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Friday, March 24, 2017

Republicans pull proposed new healthcare law.
House Republicans pulled their health care bill moments before lawmakers were set to vote Friday afternoon. House Speaker Paul Ryan abruptly pulled the bill as it appeared all but certain to be defeated. The measure has been a top priority for Republicans and was the party’s first major legislative effort since it took control of both the White House and Congress in January. The plan had been steadily losing support after the Congressional Budget Office issued a report saying the plan would dramatically increase costs to seniors and increase the number of Americans without health care by 20 million. The plan also would have allowed individuals to go without buying insurance, leaving those who are insured, to pick up the costs. The Affordable Care Act provides few choices in Tennessee because the legislature has refused to sign on to the expanded Medicare program offered by federal officials. Still, First District Congressman Phil Roe, a Republican continued to support the proposal. On Friday he said, “I am proud to stand with President Trump and Speaker Ryan in support of patient-centered, free-market health care reform. Our work to protect patients from the failures of Obamacare will continue. I made a promise to constituents in the First District that I would fight to repeal this flawed law, and that’s a promise I intend to keep,” said Roe. The Tennessee Health Care Campaign, a consumer advocacy group, called the proposal “a bad piece of health legislation.” Spokesperson Walter Davis said Tennessee’s Representatives and Senators now must face their responsibility to repair the Affordable Care Act (ACA).He also called on lawmakers to step up and speak out for the interests of the people of the state. Davis suggests that Governor Bill Haslam has a renewed responsibility to seek a path for affordable insurance options for Tennesseans.

Cocke Partnership meet
Members of the Cocke County Partnership Board of Directors met Thursday and were brought up to date on current activities. Partnership President Lucas Graham reported that three new prospective projects have recently expressed an interest in locating in Cocke County, as the economy improves. With regard to the proposed 700 acre industrial park, Graham said a proposed rail spur bridge over Sinking Creek would have a "pretty steep" price tag of $2.5 million. He said an alternate financing plan may make the project feasible. He also reported that two prospective firms are interested in locating in the new site. "The amount of activity in the office has skyrocketed in the last month to six weeks. It's just been unbelievable," he told the board. Project Adventure and Project Data, he said "would be a very big deal for us". The projects would feature outdoor activities, that may be televised, and would rely on local, state and federal incentives. Fiber and recently developed incentives, he said are positives for recruiting jobs. "Alot of this I would account to Newport Utilities efforts on fiber and broadband. that has really opened the door. They are technology driven investments, and the hope is that once fiber is in place the surrounding companies would come in to benefit off this substantial industry. It's a niche that no one else has picked up on in this region". He went on to say two other possible industrial sites are under study. One would be privately owned, using the Partnership to market the acreage. Graham reported that the EDC site has been upgraded, but the tourism and chamber sites are lagging because of the new web site design. Although there are lots of positives for the recruitment of jobs, there is concern with the federal budget proposed by President Donald Trump. It would end Appalachian Regional Commission grants as well as Community Development Block Grants, which in the past have contributed to local economic development. "I'm really hoping that the president comes up with an alternative instead of just cutting these programs," Graham said. "They are very critical to rural communities and economic development. the help in various ways and we rely on them to get us to where we need to be. If they are cut out, and not replaced with similar assistance, I would be very disappointed." Tourism Director Linda Lewanski reported that the Jeep Fest is planned for April 28&29 at the Cocke County A&I Fairgrounds. also the Kiwanis Ramp Festival is scheduled for the fairgrounds on May 12&13 and Del Rio also is planning a Ramp Festival in May. A media tour is planned to promote businesses that are continuing to operate despite last year's wildfires. Lewanski said she is continuing to research the possibilities for more walking and biking trails, including a possible TVA grant under a pilot program to promote pedestrian projects. The recent Douglas Lake Clean-Up as part of the Great American Cleanup, was coordinated by Keep Cocke County Beautiful and resulted in the collection of 197 bags of trash from the lake bottoms. Chamber Director Lynn Ramsey reported that the February Industry and Educators meeting was successful in opening new lines of communication in efforts to prepare students for the workforce. Appalachian Service Project has signed a three year contract to use Centerview Elementary School. The organization coordinates visits by church groups who work to upgrade the homes of area indigents and seniors, during the summer months. A Business Smart Start event is planned for the first week in May, which is Small Business Week. Bruce Hayes with the Tennessee Small Business Development Center will coordinate the event. The chamber coordinated a March 21 event to allow local high school seniors to earn their volunteer hours that are required under the Tennessee Promise program. The students volunteered for the day doing cleanup work at the Fairgrounds, and plans are to make that an annual event.

Whitten arrest
A Newport man was taken into custody Thursday evening after he allegedly pulled a handgun on his mother and sister. Terry Whitten, 59, Navaho Drive, Newport, was taken into custody by Newport patrol Officer Paul Webber on two counts of aggravated domestic assault involving a weapon. Upon arrival at the Whitten home, the officer says he found the defendant holding a revolver, but when told to drop the handgun, Whitten complied.The subject told Officer Weber he planned to "blow his mother's and sister's brains out" with the firearm. Whitten said he was upset because his mother and sister refused to give him money that he had requested. He had shoved the head of his mother, Zella Whitten, and had struck the face of his sister, Pam Watkins, with his fist. Officer Weber confiscated the weapon.

South Highway 321 construction
Charles Blalock and Sons says traffic will be congested on South Highway 321 beginning March 29, which is next Wednesday. Work is planned in the area of the intersection of Epley Road and Cosby Cut-Off Road #2. Construction will begin on March 29 and is expected to last till May 10, and so motorists should be aware of traffic tie-ups during that period.

Nashville Legislative Action
In recent Nashville legislative action............. The House has voted on a bill that would block any efforts by Tennessee cities to decriminalize the use of marijuana. The bill would nullify laws that Memphis and Nashville have passed that have reduced the penalty for weed in some cases. It passed over the objections of lawmakers in Memphis and Nashville who thought the state should stop interfering with their cities. Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell, of Nashville, voted against the measure. Nashville and Memphis have passed laws that would give police the discretion to allow people caught with a small amount of marijuana to face a civil penalty instead of a misdemeanor charge. The Tennessee Senate has passed a bill that would punish protesters who block traffic and obstruct emergency vehicles from responding to an emergency. Sen. Lee Harris, a Democrat from Memphis, said he had a mixed opinion about the bill. Harris said he thought it was important to support emergency responders. However, he also expressed concern that the measure is trying to undermine the efforts of people who engage their governments in a time of protest. A bill to require Tennessee school buses to be fitted with seat belts by July 2023 is advancing in the House. The House Transportation Subcommittee advanced the measure on a voice vote on Wednesday. The vote came after a pediatric surgeon testified about how three-point safety belts could have benefited children injured in a Chattanooga school bus crash that killed six children in November. School districts however would have to foot about $400 million of the cost it would take to buy new buses equipped with seat belts.

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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