

A 23-year-old Rocky Top man was killed in an apparently accidental shooting Tuesday night at a home on Dutch Valley Road.  Anderson County deputies and EMS crews were dispatched to the home at 2688 Dutch Valley Road shortly before 10 pm Tuesday and when they arrived, deputies made contact with Joseph McClane, who told them he had accidentally shot his friend, Christopher Scott Cody Bunch in the chest.  A first aid-certified neighbor was applying pressure to the wound when deputies arrived but paramedics pronounced Bunch dead at the scene.  Deputies interviewed nine people at the home and their stories were all very similar in that they said that a group of friends were standing in a room next to the kitchen talking about the gun in McClane’s hand, specifically the difference between a single action and double action gun, when it fired.  McClane said that he had his thumb on the hammer and his finger on the trigger and was trying to de-cock the hammer when it somehow slipped and the gun went off.  McClane told deputies that he thought the round had hit a wall until Bunch looked at him, grabbed his chest and said “I’ve been shot.”  The incident is being investigated by detectives.

 

Alcoa PD:  1 dead, OR man critical after Monday wreck

 

Alcoa Police have identified a man hurt in a crash on Alcoa Highway that killed his son as an 61-year-old  Joseph Eatherly of Oak Ridge and say that he is still in critical condition at UT Medical Center.  Officials pronounced Eatherly's adult son, Eric, who resided in Chattanooga dead at the scene.  Officers said the elder Eatherly tried to make a U-turn near the Airport Hilton when a Ford Escape crashed into his car just before 6:40 a.m. Monday.  The driver of the Escape, 48-year-old Beth Beard, was also injured and taken to UT Medical Center, but she's expected to be okay.  Investigators said neither Eatherly was wearing a seatbelt.  Alcoa police are still investigating the crash.

 

Mayor relieves law director of delinquent tax duties

 

The high-profile dispute between Anderson County’s Mayor and Law Director took another turn this week as Mayor Terry Frank relieved Law Director Jay Yeager from representing the county as a delinquent tax attorney.  In a letter dated Monday, Frank cites language in the Private Act that created the law director’s office that states the law director may act as the county’s delinquent tax attorney “upon selection as such by the county trustee and the approval of the county mayor.”  Frank says that despite requesting documentation of his selection and approval for nine months, Yeager has yet to provide that information and states that it “has become a public issue as the petitioners in the ouster case have publicly identified [it] as an issue.”  In the letter, Frank says that since she has begun her full, four-year term, she is no longer bound by any agreements that may have been made by any of her predecessors.  She was first elected to a two-year term in 2012.  Frank writes that “I do not believe that you have acted properly, ethically, or legally performing the role of Delinquent Tax Attorney…effective immediately, you do not have the approval of the County Mayor to act” in that role.  The letter alleges that Yeager has failed to perform proper title searches before “taking taxpayers’ property at tax sales”; charged “significant fees” to delinquent taxpayers for title searches that are “nothing more than internet searches” by Yeager’s staff; failed to properly advise officials and property owners of delinquent tax issues; failed to correct errors in a “reasonably timely manner”; failed to interact with taxpayers in a “civil and professional manner”; and failed to properly document tax sales.  The letter goes on to say that Frank’s office has received numerous complaints Yeager’s “behavior [in the role of] delinquent tax attorney” and that county officials do not yet have the deeds from last year’s tax sale.  Frank’s letter goes on to state “knowing that it is my belief that Anderson County did not hold title to the Daya property that is subject to current litigation, I believe you have attempted to advise me to commit a criminal act by advising both me and the Delinquent Tax Committee to sign the deed anyway.”  She also wrote that she is concerned that if he was indeed never authorized as delinquent tax attorney as prompted by the act that created the law director’s office, that the county could be open to more litigation.  The letter concludes by ordering Yeager to coordinate with the Trustee’s office to turn over all “documents, correspondence and other materials” related to delinquent tax issues, and refrain immediately from holding” himself out as the county’s delinquent tax attorney.  WYSH has reached out to Yeager, Mayor Frank and County Commission Chairman Robert McKamey for comment.  Mayor Frank responded in an e-mail this morning (12/31) and wrote that “One of the reasons the Private Act included such an enormous salary for the Law Director was supposedly based on the ability to perform the delinquent tax work.  Of course, that was supposing competent performance of the duties.”  In a separate letter to Trustee Rodney Archer, Mayor Frank recommends that he work with County Purchasing Agent Pamela Cotham and issue an RFP (request for proposals), or accept proposals from qualified and experienced attorneys who might offer to perform the functions based on the lowest possible percentage. 

