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UPDATED January 26, 2015

LIVE LOCAL SPORTS ON WYSH

TUESDAY JANUARY 27TH AT 7 PM...THE FOX & FARLEY FULL COURT PRESS BRINGS YOU THE CROSSTOWN SHOWDOWN, ROUND 2:  CLINTON AT ANDERSON COUNTY, JOINING THE GIRLS' GAME IN PROGRESS!!

FRIDAY JANUARY 30TH AT 7 PM...THE FOX & FARLEY FULL COURT PRESS PRESENTS CLINTON AT CAMPBELL COUNTY, JOINING THE GIRLS' GAME IN PROGRESS!!

SATURDAY JANUARY 31ST AT 5 PM...THE FOX & FARLEY FULL COURT PRESS PRESENTS CLINTON AT HALLS!!

Did you know you can WATCH Trading Time each day on Comcast Cable Ch 12 on BBB TV. If you are in Anderson or Roane County turn on your TV and watch Trading Time and Ask Your Neighbor. Plus call WYSH for advertising specials on TV

 

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.

 

THP:  Juvenile on dirtbike killed in Morgan

 

A Morgan County juvenile was hit by a car while riding a dirtbike and killed.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol says that the accident happened shortly after 6 am on Highway 62 in the Petros-Joyner area.  The juvenile was not wearing a helmet, according to authorities, who also reported that the roads were wet at the time of the incident.  Dirt bikes are illegal on Morgan County roads.  The occupants of the car that struck the dirt bike were not injured and as more information becomes available, we will pass it along to you.

 

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. 

 

AC Chamber Business Luncheon February 20th

 

The Anderson County Chamber of Commerce is hosting its Annual Business Luncheon, Thursday, February 20, 2015, 11:30 a.m. at The Hollingsworth Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (Junior Achievement BizTown), 2135 N. Charles Seivers Blvd., Clinton.

The Chamber is pleased to welcome Ryan Howley, President of Techmer PM, the recipient of a recent visit from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. After touring a portion of the facility, President Obama made a major announcement about the creation of a $250 million manufacturing innovation hub aimed at strengthening U.S. leadership in next-generation composite materials.

Ryan Howley’s key responsibilities at Techmer PM include sales and marketing leadership as well as global partnership management. Ryan also has oversight of all strategic planning activities as well as corporate culture initiatives, including the sustainability program.  He received his BS from the University of California, San Diego. Ryan’s career spans over twenty years within the plastics industry and includes a dedicated focus on masterbatch. Prior to his current role, Ryan held the title of vice president of marketing. In addition, he managed the Techmer PM office in Stuttgart, Germany, from 2004-2007 and opened the company’s São Paulo, Brazil, office in 2009. 

Techmer PM, LLC, is a major producer of value-added masterbatch and engineered compounds for the plastics and fiber industries.  The company manufactures and sells masterbatch under its Techmer PM brand and engineered thermoplastic compounds through its Techmer ES subsidiary. The company has worldwide manufacturing capabilities focusing on high-performance applications where quality, technical support, and problem solving are critical.  Techmer PM was recognized by Plastics News on its "Best Places to Work 2014" list. 

Chamber Board Chairman Stephen Harris will share our 2014 successes and 2015 Chamber goals and objectives.

To reserve your tickets, please contact the Chamber at 457-2559, email: accc@andersoncountychamber.org, or visit www.andersoncountychamber.org to pay online.   Tickets are $30 for Chamber members and $35 for guests.  Cancellation notice required 24 hours prior to event.

 

Joseph Dillman celebrates his birthday

 

(Oak Ridge Today/staff reports) A Clinton boy battling brain cancer for the second time received more than 100 pounds of birthday mail and gifts on Saturday from well-wishers across the country, including Peyton Manning and Johnny Majors. Joseph Dillman, who turned 10 on Thursday, also got to sit in a Dukes of Hazzard car, enjoy a visit from Claxton firefighters and a monster truck, and sit courtside to watch a youth basketball game.  The community surprised Joseph on Saturday at a basketball tournament at Claxton Elementary School with mail and other presents that had been sent to him.

His favorite part of the day?  “Everybody coming to my birthday,” said the fourth-grade basketball player, who has attended South Clinton Elementary School but is now homebound. “Thank you to everyone.”

Joseph is a Florida Gators fan who loves “The Dukes of Hazzard” television show.

Friends and family had an earlier event for Joseph a few years ago, organizer Kayla Boone said. Mary Dillman said Joseph was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, and the cancer returned in May 2014.  On Saturday, volunteers had auctions, raffled off cakes, and sold concessions to help pay for Joseph’s medical and travel expenses.

Stan Ferguson, owner of The Mail Center in Oak Ridge, said organizers presented Joseph with 124 pounds of mail and gifts on Saturday. The mail came from across the country— including Alaska, California, Maine, and Texas—and local organizations like Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex.  Joseph received gifts that included art sets, coloring books, stuffed animals, and a quilt. There were a number of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys as well, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster hung on the wall.  Asked what the community could do to help, his mother Mary Dillman responded: Just pray for him.  The Mail Center said they will continue to receive mail for Joseph because they are now part of his team.  To send Joseph a card, mail to 969 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, TN 37830.

 

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.

 

ORPD conducting traffic enforcement saturation patrols

 

The Oak Ridge Police Department will be conducting saturation traffic enforcement patrols over the next two weeks.  In an effort to reduce accidents, officers will be watching for traffic violations like distracted drivers, speeders and drivers who are following too closely.  Areas affected are:

  • Oak Ridge Turnpike, Lafayette Drive intersection.
  • Scarboro Road, near Union Valley Road.
  • South Rutgers Avenue.
  • Melton Lake Drive
  • North and South Illinois Avenue from West Out Drive to Lafayette Drive.

The ORPD says the additional activity is paid for by a grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office.

 

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:  Feds seen at OR company, no reason why given

 

According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, roughly a dozen federal agents and police officers were at the Berthold Technologies building on Midway Road in south Oak Ridge on Thursday morning.  It wasn’t clear exactly which agencies were at the business as some wore black jackets with lettering on the back that said “Federal Agent” and at least had one that said “Police.” The agents were seen entering and leaving Berthold Technologies through a few doors in the single-story building, and also going in and out of a large warehouse or garage area at the rear of the building.  Federal officials have not released any information as to why they were at the company on Thursday.  On its website, Berthold Technologies describes itself as a high-tech company with three distinct business units: process control, bioanalytic, and radiation protection.

 

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.

 

CRCTU meeting February 13th

 

(CRCTU) Professional guide Mike Bone will speak on fishing the Clinch and Holston rivers at a free, public meeting of the Clinch River Chapter, Trout Unlimited, on Thursday, Feb. 12. The program will start at 7 p.m. in the parish hall of St. Francis Episcopal Church, 158 W. Norris Road, Norris. 

Bone says he started his professional fly fishing career as a cane rod builder, graduated to fly shop flunkie and guide in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, built his first wooden driftboat on his front porch and began guiding fly fishers on the Clinch near his home in Andersonville.

Clinch River Chapter TU works to preserve and protect the Clinch River tailwater 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 in the parish hall at St. Francis Episcopal Church, Norris, except when outdoor activities are scheduled. For more information, visit crctu.org.

 

Reminder:  Red Ribbon Rivalry nearing conclusion

 

(ASAP) Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) of Anderson County is wrapping up the 2015 Red Ribbon Rivalry, but there is still time to get your ribbon!  This year, in Anderson County, is holding the Red Ribbon Rivalry during the month of January, culminating on Friday, January 30. The main goal of the RRR is to raise funds to prevent and reduce substance abuse here is Anderson County.  Every $1 dollar invested in prevention yields up to $10 savings in health costs, criminal and juvenile justice costs, educational costs, lost productivity, physical and mental health care, etc. (SAMHSA) This year there has been even more community participation in the RRR.  Local businesses are competing against each other by selling Red Ribbons for a $1 donation and displaying them in their businesses to show support for substance abuse prevention.  Winning businesses and employees will receive recognition for their efforts.  Anderson County High School and Clinton High School will also compete again this year to see who will be the recipient of the RRR trophy to be displayed at their school for the year.  Clinton has maintained their winning streak since the beginning of the contest in 2012, but ACHS students have been making a plan for victory. 

To buy a ribbon you can visit the studios of WYSH, Git-N-Go, ACE Hardware, Countryside Tire and Auto Service, Smart Cutz, Secret City Pies, Coal Creek Smokehouse, Hoskins Drug Store, Say Ow Tattoo or a student at Anderson County or Clinton High School.  For more information about the RRR go to www.ASAPofAnderson.org/red-ribbon-rivary-sponsorships/ and buy a virtual ribbon to support either ACHS or CHS. 

 

Roane episode of “Fishing University” to air

 

(Roane Alliance) In October the Outdoor Channel’s ‘Fishing University’ stars and fishing legends Charlie Ingram and Ray Brazier were in Roane County to film an episode for their show.  The show will begin airing Tuesday, January 27.

The crew spent several days in Roane County on Watts Bar Lake filming, and also met and filmed students at Oliver Springs High School, specifically those students in the Oliver Springs Bass Fishing Club.

In addition to Watts Bar Lake being featured on the show, several new tournaments will be coming to Watts Bar Lake in 2015 – the Morristown Marine Team Trail Invitational on April 25 out of Ladd Park in Kingston and the TN Team Trail on June 13 out of Tom Fuller Park in Rockwood. 

“Bringing in new recreational events is the main focus now at the Alliance,” said Pam May, Director of Marketing & Tourism.  “Tournament directors are clamoring to bring their fishing tournaments to Watts Bar Lake and the Alliance can help make it happen.  Storm the Fort Triathlon (August 22) is one such event that has now become one of our largest sporting events held annually, and the Roane County Omnium Bike Race is also coming back this year on April  18 and 19.”

A webpage has been created on the Roane County Visitors Bureau website with information about each of these events at www.RoaneTourism.com/tournaments. 

Fishing University will air the Watts Bar Lake edition at the following times: 

  • Tuesday, January 27 - 12:30 pm
  • Saturday, January 31 - 4 pm         
  • Sunday, February 1 - 8 am

The Roane Alliance is Roane County’s economic development organization, consisting of the Roane County Chamber of Commerce, the Roane County Industrial Development Board and the Roane County Visitors Bureau.  To learn more about how the Roane Alliance promotes economic development and seeks increased opportunities for all Roane County citizens, please visit www.roanealliance.org.

 

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.

 

BREAKING:  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.

 

Late-day wreck snarls I-75

 

A Wednesday afternoon tractor-trailer accident closed the northbound lanes of I-75 at mile marker 134, near the Carryville exit for several hours.  TDOT reported no injuries.  All lanes were reopened Wednesday night.  .

 

ASAP reminds you to vote for Ally of the Year

 

The Anderson County Ally of the Year campaign is in its last week, but you still have time to support your candidate! The Anderson County Ally of the Year campaign is a fundraising competition held during January, coinciding with the Red Ribbon Rivalry among a select group of individuals in the community. While each candidate conducts their own campaign, all candidates are 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. Every dollar raised counts as one vote. The individual who collects the most votes during the campaign will be named the Anderson County Ally of the Year. Voting ends on January 29, 2015!

Where does your candidate rank with a week left in the campaign?

  • Robert Jones
  • Bear Stephenson
  • Larry Foster
  • Ronnie Fox
  • Tom Byrge
  • Tim Isbel

ASAP of Anderson County has made significant reductions in the number of Anderson County students who have used alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, including a 43% reduction over the past two years in the number of students who drink alcohol. However, ASAP relies on the generosity of individuals and business to continue these efforts. Proceeds from the 2015 Anderson County Ally of the Year campaign will be used 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. All money raised in this campaign will be used responsibly here in Anderson County. Vote online at www.ASAPofAnderson.org or call 865-457-3007 to set up voting by cash or check. 

 

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.  

 

AC Community Action accepting commodity card applications

 

Anderson County Community Action will take applications for the ORANGE commodity card Wednesday Jan 21st through Wednesday February 4th.  The days to sign up at their office at 149 North Main Street in Clinton will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 8-12 and 1-2 and on Fridays 8-12.  To sign up you must be an Anderson County resident and bring in with you proof of income and know the birth dates and Social Security numbers for everyone in the household.   The deadline to sign up will be Wednesday February 4th at noon.  The commodities will be distributed on Thursday February 12th from 10 until 1pm at the National Guard Armory in Clinton.  If Anderson County Schools are closed due to bad weather, please listen to WYSH for a rescheduled date.  For more information on this equal opportunity program, please call Community Action at 865-457-5500 

 

CASA to benefit from ‘BBQ and Bluegrass Bash”

 

The 12th Annual Barbeque and Bluegrass Bash in February will feature food, music, and entertainment, and it will raise money to help abused and neglected children in Anderson, Blount, and Scott counties.  It’s a fundraiser for CASA of the Tennessee Heartland. This year’s bash is at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 21, at a new venue—205 Main Street in Clinton.  A full barbecue buffet dinner will be provided along with decadent desserts, a press release said. Silent and live auctions will include vacation packages, Raku Pottery from Bill Capshaw, fine jewelry, and many baskets and packages of interest.  The Ridge City Ramblers will be providing live music, and there will even be instructed line dancing.    This event supports the work of CASA in aiding abused or neglected children in Anderson, Blount, and Scott counties who come under court protection.

Tickets are $50 per person or $350 for a table of eight. Tickets include food, drinks, and entertainment, and they can be purchased online at www.casatnh.org, by calling (865) 425-0888, or in person at any of the CASA offices.

 

Follow-Up:  More on Monday’s 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. 

 

McNally, Yager appointed to chairmanships

 

Tennessee Senator Randy McNally, an Oak Ridge Republican, will chair the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee, and Senator Ken Yager, a Harriman Republican, will chair State and Local Government.

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey announced the Tennessee Senate committee assignments for the 109th General Assembly on Saturday. Ramsey was elected to his fifth term as Speaker of the Senate on Tuesday.

The Senate has nine standing committees and four select committees: Commerce and Labor; Education; Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources; Finance, Ways, and Means; Health and Welfare; Government Operations, Judiciary; State and Local Government; Transportation and Safety; Ethics; Delayed Bills; Rules; and Calendar.

 

OR Relay Kickoff Party January 29th

 

The kickoff for this year’s Relay for Life of Oak Ridge is scheduled for Thursday evening, January 29.  During the kickoff, volunteers and participants will launch fundraising efforts for 2015. The kickoff will be at the Holiday Inn Express at 114 Tulsa Road from 5:30-7 p.m. January 29.  Anyone interested in learning more about this event and current team captains/members is invited to attend, a press release said.  “The kickoff will honor cancer survivors and caregivers, and will feature speakers from the community who have benefited from the funds raised at Relay For Life,” the release said.  Those interested will also be able to register to participate for the event to be held on Saturday, May 16, beginning at 3 p.m. and ending at 10 p.m. at Oak Ridge High School.

This is the 30th anniversary year for the Relay for Life, so the Oak Ridge relay theme will be “Throwback for a Cure!” the release said.

Relay For Life is the world’s largest grassroots fundraising movement, and it mobilizes communities throughout the country to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and provide participants with an opportunity to fight back against cancer.  This year, Relay For Life will take place in nearly 6,000 communities in the United States and 20 other countries and will raise funds to support the mission of the American Cancer Society to save lives by helping people stay well, by helping people get well, by finding cures, and fighting back. 

For more information about the upcoming kickoff, contact Kim Monroe at (865) 438-5334 or Margo Davis at (865) 803-8662 or visit www.RelayForLife.org/OakRidgeTN.

“Sign up for Relay For Life of Oak Ridge today and help our community finish the fight against cancer,” the release said.

 

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.

 

Report:  E-cig starts fire

 

An Oak Ridge woman told WVLT-TV a fire occurred at her home after an e-cigarette exploded while it was on the charger.  It happened around 5 a.m. Wednesday. She was awake and quickly put out the flames and no one was injured.  Private inspectors like Diversified Product Investigations in Oliver Springs have been contracted to investigate similar cases from around the country in which e-cigs have reportedly exploded when their batteries overheated, some causing injury.  E-cig dealers say that most problems are caused by people using the wrong charger for their e-cigarette.  For example, a customer who started with one type of e-cig but switched to a different device and tries to use their old charger.  Experts recommend never leaving e-cigarettes unattended while charging. The e-cig usually only needs around three hours before it's finished.  Experts recommend buying the devices from reputable dealers where they test them and answer questions.

 

ASAP Ally of the Year voting underway

 

(ASAP) ASAP is pleased to announce the first ever Anderson County Ally of the Year Award.  Candidates for the award were nominated by community members for their passion for creating a healthy and productive Anderson County and are 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.  Each dollar raised by the candidates will count as one vote.  The person with the most votes will be named ASAP’s Anderson County Ally of the Year and be recognized at a luncheon on January 30.  ASAP has made significant reductions in the number of Anderson County students who have used alcohol, tobacco or marijuana including a 43% reduction over the past two years in the number of students who drink alcohol.  However, ASAP relies on the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations to continue these efforts.  Proceeds from the 2015 Anderson County Ally of the Year will go to support our mission to prevent and reduce youth substance abuse in Anderson County by collaborating with community partners to implement effective intervention strategies. All proceeds will go to support substance abuse prevention efforts right here in Anderson County!  Please vote for your candidate at www.asapofanderson.org or call 865-457-3007 to set up voting by cash or check or in an amount that is not listed.  All proceeds will go to support substance abuse prevention efforts right here in Anderson County!

Candidates and bios

Tom Byrge

Tom has been the Director of Missions for the Clinton Baptist Association, which is made up of 48 different Baptist churches, since 2009.  He has been the pastor of one church in Mississippi and two churches in Tennessee for a total of 30 years and also spent 22 years in the military before retiring and taking his current position.  Tom serves on the Board of Directors for the Child Advocacy Center of Anderson County, ETHRA, Anderson County Office on Aging, and the Boys, and Girls Club of North Anderson County.   He is also the Co-Chair of the Community Advisory Board in Anderson County and an American Red Cross volunteer.

Larry Foster
Larry Foster is in his 42nd year with Anderson County Schools. He has served as Director of Schools since July 1, 2009.  Larry is active with the Chamber of Commerce and Claxton Optimist Club.  He is a member of South Clinton Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and Sunday School teacher.  Larry has been married to Nancy Foster for 40 years and they have 3 grown children, Laura and husband Josh Webber, Matthew Foster and Michael Foster and wife Katie.  He has one granddaughter, Kathryn Webber.

Ronnie Fox

Ronnie is a lifelong resident of Anderson County and has always loved his community.  He graduated from Clinton High School and then on from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Business.  From that time on in 1976, he’s been employed at Fox Toyota in Clinton.  Ronnie is also a member of the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, Clinton Rotary Club, Clinton Civitan Club, the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission, and a deacon at Grace Baptist Church.  He is married to his wife, Karen and has three children and 6 grand-children.  He’s happy to be involved in his community and committed to helping make it a better place one day at a time.

Tim Isbel

Timothy Isbel, is a graduate of Fulton High Vocational School and a single parent of 3 with youngest daughter attending Lake City Middle school.  He is a journeyman Tool and Die maker, with certificates of training in Machine services, Hydraulic Specialist, and manufacturing design.  He is the President of Unlimited Fluid Power Inc. and of Rocky Top Tennessee Marketing and Manufacturing Inc.  His is currently an Anderson County Commissioner representing district 4 serving on numerous boards.  He also serves on the board of the North Anderson County Boys and Girls Club and is on the Board of Directors of Rocky Top Chamber of Commerce, Anderson County Chamber of Commerce and Anderson County Tourism Board, Clinton Civitan board and proudly serving with ASAP from its inception.

Robert K. Jones

Robert has been the owner and president of Jones Mortuary LLC Clinton TN for 11 years.  He studied at Cincinnati College of Applied Science and Roane State Community College.  For the past 35 years Robert has been an active member of Eagle Bend Apostolic Church in Clinton.  He has lived in Anderson County all of his life and been active in the Lions Clubs, Optimist Club, and Alarm Camp for Youth, which provides stability and instructions on life in general and all the challenges that young people are confronted with such as prescription drug abuse, self-esteem issues, and peer pressure to mention a few.

Bear Stephenson
Bear Stephenson is a 1966 graduate of Clinton High School and a 1970 graduate of Tennessee Tech where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. After college he served in the army achieving the rank of 1st Lieutenant. Bear has been local business owners since 1982 when he started Stephenson Realty and Auction. He is very active in his community as member of the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, a founding member and past president of the Clinton Rotary Club, the American Legion and the Boys & Girls Club of North Anderson County

 

ASAP’s Red Ribbon Rivalry heating up January

 

The Red Ribbon Rivalry (RRR) is a friendly competition held within Anderson County among schools and businesses. The RRR is a fundraiser for drug prevention and an awareness campaign that coincides with national Red Ribbon Week.  Visit www.asapofanderson.org to buy a virtual ribbon to support substance abuse prevention in Anderson County and select either Clinton High School or Anderson County High School to help decide who gets to hoist the Rivalry trophy this year, which has been held by CHS every year since the program began in 2012.  You can also visit a Git ‘n Go Market, Ace Hardware in Clinton, Countryside Tire and Auto, Hoskins Drug Store in Clinton, Secret City Pies in Oak Ridge, Powell Clinch Utility District in Rocky Top to buy a Red Ribbon.

 

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.

 

January busy at Clinton Library

 

(Clinton Public Library) Clinton Public Library's Read to a Dog program is co-sponsored by UT's HABIT program. The program is aimed at children in the K-6 range and is designed to support confidence in independent reading. Children take turns reading aloud to our canine volunteers each Tuesday and Friday at 3:30. The program is great because the dogs provide a non-judgmental reading buddy for children who are shy about reading aloud, but there's an adult nearby for support and assistance. Come on in and meet Ziggy and Sadie (and their helpful handlers!) each week! 

Clinton Public Library offers a selection of FREE computer training classes each month on a variety of topics. This month's remaining selections are Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. The classes are at 2:30 on Tuesdays and 1:30 on Saturdays. These programs do require registration, so call the library at 457-0519 to sign up. If you need extended computer help on a topic not being offered this month, set up an appointment with our computer trainer for a one-on-one session! These one hour slots allow her to help you work out your more difficult computer issues and are great if you just have questions. Call the library or email computer_training@clintonpubliclibrary.org for more information or to set up an appointment. 

The library also has other great FREE programs this month like Lego Club for the kids every Thursday, Crafty Wednesdays for teens every Wednesday, and storytimes for babies and preschoolers twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays! Also this month, holds a craft program for adults and the start of a new series of genealogy classes! Come on in to get in on the fun and learning! 

457-0519

www.clintonpubliclibrary.org

 

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.

 

Mission “SlimPossible” coming to TCFP

 

(TCFP) Take Charge Fitness Program, conveniently located at 1921 N. Charles Seivers Boulevard in Clinton, will begin its 2015 Weight Loss/Lifestyle Change Challenge:  Mission SLIMPOSSIBLE on February 2nd!  Are YOU ready?!  What is Mission SLIMPOSSIBLE?  It is a Weight Loss and Lifestyle Change Challenge and we are inviting YOU to take it on!  If you are serious about making a commitment to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, than Mission SLIMPOSSIBLE is just what you need!!  Why spend the same amount of money on a program that only weighs you in weekly?  Mission SLIMPOSSIBLE has SO MUCH MORE to offer!!  The 13 week program is tailored to help you not only lose the excess weight, but to maintain that weight loss!!  We provide you a coach, weekly weigh ins, initial and final body fat % and measurements, a great facility to exercise in, educational forums with a registered dietician and physician, and as a special twist this year, we have an east Tennessee celebrity (TOP SECRET) joining us to help motivate you to the finish!!  We give you the tools that will last a lifetime!  Our Grand Prize winner from last year lost a whopping 64 pounds! The average inches lost was 8.8 inches!  What are you waiting for?  Enroll TODAY!!  Enrollment will end January 29th and the program will kickoff on February 2nd!  Questions?  Contact Take Charge Fitness @ 865-457-8237!

 

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. 

 

OR Rec & Parks annual Family Day February 14th

 

The Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department will host the Third Annual Family Day at the Civic Center on February 14 from noon to 4 p.m.  All activities except public swim and concessions will be free, a press release said. Concession items will include hot dogs, nachos, chips, juice, and soft drinks. A free cookie decorating activity will be offered.  Discounted public swim times, in 30-minute increments, will be offered for $1. Children 2 and under are free. The public swim is open to everyone and is scheduled at the indoor swimming pool from 12:30-1 p.m., 1:15-1:45 p.m., 2-2:30 p.m., and 2:45-3:15 p.m.  Lifeguards will be on duty. If parents wish to supervise their children from the pool deck, they must pay admission and be dressed in swimming attire. If children do not need direct parental supervision, the pool can be viewed through glass windows in the snack bar and lobby areas.

Family activities will be offered throughout the Civic Center. They will include pool, ping pong, foosball, crafts, cookie decorating, face painting, and board games. Active games, including family versions of volleyball and basketball, are planned for the gymnasium.  Volunteers are needed to assist with all activities. Volunteer T-shirts are available for all volunteers who sign up in advance.  For more information or to volunteer, call the Civic Center front desk at (865) 425-3450 or visit the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks website at www.orrecparks.org.

 

Music Lessons at OR Senior Center

 

Free guitar lessons for senior citizens will be held Friday mornings at 9 am at the Oak Ridge Senior Citizen Center on Emory Valley Road.  All levels of guitar players are welcome.  Beginner’s lessons start at 9 am, and intermediate lessons at 10:00 am.  Wendall Cook, who has many years of experience playing and teaching, conducts the lessons.  Members from the class provide music for the Senior Citizens Center Christmas and Valentine’s Day parties and also play at various nursing homes and retirement centers as well as other venues from time to time. Free banjo lessons will also be held at 1:00 p.m. Friday afternoons.  Classes will last approximately one hour and are open to anyone who has an acoustic guitar, is 50 years old or older and has a desire to learn how to play.  For more information, call the Senior Center at 865-425-3999 or visit www.orrecparks.org

 

Food Distribution in Clinton

 

The Clinton Mobile Pantry in conjunction with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee will hold a food distribution event on Saturday January 24th from 9 am until the food is gone at the Clinton Church of God located at 635 Hillcrest Street in Clinton.  Everyone is welcome.

 

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.

 

Swimming news from Clinton Community Center

 

Clinton Community Center 2015 - Spring - Learn to Swim

Registration: 2 to 6pm Wednesday & Thursday - January 21 & 22, 2015 = Indoor Pool Office

Fees are due at time of registration and are payable to; CITY OF CLINTON, TN. Checks returned for insufficient funds will be assessed an additional $20.00 fee.  No phone registrations will be accepted. Check www.clintontn.net/recreation  in February for updated information on our Spring Life Guarding Course & Evening Learn to Swim Classes     

Learn to Swim Program

COST - City of Clinton Resident $70    Non - City of Clinton Resident $75

Monday & Wednesday

January 26, 28 - February 2, 4, 9, 11, 18, 19, 23, 25 March 2, 4

2 to 2:45 PM – Beginners, ages 4 & 5 (Pre-school age)

3 to 3:45 PM – Beginners – ages 5 to 7(currently in Kindergarten or above)

Tues. & Thurs

January 27, 29 - February 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26 March 3, 5

9:30 to 10:00 AM – Parent & Tot Class 12 months to 3 yrs. Old (child and adult in the water)

2 to 2:45 PM -- Advanced Beginners – 4, & 5 (Pre-school age)

3 to 3:45 PM –- Advanced Beginners – ages 5 to 7(currently in Kindergarten or above)

Clinton Sharks Swim Team

Fun, Fitness & Stroke Clinic Starts – January 12 / Ends – April 2

COST*City of Clinton Resident $70 *Non - City of Clinton Resident $75

 Mon. Tues. Wed. & Thurs. 4:00 to 4:45 pm (4 days are offered, but not required)

All new team members must be pre-tested by Coach Smith - Swim 25yds front crawl & 25 yds backstroke non-stop. Tread water using arms & legs.

If school is dismissed due to weather - Learn to Swim Class & Sharks Practice will be canceled.  Tune to WYSH AM 1380 & FM 101.1 for the latest cancellation information. The following dates are no swim for our sharks program.

    January 19, February 16

    March 16 through 20, Spring Break

Total Fees are to be paid at the time of registration. There will be No Refunds after the first day of class. Individually missed classes may be made up with the permission of the instructor, if the current schedule allows. For further information contact Jan Smith Swimming Services Coordinator at 457-0642 Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8 am and 1pm.  

 

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. 

 

ORT:  Ex-IHOP server investigated for theft

 

According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, a former server at IHOP Restaurant in Oak Ridge is suspected of taking an unknown amount of money from customers by changing the tip amounts on several credit card and debit card receipts, authorities said.  The suspected thefts occurred between October 1 and December 28, an Oak Ridge Police Department report said.  It’s not clear how much money might have been taken during a period estimated to be about two months. ORPD Officer Garrett L. Robbins reported that the IHOP regional manager who reported the suspected theft is still calculating how much might have been taken.

 

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. 

 

Norris Dam State Park Future Upgrades Survey

 

We need your input! Tennessee State Parks is interested in finding out what park visitors think about Norris Dam State Park's current condition for consideration of future upgrades, in addition to their thoughts on amenities, recreation activities and the various services they seek when selecting a park to visit. The survey will be available through Friday, January 30, 2015.  The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous and will be used to potentially make changes at Norris Dam State Park or at other state parks -- helping to deliver a better product and elevating our level of customer service.  Take the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Norris_Dam_Park_Survey.

 

THP announces holiday traffic fatalities down from last New Year’s

 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested 68 individuals on suspicion of impaired driving and investigated zero fatal crashes in the eight counties selected for a “No Refusal” enforcement campaign during the New Year’s Eve holiday period. The holiday period began at midnight on December 31, 2014 and concluded at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, January 4, 2015.  

Under the “No Refusal” law, law enforcement officials may seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers. This law was strictly enforced in Roane, McMinn, Rutherford, Shelby, Washington, Cumberland, Maury, and Hardin counties. The goal is to deter impaired driving and reduce fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways. 

