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Day 57 in the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty 

 

NHUNmMANPhoto from home:  Dogwood blooms - Dogwood winter. (04/15/2014thout an administrator since the fall of 2013, the city says it will soon be seeking to fill

 

         Cougar Football 2015

Aug 21 Gibbs

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Sep 04 Lenoir City

Sep 10 at Grace (Thu 7PM)

Sep 18 at Clinton

Sep 25 Cocke Co. HC

Oct 02 at Farragut

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Oct 16 Karns

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Smith Hardware OPENS at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday

Get the Time & Temp anytime, call 423.566.8463, a service of Terry's Pharmacy

 

Final Scores:

Oak Ridge 46 - Lady Cougars 46

Oak Ridge 78 - Cougars 47

 

Karns 35 - Lady Cougars 34

Karns 74 - Cougars 60

WLAF’s “Business of the Day” today is:

La FOLLETTE COURT ASSISTED LIVING – North Massachusetts Ave.

Shop locally.  It helps all of us.

Photo from home

     Remember this Texaco station?  That’s Marshall Smith, the owner, in about 1965.  Smith’s Texaco station is now a parking lot located between the two Pierce buildings in downtown La Follette.

Bartley’s assault case bound over to grand jury; motion for dismissal denied by judge

By Charlotte Underwood

Former school shooter Kenneth S. Bartley had his assault case bound over to the grand jury after an hour long hearing in General Session’s Court today where Judge Amanda Sammons denied his attorney’s motion to have the case dismissed. Bartley, who is charged with assault after an Oct. 16 incident involving his mother Rita Broyles, will have his case heard by a Campbell County Grand Jury which meets again on February 13.

Greg Isaacs (L) continues as Kenneth Bartley’s attorney

During today’s hearing, Broyles testified that Bartley and she had a “disagreement” that day and evening about him wanting money for a cab to go to the liquor store in Knoxville. Broyles testified that the argument was never really physical and that Bartley only placed his hands on her neck one time and that when she asked him to remove them he did.

Kenny Bartley watches as his mother testifies about the night he was arrested for assault.

“I looked Kenny in the eyes and told him I was not afraid of him and asked him to remove his hands and he did,” Broyles said. The police report states that Bartley placed his hands on her neck and told her he could choke her and she knew that he could.

State Prosecutor Graham Wilson reminded Broyles that she was under oath as he repeatedly asked her if she was afraid that night.

“Not that Kenny would hurt me; but that he would get into trouble if he left, that’s why I called the police,” Broyles said.

Broyles did say that he had been drinking and that she had even given him a water bottle with some bourbon in it because he was so insistent upon drinking.

Once again represented by Greg Isaacs, Bartley appeared calm as he watched his mother on the witness stand. When prosecutors asked Broyles if she could point out who Bartley was, she described him as “the handsome man sitting on the left.”

Isaacs made a motion to have the case dismissed on the claim that Bartley never assaulted his mother and that even though he placed his hands on her neck, she was not in fear of her life.

Sammons explained her reasoning of binding the case over to the grand jury, citing that Broyles was obviously a “biased witness.”

“A mother loves her son and we don’t fault her for that; never-the-less, she did say he was upset that day and that she had tried to calm him by giving him a drink. She also said she found it offensive when he put his arm around her neck, though she did try to minimize that contact, she would not have ran to another location to contact the police if she had not been afraid,” Sammons said of her ruling.

Kenneth Bartley

Isaacs could be heard telling Bartley to “hang in there,” as he left the courtroom. His case will be heard by the Grand Jury on Feb. 13. He has an additional court date on Feb. 24th violation of probation stemming from other charges. (01/27/2015 - 3:00 PM)

Liberty Tax Service - next to Downtown Shell for the friendliest tax service in town

 

 

Victim of crash dies two weeks after accident; possible criminal charges to be filed against other driver

By Charlotte Underwood

Crash victim Daniel Dupee, 21, of Clinton, passed away around 5 a.m. this morning as a result of injuries he received during an accident which occurred on Butter and Egg Road on January 9th. The wreck occurred when Justin Heath Powell was traveling on the wrong side of the road at a high rate of speed and struck Dupee’s vehicle, according to the crash report. Both men had to be cut out of their vehicles by emergency personnel and were flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

According to a Jacksboro Police report, moments before the accident, Powell had been involved in a domestic altercation with his wife at Eagle Market and had attempted to hit her with his truck before fleeing the scene. Law enforcement believes drugs or alcohol may have played a role in the crash.

Jacksboro police charged Powell with aggravated vehicular assault and domestic assault. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, additional charges may be levied against Powell since Dupee has died. (01/27/2015 - NOON)

Stop by JR’s Tires, & let’s check your anti-freeze.(between Sonic & the car wash)

Council discusses administrator position; other business at workshop

By Charlotte Underwood

La Follette’s lack of a city administrator was a topic of discussion during last night’s city council workshop. Mayor Mike Stanfield said he felt like the city did better without an administrator and that the issue should be put back on a ballot to let the people vote it out. Bob Fannon, Hansford Hatmaker and Joe Bolinger all three said they were in favor of a city administrator or manager position and discussed accepting applications again in the spring.

La Follette City Council members discussed taking applications for the city administrator position in the spring.

Fannon said he thought the charter should first be changed to offer a two-year contract with the position.

“We aren’t going to get any applicants unless they have a two-year period to prove themselves,” Fannon said.

City Attorney Reid Troutman was asked to look at the different options the city has as far as changing the charter and filling the position. The issue will be on the agenda for next week’s meeting.

Councilman Hansford Hatmaker said he was in favor of hiring a city administrator and changing the charter to offer a two-year contract with the position.

The need for a new gas charge system was also discussed and will be on next week’s agenda. The current system used by city employees, along with the utility company, the rescue squad, the rural fire service and the housing authority relies on gas cards similar to a credit card. The charge system reads the information form a magnetic strip on the card and the bill is charged to the appropriate entity and shows all the information regarding the transaction. The cards currently used are becoming obsolete and the city will have to go to a laser reader system. The cost for the new system is around $12,000, as well as the cost of each laser key per employee.

Mayor Mike Stanfield said he felt the department heads did a fine job and that a city administrator was not needed. He suggested putting the issue on the ballot and asking the public to vote it out in a referendum.

Other business discussed that will be on next week’s agenda as well included the hiring of police officer Lucas Shoffner and firefighter David Williams from part time to full time positions.

The purchase of security cameras and time clocks will be on next week’s agenda as well. A total of six security cameras are wanted to be placed in various locations of city hall. The cost of cameras alone will be under $1,000, according to the mayor.

Council members were polled and approved to go ahead with paperwork regarding the donation of a house and some property on East Prospect Street from Wells Fargo Bank. According to Codes Enforcer Stan Foust, the bank is willing to cover closing costs, donate the property and the house, as well as provide an additional $5,000 for rehab of the house. Mayor Mike Stanfield said Larry Townsend with Shepherd’s Home had expressed an interest in leasing the house from the city to be used as a men’s shelter. The council will decide at a later date how the property will be used. Paperwork on the deal had to be approved and sent in by Jan. 28.  (01/27/2015 - 6:00 AM)

 To the workers & families of A & S Steel from State Representative Dennis Powers

I have notified the TN Department of Labor of the upcoming closing of A & S Steel and I am meeting with the Commissioner and his staff on Tuesday, Feb. 3, in Nashville.  I have already requested that the department’s Rapid Response Team be deployed to our county to help in the processing of unemployment claims.  In our meeting, we will be discussing the logistics of the best time, dates and location to set up the team that will best accommodate those affected.  I have discussed this with Mayor Morton and he is now working now to acquire a location for the team.   I hope they will include the workers of Carmike and Trail Manor in this process.

I know how difficult it can be sometimes to reach the TN Department of Labor by phone.  My office handles more calls regarding unemployment claims than any other issue.  We want to work to make sure that those that have been affected by recent closings, or reductions in workforce, will have a fast, efficient way to file their claim by doing it locally and working with a dedicated team sent out specifically to help them.

I know this is devastating news to many in our area, but we will also be requesting assistance from the Department of Labor in workforce training and education.  We will continue to work with local and state officials, especially the Department of Economic and Community Development, to attract more business into our area.  Tennessee has been named the number one state in the nation in Economic and Community Development for two years in a row and we want to bring companies to our area that want to make Tennessee their home. (01/26/2015 - 12:30 PM)

Mayor Morton addresses business closings

     The county mayor addresses last week’s business closings further down this page.  County Mayor E.L. Morton tells WLAF that he understands that in his fifth month as County Mayor, growing jobs is still "Job One," and that has not changed.  Morton says that in light of the anticipated closing of A & S Steel, The Movies 2, and the reduction of operation of Trail Manor.  On Friday evening, the mayor issued a statement concerning the closings and an update.  (01/26/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Homecoming at Jellico High

On Friday, Allison Avera was crowned the 2015 JHS Basketball Homecoming Queen.  She was escorted by Justin Bowlin.   (DAVID GRAHAM PIX)

Here’s how Jellico Mountain looked Saturday morning at daybreak with a temperature of 25-degrees.

Saturday was championship day at Jellico’s Lindsay Gym

     The Fairview Rebels (Scott County) and the Heritage Christian Academy Lady Eagles (Claiborne County) claimed the TMSAA Area 2, Class-A Middle School tournament championships on Saturday.  At Lindsay Gym, Fairview outscored Powell Valley (Claiborne) to take the title.  In the girls championship, HCA won over Fairview’s Lady Rebels.  All four teams advance to this week’s state sectional at Sevierville.  The third place winners from Saturday, the Powell Valley Lady Indians and Midway (Claiborne County) Red Devils also advance to the next round.  If anyone would like to purchase a highlight DVD from the tournament, click here.  (DAVID GRAHAM PIX)

Heritage Christian Academy Lady Eagles

Powell Valley Indians

Powell Valley Lady Indians

Fairview Lady Rebels

Fairview Rebels

Single-vehicle accident claims two lives

     A father and his young son from Rocky Top lost their lives late Friday afternoon in a south Campbell County wreck near A & S Steel.  Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper Brent Buckner outlines for WLAF News that the driver of the vehicle, 34-year old Bobby Coker, Jr., lost control of his 2006 GMC Envoy SUV while attempting a left curve.  Just before 4:00 p.m., Coker was traveling along Highway 116, between Caryville and Rocky Top in the Ridgewood community.  The trooper goes on to say that the SUV then left the roadway on the right side, went into a ditch, and struck a tree head-on.  Coker, who was not wearing a safety belt, died when he was ejected on impact.  His six-year old son Skyland was also killed.  He was wearing a safety belt and was sitting behind his father in the back seat.  The lone survivor in the single-car crash is 8-year old Marissa Coker.  Although injurred, she was also wearing her safety belt and was in the back seat with Skyland.  WLAF has been unable to learn the condition of Marissa Coker.(01/24/2015 - 8:00 AM)

Starrett recovering after head-on crash

     It’s believed Jacksboro Police Detective Mike Starrett was on his way to assist officers working a fatal car accident when he became involved in an accident himself.  Reports coming in to WLAF are that on Friday afternoon Starrett was heading south on Highway 116 near the Super 8 Motel at Caryville when a pick-up truck hit his cruiser head-on. 

Starrett's cruiser

Starrett was cut out of his vehicle and taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville.  Officials say he is suffering from trauma to his head and a broken leg and broken arm.  Starrett’s condition is unavailable at this hour. (01/24/2015 - 8:00 AM)

Father & Son Die in Afternoon Crash

     A father and his young son were killed this afternoon around 3:30PM on Highway 116. Reports coming into WLAF are that they are from Lake City and died in a wreck that happened in front of A&S Steel at Ridgewood. It's believed that Jacksboro Detective Mike Starrett was en route to the fatal accident.

Starrett was hit head on, on Highway 116 near the Super 8 Motel at Caryville. He had to be cut out of his cruiser, and is suffering from trauma to the head, he is being treated at the UT Medical Center at Knoxville. There were so many accidents around Campbell County late this afternoon that all ambulances were tied up for more than an hour.  (01/23/2015 - 5:00 PM)

For Our Citizens

Campbell County Citizens and Family,

While I am proud of the Tennessee successes the President spoke about in his State of the Union Address, full economic recovery is much more difficult in our county this week.  It is my understanding that A&S Building Systems and The Movies are closing and Trail Manor is reducing operations to a very small footprint in our county owned industrial building.  It may close completely.  I also understand that in my fifth month as County Mayor, growing jobs is still "Job One" and that has not changed.  I want to speak to you about these jobs losses our workers are facing and what we are doing about it.


First, in the immediate term, every county resource is available to facilitate a rapid return to work and I have called for support from state agencies and will continue coordination to bring those resources to bear on the problem.  State Labor and Economic Development staffs are coordinating now to assist in placing our workers in jobs that are as close to home as possible.  Some of the assistance includes job application, resume and interview preparation, job searches, job fairs and potentially, transportation assistance for workers considering commuting to work in other places.  I am speaking with leaders from the affected businesses to determine first what can be done to keep their business here and second, how best to assist Campbell County workers facing this terribly difficult outlook.  I have spoken with one area employer and acquired their skills listing for current vacancies and will put that list in the hands of our workers facing these changes. That employer happens to be outside the county, but will feed families all the same.  I encourage local employers to provide us the same information (423-562-2526) to access some of our county's most productive workers.  Each of these three businesses had strong and productive workers that will make any business better.

Our short term picture includes conducting site visits with local Industry businesses.  So far, we have completed three visits and discussed plans with two additional local businesses to determine how we can assist growth.  Because of these visits and working with the County Road Department we mobilized county resources to help improve traffic flow and parking access in one of our industrial parks and I have had promising discussions with another start up with strong potential.  We are also taking steps to assist growth through youth plant visits and citizen volunteers are mentoring TN Achieves & Promise Scholarship students at our local campuses.  They completed meeting #2 (of 3) last night at CCHS to prepare our next graduates.  We are working with state and federal agencies to identify working capital funding sources for business.  John Branam is our new Chamber Director and leading forward to improve local business members and the jobs they can grow as well.  I spent a day trip to Murfreesboro Wednesday to speak with TVA leaders about buying Campbell County coal.  Bull Run is burning 100 cars daily and some if not all of it is Eastern Kentucky coal railing through our county.  We have at least one active coal permit and that could generate mining, trucking, supply and services jobs for a considerable time, having also learned that TVA is committed to running Bull Run on coal for at least the next two years.  I've spoken with Congressman Fleischmann and Representative Powers and they are teaming with us to sell our coal to TVA.

In the long term picture, my staff and I will continue to visit our industry partners annually and we have many more visits to make this year.  Should our county owned industrial building be fully available, I have discussed options with local trainers to use it as a skills training site to complement existing training programs.  I will present this option to our Commissioners and Joint Economic and Community Development Board in February.  I am extremely proud to work with the Commissioners you elected and even more so because they made a commitment Monday night to bolster resources, man hours and programming dollars specifically for Industrial Recruiting and Retention.  I applaud that action, commend and thank the Commissioners for their vision.  I gained a commitment today from State Economic Developers to guide us on building an Industrial recruiting and retention program.  These are strong first steps toward reestablishing our Industrial Development Board and attracting jobs and business.

Two men named Atterbury and Schroeder chose to build a business in our community years ago because of our people, our values and our community.  They no longer own A&S and much has changed but our People, Values and Community are the reasons I and my staff live and work here. Andy Wallace is my Deputy, Olivia Robbins is our Business and Tourism Developer and on February 2nd, Mary Bruce will join our team as Office Administrator and Animal Shelter Specialist.  Our work as an administration has just begun and our challenges are never more clear than they are today.  We will continue to work for new jobs and our people, friends and neighbors facing these hardships.

Respectfully and Humbly,
E.L. Morton

School board moves forward with search for director

Votes new director must live in Campbell County or own property here

By Charlotte Underwood

Members of the Campbell County School Board moved forward with search criteria for the new director of schools during a meeting last night. In a 6 to 4 vote, it was decided that the new director must be someone living in Campbell County or who owns property here. For the better part of an hour, the board was divided on the issue, with half the board wanting to open the search up to state-wide applicants, while the remainder of the board wanted to keep it to local options only.

School board member Sharon Ridenour was for opening the search state-wide. She said she completely understood the desire to have someone local as the director, but did not want to limit the county’s options with such a “narrow” search focus.

“I felt we should keep our options open. Just because applicants state-wide are accepted doesn’t mean we would have to choose that person in the end, but we would have more options before us to make the best decision,” Ridenour said, adding that there could have been some very qualified people from surrounding counties.

“We need someone with vision and leadership who will get us to the next level; I understand wanting local, but let’s at least look at all the qualified applicants first,” Ridenour said.

School Board Chairman Mike Orick felt passionate about someone local or with ties to the area being chosen. He is the one who made the property-specific motion and said he wanted to explain what might sound like an “odd” requirement. In 2010, when the board was faced with this same criteria decision, the board voted to keep it solely within the county. According to Orick, there were several people who applied for the job that were from Campbell County, still owned property here and wanted to apply for the job and the opportunity to move back.

“These were people that were qualified and still in the education field. It wasn’t fair that we kept those people from applying; they grew up here, they had ties here and most importantly, they had roots here,” Orick said, adding that while he respected that some of the other board members wanted to open the position up to state-wide applicants, he, personally felt, that “Campbell County’s own” could fill the position admirably and with a better understanding of our cultural background and educational needs.

Orick said he felt the board made a good decision and that in whole history of the system, Campbell County had previously only had two directors from out of county.

“Ultimately, the people of the county can know that the next person who directs their schools will either be from Campbell County or have ties and roots here,” Orick said.

Ridenour said she was disappointed that such a narrow gap of people will be able to apply for the position.

Both Orick and Ridenour said the board just wanted what was best for the children of Campbell County.

Director of schools search criteria discussions will continue on February 10 at the school board’s regularly scheduled meeting, when board members will each nominate a community member to serve and provide input during the search process. Of the two nominated, the names will placed in a cup and one drawn out to serve on the search committee.

The director of schools position has to be filled by June 1.

How the board voted on keeping the search criteria in Campbell County/property owner:

Mike Orick –yes

Wallace Goins – yes

Crystal McNealy Creekmore – yes

Sarge Collins – yes

Homer Rutherford – yes

Danny Wilson  - yes

Sharon Ridenour – no

Faye Heatherly – no

Clint Bane – no

Johnny Byrge - no  (01/23/2015 - 1:00 PM)

 

Homeless count took place yesterday

By Charlotte Underwood

The Annual Point in Time (PIT) Homeless count took place yesterday evening throughout Campbell County. Volunteers scoured under bridges and overpasses, in abandoned houses and other known areas in an attempt to record data on the amount of homeless and precariously housed in our county.

Abandoned buildings are often used by the homeless to get out of the cold.

Volunteers were armed with water, blankets and clipboards. The annual PIT Count is a partnership effort between Community Health of East Tennessee and the county mayor’s office, along with law enforcement and local city governments. Numbers collected during the event will be reported and used to garner grant funding to help area homeless.

This broken doll was a sad sight outside a known area where the homeless stay. The PIT count that took place yesterday will use numbers recorded to petition for grant funding to help the area’s homeless.

Last year, there were 129 unsheltered individuals in the county, along with 36 families or individuals who were housed in safety shelters such as the Shepherd’s Home, the Domestic Violence Shelter.

Areas under buildings as pictured here are a prime location where homeless congregate and stay.

There were an additional 452 precariously-housed individuals, meaning they were living in conditions unfit for human habitation.  From the 2014 information collected during the PIT count, Campbell and Monroe Counties will receive a grant of $100,000 to help the homeless.

 Volunteers spent time yesterday evening looking for the homeless in the area to hand out blankets and water and to record how many may be precariously housed in our county.  La Follette Mayor Mike Stanfield (L) and County Commissioner DeWayne Kitts take in a makeshift home under a building in La Follette.

Drug addiction can be a contributing factor to homelessness.