(Update) Commission Chairman Robert McKamey responded by telephone to requests for comment and said, “this will cost the county money” as Yeager’s office is funded by delinquent tax sales and outside counsel could keep as much as 10% of the revenue for him- or herself up to $100,000 per year that would not be rolled into the county general fund.  McKamey says the county is not required to hold a delinquent tax sale every year and if that were to happen—or not happen in this case—that would mean no extra money for outside legal counsel.  When asked if there were any legislative avenues to circumvent or otherwise address the Mayor’s decision, McKamey said that the commission could amend the private act to require the Law Director to serve as the Delinquent Tax Attorney rather than making that a discretionary provision of the private act.  McKamey has contacted UT’s County Technical Advisory Service, or CTAS, for guidance on what to do if the County Trustee and Mayor cannot agree on an attorney to handle these duties and is awaiting a response. 

 

(More of Mayor Frank’s response to inquiries from WYSH) Of course,  Anderson County can get a new Law Director, one who understands the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct and who won’t use his office and his position as counsel to personally benefit himself and then we can go back to using the Law Director as the Delinquent Tax Attorney.   We can also get a new Law Director who understands his/her responsibility to properly conduct title work and tax sales and who won’t get the county embroiled in lawsuits, and that would save us having to go outside. 

If you look at all of the outside counsel having to be hired, it is because Mr. Yeager is conflicted and unable to represent those in Anderson County---it is not because of me or commission or any conflict on OUR part.  If the current Law Director could maintain his role as an advisor instead of injecting himself into situations where he ends up being a witness, we wouldn’t be paying all these bills.   

The position of Law Director was created as a supposed cost-savings plan, but it doesn’t appear to be working out that way.  We either need to replace him or change the private act.

 

(Letter from Mayor Frank to Law Director Yeager) The Private Act creating the Office of County Law Director specifies that the Law Director may act as Anderson County's delinquent tax attorney "upon selection as such by the county trustee and approval by the county mayor." I have been unable to identify that you were ever selected by the County Trustee or approved by a County Mayor. Beginning approximately nine months ago, I began asking you for documentation of your selection and approval as delinquent tax attorney. Written requests were made for this information on March 1.9,201.4, and May 1.6,20L4. This has become a public issue, as the petitioners in the ouster case have publicly identified this as an issue. Notwithstanding all of this history, you have never provided documentation that you are authorized as required by the Private Act.  Now that I have begun a new four-year term, I am not bound by any approvals of any prior mayors, if they existed. I do not believe that you have properly, ethically, or legally performed the role of Delinquent Tax Attorney. Among other things, you have:

  • Failed to perform proper title searches before taking taxpayers' property at tax sales.
  • Charged significant fees to delinquent taxpayers for title searches that are nothing more than internet searches by your clerical assistants.
  • Failed properly to advise the Office of the County Mayor and others regarding issues germane to delinquent tax issues.
  • Failed to provide proper legal notice to taxpayers facing delinquent tax issues.
  • Failed to correct errors in a reasonably timely manner with respect to the provision of proper legal notice to delinquent taxpayers. 
  • Failed to interact with taxpayers in a civil and professional manner.
  • Failed properly to document tax sales.

My office has received numerous complaints, tearful telephone calls, and in-person meetings with Anderson County citizens who have described rude and abrasive behavior by you in your role as delinquent tax attorney. Kevin Bowling, who maintains our list of delinquent tax properties, still does not possess deeds on properties from last year's tax sale. Rather than get those properties back on the county's tax rolls, Mr. Bowling is forced to fend off inquiries from potential purchasers. In addition, knowing that it is my belief that Anderson County did not hold title to the Daya property that is subject

to current litigation, I believe you have attempted to advise me to commit a crime by advising both me and the Delinquent Tax committee to sign the deed anyway. (See attached TCA 66-3-104.) Finally, there is a legal concern that if you never were properly authorized, then all of your purported actions in the role of Delinquent Tax Attorney may be ultro vires and unlawful. There are at least two lawsuits pending against the county because of your failure to perform the duties of Delinquent Tax Attorney in a proper manner. 

