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Local News Stories from 92.3 WNPC
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cocke County Asset Enhancement Grant
Cocke County and Newport officials met this week with state officials to talk about local resources that contribute to economic development. The meeting was facilitated by Brooxie Carlton, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Rural Development. Carlton said the county, one of 23 designated distressed counties in the state, qualifies for a grant up to $50,000 for a project that completes a short-term goal of the community. She said the state is looking to make sure that an Asset Enhancement Grant will be used for a suitable project, and she said the grant will facilitate the community qualifying for future state grants. The community has pinpointed several high priority goals including; increasing the length of tourist visits, overcoming negative perceptions and highlighting tourism assets and opportunities, identify and develop new industrial sites and the increase of commercial infrastructure at Exits 440 and 447 to attract new retail businesses. Partnership President Lucas Graham said the community has spent $38,000 on engineering studies at the proposed northwest industrial park and three new rail spurs are being considered. According to Carlton, prospective industrial sites in distressed counties in the state, are being evaluated through a Property Evaluation Program (PEP). "We have contracted with Austin Consulting. They come in and look at up to eight sites, and give you a real good report, that says 'forget this site, this is a long term site and this is the site you need to focus on right now'. That opens you up for a site development grant which is our largest grant program right now," she said. Graham also identified several other goals; improvement of landscaping at the I-40 interchanges, use of the former Tanner School as a resource location for tourists(with rehabilitation expected to cost $1 million). Newport Planner Gary Carver said another long-term plan is to modify the Newport Community Center to have the entrance facing the Cosby Road, instead of Prospect Avenue. Director of Tourism Linda Lewanski said a recent $20,000 state grant will be used to hire a consultant to look at new ways to increase the length of the stay of tourists. And she is working with federal park and forest officials in an effort to boost local tourism. There is concern that the national perception is that the Smokies have been destroyed by last year's wildfires and so there is no reason to visit the area. In fact, the group was told that reservations for whitewater rafting are down by 25 percent from last year. David McConnell of Newport Utilities brought the group up to date on the planned offering of broadband. "The first phase will cover the city limits of Newport, routes leading to all county schools and our substations and water pumping and storage facilities. We also will offer broadband to anything within 500 feet of any of those routes," McConnell said. The first phase will provide service to 55 percent of homes and 70 percent of businesses, in the utility's service area. Carlton also talked about a regional entrepreneurship program that is available to encourage local artists.

Reconnect education funding
The Cocke County Partnership Chamber of Commerce office will host the Smoky Mountains Reconnect staff today at the Newport Community Center. The public session, 4-6 p.m. will present information regarding free tuition for those 25 and older who want to further their education at a technical school or two-year community college.

Cleo Stinnett obituary
Hubert ‘Cleo’ Stinnett, of Stinnett Automotive Group in Newport, died Tuesday at the age of 75. He had been an automotive dealer in Newport for over 50 years. The family will receive friends at Manes Funeral Home on Friday, from 4 to 7 p.m. Funeral services will follow at 7 p.m..in the funeral home chapel. Internment will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, at Union Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family says memorials may be made to Youth in Action Group at Southside Baptist Church, PO Box 668, Newport, TN. 37821.

MTSU poll
Tennessee was an easy win for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, winning 61 percent of the popular vote in the state. But today, only a narrow majority of the state’s voters say they approve of the job he has done as president since taking office in January, that according to the latest statewide poll from Middle Tennessee State University. 51 percent approve, while 32 percent disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president. Nationally he has a 39 percent approval rating. “New presidents often enjoy a so-called honeymoon shortly after winning their first election, when unifying inaugural addresses and a public that hopes for the best, contribute to even greater support and job approval than their winning vote totals,” says Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll. “But that doesn’t appear to be the case for Trump.” The accuracy of polling regarding Trump has been in question since his surprise win. To address this issue and determine whether Trump supporters were fairly represented in the sample, the spring 2017 MTSU poll asked respondents whom they had voted for in the 2016 presidential election. Sixty percent said they voted for Trump, just one percentage point different from the proportion of voters who chose him on Election Day.

Tennessee fuel tax is in limbo
Several proposals to fund Tennessee roads are up in the air, after a majority of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Tuesday, decided to adjourn and leave. Chairman Terri Lynn Weaver, a Republican and an opponent of Gov. Bill Haslam's proposed fuel tax hike, moved to consider a bill that would move a quarter percent of the current sales tax into Tennessee's highway fund. The fuel tax increase is supported by trucking groups who want the $10 billion in backlogged highway projects to be addressed. Committee member Democratic Rep. John Mark Windle made a motion to exempt baby formula from the sales tax, as an effort to balance the fuel tax increase, but Weaver refused to consider the motion. Then the committee voted 5 to 3 to adjourn.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

  • Cocke County Asset Enhancement Grant
  • Reconnect education funding
  • Cleo Stinnett obituary
  • MTSU poll
  • Tennessee fuel tax is in limbo

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

  • North Carolina residents jailed on meth and firearms charges
  • Finance Committee is told of available sites for a justice center.
  • CLB approves joint fire and rescue building
  • McGaha injured in moped crash
  • Downtown Newport Artscapes announces artist reception

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

  • Cogdill crash
  • Tovar Chavez crash
  • Stewart arrest
  • Cruise Against Cancer

    Monday, February 20, 2017

  • KCCB Update
  • Purkey arrest
  • Tennessee responds to California
  • Tennessee economic report
  • Fraudulent liens
  • Fraudulent liens
  • Tractor Supply helping FFA
  • Sales tax on food

    Sunday, February 19, 2017

  • Two charged in arson conspiracy
  • Trio charged in attempted murder conspiracy
  • Cocke County Partnership meet

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