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Friday, May 22, 2015

Finchum charged with assault
Another Cocke County mother has been charged with using drugs and alcohol while she was pregnant. Dawn Michelle Finchum, 32, Lake Way, Newport, was picked up Thursday by Cocke County Detective Paula Wilson on an assault charge. The charges stem from an investigation involving a drug exposed infant. Finchum allegedly voluntarily admitted to a Department of Children's Services social worker, that she used illegal narcotics and drank whiskey and/or vodka on a daily basis during her pregnancy.

Clevenger trial ends with dismissal
Judge Rex Henry Ogle on Thursday dismissed charges of DUI and reckless driving, in a case involving a Cocke County man. A Cocke County Circuit Court jury had heard the case against Charles "Chucky" Clevenger, 46, Old Sevierville Road, Newport, and was deliberating when Defense Attorney Jonathan Holcomb asked the court to throw out the charges. Holcomb argued the evidence presented to the jury was not sufficient to justify a guilty verdict. Judge Ogle agreed saying the video of Clevenger undergoing a field sobriety test, showed the defendant "doing pretty well." In subsequent negotiations, Clevenger agreed to plead guilty to simple possession of dihydrocodeinone and clonazepam, as well as speeding. The jury then was called back into the courtroom and Judge Ogle told them the case had been resolved. Clevenger was given an 11 month 28 day sentence but released on time served. He will be on supervised probation until the $1,540 fine is paid.

Cocke County Economic Development
Members of the Board of Directors of the Newport/Cocke County Economic Development Commission(EDC) met Thursday. They were brought up to date on recent economic developments in the community. Partnership Operations Manager Sherry Butler asked the committee to ratify a request for a Fast Track Economic Development Grant, to be used to retrofit a local building for a firm which wants to expand. The grant application was approved. She also reported that a $9,000 soil study recently was conducted at the EDC owned spec building in the industrial park. Butler said the owners of Project Origin want to be sure the 41,000 square foot building meets the firm's requirements for heavy equipment, before specialized upgrades are made. The board agreed on a lease rate for the foreign firm which would bring 80 jobs and provide $10 million in capital investment in Phase 1 of the project. It would serve as the US headquarters for the firm. The company also is looking at prospective sites in other states. According to Butler, the metal stamping firm produces auto parts, including parts for the BMW plant in Spartanburg, SC. The company wants a personal property tax abatement from the local community as well as reduced lease payments on the building. She asked the board, "to what extent do we want to go to recruit this company ?" According to Butler a local firm wants to lease 2,700 square feet of the former NPI building also located in the industrial park. It needs storage while it's current plant is expanded. But a new firm also has expressed an interest in leasing the whole plant. The new company would create 30 to 35 new jobs, and the local expansion would create about 40 jobs. Members of the board agreed to provide the space to the local firm, because there is no guarantee that the new firm will lease the structure. Butler also is still working with a foreign firm which wants a US site to manufacture ceramic tile. The company wants at least 75 acres, would make an $80 to $100 million investment and would create 175 to 200 jobs. The amended by-laws of the Partnership are to be ratified by July 1.Under the changes, local professionals from various segments of the community would be replaced by a larger number of elected officials and a smaller number of representatives from the community. Cocke County Mayor Crystal Ottinger stressed that the EDC and the Partnership will have their own separate boards, but the two boards will have the same members. Because the amendments to the bylaws require two votes, the body will meet at 5:30 pm on both June 2 and 3 to vote on the proposal.