Numbers will take a while to compile and an official count will be released at a later date, according to Phyllis Clingner with CHET. (01/23/2015 - 6:00 AM)

La Follette legend Coach Ron Murray was honored at halftime of Thursday’s Campbell Cougar-Fulton Falcon basketball game at John Brown Gym.  (CIRCA 1961)

A night of memory making for Murray

The old coach is honored

     Fans, former players, and friends came to John Brown Gym Thursday night to honor a Campbell County Basketball legend, Coach Ron Murray.  CLICK HERE TO SEE THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW WITH COACH RON MURRAY.

Former CCHS Basketball Coach Len Pierce (L) visits with his high school coach, Ron Murray, during Thursday night’s Cougar-Fulton game.

Murray was one of John R.W. Brown’s stars on his first-ever basketball team, the 1947 La Follette Owls.  The newly constructed film and hospitality room was officially named the Ron Murray Room at halftime of the Cougars game with Fulton

Fulton coach and Campbell County native Jody Wright catches up with Coach Ron Murray before Thursday’s CCHS-Fulton game.  Wright’s father, Gene, the former coach at Jacksboro and Lake City High Schools, coached against Murray when he was with the La Follette Owls.

He was also recognized with plaques from Director of Schools Donnie Poston and County Mayor E.L. Morton.  Murray, who turns 85 in April, arrived early, driving himself to the gym named after his old coach. 

He wanted to make sure he made it in time for the Cougar JV tip-off.  And he did.  Murray’s only regret on a night etched forever in his memory and CCHS basketball history, is that his late wife Billie was not there among the fans, former players, and friends. (01/23/2015 - 6:00 AM)

From left-to-right, Bo Perkins (Broadway Carpets), Travis Thompson (Farmers Insurance), Chris White (White’s Flooring), and Tony Poteet, not pictured, (Wrap It Up Construction) were instrumental in constructing the new Ron Murray Room that serves as a hospitality and film room.  The room is located on the upper level of John Brown Gym in the southeast corner.

The Movies moving out; A & S Steel gone in 60-days

     Reports coming in to WLAF are that two well established businesses are leaving Campbell County.  Carmike is closing its La Follette theater, The Movies Two, at the end of February while Caryville’s A & S Steel is shutting down in 60-days. 

The Movies Two has been a Woodson Mall (property) fixture for more than thirty-years while A & S Steel was established along I-75 on Highway 116 in 1973.  Officials with the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce note that the A & S Steel closing means the loss of more than 250 jobs.  (01/22/2015 - 6:00 AM)

 Caryville plans to post police chief position

By Charlotte Underwood

After holding a workshop on Tuesday evening, the Caryville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to post the police chief position on January 29. Mayor Chris Stanley and board members say they are seeking someone with good leadership qualities, at least five years experience, and at least two years of it in a supervisor capacity. 

Applications can be picked up at Caryville Town Hall beginning Jan. 29. Applications must be mailed to city attorney Kathy Parrott at P.O. Box 327 in Jacksboro Tn., 37757. February 17 is the last date applications will be accepted.

For more information, contact Caryville Town Hall at 562-9478.(01/22/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Affordable Health Care Act creating havoc with tax returns

Preparers urge taxpayers to get guidance

By Charlotte Underwood

The Affordable Health Care Act aka Obama Care is creating havoc with this year’s tax returns.

The new insurance mandate, along with its health insurance premium subsidies, premium tax credits, and penalty for not being insured is affecting just about every taxpayer in one way or another. 

According to local accountants and tax preparers, taxpayers need to understand these new changes and be prepared for a “multitude” of new forms that will need to be filled out.

Tax preparers are warning that this year’s returns are so complicated that it is nearly impossible to fill out without guidance from either the IRS help-line or a tax preparer.

“The exemptions are many and varied and it is basically impossible for the average person to know all of the exemptions,” said James Cotton with Double S Bookkeeping. Cotton also said that a lot of people were confused about when the insurance penalty started, which was January 2014. The amount the uninsured is penalized is also another issue of confusion. The minimum penalty is $95 per uninsured person, but can go up much higher.

“I had one client who was penalized $583, and she just barely missed the exemption mark,” Cotton said, explaining that the penalty was either $95 or 1-percent of your income, whichever worked out to be higher.  Uninsured are penalized on a monthly basis.

This “tax prep hawker” pauses for a second in front of Liberty Tax on West Central Avenue in La Follette.

Carol Hoskins with Hoskins Accounting agreed that the reporting requirements for 2014 tax returns are substantial, and complicated due to the ACA insurance mandate.

She briefly covered some of the little-known insurance penalty exemptions such as having a death in the family in 2014, or being a victim of domestic violence.  Eviction, power cut-off notices and many other exemptions are out there, but some of them require very specific paper work that has to be filled out and may even take up to two weeks to have approved by the government.

“Very few people are aware of these exemptions and as a result of these changes, taxpayers will have to fill out new forms they will be receiving from their insurance companies, employers, and the marketplace that they will need in order to prepare their tax returns,” Hoskins said, adding that people should allow for more time to prepare their taxes this year and in some cases, seek professional guidance.

Help may be a little bit harder to come by this year than in the past though, due to recent IRS budget cuts passed by Congress.  According to Cotton, the IRS Help-line will only be able to handle about half the calls it usually gets due to these cuts, and it will most likely receive double the call volume due to the insurance mandate.  Long waits can also be expected when calling the help line.

The affects of these cuts have already been felt at the local library, according to Librarian Nancy Green, who said she had not received copies of tax forms yet and that the government had indicated they would not be sending the instructions that go along with those forms.

“We usually have them by November,” Green said, adding that she had received an email from the IRS saying that instruction booklets would not be sent this year and that taxpayers would have to go online to view, download and print the instructions.

“Those instruction books can be pretty thick and it would get expensive to have to print them out here,” Green said. She also said she had been receiving daily phone calls from people needing to pick up the forms, which the IRS had not sent yet.

The email cited the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill recently passed by congress as the reason for cutbacks and the lack of instruction books being sent to the library.                                                                                                                                  

Those needing help with their tax forms this year can visit www.irs.gov or call the tax service IRS Hotline at 1-800-829-1040 or seek professional tax help at one of the many tax or accounting services in the area:

Double S Bookkeeping and Tax Service, located at 116 E. Cumberland Ln., Jacksboro 562-1681

Hoskins Accounting and Tax Preparation, located at 107 Nevada Ave., in La Follette – 562-9404 

H & R Block –located at 306 Main Street in Jacksboro -562-9341, La Follette location at 200

South Tennessee Ave., – 562-9341

Jackson Hewitt –kiosk location in Wal-Mart, 566-3542, or store front location 140 Indian Mound Circle at MegCo in Jacksboro -566-4130

Liberty Tax Service, located at 211 W. Central Avenue in La Follette– 423-797-8829

Raymond McGhee at McGhee’s Tax Service, 204 South Tennessee Avenue, across from La Follette City Hall.  Telephone 423.566.1784

(01/22/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Murray to be honored tonight

At halftime of Cougars game with Fulton

     The Ron Murray Room will be dedicated tonight at John Brown Gym during halftime of the Cougars game.  Murray, who played for the legendary Brown at La Follettte High, was later the head coach of the LHS Owls.  Current Campbell Coach Matt Housley tells WLAF Sports that he and his team are super excited about the new film room and the dedication for Coach Murray.  He explains that over the past four-years, the Cougars have been able to update their facilities to catch up to most of the schools in Knoxville

Coach Ron Murray is pictured here in the shadow of his coach’s picture, John Brown.  This photo was taken in June 2014.

The coach says that what the new film room does is set CCHS apart from most of them (Knoxville schools).  Coach Murray, who turns 85 in April, explains to WLAF Sports that he is humbled by this honor and is proud to be a part of Campbell County High School Basketball especially in John Brown Gym.  It’s perhaps only fitting that tonight’s opponent’s coach, Jody Wright of Fulton, is connected to the Brown-Murray coaching tree. 

Joe Snodderly (L), Coach Murray, and Carl Rutherford (R).  Murray coached La Follette to 33 wins in the 1962-63 season and upset the Knoxville South Rockets, led by the state’s leading scorer, Jay Cole, in the region tourney 34-30.  Cole was averaging 40-points a game.  (CIRCA 1963)

The Falcons’ head coach, Jody Wright, grew up in Caryville, and his first basketball coach was Len Pierce at Caryville Elementary School.  Pierce, the winningest coach through 40 seasons of CCHS Basketball, played for Murray at La Follette High in the 1960s. 

Wright is the winningest high school basketball coach in Knoxville history.  Housley adds that he studies film with his players a ton, they study film on their own as well, and this new resource will be used on a daily basis.  The Ron Murray Room is located on the upper level of John Brown Gym in the southeast corner.(01/22/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Campbell countian involved in fatal accident

     A Heatherly’s Point woman died in a two-vehicle wreck this morning near Jellico.  Trooper Aaron McGhee with the Tennessee Highway Patrol outlines for WLAF that 66-year old Janice Osborne died just before 10:30 a.m. today as she traveled north on I-75 at Mile Marker 160 (Jellico exit).  McGhee states that Osborne was behind the wheel of her 2008 Toyota SUV in the inside lane when she crossed over to the other lane and into the path of a 2004 GMC truck.  The truck, driven by 41-year old Steven Kniceley of Hamilton, Ohio, struck Osborne’s SUV sending it through a guardrail landing off the roadway.  Both Kniceley and his wife, 40-year old Tara Kniceley were injured.  (01/21/2015 - 8:00 PM)

Commission, despite tight budget, seeks ways to attract new industry

The new county commission is still a work in progress as far as procedures are concerned, as the commission was forced Monday night to postpone committee meetings planned for this week until January 27 in order to meet public notice requirements.

Mayor E. L. Morton announced that a scheduled FMS Committee session to discuss bid opening procedures, as well as a meeting of the EMS Committee to discuss the hiring of a new ambulance service director, would have to be re-scheduled because no public notice had been published in local newspapers.

“We want to give the public the opportunity to attend,” Morton told commissioners, not bothering to add that the notice is also required by law.

The commission did manage, in addition to routine business such as approving reports and notaries, to approve a motion by Ralph Davis to establish a position for an industrial recruiter.

How such a position will be funded remains a question for a later date, however, as Finance Director Jeff Marlow advised that the unspent $59,000 remaining from the county’s industrial development fund would cover a professional recruiter’s salary for the balance of the current fiscal year but not beyond.

“You need to identify the funding source for such as position,” Marlow added.

Cliff Jennings suggested that anyone hired for such a position should be paid based on results. “We don’t need to just go out and hire somebody and call them an industrial recruiter. We need to set the pay based on how many jobs they create,” Jennings urged.

Davis suggested that the commission ask all departments to “look at their budgets and if they can find any excess money, donate it back to the county to pay for a recruiter.”

Other commissioners seemed less optimistic that departments would find “excess” money or be inclined to donate it back, and in the end voted merely for a motion to establish the position of industrial recruiter without designating a source for paying the salary.

The commission then voted unanimously to re-establish an industrial development committee of the commission consisting of all fifteen members, in order to further discuss how to attract new industry. Mayor Morton reminded the commission that the county’s industrial development board already includes representatives from the county commission.

Davis also brought up the subject of installing caution lights on the county road near White Oak Elementary School. “The school board has agreed to cover half the cost if the commission can come up with the balance,” Davis informed other commissioners.

Rusty Orick asked where the commission’s share could be found in the budget and Davis suggested that each commissioner designate $200 from their discretionary funds to provide the commission’s $3,000 part of the cost of the lights.

Other commissioners did not eagerly endorse that idea, Sue Nance pointing out that the discretionary funds were supposed to be distributed to non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations. As a result, the commission voted 14-0 to approve a “motion of intent” to provide the funding, leaving the actual payment for a future budget amendment once a funding source is identified.

Phyllis Clingner addressed the commission at the beginning of the meeting about the Campbell County Drug Prevention Coalition, reporting that the “results are staggering” from a risk balance survey conducted through drug court among high school and middle school students.

“The survey shows that most defendants in drug court started using alcohol and drugs at the age of 12 or 13,” Clingner reported. She added that the drug free coalition plans public awareness and intervention programs to address the problem but is in need of financial support.

“Teachers can’t do it. They are already overwhelmed with testing requirements. There are so many things we could do if we just had the financing. I know the budget is tight but what about the discretionary fund?” Clingner asked, adding, “We could easily spend $10,000 if we had the funds.”     (01/21/2015 - 6:00 AM)      

Searchers looking in Heatherly’s Point area for Daugherty

Missing since December 2

By Charlotte Underwood

On Monday, investigators set up a Mobile Command Center at Heatherly’s Point as the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty continues. It’s been 50 days since the Coolidge woman disappeared from her home.

Heatherly's Point is about a 20 minute boat ride from Sugar Hollow Boat Dock, where the search has previously been centered. Investigators say they are still searching Sugar Hollow, but are also looking at all the surrounding areas as well.

According to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, investigators have been searching the Heatherly’s Point area for the past couple days.  It is about a 20-minute boat ride from Sugar Hollow Boat Dock, where the search had previously been centered.  Investigators say they are still searching all areas of the lake.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, members of the Campbell County Sheriff's Department, the Rescue Squad and investigators from other agencies were busy searching in the Heatherly's Point area of Norris Lake.

Divers, sonar, cameras and all resources continue to be used in the hunt for Daugherty’s body.

Lonnie Vann, who has been indicted for her kidnapping and murder, has a court date set for April 13.

More stories can be found further down the page.  (01/20/2015 - 6:00 AM)

                           

The crowd slowly exits on Homecoming Night (01/16 – DAVID GRAHAM PIX).

Gil gets his one-thousandth point on Friday night.  Darin Gillenwater drives to the bucket against Central.

Good weather days for Daughtery search-but still no Rhonda.

     It was a rare mild and dry January weekend.  And investigators made the most of it in the hunt for missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Daugherty.  Searchers scoured land and lake from daylight until dusk Saturday and Sunday.  Officials tell WLAF News that the weekend search on Norris Lake was centered on an area of the lake that's about a 20-minute boat ride from the Sugar Hollow Marina, where the search has been focused for weeks.  Sonar, camera, and robot were used.  The R-O-V, an under water robot, from the Carter County, Tennessee, Rescue Squad was used.  The search is in a part of the lake where the depths range from eighty to 150-feet with tree tops around 120-feet.  At these depths, specialized dive teams are required.  More than 70 search team members from around the county and the region took part in Sunday's search effort.  Today begins Day 49 in the hunt for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  Related stories and pictures are found further down this page.(01/19/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Winningest senior class-ever honored

     Through 40-seasons of Campbell Cougar football, there've been 104 wins.  Twenty-five of those wins came from the Senior Class of 2015.  Those 20 seniors along with the rest of the 2014 CCHS football squad were honored Saturday night at the annual Cougar banquet held at the Ball Barn. 

Three wins each season as freshmen and sophomores and then a record-setting 10-win year as juniors in addition to nine victories in 2014 make this the winningest group of seniors dating all the way back to the first year of the program, 1975.  All-state selections , members of the Border Bowl, and all-district players were recognized during the special evening. 

Here are most of the senior class football players, the winningest group in the history of Campbell Cougar Football.  They, along with the rest of their teammates, were honored Saturday night at the annual football banquet.

Levi Miller received the "Do Your Job Award" with Seth Roberts and Mike Rhoades being named "Rookie of the Year."  Dakota Wilson earned the "Most Improved" trophy, and Paul Courdle came away with the "All in Award."  The Cougars are also winning in the classroom.  For the 2014 Fall Semester, the Team GPA is 3.28.  Head Coach Justin Price tells WLAF that he’s very proud of his players work in the classroom.  (01/19/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Cougars lose a heartbreaker on Homecoming Night.

Miss Lauren Roberts is crowned queen.  She is the 2015 Campbell Basketball Homecoming Queen and is escorted by Darin Gillenwater.

CCHS Basketball vs. Central 01/16/2015

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First Baptist Church of La Follette services from 01/18/2015

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Campbell County School Board 01/13/2015

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CCHS 2015 Basketball Homecoming Ceremonies

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Roger and Myra Jackson, management team, with Castleton’s Family Fitness Center snipped the ribbon Thursday morning as they join the Campbell Chamber of Commerce. (01/15/2015)

Volunteers still needed for homeless count

By Charlotte Underwood

Volunteers are still needed to participate in the upcoming Point In Time Homeless count in Campbell County. The annual event will take place on Jan. 22 by a slew of local law enforcement and volunteers. Numbers recorded that day will be used to acquire grant funding to help area homeless and precariously housed. The PIT count is being conducted through a partnership between Community Health of East Tennessee (CHET) and the County Mayor’s Office.

According to social service officials, homelessness is on the rise in our state and in the county. On the morning and evening of Jan. 22, trained teams, along with law enforcement members will comb the county to identify the number of homeless.

The count provides a “tally of who is homeless on a given night and provides a snapshot of who experiences homelessness throughout the year.”

According to CHET Family Services Program Development Manager Phyllis Clingner, the PIT count is important to all communities because of the grant funding that comes out of the event to provide assistance to the area’s homeless.

Last year, there were 129 unsheltered individuals in the county, along with 36 families or individuals who were housed in safety shelters such as the Shepherd’s Home, the Domestic Violence Shelter. There were an additional 452 precariously-housed individuals, meaning they were living in conditions unfit for human habitation.  From the 2014 information collected during the PIT count, Campbell and Monroe Counties will receive a grant of $100,000 to help the homeless.

More volunteers are needed to help provide an accurate count for this important event. For more information about becoming a volunteer, contact Olivia Robbins at the county mayor’s office at 423-562-2526. Volunteers are needed for both the morning and evening shift of the Point in Time Count. (01/16/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Co-founder of the popular Snack Bar passes

     If you grew up around here in the 1960s and 70s, the Snack Bar was likely a hangout for you and your friends.  We’re sad to tell you this morning that the last living founder of the fabled drive-in restaurant has passed away.  Jean Rutherford, who along with her late husband Adron owned and operated the popular eatery, died on Monday. 

The Snack Bar was located on the four-lane in La Follette and has since been leveled only leaving behind a vacant lot and countless memories for local baby boomers.  Jean Rutherford was 90-years old. (01/15/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Large turnout for Lifestar training

     More than 40 members from emergency services throughout Campbell County recently attended landing zone training classes.  Lifestar’s L-Z Class was conducted at the new Lifestar hanger at the Campbell County Airport at Jacksboro, which has been Lifestar’s new home since November. 

Instructor Keith Goins

Class instructors Keith Goins and Keith Treadway led the way for members from all fire departments (county-wide), the sheriff’s department, E-911, EMA, Campbell County EMS, VitalCare EMS, as well as the La Follette and Jellico Rescue Squads, and the county mayor’s office. (01/15/2015 - 6:30 AM - CHARLIE HUTSON PIX)

Instructor Keith Treadway

County Mayor E.L. Morton

Smith’s Ace Hardware is WLAF’s business feature this week

By Charlotte Underwood

If quality products and friendly customer service is how you like your shopping experience, then pay a visit to locally owned and operated Smith’s Ace Hardware in downtown La Follette.  At the same location since 1933, Smith’s Hardware has been the one-stop shop for home repairs, projects, tools and more for over eight decades.  With a large selection of merchandise, the store can handle all your basic hardware needs.  Tools, yard maintenance equipment, paint, electrical repair and plumbing supplies make Smith’s Hardware a local favorite for the do-it-yourselfers. The shop also has the largest selection of fasteners, bolts and screws of anywhere around. New areas of interest recently added in the store include hunting and fishing sections that’s made it easy to stock up on ammo and other outdoor supplies.

Smith’s Hardware recently expanded with a hunting and fishing outdoor section, including lures, ammunition and much more.

A large variety of Yankee brand candles can be found at Smith’s Hardware.

Currently owned and operated by Sherman Campbell and Debra Miller, the store was originally started in 1933 by the Smith family.  For years, Paul “Cooster” Smith and his wife Edith owned and operated the store. Campbell began working at the store when he was young and said he loves serving the community and is “right where he wants to be.”

Ace Hardware carries Valspar paint for all your painting project needs.

“I like helping people and that’s what the hardware business is all about.”

