|Duke/Progress merger approved|
A North Carolina appeals court has upheld the merger of Progress Energy with the country’s largest U.S. utility. The 2012 decision by the North Carolina Utilities Commission that approved Duke Energy’s purchase of Progress Energy was upheld as the appeal’s panel threw out concerns the merger would dampen competition. . The advocacy group NC WARN had challenged the commission’s decision, arguing the panel did not fully consider the acquisition’s impact on consumers. A challenge by a city in South Carolina also was thrown out. The ruling now means the hydro-electric plant at Waterville, now is a part of the Duke Power operation. The Charlotte-based power producer serves 7 million customers in the Carolinas and four other states.
|Partnership Legislative breakfast|
A number of elected officials or their representatives Friday reported on progress during the past year at a Legislative Breakfast hosted by the Newport/Cocke County Partnership. Representatives for US Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, along with US Representative Phil Roe, all Republicans, presented similar themes. Cut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, oppose immigration reform but boost funding for the military. John Abe Teague, representing Congressman Roe said the U.S. representative "doesn't apologize for spending money for veterans, the military and farmers." Lana Moore, speaking for Senator Alexander said he is opposed to raising the minimum wage "in fact he believes there should be no minimum wage," she added. With regard to the proposed sale of TVA, Moore said the pro and con camps boil down to "those who like their power bills support TVA, those who do not like their bills think the agency should be sold." Jill Salyers, speaking for Senator Corker said he believes there should be tougher sanctions for Russia. She also said Corker was vocal with regard to wanting VW employees in Chattanooga to reject a union but the senator does support the construction of a fence to keep out immigrants from south of the border. State Senator Steve Southerland, also a Republican, took credit for bringing infrastructure repairs to Cocke County. He pointed out that the state currently is $171 million short of anticipated revenues, but has more than $400 million in a Rainy Day fund. Southerland also reminded the 120 persons in the audience that the state recently was designated as the best state in which to retire. State Representative Jeremy Faison talked about his push to legalize industrial hemp, which he said is a cousin to marijuana but is not smoked. The Republican said he was told by a Canadian farmer that his profit on hemp is $3,000 per acre, ten times the profit of corn in Tennessee. According to Faison, there is $3 million in a state fund earmarked for Cocke County bridge repair, however the law requires a 20 percent match from the county. He said he has filed legislation to require only a two percent match which could be provided with in-kind labor or materials by the Cocke County Highway Department. Cocke County Mayor Vaughn Moore reported that AT&T is about to improve 10 tower sites in the county to provide additional broadband service. He also pointed out that Grassy Fork is about to get utility water, the county saved $75,000 on it's re-negotiated land filling contract and will save $700,000 over the next ten years in interest, because of a better bond rating. Moore also said he is saving taxpayer money by driving his own vehicle, and using his own cell phone and computer. He also recognized two of his opponents in the upcoming Republican primary. Paul Cogburn and Charles Lewis Moore were in the audience. Newport Mayor Connie Ball paid tribute to the work of Dr. Carol Hood who recently died. She had for years volunteered her time to care for the animals at the Newport Animal Shelter. He also said city employees are the life blood of the city, and he praised the street department workers for the hard work during the recent cold weather. At the end of the program Southerland and Faison presented Mayor Ball with a joint resolution passed recently by the legislature, recognizing him for 39 years as an educator in the Cocke County School System. Ball recently retired from his post as principal at Edgemont Elementary School.
|Scottie Hicks pleads guilty|
A Cocke County man already serving a federal prison term for Oxycodone dealing will serve a state sentence concurrently with the federal term. Scottie Hicks, 40 Eighth Street, Newport, entered the plea Thursday before Judge Ben Hooper in Cocke County Circuit Court, to two counts theft over $10,000, conspiracy to commit theft over $1,000 and theft over $1,000. Among the incidents which led to the charges was the August, 2012 staged robbery of the Tractor Supply store in Newport. Hicks conspired with two others, including a store employee, to stage the heist which yielded $1,772. The defendant was given a three year sentence which will be served concurrently with a 52 month prison term in the federal oxycodone and morphine conviction. He also will make restitution and is banned from the Tractor Supply property. Additional assault cases involving Hicks and Charles "Chucky" Mason, were dismissed by agreement.