It would be irresponsible for those with responsibility for filling the position of delinquent tax attorney to ignore all of the above and allow you to continue in this position. Effective immediately, you do not have the approval of the County Mayor to act as delinquent tax attorney, as required by the Private Act and Tenn. Code Ann. 5 67-5-2a0a(a)(1). Please coordinate with the County Trustee for the turnover of all documents, correspondence, and other materials related to delinquent tax issues, and refrain immediately from holding yourself out as being authorized to act in any regard as Anderson County's delinquent tax attorney.

 

(Letter from Mayor Frank to Trustee Rodney Archer) The Private Act creating the office of County Law Director specifies that the Law Director may act as Anderson County's delinquent tax attorney "upon selection as such by the county trustee and approval by the county mayor."  I have been unable toi dentify that Mr. Yeager was ever selected by the County Trustee or approved by a County Mayor. Because I was elected mid-term, I did not know if Mr. Yeager had been selected and approved under Mayor Lynch or lnterim Mayor lwanski. Beginning approximately nine months ago, I began asking Mr. Yeager for documentation of his selection and approval as delinquent tax attorney. Written requests were made for this information on March 19, 201.4, and May16, 2014.   Ithas become a public issue, as the petitioners in the ouster case have identified this as an issue. Notwithstanding allof this history, Mr. Yeager has never provided documentation that he is authorized as required by the Private Act.

Now that I have begun a new four-year term, I do not feel bound by any prior authorizations, if they existed. I do not believe that Mr. Yeager has properly, ethically, or legally performed the role of Delinquent Tax Attorney. Among other things, Mr. Yeager has: 

  • Failed to perform proper title searches before taking taxpayers' property at tax sales.
  • Charged significant fees to delinquent taxpayers for title searches that are nothing more than internet searches by your clerical assistants.
  • Failed properly to advise the Office of the County Mayor and others regarding issues germane to delinquent tax issues.
  • Failed to provide proper legal notice to taxpayers facing delinquent tax issues.
  • Failed to correct errors in a reasonably timely manner with respect to the provision of proper legal notice to delinquent taxpayers. 
  • Failed to interact with taxpayers in a civil and professional manner.
  • Failed properly to document tax sales

My office has received numerous complaints, tearful telephone calls, and in-person meetings with Anderson County citizens who have described rude and abrasive behavior by Mr. Yeager in his role as delinquent tax attorney. Kevin Bowling, who maintains our list of delinquent tax properties, still does not possess deeds on properties from last year's tax sale. Rather than get those properties back on the county's tax rolls, Mr. Bowling is forced to fend off inquiries from potential purchasers. In addition, knowing it is my belief that Anderson County did not hold title to the Daya property that is subject to current litigation, Mr. Yeager encouraged me to sign the deed anyway because my signature wasn't a "guarantee." However, I have attached the statute on point, and as you can see by reading the statute, I can only believe that Mr. Yeager was attempting to advise me to commit a crime. Finally, there is a fear that if Mr. Yeager never was properly authorized, then all of his purported actions in the role of Delinquent Tax Attorney may be ultra vires and unlawful.  There are at least two lawsuits pending against the county because of Mr. Yeager's failure to perform the duties of Delinquent Tax Attorney in a proper manner. lt would be irresponsible for those with responsibility for filling that position to ignore all of the above and allow him to continue in this position. Although having the Law Director fill the role as Delinquent Tax Attorney avoids the necessity of paying fees to an outside attorney, the cost to the county to deal with the resulting lawsuits, in addition to the frustration of the civil servants and taxpayers who have to work with him, makes it very worthwhile to have somebody else perform those duties. 

So you are aware, I am also noticing Mr. Yeager that effective immediately, he does not have the approval of the County Mayor to act as delinquent tax attorney, as required by the Private Act and Tenn. Code Ann. 5 67-5-2404(a)(1).