Smith’s Hardware has been at the same location in downtown La Follette since 1933.

Smith’s Ace Hardware in La Follette has the largest selection of bolts and fasteners in the area.

Smith’s Hardware has a sale each month, as well as on all the major holidays. Also offered is an Ace Rewards Card program that provides instant in-store savings on certain items.

Husqvarna is also available at your local Smith’s Hardware.

Ace Hardware is located at 116 East Central Avenue in downtown La Follette. Business hours are Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is closed on Sunday.  For more information, call 423-562-7738. (01/15/2015 - 6:00)

Echo brand chainsaws and yard trimmers are available at Ace Hardware.

Smith’s Hardware is locally owned by Sherman Campbell and Debra Miller.

Sheriff and police reports

By Charlotte Underwood

La Follette woman garners 12 charges

La Follette woman Barbara A. Brown, 47, garnered 12 charges on Jan. 9., after police officers witnessed her cross the fog line and nearly strike a rock wall on South Tennessee Avenue. When officers stopped Brown, she had slurred speech and also had trouble locating the officer with her eyes. Brown told officers she had taken a Clonzepam along with a Gabapentin and a Xanax. She was unsteady on her feet and performed poorly on several field sobriety tests.

Barbara A. Brown

When officers checked her license, they learned it had been revoked on previous DUI charges. While being booked into the county jail, officers also discovered Brown to be in possession of a pill bottle in her crotch area containing a variety of controlled substances and legend drugs. She was charged with violation of the financial responsibility law, driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license, failure to maintain control, two counts of possession of a legend drug without prescription, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a schedule II and III controlled substance, as well as two counts of possession of a schedule IV controlled substance and introducing contraband into a penal facility.

Harrogate man arrested on burglary and theft charges

Brandon Leonard Garner, 30, was arrested on Jan. 12 by Campbell County Sheriff’s Deputies on aggravated burglary and theft charges. When deputies went to the Tyson Lane residence Garner was staying at to serve active warrants on him, he allegedly jumped out of the window and ran, according to the sheriff’s report. After a brief foot pursuit, deputies were able to take Garner to the ground and arrest him. Garner had active warrants on him through Campbell and Claiborne Counties.

Brandon Leonard Garner

Garner was charged with violation of probation, aggravated burglary, theft of property $1,000 to $9,999 and theft of property $500 to $999. He was also charged with resisting arrest and on a hold for another agency.

Homeless man arrested on drug charges

Bobby Barnes, 28, was arrested on public intoxication and drug charges after officers witnessed him stumbling around on East Chestnut Street in La Follette. When officers made contact with Barnes, he had a plastic bag with five unopened beers in it and was acting very nervous, according to the report. After receiving permission to search him, officers found two syringes inside his jacket pocket.

Bobby Barnes

A small white bag with 11 pills believed to Lorazapam, as well as two pills believed to be Oxycodone. Barnes appeared to be under the influence of controlled substances and for his own safety and the safety of others, he was arrested and transported to the county jail where he was charged with public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a schedule IV controlled substance and possession of a schedule II controlled substance.

Caryville woman arrested on drug charges

Driving erratically landed a Caryville woman behind bars after officers witnessed her cross the center line several times. When officers stopped Hannah D. Beaty, 25, she had pinpoint pupils, had slurred speech and appeared very nervous. After searching the vehicle, officers found a pill pouch with a white substance inside it believed to be meth. Officers also found eight and a half long white pills believed to be Xanax.

Hannah D. Beaty

When officers booked her into the county jail, two syringes were found inside the waist band of her jeans. Beaty was charged with violation of the financial responsibility law, failure to maintain control, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and introduction of contraband into a penal facility.  (PIX COURTESY OF THE CAMPBELL COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT)

Elk Valley School receives $100,000 gift from brother of late commissioner

The entire faculty and staff of Elk Valley Elementary School attended Tuesday night’s meeting of the Campbell County School Board to hear some very good news from board chairman Mike Orick.

“We have received word from attorney Reid Troutman that Nolan Baird, whose brother Adrion was a long-time member of the county commission, has left a generous gift to Elk Valley Elementary School.”

“In his will, Mr. Baird left several local charities large sums of money, including $100,000 for the direct benefit of Elk Valley Elementary School in honor of his brother Adrion,” Orick announced to loud applause from the room.

Orick asked the two board members from that district, Sarge Collins and Crystal Creekmore, along with Ms. Lay, principal at Elk Valley, to form a committee to determine the best use for the gift. After attorney Dail Cantrell reminded the board that the school system still has to follow the open bid policy for any expenditure of the donation, Orick added, “Don’t forget to leave enough for a nice plaque honoring the Baird family.”                          

Cantrell also asked the board to recess briefly into a private executive session to discuss several legal matters. Upon returning, the board voted on those discussions, the first being a motion to authorize Cantrell to negotiate a settlement offer in the lawsuit brought by the school board against former Director Michael Martin and former supervisor Karen Bundren.

The board also voted to authorize Director Donnie Poston to revoke the tenure of former teacher Lonnie Vann and to begin proceedings to have Vann’s state teaching certificate revoked. Vann, who has been indicted for the kidnapping and murder of Rhonda Daugherty, was placed on suspension without pay after he was charged last year with sexual assault on a minor.

Cantrell also reminded new board members that they need to meet the state deadline for online filing of a conflict of interest statement that is required of all board members, disclosing any business interests they have that might constitute a conflict if doing business with the school system.

“It is a bit of trouble the first time you file to negotiate the website but remember there can be a fine of up to $10,000 imposed for failing to file,” Cantrell told the board.

Deputy Director Larry Niddifer had a bit of good news concerning the number of children missing school with flu-like symptoms. “While a lot of other systems are reporting up to twenty percent absenteeism with the flu, we were only at around eight percent retuning from the Christmas break,” Niddifer told the board.

“However,” he cautioned, “That number appears to be a little higher this week.”

In recognition of Tennessee School Board Appreciation Month, Director Poston announced that the staff is planning a luncheon for board members and their families on January 30 at the central office building. The board then recessed until January 22 when they will reconvene at Campbell County High School to dedicate the Film & Hospitality Room in honor of Coach Ron Murray.      (01/14/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Branam is tabbed as new chamber director

     John Branam is the new director of the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce.  Jay Willoughby, the Chamber’s Board President, announced that the Chamber Board of Directors has selected Interim Chamber Director John Branam by a unanimous roll call vote to serve as the new director.  This action took place following the positive results of a performance evaluation by the Board and discussions that were supportive of Branam.

John Branam is the new director of the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce.

Branam is a Campbell County native who graduated from Jacksboro High School.  His continued education experience includes studies at Tennessee Tech, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, The Tennessee School of Banking / Vanderbilt University, and the Stonier Graduate School of Banking / University of Delaware.

Branam addresses those in attendance of a 2014 City of La Follette workshop.

Branam’s professional background is one of 35 years of experience in banking.  During his career he has worked with Community Banks in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. He has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of three Community Banks.  He has been active in service and leadership to community and voluntary business organizations throughout his career. 

Branam takes over for E.L. Morton who was elected as county mayor in August.(01/14/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Ousted EMS director addresses commission, urges “no politics”

Danny Sheckles, who was fired last week as director of the Campbell County Ambulance Service, addressed the county commission at its Monday night workshop, listing the various improvements to the service under his tenure and urging commissioners to take charge of seeking his replacement and pursue an interview process to take politics out of the selection.

Sheckles, who hinted strongly that his ouster had “political overtones,” told commissioners, “If this decision is not political, you have nothing to lose,” by following an interview process to hire a new director.

Sheckles took several times the five minutes normally allowed for the public to address commissioners, at one point claiming that the greatest challenge facing the county service is that the commission allows an independent ambulance service to operate in the county and “cherry pick customers while we get all the rest.”

That is not the first time that Sheckles has complained about competition from VitalCare, the private ambulance service set up by former county ambulance director John Bond after he was fired from the county post before Sheckles’ arrival.

After Mayor E. L. Morton pointed out that Sheckles had exceeded the time limit, he wrapped up his statements by urging the commission to take politics out of the process and concluding, “I left it better than I found it.”

Morton later told commissioners that he is preparing advertisements to accept applications for both the vacant Road Superintendent position and ambulance service director job, and promised that a search for a new ambulance director “won’t be political.”

Johnny Bruce suggested that the commission’s EMS Committee meet to discuss the ambulance director position and committee chairman Rusty Orick scheduled a committee meeting for 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 22.

“Holding committee meetings right before our regular monthly meeting doesn’t work well. We are too rushed for a proper discussion,” Orick stated in setting the Thursday meeting date.

Before the workshop got underway, commissioners paused to go outside for media photos with a new $218,000 fire truck purchased for Campbell County Rural Fire Service. All but $29,000 of that total was provided by a state/federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Morton pointed out that Rural Fire Service had provided the $29,000 local matching funds from its fundraising efforts and roadblock collections. “The local match was completely from Rural Fire Service with no expenditure of county taxpayer funds,” Morton emphasized.

State Senator Ken Yeager also addressed the commission, explaining that his visit was strictly a routine visit before the 109th General Assembly convenes this week in Nashville.

“As Chairman of the State & Local Government Committee, I want to assure you that there will be no unfunded mandates coming out of the legislature this year,” Yeager pledged, referring to state legislation that would place additional financial burdens on county governments without state dollars to pay the costs. (01/14/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Caryville meeting 01/12/2015

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CCHS vs. Anderson Basketball 01/09/2015

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Powers shares thoughts on today’s start to the 109th General Assembly

This morning, we will be sworn in, have the first opening Session in Nashville and kick off the 109th General Assembly for the Tennessee State Legislature.  It is always a special day when we take our oath of office and swear that we will uphold the Constitution in front of family and friends.  The House is always packed with visitors and Freshman, as well as veterans, are excited when they take that oath and realize all the hard work of the campaign is behind them and it is time to go to work for the people of Tennessee.  

Tennessee State Capitol at Nashville

I will never forget my first day - the thing that sticks in my mind the most is looking up at the list of names on the voting board and seeing my own.  I felt both humbled and honored that I was getting to serve, not only the people of my district that I have known most of my life, but also all of the people across our great state.  I realized at that time that every vote I cast would be on that board for everyone in the state to see and that is the way it should be.

This is the view of the House floor from where Powers sits

We have 7 new freshman in the State Senate and 16 in the House of Representatives. Republicans picked up one seat in the Senate and now have a 28-5 advantage.  In the House, Republicans picked up 3 seats and now have a 73-26 edge.  The reason for so many freshman is that some legislators retired, took a job that did not allow them to serve or they were beat in the primary.  As vice-chairman of the Republican Caucus, one of my jobs is to work with the new 13 Republican freshman to assist them in getting orientated to House Rules and Procedures. 

Powers in his office with his wife, Tracy and their great niece and nephew.

We have a lot of issues to confront this Session ranging from Common Core standards, whether to implement an alternative to Medicaid expansion, restructuring the gas tax and, as always, balancing the budget.  We have cut taxes for the last four years and are in the process of eliminating many more.  We have also eliminated many regulations, but we still have work to do.  We have let the country know that we are open for business and that is one reason Tennessee has been named the number one state in the nation for economic

On May 21, 2013, Governor Bill Haslam made a stop at Caryville for a ceremonial bill signing of “Lynn's Law, a law introduced by State Representative Dennis Powers.

development for two years in a row.  I cannot wait to get started serving the people of the 36th District which includes Campbell and parts of Anderson and Union Counties.  Please contact my office if I can ever be of assistance; telephone 615.741.3335,  rep.dennis.powers@capitol.tn.gov, and http://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/members/h36.html (01/13/2015 - 6:00 AM)

LMS Homecoming

 Mary Grace Myers, daughter of Lee and Patti Myers, was crowned the 2015 La Follette Middle School Homecoming Queen on Monday night.  Mary Grace, an 8th grader, was escorted by Tanner Davis.  Tanner is the son of Billy and Amber Davis.  The Lady Owls won their game while the Owls lost. (DAVID GRAHAM PIX)

Caryville receives clean audit, purchases bullet proof vests; sets workshop to discuss police chief hire

By Charlotte Underwood

Caryville received a clean audit report at yesterday evening’s mayor and alderman meeting. Denise Davis with Davis, Ingram, Overholt and Bean was on hand to go over the report with the board. According to Davis, Caryville received a “clean opinion” meaning there were no problems or issues of any sort during the auditing process.  The board voted to accept the audit findings.

Caryville received a clean audit report during last night's meeting.

The board also voted to purchase six bullet proof vests at a total cost of $1,494. Several of the police department’s force currently does not have a vest and others are wearing out-dated vests. According to interim Police Chief Wes Byrge, the new vests are high tech light weight vests that have a new special feature. The vests being purchased retail for about $600, but Caryville is getting them at cost for about $249 a vest, which according to Byrge, is a good price for the new light weight vests.

“They have a strip inside that changes color when the vest goes bad,” Byrge said, explaining to the board that when Kevlar vests got wet it began to deteriorate their protective properties. The new vests have an expected five year life span and a five year warranty. The vests are made locally in Caryville by Mountain Defense Group.

Interim Police Chief Wes Byrge shows board members an example of the new kevlar vests the town voted to purchase.

The board set a January 20, 6 p.m. workshop meeting to discuss hiring a new police chief since Stephanie Smith resigned to accept another position.

At the workshop, board members will discuss qualification and experience requirements and other issues such as pay for the police chief position. Since Smith’s last day on Dec. 26, Wes Byrge has been acting as interim police chief. (01/13/2015 - 6:00 AM)

1st Baptist Church of LaFollette services from 01-11-2015

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CCHS vs. Halls - Basketball

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La Follette City Council meeting 01-06-2015

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Vann arraigned on murder and kidnapping charges; next court date in April

By Charlotte Underwood

Accused kidnapper and murderer Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, appeared in Campbell County Criminal Court this morning to be arraigned on those charges. He is accused in the death of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2. Investigators still have not found her body.

Vann’s court appointed public defender pleaded not guilty on his behalf and his next court appearance will be on April 13 for a preliminary hearing.

Lonnie Lee Vann appeared in Criminal Court this morning to be arraigned for the murder and kidnapping of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2. Vann pleaded not guilty via a public defender and had his court date reset for spring.

Vann appeared slightly disheveled as he stood in front of Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton and seemed uncertain about having a public defender appointed or hiring his own lawyer. After he ascertained that he could still hire private council after a public defender was appointed, Vann filled out paperwork and asked for appointed council.

Members of Daugherty’s family filled several pews in the courtroom as they silently watched the man who allegedly kidnapped and killed their loved one.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Brandon Elkins, left, takes a moment to confer with District Attorney Jared Effler during Lonnie Lee Vann’s arraignment this morning in criminal court.

Vann was indicted by a Campbell County Grand Jury for the kidnapping and murder of Daugherty on Jan. 7. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as kidnapping. He is currently being held on a $1 million dollar bond at the Knox County Detention Facility.

Lonnie Lee Vann was recently extradited from Myrtle Beach South Carolina on charges of murder and kidnapping. He is currently being held at the Knoxville Detention Center on a $1 million dollar bond.

Vann, who is a former La Follette Middle school teacher, has been an un-named suspect in the case since he robbed a couple at gunpoint in Deerfield three days after Daugherty’s disappearance in early December.  Shortly after the Deerfield robbery occurred, investigators began concentrating search efforts for Daugherty in the Sugar Hollow area, where Vann has a family member with a house boat and where he reportedly grew up.  After about a week on the run, Vann was apprehended in South Carolina by Myrtle Beach authorities on armed robbery charges.

During his arraignment for the murder of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, Lonnie Lee Vann hustled in and out of the courtroom, taking a brief moment to fill out paperwork for an appointed attorney before being swept out of the courtroom to be transported back to Knoxville where he is being held.

Vann also has a Feb. 2 court date set for inappropriate conduct with a minor, stemming from a 2013 incident in which he took a 13-year-old student off campus to Coolidge Church and attempted to hug and kiss her. He was indicted on those charges in July of 2014.  (01/12/2015 - 12:30 PM)

Nakita Morton appeared in Criminal Court this morning and had her court date re-set for March 23 in the child abuse case of Zander Brown. Nakita Morton is accused of interfering with the child receiving medical care in a timely manner.

 Couple accused of burning Zander Brown has court date re-set for March

By Charlotte Underwood

Eric and Nakita Morton both had their court date re-set for March 23rd in the child abuse case involving four-year-old Zander Brown. The September incident left young Zander suffering from second and third-degree burns on a significant portion of his body.

Eric and Nakita Morton are accused in the child abuse of Zander Brown, who was injured in September.

Eric Morton is being charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse, child neglect and aggravated child endangerment, while Nakita Morton is charged with two counts each of child abuse and child neglect.

Eric Morton is accused of causing second and third-degree burns on Zander Brown. He also had his court date re-set for March 23.

Both are currently held in the Campbell County jail and have been there since September.(01/12/2015 - 1:00 PM)

Comer and Orton have court date set for May

By Charlotte Underwood

The couple accused in the child abuse death of three-year-old Gabriella Orton had their status hearing re-set in criminal court today for May 4. The status hearing was reset at the state and the defense’s request due to the lack of final autopsy results from the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Joshua Adam Comer is accused in the child abuse death of three-year-old Gabriella Orton. Comer had his court date set for May 4th due to waiting on autopsy results from the University of Tennessee Medical Center. (WLAF FILE PHOTO)

Joshua Adam Comer, 33, is charged with felony first-degree murder. The child’s mother Amber Leann Orton (Rezentes), 29, is charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect.

The state is seeking the death penalty for Comer, citing three aggravating factors in the pursuit of capital punishment.

Amber Orton Resentez is also accused in the child abuse death of Gabriella Orton, who died in June of last year. A status hearing has been set for May 4th. (WLAF FILE PHOTO)

The D.A. said the state filed the motion for the death penalty because the victim was “less than 12 years old, the crime was particularly heinous and cruel in nature dealing with child abuse and neglect” and because Comer knowingly and willingly committed the crime.

The state is also seeking to try Comer and the mother together.

Three-year-old Gabriella Orton was pronounced dead on June 2 at the Tennova Medical Center in La Follette. Preliminary autopsy reports indicated severe child abuse, leading the district attorney general to convene a special-called grand jury to indict both Comer and Orton-Rezentes.

The mother was taken into custody immediately, while a day and a half manhunt finally netted Comer in the Whitman Hollow area of Campbell County.

Comer remains in custody on a $1 million bond, while Orton-Rezentes remains jailed on a $750,000 bond.  (01/12/2015 - 1:00 PM)

Day 42 in the search for Rhonda

     Today marks day 42 in the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  The 49-year old woman from Coolidge been missing since December 2.  Searchers continue concentrating efforts in the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake.  (01/12/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Woman accused of murdering Knoxville man has court date re-set for February

By Charlotte Underwood

The woman accused of participating in the murder of Knoxville man Kenneth Koster was arraigned and had her preliminary hearing set for February 23. Monica Leigh-Ann Briggs, 36, has been charged with felony first-degree pre-meditated murder and first-degree felony murder as a result of her alleged role in Koster’s death, which occurred on Sept. 7. Briggs appeared in court this morning and sought appointed council from the public defender’s office.

Monica Leigh-Ann Briggs, 36, has been charged with felony first-degree pre-meditated murder and first-degree felony murder as a result of her alleged role in Koster’s death, which occurred on Sept. 7

On Sept. 8th, Koster’s body was found wrapped in plastic in the yard of a residence on Enix Road. The investigation also revealed a .22 caliber rifle, along with a .25 caliber handgun.

During the interview with TBI agent Brandon Elkins, Briggs described in detail that she participated in the planning and murder of Koster and that she “placed a firearm in the victim’s left ear and pulled the trigger.” After Koster was dead, she removed his wallet and money from his dead body, according to the report.

Briggs remains in custody on a bond of $750,000. (01/12/2015 - 1:00 PM) 

WLAF’s Smith was front and center for Obama’s visit

By Noah Smith

President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden visited East Tennessee on Friday to introduce and highlight new initiatives to ready high school students for higher education and to create good paying manufacturing jobs. The President, Vice President, and Dr. Jill Biden first traveled to Pellissippi State Community College to highlight the President's new program to provide free two year college tuition to all high school seniors nationwide.  “Today in the 21st Century, the most valuable asset is your knowledge,” stated President Obama. 