Six suspects refused to take breathalyzer tests and warrants were obtained for a blood sample under the “No Refusal” law. State troopers also issued 306 seat belt citations in the “No Refusal” counties. 

“Our state troopers investigated zero fatal crashes in the eight No Refusal counties,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said. “We believe this particular enforcement makes an impact and saves lives, and we hope to produce those same results in 2015.”   

During the 102-hour New Year’s Eve holiday period, eight people were killed in traffic crashes in Tennessee. That’s down from 16 vehicular fatalities during the 2013 New Year’s Eve period. Two of the eight traffic fatalities occurred in alcohol-related crashes, while three of the victims were not wearing seat belts. 

The results for the eight-county “No Refusal” enforcement effort are listed below.  A statistical report from the New Year’s Eve holiday period also accompanies this release.

Roane County

DUI arrests:                                            3

Refusal to take BAC test/

Search warrants obtained for blood samples:      0

McMinn County

DUI arrests:                                            3

Refusal to take BAC test/

Search warrants obtained for blood samples:      0

Cumberland County

DUI Arrests:                                            10                                            

Refusal to take BAC test/

Search warrants obtained for blood samples:      0

 

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. 

 

Corker named chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee

 

(Senator Corker’s Office) U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) issued the following statement upon being named chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the 114th Congress. Corker's appointment will be confirmed Thursday during a meeting of Senate Republicans and is expected to be ratified when the Senate passes a resolution officially organizing committees in the coming days. 

“Tennesseans have given me the great privilege of serving in the United States Senate, and I am excited about the opportunity to lead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a time when pragmatic U.S. leadership around the world matters more than ever to our nation’s security and prosperity. We look forward to continuing to strengthen the committee’s role in the Senate and working with members of both parties to provide oversight and accountability to the State Department and its activities globally. 

“With limited resources, Congress must work to ensure the American people that their taxpayer dollars are used efficiently in advancing U.S. interests. We will begin conducting immediately a thorough review of all State Department programs and practices, with the goal of passing a responsible reauthorization of the department, something Congress has not done in 13 years. We must also do a better job of explaining how strategic U.S. engagement overseas improves our economy and makes us safer here at home. 

“The United States is confronting numerous serious challenges around the world, and I'm committed to making this committee a place where we can have robust and thoughtful debate, where the views of all members can be heard, and together, we can help strengthen this nation for generations to come.” 

Since taking office in 2007, Corker has been a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has visited more than 60 different countries to gain a deeper understanding of the strategic relationships between the U.S. and other nations that are critical to the American economy and national security. As chairman, Corker will work with his colleagues to set the committee agenda and help carry out the legislative and oversight responsibilities of the committee. 

Established in 1816 as one of the original standing committees of the Senate, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has jurisdiction over legislation concerning the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, including foreign assistance, treaties, and declarations of war. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee also is responsible for oversight of the U.S. State Department and review of executive branch nominations that carry out U.S. diplomacy, including secretary of state and U.S. ambassadorships. 

In addition to chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker is an active member of the Senate Banking Committee, the Budget Committee and the Aging Committee.

 

Alexander elected to chair Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee

 

Senate Republicans today voted to elect U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to be the chairman—or lead senator—of the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

“The work of no Senate committee affects the daily lives of more Americans more than this one—whether we are fixing No Child Left Behind, or reducing federal paperwork to make it easier for students to attend college, or making it simpler for medical treatments and cures to make their way through the Food and Drug Administration to patients who need the help."     

Before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, Lamar Alexander served as governor of Tennessee, president of the University of Tennessee, United States Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush, and professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. In private life, he helped found what has become the nation’s largest provider of worksite day care. Three times his colleagues elected him Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

 

TDOT prepping for icy weather

 

(TDOT) The Tennessee Department of Transportation is stocked and ready to clear roadways of ice and snow this season. Over the last several weeks, salt supplies have been replenished in all 95 counties, and crews have readied snow plows and brine trucks for the winter season. 

“Tennessee often sees the bulk of its winter weather in January and February,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “Our salt bins are fully stocked and we have more than a thousand employees ready to mobilize in the event of inclement weather.” 

Salt is in short supply across the nation after last year’s severe winter. This year, TDOT’s salt shipments are coming from South America. While all of TDOT’s 132 salt bins have been filled to capacity, new orders may take some time to arrive. In anticipation of possible delays in future salt shipments, TDOT personnel will make every effort to conserve salt supplies. TDOT’s fleet of salt and brine trucks have been calibrated to disperse only the correct amount of salt or salt brine, which will prevent unnecessary overuse of these supplies. TDOT can also use chemical additives such as calcium chloride to stretch salt supplies. 

TDOT’s statewide 2014/2015 winter weather budget is $19.6 million, and includes salt, salt brine, overtime for employees, and equipment maintenance. The department has a total of three salt vendors to refill salt bins in all 95 Tennessee counties. 

TDOT currently has more than 200,000 tons of salt and more than 2 million gallons of salt brine ready for use.  Salt brine is a salt/water mixture used as a pre-treatment for roads prior to a winter storm or to melt snow on roadways when temperatures are hovering around the freezing mark. Salt is applied to roads once snow has started to accumulate.   

When snow hits Tennessee, TDOT ice and snow removal teams focus first on clearing interstates and heavily traveled state routes and will specifically target areas vulnerable to freezing, such as hills, curves, ramps, bridges and interchanges. During prolonged weather events, crews may have to clear roadways repeatedly. 

TDOT has a number of tools available to keep motorists informed about travel conditions including the TDOT SmartWay website (www.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway) and the 5‑1‑1 motorist information line.  You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or any of TDOT’s otherTwitter pages.  Smartphone users can download TDOT’s new SmartWay web application atwww.TNsmartWay.com/Traffic to access TDOT’s live streaming SmartWay cameras, dynamic message signs, incidents, construction, and road conditions on interstates and state routes. 

For more information about TDOT winter weather preparations, or for a regional breakdown of TDOT winter weather supplies and equipment, visit the TDOT web site at http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/mediaroom/snowbuster.htm.

 

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.

 

Rockwood City Hall hit by thief

 

Rockwood police are investigating a break-in that happened Saturday at city hall. A man who had paid his water bill noticed one of the windows was open and notified authorities.  Police say the window near the night-deposit box had been pried open. The cash drawer was also damaged.  Police say the man caused more damage than anything else and made off with only $30 to $40.  Investigators are asking if you recognize the man in the security video (a picture from which is on the Rockwood PD’s Facebook page) or know anything about this break-in to please call their tip line, the number is (865) 354-3388.

 

2015 Relay for Life meeting January 15th

 

(Submitted) Want to participate in the nation’s largest fundraiser and help find a cure for cancer? Then call your friends and family, lace up your walking shoes and get ready for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life!  

An American Cancer Society RELAY FOR LIFE informational meeting will be held at Clinton Physical Therapy Center on Thursday, January 15th at 6:30 PM.  Anyone interested in learning more about this event and current team captains/members are invited to attend.  Clinton Physical Therapy Center is located at 1921 N. Charles Seivers Blvd. The meeting will be held in the upper building and cars should park in the upper lot. 

The actual Relay For Life event will take place on April 25th in downtown Clinton on the streets surrounding the courthouse from2:00 PM until 12:01 AM.  Join people from all walks of life for this event to celebrate survivorship and raise money and awareness in the fight against cancer.  Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s national signature event where participants walk and take part in family fun.  There will be entertainment, bands and activities throughout the afternoon and evening to inspire, entertain and motivate participants and the public to continue the crusade against cancer.  On the “fun”raising front, teams from Churches, schools, companies and families/friends collect donations and win awards for their efforts. The theme of this year’s event is, “Relay”opoly – Fighting Cancer is Not a Game”, with teams selecting various game/competition themes for their teams and campsites.   

“Relay For Life is not just about raising money, it’s about raising awareness and bringing attention to this terrible disease,” said Amber Price, Relay For Life Chairperson.  “Many of the participants are cancer survivors themselves and they are living proof of the strides we have made in the fight against cancer.”  The dollars raised at Relay For Life will allow the American Cancer Society to continue funding cancer research, develop new prevention and detection programs and continue providing its expansive patient support programs. Please consider joining your community in the fight against cancer. For more information contact Amber Price at 776-5842 or aprice@y12 fcu.org or Kelly Lenz at 457-1649 or cptcklenz@aol.com.  There is 24-hour per day cancer information available from your American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit us on the web anytime at www.relayforlife.org/eastandersoncounty.

 

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.

 

McKenzie to highlight MLK event

 

(Submitted) Knox County Commissioner Sam McKenzie will be the featured speaker at the 27th annual Martin Luther King Fellowship Breakfast.  The breakfast has been organized by the Atomic City Sportsmen. Everyone is welcome to attend. It’s scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Monday, January 19, at the Oak Valley Baptist Church at 191 Hampton Road in Oak Ridge. The breakfast was previously held at the East Tennessee Family Services Building.  McKenzie is a commissioner in Knox County District 1. McKenzie won the 2010 commission race for the First District and will serve a six-year term.  McKenzie earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Fisk University in Nashville and his master’s degree in solid state physics from the University of Memphis. He is now the site operations manager at Spallation Neutron Source, serving as the complex facility manager for SNS at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Sam is a member of the East Tennessee Chapter Health Physics Society and a graduate of the Leadership Knoxville Class of 2005.  He is a Minorities in Research Council Honoree and a recipient of the Fisk University Alumni Leadership Award.  The Sportsmen are waiving the customary $5 donation for attending this event, and there will be no charge for attending.  Please contact David Mosby (865) 482-4193 or mosby1@aol.com for more information.

 

1st baby of 2015 at MMC is a boy!

 

(MMC) He was due on December 28, and Dylan Cohen Williams was supposed to be one of the last babies of 2014.  But after making Mom and Dad wait a few days longer, on January 1, 2015, at 12:53 p.m. he became Methodist Medical Center’s first baby of the New Year.  Dylan weighed in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces, and he was 20 inches long.  Dylan’s proud parents are Carrie Wadley and Travis Williams of Oak Ridge. He joins big brothers Ian Wadley, 6, and Elijah Wadley, 4.

 

ORT:  Post-Christmas wreck damages building

 

(Oak Ridge Today) The driver of a four-door sedan allegedly ran a red light at Florida Avenue and Oak Ridge Turnpike last week and hit a pickup truck that then crashed into the side of a two-story commercial building, authorities said.  The driver of the car, Geary Q. McPeters, 59, of Oak Ridge, was taken by ambulance to Methodist Medical Center with possible injuries, an Oak Ridge Police Department report said.  ORPD Patrolman Kevin Merritt said McPeters was driving a 1996 Oldsmobile four-door sedan south on Florida Avenue at about 8:35 p.m. Friday, December 26, when he didn’t stop at a red traffic light on Oak Ridge Turnpike and collided with a 2012 Nissan pickup truck being driven east on the Turnpike by Ted M. Chapman, 73, of Sevierville.  McPeters’ car ended up in a culvert on the south side of Oak Ridge Turnpike.  Chapman’s truck went over a curb, through a parking lot on the south side of the Turnpike, and crashed into the side of the two-story building, which is owned by Richard Chinn of Oak Ridge, Merritt said.  Chapman was not injured and neither was his passenger Justin Isaiah Lawson, 24, who is also of Sevierville.  McPeters, whose vehicle was not insured, according to the report, was cited for driving on a suspended license, a red-light violation, and a violation of financial responsibility requirements.  McPeters, Chapman, and Lawson were all using shoulder and lap belts, the report said.

 

Roane child dies from crash injuries

 

Following up on a story from last week, a Rural Metro ambulance was struck head-on New Year’s Eve morning at Highway 95 and Sinking Creek Road in Loudon County by a van carrying a woman and five children ranging in age from 2 years to 7 years old.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol says 26-year-old Jessica Creek of Harriman had turned her head when her van crossed the center line and hit the ambulance on a curve.  Four people were transported to an area hospital by ambulance. Two others were transported by Lifestar. One person was treated at the scene.  Sadly, officials say that 5-year-old Lillian Creek died from her injuries on Saturday.

 

Report:  Lafollette woman facing charges in Kentucky

 

According to WVLT-TV, a Lafollette woman is facing burglary and animal cruelty charges in Kentucky after authorities there say she shot a dog in the face during a home invasion.  The Whitley County Sheriff's Office says 25-year-old Dena Baird and Daniel Myers stole three handguns, two laptops, a camera, an iPad, an Xbox, and jewelry from a home on Tyes Ferry Road in November.  The animal was actually in a cage when it was shot. And investigators say they assume it was shot because it was barking and drawing attention to the suspects.   The dog survived.  Investigators say Baird and Myers were tracked down in Jellico trying to steal a car. Items stolen in the Kentucky incident were also found.  After facing previous charges in Campbell County, Baird was arrested on the Whitley County burglary and animal cruelty charges on New Year's Day. 

 

TDOT holding message contest

 

“Eyes on the Road & Head out of Your Apps”, “Buckle Up Y’all, It’s the Law”, and “Ho Ho Hold Your Calls”. Those are just a few of the overhead sign messages that have caught the attention of Tennessee motorists recently. Think you can come up with one better? 

For the first time, TDOT will offer drivers the chance to craft their own highway safety messages. Beginning Monday January 5, TDOT will begin taking entries for the Dynamic Message Sign Contest. Entries will be considered for five highway safety categories: seatbelt usage, impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding, and aggressive driving. 

Entering the contest is easy! Just go to TDOT’s website and click on “TDOT Safety Message Contest”. The contest web page will list the categories, and will allow you to type your message and submit your entry. The contest will run from January 5 through January 16. TDOT will then give the public the opportunity to vote on the best messages, also via the TDOT website. The winning messages will then be placed in rotation to run on the overhead Dynamic Message Signs statewide throughout the year. 

Keep it clean! Any message containing profanity or lewd comments will be disqualified. 

A total of 163 Dynamic Message Signs are located in the state’s four urban areas (Chattanooga, Knoxville Memphis, Nashville), and in some rural areas across the state. The main purpose of the signs is to alert motorists of incidents, lane blockages, hazardous road conditions, or Amber Alerts. In 2012, TDOT became the first DOT in the nation to display roadway fatality numbers on the overhead signs. In addition to the fatality statistics, safety messages are displayed during off-peak travel times. 

 

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. 

 

87+K sign up through Marketplace

 

(US HHS/Oak Ridge Today) Federal officials announced Tuesday that 87,137 people in Tennessee selected plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace leading up to the December 15 deadline for coverage beginning January 1.

It was the first month of open enrollment this year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said 83 percent of Tennesseans who selected a 2015 plan are getting financial assistance to lower monthly premiums. That compared to 75 percent who selected plans over a similar period last year.

Of the 87,137 Tennesseans who selected a plan, 51 percent re-enrolled in a Marketplace plan in 2015, and 49 percent signed up for the first time, HHS said in a press release.

“Today’s report provides the first detailed analysis of enrollment in the Marketplaces for the first month of the 2015 open enrollment period,” the release said. “Because the automatic re-enrollment process for the 37 states using the HealthCare.gov platform (including Tennessee) began on December 16 and was completed for the vast majority of consumers on December 18, today’s report with data through December 15 does not fully capture the number of people who selected plans leading up to the deadline for January 1, 2015 coverage.”

“We’re pleased that, in Tennessee, 87,137 people signed up for Marketplace coverage during the first month of open enrollment,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said. “The vast majority were able to lower their costs even further by getting tax credits, making a difference in the bottom lines of so many families. Interest in the Marketplace has been strong during the first month of open enrollment. We still have a ways to go and a lot of work to do before February 15, but this is an encouraging start.”

Nationwide, more than 4 million people signed up for the first time or re-enrolled in coverage for 2015 during the first month of open enrollment, the press release said. That includes more than 3.4 million people who selected a plan in the 37 states that are using the HealthCare.gov platform for 2015 (including Tennessee), and more than 600,000 consumers who selected plans in the 14 states that are operating their own Marketplace platform for 2015.

HHS also released a Weekly Enrollment Snapshot that captures more recent enrollment activity in the Marketplace. The Weekly Snapshot shows that from November 15 to December 26, nearly 6.5 million consumers selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled.

Open Enrollment in the Marketplace runs from November 15, 2014, through February 15, 2015. The press release said consumers should visit HealthCare.gov to review and compare health plan options. Consumers shopping for health insurance coverage should sign up by January 15, 2015, in order to have coverage effective on February 1, 2015.  If consumers who were automatically re-enrolled decide in the coming weeks that a better plan exists for their families, they can make that change at any time before the end of open enrollment on February 15.

The press release said consumers can find local help at Localhelp.healthcare.gov/. Or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855- 889-4325. Translation services are available. The call is free.

The information contained in Tuesday’s report provides the most systematic summary of enrollment-related activity in the Marketplaces to date, the press release said. Data for the various metrics are counted using comparable definitions for data elements across states and Marketplace types.

To read the monthly enrollment report, visit http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2014/MarketPlaceEnrollment/Dec2014/ib_2014Dec_enrollment.pdf

 

More temporary road closures in GSMNP

 

(GSMNP) Cherokee Orchard Road will be closed at the park boundary January 6, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. in order to replace a culvert under the road. The road will be closed to all incoming and outgoing pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists.  The closure may extend to January 7th from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. if necessary.  Single lane closures during the day will follow the initial road closure through January 16th.  Access to the City of Gatlinburg’s Mynatt Park should not be interrupted.  For more information about temporary road and trail closures, please visit the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm or by following the park’s Twitter account for road updates at https://twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps.

 

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.

 

BBB:  Man leads cops on second high-speed chase this month

 

A man led authorities in Roane County on a high-speed chase for the second time in less than a month last night and was able to elude capture.  According to our partners at BBB-TV, a Rockwood police officer tried to pull over a pickup truck on Furnace Avenue at around 11:15 pm Monday but the driver sped off.  The ensuing pursuit traveled along I-40 to the Harriman exit, where the suspect—identified as 27-year-old Adam Phillips—exited the freeway and returned to surface streets before getting his truck stuck on a railroad crossing on Old Valley Road, causing train traffic through the area to be halted until crews removed the vehicle from the tracks.  Phillips fled on foot and somehow managed to evade officers and K-9 units.  Once he is taken into custody, Phillips will face numerous charges from the Rockwood PD and could also face charges from Norfolk Southern Railroad for the damage done to the crossing.  As more information becomes available, we will pass it along to you. 

 

Rocky Top municipal calendar for January

 

The City of Rocky Top's January 2015 meeting schedule is as follows:
Water and Sewer Board Meeting - January 13 at 5:30 PM
City Court - January 14 at 8:00 AM
Public Hearing on Ordinance #482 - January 15 at 6:30 PM (Ordinance would add a $5 fee to the bill of any utility customer who receives at 24-hour shutoff notice).
City Council Meeting - January 15 at 7:00 PM
Planning Commission - January 20 at 6:00 PM
Public Safety Committee - January 27 at 5:30 PM
Streets and Downtown Growth Committee - January 27 at 7:00 PM

 

Cades Cove Loop Road to be closed for 6 days in January

 

(GSMNP) Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the temporary closure of the Cades Cove Loop Road for 6 days in January to complete hazard tree removal. The road will be closed to all pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists January 6 through January 8 and January 13 through January 15.  

“We regret the inconvenience to Cades Cove visitors,” said Acting Superintendent Clay Jordan. “We chose mid-week dates in early January when visitation is expected to be low to accomplish the needed work, but we realize that some visitors will be disappointed.” 

In addition to the Cades Cove Loop Road, hazard trees will be removed from the Cades Cove Campground. The campground will remain open during the closure, but campers may be relocated during the work period. 

For more information about temporary road and trail closures, please visit the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm or by following the park’s Twitter account for road updates at https://twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps.

 

Little Ponderosa can use your live Christmas tree

 

Looking for a way to recycle your live Christmas tree?  The Little Ponderosa Zoo and its animals would love to take it off your hands. Little Ponderosa says that its camels and other animals love to eat and play with them.  Before you drop off your live trees, be sure to remove the ornaments, lights, tinsel, wire, and string.  The Little Ponderosa Zoo is located on 629 Granite Road in Clinton.

 

New title company forms in OR

 

(Oak Ridge Today) CU Community and Credit Union Services of East Tennessee, or CUSET, have teamed up to launch CU Community Title Company LLC, effective January 2, 2015.

The joint venture represents a groundbreaking collaboration between East Tennessee’s most successful subsidiaries of ORNL Federal Credit Union and Y-12 Federal Credit Union, both headquartered in Oak Ridge, a press release said.  The press release said title companies research property records to ensure the purchaser legally owns the property and that no one else can claim full or partial ownership of the property. During this research, the title company also verifies that there are no outstanding mortgages, liens, judgments, or unpaid taxes associated with the property, as well as any restrictions, easements, leases, or other issues that might impact ownership.

“Title companies are a natural extension of the mortgage business,” said Ron Honeycutt, CUSET chairman. “Y-12 FCU and ORNL FCU are two of the area’s largest and most successful mortgage providers. Forming a title company gives us added flexibility in meeting the mortgage needs of our respective membership, while ensuring they receive the best value, convenience, and peace of mind.”

“Our credit unions provide the absolute best mortgage services available in the marketplace and adding title services allows us to take full ownership of our members’ experience,” said Mark Ziegler, president and chief executive officer of Y-12 Federal Credit Union.

Chris Johnson, president and CEO of ORNL Federal Credit Union added, “By forming our own title company, we now can be sure the same outstanding service is provided all the way through closing.”

“Collaboration between two of the state’s largest credit unions represents the next step in the financial cooperative. As credit unions, we innately understand the value proposition to the consumer,” said Larry Jackson, CU Community’s president. “And as cooperatives, we understand the power of collaboration for the greatest possible good for the membership. It’s all about people helping people.”

 

2 injured in Roane wreck

 

Two people were injured in a Saturday traffic accident in Roane County.  Tennessee Highway Patrol says two vehicles were headed east on Interstate 40 around noon when they collided on the overpass near Gallaher Road..  The collision caused one vehicle to fall off the overpass and land on Gallaher Road.  Troopers say the two people had to be cut from the vehicle and that Lifestar was sent to the scene.  The cause of the crash remains under investigation.  When more information becomes available, including the names and conditions of those involved, we will pass it along to you. 

 

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.

 

CCWF announces donation for scholarships

 

David Horn, President of Horn & Associates, Inc., recently presented a check for $2,500 to the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation.  Every penny of the donation will go to help fund a scholarship.  As a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization, David’s donation is tax deductible.

 

AC home destroyed by flames

 

A fire early Wednesday morning destroyed a home in Andersonville.  The Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department was called to the home on Foust Hollow Lane at around 1 am and had the fire extinguished about an hour and a half later.  One person inside the home at the time of the fire was able to make it out safely and no injuries were reported.  Officials deemed the house a total loss and are continuing to investigate to determine the cause of the early-morning blaze. 

 

CPD makes holidays brighter

 

(CPD) Six area children will have a little bit brighter Christmas this year thanks to the efforts of Clinton Police officers. The kids, ranging in age from 2 to 12 years, came to the police department Tuesday where Santa had left several large bags of toys.  Officers helped the children unwrap an assortment of games, dolls, videos and more.  Patrolman Anthony Godwin obtained the names of the children from the Clinton City Schools Angel Tree then asked his fellow officers to donate. Godwin says the response was great. Nearly $800 was collected to purchase gifts. CPD Chief Rick Scarbrough said: "This was an overwhelming effort from the Clinton Police and Dispatch family, showing such generosity and love for the children and citizens of this great city."  All the children either attend or are the siblings of students who attend Clinton City Elementary Schools. 

 

AC DA:  No suspects, charges in alleged OR rape

 

(Oak Ridge Today/staff reports) Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark says that a six-month investigation into allegations that a woman was raped by a security guard or police officer has been completed, and no suspect has been identified and there is no basis for a criminal charge. In a letter sent to Oak Ridge Police Chief Jim Akagi—along with the investigative report summary, which was also shared with local media outlets—Clark called into question the credibility of the alleged victim.  A woman had reported that she was raped by a uniformed man who appeared to be a police officer or security guard,, who handcuffed and raped her behind Oak Ridge Mall in the back seat of what she described as a police-type cruiser.  The woman was first interviewed by Oak Ridge police officers, who then contacted the District Attorney General’s Office.  In turn, Clark notified the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation of the allegation.  “Due to the nature of the allegation, Chief Akagi thought it would be best to have another agency conduct the investigation,” Clark said in a two-page investigative report.  The TBI investigation of the high-profile case is now complete.  Clark describes the investigation as meticulous and included many interviews and a delay for lab results.”  Clark said in Tuesday’s letter to Akagi, “In short, I do not find any basis for a criminal charge. No suspect was ever identified. The alleged victim’s credibility is in doubt due to numerous conflicts within her own statements and conflicts with other witness statements and the physical evidence.”  Clark said a rape kit was collected at Methodist Medical Center, and DNA samples were taken from the victim and a reported consensual sexual partner.  Statements from the victim contain a “number of material conflicts,” he said.  The alleged victim admitted to not telling the full truth in some respects and Clark says that physical evidence, including video recordings, does not corroborate the woman’s statements.  The DA said the victim’s description of the suspect has not resulted in the identification of anyone, and the description of the suspect and the suspect vehicle is inconsistent with any Oak Ridge police officer on duty at the time or of any Oak Ridge Police Department vehicle.  Clark said no other police agency in the area is known to have a vehicle that matches the description provided by the victim, and no relevant physical evidence or witness was identified. DNA analysis did not reveal a suspect.  The DA said the woman continues to say she is not interested in prosecuting anyone for the alleged crime, and she returned to California shortly after the reported incident.  “The inability to corroborate the victim’s account together with the inconsistencies in her own statements, inconsistencies with the physical evidence for possible ulterior motives for privately claiming a rape, along with a consistent refusal to cooperate in a prosecution and an inability to identify a suspect all lead me to conclude that no prosecution is possible at this time,” Clark said. “While there are a few hallmarks of truthfulness in her report, including some embarrassing admissions and present sense impressions, these indicators of honesty do not outweigh the many problems with her statements and the evidence or lack of evidence. Accordingly, I have serious reservations as to whether any crime occurred.”  Clark said the investigation is open but inactive.  Read more and check out the DA's letter and the investigative report by visiting our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com

 

ORPD arrests suspect in 2 game system thefts

 

Oak Ridge police have arrested a Knoxville man suspected of stealing a Playstation 4 out of the hands of an employee at GameStop in Oak Ridge on August 9 before fleeing, and stealing a computer from Walmart on July 28 by going out a fire door in the lawn and garden section.  28-year-old Ernest James Glenn was arrested Sunday by Oak Ridge Police and charged with robbery and theft over $500.  At last check, he remained in custody at the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton.  The alleged Playstation theft at GameStop in Oak Ridge has been classified as a robbery, according to warrants filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court.  ORPD Detective Bill Weaver said Glenn was inside GameStop at lunch time on August 9 when he allegedly grabbed a Playsation 4 valued at $399 from an employee, ran out of the store, and fled in a car. The detective said a similar incident happened at GameStop in Turkey Creek involving an Xbox 360 just two days later.  A Turkey Creek victim was shown a line-up and identified Glenn.   In the alleged Walmart theft on July 28, photo and video evidence showed a suspect placing a computer valued at more than $700 into a shopping cart after feeling boxes to find one with a computer in it—as opposed to just a display box.  Glenn can be seen exiting a fire door located in the back of the lawn and garden section with the computer, where another suspect was waiting in a car. 

 

Stolen car burns in Marlow

 

A BMW that had been reported stolen in Oak Ridge burned on Old Batley Road on Saturday.   The fire appeared to have been set intentionally in the front passenger seat of the green four-door BMW 3-Series sedan, valued at about $6,900.  The Marlow Volunteer Fire Department extinguished the fire, which was reported at about 3:45 p.m. Saturday.  Two women called 911 after seeing the car on fire but told investigators that they had not seen anyone around the vehicle.  The arson case has been referred to the Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigations Division.

 

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.

 

Alternatives to Incarceration meeting requested

 

Anderson County Chief Jailer Avery Johnson has called for a special meeting of the county’s Alternatives to Incarceration Committee on Wednesday January 7th at 4 pm in the training room of the Anderson County Detention Facility.  According to the agenda, the committee is expected to vote on hiring a new director for the rebooted program, although it does not identify potential finalists for the position.  We are working to find out more about the remaining finalists and will bring you more information as it becomes available. 

 

UT-Battelle aids ETCH expansion

 

UT-Battelle has donated $100,000 to the capital campaign for the proposed expansion of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.  The announcement was made during groundbreaking ceremonies for the expanded facility. The planned expansion includes:

  • 250,000 square feet of new space;
  • a new neonatal intensive care unit with private rooms;
  • a new inpatient/outpatient-surgery center;
  • a family lounge and resource center overlooking a rooftop garden;
  • 60,000 square feet of renovated space to include a chapel, laboratory, and a neonatal abstinence syndrome care unit and resource center; and
  • a specialty clinic for diabetes, cleft palate, cystic fibrosis, and healthy ways weight management program.

Rooms in both the new NICU and surgery center will be named in honor of UT-Battelle.

 

New church coming to OS in 2015

 

A new church opens Sunday January 4th, 2015 in Oliver Springs.  Benchmark Church is located at 961 Tri-County Blvd, Oliver Springs, TN 37840.  The new church is located directly across from French's Produce, in the Norwood School Zone and pastored by Southern Gospel Music's multi-award winning singer/songwriter/percussionist Rev.. Benjamin Blankenship.   Benchmark Church will have a strong emphasis on Southern Gospel, Country Gospel, Bluegrass Gospel, Hymns, and Praise Music immersed in worship. They will be hosting Non-Denominational Bible based Services relevant to life today.  Worship Service times are Sundays at 10 am & 6 pm, and Wednesdays at  7 pm.  For additional information please visit www.facebook.com/BenchmarkChurchTN
or call 865-243-7085

  . 