I look forward to your thoughts and to working with you to identify a qualified attorney to serve as Anderson County's Delinquent Tax Attorney. My recommendation would be to work with Pamela Cotham and issue an RFP, or accept proposals from qualified and experienced attorneys who might offer to perform the functions based on the lowest possible percentage.

 

Mayor vetoes resolution dealing with legal bills

 

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank has vetoed a resolution passed unanimously by the County Commission earlier this month that would establish procedures for the county when outside legal counsel is needed for county employees not covered by the law director or counsel from the county’s insurance provider.  The measure would require all requests for outside counsel to be submitted in writing to both County Commission Chairman Robert McKamey and Law Director Jay Yeager.  The Courier News reports that commissioners found out about the veto on Friday.  In a letter explaining her decision sent to McKamey, the mayor indicated that she had concerns that the resolution could conflict with existing state laws and could lead to perceived or real conflicts of interest related to Yeager’s office.  As was pointed out during this month’s Commission meeting, the resolution’s purpose was to provide the Budget Department with safeguards when paying legal bills for the county and make sure that everyone knew what was happening with the various legal actions occurring in the county.  Mayor Frank’s letter indicates her concerns over allowing Yeager to view the requests, writing “As you can imagine, allowing the Law Director to inspect the invoices of counsel in a case where the Law Director may be adverse or perhaps be a witness, would be fraught with both real and perceived conflicts, should he fail to issue his approval.”  McKamey told the Courier that he believes that the mayor simply does not want Yeager to know what is going on, adding that the resolution was an attempt to “take some heat off” the Budget Office, which had been accused of paying legal bills illegally, had some bills sent back and paid some that did not need to be paid.  During the December Commission meeting, Budget Director Chris Phillips told commissioners that when legal bills come in to his office, he pays them because he “just assumed they needed to be paid.”  It remains unclear if commissioners will attempt to override her veto or let the resolution go by the wayside. 

 

(Mayor Frank’s letter explaining veto to Commission Chairman McKamey) I am vetoing the Resolution passed by County Commission Monday night in order to give us all more time to address some of the possible issues with the resolution. I am concerned the Resolution to establish a procedure to pay invoices for legal fees from outside counsel conflicts with Chapter 77 of the Private Act of 2006, establishing the Office of the Law Director, and also conflicts with the powers and duties of the County Mayor established by statutory law. In addition, I believe the Resolution may conflict with the Rules of Professional Conduct established by the Tennessee Bar Association that any Law Director employed by Anderson County is required to follow. 

As drafted, S 3 of the Resolution may be circumventing 5.10 of the private act by transferring designated power and duty of the County Mayor as the Chief Financial Officer of the County to the office of the Law Director, and in that regard, may be circumventing the Accounting Officer and General Agent of the County and also TCA 5 4-6-108. 

Similarly, 5.4 of the Resolution addresses a mechanism when the Law Director has a conflict of interest, which is that he "submit the invoice for outside legal representation directly to County Commission for approval," however, the Law Director is not required to do so as the express language states that he "may" recuse him or herself, as opposed to "shall." As you know, recusal due to a conflict of interest is mandatory, not discretionary, and requires complete withdrawal from anv participation in situations where there is a conflict of interest. While the Law Director is demonstrably insensitive to ethical issues, we all have observed and know that his advice is not reliable when it involves anyone with whom he disagrees or has conflicts. His disqualification in such circumstances should be mandatory, and should also be at the option of anyone else involved. 

As you can imagine, allowing the Law Director to inspect the invoices of counsel in a case where the Law Director may be adverse or perhaps be a witness, would be fraught with both real and perceived conflicts, should he fail to issue his approval. The issue with the ouster suit is a perfect example. The Law Director asked Commission to pay his fees, which was obviously in his best interest. However, the statute involved made it illegal for the County to pay his fees unless and until the entire proceeding is over, including any appeals. The Law Director did not disclose the law to Commission, because it was not in his best interest. He had a conflict of interest, but continued to try to advise Commission regarding payment of his fees. The problem is exacerbated when the Law Director asks to, or is asked to, review legal bills that include information about what was done by the attorneys adverse to the Law Director. Those bills often include information and tasks that the Law Director - as the subject of the lawsuit - will not like and will not agree with. That is a direct conflict of interest that cannot be avoided. Again, while the Law Director does not recognize these blatant conflicts of interest, we know enough to recognize these issues. 

