to listen LIVE to 1450 WLAF CLICK to watch LIVE WLAF-TV
Smith Hardware has Bonnie Plants. OPEN 7-days a week.
Smith Hardware is OPEN SUNDAYS 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Get the Time & Temp anytime, call 423.566.8463, a service of Terry's
scores from August 21
Gibbs 12 - Campbell 7
Jellico 35 - Hancock County 6
WLAF’s “Business of the Day” today is:
WHITE’S TIRE & AUTO
CENTER – Across from Woodson Mall
Shop local. It helps all of us.
Photo from home
Monday night marked Campbell County Lady Cougar Soccer’s first-ever
district win, 3-1 over
at Snodderly Park,
and a first-ever district goal. Number 17 Olivia Owens kicks home the
first of three goals on the night. Drew Leach and Lindsay King also
made the history book by scoring in the first ever varsity district
game. The next outing is Tuesday, September 1, at
in a 6:00 p.m. match.
readies for surgery
Lay set to start Friday night
The luxury the Campbell Cougars had is on hold for several games. That
luxury? Two very capable quarterbacks. That luxury went out the window
in last Friday’s season opening loss at home to Gibbs (12-7).
rolls out looking for a target while Tanner Bostic keeps a defender at
Starting Sophomore QB
Zach Rutherford left the game with a leg injury in the second quarter.
The very versatile Junior Josh Lay finished the game and will start
tomorrow night at Central in a 7:30 p.m. kick-off.
Campbell Quarterback Josh Lay (1) readies
to take the snap from Peyton Webb
Coach Justin Price
tells WLAF that Rutherford
is scheduled for surgery tomorrow and will likely miss the next several
Good weather is
expected for Friday night at
Mostly sunny and 79-degrees at kick-off with temps slipping to
74-degrees by the 4th
quarter. WLAF has the live radio and television coverage of the Cougars
and Bobcats at 7:00 p.m. over AM 1450, FM 100.9, wwwl1450wlaf.com, and
WLAF-TV 12 (joined on Channel 12 in progress at 8:00 p.m.).
(08/27/2015 - 6:00 AM -
DAVID GRAHAM PIX)
to meet again at 5:00 p.m. today in another effort to pass a budget
The Campbell County Commission will meet again in
recessed session at 5:00 p.m. Thursday, August 27 (today) to take up a
proposed budget and tax rate levy after several failed attempts.
Mayor E.L. Morton and Finance Director Jeff Marlow
met for several hours Wednesday and received input from other county
officials to craft a proposed budget that would minimize the tax
increase while still allowing some funding for additional road paving.
The proposed cuts include the Mayor’s request for a
full time industrial recruiter, the county commissioners’ discretionary
funds and over half of the proposed $1.2 million for road paving.
The proposed budget still requires an increase in
the property tax rate from $1.99 to $2.25, a rate that was rejected by
the commission on Monday night. The State deadline for finalizing a
budget under the new automatic continuing resolution policy expires on
Monday, August 31 and state shared funds could be in jeopardy if the
county fails to act by that date.
(08/27/2015 - 6:00 AM)
did not ask to reverse vote on firing Finance Director
In WLAF’s report on
Monday night’s county commission meeting concerning the vote to replace
Finance Director Jeff Marlow, we reported that County Commissioner Cliff
Jennings voted to fire Marlow, but after the vote failed 8-5 and many in
the audience applauded, Jennings
asked to change his vote.
To many sitting in the
back of the courtroom where our reporter/camera operator was located, it
appeared that Jennings
was asking to change his vote in favor of retaining Jeff Marlow and our
report stated as much.
Mr. Jennings, however, states emphatically that he
did not vote in favor of Jeff Marlow and “would never” vote to keep him
and that our report was in error.
After checking with various others who were located
closer to Mr. Jennings, we have learned that Mr. Jennings had no
intention of changing his vote to support Marlow. He had instead
misinterpreted the vote, thinking he had been recorded as voting for
Marlow until Mr. Marlow himself pointed out that a “yes” vote was a vote
to fire the Finance Director.
Since the courtroom’s sound system is inadequate to
pick up discussions or speakers who are not speaking directly into a
microphone, only the conversation between Mr. Jennings and chairman E.
L. Morton could be heard and that conversation appeared to indicate Mr.
Jennings asked to reverse his original vote to fire Marlow.
We apologize for the error. The votes were clearly
shown on the overhead monitor screens but for a brief period Mr.
Jennings misread the results and thought his vote had been incorrectly
recorded. He did not attempt to reverse his vote as reported.