AC Tourism events

 

The Tennessee Opry-January 3rd at the Ritz Theater
Join us for the very first Tennessee Opry show at the Ritz Theater in Downtown Clinton! The show will feature Tedd Graves, Phil Campbell, Marshall Andy and 2014 Entertainer of the Year nominees the Farm Hands.  The show will start at 7:00 pm. Tickets are just $10 each.  For more information, call 865-660-5290 or visit www.teddgravesmusic.com.

Norris Dam Challenge 12K – January 17 at Norris Dam
The Norris Dam Challenge is a 12K at Norris Dam as part of the state parks running tour. This challenge will take place on January 17th.  This race is considered the most challenging course on the running tour. The race starts and finishes at Park Headquarters of Norris Dam State Park. The race starts downhill with the first steep uphill at half a mile. Then a 300 feet elevation drop to crossing the dam followed by 150 feet uphill to the camping area of
Norris Park. Runners then Circle the park then run back the same way. It is a hill runner’s delight. Runners are to meet at the Park Headquarters.  There will be a chili cook off after the race, so runners are welcome to stay and eat. For more information and to register for the race, visit http://www.tennesseerunningtour.com/.

 

AP:  State offers fire safety tips for cooks

 

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is urging Tennesseans to be safe in the kitchen during the hectic holiday season.  Officials say unattended cooking ranks as the leading cause of U.S. home fires and home-fire injuries.  During 2009-2013, Tennessee fire departments reported more than 9,800 residential structure fires involving cooking equipment.  Those fires resulted in 33 civilian deaths, 249 civilian injuries, and more than $37 million in property damage.  Gary West is deputy commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s fire prevention division and says cooking fires during the holidays usually occur because people are busier, and often become rushed, distracted or tired.  For safety tips, visit: http://www.tn.gov/fire/ .

 

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.

 

Fire displaces family

 

A family was displaced after a fire at a mobile home Saturday night.  The fire was reported just before 8:30 Saturday night at 1042 East Wolf Valley Road and authorities report that no one was home at the time of the fire.  A neighbor who shares a driveway with the home owned by Jennifer Neal saw flames and called 911 and Ms. Neal returned home after being notified of the blaze.  She told investigators and firefighters that she had left at around 6 pm and that her children had not been there all day and could not think of anything that could have started the fire.  Firefighters told Sheriff’s deputies that the fire is believed to have been sparked by a portable space heater in a bathroom of the mobile home.  The blaze was extinguished by the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department with assistance from the Norris, Claxton and Medford Fire Departments.  No injuries were reported. 

 

Norris native commended by Navy

 

Norris native Mike Billips, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, received a Flag Letter of Commendation Dec. 14 for duties performed at Fleet Week New York in May 2014.  Billips, who graduated from Norris High School in 1980, was commended by Rear Adm. Dixon R. Smith, commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, for his work as assistant officer in charge of media operations at the Fleet Week celebration. Billips helped lead a team of 19 public affairs professionals, who coordinated coverage of more than 100 events by local, national and international news media, as well as providing military guests and audience members for several national television entertainment programs, including "The Colbert Report" and "The Today Show."  Fleet Week New York is a celebration of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard held most years in New York City around Memorial Day weekend. This year marked the 26th Fleet Week New York.  Billips enlisted in the Navy in 1984 and has served in the Navy Reserve since 1986, earning a commission as a public affairs officer in 2000. He is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, Candy.

 

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 

 

TDOT halting lane closures through January 5th

 

Road construction won’t delay travelers during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is once again halting all lane closure activity on interstates and state highways in anticipation of higher traffic volumes across the state.  No temporary lane closures will be allowed for construction on Tennessee roadways beginning at noon on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 through 9:00 a.m. on Monday, January 5, 2015.    

“With two million drivers expected to travel Tennessee roadways during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, it’s imperative that we do everything possible to keep traffic moving and minimize congestion,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “We also want to keep our roadways safe. Our law enforcement partners will be out in full force, so wear your seatbelt, reduce your speed, avoid distractions, and don’t drive if you’ve been drinking.” 

Except for a few long-term closures which must remain in place for safety, all construction related closures will be suspended during the holiday period.  Workers may still be on-site in some construction zones.  Drivers should obey all posted speed limits, particularly in construction areas.  Slower speeds are necessary in work zones due to the temporary layout of the roadway and will be enforced.  Drivers convicted of speeding through work zones where workers are present face a fine of $250 to $500, plus court fees and possible increased insurance premiums.  

AAA predicts holiday travel will increase about 4.8% in Tennessee this year, with two million expected to travel by automobile in the volunteer state between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Across the U.S., 89.5 million people are expected to drive to their holiday destinations. The year-end holiday season should see the highest travel volume since 2001, and Christmas day gas prices should be the lowest since 2008. 

Updated travel and construction information can be found on the TDOT SmartWay website atwww.tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway or you may call 5‑1‑1.  You can also receive traffic alerts via TDOT’s multiple Twitter feeds, including statewide traffic tweets @TN511 or any of TDOT’s other Twitter pages.  Smartphone users can download TDOT’s new SmartWay web application at www.TNsmartWay.com/Trafficto access TDOT’s live streaming SmartWay cameras, dynamic message signs, incidents, construction, and road conditions on interstates and state routes.  As always, drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools wisely and Know Before You Go! by checking travel conditions before leaving for their destination.  Drivers should never tweet, text or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel.

 

OR plans New year’s hike

 

The City of Oak Ridge Wellness Committee and Oak Ridge Coordinated School Health will kick off the new year with a January Jaunt at Gallaher Bend Greenway and Clark Center Park. The community is invited to take part.  The January Jaunt is a beautiful hike and walk that will showcase the greenway and park, the press release said. It will start at 9 a.m. January 10.  The Gallaher Bend Greenway is described as a quiet, forested trail with scenic views of Melton Lake.  The total, round-trip distance of this hike is 4.5 miles, and it is considered easy to moderate in difficulty. The hike is expected to take about two-and-a-half hours, and walkers will leave promptly at 9 a.m. Hikers should park at the winter trail head just east of the swimming area in Clark Center Park.

Because the hike is on federal land, users must stay on the trail and obey all postings. The trail is gravel, with a natural path around the loop, as well as a short paved section before the entrance of the trail. Although it is handicapped accessible, the gravel surface inhibits wheelchair access.  Please note, participation for all is done so at your own risk.

The City of Oak Ridge Wellness Committee and Oak Ridge Coordinated School Health have teamed up together to offer healthy activities for city and school employees, while also promoting the wonderful greenways and recreational areas in and around Oak Ridge. The committee welcomes participation from the community.  For more information about the parks and greenways in Oak Ridge, visit the City’s website atwww.OakRidgeTN.gov. For more information about the hike, contact Cindi Gordon at (865) 425-3559.

 

Flu hitting hard, Tennesseeans urged to get shots

 

An increasing number of Tennesseans have gotten the flu this season, and the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) notes it could be serious.  "Early indications suggest this could be a more severe flu season than we have had for some time," TDH commissioner John Dreyzehner said in a statement. "Vaccination is likely to reduce the risk of severe illness even if not all strains are matched to the vaccine throughout the season."

The organization also notes very young children, pregnant women and the elderly are at more risk to get the disease because of weaker immune systems.  "We recommend annual flu vaccination for everyone over the age of six months," Tennessee Immunization Program director Kelly Moore said in a release.  Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body ache and fatigue. People can help prevent the spread of influenza by washing their hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick.  The flu vaccine is available at a variety of clinics and pharmacies in Tennessee.

 

CCWF’s Moore wins award

 

Carol Moore, a founding board member of the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation and office manager of Geo/Environmental Associates Inc. of Knoxville, was presented Wednesday with the Anderson County Interagency Coalition's annual Starfish Award.  The presentation took place at Oak Ridge Associated Universities' board room.  The Starfish Award, based on the story of a boy who helps save the lives of beached starfish, is given each year to the person who has contributed to Anderson County's community at large.  The presentation was made by Rick Morrow, executive director of the Anderson County United Way.  Since 2002, Moore and the foundation have provided 36 scholarships to students from the Briceville area.  Through the foundation, more than $300,000 in scholarships, which range from $2,000 to $10,000, has been awarded to students, mainly from Briceville Elementary School.

 

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. 

 

Students of the 9 Weeks honored at CRCS

 

One of the highlights of any nine-week grading period at he Clinch River Community School is the recognition of four students identified as “Students of the 9 Weeks.”  Thursday was one of those recognition days and WYSH is happy to share with you some of the students who have made an impression on their teachers and other school staffers in the past nine weeks.  One student from each department—elementary, middle, high school and the 21st Century program—is recognized each grading period for their contributions and/or achievements.  The elementary student of the grading period is Jeff Hubbs, described as a “great example to his classmates” by his teachers.  Chandler Abbott was recognized as Middle School Student of the 9 Weeks.  His teachers say that Chandler “represents all that we strive to be at CRCS.”  Logan farmer received recognition in the high school category and was praised by his teachers for his drive and work ethic.  Amy Smith was honored in the 21st Century program for her creativity, empathy and infectious smile.  Congratulations to all four students and keep up the good work. 

 

Company raises $16+K for UWAC

 

(UWAC) Centrus Energy Corp., formerly known as USEC, recently announced that they raised in excess of $16,000 in their 2014 United Way of Anderson County (UWAC) campaign. This is a 10% increase over their gifts in 2013, an increase vitally important for UWAC to recovery from the last two difficult years. 

“We are delighted that we are part of the solution,” said Larry Cutlip, Deputy Director, ACP. “We know our community has struggled the last two years due to changes in federal funding, so our growth is exciting.” 

UWAC donations are used to support critical services in our community throughout the year. Local volunteers determine where to allocate money’s to make the greatest impact. “The amount Centrus Energy Corp. donated this year is roughly equivalent to the amount that Healthy Start of Anderson County receives each year,” said Rick Morrow, Director of UWAC.  Healthy Start has operated for more than 10 years in Anderson County and out of the 400+ first time Moms who are under resourced and highly stressed, not one of their children experienced abuse or neglect. 

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, please go to www.uwayac.org or call UWAC at 865-483-8431. UWAC has made donating simpler this year. You can use our Pal pay link to establish an on-going gift.

 

TVA nearing end of coal ash remediation

 

(TVA) The Tennessee Valley Authority says it is in the final stages of a recovery project in Kingston, fulfilling a promise to restore the area around the Kingston Fossil Plant following the December 2008 coal ash spill.  TVA says it reached a major milestone in early December, completing the cover for a 240-acre permanent ash retention landfill, which has been fortified with an underground earthquake-resistant wall anchored in bedrock and is covered by a flexible-membrane liner and geo-composite fabric, two feet of clay, topsoil and grass.  “We all know this incident shouldn’t have happened,” said TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson, who visited the recovery site on Dec. 17. “But we have learned from it and we are fulfilling our commitment to making it right.”  TVA also says it is working to restore the Emory River and its surrounding waterways. Crews are reforesting and adding vegetation, stabilizing shorelines and adding wetlands and other wildlife habitats. TVA has also opened Lakeshore Park with 32 acres of walking trails, fishing piers, a boat ramp and docks.  Over the next few months, TVA says it will be doing general site-cleanup, paving the last section of walking lands and preparing land for a multi-use ball field.  The project cost of about $1.1 billion remains within estimates.

In the early morning hours of Dec. 22, 2008, the north dike at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant collapsed, spewing an estimated 5.4 million cubic yards of ash and sludge into nearby homes and farmland. Some of the debris also made its way into the Emory River. Since then, TVA and other agencies, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, continue working on the recovery effort.

 

Don’t be SAD

 

Based on national estimates, thousands of Tennesseans struggle through the cold and dreary winter season with feelings of prolonged sadness. For an estimated 4 to 6 percent of the population, winter brings about periods of fatigue and in some cases anxiety known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or (SAD).  The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) recognizes SAD as a mood disorder that follows a pattern related to seasonal variations in sunlight.  “We all go through periods of feeling down,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner TDMHSAS. “SAD is something more serious than the occasional blues and can lead some people into periods of deep depression due in part to fewer hours of daylight in the winter months.” 

Common SYMPTOMS OF SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (sad)

Food Cravings, Changes in Appetite

Depression, Avoidance of Social Situations

Excessive Need for Sleep

“If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, a mental health professional can accurately diagnose SAD and offer treatment options,” said Dr. Howard Burley, TDMHSAS Medical Director.  “Gender may also play a role, as the disorder is four times more common in women than men. And young adults over the age of 20 are also more likely to suffer from SAD.” 

EASY WAYS TO BOOST YOUR MOOD IN WINTER

Get Outside in the Fresh Air

Expose Yourself to More Natural Light

Exercise and Maintain Proper Nutrition

“Here in Tennessee, the effects of SAD may not be as pronounced as they are in regions to the north where the winter season is longer and colder,” said Commissioner Varney. “If you or someone you know may be experiencing SAD, it’s best to consult a healthcare or mental health provider and follow their recommendations.”  If you or someone you care for is experiencing bouts of sadness and depression that seem more severe or concerning, the condition may be suggestive of something more serious.  For help in Tennessee, call the Toll-Free Statewide Crisis Telephone Line
1-855-274-7471 or 1-855 CRISIS 1

 

Residential 911 fees up, business fees down in AC

 

(AC Emergency Communications District) The Tennessee General Assembly passed the “911 Funding Modernization and IP.  Transition Act of 2014" on April 25, 2014. This new state law is effective January 1, 2015, and updates the existing model for funding 911 to account for changes in technology and consumer choice by establishing a single, uniform 911 surcharge rate across the state.  The law changes the way 911 surcharges are collected and paid and affects all 911 districts in Tennessee including Anderson County.  The new uniform rate accounts for advancements in technology needed to provide Tennesseans with prompt and accurate 911 services and it is intended to adequately fund local 911 services across Tennessee. Accordingly, all Anderson County residential and business lines, currently charged at 65 cents and $2.00 respectively, will be adjusted to $1.16 per month. The cellular 911 surcharge will also be adjusted from $1.00 to $1.16 per month. Under the new law all communications providers will remit 911 fees to the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, which in turn would remit 911 funds to local 911 Districts throughout Tennessee in the amount no less than the 911 revenue received by each district in 2012. In short, all telephone providers will pay the state who will pass the revenue along to each local 911 district.  This law also supports the state’s Next Generation 911 program. Next Generation 911 will provide better information and data to first responders, which allows local 911 operators quickly assess an emergency and ensure that the necessary equipment and personnel can promptly respond to the scene.  The “911 Funding Modernization and IP Transition Act of 2014" will provide the resources necessary to ensure that the citizens of Tennessee receive the best 911 service available.  Our highest priority is the public safety to the citizens of Anderson County. Dispatchers remain dedicated to ensure the quality of 911 service and response.  The new uniform rate goes into effect January 1, 2015. Customers will likely notice a change reflecting the new rate on their January landline and cellular telephone bills.

 

ACSD nabs wanted Sullivan man

 

Tuesday, Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a man wanted by authorities in Sullivan County for violating the state sex offender registry laws.  43-year-old Glen Reed Keller was the subject of a search by officials with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, who had alerted media outlets in the Tri-Cities to that search.  That report was shared with and aired on at least one Knoxville-area TV station.  Tuesday evening, a citizen called Anderson County’s dispatch center after seeing the report and provided information that led dispatchers to do what Chief Deputy Mark Lucas described as “very good investigative work” that turned up a possible address where Keller might be staying.  That information was sent to deputies, who located Keller at a home on White Oak Lane in Heiskell and took him into custody without incident.  He is being held at the jail for Sullivan County authorities and local investigators are following up to determine if any charges will be filed in Anderson County.  Lucas thanked the citizen for the tip that started the investigation and commended the dispatchers for their “research and some outstanding detective work…that resulted in a most wanted fugitive being arrested.”  Keller will be returned to Sullivan County to face charges there.

 

Small chemical spill at Y-12 prompts evaluation

 

The Purification Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge was evacuated Tuesday morning after a small chemical spill. Less than 10 people were in the building at the time of the spill, none of whom were in the immediate area.  There were no injuries, the National Nuclear Security Administration said.  The spill was reported at 10:24 a.m. Tuesday and was detected by sensors. The cause is unknown. There was no fire and no injuries.  Y-12’s fire department responded and so did other emergency personnel at the plant.  The spill involved less than one gallon of the flammable solvent acetonitrile and the substance had reportedly evaporated by Tuesday afternoon.  Acetonitrile is used in chemical processing at Y-12’s Purification Facility, said Steven Wyatt of the NNSA.  Wyatt said the chemical was not involved in uranium enrichment work at Y-12.  Officials say the spill was “well below reportable limits,” and there is no potential for health effects from the spill outside the building. Officials called the emergency response a “very conservative” one undertaken because of the nature of the spill.  At about 1:30 p.m., the plant said the Y-12 fire department had re-entered the facility, and described the situation as “stable.”  The NNSA and Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC manage and operate the plant.   

 

AC commissioners defer decision on bonuses

 

Monday, the Anderson County Commission referred a proposal to provide county workers with one-time bonuses using money from the general fund balance back to the Budget Committee.  Proposed earlier this year by Commissioner Myron Iwanski, the measure would pay an average of $640 to county workers as a way to make up for the fact that they have not seen any significant pay raises in recent years.  The $290,000 that has been set aside by commissioners to pay for the proposal is the amount over the $4 million minimum threshold that was in the general fund at the start of the current fiscal year.  Members of the Budget Committee will be tasked with figuring out all the details of how and when the bonuses would be given to workers as well as specific eligibility requirements.  The Commission established a minimum balance for the general fund in recent years as part of the effort to improve the county’s financial standing, raising it to $4 million last year.  The only way to appropriate any funds that take the general fund under the $4 million mark is through a super-majority—or 12 of 16—commissioners voting to spend that money, but since the proposal is based upon the $290,000 “surplus,” that will not be a factor in the Commission’s decision.  The proposal will be discussed again in January.

 

CHS SADD wins prize

 

The Clinton High School chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions—or SADD—Club came in 2nd place in State Farm's Celebrate My Drive campaign.  The CHS SADD Club will receive $500 in recognition of their efforts.

 

Roane authorities searching for robbery suspect

 

The Rocky Top Market in Midtown was robbed on December 7, and the Roane County Sheriff’s Office is asking for help solving the crime.  A man entered the Rocky Top store at about 2:35 am Sunday, December 7th and demanded cash, a press release said.  The suspect is considered armed and dangerous, the release said. Anyone with information is asked to call the Roane County Sheriff’s Office at (865) 717-4722 or the anonymous tip line at (865) 717-4217, or contact authorities through the sheriff’s website at www.roanesheriff.org or through a private message on Facebook.  You can also check out a surveillance photo of the suspect on the department’s webpage. 

 

UT-Battelle awarded for performance

 

UT-Battelle, the managing contractor of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, received high marks and a performance fee of $10.53 million for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.  UT-Battelle, which has managed ORNL since 2000, received an overall performance score of 94 out of 100.  UT-Battelle received "A-" grades in multiple categories, such as mission accomplishments, management of science and technology projects, contractor leadership, and facilities maintenance and infrastructure.  The contractor's lowest grade was a "B-" for environment, safety and health.  The DOE praised UT-Battelle for its overall management.  Among other things, the DOE praised the lab's continuing leadership in scientific computing, materials research and climate-related studies as well as the contractor's ability to manage costs during tough fiscal times.

 

Executive session leads to Commission fireworks

 

There was some drama during Monday night’s meeting of the Anderson County Commission when commissioners voted to go into executive session with County Law Director Jay Yeager to discuss the mounting number of lawsuits against the county.  Executive sessions are called for when commissioners want to go behind closed doors to discuss sensitive issues, mainly of a legal nature.  Monday, County Mayor Terry Frank indicated that she wanted to stay for the executive session, claiming ex oficio status as a member of the Commission.  Commission Chair Robert McKamey declined her request, citing her own repeated public statements that Yeager is not “her” attorney, that he does not represent her and that she neither values nor wants his legal advice.  After commissioners declined her request, she and several private citizens left the meeting room while commissioners retired to executive session.  We will bring you more information as it becomes available. 

 

Lawsuit filed against AC Circuit Court Clerk, county

 

A former employee of the Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office has filed an age discrimination lawsuit in Circuit Court against Court Clerk William Jones and the county.  69-year-old Helen Forrester was fired on September 10th, 2014, and according to the lawsuit filed Monday, after 24 years in the office.  Forrester’s lawsuit claims that she was fired so that Jones could replace her with someone younger despite her “good if not excellent” work and job performance evaluations.  The lawsuit also states that Forrester believed that she had an “expressed and/or implied contract of continuous employment [with the county], and otherwise maintained the right not to have her employment terminated without cause.”  The lawsuit seeks $300,000 in compensatory damages from the county for her “injuries, including a loss of salary, future earnings, and humiliation and embarrassment” caused by the defendant and $300,000 in treble damages against Jones for “interference with [Forrester’s] employment relationship with Anderson County government” as well as court costs and a jury trial. 

 

Marshall Hackworth passes

 

James Marshall Hackworth, Sr., a longtime community leader and father of former State Representative Jim Hackworth, has passed away.  Marshall Hackworth passed away Sunday at his home at the age of 83.  A retired DOE worker, Marshall Hackworth worked to help his fellow employees and their families receive assistance from the federal agency’s Sick Worker program.  Hackworth was also active with the Marlow Fire Department, serving as firefighter and on their board of directors.  In his later years, he became the face of the effort to construct a new public library in Briceville, serving as the Founder and Chairman of the Briceville Library Building Foundation.  He also served as chairman of the both the Anderson County and Regional Library Boards.  Mr. Hackworth’s family will receive friends Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 at Holley-Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton with a funeral service to follow in the chapel.  He will be laid to rest Saturday afternoon at Dutch Valley United Methodist Church. 

 

ORT:  Longtime community volunteer Tim Myrick passes

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Tim Myrick, one of the area’s most active community volunteers, died Sunday morning. He was at home with his wife Teresa by his side.  Friends are remembering him as a model community leader and volunteer. Myrick, who had been battling prostate cancer, had provided decades of service to the church and to Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties, or ADFAC, as well as to Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County. He played a key role in the renovation of Oak Ridge High School and modernization work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In 2012, he and Teresa pledged $25,000 to the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation’s “Making the Critical Difference” campaign for grants and scholarships.  Myrick was also on the board of directors for Living Waters, a charity that builds clean water systems in underserved areas such as Haiti but also in East Tennessee, and he and Teresa ran Jericho Farms and supported the Oak Ridge Farmers Market for more than a decade.  A memorial service for Myrick, who in June said he was 60 years old, is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, December 20, at the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church at 809 Oak Ridge Turnpike.

 

Elwood Pennington, longtime coach, passes

 

Elwood Pennington, a former Halls and Webb School of Knoxville assistant football coach and father of former NFL quarterback Chad Pennington, has died.  Webb announced Pennington's death Monday on its website. He had suffered heart problems in recent years, which were spent residing in Clinton.  Pennington, also known as "Coach P", taught middle school physical education at the private school almost 10 years, retiring from teaching in 2003. In addition to helping coach football for the Webb Spartans team, Pennington also taught middle and upper school girls' basketball.  He also had been an assistant coach at Halls High School.  Funeral arrangements are still pending.

 

Federal grant supports recovery program

 

(TDMHSAS) Hundreds more Tennesseans caught in a cycle of drug use and crime will have the chance to pursue treatment over prison with the help of new federal grant funds coming to the state.  The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) with support from the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDC) has been awarded nearly $1 million to expand the Morgan County Statewide Recovery Court and 28 participating county courts across the state.  The $1 million federal grant will support 60 individuals a year, allowing for a total of 180 men to receive services during the 3-year grant cycle. The referrals to the program will come primarily from felony recovery courts in Tennessee seeking more intensive services for their male defendants.

“The program in Morgan County and the other participating county recovery courts provides an alternative to going to prison for non-violent felony offenders with mental health and substance use disorders,” said E. Douglas Varney, TDMHSAS Commissioner. “This is a high-risk group of individuals who enter the program voluntarily for a chance to get long term treatment and turn their lives around.”
Once individuals complete the Morgan County Residential Recovery Court
program they will transition back to their home county court, where grant funds will continue to provide for a range of support services to help them continue along a path of recovery.
The
Morgan County Recovery Court is Tennessee’s statewide residential recovery court for men, offering a higher level of treatment to help them overcome their addiction issues. Currently the court accepts only adult male non-violent offenders, 18 and older, that would otherwise be headed to a state prison.

28 counties in 9 judicial districts including Anderson, Blount and Knox have some form of recovery court.

Goals of Tennessee Recovery Courts
- Redirect individuals out the criminal justice system
- Increase commitment to substance abuse treatment and recovery
- Reduce the use of alcohol and drugs, with an emphasis on Rx Drugs
- Provide recovery support services to 28 county courts

“The opportunity here is to focus on the root causes for an individual’s criminal behavior,” said Commissioner Varney. “Our hope is the men in this program regain the ability to sustain full-time employment, financial freedom, a stable home life and connections with loved ones and go on to lead healthy, drug-free and productive lives.”

 

Haslam unveils Insure Tennessee

 

(Governor Haslam) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today unveiled his Insure Tennessee plan, a two year pilot program to provide health care coverage to Tennesseans who currently don’t have access to health insurance or have limited options.  The program rewards healthy behaviors, prepares members to transition to private coverage, promotes personal responsibility and incentivizes choosing preventative and routine care instead of unnecessary use of emergency rooms.   

The governor announced that he plans to call a special session to focus on the proposal after the 109th General Assembly convenes in January.

“We made the decision in Tennessee nearly two years ago not to expand traditional Medicaid,” Haslam said.  “This is an alternative approach that forges a different path and is a unique Tennessee solution.  This plan leverages federal dollars to provide health care coverage to more Tennesseans, to give people a choice in their coverage, and to address the cost of health care, better health outcomes and personal responsibility.
“Our approach is responsible and reasonable, and I truly believe that it can be a catalyst to fundamentally changing health care in Tennessee.  It is our hope that this plan opens the door in the future for innovation within our existing Medicaid program.  I look forward to working with providers across the state to advance payment reform and with members of the General Assembly to make this plan a reality.”

Five key areas of the governor’s plan include:

  • A fiscally sound and sustainable program;
  • Providing two new private market choices for Tennesseans;
  • Shifting the delivery model and payment of health care in Tennessee from fee-for-service to outcomes based;
  • Incentivizing Tennesseans to be more engaged and to take more personal responsibility in their health;
  • And preparing participants for eventual transition to commercial health coverage.

Fiscally Sound and Sustainable Program

The program will not create any new taxes for Tennesseans and will not add any state cost to the budget.  The Tennessee Hospital Association has committed that the industry will cover any additional cost to the state.  The program will automatically terminate in the event that either federal funding or support from the hospitals is modified in any way.

New Private Market Choices for Tennesseans

Insure Tennessee offers several options of coverage for individuals below 138 percent of poverty ($16,100 for an individual and $27,300 for a family of three).  Tennesseans 21 to 64 years old will be offered a choice of the Healthy Incentives Plan or the Volunteer Plan.  The Volunteer Plan would provide a health insurance voucher to participants that would be used to participate in their employer’s health insurance plan.  The voucher, valued at slightly less than the average TennCare per-enrollee cost, can be used to pay for premiums and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with participation in an individual’s employer sponsored private market plan. 

Participants in the Healthy Incentives Plan may choose to receive coverage through a redesigned component of the TennCare program, which would introduce Healthy Incentives for Tennesseans (HIT) accounts, modeled after Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), which can be used to pay for a portion of required member cost-sharing. 

Payment Reform Efforts

The governor’s Delivery System Reform Initiative lays the foundation for reform by addressing the underlying quality and outcome deficiencies that contribute to growing health care costs and unaffordable insurance coverage.  This initiative creates financial incentives for providers to provide high quality care in an efficient and appropriate manner so as to reduce costs and improve health outcomes. Insure Tennessee builds on this reform initiative by creating new participant incentives that align with the existing provider incentives.  Ultimately, bringing the health care consumer into the equation is critical to successfully controlling cost growth.

Personal Responsibility and Patient Engagement

The voucher program provides a fixed contribution that can be applied to the costs of a person’s private market plan.  All costs incurred in excess of the amount of the voucher are the responsibility of the participant.  This structure empowers individuals to make a choice about which plan is better for their needs and to manage their health care expenses to avoid additional costs.

Newly eligible individuals who choose to participate in the TennCare program and whose incomes are above 100 percent of poverty will be required to pay premiums and copays for services.  All enrollees, including those with incomes below poverty, will have modest pharmacy copays.  TennCare members “earn” contributions into their HIT accounts by performing healthy behaviors.  The account then can be used to cover copayment expenses.

Prepares Participants for Commercial Health Coverage

The design of Insure Tennessee is based on private market principles that provide incentives to participants to engage in their health care by actively managing their health care costs.  Through both programs, Insure Tennessee introduces a commercial health insurance experience which can help Tennesseans prepare for independence from public assistance.

*  *  *

In June 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not mandate that states expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act.  In March 2013, Haslam announced that Tennessee would not expand the traditional Medicaid program but that he would work with the federal government on a plan for Tennessee that would take into consideration program cost, patient engagement, payment reform and health outcomes.  Since that time, he has kept those principles as priorities in working toward the Insure Tennessee plan.  Haslam has received verbal approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the plan.  The next steps are for the state to submit a waiver to HHS and for the governor to take the proposal to the legislature for consideration.  Haslam was joined for the announcement in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the State Capitol by representatives from a coalition of business, health care and civic organizations who applauded the plan and its impact on Tennessee.

