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Local News Stories from 92.3 WNPC
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Tanner Fish Fry
A Fish Fry Fundraiser is scheduled for August 6, to provide funding for upgrades to the Tanner Cultural Center. Carlene Robinson of the Tanner Preservation Alliance says the event will be in the parking lot of the building on Mulberry Avenue. Food plates the day of the event are $8.00 and $5.00 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased early for $7.00 per plate by calling 423-623-7296 Ext.4. The event is being planned in conjunction with Tennessee Picnic. The first phase of restoring the Tanner structure involves rewiring and bringing the building up to code, at an estimated cost of $10,000.

Edens father and son arrested in continuing investigation
An investigation is underway by Newport police and the Tennessee Department of Children's Services following the Tuesday arrest of two men at a Centerview Drive home in Newport. Patrolman Justin Johnson said he responded to the home and was told by 21 year-old Justin Edens that his father, Walter Edens, 49, was attempting suicide. Both men were intoxicated and the younger man said his father had been taking prescription medications in an attempt to commit suicide. The father however, said his son had cut him with glass and that he, the father, had been trying to call for help but his son kept the phone. The elder Edens said his son also had vandalized the residence. Officer Johnson said both men had cuts and abrasions, the home was in disarray, and marijuana and pills were recovered from the bedroom of the younger Edens. A search of the residence revealed sex toys, and pornography. In addition the officer has obtained a warrant to search a tablet recovered from the bedroom of Justin Edens, for child pornography. Police officers say the elder Edens is a certified foster parent but the Officer Johnson said "the home is not safe for a child." Walter Edens was treated at the Newport Medical Center for his injuries and then jailed on charges of possession of schedule I, II and VI drugs, as well as drug paraphernalia, with his bond set at $10,000. Justin Edens is charged with aggravated domestic assault, interference with emergency calls, possession of schedule II and IV drugs, drug paraphernalia and vandalism over $1,000. His bond is set at $30,000.

State lawmakers to investigate Planned parenthood
Two state lawmakers are calling for a "joint fact-finding meeting" to examine enforcement of a Tennessee law banning the sale of an aborted fetus. House Government Operations Committee Chair Jeremy Faison, Republican of Cosby, and a Senate committee chairman, have requested that Tennessee Commissioner of Health John Dreyzehner appear at an Aug. 19 meeting in Nashville. The lawmakers' meeting was called after the release of two videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of aborted tissues. A 1989 Tennessee law bans the sale of of aborted fetuses, saying that "no person, agency, corporation, partnership, or association shall offer or accept money or anything of value for an aborted fetus." The law also bans medical experiments of a fetus without the consent of the mother. Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, said that neither of Planned Parenthood's clinics in Tennessee accept any payment for aborted fetuses. Teague said the Tennessee agencies follow guidelines very strictly. "Planned Parenthood in Tennessee does not participate in any tissue donation programs," he said. "As such we are in compliance with all state and federal laws. The outcome of this meeting will confirm that." Fact Check says the video in question "shows a Planned Parenthood executive repeatedly saying its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research."