(08/27/2015 - 6:00 AM)
begins her travels in
Dennis and Tracy Powers
By Susan Sharp
Dennis and Tracy Powers already have lengthy lists
He represents the 36th
District in the Tennessee General Assembly and she is the site director
for Roane State
Now they can add author to their resumes.
The Powers have released a children’s book, “Little
Kate, World Traveler.”
It was a two-year “labor of love,” Dennis Powers
said of the finished product. The book began as part of a class
requirement for Tracy Powers when she was pursuing her master’s degree.
Once the couple decided to move forward with publishing the book, they
chose to personalize it. It was illustrated by their cousin, Curtis
Wilson. With his colorful drawings Kate and her adventures spring to
life of the pages of the book.
Reflecting their love for their family, the Powers
changed the name of the lead character to Kate. Kate is the treasured
great niece of the Powers. In the book, Kate has a deep love for her
grandparents. She often goes to their house to help with chores, Dennis
Powers said. She goes more often after her grandfather dies. Through the
pages we learn the grandparents have been married for 50 years, spending
their marriage on the farm. However, Kate’s grandmother has always had
an unfulfilled wanderlust.
On her grandmother’s behalf, Kate sets out to have
the adventures her grandmother never had. To share her travels, Kate
brings souvenirs back to the farm, telling her grandmother of her
“It’s a great story about the love of a grandchild
for her grandmother,” Dennis Powers said.
The Powers already have the series mapped out with
this book being the first one. As the books progress, so will Kate’s
travels as she circles the world staying for extended periods of time.
Thomas Nelson Publishing Company has helped the
Powers launch the book. Currently, the book is set for release on
Amazon, as well in bookstores such as Books- A- Million and Barnes and
They are also working to get the book into smaller
“This book can be bought all over the world,”
Dennis Powers said.
But for now, it is already gaining local praise.
“I am hopeful that readers of the book, young and
old, will be reminded that contributing to the happiness and well- being
of others is paramount in the whole scheme of life,” local author Jim
Dossett penned on the jacket of “Little Kate, World Traveler.”
(08/27/2015 - 6:00 AM)
a ‘State’s Rights’state, folks States have all the rights, we get the
Boomer's Corner - By Charles "Boomer"
Now that all the drama surrounding the attempted
impeachment of Finance Director Moneybags Marlow is past, perhaps the
county commission can get down to the real work at hand, finalizing a
budget and tax rate.
It won’t be easy and it won’t be painless. I tried
to make that point a few weeks back with one of my typical humor
columns, suggesting ways the county could raise revenue without the
hated tax increase. All the suggestions were ridiculous, of course, such
as operating a chop shop out of the county garage.
The column backfired and I was raked over the coals
when it became evident that 1) some of our squires, like the FBI, have
no sense of humor and 2) some folks including a commissioner or two,
obviously slept through high school English when the teacher discussed
the short stories of Mark Twain and the literary art of satire.
So I’m going to stick to being deadly serious this
time folks, or as serious as I can manage whenever discussing the
Campbell County Commission. Let’s face it, these budget dramas have been
going on longer than any of us have been alive, and they never seem to
get easier. I was tempted to pull out one of my old stories from the
Campbell County Times, circa 1984 or so, and run it this week with all
the names left blank. I wager few people would notice the difference and
would try to plug in which current squire said what.
Moneybags and Mayor E. L. Morton spent most of the
day together Wednesday, not trying to strangle one another but
attempting to come up with a balanced budget they hope a majority of
squires can live with. I caught a glance of the result. The mayor is
abandoning, for now, his hopes for hiring an industrial recruiter. The
unavoidable deficits in the ambulance service fund and a couple of other
spots are covered by “equity,” which I presume to mean taken from the
They are leaving a little less than half of the
proposed $1.2 million for road paving, just enough to pave a few more
miles of highway this year and cover anticipated shortfalls in state
education money over the next couple of years. The proposed budget
eliminates some positions, such as maintenance workers at the courthouse
and one of the two litter control officers, but those were already on
the chopping block. The commission’s discretionary fund is eliminated as
well. The bottom line is a proposed tax rate of $2.24 or 2.25, I forget
That may be the best the Mayor and Finance Director
can come up with, but you can bet it won’t satisfy some of the
commissioners such as former Mayor Cliff, Whit Goins, Scott Stanfield
and a few others who have been clamoring for no tax increase at all. It
certainly won’t satisfy James “No more property tax, no more sales tax,
no illegal wheel tax” Slusher, who will undoubtedly not be satisfied no
matter what the squires decide to do, and it won’t please many of those
misinformed citizens who have been depending on Slusher, Cliff and a few
others to tell them the facts.