 

TDEC announces Used Oil Collection Grants

 

(TDEC) The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Solid and Waste Management is announcing approximately $400,600 in Used Motor Oil Collection Grants for FY 2015.  “Used Motor Oil Collection Grants encourage cities and counties to establish collection centers where people can dispose of their used motor oil, which helps prevent pollution of our lakes, streams and groundwater,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “Communities across the state have taken advantage of this funding opportunity, and we look forward to seeing how they implement these measures to positively impact our environment.”  Tennesseans who change their own motor oil generate more than one million gallons of used oil each year, which can pollute soil and water and interfere with the operation of sewer systems when not properly disposed.  Used Motor Oil Collection Grants assist local governments in improving and expanding used oil infrastructure for the collection of used oil from do-it-yourselfers. Equipment purchased through the Used Motor Oil Collection Grants may include containers, used oil heaters, containment structures, shelter covers and other items. Tennessee counties, cities, solid waste authorities and counties having a metropolitan form of government are eligible for funding consideration.  Locally, the town of Rocky Top received a $14,600 grant for a new oil tank, a canopy, a pad, a heater pump and absorbent while Morgan County received $15,100 for the same equipment.  In the Used Oil Collection Act of 1993, the General Assembly established a mechanism to assist local communities in collecting used oil and reducing its negative effects on the environment. Tennessee’s Solid Waste Management Act requires counties to have at least one place in the county where used oil can be properly disposed. Used oil collection grants are funded by a two cent deposit on every quart of oil purchased in the state.

 

OR part of Manhattan Project Park

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Friday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to set up a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that includes Oak Ridge. The legislation passed the U.S. House earlier in the month, and it now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.  Besides Oak Ridge, the park will include Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington. Those two cities were also part of the Manhattan Project.  The proposal to set up the three-site park, the first to preserve and interpret the Manhattan Project, has been in the works for more than a decade and had previously stalled in the Senate after passing the House. It was included this month as a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate 89-11 on Friday. The House approved the legislation in a 300-119 vote on Thursday, December 4.  Properties included in the park in Oak Ridge are at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (once known as X-10), the Y-12 National Security Complex, and K-25, which is now known as Heritage Center. The park properties were used to enrich uranium (the fissile ingredients in an atomic bomb) or were essential to producing plutonium:

  • The X-10 Graphite Reactor served as a pilot facility for the plutonium production reactors at Hanford.
  • The Beta-3 Calutrons (Building 9204-3 at the Y-12 National Security Complex) separated the isotopes of uranium for the first atomic bomb and continued to be used for isotope separation for more than 50 years.
  • The Pilot Plant (Building 9731 at Y-12) demonstrated isotope separation techniques.
  • The K-25 Building site, once the world’s largest building under one roof, was once a mile-long, U-shaped facility that used gaseous diffusion to enrich uranium.

More than 30 sites in the United States and Canada contributed to designing and producing components for the atomic bomb during World War II. Oak Ridge had facilities that were built to produce enriched uranium, Los Alamos had the scientific laboratory that designed and tested the bomb, and Hanford was dedicated to the production of plutonium.  Besides the facilities at K-25, ORNL, and Y-12, the national park in Oak Ridge will also feature the former Guest House (later called the Alexander Inn), which was built to accommodate distinguished visitors such as General Leslie Groves, Enrico Fermi, and Ernest O. Lawrence.  The legislation passed by Congress establishes the park no later than one year after enactment. During that time, the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Interior need to enter an agreement on their roles and responsibilities.  As the nation’s storyteller, the National Park Service will interpret the Manhattan Project. The Department of Energy will ensure the public access, safety, environmental remediation, and historic preservation of its Manhattan Project properties, the Atomic Heritage Foundation said.  Read more at www.oakridgetoday.com

 

Campbell fugitive nabbed in South Carolina

 

A former Campbell County middle school teacher added to the TBI’s top 10 most wanted list after a robbery last week was captured in South Carolina on Friday night.  44-year-old Lonnie Lee Vann of Jacksboro was taken into custody Friday night in Myrtle Beach by South Carolina State police and a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force.  The TBI says that local police spotted Vann driving along U.S. Highway 501 in the same vehicle authorities said he was thought to be driving when he was added to the most wanted list.  Vann was added to the list after a Dec. 6 incident at a residence in Campbell County in which he was charged with two counts of aggravated robbery. The victims, a married couple, were acquaintances of Vann and say that he robbed them at gunpoint.  At the time of the robbery, Vann was free on bond after being indicted by a Campbell County grand jury in July on charges of solicitation of a minor, assault and tampering with evidence.  Those charges stem from an incident in October of 2013 in which he is accused of taking a 13-year-old girl off campus to the parking lot of Coolidge First Baptist Church and trying to hug and kiss her.  The indictment also accuses Vann of erasing digital information on the hard drive of a video surveillance system at the church.  Vann was being held at the Myrtle Beach Jail without bond, pending a court hearing. The TBI says that he is expected to be held on a fugitive from justice warrant until he can be extradited back to Tennessee.

 

Machete-wielding robber arrested

 

Kingston police have arrested a man who allegedly robbed a gas station with a machete Saturday night.  Joshua Branham is charged with aggravated robbery.  The Kingston Police Department says that Branham, armed with a machete, walked into an Exxon gas station on E. Race Street at 9:37 p.m. He demanded money from the clerk on duty then fled the scene on foot. 

 

ORT:  Fed facilities in OR make out well in spending bill

 

(Oak Ridge Today) The $1 trillion spending bill passed by the Senate on Saturday night includes more than $400 million in funding to support two Oak Ridge projects—building the world’s fastest supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said.  The appropriations legislation avoids a government shutdown and funds most of the government through September. The Senate approved it in a bipartisan 56-40 vote, and it now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

The Tennessee senator said the funding for the supercomputer and the Uranium Processing Facility was part of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which Alexander helped write. It included:

  • $104 million for supercomputing, following a November announcement by Alexander and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz that Oak Ridge would build a supercomputer five times the speed of Titan, its current machine.
  • $335 million for the Uranium Processing Facility, which processes enriched uranium for nuclear weapons systems. Alexander has pushed to keep costs under control, in part through the Red Team review led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Thom Mason. The UPF, which has a cost cap of $6.5 billion, is the federal government’s largest investment in Tennessee since World War II.
  • The closure of two facilities Alexander said perform duties that are redundant and can be accomplished more cost effectively elsewhere, saving taxpayers $120 million during the next 10 years. The first is the New Brunswick lab in New Jersey, which does work on radiation that is used in the calibration of radioactivity detection equipment and that Alexander said can be done in various other parts of the federal government. The second is the closure of the Lujan Center in New Mexico, which performs scientific research with neutrons that Alexander said can be done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

 

ETEC honors 4

 

(Submitted) Two titans of East Tennessee’s business community were honored Friday with the Muddy Boot Award, given by the East Tennessee Economic Council in an ongoing tribute to individuals who through their work and activities build a better community.  This year’s honorees were Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and leader of other state and local organizations, and David Coffey, a serial entrepreneur, past member of the Tennessee General Assembly, and a leader in promoting better education in the state.  ETEC also presented two Postma Young Professional Medals. Betsy Prine, a vice president of Gilmartin Engineering Services, and Cortney Piper, principal of Piper Communications, received the medals. The Economic Council’s annual celebratory event was keynoted by Tennessee Commissioner of Finance and Administration Larry Martin. University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and Pete Craven also participated, with the event chaired by Bonnie Carroll of Information International Associates.

 

ACDF back in compliance

 

Following up on a story you first heard on WYSH last week, Anderson County Sheriff Paul White officially announced Thursday that the Anderson County Detention Facility has been released from its Plan of Action by the Tennessee Corrections Institute.  According to a release from the ACSD, the TCI Board of Control met December 3 and voted to remove the Plan of Action after the facility met all the necessary requirements.  The Detention Facility had been placed on the Plan of Action in 2010 due to jail overcrowding and the inability to properly classify inmates as well as needed improvements and repairs to the jail facility and infrastructure.  The first phase of the needed changes was the construction of a minimum security dormitory for relief of some of the overcrowding issues.  This was completed in 2012.  The second phase was the construction of a large scale pod with cells for maximum and medium security inmates along with medical and special needs cells.  This was opened in June of 2014.  This allowed needed room for both male and female inmates and the ability for mandatory classification.  Other areas of the jail such as booking and medical were renovated as well to ensure the Detention Facility maintained compliance with TCI requirements.  In all, $10 million was spent to add the additional beds, which have brought the Detention Facility’s total capacity to 564 inmates.  Sheriff White said in the release that “The officers and staff of the Anderson County Detention Facility are to be commended for their hard work and dedication during these difficult times.  Their professionalism kept the facility in operation when the overcrowding was a serious issue as well as during the construction and renovation.  Thanks to the jail staff the facility maintained certification with TCI even during these periods.  The release also expressed thanks to the Anderson County Commission for providing the needed funding for these projects, and to then-County Mayor Myron Iwanski for his leadership in this effort.  We also wish to thank Law Director Jay Yeager for his valuable assistance in keeping Anderson County in compliance with the Plan of Action.”

 

AC DA:  Criminal probe underway in OR death

 

Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark says that a criminal investigation is underway in the death of a man whose body was found at an apartment in Oak Ridge early Monday, but there has not been an arrest yet and no charges have been filed.  Police officers responding to a call of a possible intruder at 615 West Vanderbilt Drive at about 4:40 a.m. Monday found the body of 29-year-old Thomas Steven Thrasher, Jr. in a second-floor apartment.  Clark said an autopsy has been performed by the Anderson County medical examiner, adding “As a result of the circumstances, the Oak Ridge Police and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have been conducting a criminal investigation,” Clark said.  Clark said state law prevents the release of the details of the death investigation until it’s over, public help is needed to locate a suspect or person of interest, or when an arrest is made.  “However, additional details will be made available upon completion of the investigation or in the event of an arrest,” Clark said.  In a press release Monday, the ORPD called the death “suspicious,” and they turned the case over to Clark. The DA in turn asked the TBI to investigate, TBI Public Information Officer Susan Niland said Wednesday.  Clark said Thrasher’s wife, Samantha Anne Thrasher, and two children lived with Thomas Thrasher, also known as “T.S.,” at the sprawling Rolling Hills Apartments complex in central Oak Ridge.

 

ORPD accepting applications for Citizens’ Academy

 

(ORPD) The Oak Ridge Police Department is pleased to announce the opening for applications for the Citizens Police Academy, which will begin on January 15, 2015 and run through March 19, 2015.  The Citizens Police Academy allows citizens to gain knowledge of how the Oak Ridge Police Department is organized and its functions, as well as improved understanding of the challenges in serving and protecting the community.  It requires a ten-week commitment from the participants and will be held one night a week, on Thursdays beginning at 6:00 PM and ending at 9:00 PM.  The goal of the Citizen’s Police Academy is to create and develop a nucleus of responsible and well-informed citizens who have an enhanced understanding of the Police Department and how it serves the City of Oak Ridge. 

The Citizens Police Academy consists of classroom and hands-on instructional learning experiences.  Subjects covered include:  law review, the job of a uniformed police officer, investigations, crime scene investigations, crime prevention, canine program, tactical operations, crime analysis, and much more.  Participants will be involved in activities such as touring the communications facilities and police department, using police equipment, canine demonstration, and firing department service weapons.
Graduates of the
Citizens Police Academy may be called upon to provide input and information to their neighborhoods or work environments, increasing citizen involvement on issues of mutual concern.  The program improves the commitment of the Oak Ridge Police Department to partner with citizens to build lasting and productive partnerships between the Oak Ridge Police Department and the community they serve. 
The Citizen’s
Police Academy is free of charge.  Each applicant must fill out an application and undergo a criminal background investigation prior to approval and admission.  Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and preference will be given to those who live or work in the City of Oak Ridge.  The instructional course will be held in the 2nd floor amphitheater of the Oak Ridge High School, 1450 Oak Ridge Turnpike.  Anyone wishing to apply for the Citizen’s Police Academy may do so by visiting www.OakRidgeTN.gov  or stopping by Police Records at the Municipal Building, 200 S Tulane Avenue for an application.  Class size is limited to 15, to allow for maximum instructor-student interaction.  Questions regarding the Citizen’s Police Academy can be directed to Community Resource Officer Brandan Sharp at 865-556-6696 or email bsharp@OakRidgeTN.gov

 

AC woman killed in wreck

 

An Anderson County woman died in a single-vehicle accident on Lake City Highway Tuesday morning.  According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 71-year-old Marianna Pearson of Clinton had been headed south in a Mazda 626 at around 9 am when she lost control of the car while negotiating a right hand curve near Pumphouse Lane.  The car went off the left side of the road and struck an embankment.  The cause of the crash is under investigation.

 

Campbell wreck kills one, injures one

 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says a Tuesday afternoon single-vehicle accident in Campbell County killed a Lafollette man who was riding in the car with his mother.  Troopers say the crash happened on Bethlehem Road shortly before 3 pm as 63-year-old Annette Meadows was heading north in a Pontiac Sunfire. They say she drove off the right side of the road, hit a culvert, and overturned, coming to rest on its roof.  The crash killed her son, 35-year-old Travis Meadows. He was a passenger in the car.  He was not wearing a seatbelt and the THP report indicates that it might have saved his life had he been buckled up.  Annette Meadows was injured in the crash but the extent of her injuries was not included in the report. 

 

2 die in Roane wreck

 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says two people were killed and one person injured after a three-car accident in Roane County on Tuesday night.  Officials say they received a call shortly before 7 pm about a wreck near the intersection of Highway 27 and Eagle Furnace Road.  A Roane County deputy on the scene told BBB-TV’s Dudley Evans that dispatchers had received a call about a car leaving Rhea county that was reportedly traveling north in the southbound lanes.  Shortly after deputies were sent to investigate, the 911 call about the accident came in.  The THP report indicates that 64-year-old Brenda Gardner of Rockwood had been headed north on Highway 27 in a Buick Riviera when the vehicles crossed the center line and collided head-on with a Hyundai Evo driven by Michelle Whittenbarger of Harriman.  The impact caused the Hyundai to collide with a Toyota Previa driven by David Turner of Spring City, who had also been headed south.  Gardner was killed in the crash and a 20-year-old passenger in Whittenbarger’s car, identified as Kaleb Poe of Spring City also died in the crash.  None of the three occupants of the Hyundai was injured.  It is not known if alcohol or drugs were involved but standard blood tests have been requested.  .The THP says that Gardner was the only person involved in the wreck who was not wearing her seatbelt. 

 

ACSD rounding up drug suspects

 

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department announced this morning that 25 people were indicted on drug related charges by an Anderson County Grand Jury in November as the result of investigations by the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit. Deputies have been out making arrests on these indictments as well as continuing investigations on related drug activity.  These drug investigations were conducted over the last few months, according to the ACSD.  The indictments were for manufacture, sale, delivery, or possession of illegal drugs and those indicted either sold to undercover agents or were in possession of drugs for resale. These indictments primarily include charges resulting from sale or possession for resale of prescription or legend drugs, as well as marijuana and methamphetamine related offenses.  Of the 25 people indicted, eighteen were charged with prescription narcotics offenses, three were marijuana related, and four were on methamphetamine charges.  Twenty-four of those indicted were adults while one was a seventeen year old juvenile.  As of today, twenty of the twenty-five persons indicted have been arrested by sheriff’s deputies including one that was already in custody. Deputies are continuing to search for the five remaining offenders.  In addition, a 17-year-old juvenile was charged with a marijuana-related offense.  These indictments come after hard work by investigators of the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit. The District Attorney General’s Office also spent many hours assisting investigators by preparing and presenting these cases to the Grand Jury.  Many of these cases were from cooperative investigations with other law enforcement agencies. Sixteen of these investigations were with the Rocky Top Police Department and five were with the 7th Judicial District Crime Task Force.  The 7th Crime Task Force is made up of officers from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, the Clinton Police Department, the Oak Ridge Police Department, the Oliver Springs Police Department, and the Rocky Top Police Department. The Task Force is managed through the District Attorney General’s Office and is made possible by a grant from the State of Tennessee, Office of Criminal Justice Programs. 

The suspects who have been arrested include

  • 30-year-old Tayna Lynn Austin of Rocky Top (on charges related to Percocet);
  • 55-year-old James Everette Barnes of Rocky Top (marijuana);
  • 49-year-old Ray McKinley Cooper of Rocky Top (percocet, violation of a drug-free school zone)
  • 33-year-old transient Melissa Curnutt (meth);
  • 37-year-old Jaime Dews of Clinton (Oxycodone);
  • 19-year-old Tommy Joe Draughn of Clinton (Oxycodone);
  • 48-year-old Sandra Goodman of Rocky Top (Oxycodone);
  • 42-year-old Roy Lynn Harness of Clinton (marijuana, paraphernalia, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony);
  • 77-year-old Alma Hegwood of Rocky Top (Percocet);
  • 50-year-old Johnny Dwayne Kennedy of Rocky Top (meth);
  • 42-year-old Tommy Lynn Long of Oak Ridge (Oxycodone);
  • 57-year-old Guy Duane Love of Rocky Top (Hydrocodone);
  • 28-year-old Bryan Alexander Maiden of Rocky Top (Suboxane);
  • 47-year-old Vickey May Phillips of Rocky Top (Oxycodone);
  • 32-year-old Rickey Glenn Poore of Knoxville (Hydrocodone);
  • 32-year-old Matthew Paul Strizak of Clinton (Oxycodone);
  • 55-year-old Philip William Vandergriff of Rocky Top (Oxycodone);
  • 24-year-old Dale Steven White of Rocky Top (Suboxane…in custody on several other charges);
  • 28-year-old John Paul Wyres of Rocky Top (meth).

There are continuing investigations into other related drug cases and no additional information can be released at this time.

 

ORPD IDs man whose body was found inside apartment

 

Oak Ridge Police have identified the man whose body was found in an apartment Monday morning.  Police have identified the man as 29-year-old Thomas Thrasher.  Officers said they were called to an apartment on West Vanderbilt Drive Monday morning around 4:40 a.m. for a report of a possible intruder.  When the officers arrived, they found Thrasher dead in the apartment.  Thrasher’s death is being investigated as a homicide, but the cause of death has not been determined pending the results of an autopsy.

 

ORT:  1 injured in Marlow wreck

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Rescuers had to extricate the male driver of a car that rolled down a drop-off alongside Oliver Springs Highway and hit a large tree Tuesday morning, and the man was in stable condition with minor injuries,.  The single-vehicle crash was reported at about 6:50 a.m. Tuesday on Oliver Springs Highway near Bill Key Lane.  The Ford Taurus was headed toward Oliver Springs when it rolled a few times down a 10- to 15-foot drop-off alongside the highway. The car stopped when it hit a large tree.  Rescuers had to use tools to open the driver’s door. The man, whose name was not immediately available, was taken by ambulance to Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge.  The Marlow Fire Department and Anderson County EMS, the Anderson County Rescue Squad, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, and Tennessee Highway Patrol all responded.

 

ACSD warns of scam calls

 

(AC Sheriff Paul White) The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is putting out a warning about a telephone scam that is again circulating in Knox County.  The caller pretends to be a sheriff's deputy or court official and says that the person has an outstanding warrant, didn’t report for jury duty, or has a failure to appear, and that it can be taken care of with a certain amount of money.  He then says the money can be transferred to the caller with a Greet Dot card, prepaid credit card, or to meet and bring the "cash bond".  This same scam occurred earlier in the year in our area including Anderson County.  So far no new cases have been reported in Anderson County but the scam appears to target residents in all of our area counties.  The Anderson County Sheriff's Department wants the public to know that the Sheriff’s Department and the Clerk’s Office do NOT make phone calls on such matters.   If calls of this nature are received, THIS IS A SCAM.  Many of these scams use various law enforcement or court official's real names such as the Chief Deputy or the Court Clerk.  Do NOT give out personal information over the phone or forward any money.  If anyone receives such a call please contact your local law enforcement agency.

 

CPD’s Gregory named GHSO Officer of the Year for ET

 

(CPD) Sgt Scott Gregory of the Clinton Police Department was recently recognized by the Governor's Highway Safety Office (GHSO) for his performance serving and protecting the citizens of Clinton. Gregory was named "East Tennessee Municipal Officer of the Year" for 2014. The special award plaque was presented December 8th during the GHSO joint network meeting in Knoxville.  Lt. Larry Miller, who heads up CPD's Governor's Highway Safety Program, nominated Sgt Gregory, saying: "He is our agency's DUI Instructor and he is the lead investigator on our Traffic Accident Fatality Team. He serves with his heart to protect the roadways of Clinton in all areas of traffic enforcement. During this year he had 12 DUI arrests. This is an awesome accomplishment... as he keeps up with all the supervisor duties, of his assigned patrolmen, during their daily activities."  The Clinton Police Department stresses the importance of having officers like Scott Gregory on the force. Chief Rick Scarbrough said: "The effort of Sgt Gregory, who has been with the department for more than fifteen years, has greatly contributed to CPD's ability to better serve and protect the citizens of Clinton." 

 

ORT:  ACSD investigating theft of tobacco products

 

(Oak Ridge Today) The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the theft of over $4,000 worth of tobacco products from a gas station on Edgemoor Road early Tuesday morning.  The burglary occurred at the Marathon gas station and store at 1060 Edgemoor Road just before 3:30 am Tuesday.  Video footage from the store’s security system shows a white man of medium build using what appears to be a crowbar to break the glass on a front door before entering the store, according to the ACSD’s incident report. The unidentified man then went behind the counter and placed cigarettes and cans of smokeless tobacco into a bag before leaving the store. The suspect was described as wearing a gray hat and jacket, dark-colored gloves, and blue jeans. He had covered his face with a bandana.  The suspect stole an estimated $3,960 worth of cigarettes and $174 worth of smokeless tobacco, and he caused about $400 in damage to the glass door, Poole said.  The burglary was reported by a newspaper delivery man who noticed the broken door early Tuesday morning.  The case has been turned over to the Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigations Division.

 

Y-12 to develop reactors for use in space

 

The Y-12 National Security Complex is taking their uranium expertise to outer space.  The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Production Office (NPO) at Y-12 entered into an agreement earlier this year with NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, to support the design of a small nuclear-powered reactor with the potential to lead to small fission power reactors for future space exploration missions.  For the first phase of the project, Y-12 will research materials and manufacturing processes for a physics demonstration of a kilowatt-range nuclear reactor, known as project Kilopower, using an enriched uranium-molybdenum metallic fuel core and a lithium-hydride shield. “Science missions are seeking greater power and functionality,” explained Lee Mason, chief of the Thermal Energy Conversion Branch at Glenn. “We’re planning to demonstrate the technology in a ground test using a prototype U-235 reactor core.”  The project will build on successful proof-of-concept testing conducted at the Nevada National Security Site in 2012.  This past year, Y-12 provided technical research and development, or R&D, to support the reactor design process and material compatibility studies. Upcoming tasks include Y-12 manufacturing and supplying both depleted- and enriched-uranium reactor core prototypes for testing.  The NASA Kilopower project calls for Y-12 to deliver the U-235 reactor core to the National Criticality Experiments Research Center by the end of Fiscal Year 2016. Critical experiments using the Kilopower reactor core will be performed in FY 2017 under the auspices of the DOE Nuclear Criticality Safety Program working with NASA.

 

Sleepy man arrested at Wal-Mart

 

A Norris man was arrested Sunday afternoon after he acted suspiciously at the Wal-Mart in Clinton.  Clinton Police responded to the store shortly before 6 pm Sunday on a report of a suspicious person.  Officers spoke with an employee in the sporting goods section of the store and the clerk told them that a man later identified as 36-year-old Douglas Junior Rose had approached the counter and asked for .22-caliber ammunition, explaining that “Somebody is following me and I need to shoot them.”  The clerk also told police that Rose had told another customer that he had been released from prison five months ago.  Officers located Rose and spoke with him and in his report Officer Maxwell Smith wrote “After he fell asleep while I was talking to him, I determined he was too impaired to safely care for himself.”  Rose was taken to the Anderson County Jail, booked on a charge of public intoxication and later released after posting bond.

 

Roane increases fees on sex offenders

 

Roane County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to pass a proposal that will require sex offenders to pay an additional $50 each year.  Currently, all Tennessee sex offenders are required to pay $150 annually to the state, but earlier this year state lawmakers passed legislation allowing municipalities to charge sex offenders in their county an additional $50.  The Roane County Sheriff's Office has a division dedicated to keeping track of the area's sex offenders. It alerts victims and residents when an offender moves into their neighborhood.  Monday's resolution required a two-thirds vote to pass. Sheriff Jack Stockton said the additional money will go toward flyers and emails to alert residents when offenders move into the area as well as costs to manage the website.  To find out if a sex offender lives in your neighborhood visit the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Sex Offender Registry.  Once there, click on "Map Offenders by Location" located on the top right side of the screen. Once there, you can enter your address information and it will show you the sex offenders living within a certain distance from your location.

 

Report:  State’s long-term debt obligations reduced by millions

 

The State of Tennessee continues a positive trend. Tennessee’s long-term general obligation debt has decreased by more than $175 million since June 30, 2012.  The Comptroller’s Office has just released the State of Tennessee Indebtedness Report, documenting the state’s solid credit ratings and debt management record.  The report shows Tennessee’s total long-term outstanding general obligation debt is $1,817,950,000. The state’s general obligation bonds are used primarily to fund capital projects, provide grants to local development boards and support economic development.  Tennessee’s Bond Financing is also the subject of Comptroller Justin P. Wilson’s latest quarterly report on the fiscal affairs of the state.  The report states that Tennessee has one of the lowest overall debt burdens in the country, and is currently projected to repay more than 66% of its outstanding general obligation debt within 10 years.  “Tennesseans should applaud the conservative financial principles of our General Assembly and Governor Haslam,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Simply stated, Tennessee doesn’t borrow much money and pays back what it owes quickly.”  To view the Indebtedness Report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/sl/index.asp.  To view the Fiscal Affairs Report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/com/FiscalAffairs.asp

 

3M announces Clinton facility

 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with 3M Company officials announced today the company will purchase a 772,000 square foot building located on 160 acres in the Eagle Bend Industrial Park in Clinton. The announcement is the latest step in 3M’s efforts to grow its North American manufacturing operations, and represents an investment of $135 million and the creation of 100 new jobs in Anderson County.  The company will manufacture products for the oil, gas, and automotive industries. The company is expected to invest $135 million and create 100 new jobs in Anderson County.  3M purchased the former Food Lion distribution center facility for roughly $14.4 million. The sale closed on Friday, said Tim Thompson, president of the Anderson County Economic Development Association. 

“We want to welcome 3M to Tennessee and thank the company for its investment and the new jobs that will be created in Clinton,” Haslam said. “Here in Tennessee, we work to create a business-friendly environment that attracts new companies to the state while helping them grow and succeed, and today’s announcement brings us one step closer toward our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.” 

“The Tennessee brand continues to be strengthened as companies recognize and utilize our state’s strong infrastructure, business-friendly environment and quality workforce,” Hagerty said. “3M is known around the world for its wide array of exceptional products, and I am pleased to see that the company has chosen Tennessee to expand its manufacturing operations while adding to our state’s outstanding workforce.” 

With renovations slated to begin this month, 3M plans to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2015. The Clinton facility will produce a variety of products for the oil and gas and automotive industries. 

“I could not be prouder or happier to have 3M Company choose Anderson County as a place to work and grow their business,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said. “3M has nothing short of an incredible track record of innovation that touches just about all of our lives, and we’re thankful for their continued commitment to hard work and progress. Their decision to locate here is a testament to the commitment of our economic development team to bring jobs and investment, and help industries accomplish their goals.”

“We are honored to have the 3M Company as a part of our community. This Fortune 500 company is known worldwide for their products, innovation and growth potential,” Clinton Mayor Scott Burton said. “We would like to thank the state of Tennessee and TVA for their roles in bringing 3M to Clinton. The city of Clinton has been blessed over the past 12 months with the announcement of over $270 million in new capital investment and 1,200 jobs.” 

“TVA and Clinton Utilities Board congratulate 3M on its announcement to locate in Clinton and create new quality jobs for community residents,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “TVA is pleased to partner with the state of Tennessee, Anderson County EDA and the city of Clinton to help employers like 3M invest and grow in our region.” 

3M will begin hiring mid-2015 and will provide more information on where people can apply at that time.

 

McNally honored by State Chamber of Commerce

 

(Submitted) The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Oak Ridge Chamber have awarded the coveted “Champion of Commerce” award to State Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).  The “Champion of Commerce” award is presented locally in coordination with the Tennessee Chamber and local chambers of commerce.  The prestigious award recognizes individuals that exemplify outstanding achievement promoting business and free enterprise during the 2013 – 2014 108th General Assembly. 

 “We are proud to recognize Senator Randy McNally,” said Bradley Jackson, Vice President of the Tennessee Chamber Government Affairs Program.  “This is a great opportunity to showcase these legislators who went above and beyond on a number of pro-business policies at the State Capitol.” 

The statewide board of directors for the Tennessee Chamber approves the award for legislators who have demonstrated exemplary efforts in protecting and promoting business and free enterprise at the conclusion of each General Assembly.  The select award is given to just over five percent of the total 132 members of the General Assembly. 

"The Chamber of Commerce has a strong set of values and a vision for improving job opportunities for Tennesseans," said Senator McNally.  "I am very honored to receive this award and look forward to continuing to work with them on legislation to improve education and create jobs in Tennessee.”

 

ASAP wins national recognition

 

(Submitted) Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention of Anderson County (ASAP) has won a GOT OUTCOMES Coalition of Excellence award by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). ASAP has been awarded a Milestones award for its efforts to reduce underage drinking rates in the community.

Sponsored by CADCA’s National Coalition Institute, the GOT OUTCOMES! Awards give national recognition to coalitions that make a strong case for their contribution to population-level substance outcomes by utilizing an inclusive, data-driven, and comprehensive community problem solving process. Coalitions complete a competitive and rigorous two-phase application process and are judged by a panel of experts at the federal, state and local levels. The Milestone category provides newer coalitions — or those with more recently implemented strategies — the opportunity to highlight their contributions toward achieving community-level reductions in one or more substance abuse or substance abuse-related issues.