New waterline approved by Newport Utilities
Work is about to begin on a waterline, designed to get potable water to the Grassy Fork Elementary School in eastern Cocke County, and in the process, 31 homes also will get utility water. At the Tuesday meeting of the Newport Utilities Board of Directors, General Manager Glenn Ray provided details of the 5.5 mile project. Most of the money will come from Appalachian Regional Commission and Community Development Block Grant funds, and so both granting agencies were at the bid opening to choose the firms they believed had submitted the best bid. The project was five years in the planning phase and so Ray said the costs were higher than originally projected.In addition, the original site for the holding tank was unavailable and the alternate site will require additional piping, increasing the cost. The funding for the project was short of funds until the Niswonger Foundation provided the final $100,000 needed to move ahead. Two contractors were provided contracts for the project. Brockwell Construction of Newport will lay nearly 20,000 feet of pipeline, and also install a pump station and the 150,000 gallon storage tank, at a total cost of $1.5 million. JH Excavating of Sevierville will lay 9,500 feet of pipe and install the household connections at a cost of $546,000. Electric Manager Jimmy Robertson reported plans are to upgrade the East Newport switchyard, so that when one section of the line goes out, not all customers are affected. That project has an estimated $400,000 price tag. The board approved the write-off of $41,000 in delinquent charges but efforts will continue to collect the bills. Plans are being finalized for a renovation of the main office area. Customer Service Manager Carmen Lichty said the Community Room will be used for customer service during the remodeling which is expected to last at least six weeks. The drive-thru will be closed during the renovation, there will be a kiosk in the lobby, the night box will be available for deposits, and payments can be made at National bank of Tennessee, Tennessee State Bank and US Bank. Other areas also may be available for making payments. Finance Manager Sherry Frisbee said a review of costs has resulted in a lowering of charges for Webb's Creek, Dandridge and White Pine who purchase bulk water from the utility. Ray reported he has been working closely with Sherry Butler of the Partnership, in efforts to lure more jobs to the community. He said be believes an international firm with a local presence, soon will announce an expansion as a result of the utility facilitating an international teleconference. Local Electrician Pete Morgan expressed concern that the deposit rates are too high for new, small businesses. But Robertson said the standard fee is a deposit of the estimated amount of electricity used in two months. He said the deposit is meant to prevent the utility from loosing money if the bills are not paid. In addition the board was told the utility pays a high interest rate on such deposits. Chair Claude Gatlin announced a closed door meeting with the utility's legal counsel as the board attempts to resolve the legal issues it faces.

Newport City Council confirms tax rate
The Newport City Council met in a short, special session Tuesday evening, to finalize the property tax rate, approve an amendment to the budget of the Newport Grammar School and approve certain surplus pieces of equipment. City Recorder Tina Matthews said state officials asked that the property tax rate again be approved because of a slight modification in property values. All of the property in Cocke County was reassesed this year and after the reassessment was completed, several property owners challenged the value of their property set by the state. The value then was reviewed by the Equalization Board, and their values were reduced. Because of the reduced amount of taxes collected, the tax rate will bring in an increase of 99 cents, instead of the $1.00 increase originally approved by the council. The move means a reduction in anticipated revenue of $20,000. Council member Roger Gribble questioned the effect on the city of the state legislature to stop annexations, unless they are approved by the affected property owners. The city was in the process of annexing the West Highway 25/70 corridor to Reidtown when the legislature nixed the move. City Manager James Finchum said the move reduced revenue to the city by about $100,000 annually, under the previous tax rate. Gribble again argued against the tax rate increase saying "it is outrageous and a number of people can't pay it. We're the poorest city in the state of Tennessee and and we are gonna have the highest tax rate." The plan is to resolve the city's tight finances, give city employees a raise for the first time in 11 years and build a budget surplus so that ax anticipation notes do not have to be issued annually. But Gribble argued for a tax hike of 50 cents, saying the revenue issues should be reined in over several years. Although Gribble voted against the increase, the original tax hike was approved. The council also approved the sale of surplus equipment including an old grader and a back hoe. Finchum said the county is interested in buying the road grader, and the back hoe has already been replaced.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

  • Tanner Fish Fry
  • Edens father and son arrested in continuing investigation
  • State lawmakers to investigate Planned parenthood
  • New waterline approved by Newport Utilities
  • Newport City Council confirms tax rate

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015

  • Overholt files lawsuit
  • Child drowning
  • Cocke County Finance Committee
  • Turner arrest

    Monday, July 27, 2015

  • Newport Council to meet in Special Session
  • Justice Wade to retire
  • Garvin honored for 20 years with SafeSpace
  • Leibrock jailed during Popcorn Sutton jam
  • Officer Elliott requires medical treatment after dog bite

    Friday, July 24, 2015

  • Concerts Saturday in Newport
  • Newport power outages
  • SafeSpace office in Newport
  • Pruitt arrest
  • Budget work continues
  • 3,000 lose power
  • Jobless rates for June
  • US Nitrogen reaching agreement with utility

    Thursday, July 23, 2015

  • Caregiver suspect in theft case
  • Prostitution charges are lodged
  • Hamblen County man charged after road rage incident
  • Cocke Child abuse investigation
  • Two teens injured in Wednesday crash
  • Smokies visits continue to grow
  • State officials look for origin of electrical shocks

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