Personally, I wish Moneybags and the Mayor would
give the $1.99ers their way and take it all out of the fund balance.
Need more jailers to avoid a federal lawsuit? Take it from the fund
balance. Need to make up a quarter million dollars the State shorted the
school system? Fund balance. Need to make up $300,000 that Medicaid
shorted the ambulance service? Clean out the ambulance service fund
balance (Oh, I forgot, they’re actually doing that!)
We can use the fund balance to pave twelve miles of
road between White Oak and Duff, more fund balance to give county
employees that overdue raise that Mr. Slusher complained they need and
deserve, and go ahead with the dream of an active industrial recruiter
and enough money to buy up some land to locate new industry. Just borrow
the money from ourselves by raiding the fund balance.
Before you know it we will be right back where we
were in the early 1990s, before the county had a Financial Management
System for commissioners to blame. If one of the garbage trucks gets
sideswiped by a drunk driver or worse, blows an engine, we can get a
replacement from the rainy day fund. What, no rainy day fund? No
problem, Waste Management, Inc. will be happy to haul our garbage to
Chestnut Ridge. . . for a price.
Oh no, the county commission gets into another one
of those protracted squabbles over the budget next year, tax notices are
late going out and tax revenues are late coming in so the county runs
out of money because we’ve drained all our fund balances dry? No
problem, there are plenty of banks around willing to loan the county
money to keep the courthouse open and deputies on the street . . . . for
The scenarios are endless. Ron Dilbeck uses up
every dime in his 10 mile paving budget before cold weather starts, then
we have another Winter like the last one. Spring rains bring May flowers
and twenty miles of tire-busting potholes. Well, we can always take some
money from the fund balance to patch those potholes . . . . if we only
had a fund balance.
You get the picture. I’d like to give the $1.99ers
their way just one time so everyone could finally see the error of going
down that path, but it ain’t gonna happen. That danged Finance Director
simply won’t allow himself, as manager of the county’s finances and
answerable to the State Comptroller of the Treasury as well as Campbell
County citizens, to let the county go into default. He won’t deplete
fund balances that are required by state law to borrow from Peter to pay
Paul, cuss his ornery hide!
Marlow just isn’t a team player, which is probably
why some county commissioners, for the fourth time in his tenure, have
tried to fire him and get somebody in there who will tell them what they
want to hear, whether or not it’s legal, ethical or sound business.
After all, that’s what politicians are expected to do, isn’t it - tell
the voters what they want to hear rather than the truth?
But I feel sorry for the squires as well, even
though I love to needle them as a body. This mess is not of their
making. Yes, they kicked the can down the road last year by making up a
$1.3 million budget deficit from the fund balance. They had to make that
hard decision because the previous county commission delayed the budget
until after the election, when most of them weren’t returned to office.
But don’t blame the
previous commission either. They didn’t eliminate the coal industry in
costing the county $300,000 a year in severance tax. They also didn’t
create the maintenance of effort policies that require local government
to spend no less on education, highways and law enforcement than in
previous years. The county commission did not decide to decrease the
amount of money state government gives counties for education each year,
nor did the county commission set minimum guidelines for how many
prisoners can be housed in a jail cell or what the reimbursement rate
will be for hauling Medicare patients by the local ambulance service.
Commissioners also didn’t decide to close THP drivers’ license offices
and hand that responsibility off to County
What county commissions
all over the state must do is sit powerlessly by and watch while members
of the Tennessee State Legislature meet down in
thump their chests and brag about how they are cutting state spending
and holding the line on taxes. Then they simply pass the costs of
running government down the line to the county commissioners to be the
fall guys and gals and take the heat from irate taxpayers and voters.
Welcome to a “State’s
folks, where the State has all the rights and the rest of us just get
(08/27/2015 - 6:00 AM)
District Voters And All Campbell
(letter to the publisher
from Jeff Miller)
With the Meeting Monday night we saw how the true GOOD OLE BOY network
really works. This commission retained the Finance Director, mistake #
1. I also take note with comments from one of my commissioners in an
exchange with Mr Jim Slusher. Marie Ayers states she has no problem
paying 1200$ more in property taxes to " help pave roads" but votes to
give herself county health benefits at the tune of around 18,000 year..
GIVE ME A BREAK what a double standard. I say to you Ms ayers if you can
afford higher property taxes then you can afford to get your own
healthcare and it not be paid by us the taxpayers. Johnny Bruce whom is
a Education employee makes the motion to reinstate health benefits for
commissioners when he has a great plan already. FOLKS this is examples
of certain commissioners thinking of themselves and not the interest of
the citizens who are struggling in this county. Mr Marlow and the good
ole boy network is fully functional with the vote
to retain him I urge all citizens to stand up and demand better of these
commissioners or in 2018 VOTE THEM OUT!!!!