America's College Promise will make two years of community college free for responsible students who are willing to work for it,” stated President Obama. While at Pellissippi State, the President praised Tennessee governor Bill Haslam for his program, Tennessee Promise, which provides free two year community for all high school seniors in Tennessee who want to apply.  The Tennessee Promise is funded through the State Lottery fund, but the President never stated how his program will be funded.  

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, stated, “I don't think we need a new federal program, we need to expand it state by state, other states need to do what Tennessee is doing....I don't know any possible way he (President Obama) could finance a plan like that.”  Senator Alexander wants to expand more on Pell Grants instead of making a new federal program.  

“We are both going to work together to simplify the application form, to have a year around Pell Grant, and that will mean the Federal Government will be paying the bill for a lot more Pell Grants across the country,” said Senator Alexander.  Alexander is also looking forward to working with the President and Congress on expanding the Pell Grants, simplifying the application for Pell Grants, and more items about student loans.  “What the federal government needs to do is to take any new available money and pay for probably the millions more Pell Grants which pay up to $5,000.00 in tuition costs,” stated Senator Lamar Alexander.  While at Pellissippi State, President Obama also reassured the American people that America is continuing to improve, despite what people may say. President Obama said that unemployment is down, the deficit has been cut by two-thirds, and that more companies are choosing to invest in America.  

Afterward President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden traveled to Techmer PM were they spoke about new high-tech manufacturing jobs. That event was closed to the press.  President Obama's trip to east Tennessee was a highlight of what his State of the Union address will be in a couple of weeks. (01/12/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Thank you, Noah

     Noah Smith has been on the WLAF team since he was 12-years old, a sixth grader at Jacksboro Middle School.  These days, he’s in his first year at the STEM Academy at Knoxville.  He took it upon himself last week to contact the White House, request and receive clearance and press credentials, and then follow up with a story and snapshots of the president’s east Tennessee visit.  Not bad for a 15-year old!  We’re proud of you, Noah, and are thankful you take time to help us here at WLAF. (01/12/2015 - 6:00 AM) 

Domestic altercation ends in fiery crash

By Charlotte Underwood

What started as a domestic dispute at the Eagle Market in Jacksboro ended up in a fiery crash and multiple injuries on Butter and Egg Road on Thursday evening.  According to Jacksboro Police Chief Danny Chapman, Heath Powell, mid 20’s, got into a domestic altercation with his wife shortly before 7 p.m., at the Eagle Market. During that altercation, Powell attempted to run the victim over in a white Ford pickup, striking her with his vehicle. He then fled the scene and made it as far as Butter and Egg Road before striking a Thunder Bird head on around 7 p.m.  According to Tennessee State Trooper Aaron McGhee, Powell’s truck burst into flame as a result of the collision. The vehicle was a total loss, with the cab section and front part of the truck fully engulfed. Powell and the other driver, Daniel Dupee, were both transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center with serious, but non-life threatening injuries, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Powell’s wife who was struck by his vehicle was also transported to the hospital via ambulance.

According to Jacksboro Police, Powell will have charges of hit and run, aggravated vehicular assault and domestic violence levied against him.

The accident is still under investigation and it is unknown at this time if drugs or alcohol was involved and whether or not any charges will be filed regarding the crash. (01/12/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Obama visits our neck of the woods

     See President Barack Obama and his motorcade as it passes through Hardin Valley on Friday afternoon.  Click here to view Todd Overbay’s footage.

Lonnie Vann extradited back to Campbell County; being held in Knoxville

By Charlotte Underwood

A short two days after he was indicted for the murder and kidnapping of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, former La Follette Middle School teacher Lonnie Lee Vann was extradited to Campbell County and booked on those charges. According to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, Vann was extradited from Myrtle Beach, S.C., late Friday evening. Once at the Campbell County Jail, he was booked and processed for two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping. Vann was also charged with armed robbery from a Dec. 5 crime he committed in Deerfield when he held a couple at gunpoint and stole firearms and cash.

Lonnie Lee Vann (PIX COURTESY CAMPBELL COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT)

Campbell County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Aaron Evans said the extradition was sped along by South Carolina Authorities who “worked with us all so graciously.”

On Wednesday, a Campbell County Grand Jury indicted Vann for these crimes regarding the Dec. 2 disappearance of Daugherty. A massive search effort has been underway for the past six weeks to locate her body, with investigators concentrating in the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake.

Rhonda’s mother Nancy Kitts said it is some small relief that he has been charged with the crime, but no closure will come until Rhonda is found.

“We need to know where she is at – and we need to understand why she was taken.” Nancy Kitts said.

For safety reasons and conflict, Vann will be held at the Knox County Detention Facility.

According to the sheriff’s department, a court date for Vann’s arraignment is not known at this time.

For related stories see further down the page. (01/09/2015 - 10:00 PM)

Flu and other sicknesses on the rise in Campbell County; free flu vaccines available while supplies last

By Charlotte Underwood

“Epidemic” is how some health officials are categorizing this year’s flu season in Campbell County and East Tennessee.

Local health officials and pharmacists report the flu rate is at least twice as bad as last year, with double the number of positive flu tests. The Tamiflu is flying off the shelves about as fast as it can be restocked, according to local pharmacies who are allotted a certain amount each day. The rate of flu is even higher than the tests are indicating due to the fact that this year’s test checks for several strains, while there are hundreds of various flu strains circulating. Local doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals and emergency rooms are overflowing with flu cases. The state health department reports a high number of influenza cases being reported across the state, with Knoxville being one of the hardest areas hit.

Body aches and pains, headaches, stomach problems and fevers have been plaguing a significant number of residents in the county, according to local clinics and doctors. The flu often has an incubation period of seven to 14 days, resulting in people spreading it, because they don’t know they have it yet and are out and about.

According to Neighborhood Urgent Care CEO Matthew Myers, the number of positive flu tests has more than doubled over last year. The clinic is seeing anywhere from 10 to 20 positive flu tests a day. According to Myers, illnesses seemed to increase just before Christmas and have continued to do so as the New Year progresses and it’s not just the flu.

“We are seeing other respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, sinusitis and bronchitis in greater numbers as well,” Myers said. Some of the worst cases seen, according to Myers, are those who try to wait the illness out.

“Those that got sick over a week ago and are just now coming into the clinic are the worst; we are seeing some cases so bad that they have to come in to get antibiotics via an IV, when they most likely could have got by with just a prescription before,” Myers said.

Terry’s Pharmacy owner, Dr. Rissa H. Pryse said part of the problem was that this year’s vaccine was not totally preventing the flu due to the numerous strains of the bug going around. She said this year’s flu was proving dangerous, especially for the elderly population. She urged those that are well to keep a close eye on their elderly family, friends and neighbors and to check up on them.

“The older people are getting this flu and its turning into something worse like pneumonia, which is very hard on them.”

Her biggest advice next to frequent hand washing was to “stay inside.”

“If you don’t need to go out, especially with how cold it is, just stay inside and try to break the cycle of contamination,” Pryse said.

Some health care workers say they wish the school systems would shut school down for about a week to help stop the massive spreading of germs.

“If you have a fever, or are getting a scratchy throat, then you should contact your family doctor and follow their advice,” Pryse said.(01/09/2015)

Health Department giving free flu shots

In an effort to protect the whole community, the Campbell County Health Department is giving free flu vaccines while supplies last. Appointments must be made to receive the vaccine and are now being scheduled at the clinic. According to the health department and the Center for Disease Control, the flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu and it is recommended that everyone six months of age and older get the vaccine each year. It takes about two weeks to be protected after getting the flu vaccine, so the health department is urging everyone who hasn’t had it, to get vaccinated right away.

Flu shots will be provided at no charge to patients. Both adults and children may receive the flu vaccine at the clinic. Please call the Campbell County Health Department at 423-562-8351 to book your appointment. The Health Department is located at 162 Sharp Perkins Road, Jacksboro. It is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (01/09/2015)

Jacksboro residents still upset about Suboxone clinic

Several residents in Jacksboro say they are still upset about the Express Healthcare Suboxone clinic that has moved into the area. Three of those residents attended the Jacksboro Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Tuesday evening to vet their continued concerns. Jacksboro Mayor Jack Cannon told those present that patrol had been stepped up in the area and that the town had to let the “police handle the situation.”

The clinic is owned by Dr. Robert Taylor and moved into the area in October of 2014.

Thomas and Donna McFarland are Perkins Lane residents who attended the meeting to express their opinion and concerns regarding the Suboxone clinic in the area.

Thomas and Donna McFarland are Perkins Lane residents who attended the meeting to express their opinion and concerns regarding the Suboxone clinic in the area. McFarland, a nurse, said the clinic has just compounded the drug addiction problem that already existed in the area. Thomas McFarland reported to the board that at any given time that the clinic was open he counted numerous out-of-state license plates in the parking lot. Perkins Lane resident reported cars parked at the clinic from as far away as Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and many others. The majority of the clinic’s customers appear to be coming down from Kentucky. The McFarlands also report a massive amount of empty Suboxone wrappers being thrown down on the ground, especially next door at local business such as Dollar General.

Jacksboro Mayor Jack Cannon said the matter had to be handled by the police and that extra patrol around the clinic had been established.

“Is that not a public nuisance? You all told us if the business became a public nuisance, then that was how it could be stopped, but you don’t do anything,” Thomas McFarland told the board.

Cannon once again reiterated that the police would have to handle the situation and that extra patrol had been set up and that the police chief had also been asked to speak with the managers of local businesses about problems.

After the meeting, citizens that attended said they were discouraged at the apathy from the local government in helping with what is quickly becoming a problem for their neighborhood. (01/09/2015)

Caryville man charged for killing mule

     A Caryville man was charged for shooting two mules on a property near Stony Fork, according to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department. Maynard Woods, 75, was arrested on New Year’s Eve for shooting his neighbor’s mules on Dec. 23. One of the animals was killed, according to the arrest report. Don Phillips reported to the sheriff’s department that Woods came to the edge of his property and opened fire on his two white mules that were standing in the yard. When Phillips came out to see what was going on, Woods told him he did not want the mules on his property. Both Phillips and Woods dispute who the property belongs to. According to the property assessor’s office, Phillips owns the property. Woods told officers he was trying to “shoot under the animals” in order to scare them away. According to the report, Woods fired a total of four rounds from a .22 caliber pistol and struck one of the animals in the side; it later had to be euthanized. Woods was arrested and booked into jail on a $15,000 bond. He was released the same day. He is charged with reckless endangerment and the intentional killing of an animal.  (01/09/2015)

Foster parents needed; Camelot Foster Parenting classes start Jan. 26

By Charlotte Underwood

Fostering a future for Campbell County children is important to Camelot; a company committed to community-based family counseling and prevention services. Each year, Campbell County children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care due to drug abuse, physical abuse, neglect and many other reasons. These children deserve a family and a chance to learn, grow and prosper and realize their own potential, which is Camelot’s main mission.

In an effort to help local foster parents be the best and provide the much-needed care to these children, Camelot will be hosting foster parenting classes beginning on Jan. 26. The classes will last for seven weeks and will be on Mondays, from 9 a.m. till noon.

Called PATH courses, the class will teach foster parents how to be “Parents as Tender Healers.” 

Camelot PATH Foster Parent classes will be held at 240 West Central Avenue Suite 10 in La Follette.  For more information, call 423.566.2451.

“These classes will teach you what you need to know in order to be a foster parent,” said Camelot Licensure and Recruitment Administrator Susan Sharp.
Camelot’s foster care services are varied to be able to meet the needs of families, and the agency is continually creating new programs in response to identified needs in a particular area. 

Children are referred to Camelot via the Department of Children’s Services. These children are usually removed from their original home due to abuse and neglect, which is why the PATH class is such an important learning tool for those interested in helping these children and providing a foster home.

Camelot places children of all ages in foster care, though most of them are between 6 and 12-years-old. The length of stay varies with the needs of each child and the permanency plan set forth by the state. Often children are in foster care for 12 to 18 months.

All foster parents in Tennessee must complete this course, as well as a background check. Home visits and a home study is also required to complete the approval process. There is no cost to the family for approval and a stipend is paid to foster families as a reimbursement on a monthly basis, after care is provided for each child. Most children will eventually be reunified with their families, while others will go on to be adopted or turn 18 while still in the state system.

Foster children can be adopted through Camelot, once the Department of Children Services allows it. There is no adoption cost if the adoption process is done through Camelot.

Weekend and respite care providers are also needed for those who do not want to be full-time foster parents.

“Despite the best efforts of popular resources to keep children in their homes – still, some kids need to be removed. In this case, many of these children need a therapeutic home to go to, and these classes will help foster parents be therapeutic healers,” Sharp said, adding that “when people choose to become a Camelot resource home, there is great effort taken to match the foster parent with the right child.”

Camelot PATH Foster Parent classes will be held at 240 West Central Avenue Suite 10 in La Follette. For more information on becoming a foster parent, call (423) 566-2451 or contact the main office at 865-481-3972, extension 414, or email mposey@camelotcare.com. (01/09/2015)

 Grand Jury indicts Lonnie Vann for murder of Rhonda Daugherty

By Charlotte Underwood

After more than a month of no breaks in the missing person case of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, a Campbell County Grand Jury has handed down an indictment on Lonnie Lee Vann for the kidnapping and murder of the Coolidge woman who has been missing from her home since Dec. 2. Vann, 44, is charged with one count of first-degree murder, as well as kidnapping. His bond has been set at $1 million dollars.

The Campbell County Sheriff's Office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the 8th Judicial District Attorney General's Office held a press conference at 3 p.m. today at the sheriff’s department to announce the grand jury’s findings on the case.

Vann, who is a former La Follette Middle school teacher, has been an un-named suspect in the case since he robbed a couple at gunpoint in Deerfield three days after Daugherty’s disappearance. Shortly after the Deerfield robbery occurred, investigators began concentrating search efforts for Daugherty in the Sugar Hollow area, where Vann has a family member with a house boat. Much of the investigation seemed to center on that houseboat and in the general vicinity of the boat dock. After about a week on the run, Vann was apprehended in South Carolina by Myrtle Beach authorities on armed robbery charges there. He is currently jailed in the Horry County Detention Center.

After the grand jury handed down the indictment, Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton ordered a capias for the arrest of Vann. The warrant has been served on Vann.

TBI Director Mark Gwyn (L), District Attorney General Jared Effler (C), & Sheriff Robbie Goins (R)

According to investigators, Vann will be extradited back to Campbell County on these charges as soon as possible, though no definite time of his return has been announced. Once returned to Tennessee, Vann will be housed at a detention center in a different county, according to officials.

“We have started working on the extradition process, but there is no definite time yet when he will be brought back,” said District Attorney Jared Effler. Effler also said he wanted to thank all of the agencies involved in this case for their “tireless and professional efforts.”

TBI Director Mark Gwyn said investigator’s work was not over and that the TBI was "fully committed to this investigation for the sake of pursuing justice for friends and family of Rhonda Daugherty."

Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins said he wanted to thank the many volunteers who have helped in the search for Daugherty.

Goins also asked the public to respect the Daugherty family's privacy now that Vann has been charged in her killing.

Vann has a February 2 court appearance scheduled in Campbell County on sexual misconduct charges with a minor, stemming from a 2013 incident in which he allegedly took a 13-year-old off campus and to Coolidge Baptist Church where he touched her inappropriately. Vann was indicted on those charges in July of 2014. It is unknown at this time if that court date still stands.

According to the District Attorney and investigators, the case is ongoing as searchers continue to look for Daugherty. A $10,000 reward remains in effect.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911, 423-562-7446 or 1-800-TBI FIND.   (01/07/2015)

CC Ambulance service seeks new director; deputy director named as interim

By Charlotte Underwood

The Campbell County Ambulance Service is seeking a new director immediately, according to County Mayor E.L. Morton.  Former director Danny Sheckles served his last day on Jan. 6.  Deputy Director Bruce Perkins has been named the interim director until a new director is hired.

 Morton said he has been evaluating county services since taking office as county mayor and decided the ambulance service needed to “go in a new direction.”

“After careful evaluation, I feel the ambulance service needs to go in a new direction and that the position needs to be opened up to the public,” Morton said, adding that he appreciated everyone who served Campbell County.

“I appreciate Mr. Sheckles and his service to the county; this decision is not an indictment against anyone,” Morton said.

The position will be advertised immediately and should be in next week’s papers. Applicants should apply to the Campbell County Mayor’s Office. Anyone with questions about the position can contact the office at 423-562-2526.   (01/06/2015)

La Follette approves rezone of Ash Street and refinancing of utility company debt

By Charlotte Underwood

La Follette City Council members approved the rezoning of the 500 and 600 block of East Ash Street, along with the refinancing of utility debt at last night’s meeting.

The rezoning request came from representatives of the Campbell County Senior Center, as well as from local businessman Ronnie Inman.  The approval to rezone that part of East Ash Street from residential to commercial paves the way for extra parking at the senior center. Two old houses near the senior center have been demolished by the city to make room for the new parking area. The county is also helping by waiving the landfill fee and providing gravel for the lots.

Business owner Ronnie Inman, who has a business located across from the senior center, also requested the re-zone in order to grow his business. Before coming to the city council, the issue was taken to the planning commission and a total of 116 letters were sent out to residences that are within 200 feet of the area that may be re-zoned.

Also approved was the refinancing of the utility company’s 2010 bond fund loan. The loan was originally for $5 million over a 20 year period. The refinance of the remaining bond loan of $4,325,000 will save the city around $200,000 over the next 15 years with an interest rate decrease from 3.15 down to 2.35-percent. No additional time was added to the loan.

The city will also be getting a new recycling truck after the council approved the $35,696 cost of the truck and body. The total cost is over $50,000, but the city is receiving an 80/20 matching grant to help cover the cost. It is a grant La Follette’s Street Department has been trying to get for the past three years.

Final business approved was for surplus items from the police and street department to go to auction. Items should be auctioned off sometime in the next month. An auction time will be announced at a later date.   (01/06/2015)

LaFollette discusses misuse of credit cards; tabled issue till next work shop

By Charlotte Underwood

The misuse of city credit cards and reimbursement for said misuses was discussed at length by the La Follette City Council yesterday evening, but no decisions were made and the issue was tabled until the next workshop. The agenda item has come up several times before and refers to alleged unauthorized trips taken by Councilman Hansford Hatmaker and former interim city administrator Cade Sexton in 2013 and 2014. The council had previously made a motion several months ago that Hatmaker and Sexton repay around $480 that the two charged to a city credit card for a trip to Gatlinburg. Neither Sexton, nor Hatmaker made any attempt to repay the funds, according to Council member Bob Fannon, who suggested taking the pair to small claims court to recoup the funds.

Hatmaker’s reply was simple. “Sue me.”

“If you’ve got something on me, then sue me; that’s why we have the court for,” Hatmaker said.

Normally in small claims court, an attorney is not even required, but due to the city being a municipal corporation, an attorney would be needed, according to city attorney Reid Troutman, who said he would be unable to act as attorney due to the conflict of interest.

Fannon suggested taking the money from Hatmaker’s salary, but Troutman said he did not know if that was legal. With no resolve immediately at hand, Fannon asked that the issue be tabled until it could be discussed further at the next workshop.

During the discussion, Hatmaker said he did not feel he was obligated to repay anything because he and Sexton were acting as representatives of the city when the trip was made. La Follette Mayor Mike Stanfield and other council members said they knew nothing about the trip and that all trips have to be approved by council. (01/06/2015)

Father of missing woman dies from battle with cancer; family prays for search to continue

By Charlotte Underwood

After spending the last five weeks of his life without his daughter, Boyd Wayne Kitts, 71, passed away yesterday, Jan. 6, from a long-term battle with cancer.

Family and friends grieve his loss, and continue to hope for their loved one Rhonda Kitts Daugherty to be found. She has been missing since Dec. 2.