|Cocke County weekend fires|
Firefighters with the Cocke County Fire Department and the Centerview Volunteer Fire Department, this weekend responded to two home fires in the Bybee community. The first fire was reported at 9p.m. Friday at the Kenneth Anderson home on Haney Branch Road. Deputy Max Laughter said he arrived at the double-wide mobile home to find it fully engulfed in flames. Anderson said when he left his residence at 9a.m., there was a small fire in his wood stove. The owner of the home, James Ramsey estimated the value of the home at $7,000 and Anderson said his belongings were valued at $15,000. Deputy Laughter added that firefighters do not believe foul play was involved in the blaze. The second blaze was reported at 8:20 p.m. Saturday evening at the Eugene Taylor residence on Walker Road in Bybee. Cocke County Deputy Jonathan Ball said Centerview volunteer firefighters arrived on the scene to find the front porch of the home was fully engulfed in flames Taylor told officers he was awakened by his smoke detector and was able to escape the home. Once outside he used a garden hose to try to extinguish the fire before firefighters arrived on the scene. Deputy Ball said the porch and front of the home sustained heavy fire damage estimated at $20,000. The cause of the blaze is undetermined.
|Herrera arrested on neglect charges|
Cocke County authorities dispatched to a Cosby campground Saturday evening, found two boys in a camper without supervision. Deputy K9Sgt. Chris Gregg said he went to the home of Heather Lee Herrera, 39, on Baxter Road, Cosby found a nine year-old boy who was caring for his four year-old brother. The officer said the boys had limited food to eat, and the older boy said their mother had arrived home late the night before from work, and she did not have time to feed them. And earlier on Saturday the mother awoke late and did not have time to feed them before heading to work. The older boy also said he is responsible for giving his brother medication for sleeping each night. Sgt. Gregg said the camper was uncomfortably hot, in disarray, with piles of clothes and trash throughout, and with dirty dishes with molding and rotting food in the sink and the shower. Near where the older boy was sitting, was an open bottle of vodka. The older boy said he had contact with his mother via the social media site, Facebook, but he did not know what to do in case of fire or his brother was injured. He did say his mother told him to never open the doors or windows while she was away "because she didn't want anyone knowing she left them home alone." The officer said the boy had tried to contact his mother on one occasion but had not received a response. When Ms. Herrera was contacted and questioned about the living situation, she began crying saying she could not afford certain things, but could not provide a reason that the camper was not clean. She was jailed on charges of child neglect under 8 years of age and child neglect over 8 years of age. The two boys were placed in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.
|Monger arrest |
A Cocke County man was arrested recently on charges he coerced a woman to change her story regarding an earlier assault she witnessed, and when she refused, he assaulted her. Scott Anthony Monger, 22, Indian Camp Creek Road, Cosby, is charged with domestic assault and witness coercion according to Cocke County Detective Bryan Murr. April Wilson, 36, of the same address, gave a witness statement regarding an altercation on February 26 involving Monger and Ronnie Gibbs who ended up in the hospital. Later that day, Monger allegedly confronted Ms. Wilson requesting that she make a false statement about the earlier incident. When she refused, the woman was struck on the face and arm requiring medical treatment. Detective Murr said Monger is the live-in boyfriend to Ms. Wilson's sister.
Monday, March 10, 2014Duke/Progress merger approved
Partnership Legislative breakfast
Scottie Hicks pleads guilty
Cocke County weekend fires
Herrera arrested on neglect charges
Friday, March 07, 2014Spring ahead !!!!
January jobless numbers
Wills and Cutshaw back in custody
Cocke County fire
Ingram charged with theft
Newport man killed in crash
Thursday, March 06, 2014Faison's legislation would curb government employees from serving in elective positions
Cody to take sick leave
School voucher bill passed
Wednesday, March 05, 2014Federal budget calls for selling TVA
Fewer adult Tennesseans at work
Two Cocke County men jailed on domestic assault offenses
Newport City Council meets in workshop
Tuesday, March 04, 2014Newport City Council to consider applicants for utility seat
Ballew is censored
Wine coming to Tennessee grocery stores
Economic losses as a result of the 2013 government shutdown