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Local News Stories from 92.3 WNPC
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Newport Utilities gets Ray ouster protests
The Newport Utilities Board met Tuesday and heard from a number of residents who are unhappy with the way former General Manager Glen Ray was removed from his post on March 31. Ray had been in the post for a year and following an annual review reportedly was given an option to resign or be terminated. The audience consisted of about forty individuals who attended to express their displeasure with the situation. As the meeting got underway, Chair Kenny Morgan laid out the ground rules for comments from the audience. Saying the board was acting on legal advice. "We cannot publicly discuss personnel related issues in public. I realize alot of the people here want to ask questions. You do have five minutes to speak and to make comments. I would prefer if you have a question that you submit it in writing,because today we won't be able to answer questions." Tim Abramson questioned the dismissal saying," just because you have the power doesn't mean (the dismissal) is ethical." Retired NU employee Dennis Williams said in the past the utility has been "a well-oiled machine" but he went on to say the board didn't give Ray a chance to prove his skills. "He was dismissed because of requests that were against board policy...and there are thousands who are mad." Williams suggested the board has a secret agenda, but he called on the body to "take the politics and personal agendas off this board." Mike Proffitt a former board member asked what Ray had done which led to his dismissal. He said the former general manager wants to know if all the board members were involved in the ouster decision, and he suggested Ray "should have been counseled instead of terminated." Mike Hannon called for transparency saying if the removal of Ray came because of a conflict with a board member, that should be addressed. "The board owes an explanation to the community," Hannon said. And that comment was echoed by School Board Member Pat Proffitt who said "the community needs to know what happened". Robert Mathis, Sr., saying he doesn't know Ray argued for the utility to implement an ongoing performance review with checks and balances, in which an employee is continually counseled"so people have a consistent understanding of where they are." April Clevenger charged the board with violating the state's Sunshine Law saying decisions with regard to ray's termination were made through "secret votes" during the decision making process. Sherry Frisbee, who was appointed Interim General Manager, reported that sewer revenue is down because of reduced use by industrial customers "and a rate increase may be required next year." Otherwise she said the utility has a good balance sheet. Curtis Atkins also reported that the utility now is posting it's water quality report on it's website. Morgan said the utility will soon advertise the general manager position but it likely will be several months till the vacancy is filled.

US Nitrogen permit is oppossed
A group of Cocke County residents say they are concerned about a permit request by US Nitrogen to remove water from the Nolichucky River near Conway Bridge in Greene County, and dump it's discharges back into the waterway. Now a rally oppossing the permit application is planned for the Nolichucky Vineyard on Fish Hatchery Road at 7 p.m.on Thursday. The requested permit would authorize withdrawal of an industrial water supply from the river. Although the permit request was filed on March 10, local residents were not immediately notified of the permit request. The filing says US Nitrogen will use the water withdrawn for the process and for cooling water for production of nitric acid, ammonia, and ammonium nitrate solution. It calls for the construction of an intake structure and pipeline from the Nolichucky River to the plant location approximately 8.5 miles to the northeast. The pipeline would require about 20 different crossings of streams along the way. Associated with the intake and pipeline, and the outfall structure would serve as a discharge point for wastes. The discharge permit is currently under consideration by the department. US Nitrogen, a subsidiary of Austin Powder Company, is currently in the process of constructing a production facility for nitric acid, ammonia, and ammonium nitrate solution. The facility is located on approximately 500 acres in Midway. The application also proposes installation of an access road to the site and a river access ramp upstream to facilitate maintenance of the structures in the future. Storm water drainage from the ditch along the west side of Briar Thicket Road would be carried through a 30-inch pipe. The projected maximum water withdrawal rate is anticipated to be 1,350 gallons per minute which the application says would be less than 1% of the river flow. A public hearing was held April 17, at the West Greene High School.

Cocke County home fire
A small, frame home on St. Tide Hollow Road in the Bybee community was heavily damaged by fire on Tuesday. Cocke County Firefighter Jordon Self said his department was alerted at 11:12 a.m., and were on the scene for two hours, along with firefighters from the Parrottsville and Long Creek Volunteer Fire Departments. "When we pulled up Deputy Danny Hartsell had tried getting up onto the porch where three dogs were trapped but the heavy smoke drove him back," Self said. But firefighters were able to get onto the porch and rescue the animals. Misty Schoolcraft was identified as the renter of the home however at last report the owner had not been identified. Firefighters believe the fire started at the rear of the residence near the heat and air unit. Flames destroyed about 40 percent of the structure including a portion of the roof before the blaze was controlled. Captain Clayton "Skip" Ellison said the portion of the home which was not destroyed sustained smoke damage.

Animal shelter re-named
Animal lovers from throughout the area turned out Tuesday for the re-naming of the animal shelter in Newport. Owned by The Friends of the Animal Shelter, the facility formerly called the Newport Animal Shelter was re-named the Dr. Carol Hood Memorial Animal Shelter. Dr. Hood died earlier this year after serving as volunteer Manager and medical director of the facility for several years. During her tenure, Dr. Hood set up a surgery suite at the shelter where she performed spay and neuter procedures on animals following their adoption. She also helped to establish Rolling Rescue, a program which transfers local animals to other parts of the U.S. which have better animal control, and as a result have few animals for adoption. Karen Helme, President of the Friends of the Animal Shelter said before the project was begun, the shelter had a 15 percent save rate for dogs, but today the rate averages 85 to 90 percent for adoption.Rolling Rescue is funded completely by Robert Brannon and the Friends organization. Helme quoted Dr. Hood as saying of Rolling Rescue, "This is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life." The late veterinarian also was instrumental in creating "Beat The Heat", a spay-neuter program for the pets of low-income residents of the area. "It has been said that, it is what you leave behind that ultimately defines who you were," Helme said. She also pointed out that the majority of animals coming into the shelter are from outside of Newport and she called on Cocke County officials to increase their level of funding for the shelter operation. Among those on hand for the re-naming was Dr. Hood's widower, Dr. Mike Hood, who talked to the NewsSource about what his wife would want for the shelter. "First she would say this is way too much attention to her, and she wouldn't condone all this, but she would be flattered. As for the shelter, she would want to see her dream for the shelter carried on. The Rolling Rescue, more spays and neuters to add extra income to the shelter, and just see her legacy continue." Jenifer Steele, a volunteer at the shelter who coordinates the Rolling Rescue program, said she is in search of responsible drivers who would be willing to volunteer their time to drive a van to deliver dogs to "no kill" shelters on the week-end. If you would like to volunteer, call Ms. Steele at 423-237-3276.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

  • Newport Utilities gets Ray ouster protests
  • US Nitrogen permit is oppossed
  • Cocke County home fire
  • Animal shelter re-named

    Tuesday, April 22, 2014

  • Ramsey charged in jail brawl
  • Self charged with rape
  • Teens charged with animal cruelty
  • I-40 traffic clogged due to overturned tanker
  • CLB discusses roof repair

    Monday, April 21, 2014

  • Lewis faces oxycodone charges
  • Four males arrested at loud party with underaged females
  • Jefferson County Jail suicide
  • KCCB has been busy
  • Moore couple to face more meth charges

    Friday, April 18, 2014

  • NPI property to have new ownership
  • March jobless numbers
  • Tennessee lawmakers adjourn

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

  • Legislative action Update
  • Interstate work to shut down for Easter
  • Garver arrest
  • Dillard provides law enforcement update
  • TVA charges to drop

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