Rhonda’s mother Nancy Kitts said the past month had been hard on her husband and the disappearance of their only child had taken its toll.

“He missed her so much; he would cry for her and ask for her,” Nancy said, adding that Rhonda had been close with both her and her father.

“She was just such a blessing to have around and she helped me so much; I was leaning on her through his sickness I guess and not knowing where she is at is killing us.”

Nancy described Rhonda and her three children as her and her husband’s pride and joy.

She said the family is leaning on prayers and the hope that Rhonda will be found.

“We want her to stay on everyone’s mind until something gives and she is found. Someone out there knows something or has seen something and we just ask that person to please help us find Rhonda.”

There is still a $10,000 reward offered in this case and anyone with information is asked to call 911 or to call the sheriff’s department at 423-562-7446.

Cross-Smith Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be given online at http://www.cross-smithfuneralhome.com. (01/07/2015)

Divers continue to search Sugar Hollow; debris & cold weather making it difficult

By Charlotte Underwood

Divers continue to search the Sugar Hollow area and Cedar Creek area of Norris Lake for missing woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty who has been gone for over a month now. Houseboat cables and other debris such as televisions and grills mar the clarity of the water. The cold water requires the majority of the divers to wear what is called “dry suits”, which are more suitable to the winter temperatures.

According to the sheriff’s department, divers and dogs have searched the lake as far away as Anderson County and plan to continue to search.  For the past couple of weeks, the search has continued to focus on Sugar Hollow, with multiple agencies converging on the boat dock and taking to the waters each day.

Divers even reported that an entire houseboat was sunk in Sugar Hollow, along with various parts of cars and trucks. Otherwise, the water is clear, partially thanks to the cold temperatures and also due to a certain type of mussel that has been introduced to the lake by northern tourists visiting the area.

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, the Zebra Mussel is an invasive species that is becoming more of a nuisance in Tennessee waterways. The tiny organism is reproducing and attaching themselves to anything underwater. The mussels are not native to Tennessee, or the United States, but continue to spread to lakes and rivers.

The mussels will attach themselves to boats, pipes, docks and one mussel can produce up to a million offspring in a year.  Divers have reported the mussels are attached to the underwater houseboat cables.

Investigators report that logs and other underwater debris in the area are covered with the tiny mussels.

Zebra mussels also destroy the ecosystem by eating microscopic particles in the water, which is why the water becomes clearer once zebra mussels begin to grow in number.

According to a local fishing guide, the mussel can live out of water for days and is brought to the area by tourist’s boats from the Great Lakes.  The Zebra Mussel can be found in the Sugar Hollow, Deerfield, Springs Dock and Shanghai areas of the lake, but is not as wide-spread when you head towards the Norris Dam or towards Flat Hollow. They have become more prevalent over the past four years.  (01/06/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Short joins LEC staff

On the heels of relocating to a larger and brand new location, the La Follette Eye Clinic staff is getting a new look as well, with the addition of Dr. Jacquelyn Short, OD.   She comes to La Follette after most recently serving as an associate optometrist at Jonesborough Eye Clinic in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

“In what has been an exciting second half of the year for us, we are blessed to end 2014 on another high note with the addition of Dr. Short,” said Dr. Andy Howard, CEO of La Follette Eye Clinic.  “As our practice continues to grow, we look forward to Dr. Short’s contribution in providing high quality personalized patient eye care.”

Dr. Jacquelyn Short, OD

“I’m excited to work alongside the exceptional team at La Follette Eye Clinic and look forward to becoming a part of the Campbell County Community,” said Dr. Short.

With her addition, the La Follette Eye Clinic now boasts 30 employees, including 5 optometrists along with 15 certified staff members.

In October, La Follette Eye Clinic moved into a new home, a 10,000 square foot facility featuring a look and feel unlike any physicians’ office in the area and is located on the four-lane next to Community Trust Bank's Wier Woods location.  (01/06/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Sorting through facts, fiction, and rumors is a challenge

The search for Rhonda Daugherty resumes at daybreak

     "They've found something at Sugar Hollow."  That's what the caller reported to us late Friday afternoon.  WLAF's Charlotte Underwood immediately hustled over to the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake only to meet searchers calling it a day, as darkness was settling-in, and confirm that it was just a rumor. 

Divers from Blount County and Campbell County continued to search the waters of Sugar Hollow on Friday.  They are pictured here on a platform by an unidentified houseboat at Sugar Hollow on Norris Lake.

WLAF has done its best to bring you the latest in the hunt for Rhonda Daugherty who went missing more than a month ago, and that includes gathering facts, which have been few and far between for all concerned, and sorting through the fiction and rumors. 

 

This sign was erected recently in front of Rhonda's Coolidge home at the bottom of the driveway at Long Hollow Road.

As Week Six begins, this will be the most challenging week for investigators, searchers, and especially divers where the weather is concerned.  A four, possibly five, day stretch of subfreezing temperatures is ahead including single-digit readings Wednesday night into Thursday.  (01/05/2015 - 6:00 AM - CHARLOTTE UNDERWOOD PIX)

Amburgey unveils new ISG website

     Now getting an insurance quote is easier than ever.  B.J. Amburgey with your local ISG Insurance Agency recently unveiled her new website.  Click here to see Amburgey’s new site.  (12/19/2014 - 12:30 PM)

Campbell County well represented at Vols’ bowl win

     WLAF’s Josh Parker was there.  And according to Josh there was a ton of Campbell County folks at the game last Friday at Jacksonville.  He says “It’s so exciting to see the direction that Tennessee Football is going. 

WLAF's Josh Parker poses at EverBank Field before the Vols-Hawkeyes game.

This past weekend was a great atmosphere for the Vol Nation, and I can't wait for kick-off in September against Bowling Green in Nashville!”  After scoring 35 first-half points, the Vols defeated Iowa at the Taxslayer Bowl at Jacksonville, Florida, by a final score of 45-28.  If you would like to share your game photos with WLAF, please send them to wlaf@1450wlaf.com. (01/05/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Search continues by boat, land and air for missing woman

By Charlotte Underwood

New Year’s Day came and went without any new information in the case of missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty. The 49-year-old vanished from her home on Long Hollow Road on Dec. 2. Investigators and searchers continued to look in the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake yesterday and plan to continue the search today on water and land. The search seems to be concentrated from the Cedar Creek area back into Sugar Hollow.  Divers from Blount County and the La Follette Rescue Squad will be busy using underwater cameras and sonar in an attempt to locate Daugherty or a clue.

Yesterday, searchers moved house boats around in order to make searching under the water easier due to the amount of anchoring cables.  Divers report a vast amount of debris under the water that also makes the search more difficult.  Law enforcement has already searched the majority of the houseboats in the Sugar Hollow area.

Investigators have yet to name a suspect in the missing person’s case, but public opinion remains that armed robbery suspect Lonnie Vann could be a person of interest. Vann robbed a couple at gunpoint in Deerfield three days after Daugherty disappeared.  After the Dec. 5 robbery, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation quickly added Vann their top ten most wanted list.

He also has a family member who owns a house boat in the area that the search is concentrated. Vann was later apprehended in South Carolina, after he robbed a couple down there as well and was arrested at a traffic check point. Vann, a former La Follette Middle School teacher, has an early February court date in Campbell County regarding a sexual misconduct charge with a minor. He also has a February 20 court date in South Carolina for the robbery he committed in the Myrtle Beach area.

According to an article in the Christian Journal Leader, Vann had allegedly purchased duct tape, rope, and boots at the Wal-Mart in Clinton around the time of Daugherty’s disappearance. The Campbell County Sheriff’s Department said they could not comment on whether or not this is true.

Citizens on social media sites say they wish the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies involved in the case would say concretely if there is a suspect. People report locking their doors more and checking dark parking lots due to the uneasiness of not knowing whether there is a suspect and whether or not that suspect is currently locked up.

According to Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins, searchers will continue to use every resource available to them and will not give up on finding Daugherty.

“The searchers are tired but they are not giving up. They had some rest over the holidays and are motivated by the family’s hope and by finding Rhonda,” Goins said.

A $10,000 reward remains active in this case. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department at 423-562-7446.(01/02/2015 - 6:00 AM)

New month.  New year.  Daugherty search continues.

     As the calendar turns to 2015, Day 31 in the search for a missing Campbell County woman continues.  There are no new developments to report this morning in the hunt for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  The 49-year old mother and grandmother was last seen at her home on December 2 and as investigators describe, she just “vanished.”  Pictures and more stories are found further down this page.(01/01/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Family frustrated by lack of answers; prays for searchers to not give up

By Charlotte Underwood

A month without answers is taking its toll on family members and searchers alike in the case of missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty. The family continues to pray for the return of their loved one and answers in what has become a baffling mystery in our county.

Daugherty’s mother Nancy Kitts continues to make pleas for the return of her daughter and information as to what happened on Dec. 2 when Rhonda disappeared.

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty has been missing since December 2

“She was the type of person that would make you smile. She would help anyone and was just a joy to be around. She is missed so much and we need her back home,” Nancy Kitts said, adding that she could see no reason why someone would take her daughter.

“She was a homebody –very family dedicated and church oriented; I just can’t understand why this has happened.”

Frustrated and wearing thin by a lack of answers in the case, Nancy said she will not give up hope that searchers will find Rhonda and bring her home.

“Even if it’s not good news; we need to know, we need to have her back and we need to know what happened to her and why,” Nancy said, adding that she knew in her heart that Rhonda did not leave of her own free will on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Nancy Kitts said the last time she spoke to her daughter was the day before she disappeared when Rhonda was visiting her at their Pleasant Ridge home.

“She was always good to come help me and check on her father who has been sick and she came and spent several hours with us that Monday,” Kitts said. She also said that her daughter seemed to be her normal self.

“Rhonda wasn’t depressed, she wasn’t on the verge of a nervous breakdown – there was nothing out of the ordinary.”

Daugherty usually called to check in with her mom by noon each day and when Nancy had not heard from her by 2:30, she began calling her.

Rhonda Daugherty and her husband Charles

“I kept calling her. Around dusky-dark, her husband came home and he called me right away to see if she was here. He said he had looked everywhere and that the back door to the house had been partially open when he came home,” Nancy Kitts said, adding that was not like her daughter at all.

There was no sign of forced entry or a struggle inside the home. All of Daugherty’s belongings were left at the home and so was her car. When Rhonda’s husband told Nancy that the door was open and that Rhonda’s car and belongings were still at home, she said her heart dropped.

“I knew something had happened to her. She was the type of woman who always kept her door locked. Whoever came to that back door had to have been someone she knew or she would not have opened that door,” Nancy said.

“I wake up every day and think that we will have an answer and that she will be found today.”

On behalf of the family, Nancy said she wanted to thank everyone for all they have done and asked that the search continue and that Rhonda stay at the forefront of people’s thoughts.

Investigators have been very reluctant to provide information about the case and whether or not there is a connection between Daugherty’s disappearance and the arrest of Lonnie Lee Vann, who after robbing a couple at gunpoint in Deerfield on Dec. 5, was added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Top Ten Most Wanted list and eventually apprehended in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  He has a February 20 court date scheduled in Horry County for armed robbery crimes he committed down there.

According to the incident report, when Vann robbed the Deerfield couple, he told them he would not harm them, but that he needed money because he was “in big trouble.”

TBI agents, sheriff’s department deputies, rescue squad members and divers continue to focus the search in the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake, which is where Vann has family and was previously known to frequent. Sugar Hollow is about three to four miles away from Daugherty’s home on Long Hollow Road. Investigators began looking in the Sugar Hollow area several weeks ago and were spotted searching houseboats with dogs.

The question on everyone’s mind is why is the search concentrated there?  Law enforcement is certainly not saying anything.

A $10,000 reward is still active in this case and anyone with information is asked to please call the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446. (12/21/2014 - 6:00 AM)

WLAF's Charlotte Underwood looks back at 2014

January

Hamblin not indicted

After two months of praying, snake-handling pastor Andrew Hamblin had those prayers answered when a Campbell County Grand Jury chose not to indict him on Class I Wildlife possession.

The charges were levied against the 22-year-old Tabernacle Church of God preacher on Nov. 7 (2013) when the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency seized 53 venomous snakes from his church. Hamblin entered a not guilty plea on Nov. 15 and the case was sent on to the grand jury in December.

Council terminates Russell as city administrator

The La Follette City Council voted to terminate city administrator Billie Russell during a 10-minute special-called meeting on Wednesday (Jan. 15) evening. Russell, who was the first female city administrator for La Follette, had been on sick leave since October of last year after multiple grievances were filed against her, mostly by the La Follette Police Department.

Farmer’s market, grants, street damage and more discussed at workshop

It was announced in late January that a farmer’s market would begin in La Follette and would be set up at Freeman Park. That’s the word after John Branam with Campbell County’s Small Business Incubator spoke to the La Follette Council during Monday (Jan. 27) evening’s workshop at the invitation of the mayor.

February

Jellico teacher arrested for murder

A Jellico High School special education teacher, Lisa Elliott, 47, of Elk Valley, was arrested on February 2, after the fatal shooting of her 53-year-old fiancé L. David Champlin and transported to the county jail where she is held in lieu of a $150,000 bond.  Elliott has a court date set for May of 2015.

Bartley freed after re-trial

School shooter Kenneth S. Bartley got his retrial in February for the death of assistant Principal Ken Bruce at the Campbell County High School. In February, Bartley was found guilty of reckless homicide in the 2005 shooting death of Bruce. 

He was not, however, found guilty of attempted first degree murders in the shootings of Principal Gary Seale and Assistant Principal Jim Pierce and was set free on February 28.

March

Shepherd’s Home expands with a second home

The Shepherd’s Home, a local half-way house for area women has expanded with a second home, which will house mothers and their children. A grand opening was held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 16 to celebrate the opening of the home.

Known as a “Christ centered transitional home for women in recovery,” the Shepherd’s Home was created out of need, according to Shepherd’s Home Executive Director Bridget Thomas. The new home, which is located in downtown La Follette, was donated to the Shepherd’s Home by First National Bank of Oneida.

Campbell County received nation-wide coverage

Travel writers and photographers blanketed the county and surrounding areas in late March as part of middle and east Tennessee Tourism Press Tour. Area attractions will receive nation-wide coverage, according to then Chamber of Commerce Director E.L. Morton. The travel journalists spent time motorcycle riding; fishing, touring historical sites and enjoying various out-door activities and local eateries before departing on Saturday evening.

April

Jacksboro Middle School students won the science fair

Morgan Simpson, Noah Smith, and Elijah Brock won the Science Fair with their project Walnuts: The Answer to Preventing Rusting. In this project, students proved the outer shell of walnuts can prevent certain metals from rusting.

Frankie Bacon celebrates 50 years at State Farm

“When something works, then don’t fix it,” said long-time State Farm Insurance employee Frankie Bacon, who celebrated working at the business for 50 years in April. A local gal, Bacon began working with John R. W. Brown shortly after he went into business and spent 47 happy years working with him.

Beloved by anyone who has had the pleasure to meet her over the years, Bacon (left) has always had a kind word of encouragement and a smile for all who pass through the doors where she has worked for the past five decades.

Honeycutt tabbed as girls basketball coach

Brad Honeycutt was named as the new girls basketball coach at Campbell High.  Honeycutt takes over for Ryan Browning who stepped down after seven-years as head coach.

May

Community Garden in Jacksboro dedicated to Nance

The Community Garden at Jacksboro Middle School was dedicated as the Don Nance Memorial Garden on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. County Mayor William Baird was on site to read a proclamation declaring May 28, 2014 as Don Nance Day in Campbell County. Nance was a local business owner and served the county as clerk for 24 years.

Political signs being removed from in front of business

Roughly a week after the issue was brought to the Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner; political signs in front of a local business across from Wal-Mart began to be removed.

Business owner Linda Poland spoke to TDOT Commissioner John Schroer and asked him about the legality of political signs being placed on the state right-of-way, specifically if the signs blocked a business. Schroer told Poland that political signs fell under outdoor advertising and were not supposed to be erected on state right-of-ways.

June

Bartley back in court in June

After a brief three months out of the courtroom, Kenneth S. Bartley was back in front of a judge for a preliminary hearing regarding the domestic violence and evading arrest charges he garnered in June.

The charges stemmed from an incident, which occurred at his father Kenny’s home on Imperial Heights in La Follette where deputies responded on a Saturday night on the report of a domestic violence call.  Bartley is charged with domestic assault, resisting arrest, and escape, which is a felony charge.  According to the arrest report, Bartley was intoxicated and uncooperative, having to eventually be tazed in order to be taken into custody. The arrest report also stated that Bartley had threatened to kill his father because he would not give him the keys to the pickup truck.  Later in June, he was eventually released back into his father’s care on a $2,000 bond.

La Follette's new VA Clinic was dedicated in June

Couple indicted for child abuse death

A La Follette couple was indicted in the child abuse death of 3-year old Gabriella Orton. Gabriella was brought into the La Follette Medical Center Emergency Room on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. She was pronounced dead just a short time after her arrival. She was brought into the emergency room by Joshua Comer, the boyfriend of her mother. Officials say there was visible evidence of serious physical abuse. Joshua Adam Comer, age 33 of 135 Watts Lane LaFollette, was indicted for First Degree Felony Murder in the death of the child. Also, the Campbell County Grand Jury returned a true bill indictment against her mother, Amber Leann Orton a.k.a. Amber Leann Rezentes, age 29 of 135 Watts Lane La Follette, for Aggravated Child Neglect. Both have a court date set in 2015.

July

Former teacher indicted for inappropriate conduct with a minor

Former Campbell County teacher Lonnie Vann, 44, was indicted by a grand jury for inappropriate conduct with a student after he was charged with solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault.

Vann taught at La Follette Middle School and was placed on suspension without pay in October 2013 after allegations of the inappropriate conduct came to light.

In November, the case was handed over to the District Attorney General and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to the TBI, on Oct. 22 (2013), Vann took a 13-year-old student off school property to Coolidge First Baptist Church. While in the building, Vann allegedly hugged the female student and tried to kiss her, both without consent.

Vann also allegedly tampered with evidence by altering images on a recording device at the church. Vann turned himself into the Campbell County Sheriff. He was later released on $10,000 bond.

Mayes returns as CCHS Baseball Coach

Chris Mayes is back on the diamond at Brown-Archer Field.  Mayes was named head baseball coach for the Campbell Cougars after Ryan Browning resigned at the end of the season.

Bartley in court again in July

Bartley earned a second set of charges on July 10 after deputies were once again called to his father’s home in La Follette after he violated his probation by drinking alcohol. While deputies were at the residence, Bartley allegedly fought with the officers before being arrested.

Tornado strikes Campbell and Claiborne Counties

Around ten or so home owners had property damage done by the July 28 tornado, which was about a half-mile wide, according to the National Weather Service.

Cleanup from the storm lasted for weeks and the geography of the Campbell and Claiborne County border still looks different.

August

Animal Shelter celebrates one year

In August, the Campbell County Animal Shelter celebrated being open a year since it was closed in 2013. Shelter director Beth Caldwell and her staff marked the event with ice cream, cake and refreshments. According to Caldwell, it has been an “amazing year of accomplishments.”  Members of the local rescue group-Friends of Campbell County Animals were also on hand for the celebration.

FM is now a part of the WLAF media platforms

Who would have thought that WLAF would have a television station before it was able to secure an FM signal?  But that’s how it’s played out.  WLAF signed on as an AM radio station in 1953, added WLAF-TV 12 in 1990, and, as of this morning, August 7, now has an FM signal.  It is FM 100.9.  The new FM is a simulcast of 1450 WLAF.  The website, www.1450wlaf.com, is also one of the WLAF’s mediums.

New county officials elected

The August general election was one of the largest, if not the largest, ever held in Campbell County.  Voters elected a new mayor, E.L. Morton, a new district attorney, Jared Effler, a new county clerk, Alene Baird, a new sessions judge, Amanda Sammons, a new chancellor, Elizabeth Asbury, and a new public defender, Leif Jeffers.  Several new school board members and county commissioners were also elected.  Sheriff Robbie Goins was re-elected in a landslide.

