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Friday, May 17, 2019

Partnership update
The Cocke County Partnership Board of Directors was told Thursday that Old Smoky Distillery has obtained the former NPI building off Cope Boulevard as a warehouse and distribution center, and the firm may further expand in the future. Partnership President Lucas Graham said the Eternal Beverage project which plans to locate in the new industrial park, is to receive a state grant which is contingent on the firm agreeing to a certain level of investment, number of jobs, etc. A retail development is planned for the community, and the developers are looking at possible sites for a cluster location involving three franchise owners. Several local expansion projects also are in the works. Several tourism projects also are being considered for the Hartford area. A metal fabrication operation, bringing 10 to 15 jobs, is currently looking at possible build sites. Graham reported that he has asked both the city and the county for increased funding in the new fiscal year. He said his agency really needs a project manager to handle some aspects of recruitment. "I would really like to see us make some adjustments so we can add a project manager. In that way we could split up economic development from tourism and retail development. We have two different types of projects and there isn't enough time(for one person)to do both of them effectively," explained Graham. Sales tax brings in lots of revenue and so having someone with expertise in the recruitment of retail development will be important. In the past, the local financial institutions, utilities and the hospital, made major contributions to the Partnership operation but that stream of revenue has been modified. Graham said there has been talk about a wheel tax and possibly increasing the hotel/motel tax to increase revenue. Lynn Ramsey of the Chamber of Commerce said efforts are continuing to increase chamber membership. She also reminded the attendees that Rhythm on the River concert series downtown will begin on June 13 at 7 pm with the Marshall Law Band. The Partnership and the City of Newport will host a concert every other Thursday night through July, on the downtown Riverwalk. Tourism Director Linda Lewanski issued a report saying she has reprinted the local tourism brochure, and it is being distributed. There also have been recent meetings with regional offices, regarding the promotion of local recreation opportunities.

Cocke Circuit Court pleas
A North Carolina man arrested in connection with the robbery and assault of a man in November 2018 in Cocke County, has been sentenced to a five year term. Chad Stebbins, 31, Hot Springs, pleaded guilty to robbery, aggravated assault, vandalism and two counts theft this week. Josh Evans, Arden, North Carolina told officers that he went to a residence on Pond Curve Way, Newport, to get a tattoo. But as Evans arrived at the residence and turned off his headlights, he was approached by two individuals who he said pulled him from the auto, held a gun to his head and then demanded cash and marijuana. The victim says the robbers took $360 in cash, marijuana, his iPhone, and his boots and jacket. In addition, a GPS device and the car keys were taken from the vehicle owned by his mother, Susan Evans, and a tire was cut down. Evans reported that he was beaten by the robbers who threatened to tie him up and leave him there. He sustained a swollen eye and fractures to his face and nose. Cocke County Circuit Court Judge Carter Moore accepted the guilty plea, and in addition to the jail term, ordered Stebbins to have no contact with Evans. The court will determine at a later date the amount to be paid to the victim in restitution, and he also was ordered to pay Walmart $179 in restitution for a theft. Similar charges against Melissa Mae Hill, 34, Mars Hill, were dismissed as part of the Stebbins plea. In other cases, Sara Sneed Gregg, 33, Fuller Street, Newport, pleaded guilty to a number of charges stemming from numerous criminal cases. Judge Moore imposed a 10 year sentence, requiring that Gregg serve one year in jail. The balance of the term will be in Drug Recovery Court and the community corrections program. In the plea agreement, Gregg pleaded guilty to financial exploitation of an elderly adult, theft over $2,500, burglary of a motor vehicle, theft over $1,000, and being a felon in possession of a weapon. The exploitation charge involved allegations that from October 2018 till January of this year, Gregg exploited 72 year-old James David Jenkins by obtaining approximately $25,000 in cash from him. David Owens, 28, Virginia Street, Newport, pleaded guilty to possession of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to sell and deliver, two counts theft over $2,500, violation of the chop shop law, vandalism and theft. He was given a 14 year sentence, and will serve two years in jail with the balance on supervised probation. Owens also may attend a long term drug rehab program.

Ealy looses her RN license
Ladeana Marae Ealy, a registered nurse from Bybee, has surrendered her nurses license. A disciplinary report from the Tennessee Department of Health says Ealy was employed Amedisys Homecare in Tazewell when she reported she had visited a patient when she had not, said a patient refused a visit when in fact the patient was hospitalized and then stole a handgun from a patient. The offenses were committed over a 16 day period, and Ealy was fired the following month. She was working at the Claibourne Health and Rehabilitation Center last year when she also was charged with failing to document the administration of a drug. In addition to surrendering her license, Ealy agreed to be placed on the drug abuse registry.

April employment numbers
For the third consecutive month, Tennessee’s preliminary statewide unemployment rate for April remains at the all-time low of 3.2 percent, according to data released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD). “The latest unemployment numbers demonstrate consistent economic stability,” says Commissioner Jeff McCord. Tennessee employers added 5,000 new nonfarm jobs between March and April. The professional/business services sector experienced the biggest increase, adding 2,600 positions. The leisure and hospitality sector was close behind with 2,400 new jobs added during April. And over the last year, Tennessee gained an estimated 51,600 new nonfarm jobs.

Johnson execution
Don Johnson was executed by lethal injection Thursday night for the 1984 suffocation of his wife, Connie Johnson. As he died, the 68 year-old religious inmate offered a long prayer, asking for forgiveness. He asked the warden if he could sing, and he sang two hymns. The last words observers could hear were "no more dying here." Johnson became the fourth person executed in Tennessee since August. The last two inmates executed in Tennessee chose the electric chair, saying they believed it offered a quicker and less painful death than the state's method of lethal injection.

Friday, May 17, 2019

  • Partnership update
  • Cocke Circuit Court pleas
  • Ealy looses her RN license
  • April employment numbers
  • Johnson execution

    Thursday, May 16, 2019

  • Cocke Finance Committee
  • Casada saga continues
  • Roberts arrest
  • Ownby arrest

    Wednesday, May 15, 2019

  • Newport City Council approves new budget
  • Dykes named Big Red coach
  • Tennessee crime stats
  • Memorial Day travel

    Tuesday, May 14, 2019

  • Cocke Finance Committee
  • Appalachian Trail killing
  • Kidnapping arrest
  • Gasoline prices move lower

    Friday, May 10, 2019

  • Cocke County rafting industry continues its growth
  • Cocke County Finance Committee
  • Shadow of the Smokies Trail
  •    

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