ASAP coalition members identified that local businesses were a point of access of alcohol for adolescents, primarily due to the lack of training resources available locally to clerks. Through partnering with TopShelf Responsible Beverage Service and Beer Boards, the ASAP coalition was able to make a training program available within the county and through the Underage Drinking Task Force, worked with County Commission and City Councils to pass ordinances mandating responsible alcohol sales training. “Local businesses were key in helping identify problems and help develop solutions. Their embrace of this initiative ultimately ensured its success,” said Stephanie A. Strutner, Executive Director of ASAP of Anderson County.  Strutner went on to say, “ASAP is honored to be recognized with this prestigious award. We are delighted to be the recipient of the “Milestones Award” recognizing our achievements; more importantly, we are thrilled our efforts have made strides in reducing underage drinking and related negative consequences in our community. The greatest praise is due to our partners, without whom, this award would have never been possible. From planning to implementation, they are our boots on the ground.” Strutner said a special expression of gratitude should be extended to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Clinton Police Department, Oliver Springs Police Department, Norris Police Department, Rocky Top Police Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, local Beer Board members, Kim Pouncey with TopShelf Responsible Beverage Service, Catherine Brunson, Underage Drinking Task Force members and local businesses. The coalition will receive their award on-stage during the Awards Luncheon at CADCA’s 2015 National Leadership Forum, held Feb. 2-5 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center just outside of Washington, D.C. To learn more about CADCA’s GOT OUTCOMES! Awards, visit: www.cadca.org/gotoutcomes.

 

HHS Report:  More options for Tennesseeans in 2015 Marketplace

 

(HHS) New choices and more competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace are giving Tennessee consumers affordable options during Open Enrollment this year, and the majority of returning consumers who shop can save money on premiums, according to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

With 25 percent more issuers participating in the Marketplace in 2015, based on analysis of 35 states, more than 90 percent of consumers nationwide will be able to choose from three or more issuers—up from 74 percent in 2014. In Tennessee, consumers can choose from 5 issuers in the Marketplace in 2015 – up from 4 in 2014.  And Tennessee consumers can choose from an average of 71 health plans in their county for 2015 coverage—up from 48 in 2014.  

Nearly 8 in 10 current Marketplace consumers can find coverage in the 2015 Marketplace for $100 or less, taking into account any applicable tax credits.  In 2014, 80 percent of Tennessee consumers who selected a Marketplace plan received financial assistance. For returning customers, it pays to shop.  More than 7 in 10 current Marketplace enrollees can find a lower premium plan in the same metal level—before tax credits—by returning to shop.  If all returning consumers switched from their current plan to the lowest-cost premium plan in the same metal level, the total savings in premiums would be over $2 billion. 

 “The Health Insurance Marketplace is open for business, and Tennessee consumers have affordable choices for renewing their coverage and signing up for the first time,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “In today’s Marketplace, issuers are competing for business. With additional quality, affordable plans available, returning Tennessee customers may find an even better deal if they shop and save.”

Today’s report finds that premiums for the second-lowest cost, or “benchmark,” silver plan held stable in Tennessee for 2015 coverage, with a 6 percent increase on average before tax credits.  Nationally, premiums for the second-lowest cost, or “benchmark,” silver plan also held stable for 2015 coverage, with only a modest 2 percent increase on average before tax credits in 35 states. Many consumers will be eligible for tax credits to help with the cost of monthly premiums.

Before the Affordable Care Act, people who purchased health insurance plans in the individual market often saw double-digit rate increases on average, with very limited options for shopping around because plans could deny them coverage, or charge them higher rates based on pre-existing conditions or their gender. This year, consumers have the option to renew their current plan or shop around to select the plan that best meets their needs and their budget. And with the new window shopping tool at HealthCare.gov, it's easier than ever.

Open Enrollment in the Marketplace runs from Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015.  Consumers should visit HealthCare.gov to review and compare health plan options. All consumers shopping for health insurance coverage for 2015—even those who currently have coverage through the Marketplace—should enroll or re-enroll between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15 in order to have coverage effective on Jan. 1, 2015.

Today’s report reflects individual market health plan premium data for 35 states. It does not include Oregon or Nevada, which are using the federal eligibility and enrollment platform this year, and other State-based Marketplaces.  Findings are presented at the county level, rather than by rating area, to better reflect plan service areas and the consumer experience.

For additional information on Health Plan Choice, Premiums and Affordability in the 2015 Health Insurance Marketplace, including data for states and select counties visit:http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2015/premiumReport/healthPremium2015.pdf

To preview plans, prices, covered benefits and physician and hospital networks in your area visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/find-premium-estimates/

Consumers can find local help at: Localhelp.healthcare.gov/. Or call the Federally-facilitated Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855- 889-4325. Translation services are available. The call is free. 

 

Federal lawsuit filed over Public Works termination

 

On Wednesday, former Anderson County Public Works employee Lisa Crumpley filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the county and her former boss, Public Works Director David Crowley.  Crowley fired Crumpley over the phone before 6 am October 9th, hours before he himself surrendered at the Anderson County Jail on a five-count indictment accusing him of conducting building inspections without the proper certifications.  The lawsuit accuses Crowley of gender bias, retaliation against a whistleblower and not paying overtime and also accuses County Mayor Terry Frank of lying to Crumpley about Crowley’s certifications, allegedly telling Crumpley that Crowley had the credentials to conduct building inspections.  According to the suit, despite repeatedly failing building certification tests, Crowley told Crumpley and others that he had certification and continued to do inspections, allegedly “order[ing] Crumpley to fill out inspection reports in order to cover up his illegal activity."  During an ensuing TBI investigation—which ultimately concluded with the indictments against Crowley—Crumpley was interviewed twice by agents.  The lawsuit accuses Crowley of plotting to fire Crumpley "in retaliation for her refusal to participate in his illegal activities and for her participation in the state's investigation of his illegal activities," according to the court filing.  As we first reported in October, Crumpley had attorney David Stuart send a letter to Mayor Frank and other officials, including County Commission Chairman Robert McKamey, the week before she was fired stating that she feared she would be retaliated against for cooperating with the  TBI and requesting protection. That letter was dated October 3rd.  The lawsuit also alleges Crumpley had to work unpaid overtime, including during her lunch breaks and that Crowley "is biased against females” and accuses Crowley of "openly [telling] people he wanted only men working full time in the Department of Public Works."  The lawsuit also alleges that the Tennessee Public Protection Act protecting whistleblowers was violated because Crumpley refused "to participate in or remain silent about illegal activities."  The lawsuit claims Crumpley suffered "emotional stress, humiliation and embarrassment" and seeks unspecified punitive damages as well as reinstatement, payment of attorneys' fees and all other relief provided under various federal laws.  Crumpley has also filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint over her firing, alleging sex discrimination, and a copy of that complaint is included in the court filing.  Since her termination, Crumpley’s personnel file has gone missing and is at the heart of Sheriff’s Department investigation, the details of which we have previously reported.  A letter from Crowley’s attorney to the County Commission claims that the personnel file did not go missing from the Human Resources Department until after Crowley and her attorney—also her sister, former Anderson County Juvenile Court Judge April Meldrum—had visited the office to review both Crowley and Crumpley’s personnel files.  WYSH has been told by sources that the personnel file, and other documents reported missing from Public Works, have been turned over to investigators, but that has not been confirmed by anyone in the Sheriff’s Departments. 

 

OR students, staff donate to UWAC

 

(UWAC) The Oak Ridge School staff and students stepped up in a big way, donating nearly $14,000 to the United Way of Anderson County’s (UWAC) 2014 campaign.  These funds will go to support 32 agencies and 50 different programs that provide services here in Anderson County. Donations such as these helped provide 149 families the supplies to grow their own garden this year. Each garden is expected to produce more than $450 of fresh food.  For more information about UWAC services and to donate to provide this type of assistance to our neighbors, please go to www.uwayac.org or call UWAC at 865-483-8431.

 

Report:  Are Tennessee Children Prepared to Learn?

 

The latest edition of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth’s KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child in Tennessee report focuses on the importance of making sure children arrive at school with the cognitive, social and emotional skills they need to learn.

At the beginning of the school year, children wait for the school bus or in the drop-off lane for their first experience of school. Many of them arrive with the skills they need to learn. Many, however, arrive with gaps in the foundation for learning that must be filled so they can make the most of their experience.  Children do not enter school as blank slates, each equally impressionable to educators’ efforts. Children enter school with figurative backpacks. Some children come with an eagerness to learn, good health, emotional security and a sense of safety fostered by a supportive family and community. Others come without important tools for learning and already weighed down by the trauma of poverty, hunger, violence or abuse.

More than half the expenditures for children through the Tennessee state budget go to education, mostly for educating children ages 6 or older. The return on investment for this spending depends on the foundation formed in students’ first five years. During this critical time, children either develop the skills they need to learn or learn to cope with adversity in ways that undermine their opportunities for success in school and in life.

Ongoing research reinforces the importance of the early years when brain cell connections are developed – social and creative stimulation exercises the “muscles” of these connections. Trauma, lack of health care, stress caused by families’ child-care problems and erratic job schedules, inadequate nutrition, and a range of other conditions can combine to create a shaky foundation for learning.

Policy recommendations in the State of the Child report include:

·         Accepting federal Medicaid expansion funds;

·         Expanding voluntary, high-quality pre-K opportunities for all at-risk Tennessee children;

·         Expanding home visitation programs providing support to new parents;

·         Developing strategies to prevent or reduce the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences that cause toxic stress.

 “We welcome the state’s application for much-needed federal pre-K funds for Nashville and Shelby County and steps to implement a Tennessee plan for Medicaid expansion to provide health care for Tennesseans left in the gap between coverage by the state’s current Medicaid program and the Affordable Care Act,” O’Neal said. “Tennessee is giving away $4.7 million federal funds every single day by rejecting Medicaid expansion.”

The report, published annually, also lists county-by-county health, education, child welfare, demographic, economic and other data on Tennessee’s children. KIDS COUNT: The State of the Child 2013 is available on TCCY’s website at www.tn.gov/tccy/kc-soc13.pdf. Interactive information from the book and additional data on child well being for all states is also available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org.

The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth is a small state agency created by the Tennessee General Assembly. Its primary mission is to advocate for improvements in the quality of life for Tennessee children and families. Partial funding for TCCY’s KIDS COUNT program is provided through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to disadvantaged children.

 

Officials discuss Main Street OR project

 

(Information from Oak Ridge Today) City officials and developers discussed their plans to revitalize the former Oak Ridge Mall on Tuesday and said that so far, everything involving the long-awaited project is on pace to break ground next spring.  James Downs, a partner of Crosland Southeast, the North Carolina-based company that has proposed the project, updated members of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce during a Tuesday morning Rise and Shine sponsored by the Chamber at Courtyards Senior Living on Briarcliff Avenue.  The company could break ground on the 350,000-square foot project next spring. Construction work, including demolition of the existing areas between anchor stores Belk and JC Penney, could be completed by the summer of 2016, making it available to retailers by the fall of that year.  Main Street Oak Ridge, as the project will have 350,000 square feet of commercial space, including the space already occupied by those two anchors.  Officials said that the project could also include eight to 12 restaurants, 150 apartment units, and a hotel featuring between 110-130 rooms. There could also be some office space, said Downs, who says developers want to revitalize the 58-acre site to “raise the tide” for other businesses and the community, adding that “we want to restore [the city’s] soul.”  Officials say that around 75% of the retail space has either been leased or is in negotiation to be leased.  Developers can’t disclose the identity of potential retailers or tenants, or developers who might be interested in building the apartments or hotel.  According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, Crosland Southeast is in “advanced discussions” with potential developers of the apartments and hotel. Those companies would buy the sites with infrastructure already installed, and could “go vertical” as Main Street Oak Ridge is built, Downs said.  The nearby Tinseltown Theater and Walmart are not part of the project, but Crosland Southeast is working with them, and are said to be excited about the redevelopment. 

As part of the project overview, officials also announced several other developments.

  • The U.S. Economic Development Administration has denied a $1 million grant application for the project. The grant would have been matched by city funds and used for public infrastructure, including the reconstruction of Wilson Street and the two main streets, as well as for a traffic signal on Rutgers Avenue at the main entrance. Those roads will then become public streets.  Since the grant application was denied, city officials plan to use $500,000 from an Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board grant and $500,000 in proceeds from a tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement. According to ORT, the city could reapply for the EDA grant next year.
  • The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury and commissioner of Economic and Community Development notified the city on Monday that a 10-year extension of the city’s portion of the $13 million TIF agreement has been approved, pushing it from 20 years to 30. It had already been approved by the Oak Ridge City Council and Anderson County Commission. A TIF agreement uses new property tax revenues generated at a site to help pay for development costs.
  • Also, discussions continue between Crosland Southeast and local lenders who could help finance the TIF loan portion of the project. Those lenders are encouraged, but the discussions aren’t complete, said Chris Johnson, president of ORNL Federal Credit Union and board chair of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

For much more on this story, including a look at how businesses close to Main Street Oak Ridge and those that are not so close could potentially benefit from the ambitious project, visit www.OakRidgeToday.com.

 

Roane murder suspect’s bond revoked, parents get money back

 

The parents of a Knox County man accused in a Roane County murder will get the $250,000 they paid for his release back.  On Tuesday, a judge revoked Shawn Smoot's bond on charges of first-degree murder stemming from the 2011 shooting death of Brooke Morris. Morris was Smoot's former girlfriend and an employee at his Knoxville insurance agency.  Her body was found by the side of rural Roane County road.  In March 2013, Smoot's parents posted his $250,000 bond with the Roane County Criminal Court. But in late April, officials arrested Smoot on a DUI charge in McMinn County. A judge later revoked his bond, but officials had already released Smoot from jail. Smoot was free until U.S. Marshals captured him at a mental hospital in Chattanooga on May 5.  Last month, Smoot's parents filed a motion asking the court for the money back. The district attorney general's office also filed a motion, claiming that Smoot's parents should be liable.  A judge ruled in the parents’ favor on Tuesday.  Smoot will stay in jail until his murder trial starts in March.

 

Clinton wreck injures one

 

A Tuesday afternoon traffic accident sent a Clinton man to the hospital.  Witnesses told Clinton Police that as 58-year-old Danny Tucker was traveling west on North Charles Seivers Boulevard near Sinking Springs Road at around 2:15 pm Tuesday, that his Chevy Cavalier had suddenly veered right and left the side of the road, striking a rock face and turning over on its driver’s side.  Tucker told emergency responders that he felt something give way seconds before the wreck that caused him to lose control of the car.  He was extricated from his car by the Clinton Fire Department and transported by Anderson County EMS by ambulance to Methodist Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. 

 

Online service ranks OR schools high in state

 

All seven schools in the Oak Ridge schools are ranked among the top 100 schools in Tennessee in their respective categories, according to a private, online rankings service.  The rankings were compiled by a company called Niche using federal education data along with student and parent input, according to a press release.  Glenwood Elementary is ranked fourth among state elementary schools, while Woodland Elementary is 29th, Linden 36th and Willow Brook is listed 82nd. There are 982 elementary schools in the state.  Jefferson Middle School was ranked second in the state, while Robertsville Middle came in 14th. There are 306 middle schools in Tennessee.  Oak Ridge High came in 11th in Tennessee among high schools, of which there are 318 across the state. Niche rankings only included the top 100 schools in each category.  As a system, Oak Ridge came in fifth in the Best School Districts in Tennessee category out of 137 districts.

 

THP announces safety grants

 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol announced today that it will receive traffic safety grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to provide increased enforcement, public awareness campaigns and help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes on state roadways in 2015. The grant funds were distributed through the Governor’s Highway’s Safety Office (GHSO). 

The THP continues to target seat belt usage across the state. The BELTS program will provide funding to allow state troopers to enhance the current seat belt usage rate of 87.7 percent. Statistical data revealed that unrestrained fatalities are most likely to occur on Fridays and Saturdays than any other day of the week. 

Goals of the BELTS Program include:

·         Conducting seat belt checkpoints in each of the eight THP Districts each month;

·         Each district will participate in the 12 statewide seat belt blitzes scheduled;

·         Reducing the number of unrestrained drivers in fatal and injury crashes by five percent;

·         Increasing the seat belt usage rate by 2.5 percent. 

THP received $130,068.48 in grant monies for the BELTS program.

The Sober Up TN program allows the THP to allocate additional hours for state troopers to patrol the interstates, conduct sobriety checkpoints, perform bar checks, and educate the public on the dangers of drinking and driving.  State Troopers have utilized a data-driven approach to address alcohol-related crashes by targeting times and locations where these types of incidents are most prevalent. Predictive analytics has revealed that the majority of impaired driving crashes occurred between the hours of 6 p.m. and 4 a.m., and a higher rate of alcohol-related wrecks occur on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.   

Goals of the Sober Up TN Program include:

·         Increasing the number of sobriety checkpoints;

·         Enforcing DUI and alcohol-related offenses;

·         Reducing fatalities where alcohol was indicated as a contributing factor;

·         Facilitating community meetings to solicit citizen attendance and input and involve local agencies, District Attorney Generals, school and court officials and associated stakeholders. 

Sober Up TN grant funds provided to the agency amounted to $716,919.36.

Both grant programs run through September 30, 2015.

 

Report:  Negotiations underway after huge judgment against OR firm

 

A New York Federal Judge ruled in July that Appalachian Underwriters Inc. (AUI) and a subsidiary have breached three reinsurance agreements and a retrocession agreement with its Bermudian reinsurer affiliate and are liable for $41.1 million.   On July 28, Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York found the intermediaries—AUI and Insurance Services Group were obligated under a 2009 guarantee to pay the debts. Cayman Islands-based Greenlight Reinsurance Ltd. was the reinsurer and AUI was the managing general agent. Greenlight Re has established that AUI owes a debt of $16,986,516 under the Reinsurance Agreements, and App Re (an AUI subsidiary) owes $24,456,213 under the Retrocession Agreements.  A hearing has been scheduled for December 19th in AC Chancery Court, where Chancellor Nikki Cantrell will be asked to rule on “domesticating” the case—which would enable Greenlight to begin trying to recoup what they are due.  Reinsurance is defined by www.freedictionary.com as "the contract made between an insurance company and a third party to protect the insurance company from losses. The contract provides for the third party to pay for the loss sustained by the insurance company when the company makes a payment on the original contract.”  In this case, AUI shared its policy risks with Greenlight in exchange for a portion of the premiums from the underlying policies.  

According to www.thelawdictionary.com, “’when the assignee of heritable rights conveys his rights back to the cedent, it is called a "retrocession.’”  According to the judge’s order, AUI’s debt problems stem from several higher-than-expected losses on its insurance policies.  The News-Sentinel reports that negotiations are underway between the two sides.

 

Chancery suit filed over erroneous tax sale

 

The most thankful people in Anderson County this holiday week are lawyers.  Daya Hospitality, which owns the Travel Lodge Hotel on Seivers Boulevard in Clinton, has filed a lawsuit against Anderson County and Law Director Jay Yeager after they say that his failure to adequately research a delinquent tax issue resulted in part of their property being sold at a delinquent tax auction.   The lawsuit, filed November 20th in Chancery Court, says that when the company refinanced its land in 2007, the bank was supposed to have merged the payments with the taxes on two lots but only merged the payments of one parcel.  Neither the bank nor the company realized there was a problem until April of 2013 when the company went to get its taxes lowered on the Clinton motel after a fire caused heavy damage there and was told that one of the lots had been sold at a delinquent tax sale.  The lawsuit says that Yeager “acted maliciously or with reckless disregard as to the truth of his false published statements” (in dealing with the issue).  The suit seeks an order voiding the new tax deed from the company that purchased the land, plus attorneys’ fees, compensatory damages and “all other relief entitled to [the plaintiffs] by law.” 

 

ACSD arrests 5 after “unusual series of events”

 

Five people were arrested early Sunday morning (11/23) after deputies responded to a report of shots fired into an occupied home in the Claxton community. In what the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department calls “an unusual series of events”, dispatchers first began receiving anonymous 911 calls from a cell phone around 5:00am, reporting a shooting into a residence had occurred at 120 East Circle. However, the calls were not coming from the actual residence.  According to a release from the Sheriff’s Office, some 30 calls were made over the next several minutes. Deputies responded to the East Circle home and spoke with a person on the front porch who initially gave a false name and false information about what happened. Another person was found hiding in the back yard.  A third person was found inside the residence. Bullet holes were found in the front of the house.  After investigation the person on the front porch was identified as 26-year-old Cody Shane Awais and the one hiding was found to be his 23-year-old brother Samir Joseph Awais. Both had outstanding warrants in Anderson, Knox, and Sevier Counties. The person in the house was identified as 24-year-old Alyssa Mansfield of Sevierville. No warrants were found and she was not arrested. All three finally admitted the house had been shot at on two separate occasions earlier in the morning. The reason for the shooting was said to be over a “dispute”. Both the Awais brothers were taken to the Anderson County Detention Facility on the active warrants. No one was injured in the shooting.  Deputies then went to the address where the 911 calls were made at 360 Blacksferry Road. There they found 25-year-old Kevin Scott Garner and 20-year-old Arthur Allen Boudreau. After investigation, deputies learned Garner was the person responsible for shooting into the residence not once but twice earlier that morning.  They also found Bourdeau was the one who made the many anonymous 911 calls. The two handguns used in the shooting along with a large amount of marijuana and numerous items of drug paraphernalia were found in the residence. Both Garner and Bourdeau were arrested and taken to the detention facility. Garner was charged with six counts of aggravated assault, two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of possession of marijuana and an outstanding warrant.  Boudreau was charged with misusing 911 and possession of drug paraphernalia.  While deputies were conducting their investigation at the Blackferry Road home, another resident arrived and began interfering into the crime scene, refused to stop disrupting the scene, and scuffled with deputies. 30-year-old David Harry Wender was also arrested and taken to the detention facility.  Cody and Samir Awais, and Garner remain in the Anderson County Detention Facility. All three have prior arrests in Anderson, Knox, and Sevier Counties. Both Bourdeau and Wender have been released on bond. Neither have previous arrests in Anderson County.  No one was injured in the shooting that is believed to be drug-related.  The investigation into the possession for resale of marijuana is ongoing. Additional charges may be forthcoming. Deputies are not sure why Bourdeau made all the anonymous 911 calls about the shooting since he was found with Garner who was apparently the person responsible. 

 

Update:  Man arrested for allegedly robbing grandfather

 

UPDATE:  The ACSD has made an arrest in a case we reported on earlier in the week, as Joseph Tyler Collins was arrested Tuesday at a home in Clinton on one count of aggravated robbery after he was accused of robbing his grandfather at knifepoint on Sunday night along with at least one other accomplice.  Collins is being held on a $75,000 bond.  Investigators are still working to identify the others involved in the robbery.

(Original story) The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an armed robbery that occurred at a home near Rocky Top.  Deputies responded to a home on Clear Branch Road shortly after 10:30 pm Wednesday on a report of a robbery in progress.  When they arrived, they made contact with Genis Hawkins, who told them that he had been robbed at knifepoint by his grandson and another man.  Hawkins told police that he answered a knock on his door and saw his grandson on the porch.  The grandson asked if he could use Hawkins’ phone and when he stepped away to get it, his grandson and a second man wearing a green rag over his face and holding a 15-inch-long knife entered his house.  The masked man held the knife to Hawkins’ stomach and threatened to “gut him” according to the incident report, while the grandson demanded money.  Hawkins gave them a pair of pants containing three envelopes full of cash in various denominations totaling approximately $2600, his wallet with two debit cards inside and his cell phone.  The knife-wielding suspect told Hawkins to stay inside as they left or he would be stabbed.  The two then ran down the driveway, where a third person was waiting in a car, and fled the area.  One of Hawkins’ relatives found one envelope containing $1400 in the driveway, where the suspects had apparently dropped it as they fled, and gave it to investigators, who then photographed the bills and returned them to Hawkins.  Hawkins was not injured in the incident and the investigation is continuing. 

 

ORT:  OR city manager hires assistant

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson has hired an assistant.  Bruce M. Applegate Jr. will help the city manager plan, organize, develop, coordinate, maintain, and direct the overall operations and activities of the city. He will help provide supervision for special projects and task forces, and participate in the recruitment and promotion of new and existing businesses and industries. In addition, he will assist in developing, planning, and implementing goals and objectives for the city. Applegate’s employment will become effective December 1.  Applegate was raised in Knoxville and Lafayette, Indiana. He comes to the city as a recent graduate from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He holds dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and history from Purdue University, in addition to a master’s degree in public administration and public policy from the University of Tennessee.

 

LWV receives grant

 

The League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge has received a $20,000 national grant that will fund an educational project for young adults (30 years or under) on hazardous waste management. The project is titled the Environmental Management Education Initiative Project.  The grant is made possible through the New Mexico Community Foundation’s Community Involvement Fund and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.  The purpose of the project is to expand the knowledge and understanding of these young people about the environmental management process and remediation actions in the Oak Ridge community.  The project will consist of two educational sub-projects: a Citizen’s Academy and a Rainbow Academy. 

The Citizen’s Academy will target newer residents to the area, primarily in the young adult category, and will use existing community resources to give the target residents insight into how the environmental management process works, the constraints on decisions that can be made, and how and when stakeholder inputs must be made to DOE and their contractors.  The academy will use presentations, learning modules, and roundtable discussions to provide information on the Oak Ridge Reservation site history; the current environmental management process for identifying and remediating hazardous waste; and the process for public input. The academy will offer site visits and other activities to directly involve participants in collecting information and making assessments.

The Rainbow Academy will be an environmental day (or days) for students. It will be an addition to the curriculum of the well-established Rainbow Camp, which has been run by the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church (ORUUC) since 1988. The camp targets K-12 youth with an emphasis on reaching members of the minority community. The objectives of the environmental day(s) at Rainbow Camp will be the same as those of the Citizen’s Academy, but with age-appropriate materials.

The educational curriculum for both academies will be developed using terminology geared to a broad general audience. Three modes of the learning process—hearing, reading, doing—will be used through the use of guest speakers, video presentations, printed materials, field trip, and other hands-on learning activities.

The project director will be Jan Lyons, an officer with the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board with experience in program planning for the Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning (TCWP), integrated risk management, and community outreach.

Project partners will include experts from TCWP, ORUUC, and within LWVOR.  The LWVOR liaison to the project will be Peter Scheffler. Liaisons among team partners will be Sandra Goss, executive director of TCWP, and the Rev. Tandy Scheffler, minister of faith formation at ORUUC and director of the ORUUC Rainbow Camp.

 

ORT:  Gooch new Mayor of OR, Smith Vice Mayor

 

(Oak Ridge Today) New Oak Ridge City Council member Warren Gooch was appointed Mayor, and returning City Council member Ellen Smith was elected mayor pro tem, or Vice Mayor, on Monday night.  The two were appointed to serve two-year terms by the City Council during the first meeting since the November 4 municipal election.  Gooch was the top vote-getter in the November 4 municipal election, and he is the city’s 10th mayor.  Two members switched votes and cast ballots for Gooch, breaking an impasse that had lasted through five rounds of voting.  Smith has served on City Council before. She lost a re-election bid in November 2012, but was one of four new members elected to the Council this month.  It took six rounds of voting to pick from among the four candidates for mayor on Monday. Besides Gooch, the candidates were Smith, Hope, and new Council member Rick Chinn.  After Gooch was elected, it only took one round of voting to pick Smith as mayor pro tem. She was the only candidate. The mayor pro tem presides at meetings when the mayor is unavailable or absent.  The City Council elects a mayor and mayor pro tem from among its own members after each municipal election every two years. Former Mayor Tom Beehan and Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller did not seek re-election to the Council this year.  City Council members serve staggered terms, meaning there were four members elected this year, and there will be three more elected in 2016. Two incumbents—David Mosby and Anne Garcia Garland—were not re-elected.

 

Fire destroys home, no one hurt

 

A fire just outside the Clinton city limits all but destroyed a home on Holbrook Lane late Thursday afternoon.  The homeowner and her dog were able to get out of the house safely and no injuries were reported.  The fire was reported to 911 shortly before 5 pm and crews from the Marlow Volunteer Fire Department were the first to respond.  They called for assistance from the Clinton and Oak Ridge municipal fire departments and, in all around 15 firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze within about 45 minutes.  Crews reported that the house was engulfed by flames when they arrived.  The home suffered significant fire, smoke and water damage and the resident stayed with relatives Thursday night.  The fire appears to have been accidental, and electrical in nature.  This was the third fire in 12 days in the area between Clinton and Oak Ridge and the second in just two days.  A Wednesday fire on Ridge Lane killed 65-year-old Martha Bailey when she became trapped inside the burning structure after running in to find and rescue her pets.  All three fires are believed to have been accidental in nature.  For a look at ways that you can take measures to prevent fires in your home, visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/home-fire or http://www.safekids.org/fire.  

 

Report:  CSX offers bridge repair schedule…again

 

As we have been reporting for some time now, CSX Railroad has promised to repair a 100-year-old bridge on a popular Anderson County shortcut closed by the state in July of 2013 after inspectors deemed it unsafe.  Earlier this year, the company gave the county two options on getting the bridge on Johnson Gap Road—a more direct route to and from Dutch Valley and Clinton—reopened.  Those options were to have the county pay for replacing the wooden bridge or allow the company to make the necessary repairs at its own expense.  The County Commission unanimously approved option number two in the spring, but no work has been done yet as the company experienced labor and other issues that kept the project from moving forward.  Anderson County officials, including the Commission chairman, Road Superintendent and the Law Director, have maintained contact with the company but have never received any firm commitment as to when the work might start.  A CSX spokesperson this week told the News-Sentinel that the company expects to award a contract for the work by the end of this year, saying that construction could begin by the end of January and take up to four months to complete.  The bridge is owned by the railroad, which has prevented state or county crews from making the repairs before now. 

 

Cocaine Trafficker sentenced, local agencies aided FBI probe

 

(US Attorney’s Office) On Nov 4, 2014, 27-year-old Baltazar Camacho of Mexico was sentenced to serve 470 months in prison by the Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan.  The sentence was the result of a guilty plea by Camacho on the morning his trial was set to begin in April 2014 to a federal grand jury indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Following a day-and-a-half of testimony from five witnesses, Judge Varlan found that Camacho personally distributed between 150 kilograms and 450 kilograms of cocaine, at a minimum; Camacho was aware at least half of that amount would be converted into crack cocaine and sold; Camacho was an organizer or leader of an extensive criminal activity; and Camacho was armed with a firearm while he participated in the conspiracies.  The indictment and subsequent convictions of Camacho and 15 others were the result of an 18-month investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Roane County Sheriff’s Office, Harriman Police Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Clinton Police Department, and Loudon County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Stone represented the United States.  U.S. Attorney William C. “Bill” Killian remarked, “Even in a time of intensifying drug activities and fewer law enforcement resources, we will continue to pursue all those who flood our streets with illegal drugs, and particularly those who lead large conspiracies such as these. That effort will never stop.”