Caryville recognized as Reward School

Caryville Elementary School was the only school in the county this year to receive a Reward Designation, according to a list released by the state in August. The designation means Caryville is in the top 5 percent of schools in the state for performance—as measured by overall student achievement levels—and the top 5 percent for year-over-year progress—as measured by school-wide value-added data. These 10 percent of schools receive recognition for their success under the accountability system. This year's list recognized 67 schools across the state for overall academic achievement and 84 schools for overall growth. In East Tennessee, 18 schools were named Reward Schools, with Caryville garnering the designation for “progress”.

September

Campbell County woman charged with murder

Leigh-Ann Briggs, 36, was charged in the murder of Knoxville man Kenneth Koster, whose body was found on Enix Lane in south Campbell County on Sept. 8. He had been shot to death.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had been looking for Briggs and another person, 43-year-old James Bradley Phillips, for questioning in relation to the case. After a brief manhunt, Phillps was shot and killed by police at the Wendy's on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge at around 9:40 p.m. on Sept. 14. Briggs, who was with Phillips at the time, was arrested on charges of public intoxication. According to court documents, her family had reported her missing.  Briggs was returned to Campbell County and charged with premeditated felony murder in court on Monday, September 15, where she pleaded not guilty via her court-appointed lawyer. Her bail was set at $750,000.  According to the TBI statement during her arraignment, Briggs told police she assisted in planning and carrying out Koster's murder. Briggs next court date is January 12, 2015.

Eyes on La Follette featured on TV

Tennessee Crossroads, the venerable Tennessee travel show produced by Nashville Public Television (NPT), did a focus feature on Eyes on La Follette, a 20-year-photography project conducted by University of Tennessee photojournalism students to document life in La Follette. The segment premiered on NPT Thursday, September 25, at 7 p.m. and ETPTV on Saturday, October 4, at 6:30 p.m.

Downtown enhancement plan unveiled for La Follette

In late September, a rough draft for the enhancement of downtown La Follette was unveiled during a meeting between the mayor, merchants and city council members. The plan, which calls for “softening” the appearance of downtown by planting trees and landscaping, also calls for the clean-up of the Big Creek and Tank Springs area, with creek access and picnic areas, as well as a pedestrian plan that will make downtown streets safer and more appealing to those on foot. It also calls for businesses to stay open past six p.m., as well as a need for more shops and restaurants in the downtown area. In general face-lifts and other enhancements such as historic walking tours and better signage will also be a big part of the plan that city officials and merchants would like to see implemented.

October

Caryville man arrested for killing his girlfriend

A Caryville man was arrested on October 2, after fatally shooting his girl friend, according to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department. The 9-11 call came in at approximately 5:09 p.m.,that a female had been shot at her residence at 1096 Sharp Lane in Caryville. After arriving at the home, deputies found 51-year-old Wanda Odell unresponsive. She was later pronounced dead at the scene. Sheriff’s deputies also encountered 62-year-old Tommy J. Odell, who according to the arrest report, “is believed to be the boyfriend of the deceased who also lived in the home.” After an investigation, enough probable cause was found to arrest Tommy J. Odell on charges of criminal homicide. He was arrested and booked into the county jail.

Suboxone clinic opens in Jacksboro

An Express Health Care Suboxone clinic opened Friday, Oct. 3 in Jacksboro despite complaints and outrage from Perkins Lane citizens who live near where the business is located.

Citizens had gathered at city hall once again on Thursday during the mayor and alderman meeting to discuss the establishment of the clinic and to continue to voice their opposition. At the council’s invitation, clinic owner Dr. Robert Taylor and several of his physicians attended the meeting to field questions. Tensions remained high throughout the hour-long meeting and when citizens began asking when the clinic would officially open, clinic representatives quickly left, with their lawyer calling a halt to the meeting. After speaking with Perkins Lane Residents, WLAF learned that the clinic opened the very next day.

Bartley in jail again after assault arrest

School shooter Kenneth S. Bartley appeared in General Sessions Court in October, after assaulting his mother.  It was his third arrest since being set free earlier this year.  He was charged with domestic assault after he assaulted his mother, Rita Broyles on a Thursday evening, and then went on the run for two days, before turning himself in to authorities on Saturday.  According to the arrest warrant, Bartley threatened to strangle his mother, with whom he was living, after she refused to give him money for a cab. After Bartley turned himself in, Judge Shayne Sexton signed a no bond order on Bartley’s violation of probation. He remains in jail until his hearing. 

November

Lifestar is home at Jacksboro

Lifestar now has a permanent base here in Campbell County.  The med-flight chopper is housed at the airport at Jacksboro.

Stand at the Cross drew a crowd at the 141

 

Hundreds of people converged at the 141 exit along Interstate 75 in a massive prayer walk to the giant cross at noon on November 8 as part of an evangelical movement and day of prayer for the area. The event was organized by the Stand in the Gap Coalition.

 

Veterans Day ceremonies at the courthouse at Jacksboro

After a brief hiatus Animal shelter re-instates adoptions and owner surrenders

Adopters can expect slightly higher fees

After a brief hiatus, the Campbell County Animal Shelter re-instated adoptions and owner surrenders, after it was suspended by newly elected County Mayor E.L. Morton. Adoptions were halted by Morton and the county commission for about a week in order to review funding and payment policies regarding the shelter’s spay and neuter of animals being adopted out. According to Morton, previously there had been a $95 adoption fee, with the shelter getting $15 and the other $80 going to local vets in the area who perform spays and neuters. That cost will go up slightly, according to Morton, who said local practitioners had expressed that the $80 fee covered only the spay and neuter and that could increase for larger dogs and if there were complications such as pregnancy. The increase will come in the form of a $45 examination fee, bringing the total cost of adopting an animal anywhere from $140 or higher, depending on the health of the animal. A more stream-lined payment process also came out of the discussions, as did the decision to make a public service video depicting the cost and responsibility of adopting a pet.

WLAF’s “coach” has left the gym

The former coach, who has been an integral part of WLAF for the past couple of years, passed away Wednesday night, November 26, at the UT Medical Center at Knoxville.  Coach Vic King, the winningest basketball coach in Campbell County history, died Wednesday night after a brief battle with cancer. 

Over a career that spanned the better part of 40-years, King was head basketball coach at La Follette Middle School, Oneida High School, and the Christian Academy of Campbell County.  He served as assistant head coach at Union County and Jellico High Schools.  As a head coach, he won nearly 500 basketball games.  At WLAF, he led the sales team and was director of marketing.  Victor Bradley King “Coach King” was 60-years old.

Campbell Football finished its 40th season with its second most wins ever with nine.

December

Woman goes missing from Coolidge area

On Dec.2, Coolidge woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty went missing from her home on Long Hollow Road. Searchers scoured the wooded area near the home in search of the 49-year-old woman. Her husband was the last to see her before he went to work that day. When he came home, she was gone and her purse, keys and cell phone were on the counter. The door to the home was standing open.  The search for Daugherty continues. 

As the year winds down, searchers have concentrated their efforts on the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake.

Former teacher indicted for misconduct is wanted in connection with armed robbery  

Former Campbell County teacher Lonnie Vann, 44, of Jacksboro, robbed a Deerfield residence on Dec. 5 and was added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted List. Vann tied up residence members, robbed them and then left in a cream-colored 2013 Chevrolet Captiva, which Vann had rented on Dec. 3 from LaFollette Enterprise.

Vann arrested in South Carolina

Lonnie Vann arrested in South Carolina; charged with robbery there

After a little over a week on the run and on the TBI’s top ten most wanted list, armed robbery suspect Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, was apprehended in South Carolina by Myrtle Beach Police on Dec. 12. Vann was picked up by Myrtle Beach authorities after they recognized him and the cream-colored Chevy Captiva he had last been seen driving in Campbell County. Vann was taken into custody around 7 p.m. Authorities say he also committed armed robbery there when he stole the wallet from someone at a hotel at gun point. Vann is currently being held at the Horry County Detention Center.

Despite Vann’s arrest, there is no new evidence in the missing person case of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2. For nearly three weeks, law enforcement has been looking for the missing 49-year old Coolidge woman.  No connection between the two cases has been officially acknowledged by law enforcement, though rumors and suspicions have been running rampant in the community. According to law enforcement, both cases are still under open and active investigation and the search has now centered in the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake, near where Vann grew up and also where a family member is known to have a house boat.

Zander Brown got to come home for Christmas

The four-year-old Jacksboro boy is home after more that three months of treatment for burns he suffered back on September 16. Authorities say that on that day, he suffered second degree burns to his head, neck, chest, back, abdomen, arms and legs.  

As a result, his mother and step-father Eric Morton, 32 and Nakita Morton, 22, were both indicted for two counts of aggravated child neglect. Eric Morton was charged additionally with two counts of aggravated child abuse, while Nakita Morton was charged additionally with two counts of aggravated child endangerment. Both have an arraignment slated for January 12, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. in criminal court.

Gas goes under $2.00 a gallon in Campbell County

The Pilot Travel Center’s price for a gallon of regular of unleaded gasoline sits at $1.93 this morning (December 30).  An official with Pilot tells WLAF that Friday was the first time the price slipped below $2.00 a gallon at the Caryville fuel center located at Exit 141 of I-75.  It’s dropped a penny or so each day since.  The best price for gasoline in La Follette is $2.25 a gallon.

WLAF wraps up biggest year

WLAF, without question the most recognized Campbell County media outlet, celebrated its most listened to, most watched, and most viewed year in its almost 62-year history.  WLAF’s web channel, 1450wlaf.com, surpassed the one-million visitor mark in the fall.  WLAF AM, FM, TV, and DOTCOM  is the area’s only such media outlet that provides daily news, weather, sports, and music.

The search for Daugherty began four-weeks ago today

     There are no new developments to report in the search for missing Campbell Countian Rhonda Kitts Daugherty this morning.  Today marks the 29th day of searching which began four-weeks ago this evening.  The 49-year old woman was last seen on Tuesday morning, December 2, at her home on Long Hollow Road in Coolidge. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

Teams have been searching for her ever since her husband returned from work that evening and discovered she was missing.  A $10,000 reward is being offered, and Sheriff Robbie Goins asks that if you have any information to please call him at 423.562.7446.  More stories and pictures of the Rhonda Daugherty case are found further down this page.(12/30/14 - 6:00 AM)

City receives clean audit; discusses rezoning of East Ash Street

By Charlotte Underwood

La Follette received a clean audit, according to representatives from Pugh and Company who were on hand Monday evening at the La Follette City Council workshop. Accountants present at the meeting told the council that there was no “audit adjustments proposed”, which was something the city “could be proud of.” Auditors also reported there were no disagreements with management during the auditing process, nor were there any significant deficiencies. The council will vote to accept the audit report at next week’s regular monthly meeting.

Council members also discussed rezoning properties within the 500 and 600 blocks of East Ash Street. The Senior Center requested the re-zone in order to pave the way for extra parking; something the highly attended center desperately needs, according to seniors who go there for activities. Two old houses near the senior center have been demolished by the city. The county is also helping by waiving the landfill fee and providing gravel for the lots.

Business owner Ronnie Inman, who has a business located across from the senior center, also requested the re-zone in order to grow his business. Before coming to the city council, the issue was taken to the planning commission and a total of 116 letters were sent out to residences that are within 200 feet of the area that may be re-zoned. Out of those 116, there were two people who were concerned about taxes increasing, according to City Codes Enforcer Stan Foust, who explained that taxes would only increase should residents open a commercial business on their property. The issue will be voted on at the next meeting.

Another item that will be added to next week’s agenda will be the placement of security cameras in the administrative areas of city hall.

“We’ve had things misplaced and taken, and I think we ought to get some cameras,” said La Follette Mayor Mike Stanfield. Councilman Hansford Hatmaker asked about the cost of the security cameras and the mayor asked the police chief to get some estimates. If cameras are placed, they would go in the foyer, in the area that used to be the old library and in the mail room. The issue would have to be voted on after cost estimates are returned.

The city council will also vote on whether or not to purchase a new recycling truck, part of which would be paid for through a grant. If purchased, the truck would cost a total of $57,576, with the city being responsible for $35,696 of those dollars.

Also on next week’s agenda will be whether or not to approve a police surplus auction to sell several vehicles and other items from the police department. Other departments may also have surplus vehicles and items that will go up for auction in about a month. A more concrete date will be announced once the council votes on the auction.

The way employees are classified and compensated could also change for the city. For example, more experience and special training could result in a different level designation and higher pay. The council will revisit the issue at the next meeting.

The next city council meeting for La Follette is at 6 p.m. on Jan. 6. (12/30/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Potter sworn in as Clerk and Master

By Charlotte Underwood

Family, friends and the public gathered at the Campbell County Courthouse to witness Dennis Potter get sworn in as the new clerk and master for Chancery Court. Potter, who previously served the county as road superintendent for the past six years, was chosen to serve as clerk and master by Chancery Court Judge Elizabeth Asbury.

Potter replaces Bill Archer, who is retiring after 36 years in the office.

Dennis Potter signs paperwork after being sworn in as the new Clerk and Master of Campbell County Chancery Court on  Monday at noon.

Asbury said she chose Potter because she had known him for years and knew she could trust him to honestly serve the people of Campbell County. According to Asbury, the position of clerk and master is an important position to maintain and protect the records and docket for chancery court. This includes maintaining a complicated filing system, which Potter will have to learn. Archer said he will work closely with Potter to make sure the transition is a smooth one.

“Dennis has been in service to the people of Campbell County as road superintendant and he has a proven record of fairness and integrity, honesty and wisdom, all of which are requirements for the job,” Asbury said.

Dennis Potter was sworn in as the new Clerk and Master by Chancery Court Judge Elizabeth Asbury.

Potter said he wanted to thank everyone for attending his swearing-in ceremony and that he felt honored and privileged to have been selected as clerk and master. (12/30/2014 - 6:00 AM)  

Today begins Day 28 in the hunt for missing Coolidge woman

     About a square mile of Norris Lake.  In water 30 to 50-feet deep.  Through rain and cold.  After investigators searched Saturday and Sunday at Sugar Hollow Marina and surrounding area, still no Rhonda.  Authorities continue moving forward in the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty this morning on Day 28.  Divers, camera, and sonar are all being used to cover what is described by officials as a “large area.”  Sheriff Robbie Goins tells WLAF that he and every member of his department, and other agencies as well, believe in their hearts everyday that they will find her.  More stories and pictures are found further down this page.(12/29/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Family says no money needed; just searchers

The family of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty wants to say a big thank you to everyone who has been praying and searching for their loved one. They also wanted to let everyone know that they don’t want or need money, but rather people to continue searching and praying for Rhonda.

“Everyone has been so wonderful through all this and we appreciate it so much; but we don’t need money raised, we just need people to search and keep praying until she is found,” said Rhonda’s mother Nancy Kitts. The family also wanted to clarify that there are currently several outdoor “tournaments” taking place to raise funds and that the family is not associated with these events. A fishing tournament and a coon hunting tournament have both been organized.

“We would like the tournaments to be stopped because we have not asked anyone to do anything to raise any money – we just want people to search for Rhonda. It’s not that we don’t deeply appreciate what everyone is doing and trying to do; but we really don’t need money; just Rhonda.”  (12/26/2014 - 2:00 PM)

Day 25.  Investigators continue trying to solve Daugherty's disappearance.

     Christmas has come and gone.  Still no Rhonda.  The emotional, physical, and mental grind continues to weigh heavily on her family, community, and investigative team as the search goes on for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  It's Day 25.  Investigators, working tirelessly, going on a month, are back looking for the 49-year old Daugherty this morning still concentrating efforts on Norris Lake at Sugar Hollow Marina.  On the morning of December 2, investigators say she just vanished from her hilltop home at Coolidge.  Daugherty's mother, Nancy Kitts, made this plea to WLAF viewers, listeners, and followers last Tuesday - CLICK HERE.  More stories and pictures surrounding Rhonda Daugherty are found further down this page.  (12/26/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Daugherty's mother makes plea

     Today, during the noon hour, Nancy Kitts, the mother of missing Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, made a plea outside her Pleasant Ridge home for the return of her daughter or information that could lead to her whereabouts. CLICK HERE to view Kitts' comments.  The Coolidge woman disappeared from her home on Long Hollow Road on Dec. 2. Searchers and investigators continue to look for the missing woman. There is a $10,000 reward in this case. Anyone with information is asked to please call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446. (12/23/2014 - 5:00 PM)

Planning Commission votes for re-zone; passes issue to city council for final vote

By Charlotte Underwood

Last week, the LaFollette Planning Commission voted to allow a requested re-zoning of part of Ash Street, after representatives from the Campbell County Senior Center and a local businessman requested the re-zone and paid the $500 fee.

The Senior Center requested the re-zone in order to pave the way for extra parking; something the highly attended center desperately needs, according to seniors who go there for activities. Two old houses near the senior center have been demolished by the city. The county is also helping by waiving the landfill fee and providing gravel for the lots. The parking lot cannot be completed without final approval from the city council.

Business owner Ronnie Inman, who has a business located across from the senior center, also requested the re-zone in order to grow his business.

The issue will be discussed at the Monday evening city council workshop on Dec. 29.(12/24/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Family seeks answers in Daugherty case

Today marks Week Three – Search Day 22

By Charlotte Underwood

All one Campbell County family wants for Christmas is the return of their loved one and maybe some answers as to what happened.

With the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty in week number three, this holiday season is filled with emptiness and questions for her family members. Her mother, Nancy Kitts, said she has not given up hope of searchers finding her daughter and that she is still praying for a Christmas miracle.

Nancy Kitts, mother of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, takes time to visit with WLAF’s Charlotte Underwood.

“I am hoping and praying that whoever did this will break down and tell the truth. I want this person to know how empty our lives and our hearts have become.  We need to know where she is at; we need closure. Please find it in your heart to help us get her back and if it’s not good, then tell us where we can find her so we can have closure.”

It’s the waiting and not knowing that is so hard. It’s all they can think about.

“Every time the phone rings I hope it’s about her; I believe it will be the call I have been waiting on.  It’s hard on all of us,” Nancy said, adding that her son-in-law, Rhonda’s husband was devastated.

“He won’t eat, he won’t sleep; it has simply destroyed him.”  Rhonda’s father, who is terminally ill, is devastated as well and often gets distraught over his missing daughter. Through the devastation, the family continues to pray and search for answers.

“The Lord is working on this and all the prayers help; we just want Rhonda back,” Nancy said.  She also said she wants to keep it fresh on people’s minds to keep the hope, prayers and search alive.

Daugherty, 49, went missing on Dec. 2 from her home on Long Hollow Road. Her parents live about a mile and a half away. Nancy described her daughter as friendly, outgoing and always with a smile for others. She also described her as family oriented very active in their lives.

“I have a wonderful daughter; until I hear otherwise, I will continue to believe she is okay.”

Rhonda is her only daughter. When she went missing, her own daughter was expecting her first child.

“She was so looking forward to the birth of that grandchild.  She did not leave voluntarily, someone is responsible,” Nancy said, adding that she knew investigators had been looking in the Sugar Hollow vicinity of Norris Lake for her daughter or clues that could lead to her.

Divers and various search and rescue teams from Campbell and surrounding counties have been searching alongside deputies and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents for the past week and a half.

“I want them to search everywhere. I have to keep believing and trusting in the Lord that something will give and we will find her.”

She also wants to say a big thank you to the High Knob Church for all that they have done for the family, as well as a thank you to all the churches and everyone in the community praying and searching.

She gave one final plea to anyone who may have knowledge of her daughter’s whereabouts or what happened to her.

“If anyone has any information that could help us, please come forward – we miss her so much and we need help finding her- and to whoever is responsible, I pray they cannot eat or sleep until they tell what they know- our house is so empty without her; please help us bring her home.”

