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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Newport City Council
The Newport City Council, meeting Tuesday was told by City Manager James Finchum that the city soon will begin to provide grants to city businesses who want to beautify their properties. Matching grants of up to $1,000 will be available for business upgrades. Finchum also told the council that the Eva Babb Sexton Beautification Award has been created to recognize property owners in the city who upgrade their property. Sexton volunteered her time to beautify the community for years, prior to her death several years ago. City Planner Gary Carver also announced he hopes to apply for a $60,000 state grant, which would be matched by $6,000 each, from the city and the county. He said the grant program currently is available only to economically distressed communities. Council members also agreed to apply for a Tennessee Housing Development Agency grant in the amount of $500,000, to be used to upgrade the homes of indigent elderly in the city. City Planner Carver also reported that the state will provide more than $250,000 to upgrade traffic lights at downtown railroad crossings. However the grant requires the city to pay for the upgrades, and the cost is then reimbursed by the state. Manager Finchum said the plans are for an "elaborate traffic light system." The project will get started with the use of savings realized from the recent repairs to the city hall roof. Newport Grammar Principal Sandy Burchett asked the council to participate in the cost of a new roof for the school. The project has a price tag of $210,000, however Burchett asked the council for $130,000, saying the school can fund the rest of the cost. Newport Utilities General Manager Glenn Ray said TVA may be willing to assist in the cost of insulating the school roof. At the request of Alderman Mike Hansel, the counsel agreed to formulate a nepotism policy for all city departments. The council gave it's blessing to a proposal by Alderman Jeff Fancher, that a meeting be arranged with county officials to discuss the funding of the animal shelter. He suggested the city should be involved in animal control but not provide a shelter. In the past there have been discussions regarding the closure of the shelter, which is a costly expense for tax payers, however the question of what to do with stray and unwanted animals remained unresolved. He said that Cocke County Mayor Crystal Ottinger recently had suggested that the Rolling Rescue operation was a money maker for the shelter, but he said she has since backed away from that argument. Finchum said the shelter is hoping to set up a continuing adoption plan with out-of-state shelters, but with those shelters providing the needed transportation. According to Fancher, three employees at the shelter have resigned in the past week. Alderman Roger Gribble argued for the city property tax rate to be reduced by 59 cents, however Mayor Connie Ball suggested the new city budget be evaluated before a tax reduction is considered. Alderman Fancher also pointed to a number of costly projects the city is facing and "there still are major things that must be done and we can't do that, with that kind of tax reduction." Fancher suggested that stopping important projects "would be stepping back and stopping progress." Gribble also made a motion to put the city audit out to bid but the motion died for the lack of a second. Vice Mayor Mike Proffitt recognized Austin Crum, a Cocke County High School student. Crum hopes to be a studio musician in Nashville after finishing school, and is currently being mentored in a number of instruments by Brent Mason, himself a musician who has played back-up for a number of well-known artists. The local student also will soon represent his high school in the all-state men's chorus. The council re-appointed Dennis Thornton to the Newport Beer Board. According to City Administrator James Finchum, upgrades to the Tanner School, are to begin in April.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

  • Republicans pull proposed new healthcare law.
  • Cocke Partnership meet
  • Whitten arrest
  • South Highway 321 construction
  • Nashville Legislative Action

    Thursday, March 23, 2017

  • Smith indicted on two counts First Degree Murder
  • Johnson-Phillips plea to aggravated robbery
  • Johnson enters federal guilty plea
  • Voucher bill defeated

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • Trio charged with methamphetamine production
  • Nashville action
  • Soil Conservation tree give-away
  • School bus seat belts
  • Trump's proposed budget
  • Jessica L. case

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  • Vick identified as fire victim
  • Cocke Legislative Body
  • Walters Bridge dropped into Douglas Lake
  • Politicians want to be governor

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

  • Gregory arrest/fire
  • Newport beautification grants
  • Avian flu restrictions
  • Lots of waste is diverted in Cocke County
  • Lewis arrest
  • Trump visits Nashville

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