Another problem with the Resolution is its conflict with the Private Act regarding the duties of the Law Director. The duties of the law director are enumerated clearly in [the] private act. Specifically, S7(a) of the private act states that his duties include (Emphasis is the Mayor’s from the letter itself):

 

Represent and render legal advice to the county legislative body and all county officials including elected and appointed department heads, employees and duly appointed boards, commissions and committees in matters relating to their official work and duties.

 

However, as drafted, 5.7 of the Resolution changes the private act's mandatory charge of representation of all county officials and provides him with a discretionary function to, "approve, agree to and acknowledge such legal representation." A resolution passed by commission should uphold and not attempt to alter the Private Act, and in fact, cannot alter the Private Act.  The Resolution, as drafted, conflicts with the Private Act in this regard and is, therefore, illegal. 

I believe both you and me personally, and commission as a whole, desire to create a process that provides limitations, accountability and oversight for outside legal representation. As you know, there are strict procedures in place already in the Accounting Office for paying all invoices, including outside attorney fees, that ensures transparency and compliance with established laws, and I believe we can come up with a system that addresses some of the unique challenges we are now facing.

I will plan on bringing suggested revisions to the next Operations meeting and hopefully we can address any issues and create a better document.

 

Follow-Up:  More on Clinton’s improved ISO rating

 

Insurance bills for homeowners in Clinton will likely decline after the city’s fire protection rating improved.  The Insurance Services Office (ISO), which sets ratings for communities based on the availability of firefighting resources, recently analyzed the city’s fire protection infrastructure and lowered Clinton’s classification to 02/2X from the previous classification of 4.  City officials say that the fire department’s budget has grown in recent years, and a reopened and newly-staffed headquarters downtown helped improve the rating.  That new fire station at City hall made response time for much of the city only about four or five minutes.  Most of the city’s residents live within five miles of a fire station and within 1,000 feet of a hydrant, according to a Clinton news release, and hold the ISO rating of 2. The “2x” classification applies to the smaller number of homes and structures more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant, the release said.  The improvement could lower homeowner’s insurance premiums by around an eight percent. 

 

ORT:  Man faces slew of charges in alleged rape

 

(Oak Ridge Today)  According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, an East Tennessee man is facing numerous charges after he allegedly raped his ex-girlfriend at her Claxton home, shoved her backward through a sheetrock wall, pointed a pistol at her and himself, and threatened to burn down her house.  34-year-old Robert John Davis is also accused of using the victim’s debit card without permission to withdraw $200, throwing objects and ransacking her house, and telling her she had to have sex with him if she wanted to get her car keys.  Davis is facing charges of rape, aggravated assault, domestic assault, false imprisonment, property theft, unauthorized use of an auto/joyriding, and violation of an order of protection, the warrants said. Davis is in custody at the Anderson County Jail on bonds totaling $237,500.  The victim said Davis came to her home on Friday, December 19, and stayed until Monday, December 22. She told an Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputy that she had tried to break up with Davis several times, but he has threatened her. The victim said Davis wanted to have sex the weekend of December 19-22, but she didn’t want to and she was able to convince him to stop several times.  On Monday morning, however, Davis allegedly told the victim she would “have to have sex if she wanted the keys,” the warrants said. The victim said she would not be able to get the car keys to leave and get help if she did not consent to sex.  The victim said Davis had threatened to kill himself after pointing a pistol at her and himself and that he later poured gas on her porch and threatened to burn down her home.  For more, visit www.OakRidgeToday.com

 

Clinton ISO rating improves

 