Anyone with information is asked to please call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446.  More stories and pictures surrounding Rhonda Kitts Daugherty are found further down this page.  (12/23/2014 - 6:00 AM)                      

Searchers continue to look for Daugherty over the weekend

By Charlotte Underwood

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents, Campbell County Sheriff’s Detectives and members of Knox County and La Follette Rescue Squads continued to search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty over the weekend. The search still appears to be concentrated in the Sugar Hollow vicinity of Norris Lake, with around a dozen officials manning three boats on Saturday.  Sunday saw the Anderson and Campbell County Sheriff’s Departments searching, along with the TBI.

The search for Rhonda Daugherty continued over the weekend.

According to witnesses, the search seemed to begin in the area over a week ago, when law enforcement officials were spotted searching house boats with dogs.

A Knoxville Search and Rescue boat equipped with sonar went back and forth on the lake on Saturday, attempting to get what law enforcement call at “hit” on an object under the water.

Investigators continued searching around Sugar Hollow Marina Saturday & Sunday.

According to Campbell County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Aaron Evans, several types of sonar have been used in the search for Daugherty. The lake around the Sugar Hollow area is quite “polluted” with house boat cables, and lots of other debris such as grills and other garbage.

Divers will possibly continue with the search this week.

Investigators have also been searching along the bank and from the air in efforts to locate her.

Sunday saw the Anderson and Campbell County Sheriff’s Departments searching, along with the TBI, for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.

Searchers say they will continue to look for Daugherty.  Local churches and community members also vow to keep praying for the missing woman and her family.  Daugherty has been missing since Dec. 2, when she disappeared from her home on Long Hollow Road at Coolidge.

A $10,000 reward is being offered and anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at 423.562.7446.  (12/22/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Vann's bond set in some S.C. charges, denied bond on other; waives extradition

By Charlotte Underwood

Accused armed robber Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, has waived extradition and had his bond set at $110,000 in South Carolina, where he is currently being held in the Horry County Jail. However, he was denied bond on one particular charge in South Carolina, which will essentially keep him there until his February 20 court date scheduled at the Horry County Judicial Center.

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

Vann, who had been wanted in connection to an armed robbery which occurred in the Deerfield community on Dec. 5, also committed armed robbery in Myrtle Beach at a Marriott Hotel. In South Carolina, Vann is charged with armed robbery, burglary in the first, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, weapons law violation and being a fugitive from justice for his crimes in Tennessee. He was denied bond for the burglary in the first charge due to the severity of the crime, according to Horry County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Jeff Benton.

“He was given the $110,000 cash bond on the other charges, but because they denied him bond on the burglary in the first, it is technically like his bond was denied,” Benton said, going on to further explain that Vann would not be extradited to Tennessee until he either made bond or his charges in South Carolina are disposed of via a trial or hearing.

Vann had initially signed an extradition waiver at the Myrtle Beach Police Department, but due to it not being notarized, Vann had to sign an official waiver in front of a notary of the public. According to Benton, that did not occur until around 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 18.

Vann, a former middle school teacher has a February 2 hearing in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding sexual misconduct charges stemming from a 2013 incident in which he is accused of touching a 13-year-old girl inappropriately.

According to the Horry County Sheriff’s Department, it is up to the Campbell County District Attorney and sheriff’s department to contact South Carolina authorities and make arrangements to come pick Vann up and transport him to Campbell County for that court date, just as it is Horry County officials responsibility to make transportation arrangements to get him back for his Feb. 20 court date.

Vann is charged with two-counts of armed robbery for the Dec. 5 Deerfield incident.  If penalized to the max, he could face up to 30 years in prison for his armed robbery crimes in Campbell County, and he could face up to life in prison for the South Carolina charge.

Investigators have yet to publically acknowledge a connection between Vann and missing Campbell County woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2. (12/19/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Day 18 of search for missing woman; still nothing new to report

Day 18 of the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty and still nothing new to report in what has become one of Campbell County’s biggest mysteries.

The search was concentrated once again in the Sugar Hollow vicinity yesterday.  Divers from Campbell County and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department spent the day in the waters of Norris Lake once more, but had nothing new to report by day’s end. According to officials, water visibility remains clear, but house boat cables still hinder the divers.

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

The search continues this morning in the same area, with searchers vowing not to give up.

A $10,000 reward is being offered and anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446.(12/19/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Search for missing woman continues on Norris Lake; sheriff vows to not give up

By Charlotte Underwood

There is still nothing new in the case of missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty. Around 15 to 20 law enforcement officials searched all day in the Sugar Hollow vicinity of Norris Lake yesterday and plan to continue the search today.  A two-member dive team from the Knox County Sheriff Special Operations Unit participated in the search.  According to officials close to the scene, the water temperature is 48-degrees and visibility under the water is good, but there is still no sign or clues in Daugherty’s disappearance.  Massive amounts of underwater cables anchoring the houseboats in the area are making it difficult on divers.  A brief bit of excitement was when a gun was sighted underwater, but it turned out to be an air rifle and was not relevant.

Yellow ribbons, like the one pictured above, adorn businesses and homes in honor and memory of Daugherty as local churches continue to pray and community members and officials continue to search.

No connection between former La Follette Middle School teacher Lonnie Vann and Daugherty has been announced by law enforcement.  Vann has a February court date for inappropriate conduct with a student and is currently being held in South Carolina on criminal charges before he will be extradited back to Campbell County for allegedly committing a Dec. 6 armed robbery in Deerfield.

The spirit among investigators, though not verbally validated, is that there is a connection in the two cases.  A WLAF source close to the investigation said the search for Daugherty had been concentrated in the Sugar Hollow area because that is near where Vann grew up and that he also had a family member in the area with a house boat that he had frequented.

Members of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department and the Knox County Sheriff’s Department searched all day yesterday on the lake for the missing Coolidge woman.

Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins said they will not give up the search and will do whatever it takes to find her.  According to Goins, there has never been a body put into the lake or a drowning that did not result in the recovery of the person.

An un-named diver from the Knox County Sheriff’s Department climbs out of Norris Lake late Wednesday evening after spending the day in the water searching for Rhonda Daugherty. A two-member dive team came from Knoxville to help with the search.

“We will continue to search and do whatever it takes,” Goins said.

The Knox County Special Operations Unit was in Campbell County yesterday searching in the Sugar Hollow vicinity for Rhonda Daugherty.

A $10,000 reward is being offered and anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446.(12/18/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Search for Daugherty continues by land, air and boat

Missing for two-weeks now, the search for Rhonda Daugherty continues on the lake today in the Sugar Hollow vicinity. Law enforcement was searching in that area yesterday as well. A Knox County Special Operations unit, believed to be a dive team, was seen driving through town and later parked in the Sugar Hollow parking lot. According to officials the search will continue by boat, land and air.

According to reports, Daugherty was last seen by her husband Charles on Dec. 2. When he returned home from work, she was gone and the door to their home was open.

Law enforcement, community members and other volunteers have searched daily for the 49-year-old Coolidge woman.

If you have any information on where Rhonda Daugherty may be you’re asked to call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446. There is a $10,000 reward in this case. (12/17/2014 - 12:30 PM)

Search continues for missing Coolidge woman

By Charlotte Underwood

No new details have emerged in the case of the missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2.  Those in the Sugar Hollow area may have noticed law enforcement and search teams checking the lake yesterday as the search continues for the missing 49-year old woman who seems to have vanished without a trace.  According to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, they will continue to search any and all areas in reference to Rhonda and no areas are off limit.

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

For two weeks and a day now, officers and members of the community have been searching tirelessly.  Local churches are offering up prayer and missing posters can be seen all over the county, but still no word on her whereabouts and no new leads to follow.

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

The community has been abuzz with suspicion of a connection between Daugherty’s case and that of Lonnie Vann, who was arrested on Friday in Myrtle Beach in connection with an armed robbery that occurred in the Deerfield community on Dec. 6.  Vann is currently being held in South Carolina on charges for crimes he committed there as well as a fugitive from justice warrant regarding the robbery he allegedly committed here in Campbell County.

No connection between the two cases has been officially acknowledged by law enforcement. According to officials, both cases are still under open and active investigation.  Related stories and pictures are found further down this page.  (12/17/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Services from FBC are now online

     Click here to see the Sunday morning services (12/14/2014) from First Baptist Church of La Follette with Dr. Duane Mills.  The FBC Christmas Musical is available by clicking here.  (12/16/2014 – 6:00 AM)

Vann remains in a S.C. jail.  Daugherty’s still missing after two weeks.

     There’s nothing new to report this morning in the two stories that may or may not be connected surrounding  Campbell Countians Lonnie Vann and Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  The 44-year old Vann is yet to be brought back to Campbell County from a South Carolina jail.  He is wanted on multiple charges in South Carolina and Tennessee and was caught by Myrtle Beach Police last Friday night after being on the run for a week after fleeing an armed robbery scene at Deerfield.  Daugherty, age 49, has been missing for two weeks as of today when she was last seen at her home in the Coolidge community.  Authorities say she just “vanished.”  No one involved in the investigation is willing to say  the two disturbing events are connected even though Vann and Daugherty knew each other and attended the same church, Coolidge First Baptist Church.  More related stories and pictures are further down this page.(12/16/2014 - 6:00 AM)

King’s memory lives on through his championship team

     The late Coach Vic King’s Christian Academy Warriors claimed the county crown.  Again.  For a second-straight season, King’s Warriors take the title.  This time, they won it without their coach, who passed away last month after a brief battle with cancer. 

CACC defeated the Wynn Bulldogs to claim the small division championship.(12/16/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Vann held on fugitive from justice warrant; new charges filed by S.C. authorities

By Charlotte Underwood

New charges were filed against former teacher Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, who is currently being held on a fugitive from justice warrant in South Carolina until he can be extradited back to Tennessee, according to Myrtle Beach Police. Vann is being held in South Carolina by law enforcement on charges of armed robbery, burglary, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, weapons law violation and being a fugitive from justice. Vann garnered these additional charges after Myrtle Beach authorities connected him to an armed robbery at a Marriott Hotel that occurred on Dec. 10. According to the incident report, Vann followed two people onto an elevator at the hotel. He then followed them off the elevator and to their room, appearing to be on the cell phone. When they opened their room, Vann pushed them in and then demanded their wallets, brandishing a black firearm. The victim managed to remove most of his belongings from his wallet without Vann seeing before handing it over to him. Vann then fled the scene. He was later picked up by Myrtle Beach Police who had the description of his Chevy Captiva as being driven by a fugitive from justice wanted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Vann is being held in the Myrtle Beach Jail without bond until he has a hearing before a judge, according to Joey Crosby, Myrtle Beach Police Department’s Public Information Officer.

Crosby said after the hearing regarding the crimes Vann committed in South Carolina, Vann could be brought back to Tennessee fairly quickly if he waived extradition. If he however, does not waive extradition, there will be a separate hearing regarding that.

After becoming a suspect in an armed robbery which occurred in Deerfield on Dec. 6, Vann spent a little over a week on the run and on the TBI’s top ten most wanted list. He was apprehended in South Carolina by Myrtle Beach Police on Highway 501 after they recognized him and the cream-colored Chevy Captiva he was last reported driving. Vann was taken into custody around 7 p.m. Friday night.

In July, Vann was indicted by a grand jury for inappropriate conduct with a student after he was charged with solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault. 

Vann taught at La Follette Middle School and was placed on suspension without pay in October 2013 after allegations of the inappropriate conduct came to light.

According to the TBI, on Oct. 22, Vann took a 13-year-old student off school property to Coolidge First Baptist Church. While in the building, Vann allegedly hugged the female student and tried to kiss her, both without consent.

Vann also allegedly tampered with evidence by altering images on a recording device at the church. Vann turned himself into the Campbell County Sheriff. He was later released on $10,000 bond. He has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding the inappropriate misconduct charges. (12/15/2014 - 2:30 PM)

 

Family, fellow church members, and friends scoured Coolidge Saturday looking for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty

Area churches lift up special prayers for Rhonda

     Lonnie Vann’s been captured (story is further down this page).  Authorities tell WLAF News that it may be a while before he is brought back to the county jail at Jacksboro.  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Police spotted the 44-year old man from Jacksboro on Friday night and took him into custody.  Vann is wanted in connection to an armed robbery on December 5 at Deerfield.  But what about Rhonda Kitts Daugherty? 

A prayer was lifted up for Rhonda Duagherty Sunday morning at area churches.  Among them was First Baptist Church of La Follette.

Area churches lifted up prayers for Rhonda and her family on Sunday morning.  Today marks Day 13 in the search for the woman who police say “vanished” on Tuesday, December 2, from her hilltop home at Coolidge. 

Coolidge First Baptist Church serves as the command post in the hunt for Rhonda

The sheriff’s department and the rescue squad led the search for Daugherty on Saturday morning.

Daugherty’s family, fellow church members from Coolidge First Baptist Church, and neighbors, with support from the sheriff's department and the rescue squad, searched for her on Saturday.  Still no Rhonda.  The search continues this morning. (12/15/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Retiring DOS recommends Nidiffer as replacement

By Charlotte Underwood

After more than 40 years in the education business, Director of Schools Donnie Poston has announced his retirement come July.  Poston had retired once already, but came out of retirement to accept the director of schools position in 2010.  With his official last day less than six months away, he said he has mixed feelings about it, but after 40 years in education administration, he is ready to pass the torch on and hopefully to his “right-hand-man”, Larry Nidiffer.  CTE Director and Secondary Supervisor, Nidiffer has about 40 years in the education business himself and said if the board approved Poston’s recommendation, then he would certainly be willing to accept the position of DOS.  Click here to see Poston's exclusive interview with WLAF.

Larry Nidiffer is endorsed by retiring DOS Donnie Poston to succeed him as DOS

Poston said he planned on making the recommendation to the school board and would like to see Nidiffer get the position and also see the current administration staff stay the same since he knew they would do it “for the right reasons,” especially Nidiffer.

“His heart, mind and soul are in helping the children of Campbell County,” Poston said.

 DOS Donnie Poston is retiring on June 30, 2015

As far as his own retirement, Poston said he looked forward to being able to help the kids in a position other than administrative. When he first began his education career, he taught school for three years at Pinecrest. It was the only time he really got be the teacher, rather than on the administrative side of the desk, and he remembers those years at Pinecrest fondly.

“It’s been a great time, and I have loved working to serve the children of our county,” Poston said, adding that just because he was retiring did not mean he would not remain active in the schools throughout the county.

“As long as my health holds up, I plan to stay active in the schools; you may see me helping in the cafeteria or tutoring the kids,” Poston said.

The position for director of schools has to be filled by July 1.

Lonnie Vann arrested in South Carolina

By Charlotte Underwood

After a little over a week on the run and on the TBI’s top ten most wanted list, armed robbery suspect Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, was apprehended in South Carolina by Myrtle Beach Police. Vann was picked up by Myrtle Beach authorities after they recognized him and the cream-colored Chevy Captiva he had last been seen driving in Campbell County. Vann was taken into custody around 7 p.m. last night (Friday). It is unknown at this time how long Vann will be held in South Carolina. According to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, “there are a lot of logistics that have to be worked out, before he is extradited back to Campbell County.”

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

According to Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins, it was a multi-agency and state law enforcement cooperation that led to Vann’s arrest.

“Today we can announce, along with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, that Campbell County armed robbery suspect Lonnie Lee Vann was taken into custody without incident and is being held at this time in connection with an armed robbery that occurred at a residence in the Deerfield Community,” Goins said in a press release.

Despite Vann’s arrest, there is no new evidence in the missing person case of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2. For more than a week now, 10-20 officers have been searching hourly for the missing 49-year old Coolidge woman.  No connection between the two cases has been officially acknowledged by law enforcement, though rumors and suspicions have been running rampant in the community. According to law enforcement, both cases are still under open and active investigation.

A former Campbell County teacher, Vann was wanted in connection to an armed robbery which occurred around 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 6 in the Deerfield Resort Community. On the day of the robbery, sources told WLAF that Vann was a very strong person of interest in connection with the robbery, which occurred at the residence of Jim Fields.  By the end of the day, Vann had been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations top ten most wanted list. According to the police report, Vann was at the residence to speak to Fields about working on a website for his business.  Fields told deputies he had bent over to pick something up off the floor and when he looked up, Vann had a gun in his hand. Vann then demanded they open their safe. He stole three handguns as well as $900 in cash before leaving in a cream-colored 2013 Chevrolet Captiva, which Vann had rented on Dec. 3 from La Follette Enterprise. Vann zip-tied Fields and his wife to the stair railing and told them to wait at least 30 minutes before calling the police.  Jim Fields was able to free himself in about five minutes and called the police. The vehicle Vann left in has a Maryland tag with the numbers 2BC-6411. The case was then turned over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

In July, Vann was indicted by a grand jury for inappropriate conduct with a student after he was charged with solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault. 

Vann taught at La Follette Middle School and was placed on suspension without pay in October 2013 after allegations of the inappropriate conduct came to light.

In November of 2013, the case was handed over to the District Attorney General and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to the TBI, on Oct. 22, Vann took a 13-year-old student off school property to Coolidge First Baptist Church. While in the building, Vann allegedly hugged the female student and tried to kiss her, both without consent.

Vann also allegedly tampered with evidence by altering images on a recording device at the church. Vann turned himself into the Campbell County Sheriff. He was later released on $10,000 bond. He has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding the inappropriate misconduct charges. (12/13/2014 - 1:00 PM)

Vann’s been on the run a week.  Daugherty’s search is now on day 10.

No matter where you go.  No matter the company.  Talk soon turns to the bizarre stories that developed here in Campbell County last week.  On Tuesday, December 2, 49-year old Rhonda Kitts Daugherty went missing from her hill top home at Coolidge.  Police say she just vanished.  Though reward money for her safe return doubled to $10,000 on Thursday afternoon, she is still missing, and clues are few and far between. 

As the WLAF crew was setting up to broadcast the Campbell basketball games at Corryton last Friday is when word came in that 44-year old Lonnie Vann had just robbed a couple at gunpoint at their Deerfield home.  Within hours, the like-able Vann, who was already free on bond from a charge involving his improper association with a student when he was a teacher at La Follette Middle School, was placed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Top Ten Most Wanted List.  One-week later, Vann remains on the run and on the wanted list.  More stories and pictures related to this story are found further down this page.  (12/12/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Dollars doubled for Daugherty’s safe return

     The reward for any information regarding the disappearance of missing La Follette woman Rhonda Daugherty has been doubled.  It’s been increased to $10,000.00.(12/11/2104 - 3:00 PM)

No changes in the missing person search and the manhunt

     You want to know.  And so do we.  But there is nothing new to report to you this morning in the case of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  She went missing on Tuesday, December 2.  Investigators say she just vanished from her Coolidge home.  Word on the other case, that many say is connected, remains the same, and that is the case of Lonnie Vann, who is wanted in connection with a December 5 armed robbery of a Deerfield community family.  Vann has not been seen since the robbery.  Pictures and more stories surrounding these two disturbing events are found further down this page.  (12/11/2014 - 6:00 AM)

A request from the sheriff

     The sheriff’s office, TBI, and others are continually and feverishly working around the clock and have dedicated all resources available to the search and safe return of Rhonda Daugherty. No boundaries exist, no resource is turned away, and no tip is dismissed into the search and safe return of Rhonda.  We ask every Campbell County citizen, every person in our area, and every person able to read this message.  Rhonda, her family, and everyone involved need all of our prayers and continued support.  We ask all of you, regardless of your faith, beliefs, and denomination to please pray, pray, and pray specifically for Rhonda, her safe return, and pray that the hands of the investigators involved are blessed and favored –Sheriff Robbie K. Goins(12/10/2014 - 3:00 PM)

Exhausting search for Daugherty continues

     So far, everyday’s hope for finding Rhonda Kitts Daugherty safe and alive has been dashed by day’s end.  For more than a week now, 10-20 officers have been searching hourly for the missing 49-year old Coolidge woman. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

Authorities say she just “vanished” last Tuesday, and so far, there are no solid tips or leads in the case.  More stories on Daugherty are found further down this page. (12/10/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Vann wanted by TBI in connection with robbery; police report details released

Vann remains on the loose this morning

By Charlotte Underwood

Former Campbell County teacher Lonnie Vann, 44, of Jacksboro, is still wanted in connection to an armed robbery which occurred around 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 6 in the Deerfield Resort Community. On the day of the robbery, sources told WLAF that Vann was a very strong person of interest in connection with the robbery, which occurred at the residence of Jim Fields.  By the end of the day, Vann had been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations top ten most wanted list. According to the police report, Vann was at the residence to speak to Fields about working on a website for his business.  Fields told deputies he had bent over to pick something up off the floor and when he looked up, Vann had a gun in his hand. Vann then demanded they open their safe. He stole three handguns as well as $900 in cash before leaving in a cream-colored 2013 Chevrolet Captiva, which Vann had rented on Dec. 3 from La Follette Enterprise. Vann zip-tied Fields and his wife to the stair railing and told them to wait at least 30 minutes before calling the police.  Jim Fields was able to free himself in about five minutes and called the police. The vehicle Vann left in has a Maryland tag with the numbers 2BC-6411. The case has been turned over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to law enforcement, Vann is considered armed and dangerous and is actively being sought for questioning regarding the armed robbery. Anyone who has seen him or has any information to his whereabouts is asked to contact the TBI at 1-800-824-3463, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department at 423-562-7446 or 911. Vann’s home was also searched in connection with the robbery. Vann has brown hair and a goatee and is somewhat stocky of build. He was last seen driving the cream colored Chevy Captiva.