 

State money to aid in fight against youth drug use

 

State officials say community drug coalitions are spending $7 million in federal grants to fight prescription drug abuse among young people in 10 eastern Tennessee counties, including Anderson and Knox.  The 10 counties include 41% of the state’s total population and include:  Anderson, Blount, Hamilton, Jackson, Johnson, Knox, Putnam, Smith, Sullivan and Washington counties.  The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services secured the grants to run public awareness campaigns and community-based prevention and enforcement efforts over the next five years.  Commissioner Doug Varney said the goal is to reduce prescription drug abuse among 12- to 25-year-olds by at least 4 percent.  The program will make heavy use of a social media campaign to try to change behavior and promote alternatives.  The complete press release from the state is available on our website at www.wyshradio.com.  

 

(TDMHSAS press release) The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is teaming up with community anti-drug coalitions across a 10-county region of East Tennessee in an effort to reduce the number of young people who are abusing prescription drugs.  To help achieve this goal, TDMHSAS has secured nearly $7 million dollars in federal grant funds to engage with young people through public awareness campaigns and community-based prevention and enforcement efforts over a five-year period.  “Our objective is to reduce the abuse of prescription drugs by the 12 to 25 year old age group by more than four percent,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner, TDMHSAS. “If we’re successful, that will add up to thousands of young lives saved from disastrous consequences. We owe it to them, their families, and communities to do all we can.”  The 10 counties to be targeted include: Anderson, Blount, Hamilton, Jackson, Johnson, Knox, Putnam, Smith, Sullivan, and Washington. These counties represent 41% of Tennessee’s population.  Working through established anti-drug coalitions, Tennesseans in the targeted counties will experience grassroots efforts to change public policy as it relates to local, county,  and city government ordinances and law enforcement procedures toward prescription drug use and abuse.

Count it – Lock it – Drop it

To help ensure the proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs, the prevention effort will include increasing the availability and use of home lock boxes and drug take-back boxes. Pharmacies and law enforcement agencies also will be established locations for the safe disposal of unused prescriptions.  Access to drug removal options and working with physicians and pharmacists to better manage prescribing practices will further help to reduce availability and abuse.  “The abuse of prescription drugs by teenagers and young adults, primarily in Tennessee’s eastern counties, is at epidemic proportions,” said Commissioner Varney. “Our goal over the next five years is to significantly reduce the level of prescription drug abuse by our young people, and in doing so; we can help more of them reach their full potential and change the landscape for future generations of Tennesseans.” 

SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS KEY

In order to reach the targeted 12-25 year olds, the prevention effort will lean heavily on social media. There will be social media campaigns, social marketing campaigns, social norms marketing campaigns, and efforts to provide other social alternatives.  “The internet and social media offer young people many services to educate and empower themselves and each other,” said Rod Bragg, TDMHSAS Assistant Commissioner for Substance Abuse. “Social media is second nature to them and our hope is they will be open to this message and join in a conversation with us about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.”

 

Marlow woman dies after trying to save pets from fire

 

An Anderson County woman has died from injuries she sustained Wednesday afternoon after running into her burning home to rescue her pets.  According to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, 65-year-old Martha Bailey and her friend arrived at the home on Ridge Lane in the Marlow Community shortly after 3:00 Wednesday afternoon, discovered it was on fire and called 911.  A few minutes later, Bailey ran inside to try to rescue her pets. During her attempt, her clothes caught on fire, and she collapsed, prompting her friend, Adra Denton, to call 911 a second time. Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Wiley Maloney, Reserve Deputy Gene Rose, and Marlow Volunteer Fire Department Captain Zach Pressnell pulled Bailey out of the burning house and covered her with a wet coat until paramedics arrived on the scene.  Bailey was taken by ambulance to Methodist Medical Center then transported by Lifestar helicopter to UT Medical Center, where she passed away during the night.  Firefighters were able to rescue a dog and cat from the home, but one dog did perish in the blaze. The surviving animals were taken to a local animal hospital for treatment.  Denton was treated at the scene of smoke inhalation.  The fire reportedly caused around $25,000 of damage, mostly confined to the living room where the blaze is believed to have begun.  Officials said the cause of the fire appeared to be an accident, but they are still investigating.  

 

OR earns EPA recognition

 

The city of Oak Ridge has been named a "Green Power Community of the Year" by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The EPA made that announcement Wednesday. Oak Ridge is one of only two cities in the nation to receive the award, the other being Medford, Oregon.  They are among 19 Green Power Partners and four power suppliers across the country receiving the EPA's Green Leadership Awards.  According to an EPA release, the recognition is for "advancing the nation's renewable energy market and reducing greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change.”  In all, the award winners use more than 7.6 billion kilowatt-hours of green power each year. Green power is electricity generated from such renewable resources as solar, wind, geothermal, and others.   Since its birth as a secret city involved in building the first atomic bomb, Oak Ridge's identity "has long been intertwined with the energy sector," according to the EPA.  The release goes on to say that presently, the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory continues the city's energy tradition by conducting research related to solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower technologies, and purchasing green power for its electricity use. Oak Ridge is recognized as a Platinum Community in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Valley Sustainable Communities Program and has set the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030. With city-wide attention focused on using clean energy, Oak Ridge became the Southeast's first EPA Green Power Community in 2014.  Earlier this year, the city launched an effort to encourage greater participation in TVA's renewable energy program. That effort tripled the use of TVA's Green Power Switch program, where residents pay more for electricity produced from nonpolluting sources.  Residents, businesses, and the local government are now using more than 73 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy annually, including more than 126,000 kWh of on-site solar power at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 

 

(General EPA release) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing Oak Ridge, Tennessee as a Green Power Community of the Year.  The city is one of 19 Green Power Partners and four suppliers from across the country receiving Green Leadership Awards that are given annually by the Agency.  Awardees are recognized for achievements in advancing the nation’s renewable energy market and reducing greenhouse gas emissions fueling climate change. 

“By using more than 7.6 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually, these communities, businesses, and organizations are leading the way in cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the impacts of climate change, and protecting public health,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “These partners demonstrate that green power is not only a smart business investment, but it’s affordable, accessible and it reduces emissions while growing the renewable energy market and spurring innovation.” 

Green power is electricity that is generated from renewable sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact hydroelectric sources. Green power does not produce fossil fuel-based greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change. The award winners below are being recognized for their efforts in expanding the domestic renewable energy market—from using enough green power to meet more than 100 percent of electricity needs to installing solar arrays on-site or entering long-term power purchase agreements—these organizations are demonstrating that green power is both accessible and affordable.  

These award-winning partners were chosen for their exemplary use of green power from more than 1,300 partner organizations that comprise EPA’s Green Power Partnership. Utilities, renewable energy project developers, and other green power suppliers are eligible to apply for the Green Power Supplier award. 

EPA, through the Green Power Partnership, works with partner organizations to use green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use. The Partnership currently has more than 1,300 partner organizations voluntarily using billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually. Partners include a wide variety of leading organizations such as Fortune 500 companies, small and medium sized businesses, local, state, and federal governments, and colleges and universities. 

The 2014 Green Power Leadership Awards will be presented on December 3, 2014, at the annual Renewable Energy Markets Conference in Sacramento, Calif. More on the 2014 Green Power Leadership award winners:http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/awards/winners.htm.

 

(Oak Ridge-specific EPA release) Oak Ridge, Tennessee's identity has long been intertwined with the energy sector. Also known as the "Secret City" and the "Atomic City," Oak Ridge was established in 1942 as a Manhattan Project development site. While remaining a secret, the city's population ballooned from 3,000 to more than 75,000 by the end of World War II as it hosted major advances in nuclear technology.  Today, the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory continues the city's energy tradition by conducting research related to solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower technologies, and purchasing green power for its electricity use. Oak Ridge is recognized as a Platinum Community in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Valley Sustainable Communities Program and has set the ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030. With city-wide attention focused on using clean energy, Oak Ridge became the Southeast's first EPA Green Power Community in 2014.  In the spring of 2014, Oak Ridge launched a community challenge to encourage greater participation in TVA's renewable energy program, resulting in community-wide green power use of 5.5 percent, and a participation rate nearly three times the rate at the start of the challenge. Residents, businesses, and the local government are using more than 73 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy annually, including more than 126,000 kWh of on-site solar power at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The city also intends to leverage its role as the first Green Power Community in TVA's territory into a leadership position for promoting green power regionally. Using TVA's communication channels along with local outlets, the community's advertising plan includes the use of newsletters, radio ads, community events, mailers, door-to-door canvassing, and social media marketing campaigns.

 

OR company receives federal contract

 

An Oak Ridge-based company has been awarded a $15.9 million contract by the Department of Homeland Security and the FEMA to provide a variety of services at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama.  Under terms of the five-year contract, HME, Inc. of Oak Ridge will work in areas including maintenance; HVAC and refrigeration systems; plumbing ; elevator maintenance; and management of the vehicle fleet.. HME specializes in facilities operations and maintenance services.  According to a news release, the Center for Domestic Preparedness is a national training facility that prepares state and local emergency response personnel to respond to terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction. This is the second such contract for HME, which began providing facilities operations and support services for the Center in 2009.

 

ACSD offers holiday safety tips

 

(ACSD) The holiday season is upon us once again. Many people can become victims of burglary, theft, and other crime during the holidays. Protecting yourself and your home from crime is one way to be safe and happy during this holiday season.  To help ensure everyone has safe and fun holidays, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department would like to offer the following tips for Holiday Crime Prevention.

Shopping:

  • Park in lighted areas at night.
  • Always lock your car.
  • Don't try to cover items on your seats. Put shopping bags in your trunk or take your packages straight home after shopping and go back out.
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash with you. Keep money in your front pocket– not in your purse or wallet.
  • Be extra careful when carrying a purse – they are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas. If you must carry one, make sure it has a strap that can go over the shoulder and be held under the arm, making them more difficult for purse snatchers to grab.
  • Keep a record of all of your debit and credit card numbers in a safe place at your home.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you. This is the time of year when thieves may try various methods to distract you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
  • Pay attention. Don’t be distracted while texting or using your cell phone.

Home:

  • Always lock your home, garage, and outbuildings even if you are only going to be away for a few minutes.
  • When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.
  • Leave a light on when you leave your home at night or put your lights on an automatic timer.
  • Leave a television or radio on so your home looks and sounds occupied.
  • Make sure your holiday gifts are not visible through the windows and doors of your home.
  • Never say you are away from home on the outgoing message on your answering machine or voice mail. Simply say you are unable to answer the phone at the time.
  • Never post on your social networking website that you are away from home.  Wait until you return and then post the fun details of your trip.
  • After the holidays, don’t advertise gifts by leaving boxes for the garbage collection. Flatten boxes and place in a sealed garbage bag.

One of the best ways to prevent crime is to have “nosy” neighbors. Be watchful of suspicious cars or people in your neighborhood. Have a neighbor watch your house, and do the same for them.  If you see something suspicious, call the Sheriff’s Department at 457-2414 or your local police immediately.  One of the best crime prevention tools is a Neighborhood Watch program. For information on starting or joining a Neighborhood Watch group, contact our Crime Prevention Officer, Deputy David Massengill, at 457-6255, extension 1150.  Sheriff’s deputies will be out in force to help deter burglaries and thefts in an effort to keep our community safe. Ensuring you and your family have a safe holiday season is our top priority.  On behalf of the men and women of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.

 

Man sentenced over Y-12 extortion attempt

 

A Scott County man was sentenced to serve three months in prison on Monday after he pleaded guilty in July to charges that he tried to extort Babcock and Wilcox Y-12 LLC, the former managing and operating contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.  25-year-old Adam Winters of Oneida—who once appeared on the reality TV show “Millionaire Matchmaker”—received the sentence in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on Monday, according to U.S. Attorney William C. Killian. After he is released from prison, Winters will be on supervised probation for one year.  Winters pleaded guilty in July to transmitting communications containing threats to injure the reputation of B&W Y-12 in interstate and foreign commerce, with intent to extort money and other things of value from the corporation. Winters admitted that he emailed Babcock and Wilcox and attempted to email the vice president of the United States regarding copies of slides that he possessed that contained information he believed would injure the reputation of Babcock and Wilcox.  Following the email, he used the Internet and telephone and communicated his threat to injure their reputation through the use of these slides, Killian said. After making these threats, Winters met with undercover law enforcement agents to exchange the slides for $2.5 million that he had demanded from Babcock and Wilcox during his extortion attempt, the press release said. During this exchange meeting, law enforcement officers revealed their identity and arrested him.

 

AC Trustee Archer elected president of state organization

 

(Submitted) The Tennessee County Trustee's Association held their annual business meeting last week at the County Officials Conference where they voted on and named Rodney Archer as the new President of their Association.  Archer has held the Anderson County Trustee position since 2006 and has been an active leader in the Trustee's Association.  He previously served as the Secretary of the statewide organization and was also recognized as Outstanding Trustee for the East Tennessee division in 2010.  The Association serves as not only a network but also is an essential component of Professional Development for Trustees across Tennessee.  "Rodney has been a leader in our organization since he first got involved and has consistently proven himself - from raising the bar in his own office to representing our state organization in Nashville or at the national level with the National Association of County Collectors, Treasurers, and Finance Officers - he is an excellent representative for this organization," says Jay West, Executive Director of County Officials of Tennessee, "We are all delighted to have him serve as the Trustee’s Association president in 2015."  The Tennessee Trustee's Association has long been Tennessee's leading organization promoting sound tax policy and advocates for tax-relief and tax-freeze programs.  These programs are important to all 95 counties as their main goal is to provide our senior citizens, disabled veterans, and disabled homeowners with tax assistance.  These programs are often in jeopardy during budget cuts, therefore, the Association actively lobbies for support because of the needs of their constituents.  "I am excited to have been chosen for this position of being able to work with fellow administrators from across the state," said Archer.  "I look forward to the new and exciting challenges of supporting the Association and working to build partnerships across the state that can ultimately benefit our constituents."

 

Report:  OS sued over wastewater leaks

 

According to the News-Sentinel, the town of Oliver Springs and its wastewater treatment plant have been sued in Roane County Circuit Court for $1.9 million over sewage overflows on private property.  The lawsuit was filed Monday by three people living on Bennett Road, who allege that massive leaks of sewage on to their land have ruined their property and made the 15 acre parcel impossible to sell.  The suit alleges that defective pipes are to blame for routine overflows of waste and other debris and the town is liable because it was negligent in not properly maintaining the treatment plant, not properly training workers and not following established procedures in operating it.  The lawsuit claims that overflows happen in dry weather because of faulty equipment and in wet weather when the pipes are overtaxed.  The town is already under an order from the state to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant by the end of August 2015 or else face a $175,000 fine and has already been barred from adding any new customers to the sewer system until the deficiencies are corrected.  Former City Manager Tina Treece, who abruptly resigned on November 5th, reportedly told City Council members she was leaving over frustrations with their inaction on addressing the problems, among other issues. 

 

ORNL to house world’s fastest supercomputer in 2017

 

(Oak Ridge Today/staff reports) Oak Ridge National Laboratory will have the world’s fastest next-generation supercomputer, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander announced at a Friday morning press conference with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.  Alexander said the new computer will provide five times the performance of Titan, the current system, and support advanced scientific and materials research to improve economic and national security.  The “next-generation hybrid supercomputer” will be called Summit, and it will be delivered in 2017, the senator said.  The Friday announcement was the result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and IBM. Summit will be a hybrid computing system using central processing units (CPUs) and graphic processing units (GPUs).  Titan, a hybrid Cray XK7 capable of 27 petaflops, was recognized as the world’s fastest supercomputer in November 2012. But it was bumped to the number two spot by a Chinese supercomputer in June 2013.  “Supercomputing is essential to U.S. competitiveness in science and technology, and I’m proud our national lab in Tennessee is helping advance scientific research to improve America’s economic and national security,” Alexander said.  Supercomputing supports a wide range of scientific research and development and addresses the most challenging science problems for government, academia, and industry. Among the goals researchers will pursue by applying Summit’s capabilities in diverse scientific arenas:

  • Combustion science: Creating a fundamental understanding of combustion to increase efficiency by 25-50 percent and lower emissions from internal combustion engines using advanced fuels and new, low-temperature combustion concepts.
  • Climate change science: Understanding the dynamic ecological and chemical evolution of the climate system with uncertainty quantification of impacts on regional and decadal scales.
  • Energy storage: Gaining a fundamental understanding of chemical reaction processes at the atomic and molecular level required for predictive design of new materials for energy storage and predictive engineering of safe, large-format, durable, rechargeable batteries.
  • Nuclear power: Enabling reactor-scale simulations to allow safe, increased nuclear fuel burn times, power upgrades, and reactor lifetime extensions, and in doing so reduce the volume of spent fuel. 

 

ORT:  4 taken to hospital after fire at Toxco

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Four workers were evaluated for minor respiratory issues and released after a small, intense electrical fire was reported at a company that repackages low-level radioactive waste in central Oak Ridge on Thursday morning, authorities said.  The fire at Toxco Materials Management Center on Flint Road was reported at about 11:03 a.m. Thursday. It was in a large one-story metal building at the back of the site.  Electrical equipment inside the building was on fire, and the only way to put it out was to disconnect power, which the Oak Ridge Electric Department did.  Once the power was disconnected, firefighters were able to put out the fire with fire extinguishers.  Toxco workers had tried to put out the fire with extinguishers, and those taken to the hospital for evaluation could possibly have been affected by a combination of smoke from the fire and powder from the extinguishers.  The area where the fire occurred is used to repackage waste but no radioactive waste was involved in the fire. The four workers who were taken to the hospital were checked to make sure they had not been contaminated, and the firefighters who responded were also checked for radiation.  Oak Ridge firefighters cleared the scene at about 12:40 p.m.  Power was restored to the buildings at the front of the Toxco property, but it will remain turned off at the back building until repairs are made.  The Anderson County hazardous materials truck, which is operated by Oak Ridge firefighters and housed at Fire Station Number 3 on Tuskegee Drive, responded. So did three ambulances.

 

ORT:  City calls for demolition of commercial building

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Despite a plea for another extension, a city board on Thursday ordered that a commercial building on East Tyrone Road be demolished within 30 days. The demolition order does not apply to the popular Magic Wok restaurant, which is in a separate diner on the western side of the building.  The Oak Ridge Board of Building and Housing Code Appeals had previously given the building owners more time to develop a repair or demolition plan, including a five-month extension in June. At Thursday’s meeting, board members suggested they hadn’t seen enough work take place since then.  Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson told the board that, after several board meetings to discuss the property at 123 and 135 East Tyrone Road, it was time to make a decision.  “We’re spending significant staff resources coming back on this time and time again,” Watson said. “We’ve got other projects out there that we’re going to be dealing with.”  The city staff said concerns about the building stretch back in some form for more than a decade.  The building owners suggested they were still trying to determine whether to sell the building, or demolish 80 percent of it and save about 5,500 square feet of it, among two options. They asked for one more 30-day extension.

 

Gas leak prompts evacuation of OR shopping center

 

An Oak Ridge shopping center was evacuated Tuesday afternoon after a gas leak was reported at the former Kroger grocery store on South Illinois Avenue.  The gas leak was reported at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday by employees at Mr. K’s Used Books and CDs, and emergency crews quickly evacuated surrounding stores, including China Wok, Nixon’s Deli, Mr. K’s, and Big Kmart.  They also closed off the surrounding parking lot.  The staff initially thought it might be coming from Nixon’s, the deli next door. But then they learned that Nixon’s doesn’t use natural gas. A walk around the shopping center’s parking lot determined that the gas was probably coming from the former Kroger store.  Mr. K’s called the Oak Ridge Utility District, which provides natural gas, and ORUD in turn called the Oak Ridge police and fire departments.  When firefighters opened the door to the old Kroger their suspicions about the source of the leak were confirmed as the odor of gas permeated the air.  The leak was contained and crews worked to clear the gas from the building using high pressure fans.   The fire department cleared the scene around 9:15 p.m. They tested the air quality before opening the building up to the public.  No injuries to customers or firefighters were reported.

 

Campbell fire kills one

 

An early morning house fire killed a Campbell County woman on Tuesday.  The victim has been identified as 69-year-old Betty Miller.  The fire was reported at a home on Morton Road at around 1 am and when deputies and firefighters arrived on the scene they reported that the house was fully engulfed by flames.  Two people managed to get out of the house without injury but Miller was unable to get out of a back bedroom.  Authorities say that witnesses said that a grease fire in the kitchen was the apparent cause of the fire as someone had reportedly been cooking just before the fire started.  Miller’s body was taken to Knoxville’s Regional Forensic Center for an autopsy.

 

Spike in traffic deaths make AC a focus this holiday season

 

Monday, officials with the Governor’s Highway Safety Office and the Tennessee Highway Patrol joined officers from several Anderson County agencies to announce that they will be beefing up patrols and other safety efforts during the upcoming holiday season.  While those increased efforts will take place across the state, Anderson County is receiving extra attention due to a 77% increase in traffic fatalities this year when compared to last year.  16 people have already died in 2014 on roadways in the county.  From 2010 to 2013, 55 people were killed in Anderson County wrecks.  While the number of traffic deaths in the state has continued to decline in recent years, officials say that nearly one-third of those deaths involved impaired drivers, and getting those drivers off the road will be the primary focus of the upcoming enforcement effort.  Another area of emphasis will target those drivers and passengers who do not wear seatbelts or properly secure children.  The vast majority of Americans—some 88%--do wear their seatbelts, but that remaining 12% of people who do not account for half of the traffic deaths in Anderson County.  Distracted driving is becoming more of a concern as well as there has been a recent increase in the number of accidents involving people distracted by their cell phones or other electronic devices.  Authorities say that safe driving is a choice and they encourage people to make the smart choices of buckling their seatbelts, driving sober and putting down the phone.  In addition to increased patrols, you can also expect to see saturation patrols and roadside sobriety checkpoints this holiday season, all part of the effort to keep everyone safe on the roads.

 

AC Mayor provides update on Public Works

 

Monday, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank updated the County Commission’s Operations Committee on the status of the Public Works Department in the wake of months of controversy that seemed to come to a head last week.  You can read the complete report provided by the mayor to local media outlets on our website, but Mayor Frank says that the Public Works Department is conducting inspections using certified individuals and is in the process of hiring a new, full-time building inspector.  Currently, the county is “utilizing the inspection services of Wayne Williamson, who is fully certified in all required fields including mechanical” and that he is being paid by the hour.  She told commissioners Monday that the five houses that are the subject of the charges against Public Works Director David Crowley are being re-inspected by an “independent and separate engineering firm.”  Updating the status of an investigation into what have been described as deficiencies in the Public Works Department, Mayor Frank said that while it is still ongoing, preliminary results indicate that “it appears that a recently terminated employee—Lisa Crumpley—has left Anderson County in an awkward situation by failing to comply with a 2012 Plan of Action applicable to her work.  Due to a change in administration, [Crumpley] was the only person in the office aware of the requirements of the Plan of Corrective Action (POCA) from April of 2012.  She failed to apprise her supervisors of the terms of the POCA and failed to comply with the terms of the POCA that applied to her continued employment with the County. In addition, it appears that there was a period of months in early 2012 when [Crumpley] performed inspections while not certified.  The Law Director, the building commissioner, and [Crumpley] were aware of the issue, but my administration was not made aware of the issue until very recent events led to a full investigation.”  Mayor Frank went on to say that as of September, the State Fire Marshal’s Office says that with the inspectors that the county has on payroll or under contract, the county is in compliance with applicable statutes and that “as long as Mr. Crowley does not inspect structures, he is not required to be certified.”  We will continue to follow this story for you. 

 

(Provided my Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank)  Status of Public Works Office

The following is a status report regarding events in the Public Works office:

  • In order to address any potential safety issues for residents, Anderson County has entered into a contract to re-inspect the 5 properties where the alleged violations occurred.  The homeowners of the 5 properties were contacted personally by me, made aware that they would be contacted regarding a re-inspection of the questioned inspection and informed that at this time, I believed there was no reason to believe there existed issues with their home.  This contract for re-inspection is separate and independent from the Public Works Department.
  • Anderson County is utilizing the inspection services of Wayne Williamson who is fully certified in all required fields, including mechanical, and is paying him on an hourly basis.
  • Anderson County is seeking to hire a full-time building inspector.  That position has been advertised.  In the interim, Anderson County is awaiting final approval to enter into a contract with a firm to assist Mr. Williamson with inspections until a full-time inspector is hired.  This firm will be available on call and will represent Anderson County.  Wayne Williamson will continue to be available on an as-needed basis.
  • On June 18, 2014, Anderson County was notified that Anderson County had not notified the State Fire Marshal’s office of a long-term plan from our letter of April 27, 2012.  Unaware of a prior Plan of Corrective Action (POCA), David Crowley requested a copy of the POCA submitted by Brian Jenks, then Interim Building Official.  To close the POCA regarding Mechanical Inspections, Mr. Crowley contacted the state on July 9, 2014 informing them Anderson County had hired Wayne Williamson part-time to perform Mechanical Inspections.  Mr. Williamson has ICC and State Certification for Residential, Commercial Building, Plumbing, Mechanical and Plans Examiner.
  • Following receipt of the June 18, 2014 letter and subsequent discovery of the terms of Anderson County’s former POCA, Mr. Crowley instituted a review of files.  An audit of files dating back to 2011 is currently on-going.
  • A full investigation of deficiencies is being performed, though not complete at this time.  I will be happy to provide an update to Commission when the investigation is complete.  From that investigation to date, it appears that a recently terminated employee has left Anderson County in an awkward situation by failing to comply with a 2012 Plan of Action applicable to her work.  Due to a change in administration, this employee was the only person in the office aware of the requirements of the Plan of Corrective Action (POCA) from April of 2012.  She failed to apprise her supervisors of the terms of the POCA and failed to comply with the terms of the POCA that applied to her continued employment with the County. In addition, it appears that there was a period of months in early 2012 when this employee performed inspections while not certified.  The Law Director, the building commissioner, and this employee were aware of the issue, but my administration was not made aware of the issue until very recent events led to a full investigation. Once our full investigation is complete, Anderson County will have to address what we do to correct any deficiencies caused by these issues, including possible re-inspections.
  • Working with Mr. Crowley, I have drafted correspondence to the State Fire Marshal’s Office requesting assistance and guidance on how to proceed with the inspection failures created by the former employee.  Mr. Crowley made the state aware on August 29, 2014 that it appeared several Certificates of Occupancy had been issued without requiring mechanical inspections.  On Aug. 29, 2014, he did relieve her of her duties of completing the permit files in order to ensure the required inspections and documents were received prior to issuing Certificates of Occupancy.
  • As you are probably aware from media reports, several permit files dating back to 2011, as well as code books, are missing from the Public Works Office. The personnel file of the terminated employee is missing form the Human Resource Office.  Shortly after this file was identified as missing, both employees in the Human Resources Office resigned from their positions.
  • I requested that Public Works notify the Sheriff’s Department of the missing files, and Mr. Page did so immediately on the afternoon of October 15, 2014.  At approximately 11:00 am, I requested the Director of the Human Resources office to file a report on the missing personnel file. I notified the Comptroller’s office by filing fraud reports for both instances.
  • I arranged for a full review of the Public Works office, and hired part-time help to inventory every drawer and shelf.  The 25 missing files are identified by permit number.
  • As you are probably aware from media reports, an attorney representing the former employee has made several public records requests.   I complied by submitting documents and records from my office and by securing the email accounts as requested. 
  • I asked the County’s IT professionals to make forensic copies of two computers of the resigning Human Resource employees, in order to preserve any data on those hard drives.  As you know, the Sheriff has stepped in to take over responsibility of securing the hard drives.  Sheriff White has now accepted responsibility for the securing of the information in the possible case.
  • Regarding the POCA involving inspections by Mr. Crowley, my office received notice on September 12, 2014 from the State Fire Marshal’s office that with the inspectors we have on payroll or under contract, Anderson County is in compliance.  The state closed the POCA from January 13, 2014 by stating, “As long as Mr. Crowley does not inspect structures, he is not required to be certified.”
  • Currently, Anderson County is employing one part-time inspector fully certified.  He maintains ICC and State Certification for Residential, Commercial Building, Plumbing, Mechanical and Plans Examiner.  Anderson County will also be contracting with a fully certified engineering company to perform inspections until a full time inspector is hired.  Codes Enforcement Officer Steve Page is certified for the International Property Maintenance Code 2009 and the International Residential Code 2009.  Mr. Crowley possesses Residential certification and is certified TDEC Tennessee Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control personnel. 
  • I received notice from Mr. Hugh Ward, attorney for David Crowley, questioning Mr. Yeager providing counsel for Anderson County.  I notified Mr. Ward that I believed our insurer would be providing counsel, and that I was aware Mr. Yeager would be a necessary and material witness, and therefore disqualified.  (See attached)
  • On October 31, 2014, I wrote District Attorney General Dave Clark and requested he request a TBI investigation of missing files. 

To summarize, the Public Works Office is conducting inspections by fully certified individuals.  The 5 inspections that are the subject of allegations against David Crowley are being re-inspected by an independent and separate engineering firm.  The termination of the former employee for cause and discoveries of her inspection deficiencies have left Anderson County with more reviews to accomplish and decisions to make.  There is a search underway for a new, full-time building inspector. 

 

Search warrants served, computers seized

 

Last week, deputies from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant as part of their ongoing investigation into the missing personnel file of fired building inspector Lisa Crumpley.  The warrant allowed investigators to seize the computers from the county’s Human Resources Department that were the subjects of a standoff of sorts involving the County Mayor and the outgoing HR director.  You can read much moiré about last week’s courthouse drama on our website.  The search warrants were served on Thursday.