(City of Clinton) The City of Clinton and the Clinton Fire Department recently received notification from the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) of the completion of a recent analysis of the structural fire suppression delivery system for the City of Clinton. The results of this analysis have provided a new Community Classification of 02/2X, lowered from the previous Community Classification of 4.  According to a release from the city, this lower Community Classification means that homeowners in the City of Clinton should see a reduction in their homeowner’s insurance premiums during future renewal periods. The “2” classification applies to the majority of the city residents that are within 5 miles of a Fire Station and within 1,000’ of a Fire Hydrant; while the “2x” classification applies to the few residences and structures that are outside the 1,000’ distance from a Fire Hydrant.  In the release City Manager Roger Houck and Fire Chief Archie Brummitt expressed their appreciation to the Mayor and City Council for their support of the CFD’s budgetary needs to support the Fire Department’s mission, and allowing the city to make the much needed improvements that have resulted in the lowered Community Classification. They would also like to thank the members of the Fire Department for their performance in continuously providing a professional service to our citizens and the community.

 

Congressional delegation seeks TennCare waiver extension

 

(AP) Members of Tennessee’s congressional delegation are requesting an extension of federal funds to help hospitals care for tens of thousands of low-income patients.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that all states participate in the funding program, known as the “disproportionate share hospital” fund. But because of the wording of a 1994 waiver that created the TennCare program, Tennessee is now the only state that requires a year-by-year renewal of a program that hospitals say is crucial to their bottom line.  Nine Tennessee lawmakers are appealing to federal officials for the funding extension. The letter was signed by U.S. senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, along with U.S. representatives Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, John Duncan Jr., Chuck Fleischmann, and Phil Roe.  They say the extension is needed “to prevent any lapse in funding” that would threaten hospitals while they seek “a permanent solution in the next Congress.” Their request came in a recent letter to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The text of the letter follows:

(Courtesy Oak Ridge Today) Dear Administrator Tavenner:

We write to request that you extend TennCare’s waiver approval from earlier this year to include continuing funds for the Essential Hospital Access payments to extend current funding levels for the remainder of the underlying TennCare waiver in the absence of Tennessee Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program funding. We are deeply committed to restoring Tennessee’s DSH funding, as our state is the only in the nation without permanent access to these dollars.

The Medicaid DSH program is vital to Tennesseans who rely on our state’s hospitals for health care. Tennessee hospitals are an integral part of their communities, providing $950 million in charity care and $720 million in unreimbursed costs in 2013. Unlike hospitals in every other state, Tennessee hospitals are unable to offset these expenses with the help of the Medicaid DSH program.

To resolve the matter, TennCare has requested your assistance in securing funding through the waiver amendment. Our hospitals have operated with temporary funding from Congress, and the most recent patch expired on September 30, 2013.  Despite the looming financial uncertainty, our hospitals have continued to provide quality care for our state’s most vulnerable populations.

As Members of Congress, we have worked together as a bipartisan delegation with the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and most recently, the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, to secure support for Tennessee hospitals reliant on this program which is evident by the six partial patches included in six laws.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on December 16, 2014, includes language that strongly urges the continuation of the waiver amendment for a longer period of time in order to allow for Congress to adopt a permanent solution for our state. To that end, we are committed to advancing a permanent solution in the next Congress and have worked collectively to insert language in the House Ways and Means Hospital Improvements for Payment Act of 2014.

We request the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to act immediately on TennCare’s waiver to prevent any lapse in funding which would threaten our health care providers. As previously communicated, this waiver request and the EAH payment provision are imperative to preserving access to health care in our state.

We are committed to resolving this issue and remain available to work with you on the solution. We look forward to your response on this important matter.

 

New AC Chamber Board officers

 

The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce has elected new board officers for 2015.  Stephen Harris has been named chairman of the board, Rob Followell has been elected chair-elect, and Amy Allen has been elected treasurer for Anderson County Chamber of Commerce. Steve Heatherly has been named member-at-large.

Stephen Harris, engineering manager at Powell-Clinch Utility District, where he has worked for 14 years, is responsible for the daily operation of the Engineering, IT, and Building Maintenance Departments. Stephen is a graduate of Leadership Anderson County and has served as co-chair of the Chamber’s Government and Community Relations Council.

Rob Followell, chief executive officer of Tennova Healthcare’s North Knoxville Medical Center, is also a graduate of Leadership Anderson County, former Leadership Anderson County board member, and a member of the Government and Community Relations Council.