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

In July, Vann was indicted by a grand jury for inappropriate conduct with a student after he was charged with solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault. 

Vann taught at La Follette Middle School and was placed on suspension without pay in October 2013 after allegations of the inappropriate conduct came to light.

In November of 2013, the case was handed over to the District Attorney General and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to the TBI, on Oct. 22, Vann took a 13-year-old student off school property to Coolidge First Baptist Church. While in the building, Vann allegedly hugged the female student and tried to kiss her, both without consent.

Vann also allegedly tampered with evidence by altering images on a recording device at the church. Vann turned himself into the Campbell County Sheriff. He was later released on $10,000 bond. He has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding the inappropriate misconduct charges.  (12/10/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Day Seven.  Still no Rhonda.

     Investigators are just looking for a break.  Big.  Little. No matter the size.  Just one break.  And that one break may be all they need to unravel the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of 49-year old Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  Today marks a week, a very long week, since the Coolidge woman was last seen.  From Sheriff Robbie Goins to Chief Deputy Aaron Evans to deputies, detectives, and TBI agents, there are anywhere from 10 to 20 officers looking for Daugherty everyday. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

The two words that highlight the theme of this strange and disturbing event are “vanished” and “standstill.”  It’s been said countless times that Daugherty just vanished, and that even though the search has gone 24/7 since, no clues leave the investigation at a standstill. (12/09/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Manhunt for Vann reaches Day Four

     Former La Follette Middle School teacher Lonnie Vann remains on the run this morning.  Vann is wanted by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for a Friday afternoon armed robbery on Deerfield Way in La Follette.  Vann, 44, is described as a white male with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands approximately 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighs 275 pounds. He was last seen driving a white Chevy Captiva with Maryland registration 2 B C 6 4 1 1.

 

Lonnie Vann

He is believed to be in possession of several firearms and should be considered extremely dangerous.  Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Vann is urged to call the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3463). There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.  Over the weekend, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation added Vann to the state’s Top 10 Most Wanted list. (12/09/2014 - 6:00 AM)

 

 

Reward in Daugherty case increased.  Again.

     Through anonymous funds and sheriff's funds, Campbell County Sheriff Robbie K. Goins announces a reward increase to a $5,000 reward for any information regarding missing Campbell Countian Rhonda Daugherty.  That’s up from Saturday’s increase to $4,500.  More stories and her picture are found further down this page.   (12/07/2014 - 7:00 PM)

Public says what police won’t in hunt for missing woman

     Was Friday’s home robbery at Deerfield a clue or coincidence in the mysterious disappearance of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty?  Police won’t say.  But the popular belief circulating on the street is that there is a connection between the home burglary authorities say Lonnie Vann committed and the woman from Coolidge who went missing last Tuesday (12/02/2014).  If these two disturbing stories are connected, Vann’s late afternoon hold-up on Friday (12/05/2014) is a gigantic clue and the first big break toward solving Daughtery’s disappearance. 

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

WLAF has confirmed that the two know each other and that each attended the same church, Coolidge First Baptist.  Daugherty vanished almost a week ago from her hilltop home at Coolidge while Vann remains on the run this morning.  Vann is free on a $10,000 bond and has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding inappropriate misconduct charges that involve a student from La Follette Middle School. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

The 44-year old Vann was a teacher at the school and is currently suspended without pay.  More stories on Vann, who is now on the TBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List, and Daugherty are found further down this page.  (12/08/2014 6:00 AM)

Reward in Daugherty case increased

     The reward for a missing Campbell County woman, Rhonda Daugherty, has been increased to $4,500 for information regarding her whereabouts.  More stories and her picture are found further down this page.   (12/06/2014 - 9:00 PM)

Vann makes TBI's Top Ten Most Wanted List

TBI NAMES JACKSBORO MAN TO TOP 10 MOST WANTED

NASHVILLE The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has a new addition to the state’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, Lonnie Lee Vann of Jacksboro, TN.

Vann is wanted by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for a Friday afternoon armed robbery on Deerfield Way in La Follette.

Vann, 44, is described as a white male with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands approximately 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighs 275 pounds. He was last seen driving a white Chevy Captiva with Maryland registration 2 B C 6 4 1 1. He is believed to be in possession of several firearms and should be considered extremely dangerous.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Vann is urged to call the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3463). There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.  (12/06/2014 - 9:30 AM)

Breaking news

Former teacher indicted for misconduct is wanted in connection with armed robbery

Investigation turned over to the TBI

By Charlotte Underwood

Former Campbell County teacher Lonnie Vann, 43, of Jacksboro, is wanted in connection to an armed robbery which occurred around 3:45 this afternoon in the Deerfield Resort Community. Sources tell WLAF that Vann is a very strong person of interest in connection with the robbery, which occurred at the residence of Jim Fields. According to sources, Vann tied up residence members, robbed them and then left in a cream-colored 2013 Chevrolet Captiva, which Vann had rented on Dec. 3 from LaFollette Enterprise. The vehicle has a Maryland tag with the numbers 2BC-6411. The case has been turned over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to law enforcement, Vann is considered armed and dangerous and is actively being sought for questioning regarding the armed robbery. Anyone who has seen him or has any information to his whereabouts is asked to contact the TBI at 1-800-824-3463, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department at 423-562-7446 or 911. WLAF is also hearing from sources that Vann’s home is being searched in connection with the robbery. Vann has brown hair and a goatee and is somewhat stocky of build. He was last seen driving the cream colored Chevy Captiva.

In July, Vann was indicted by a grand jury for inappropriate conduct with a student after he was charged with solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault.

Vann taught at LaFollette Middle School and was placed on suspension without pay in October 2013 after allegations of the inappropriate conduct came to light.

In November of 2013, the case was handed over to the District Attorney General and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to the TBI, on Oct. 22, Vann took a 13-year-old student off school property to Coolidge First Baptist Church. While in the building, Vann allegedly hugged the female student and tried to kiss her, both without consent.

Vann also allegedly tampered with evidence by altering images on a recording device at the church. Vann turned himself into the Campbell County Sheriff. He was later released on $10,000 bond. He has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding the inappropriate misconduct charges. (12/5/14 - 6:10 PM)

Reward offered in Daugherty disappearance

     Through anonymous funds and sheriff's funds, Campbell County Sheriff Robbie K. Goins has announced a $3,500 reward for any information regarding missing Campbell County female Rhonda Daugherty, as previously reported.  To contact the sheriff, please call 423.562.7446.  (12/05/2014 - 1:00 PM)

See Channel 10’s feature “Remembering Coach King” right here

     WBIR’s Courtney Lyle and her production crew were in La Follette earlier this week for a story on the late coach, Vic King. 

"Coach" or "Vic" depending on how you knew Coach Vic King (CHARLIE HUTSON PIX)

Click here to see her tribute to the legendary coach who passed away last week after a brief battle with cancer.  (12/05/2014 - 7:00 AM)

Coolidge woman still missing; search shifts

     On foot.  By ground.  On ATV and in the air.  Search crews have combed the Coolidge community and feel those means of finding 49-year old Rhonda Kitts Daugherty have pretty much been exhausted.  Chief Deputy Aaron Evans says that the search efforts today have shifted into a more investigative direction.  He explains that teams are going door-to-door, listening, and talking to as many folks in the community as possible this afternoon.  Evans adds that they’ve not received any tips or leads that you could grasp and describes the process as frustrating at times. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

He notes that everyone involved is not closed minded, and that they are exploring all options.  The woman, Evans says who just vanished, is a cancer survivor and has a grandbaby on the way.  A community-wide search led by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department and the La Follette Rescue Squad with efforts from members of the Coolidge First Baptist Church and the community is set for Saturday.  It begins at the church at 10:00 a.m.  Authorities encourage anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty to please call Sheriff Robbie Goins at 423.562.7446.  (12/04/2014 - 12:30 PM)

Crews searching for Coolidge woman

     Rhonda Kitts Daugherty has been missing for almost 24-hours.  Authorities tell WLAF that her husband, Charles, left for work at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday with her still at their Coolidge home.  Rhonda’s mother, Nancy Kitts, explains that she did not get an answer at home or on her cell phone when she tried calling her around 2:30 p.m. yesterday but didn’t think anything of it.  It was dark, misty, and foggy Tuesday night when Sheriff Robbie Goins and members of his department began searching around 8:00 p.m. 

The Daugherty home sits high on a hill looking down on Long Hollow Road where it intersects with Davis Chapel Road.  A Rescue Squad ATV searches for Rhonda Daugherty on the Daugherty property.

The search briefly broke off around 5:00 a.m. this morning when many investigators and deputies left for a couple of hours of sleep.  But they were right back at it at daybreak.  WLAF has learned that on Tuesday night, a search dog out of Roane County picked up Rhonda’s scent from the house to the road in front of the home, Long Hollow Road, and then the dog stopped at the edge of the road. 

Members of the La Follette Rescue Squad rode out on four ATVs late this morning for a ground search while awaiting air support to arrive from Knox County in the form of a helicopter.  The chopper has an estimated time of arrival of 12:30 p.m. today.  Rhonda Kitts Daugherty is 49-years old and is described as being five-feet, three-inches tall, weighing 140 pounds with hazel eyes and auburn hair. 

Officials outline that Daugherty left behind her purse, cell phone, reading glasses, and car, and that the back door to the home was left open.  Searchers have gone through the Coolidge First Baptist Church, where the command post is set up in the church parking lot, and all the vehicles around the church.  They’ve scoured the local pond, cemetery, Daugherty’s home and all the vehicles on the property.  A door-to-door search was also conducted at all the homes in Coolidge while authorities and hospitals in the region have been contacted last night and this morning.  Chief Deputy Aaron Evans says that nothing’s being ruled out, and he encourages anyone with any information to please call the sheriff at 423.562.7446. (12/03/2014 - 11:45 AM)

Campbell County woman missing.  Search continues.

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

     Rhonda Kitts Daugherty is missing.  Family members tell WLAF News that the Coolidge woman has not been seen or heard from since Tuesday.  The woman, who celebrated her 49th birthday last month, is approximately five-feet, three-inches tall, weighs about 140 pounds, has hazel eyes and brown hair.  Nancy Kitts, Daughtery’s mother, says Rhonda left behind her purse, cell phone, glasses, and car.  A command post is set up at the Coolidge First Baptist church, which is very near the Daugherty home.  Chief Deputy Aaron Evans adds that the search began in mist and fog around 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night and that search dogs were used.  If you know the where-a-bouts of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, you are encouraged to call the sheriff at 423.562.7446. (12/03/2014 - 9:30 AM)

Gail Nance (L) with Coach King in the fall of 2013

WLAF’s “coach” has left the gym

     The former coach, who has been an integral part of WLAF for the past couple of years, passed away Wednesday night at the UT Medical Center at Knoxville.  Coach Vic King, the winningest basketball coach in Campbell County history, died Wednesday night after a brief battle with cancer. 

Over a career that spanned the better part of 40-years, King was head basketball coach at La Follette Middle School, Oneida High School, and the Christian Academy of Campbell County.  He served as assistant head coach at Union County and Jellico High Schools.  As a head coach, he won nearly 500 basketball games.  At WLAF, he led the sales team and was director of marketing.  Victor Bradley King “Coach King” was 60-years old. (11/28/2014-6:00 AM)

A special thanks to Coach King

     Ever since my first transistor radio, about age five, I always wanted to be on the radio.  In junior high, Cliff Jennings, C.J. the DJ, let me sit in once in a while on his nightly radio show.  But it wasn’t until 1971 that my first chance to be on the air came around.  And it was because of Vic King.  And Paul Wright. 

Paul was Vic’s neighbor, and he was looking for someone to keep stats for his La Follette Owl football broadcasts over WLAF Radio.  Vic told me that Paul asked him to do it, but he told him no, but that he knew someone who would do it.  Me, the Freeman boy. 

 

Paul said OK, and that Friday night, the microphone that Paul said came over on the Mayflower was handed to me.  I was finally on the air and have been ever since.  Thanks to Paul Wright and my first agent, Vic King. (11/28/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Campbell County’s most followed medium, WLAF, reaches a milestone

     Thanks to you, our listeners, viewers, readers, and corporate partners, WLAF’s media platforms continue expanding and reaching more Campbell Countians everyday.  Whether it’s AM 1450, FM 100.9, WLAF-TV 12, or 1450wlaf.com, we’re glad you connect with us.  This morning, WLAF’s “dotcom” surpassed the one-million visitor mark!  It took a tad more than one-year, but we did it.  (10/28/2014 - 2:30 PM)

 

 WLAF Editorial Page Click Here

 

 

 

 

Listen to Keith Hatfield`s “Show Cause” 

     Keith Hatfield`s Sports talk show called “Show Cause” is heard here on WLAF each Friday following Tony Basilio from 1 pm to 3 pm. Keith will break down the Vols opening football game while also interviewing new Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall in this weeks show which is archived on the WLAF Archive page and currently can be heard by clicking the player below.  Hatfield who is from LaFollette is a member of and broadcasts out of the Tony Basilio Sports Network from the “Ray Mears” Studio in Knoxville.


Check this out on Chirbit 

Precinct-by-precinct.  District-by-district.  WLAF has all the final numbers.

     You asked.  WLAF delivered.  WLAF's Coach Vic King has taken all 184 pages of the election numbers and posted them right here.  Just CLICK.  (08/12/2014 - 8:00 PM)

 

Election results bring change

By Charlotte Underwood

      Campbell County has a new mayor.  E.L. Morton won in a run-away race for the county mayor’s office, easily outstripping incumbent William Baird and other candidates.  Morton received 4,022 votes, while Jack Lynch came in second with 2,346 and Baird came in third with 2,186.  Fred Cole garnered 748 while Marvin Rutherford finished with 194.

     Morton, members of his family, friends and old school mates gathered at the Holiday Inn Express to celebrate the big win before heading down to WLAF to give a big thanks to all his supporters.

     Morton said he was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support.  “Tonight’s a blessing and an affirmation.  I feared letting people down and not being able to deliver, but the people supporting our campaign came through and didn’t let that happen. I am really proud to represent the people that voted for us and look forward to being the mayor of Campbell County for everyone.  Morton said he had prayed long and hard about running for office.

     “I prayed not to do it, but I got a different answer and win lose or draw, I was responsible for doing that much at least.  I am relieved it’s over, but I look forward to building the community we want in the future.  We deserve only what we earn, but I believe the people of Campbell County are willing to work hard to earn it,” Morton said. 

Morton said he looked forward to going to work for the people of the county.

     Incumbent Sheriff Robbie Goins is going to enjoy another four years in office as he swept the polls against Gary Perkins and Pete Hatfield.  Votes for Goins totaled an amazing 6,986 while Perkins had 1,752 and Hatfield finished with 882.

     Goins said he was honored to receive the vote of confidence from the people of the county.  “I am so thankful to the voters; I think the people liked what we have been doing for the past four years and they showed that in support at the polls,” Goins said, adding that while he had felt good about the turnout, he did not know how overwhelming the support would be.

     “Everyone has been so positive these past four years about what we have been doing; we are all excited to get back to work for another four years,” Goins said, adding that he was “thankful and blessed.”
     Amanda Sammons ousted incumbent Joe Ayers for Sessions Court Judge in a fairly close race with a total of 3,698 votes. Ayers received 3,296. Challenger Kathy Parrott had a showing of 2,495 votes.

      Sammons said she felt excited and was still in shock over winning.  She said she wanted to thank the voters who put her in office.  “Thank you so much for entrusting me with your vote and your support,” Sammons said, adding that she looked forward to taking office and getting started.

     In Campbell County, Jared Effler is receiving more votes for the district attorney general’s office with 4,189 votes over Lori Phillips-Jones who had 3,992. Effler was declared the winner not long before midnight Thursday.

     In Campbell County, Leif Jeffers received 4,552 for the public defender’s office while Mark Eric Blakely garnered 3,612. Jeffers also won the other counties in the district to become the new public defender.

    In the Chancellor race, Elizabeth Asbury won with 6,743 votes to Andy Tillman’s 2,507 here and was victorious overall to earn the right to be the next chanellor.  Dormas Miller won the Register of Deeds office with 5,288, while Beverly Hall had 2,782 and Danny E. Wilson had 297.1

     The new county clerk is Alene Baird with 3,262. Lynn Letner received 703, while Todd Nance had 2,948 and incumbent Debbie Wilson had 2,721.

     First District County commissioners are N. Marie Ayers who received 677, while Whit Goins received 721 and Robert Higginbotham received 675.

     Second District County commissioners are Dewayne “Mailman” Kitts with 1,039, Cliff Kohlymeyer with 641 and Lonnie Weldon with 696.

      Kitts said he wanted to thank the voters for everything.

      “Well it’s an honor to win; I want to thank the voters.  The people in the district really showed me their support,” Kitts said, saying he sensed the people in his district wanted a change.

     “I made a lot of friends in the second district; really honored and thankful for everyone who voted. I am going to be a committed commissioner and do what I can for the people,” Kitts said, adding that he never thought he would be doing this.

     “I want to make a positive influence on the community and I invite the public to come and sit down with me if they need to talk,” Kitts said.

     County commission third district winners are Cliff Jennings with 627, Rusty Orick with 786 and Scott Stanfield with 886. 

     Fourth district county commissioners for the fourth district are Charles Goat Baird with 1,028, Johnny Coach Bruce with 1,098 and Sue Nance with 1,075,

     County commission fifth district representatives are Forster Baird with 709, Ralph Davis with 840 and Carl B. Douglas with 714.

     School board first district member is Wallace Goins with 1,289 against Rector Miller’s 666.

     Second district school board saw Sharon Ridenour win with 815 against Randy Comer’s 764.

     Third district school board member is Faye Heatherly who won a close race with 797 votes against Scott Hill’s 774 and Virgil Kidwell’s 185.

     In the school board district four, Clint Bane won with 748 against Tim Woods with 526 and Eugene Lawson’s 682.

     School Board District five saw Crystal Creekmore winning with 586 while Elsie Bates Crawford garnered 505, Johnny Creekmore had 402 and Ned Smiddy received 346.

     Congress third district sees Weston Wamp beat Chuck Fleischmann in the third district congressman race with 2464 against Wamp’s 2357 in Campbell County.  Fleischmann was eventually able to win and keep his seat in Congress.  (08/08/2014 - 2:30 AM)

FM is now a part of the WLAF media platforms 

     Who would have thought that WLAF would have a television station before it was able to secure an FM signal?  But that’s how it’s played out.  WLAF signed on as an AM radio station in 1953, added WLAF-TV 12 in 1990, and, as of this morning, now has an FM signal.  It is FM 100.9.  The new FM is a simulcast of 1450 WLAF.  The website, www.1450wlaf.com, is also one of the WLAF’s mediums.(08/07/2014-6:00 AM)

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