 

City finds itself part of Courthouse drama

 

Controversy and conflict regarding the copying of hard drives from computers in the Anderson County Human Resources Department has spilled across the street from the Courthouse to Clinton City Hall.  As we have reported, County HR Director Cathy Best announced her resignation Monday after almost ten years on the job and her looming departure, along with that of her second-in-command Kerri Ashley, prompted County Mayor Terry Frank to try to have their hard drives copied.  Her request was made after she was informed last month that former building inspector Lisa Crumpley was planning on filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against the county, alleging that she was fired for cooperating in the TBI investigation that led to the indictment of her boss, David Crowley, on charges of inspecting buildings without the necessary certifications.  Crumpley’s attorney directed her to copy all forensic evidence on the computers used by Best and Ashley, as they may contain information regarding Crumpley’s termination and what became of her personnel file, which went missing days after she was fired.  Tuesday, Mayor Frank proposed taking the computers off-site for duplication, a suggestion Best quickly rejected, citing the confidential nature of some of the information on the hard drives.  Wednesday, Sheriff Paul White intervened and prevented a county IT consultant from copying the hard drives and posted deputies in the HR office to watch over the machines and make sure they are not used.  Sheriff White reportedly told the mayor she could not copy the files because they are part of the ongoing investigation into Crumpley’s missing file.  Things calmed down a little on Thursday in the Courthouse as Mayor Frank, in a message to Trustee Rodney Archer, who chairs the county’s Human resources Advisory Committee indicated that her office will bow out of the attempts to secure the computers and will instead allow the Sheriff to assume control of the situation.  You can read her entire letter on our website.  WYSH has learned that last week, the County Mayor filed an open records request with the city asking for access to computers in the codes office and earlier this week, David Crowley’s attorney filed a similar open records request with the city asking for e-mails to and from City Codes Officer Curtis Perez, who has been listed as a potential witness in the case against Crowley.  Both of those requests were denied, partially because some of what was asked for, namely individual cell phone and text message records are not available and also because the requests were not specific enough as to what access was being sought.  UT’s Municipal Technical Assistance Service has been providing guidance to the city during this process but the city’s primary contact with MTAS, Budget Director Gail Cook, is out of town this week.  Wanting more guidance and erring on the side of caution, city officials Thursday decided to remove Perez’s computer from his office and store it in the police department’s evidence room until Monday, when they hope to receive more information.  City officials assert that the Codes office is still open and able to function.  We will continue to follow this story for you on WYSH. 

 

AC officials at odds over copying HR computer drives

 

Anderson County officials are at odds over the contents of the computers in the county’s Human Resources department.  Earlier this week, longtime HR Director Cathy Best announced that she would be resigning to take a position in the private sector.  Tuesday, County Mayor Terry Frank ordered all of the computers in the HR office quarantined and attempted to have the computers taken off-site to Knoxville and copied by technicians.  Best objected to the removal of the machines from the courthouse, citing the sensitive nature of the information contained on their hard drives.  The mayor says that the attorney for Lisa Crumpley, who was fired from the county’s Public Works office the same day that her boss David Crowley was indicted on charges of inspecting five houses without the proper certifications, asked her to preserve all forensic evidence on the computers, specifically as it pertains to Crumpley’s missing personnel file, which turned up missing days after her termination.  Mayor Frank says Crumpley’s attorney has given notice that a lawsuit is likely pending against the county for wrongful termination, as she contends she was fired by Crowley for cooperating in the investigation that led to the charges against him.  The Sheriff’s Office is probing the missing personnel file.  Frank reportedly stayed at the Courthouse late Tuesday night to watch over the HR office until hiring a private security guard at her expense to maintain the vigil for the rest of that night.  On Wednesday, a computer technician was in the process of copying the hard drive from one of the computers when Sheriff Paul White walked in and asked the technician if he had a search warrant.  The technician left and White posted a deputy in the office for the remainder of the day, telling the News-Sentinel that he did so to “keep the peace, because people feel threatened in that office.”  Mayor Frank, in an e-mail to WYSH says, “Through an attorney, I made an effort for him [Sheriff White] to watch the duplication and possess a copy of the duplication, to which he responded he was not interested.”  Best says that she has no objection to the drives being copied, but asserts that they need to remain at the courthouse when they are.  Frank writes, “I find the Sheriff’s refusal to let me view the surveillance video of the dates the files went missing, as well as [his] effort to stop duplication of hard drives of the two employees who are resigning in the wake of the file’s disappearance, to be extremely concerning.”  The mayor is alluding to her request to the Sheriff to view the courthouse security footage from the dates when Crumpley’s personnel file is believed to have disappeared and to the also-recently-announced resignation of Best’s chief deputy in the HR office.  Best says her resignation has nothing to do with the Crumpley situation.  We will continue to follow this story for you.  UPDATE:  Thursday morning, Mayor Frank sent a letter to Human Resources Committee Chairman Rodney Archer indicating that her office will bow out of the attempts to secure the computers and will instead allow the Sheriff to assume control of the situation.  Her letter is posted below.

 

(Mayor Frank’s letter to HR Committee Chairman Rodney Archer—sent Thursday November 6th) As you know, the HR Resolution passed by the Anderson County Commission states that day-to-day control of the Human Resource Office is the responsibility of the county mayor.  As you are also aware, both Ms. Ashley and Ms. Best announced their resignations shortly after Lisa Crumpley’s personnel file disappeared from the HR Office.  At the request of Robert Bowman, attorney for Ms. Lisa Crumpley, and under threat of court sanction, I sought to preserve electronic evidence in the HR office by asking the county’s IT consultants to make a forensic copy of both Ms. Ashley’s hard-drive and Ms. Best’s hard-drive.   This copy would have preserved all data on the hard drives, including deleted files, and would have prevented the intentional or inadvertent destruction of evidence through continued use of the computers.  As the preservation images of the hard drives could have been made overnight, this appeared to be the most cost effective and efficient way of securing evidence while allowing the ladies quickly to return to work. 

The Sheriff intervened in to stop the preservation of this evidence, threatened the county’s own IT consultant with arrest, and has assumed full responsibility for securing the information.  It appears that he is making the drives secure by preventing anyone from using the computers and stationing multiple deputies in the HR Office to prevent anyone from using the computers.  Although a forensic image of the hard drives would have allowed the ladies to return to work, the Sheriff’s method appears adequate to preserve the evidence.  I believe the ultimate goal has been achieved, that is, the fulfillment of Mr. Bowman’s request and the county’s obligation to secure the data on the hard drives. 

As the Sheriff has assumed full responsibility for the security of this evidence, I see no further role for my office with respect to my issue and relinquish to the Sheriff full responsibility for the preservation of this electronic evidence.  

As Chairman of the Human Resource Committee, would you please forward this information to members of your committee?

 

Raid leads to arrest of Rocky Top man

 

According to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, investigators with the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit, along with officers from the Rocky Top Police Department, and the 7th Judicial District Crime Task Force, served a search warrant at a residence on Industrial Park Road in Rocky Top Tuesday afternoon. The search warrant was obtained as the result of a joint drug investigation conducted by those three agencies.  According to a release from the ACSD, investigators found an indoor marijuana-growing operation with marijuana plants in various stages of development, along with indoor grow equipment such as lights as well as other drug paraphernalia. In addition, mushrooms and suspected prescription narcotics were also found.  One person was arrested.  32-year-old Nathan Allen Underwood of Rocky Top was charged with the manufacture/delivery/sale or possession of a controlled substance, possession of Schedule 1 & II drugs and unlawful possession of a weapon.  The ACSD says that charges are pending against two other individuals as their investigation continues.  Underwood is being held in the Anderson County Jail without bond, pending arraignment. 

 

AC municipal election results

 

Tuesday was Election Day in Tennessee and locally, here is a look at the results from Anderson County’s many municipal races.  In Clinton, there was only one contested race and that was in City Council Ward 1, where incumbent ET Stamey garnered 1100 votes to hold off challenges from Ted Phillips (553) and Ronald Young (370).  Two newcomers to the Council were unopposed:  Brian Hatmaker in Ward 2 and Zach Farrar in Ward 3.  Three incumbents won re-election to the city school board:  Curtis Isabell and Tim Bible in Ward 2 and KK Webster in Ward 3.  Clinton voters overwhelmingly approved the sale of wine in grocery stores by a margin of 1605 yesses to 772 nos.  In Norris, voters also overwhelmingly supported wine in grocery stores, with 451 yes votes and 115 no votes.  Norris voters also approved on-site consumption of alcohol by a 406-160 margin.  All five Norris City Council incumbents were unopposed.  In Oak Ridge, voters also signed off on wine in grocery stores by a margin of 5568 in favor to 1758 against.  Four people were elected to the Oak Ridge City Council.  Warren Gooch was the top vote-getter with 3761, with Rick Chinn 2nd with 3432, Kelly Callison 3rd with 3310 and incumbent Ellen Smith retained her seat with 2991 votes.  Incumbent Bob Eby was re-elected to the Oak Ridge School Board with 3724 votes and will be joined by newcomers Laura McLean with 3133 votes and A. Paige Marshall with 2754.  In Oliver Springs, incumbent Mayor Chris Hepler was unseated by Jerry Vann 389-302.  In the race for Alderman in Ward 2, Jeffery Bass defeated Maurice Walker and in ward 4, Terry Craze held off Nathan Benson 391-279.  The new mayor of Rocky Top will be current Vice Mayor Michael Lovely, who defeated fellow Council member Donald Douglas 161-109.  Current mayor Tim Sharp was elected to serve on the Rocky Top City Council with 121 votes and will be joined by Denise Casteel, who picked up 109.  For a complete look at the election results, visit www.acelect.com

 

Missing AC man turns up in Georgia

 

Michael David Miller, reported to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department as a missing person on October 10th, has been located in Gwinnett County, Georgia.  Miller and his vehicle had been entered into NCIC as a missing person.  Miller was stopped by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department after a "hit" on his license plate showed him as a missing person.  Upon checking, Miller told deputies he was OK and just wanted to "get away" for a while.  Gwinnett County deputies contacted us, confirmed he was a missing person, and said he appeared to be in no distress and was in good health.  Miller was asked to contact his family and, with no reason to detain him, was released by Gwinnett County deputies.

 

Mayes has new gig in RT

 

Former Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk Tyler Mayes has been named the acting city recorder in Rocky Top.  Mayes was appointed by the County Commission to serve the remainder of longtime Clerk Barry Pelizarri’s term following his retirement in 2012 but did not win the election to retain that seat in August, losing to William Jones.  Mayes will succeed Chris Phillips, who served briefly as Rocky Top city recorder until returning to his former job as the Anderson County Budget and Accounts Director last month.  The Rocky Top City Council will vote on whether to confirm him in the job on November 20th

 

ORT:  Best leaving AC HR department for private sector

 

(Oak Ridge Today) After almost a decade on the job, Cathy Best, Anderson County human resources and risk management director, is resigning to take a similar position in the private sector.  Best announced her resignation to the Human Resources Advisory Committee, Chair Rodney Archer, and County Mayor Terry Frank in a Monday letter. Her resignation is effective November 21.  Best said it was a difficult decision because working for Anderson County government for the past 9.5 years has been a positive experience and one for which she is grateful.  “As the human resources director, this committee’s support allowed me to implement various programs and policies, unifying the offices from pay scales to the personnel policies in place,” Best said. “My hope in the future is that the Human Resources Department will be separated from the politics and operate independently so that the department can provide the continued support in a fair and equitable way for the county and its employees as a whole.”  Best said she has flexibility in her new position, so she can help the county search for her replacement.

 

CPD chief wins another accolade

 

(CPD) Clinton Police Chief Rick Scarbrough has been elected to chair the Southern Region of the State Associations of Chief's of Police (SACOP). SACOP is a division of the International Association of Chief's of Police (IACP). Chief Scarbrough was elected by his peers during the IACP Conference in Orlando, Florida last weekend. The southern region consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Scarbrough has served as the Tennessee representative for four years.  SACOP works within IACP to develop and recommend best practices in law enforcement, to include but not be limited to legislation, safety, and policy. 

 

Tennessee #1 for foreign direct investment

 

(TDEC) Tennessee was ranked the top state in the nation for foreign direct investment (FDI) job commitments in 2013 according to the recently released 2014 Global Location Trends report.  The annual report from the IBM Institute for Business Value measured the number of jobs created by foreign-owned companies in each state during the 2013 calendar year.  Following Tennessee in the rankings were Texas, Georgia and Ohio.

“Our number one ranking by the IBM Institute has validated the significant focus and effort we have put toward the recruitment of international companies to Tennessee,” Hagerty said.  “Governor Haslam has invested significant time in what has proven to be the most successful international recruitment program in the nation. I couldn’t be more proud of our department and all of our partners throughout the state who have pulled together to drive us toward the goal of being number one.  The recognition is well-deserved,” Hagerty added. 

“Tennessee is clearly an attractive place for foreign-owned companies to invest,” Roel Spee, Global Leader, IBM Plant Location International.  “The state’s first place ranking illustrates just how strong a competitor Tennessee is in the global marketplace and the momentum the state possesses in recruiting new foreign investment projects.”

The Volunteer State is home to 864 foreign-based establishments that have invested over $30.1 billion in capital and employ more than 116,000 Tennesseans.  The state’s top 10 countries for FDI include Japan, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and Belgium.  In 2013 alone, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development projects accounted for 52 commitments from foreign-owned businesses that created 9,215 jobs and $1.68 billion in capital investment.  This FDI accounted for nearly 40 percent of all Tennessee’s new jobs committed last year and nearly one-third of all capital investment committed in the state.  Major foreign projects in 2013 included South Korean-owned Hankook Tire Co. (1,800 new jobs, $800 million investment), Japanese-owned Calsonic Kansei North America (1,200 new jobs, $109.6 capital investment) and Swiss-owned UBS (1,000 new jobs, $36.5 million capital investment).  In February 2013, TNECD announced a new international strategy focused on proactively identifying and recruiting new foreign direct investment into the state in addition to increasing Tennessee exports.  The state has established investment recruitment offices in Canada and Japan with export assistance offices in Mexico, the United Kingdom, the European Union and China.  The report found the United States was the top destination country in the world for FDI with the overall number of jobs created from foreign investment growing by 6 percent compared to 2012 levels along with significant increases in production and R&D activities.  Global Location Trends Reports are prepared based on analysis of data from IBM's proprietary Global Investment Locations Database (GILD). These reports present and analyze the latest trends in corporate location selection around the world, and are the most realistic and up-to-date reflection of expansion and relocation behavior of companies, as well as the degree in which countries and regions around the world are successful in attracting new business.

 

Parrott named supervisor of year by state

 

Tim Parrott, the Anderson County school system’s director of both secondary and technical education, has been named as the supervisor of the year by the state Department of Education.  Parrott received the honor during a statewide conference for education leaders held Tuesday in Nashville.  Parrott was nominated for the award by his peers and had already been named east Tennessee supervisor of the year.  His career in education spans over two decades, with stints in the classroom as a teacher, stints in school administrative positions and for the past five years, in the central office.  In a press release announcing the awards, officials say that the annual award recognizes supervisors who “have helped build a better education for Tennessee students through their leadership, programs and vision.  The complete press release can be found on our website.  Our congratulations go out to Tim Parrott for a well-deserved honor.

 

(TN Dept. of Education release) A Hamilton County elementary school principal and an Anderson County supervisor have earned top honors for their work in Tennessee education.  Ronald Hughes, principal of Apison Elementary School in Chattanooga, was named Tennessee’s 2014-15 Principal of the Year. He has served as principal at Apison Elementary for the past six years, and spent three decades working in Tennessee education.  Timothy Parrott, director of secondary education and career and technical education in Anderson County, was named Tennessee’s 2014-15 Supervisor of the Year. Parrott spent the first ten years of his two-decade education career as a classroom teacher before transitioning to roles in administration.  Both awards were announced Tuesday during a statewide conference for education leaders.  “Strong leadership plays a fundamental role in student learning, and it is our honor to recognize these individuals that have led their district and school to great success,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “We are grateful for what they have done to prioritize the needs of students and improve outcomes for kids.”  The annual Principal of the Year and Supervisor of the Year awards recognize administrators who have helped build a better education for Tennessee students through their leadership, programs, and vision. Hughes and Parrott were among nine principals and eight supervisors selected as regional finalists after being nominated by their peers for the title.  The winners for each grand division were also recognized Tuesday.  Hughes was named the Tennessee Principal of the Year and East Grand Division Winner. Beth Unfried, principal of Norman Smith Elementary in Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools, was named the winner for the Middle Grand Division. Sharon McNary, principal of Richland Elementary in Shelby County, was named the winner for the West Grand Division.  Parrott was named the Tennessee Supervisor of the Year and East Grand Division Winner. Vivian McCord, federal programs supervisor in Dickson County Schools, was named the winner for the Middle Grand Division. Michelle Goad, instructional supervisor in Gibson County Special Schools, was named the winner for the West Grand Division. 

 

Nichols retiring from Chamber

 

Longtime Anderson County Chamber of Commerce President Jackie Nichols has informed the Chamber that she will retire effective May 1st, 2015.  In a brief message to Chamber Board and Executive Committee members, Nichols writes, “[I] feel that May 1, 2015 gives us ample time to hire and train the person who will take this Chamber to the next level.  In dealing with the recent retail development activity, it is my feeling that In leaving any earlier, than May 1 may imply that both myself and the Anderson County Chamber Board of Directors are accepting responsibility for the outcome of the situation. Which, of course, would not be a correct assessment.  “  She is referring to the resignation earlier this month of Chamber retail recruiter Diane Ilgner, who in her resignation letter, said that conflicts with Nichols have “resulted in a very difficult work environment and puts the success of the retail development initiative at risk.”  Ilgner, who was hired to coordinate retail recruitment in the county in March of 2013, alleges that Nichols instructed her not to speak with prominent business leaders or government officials, among other accusations.  

 

(Jackie Nichols’ message announcing retirement) “It is with both sadness and anticipation that I let you know I have decided that it is time for me to retire. As always I am placing the well being of the Chamber as a  priority and feel that May 1, 2015gives us ample time to hire and train the person who will take this Chamber to the next level.  In dealing with the recent retail development activity, it is my feeling that In leaving any earlier, than May 1 may imply that both myself and the Anderson County Chamber Board of Directors are accepting responsibility for the outcome of the situation. Which, of course, would not be a correct assessment.  I apologize for the informality of this notification. However, due to our upcoming meeting I felt it best that we are fully prepared for tomorrow and begin the process of planning the future for the Anderson County Chamber.”

 

ORT:  OR Council awards Jackson Square contract

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Council on Monday awarded a $1 million contract for a project partially funded by a state grant to rebuild the Jackson Square parking lot area.  The contract was awarded to Rich Construction Inc. of Lenoir City. Oak Ridge officials will have a pre-construction conference in 10 days, and they are hopeful that work will start in late November, City Manager Mark Watson said.  He said the project could take 180 days, or about six months. That means it would be done before the Lavender Festival in 2015.  The work will include a landscaped pedestrian plaza with parking, an interactive fountain, colored concrete paving, stone pavers, curbing, asphalt paving, utilities, benches, sidewalks, and upgrades under the American with Disabilities Act.  Council approved the project in a 6-0 vote on Monday night. It’s funded with help from a $741,609 Tennessee Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant awarded to the city in June 2012. The TDOT grant covers 80 percent of the work.  The city’s share of the 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.  Watson said the revitalization project will update Jackson Square and make it more inviting. The work will include some green space and a newly configured and modernized parking lot.  

 

ORT:  ORPD offers tips to prevent vehicle break-ins

 

(Oak Ridge Today) The Oak Ridge Police Department is investigating a series of motor vehicle burglaries that have occurred throughout the city since August, and authorities are warning residents that vehicle break-ins increase during the holiday season, starting in late October.  The ORPD said there have been more than 25 reported auto burglaries from August through last week.  “The common thread is unattended vehicles left in fairly secluded parking lots, (with the) majority occurring around parks along Melton Lake Drive (and) Edgemoor Road,” the ORPD said last week. “The most current location is along Outer Drive. Time of day for each of the burglaries has varied, ranging from broad daylight, dusk, and dark. Items stolen from vehicles appear to have been in plain view.”  The most-stolen items include purses, cell phones, iPads and tablets, laptop computers, GPS units, other electronic items, and cash.  To help prevent the break-ins, the ORPD advises residents to lock their vehicle doors, hide valuables out of sight (such as in the trunk), and take your purse, phone, and electronics with you out of your vehicle.  If you or anyone you know has seen anything suspicious related to these burglaries, the Police Department asks you to report it by calling (865) 425-4399.  Authorities said they have stepped up patrols in response to the burglaries.  Here are more ORPD tips to prevent auto burglaries:

  • Remove visible items—If you leave items visible in your car, you are a target. Be aware that someone may be watching as you put a wallet, purse, or cell phone under your seat, especially at a gym. Take these with you or secure them in your trunk.
  • Lock the doors—Lock your vehicle and take your keys, even for quick errands. Lock the trunk, hatchback, or tailgate to block access into the vehicle. Close all windows, including vent or wing windows and sunroofs.
  • Vehicle alarms—Buy an alarm and use it. Many people believe that alarms no longer make a difference; however, they do remain an effective deterrent to a burglar. Remember, criminals are looking for the easy target.
  • Vehicle registration—Black out the address on your registration and photocopy it. Keep the copy, not the original, in your car. You must have the registration available to present to a police officer upon request.
  • Do not attach personal information to your keys—If your keys are stolen, having your personal information or vehicle license number attached only compounds the problem. A criminal now may have access to your home, automobile, or office.
  • Personal mail—Do not leave outgoing or incoming mail in your car, especially where visible. This has your name and address on it.
  • Garage door opener—Avoid leaving this in your car if possible.
  • Parking at home—At home, park in your garage if you have one. Lock your car and all garage doors. Park in a well-lit area. Check to see that your vehicle is visible from pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

The Oak Ridge Police Department said it would like to remind all citizens to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.

 

Judge grants injunction against Rocky Top

 

A federal judge this week announced that he will grant an injunction against Rocky Top Marketing and Manufacturing Company sought by the House of Bryant Publications that will prohibit the company from using trademarks with the Rocky Top logo on them.  Chief US District Court Judge Thomas Varlan issued his ruling in the matter this week, the latest chapter in the legal battle between the owners of the rights to the iconic bluegrass song “Rocky Top” and the town that now bears that name.  The items included in the ruling—11 in all—include items like hats, shirts and other products.  As we have reported, the dispute began last year when developers interested in building several tourist attractions in the area approached the leaders of Lake City and asked if they would consider changing the city’s name to better market the proposed development.  The town agreed but House of Bryant filed a motion in federal court seeking an injunction to prevent the town from changing its name, alleging copyright infringement.  Judge Varlan denied that motion and his denial is now being appealed.  Officials with Rocky Top marketing and Manufacturing called this week’s ruling a “learning experience,” with President Tim Isbel telling the News-Sentinel that the company “fell short [in making] it quite clear that we are only using Rocky Top Tennessee 37769 as a geographical description” in applying for various trademarks aimed at capitalizing on the town’s new identity.  We will continue to follow this story for you.

 

Man pleads to 2012 murder attempt

 

A 50-year-old man was sentenced to 15 and a half years in prison Thursday after entering best-interest pleas to amended charges of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, attempted aggravated arson and attempted aggravated kidnapping in connection to an attempt to kill his stepfather.  Raymond Randolph Lane admitted his role in plan to kill then-73-year-old Luther Byrge along with co-conspirators, 44-year-old David Lee Suddeth and Suddeth's 53-year-old girlfriend, Dorothy Roxanne McFarland.  On January 5, 2012, the trio cut the phone line to Byrge's Old Lake City Highway home, disabled the smoke alarm and put a box of .ammunition under a bathroom sink.  Gasoline was poured under the sink and ignited, and Byrge’s bedroom door was locked from outside.  The plan fell apart when the melting plumbing pipes under the sink dripped onto the fire and extinguished it.  Lane was given credit for the two years and six months that he had been in custody, and he will have to serve 35 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.  Suddeth and McFarland entered pleas to similar charges in September and each received 9-year sentences.

 

KNS:  AC Mayor reports missing files to state

 

According to the News-Sentinel, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank has filed a fraud report with the state Comptroller’s Office, saying that government files are missing from the Public Works department and that a recently-fired employee of that office’s personnel file is missing from the county’s Human Resources department.  The files are related to allegations against Public Works Director David Crowley, who was indicted earlier this month on five misdemeanor charges of performing building inspections without the proper certifications.  Frank says that two of the 25 files believed to be missing from the Public Works office are records of inspections performed by Crowley.  The personnel file of former building inspector Lisa Crumpley is also missing from the HR department.  She was fired by Crowley shortly before he turned himself in at the AC Jail on the charges against him.  Crumpley had been questioned by the TBI as part of their investigation into the allegations against Crowley.  On Monday, the mayor ordered a top-to-bottom search of the Public Works office in an attempt to locate the missing files and says she has asked the ACSD to review courthouse surveillance footage to see if there is any evidence of someone illegally removing Crumpley’s file from the office and/or the courthouse.  The mayor asked Crowley not to take part in the search of the Public Works office. 

 

Lincoln’s closes after tumultuous stretch

 

Lincoln’s Sports Grille has shut down, citing economic conditions. The closure was first announced on a sign posted on the eatery’s front door on Monday and in a press release issued on Tuesday.  The popular restaurant and bar on South Illinois Avenue was the subject of five show cause hearings before the Oak Ridge Beer Permit Board over the past couple of years.  In the last show cause hearing in August, members revoked Lincoln’s permit.  Lincoln’s regained the permit after a temporary agreement imposing new conditions was worked out between the business, the city and the Beer Board that was approved by Anderson County Chancellor Nicki Cantrell, pending an appeal of the Beer Board’s revocation.  But in an interview earlier this month with our partners at Oak Ridge Today, Scott Green, one of Lincoln’s owners, said the inability to sell beer between late August and early October had a substantial impact on the business. The restaurant and its staff had also been hurt by the bad publicity, Green said.  Two of Lincoln’s five show cause hearings had been called after alcohol was sold to underage customers in state stings, and others were called after the Oak Ridge Police Department responded to disturbances. The revocation during the last show cause hearing on August 28 went into effect immediately. That revocation followed an earlier two-week suspension of Lincoln’s beer permit in June.  Lincoln’s opened in March of 2010. Since then, the restaurant had featured a mix of family friendly entertainment, music, comedy, community events, and food and drinks. Owners and managers had recently said they were trying to become more of a restaurant and less of a bar.  For much more on this story visit our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com.

 

Report:  AC Chamber retail chief steps down, cites conflict

 

According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce’s chief retail recruiter has resigned amid a conflict with Chamber President Jackie Nichols.  The paper reports that Diane Ilgner’s resignation letter cites conflicts with Nichols that have “resulted in a very difficult work environment and puts the success of the retail development initiative at risk.”  Ilgner was hired in March 2013 to lead the effort to bring more retail businesses to Anderson County through an initiative funded in part by the governments of Anderson County and Clinton.  The letter includes allegations that Nichols instructed Ilgner to not speak with prominent business leaders or government officials, including the county mayor and the Chamber’s Retail Advisory Board, among other accusations.  Nichols told the News-Sentinel that while she would not comment on the specific allegations, the future of the retail development initiative will be decided upon by the chamber.

 

Lifestar leaving AC base for new digs in CC

 

UT Lifestar has announced that it will be opening a new base in Campbell County and closing its current base in Anderson County early next month.  UT says that the new location is more centrally located and will allow Lifestar to better serve Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Scott and Union counties as well as parts of southeast Kentucky.  The new facility will measure some 5000 square feet and have living quarters, office space and a hangar.  It will be staffed by four pilots, four nurses, four paramedics and an aviation mechanic.

 

AC Commission replaces Phillips with Bates

 

This morning, Anderson County commissioners voted to replace Chris Phillips in Commission District 4 with the man whose vacated seat he won in August.  Phillips resigned his Commission seat—won in August—so that he could return to work as the county’s Budget and Accounts Director after leaving that post earlier this year to become City Recorder in his native Rocky Top.  Phillips left the county government to help the town update its accounting practices as it makes the transition from Lake City to Rocky Top and prepares for what is expected to be a busy time for the city.  Phillips was elected along with incumbent Tim Isbel to serve on the Commission but resigned last month.  This morning, commissioners replaced Phillips with former Commissioner Zach Bates, who did not run for re-election to the Commission in August after having unsuccessfully challenged County Mayor Terry Frank in the Republican primary.  Bates was sworn in and began his service to District 4 immediately following the Commission vote. 

 

ORUUC in new home

 

The Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church dedicated its new church on Sunday.

The new church is at 809 Oak Ridge Turnpike. The church moved from its former location at the intersection of Robertsville Road and the Oak Ridge Turnpike to make way for the new Kroger Marketplace shopping center.  After nearly six decades at its old home, the church moved to its new location in late September. The first service was held on Sunday, October 5.  Two years ago, in the fall of 2012, the congregation voted to accept an offer from Kroger to purchase their property and historic building.

 

ORT:  Donut Palace coming to OR

 

(Oak Ridge Today) A Donut Palace will be built where Price Florist used to be, a development company said Thursday.  Redevelopment work is starting, and The Donut Palace of Oak Ridge could open in the first quarter of 2015, said Cappiello Real Estate and Development Company.  The company said The Donut Palace is a regional chain that is primarily located in Texas and the Midwest and is described as “an artisan bakery featuring handmade apple fritters, muffins, cookies, brownies, pastries, and of course, doughnuts.” Along with the baked goods, they will offer coffee, drinks, and artisan sandwiches.  The Oak Ridge franchise will be at 1021 Oak Ridge Turnpike, near the Methodist Medical Center campus. “While the chain typically places its bakeries within a strip shopping center, this site will be an evolution of the brand, creating the look and feel of a modern-day coffee shop, yet adding the convenience of a drive-through window service,” a press release from Cappiello Real Estate and Development Company said. “The single-story, 1,800-square-foot building will be a blend of brick, wood, and metal, reflecting a modern yet comfortable atmosphere with plenty of natural light.” 