Amy Allen is the office manager and paraplanner for Keeton and Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. She is a Leadership Anderson County graduate and former Leadership Anderson County board member and co-chair of the Chamber Operations Council.

Steve Heatherly is on the board of directors at Merit Construction Inc. and serves as the company’s senior vice president. Steve is a graduate of Leadership Anderson County and serves as co-chair of the Chamber’s Government and Community Relations Council.

 

Accident kills OR man

 

An Oak Ridge man died in an apparent mountain biking accident at Haw Ridge on Saturday.  Two hikers found the body of 38-year-old Michael Biegalski near a hiking trail at Haw Ridge at about 4:34 p.m. Saturday.  The hikers called 911 and met Oak Ridge police officers at a trailhead and they guided officers to the body about 10 minutes hike into the park. The officers confirmed that Biegalski was deceased, and they called the coroner and criminal investigations division to process the area around the accident.  Biegalski’s body was taken to the University of Tennessee forensics center in Knoxville for an autopsy, which should determine the cause of his death.  Investigators say Biegalski had been at Haw Ridge by himself Saturday.

 

1st Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival tix on sale now

 

The City of Rocky Top, Tennessee presents the Rocky Top Bluegrass Festival 2015, featuring 2 days/nights Friday, April 24th and Saturday, April 25th at the George Templin Memorial Athletic Field, located at 214 Main Street in Rocky Top.  Friday, see Flat Lonesome, Blue Highway and Junior Sisk & Rambler’s Choice.  Saturday’s lineup includes Flat Lonesome, Blue Moon Rising, Steve Gulley & New Pinnacle, The Box Cars, Lonesome River Band, and Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top Express.  Tickets are on sale now at Rocky Top City Hall, Marks Pharmacy in Rocky Top, at WYSH Radio or buy them on line right now at www.RockyTopBluegrassFestival.com 

 

Fed grand jury indicts ex-security officer

 

A federal grand jury in Knoxville has indicted a former security officer at a federal site in Oak Ridge for allegedly stealing U.S. government property and money laundering, officials said Thursday.  Sarah Parker, 52, of Dandridge, Tennessee, was indicted Tuesday, U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said in a press release. Parker was employed as an officer for security contractor Wackenhut Services Inc. at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site in Oak Ridge.  She appeared in court on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley Jr. and pleaded not guilty to the charges in the three-count indictment, Killian said. She was released pending trial, which has been set for February 17, 2015, in United States District Court in Knoxville.  The indictment alleged that Parker converted $214,022.59 to personal use through checks that she possessed through her employment at ETTP, Killian said. He said the indictment also alleged that Parker illegally engaged in financial transactions with the money, including the purchase of a vehicle for $39,608.97 and payment of $74,327.12 to Bank of America.  If convicted, Parker faces a term of 10 years in prison for each count. Killian said the indictment also states that Parker, upon conviction, may be required to forfeit any property that is traceable to the alleged offenses.   “Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Killian said.

 

Campbell fugitive to face charges in SC

 

A former Campbell County teacher already facing armed robbery charges in Tennessee is now also facing similar charges in South Carolina.  44-year-old Lonnie Vann will face the South Carolina charges first before returning to Tennessee to face his charges here.  Myrtle Beach Police arrested Vann last Friday.  Myrtle Beach police say Vann robbed two people at gunpoint in a hotel. Police accuse Vann of displaying a gun, demanding the victims' wallets, and then running away.  A few days later, Myrtle Beach police arrested Vann during a traffic stop.  He waived extradition, which means officials can bring him back to Tennessee. However, because a South Carolina judge denied bond on the robbery charges, Vann will not be allowed to leave jail until he goes in front of a judge on February 20th.  Vann had been added to the TBI’s 10 Most Wanted List last week after allegedly robbing a married couple at gunpoint and tying them up inside their Campbell County home on December 5th.  He is also facing charges contained in an indictment handed down earlier this year charging him in connection with an incident that occurred on October of 2013.  He is accused in that case of taking a 13-year-old girl off-campus while still a teacher at Lafollette Middle School and then trying to hug and kiss her in a church parking lot.  He is also accused of tampering with the church’s security system in an attempt to hide evidence.