PitBull Vape begins manufacturing in Newport
The owners and promoters of Pit Bull Vape Juice held their grand opening Thursday at the manufacturing site on North Street. It was hosted by the Partnership's chamber of commerce. Owned by Bill and Kay Imhoff, the firm manufactures 67 flavors and nicotine levels of juice for e-cigarettes. The couple moved their operation from Pennsylvania earlier this year. Imhoff said the most popular flavor of vape juice is Puppy Drool, a kiwi/strawberry flavor. In fact the cake at the grand opening was Puppy Drool flavored. In addition, the firm recently added a line of Appalachian flavors which is reflective of Imhoff's love of the region. His family came from the crowded Eastern Seaboard, and Imhoff describes Cocke County as "a little slice of heaven." "This is the true America, and I think this is the way the rest of the country needs to look at it, and see how things are being done. Our new line, Appalachian Vapes, has alot of flavors derived from the area, including Holler, an apple pie moonshine flavor." Curtis Hance of American Vapor Trading, which distributes Pit Bull Vape, said the local firm recently saw a major expansion of it's retail stores, and plans to expand into the international market. "Currently we are in over 30 states, 67 locations and by the end of next week we will be in 129 total locations. In addition we are receiving requests for samples every day," says Hance. "We are still working on international distribution, resolving issues including international laws and shipping issues. But we have a number of requests from several countries and that will be an area of emphasis in our new round of production."

Career Coach in Newport
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s mobile Career Coach will be at the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Newport located at 330 Heritage Boulevard, Suite A on Wednesday, May 27th, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Career Coach staff will be setting up outside DHS recruiting candidates for multiple companies and positions in the Cocke County area. They will be on-site to help people create resumes and register with Jobs4tn.gov where there are more than 90,000 jobs available. If you are interested in obtaining your high school equivalency diploma or interested in other training opportunities, come get on the Coach!

Tennessee jobless rate for April
Tennessee Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips has announced that Tennessee's unemployment rate for April was 6.0 percent, a drop of three-tenths of one percentage point from the March rate. The U.S. rate for April was 5.4 percent.. Over the past year, Tennessee's unemployment rate decreased from 6.5 percent to 6.0 percent. Total non-farm employment increased 6,400 jobs from March to April and over the past year, non-farm employment increased by 47,000 jobs.

Reece sentenced on a moonshine charge
A Cocke County man who assisted Jack Mayfield in his moonshine operation, has been ordered to serve 33 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Michael Steve Reece,57, Sea Road, Newport, was sentenced by US District Judge Leon Jordan, after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting the unlawful production of distilled spirits. The court ordered the sentence to be served consequently to a sentence in a pending case in Cocke County Circuit Court. Mayfield received a 33 month sentence in a negotiated pleas and a third defendant in the case, James Carroll Hickman, 42, Newport, went to trial and received a 33 month sentence. The large scale operation included over fifteen, 400-gallon moonshine stills housed in two separate buildings in the Carson Springs community. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan.

Friday, May 22, 2015

  • Finchum charged with assault
  • Clevenger trial ends with dismissal
  • Cocke County Economic Development
  • PitBull Vape begins manufacturing in Newport
  • Career Coach in Newport
  • Tennessee jobless rate for April
  • Reece sentenced on a moonshine charge

    Thursday, May 21, 2015

  • Memorial Day travel
  • Billy Webb sentencing
  • Banks arrest
  • Pierce withdraws from Hall case
  • US Senators want less renewable energy
  • Hance charged in dog attack
  • Ownby crash injures two
  • Dunn receives Walters State award

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

  • Run for the Wall
  • Dandridge residents appointed by Governor Haslam
  • Three injured in I-40 crash
  • Memorial Day and boating
  • Two arrested in domestic incidents
  • Cocke County drug arrests
  • Orr and Hall pleas
  • Martin arrest

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015

  • Dixie Stampede Job Fair
  • Les Miserables auditions are scheduled
  • CLB tackles job incentives
  • Pruitt faces drug charges
  • Shults, Myers and Holt appear in court
  • Newport garbage pickup schedule

    Monday, May 18, 2015

  • Shults, Myers and Holt appear in court
  • Woods/Holt crash
  • Health insurance for life
  • Weekend assault arrests
  • Jue ripped off via Facebook

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