 

KNS:  Lawsuit alleges racial, age discrimination in Trustee’s office

 

The News-Sentinel reports that the former office manager in the Anderson County Trustee’s Office has filed a federal lawsuit against the county alleging racial and age discrimination.  Craig Dixon worked in the Trustee’s office from September 2006 to August of last year, when he was fired by Trustee Rodney Archer.  Dixon’s lawsuit alleges violations of the Tennessee Human Rights Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.  The suit contends that Dixon, who was 50 at the time of his firing and one of only two black employees of the county government, was discriminated against because he was replaced by a 24-year-old white male.  The KNS reports that among the allegations in the suit is that Archer had written on a notepad in the office that people over the age of 40 were “useless” and resistant to change.  The lawsuit says that Dixon’s separation notice from Archer indicated he was fired for violating office policy and that Archer told the state Department of Labor and Workforce development that Dixon had been fired for falsifying audit logs.  However, the report says that the state did not find sufficient evidence of “work-related” misconduct and that the county did not appeal that decision.  The lawsuit alleges that Dixon was eligible for FMLA status to help care for his sick mother and filed the necessary paperwork with the county HR department but never received the necessary federal paperwork.  Dixon’s lawsuit also says that at no time during his employment in the office did he receive any written warnings or disciplinary action.  The KNS reported that Dixon’s personnel file indicated that Archer did list deficiencies in Dixon’s job performance on two occasions, including allegations that he made more than 25 personal calls from the office per day, that he would not pay office bills on time and that he did not make bank deposits on a daily basis.  Archer told the KNS Tuesday that while he cannot comment specifically on the pending lawsuit, “Anderson County and I deny all claims raised by Mr. Dixon.”  The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, the reinstatement of Dixon to his former job or an award of front pay, which legally is defined as money awarded during the period between judgment and reinstatement or in the event that reinstatement is not possible. 

 

2 indicted for selling heroin near school

 

Two men in custody since January of 2013 on charges that they sold heroin near Claxton Elementary School were indicted last week by an Anderson County grand jury.  40-year-old Charles Randolph Johnson and 29-year-old Joe Fentress Butler face charges of selling drugs within 1000 feet of a school.  A confidential informant using a digital recorder and marked bills allegedly purchased $25 worth of heroin from Butler and authorities say that he had been supplied with the drug by Johnson.  Both men will be arraigned on October 31st in Anderson County Criminal Court. 

 

Frank questions indictment of appointee

 

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank has questions for DA Dave Clark concerning the indictment of Public Works Director and Building Commissioner David Crowley.  A letter hand-delivered from the mayor’s office to the DA’s office states that the five misdemeanor charges handed down against Crowley last week by a grand jury do not meet the legal standards for those charges.  Crowley, who was appointed by Mayor Frank in September of 2012, was charged last week with five counts of inspecting houses without the proper certification following a TBI investigation.  He turned himself in at the Anderson County Jail Thursday morning, posted a $1000 bond and returned to work that same day.  Frank’s letter states that the charges “require not only a knowing failure to enforce the statute, but also that the intentional failure posed ‘an immediate danger to the life, safety or welfare of another.’”  Her letter states that each of the five houses in question has been inspected several times since Crowley’s initial inspection and that occupancy permits were issued.  Frank’s letter also says that it has been almost a year since the alleged illegal inspections were performed and nine months since County Law Director Jay Yeager raised questions about Crowley’s certifications, writing that she is not aware of any “immediate danger.”  The same morning that Crowley was indicted, he fired building inspector Lisa Crumpley for what her separation papers deemed insubordination, according to the News-Sentinel.  Crumpley cooperated with the TBI probe and her lawyer, David Stuart, sent a letter to Frank and County Commission Chairman Robert McKamey two weeks ago that expressed concern that she would be retaliated against.  Last week, Mayor Frank issued a statement in which she said that she would not tolerate anyone being terminated for lawfully cooperating in an investigation and pledged to look into the matter further. 

 

Clinton man killed in OR wreck

 

A 63-year-old Clinton man was killed last week in an accident on the Oak Ridge Turnpike when his Jeep Cherokee rolled several times and came to rest in a field.  The driver, Larry Ivy, was taken to UT Medical Center, where he later died.  Oak Ridge Police say that Ivy had been traveling east on the Turnpike last Monday afternoon October 6th, when his vehicle left the roadway and flipped several times before coming to rest about 300 feet from the road in a field.  Ivy was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle. 

 

ORFD Chief appointed to state commission

 

(Oak Ridge Today) Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has announced the appointment of Oak Ridge Fire Chief Darryl Kerley to the Commission on Firefighting Personnel Standards and Education as a representative of the Tennessee Fire Chief’s Association, the Tennessee Fire Safety Inspectors Association, and the Tennessee Fireman’s Association.  The appointment is effective immediately and runs through July 31, 2020, a press release said.  Kerley has more than 37 years’ experience in fire and emergency services, serving in various capacities for several East Tennessee agencies, including fire chief for the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department, rescue technician and diver for the Knoxville Rescue Squad, and fire chief for the U.S Department of Energy at the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion plant in Oak Ridge.  In a letter to Kerley, Haslam stated: “I consider it very important to ensure that Tennessee’s boards and commissions are filled with the most dedicated and qualified citizens. I believe your participation is certain to leave a positive impact on this board and the work it does.”  The Firefighting Personnel Standards and Education Commission is responsible for the certification of volunteer and paid firefighters in the state of Tennessee. The nine-member Commission also administers the Educational Incentive Pay Program for paid firefighters in Tennessee.  The Commission is responsible for approving training programs to meet the requirements of T.C.A. 4-24-112 (the Minimum Training Statute) and proof of compliance with this statute through annual audits of selected fire departments.  “We are proud of Chief Kerley in his work for the City of Oak Ridge,” City Manager Mark Watson said in the press release. “Most notably, Chief Darryl Kerley has improved the Oak Ridge Fire Department to the ISO rating 2, which includes Oak Ridge as one of six departments in Tennessee.  “We know Chief Kerley can add his expertise to help the people of Tennessee in this new capacity as a member of the Tennessee Fire Commission.”  There are more than 350 fire departments enrolled in the Commission’s programs serving more than 19,000 fire service personnel in Tennessee.  “Governor Haslam has placed a great amount of trust and confidence in my abilities to serve on the commission,” Kerley said. “I promise my colleagues and local fire departments that I will do my very best to work with the other commissioners to make Tennessee Fire Service one of the best in our nation, in order to make Tennessee an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

 

AC official indicted

 

Anderson County Public Works Director and Building Commissioner David Crowley was indicted earlier this week on charges that he inspected five houses under construction in the last three months of 2013 without having obtained the proper certification to do so.  Crowley was indicted on five misdemeanor counts of violating the state’s building official certification law.  The TBI says that at the request of 7th District Attorney General Dave Clark agents began investigating Crowley on April 16th.  During the course of the investigation, the TBI developed information that Crowley had performed five inspections without the proper certification. State law affords a building commissioner 12 months to obtain the proper certification. Agents determined Crowley performed five inspections outside the grace period afforded in Tennessee law.  He began working in the office in September of 2012 but failed to pass the required courses and tests.  In January, County Mayor Terry Frank instructed Crowley to not inspect any more buildings until the certifications were obtained.  Crowley turned himself in to authorities Thursday at the Anderson County Jail and was released a short time later after posting a $1000 bond.   Shortly before he turned himself into authorities, Crowley fired a building inspector in his office described as a whistleblower.  Lisa Crumpley was fired early Thursday morning.  In a letter sent to Mayor Frank and County Commission Chairman Robert McKamey dated October 3rd, her attorney, David Stuart writes:  “Ms. Crumpley has been conscientiously required to engage as part of the duties on her employment, including but not limited to providing information requested by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the county law director.  It is her belief that she is about to be subjected to retaliation on account of this activity, and I am therefore sending you this letter to formally protest and to seek appropriate intervention to prevent any retaliation.”  We will continue to follow this story for you as developments warrant. 

 

(TBI Press Release) Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained indictments for an Anderson County man accused of performing building inspections he wasn’t certified to do.  At the request of 7th District Attorney General Dave Clark, TBI Special Agents began investigating David Lynn Crowley on April 16, 2014. During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that Crowley, the Public Works Director and Building Commissioner for Anderson County performed five inspections without the proper certification. State law affords a building commissioner 12 months to obtain the proper certification. Agents determined Crowley performed five inspections outside the grace period afforded in Tennessee law.  On Tuesday, the Anderson County Grand Jury returned indictments for the 62-year-old Clinton man, charging him with five misdemeanor counts of violating the state’s building official certification law. Today, he was booked into the Anderson County Detention Facility and subsequently released after posting $1,000 bond.

 

Ex-CHS standout pleads guilty in 2011 case

 

Troubled former Clinton High School football standout Scotty Whitt pleaded guilty Tuesday in Anderson County Criminal Court to charges stemming from a May 2011 incident in which he was accused of breaking into a woman’s house and raping her.  Whitt, now 39 years old, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of aggravated assault, aggravated burglary and criminal trespassing.  He was sentenced to eight years in jail on the assault charge, three years on the burglary charge and 30 days on the criminal trespassing charge, all of which will be served concurrently.  Whitt was given credit for time served since his arrest the morning after the May 19th, 2011 incident, and will spend the rest of his life on community supervision upon his release from jail.  Whitt was standout running back in high school and helped the Dragons advance to the 1992 state championship game but after high school he did not have the grades necessary to go to college, and developed a drug problem that has helped land him behind bars on several occasions on a variety of charges. 

 

ACSD beer sting nets 5

 

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, in cooperation with the Rocky Top Police

Department, the Oliver Springs Police Department, and Allies for Substance Abuse

Prevention of Anderson County (ASAP), conducted compliance checks of local businesses who sell beer on Monday, September 29.  Investigators with the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit visited twenty businesses to attempt to purchase beer. Five sold beer to the underage person. All twenty businesses checked for identification showing the person to be under 21 but the five sold beer anyway.

The following businesses sold beer to the underage person.

  • In & Out Market Lake City Hwy. Clinton
  • Lee’s Food Mart E. Tri-County Blvd. Oliver Springs
  • Raceway E. Tri-County Blvd. Oliver Springs
  • Smokes & Things Clinton Hwy. Powell
  • Von’s Market E. Wolf Valley Rd. Heiskell

Five clerks who sold beer to the underage purchasers have been cited to court. The beer permit holders will be brought before the respective beer boards for Anderson County and Oliver Springs.  Businesses who checked for identification and did not sell beer are to be commended and recognized for their efforts. All of the following businesses checked for identification and did not sell beer to the underage purchaser:

  • Anderson Discount Tobacco Main St. Oliver Springs
  • Bread Box Edgemoor Rd. Powell
  • Exxon N. Main St. Rocky Top
  • Fast Lap Market (Town Talk) Lake City Hwy. Clinton
  • Food City E. Tri-County Blvd. Oliver Springs
  • Marathon (Mack’s Tobacco) Oak Ridge Hwy. Clinton
  • Marathon (Edgemoor) Edgemoor Rd.
  • Marathon (Downtown) Main St. Oliver Springs
  • Marathon (Fast Track) Lake City Hwy. Rocky Top
  • Marathon (Rocky Top) N. Main St. Rocky Top
  • Pilot #314 N. Main St. Rocky Top
  • Rite Aid E. Tri-County Blvd. Oliver Springs
  • Shell N. Main St. Rocky Top
  • Shell (Fun Food) E. Tri-County Blvd. Oliver Springs
  • Weigel’s #73 Weigel’s Ln. Rocky Top

In 2013, the Anderson County Underage Drinking Task Force was established to create a platform for representatives from each municipality across Anderson County to address underage drinking issues. In collaboration with Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) of Anderson County, the Underage Drinking Task Force consists of community members representing beer boards, alcohol outlets, law enforcement officers, Tennessee Alcohol Beverage Commission and other government officials. Task Force members have been working diligently by analyzing policy and investigating best practices to prevent and reduce underage drinking.  The Underage Drinking Task Force meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at 6:00pm in the Board Room on the 5th floor of the Robert Jolley Building at 101 South Main Street in Clinton. For more information about the Underage Drinking Task Force, please contact Michael Foster, Prevention Coordinator with ASAP at (865) 457-3007 or Michael@ASAPofAnderson.org. By being proactive, local law enforcement agencies, along with the Underage Drinking Task Force, are creating a safer environment in Anderson County.  For additional information on preventing underage drinking, please visit: www.ASAPofAnderson.org.

 

Phillips leaving 2 jobs to return to old job

 

Former Anderson County budget director Chris Phillips, who left that job earlier this year to help his hometown update their financial mechanisms as they get ready for an extended period of growth, is returning to his old job in the Courthouse.  That means that he will step down as City recorder in Rocky Top and as a newly-elected County Commissioner in District 4.  Phillips was elected to that post in August but will step down from the commission on October 10th.  It will be up to the remaining 15 commissioners to select a replacement to serve the rest of his term, which runs through August 2016.  In a press release issued by the County Mayor’s office, Phillips says, “While the thought of disappointing those who were kind enough to vote for me weighs heavily on me, I know I can best serve the people of this county by implementing and directing policy, rather than making policy [as a commissioner].”  Citing his accomplishments in Rocky Top, Phillips says that he spent his time there “working toward balancing their accounts, working with the auditors to help them complete the overdue 2012/2013 financial audit, instituted direct deposit for the employees, installed card machines in order to accept debit and credit card transactions, hired a new water clerk, installed property tax software in the place of a manual paper process, and corrected many other processes that had fallen by the way side over the last few years. I’ve helped Rocky Top modernize in anticipation of great things to come, and now feel I’m able to return to Anderson County.”  Mayor Terry Frank had this to say about Phillips’ return:  “I never wanted Chris to leave, but I certainly understood from the beginning that Lake City, now Rocky Top, was in search of next level management in modernizing their accounting structure… I made it clear from the get-go that if I had not filled the Budget Director position, he was always welcome back home here in Anderson County Government.”  Interim Budget Director Connie Aytes will return to her former position as Deputy Budget Director when Phillips’ return becomes official.  Read the entire press release on our website, www.wyshradio.com.

 

(Press release from Anderson County Mayor’s office) Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank today announced that Chris Phillips will be rejoining Anderson County Government as Budget Director.   

“I never wanted Chris to leave, but I certainly understood from the beginning that Lake City, now Rocky Top, was in search of next level management in modernizing their accounting structure.  Though Chris tried to accomplish Rocky Top’s goals by working part-time on weekends, it really took him leaving the county to be in Rocky Top full time.   I made it clear from the get-go that if I had not filled the Budget Director position, he was always welcome back home here in Anderson County Government,” stated Frank.

“While the thought of disappointing those who were kind enough to vote for me weighs heavily on me, I know I can best serve the people of this county by implementing and directing policy, rather than making policy, and that requires that I step down from my position as Commissioner to serve Anderson County in another way,” stated Phillips. Phillips will resign his District 4 County Commission seat effective Oct. 10.

“Chris knows Anderson County inside and out, and we have missed him.  Our team is excited to have him back, and I personally am just thrilled,” said Mayor Frank. Phillips will officially rejoin Anderson County Government on Oct. 30. 

“I want to thank Connie Aytes, who has served as Interim Budget Director, for her tireless work,” said Mayor Frank.  “She has served Anderson County for six years – since February 2014 as Interim Budget Director – and under Phillips’ previous tenure as Budget Director, was named Deputy Director. Her past experience as an auditor with the Tennessee Office of the Comptroller has given the accounting office a unique area of expertise, insight, and guidance.  She is so appreciated for rising to the challenge as Interim Director, and we can’t possibly thank her enough. She remains a vital part of the team,” continued Mayor Frank. 

Phillips successfully helped Anderson County achieve seven Certificates of Excellence in the seven years he previously was the county’s Budget Director. He is a Certified Financial Manager accredited through the Association of Government Accountants and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Tennessee Wesleyan College.

“When approached by Rocky Top, I felt it was my duty to help get my hometown in solid financial order. I left to get things back on track, believing it was my calling to do so. Once I was here, I immediately began working toward balancing their accounts, working with the auditors to help them complete the overdue 2012/2013 financial audit, instituted direct deposit for the employees, installed card machines in order to accept debit and credit card transactions, hired a new water clerk, installed property tax software in the place of a manual paper process, and corrected many other processes that had fallen by the way side over the last few years. I’ve helped Rocky Top modernize in anticipation of great things to come, and now feel I’m able to return to Anderson County,” said Phillips.

“I am very proud to have helped Rocky Top move forward, and am excited to return to Anderson County,” Phillips said.

 

CDBGs announced for several Tennessee communities

 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty recently approved more than $28 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to assist Tennessee communities with infrastructure, health and safety projects, and downtown improvements.  “Community Development Block Grants play an important role in helping communities across Tennessee prepare for future economic development opportunities and continued growth,” Haslam said. “Working with our communities in making these improvements helps bring us one step closer toward our goal to making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”   

“Community development sets the stage for burgeoning economic development and when a community invests in itself, the private sector is more likely to invest in it as well,” Hagerty said. “I am pleased to see so many communities across the state eagerly taking steps not only to attract new business and encourage future growth, but also to create better living conditions for the families that reside there.” 

Allocation of CDBG funds is based on priorities set at local levels where community needs are best known. The CDBG program is administered in Tennessee by the Department of Economic and Community Development.

 

Community

Project

CDBG Amount

Local Funds

Total

Caryville

Drainage Improvements

$315,000

$35,000

$350,000

LaFollette

Sewer System Improvements

$524,998

$45,652

$570,650

Morgan County

Waterline Extension

$525,000

$144,000

$669,000

Oliver Springs

Sewer System Improvements

$525,000

$225,000

$750,000

Rocky Top

Water System Improvements

$360,840

$27,160

$388,000

Union County

Waterline Extension

$525,000

$39,516

$564,516

 

AC FFA state champs

 

The Anderson County Future Farmers of America (FFA) have earned a state title in the Milk Quality and Products Career Development Event (CDE). Students from 33 chapters gathered at the Tennessee State Fair to compete in the event sponsored by F&M Bank of Clarksville. The Milk Quality and Products CDE tests agricultural education students on their knowledge of quality production, processing, distribution, promotion, and marketing of milk and dairy foods.  The Anderson County team is comprised of all freshmen, making their state title that much more impressive. Mary Leach was the highest-scoring individual, while Kayla Palmer and Rhett Boling tied for 2nd, and Colby Profit placed 4th.  Anderson County will represent Tennessee at the National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY this October. The team will compete for national recognition and up to $1000 per team member.  The Tennessee FFA Association is comprised of more than 13,000 members from 213 high school chapters, 7 middle school chapters and 8 collegiate chapters across the state of Tennessee. To learn more about FFA visit www.tnffa.org.

 

Ouster suit dismissal to be appealed

 

The attorney for the 22 Anderson County residents who filed an ouster suit against County Law Director Jay Yeager in the spring will appeal the dismissal of the suit last week by a specially-appointed senior judge.  Senior Judge Don Ash last week issued an opinion based on a hearing held August 28th dismissing the suit on the grounds that the Anderson County Law Director is not subject to ouster because his is an appointed position and not an elected one.  Judge Ash also opined that the plaintiffs “can prove no set of facts that would entitle them to relief.”  His ruling also made those plaintiffs liable for all court costs in the case, which will continue to mount as the appeals process continues.  The original ouster suit was filed in May with three grounds for Yeager’s dismissal but was later amended to include 16 reasons for ouster.  Yeager has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has publicly stated he believes that County Mayor Terry Frank, with whom he has had several high-profile disagreements, is behind the suit.  Mayor Frank has repeatedly denied that allegation.

 

Violette honored by peers

 

Earlier this month, the Director of the Clinton City School System, Dr. Vicki Violette, was named the 2015 Superintendent of the Year by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents for the Eastern District during a ceremony held in Pigeon Forge.  This is the second time that Dr. Violette has been recognized by her peers with this award, which she also won in 2012.  Violette gave the credit for her honor to the hard work of the students, teachers, school board members and central office staff as well as to the support of the entire community. 

 

State awards $24M in highway safety grants

 

(GHSO) Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer and Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole announced the Tennessee agencies that received grant awards totaling more than $24.2 million to support highway traffic safety efforts.  The funds support the mission of GHSO to save lives and reduce injuries on Tennessee roadways through leadership, innovation, coordination and program support in partnership with numerous public and private organizations.  “Having safe roads is critical to our mission of making Tennessee a better place to live, work and raise a family,” Haslam said.  “These grants will support the efforts of highway safety agencies and advocates to reduce the number of people killed and injured in traffic crashes in Tennessee each year.”  There are multiple elements that contribute to a safe roadway system.  Some of those aspects are an accurate traffic safety data collection and analysis system, well-trained and well-equipped law enforcement personnel, and effective emergency medical and trauma systems.  A major part of roadway safety is educating motorists about laws and good driving behaviors.  “These grants help fund a variety of enforcement, legal and educational initiatives across the state including speed enforcement, first responder equipment purchases, DUI prosecutors and child passenger safety training,” Schroer said.  “These grants will make a difference in the effectiveness of our highway safety partners.”  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the funding to GHSO.  The grants, totaling 449 for the 2014-2015 funding cycle, were awarded to 386 agencies that successfully applied for funding based on a defined problem and statistical need.  Each year, GHSO accepts applications from agencies across the state for available highway safety funds.  Applications are reviewed and scored by GHSO and external highway safety advocates.  The agencies that meet the criteria for funding received awards.  “Our grantees are the backbone of GHSO,” Director Kendell Poole said. “It takes everyone working together to make a difference. We are dedicated to saving lives across Tennessee and pledge to work with grantees statewide to accomplish our mission.”  For more information about GHSO, visit www.tntrafficsafety.org.  For a complete list and description of each grant, visit http://www.tn.gov/tdot/news/2014/GHSO-FY2015GrantAwards.pdf

 

Anderson County Sheriff's Department: Reducing Fatalities in Anderson County: ($40,000.25)

ASAP of Anderson County Alcohol Education and Safe Driving in Anderson County TN Alcohol Education ($29,152.60)

Clinton Police Department, Rocky Top PD and Norris PD:  High Visibility Enforcement ($5000 each)

Oak Ridge Police Department Operations STAR (Strategic Traffic Accident Reduction) [$ 35,148.00]

TN District Attorney General, 07th Judicial District 20142015 DUI Abatement/Prosecution Enhancement Grant DUI Prosecution ($198, 047.32)

Campbell County Sheriff's Department Campbell County Alcohol Enforcement Program ($57,768.64)

Caryville, Jacksboro, Jellico and Lafollette Police Departments:  High Visibility Enforcement Police Traffic Services ($5000)

City of Sunbright, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and the Wartburg Police Department High Visibility Enforcement Police Traffic Services Morgan East 5,000.00 $

Morgan County Sheriff Department High Visibility Enforcement ($5000 each)

Harriman Police Department DUI Check Patrol and Check Points ($15,088.39)

Kingston Police Department, Oliver Springs PD, Roane County Sheriff’s Office and the Rockwood PD: High Visibility Enforcement Police Traffic Services Roane East ($5,000.00)

Roane County Sheriff's Office:  Network coordinator ($15,000.00)

Roane County Sheriff's Office:  A safer TN through saturations and checkpoints ($87,800.00)

 

AC DA named to Bar Association Board of Governors

 

Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark has been named a Governor of the Tennessee Bar Association, according to a release from his office.  In that release, Clark states:  “It is an honor to be selected to serve in a leadership role among my peers and to help continue the service of the Tennessee Bar Association.”  The 23-member Board of Governors controls the activities and business of the Tennessee Bar Association in all its activities across the state.  The TBA represents over 10,000 attorneys in the state in trying to foster legal education, maintain the honor and dignity of the profession of law, cultivate professional ethics and promote improvements in the law and the administration of justice.  Clark earlier this month was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Conference of District Attorneys General.

 

House of Bryant files another ‘Rocky Top’ legal challenge

 

The owners of the iconic bluegrass song "Rocky Top" have filed another legal challenge to prevent the recently-renamed Anderson County town of Rocky Top from cashing in on the name change.  Earlier this year, Lake City changed its name to Rocky Top, a change widely seen as the first step in revitalizing the town’s economy.  The House of Bryant owns the rights to the song and is suing city leaders and the developers of several proposed attractions for trademark infringement.  This spring, the company sought an injunction aimed at preventing the then-Lake City Council from changing the town’s name to Rocky Top until the lawsuit was heard, saying it could do irreparable damage to the brand that family created.  That request for an injunction was rejected in May and the city officially changed its name in June.  This latest legal challenge comes after Monday's announcement that marketers with the city had reached an agreement with a Knoxville fashion designer to manufacture "Rocky Top, Tennessee" merchandise.  House of Bryant has filed another request for the courts to step in, saying Monday's merchandise deal is "new information" that constitutes grounds for a temporary injunction.  The suit says, "the Developers have taken real and concrete steps toward infringing Plaintiff's Rocky Top Marks."  The merchandising agreement is with Marc Nelson-Denim and encompasses manufacture of t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains and other merchandise with the Rocky Top, TN 37769 logo on them. The suit asks for the court to stop the group from "selling any goods that compete with Plaintiff's goods and that bear marks confusingly similar to the Rocky Top Marks."  We will continue to follow this story for you. 

 

Coming soon:  More Rocky Top, TN swag

 

Knoxville-based fashion designer Marcus Hall has signed a licensing agreement to manufacture “Rocky Top, Tennessee” products and plans to open a retail store in the recently-rechristened town of Lake City.  Hall designs and manufactures custom-designed blue jeans and will soon open a retail store above his east Knoxville warehouse, which is also where he makes his products.  The Rocky Top, TN Dry Goods and Denim store, as his local venture will be known, will sell more than jeans, as people will be able to purchase t-shirts, coffee mugs, keychains and other items with the name “Rocky Top, TN” emblazoned upon them.  Hall says that the pending litigation filed by the House of Bryant, the publishing company that owns the copyright to the iconic bluegrass song “Rocky Top,” did not cause him any concern because, as he and others associated with the town remind us, all of the products will use the actual geographic location of “Rocky Top, TN”—some even with the ZIP code—to avoid any confusion with the song.  A motion by House of Bryant to prevent the town from proceeding with the name change was denied earlier this year. 

 

2 of 3 plotters plead guilty in murder attempt

 

Two people accused of conspiring to kill an elderly man pleaded guilty Monday in an Anderson County courtroom.  44-year-old David Lee Suddeth and 53-year-old Dorothy Roxanne McFarland both pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, attempted aggravated arson, attempted aggravated kidnapping and theft under $500.  In exchange for those pleas, each was sentenced to nine years behind bars.  A third person, the alleged mastermind of the plot, 50-year-old Randolph Lane, is expected to enter a plea in this case on Wednesday.  The trio was accused of plotting to kill then-73-year-old Luther Byrge—with whom they were all living—in January of 2012.  Their plan was to lock Byrge inside his bedroom, disable the smoke detector, cut the phone lines and set his house on fire while he was inside.  The plan almost worked too, as the phone and smoke detector were disabled and Byrge was locked in his room, but according to testimony in court, the plan ultimately failed when the gasoline that was ignited under a bathroom sink melted the pipes and extinguished the fire.  The motive was robbery.  Byrge was not injured in the incident.

 

ACSD deputy charged with DUI

 

A corporal with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department is on unpaid administrative leave after he was arrested for DUI early Friday morning in Oak Ridge.  41-year-old Roger Day of Clinton was charged with first offense DUI after an Oak Ridge Police officer on routine patrol found him and a passenger next to an overturned motorcycle.  Shortly after 5 am, Officer Christopher Carden reported that he discovered the motorcycle on its side on Robertsville Road near the Oak Ridge Turnpike.  Day and a woman identified as Oak Ridge resident Chandra Flaming were at the scene and Day told Carden that as he had tried to turn right on to Robertsville from the Turnpike that he had “just dropped the motorcycle.”  Neither Day nor Fleming was seriously injured, but as Carden spoke with Day, he reported that the deputy smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.  Day completed some field sobriety tests but eventually refused to take any more.  Day admitted to having consumed five or six 16-ounce beers earlier in the evening.  He was booked into the Anderson County Jail and released on a $1500 bond.  Again, he is on unpaid leave while the case works its way through the legal system.

 

AVFD chief resigns, subscription service nixed

 

Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeff Bagwell resigned his position last month and the department has ended the controversial subscription plan that damaged the relationship between the department and the community.  Rodney Reeder has been promoted to chief and he told the Courier News last week that his first priority will be to repair that relationship.  In late 2012, the department announced via a letter to homeowners that it would begin a subscription program, scrapping its longtime donation-based, claiming at the time that because donations were down, the department’s future might be in jeopardy.  The community backlash was immediate and angry, as many did not appreciate the heavy-handed tone of the letter and many more complained about the lack of notice or the lack of public meetings to discuss the proposal.  The County Commission responded to those community complaints by voting this year to withhold its traditional $20,000 a year contribution to the AVFD until they backed away from the subscription service and to withhold the planned donation of a new fire engine. 

 

WYSH, Oak Ridge Today Team To Expand Local News Coverage

 

Information in our story about the likely use of public money on the Oak Ridge Mall project came from our new partners at Oak Ridge Today, an online newspaper started by former Oak Ridger reporter John Huotari and his wife Dawn.  WYSH and Oak Ridge Today have entered into an information-sharing agreement in order to bring you the most complete coverage of news from Clinton, Oak Ridge, Oliver Springs and Anderson County.  You can find Oak Ridge Today online simply by visiting www.oakridgetoday.com.  We are excited to expand our existing partnership base, which also includes BBB-TV and the Norris Bulletin, as we seek to keep you informed about the stories that are important to you. 

 

 

All web content is property of Clinton Broadcasters Inc., unless otherwise cited, and may not be re-published, re-broadcast or otherwise distributed without express written consent.

 

ATION W  

 

 

WYSH AM 1380 · P.O. Box 329 · Clinton, TN 37717
Phone: 865-457-1380   Email: wysh@wyshradio.com