I want to personally commend Mayor Morton for standing up and attempting
I also want to commend Mr Cliff Jennings and Whit Goins of my district
for leading the charge to cuts in spending.
Jeff Miller Distirct 1
(08/27/2015 - 6:00 AM)
WLAF welcomes your
comments to email@example.com
WLAF’s David Graham was there for the first
Lady Cougar Soccer defeats Clinton
Click here for David Graham’s coverage of the
County Lady Cougars first ever district win.
(08/26/2015 - 6:00 AM)
K-9s Cowboy & Dano are
Duo now wears bullet proof vests
Officers need bullet proof vests. Their K-9
partners do, too. Thanks to a joint effort between the Humane
Society and Mountain Defense Manufacturing, K-9s Cowboy and Dano are now
wearing Operational Wear Armor (OWA) that’s made right here at
CCSD Sgt. Darrell Mongar walks with his K-9
Sergeant Darrell Mongar works with Dano while
Captain Jeremy Goins partners with Cowboy. Goins, a 14-year law
enforcement veteran, tells WLAF that Cowboy’s been his partner for a
couple of years now, and that it’s a big deal to have him protected with
the vest. “He’s just part of my family now,” Goins adds.
Captain Jeremy Goins
partners with Cowboy and places his name tag on Cowboy’s new vest.
Officers with the
Caryville and La Follette Police Departments also wear locally
manufactured Operational Wear Armor, and the Campbell County Sheriff’s
Department is currently in the bidding process with OWA. The plant
is located on Queener Road
CCSD Sgt. Darrell Mongar and his K-9 partner, Dano.
Dano now wears a vest everyday just like Mongar.
Scott Jefferson is the
local sales manager for OWA, and tells WLAF that his company has been
designing armor for K-9s for about six years.
(08/26/2015 - 6:00 AM)
Updated Lady Cougar Soccer Schedule
Here’s the updated 2015 Campbell Lady Cougar Soccer Schedule.
Commission stalled on budget as state
deadline looms, to meet again Thursday
After voting 8-5 to confirm Jeff Marlow as Director
of Finance, the Campbell County Commission again tried to resolve an
impasse on approving a budget and tax rate. The effort Monday night met
with no more success than all previous meetings, however, and Mayor E.
L. Morton was forced to recess the commission for another try this
upcoming Thursday night.
Johnny Bruce offered a motion at the outset of the
meeting to set a tax rate at $2.245, following most of the
recommendations made by Mayor Morton at last week’s commission meeting
for suggested budget cuts. Bruce added that his motion would reinstate
the commissioner’s health insurance coverage.
Morton then allowed three citizens who had signed
up to speak to have their three minutes before a vote was taken on
Bruce’s motion. James Slusher, predictably, was the first to address the
Slusher again urged a “no increase” tax rate of
$1.99 but spent most of his three minutes in a personal attack on
Commissioner Marie Ayers, complete with posters and photographs that he
claimed showed that Ayers had placed a gate across a public road that
had been paved by the Road Department. Ayers and Slusher had exchanged
words at the previous commission meeting.
Charles Johnson, the
second speaker, claimed that he lived on
the road in question, and he defended the locked gate as needed to
prevent thieves who had victimized property owned by Ayers’ father.
Ayers then addressed her comments to the group of
citizens in the room, pointing out that the commission could not afford
to pave roads as they desire without additional tax revenue.
“The average extra taxes people in Westbourne would
have to pay for the suggested tax increase is $19 a year. Mr. Slusher
would have to pay around $300 more a year and I own several rental
properties and would have to pay $1,200 extra a year,” Ayers argued.
“I’ll pay that $1,200 if folks in Westbourne are willing to pay $19 to
get more road funds. Is he (Slusher) here to save you or save himself?”
Paul Baxter was the
last person to speak, accusing the commission of being “Just like
all tax and spend.” Baxter then added, “You’ve got money in the fund
balance. Use that.”
The motion by Bruce was then voted upon but
received only five votes, failing 9-5. Bruce, Orick, Forster Baird,
Ayers and Kohlmeyer were the only commissioners to support the motion.
Whit Goins then made a
motion to freeze the tax rate at last year’s $1.99 rate, seconded by
Davis. That motion
received no more support than the motion by Bruce.
Goins, Stanfield, Carl Douglas and
voted for the $1.99 rate while everyone else rejected it and the motion
From that point on the
commission’s discussion traveled in the same circles that it has for the
past four meetings. When Jennings
asked why he could not get a balanced budget from the Finance Director,
Marlow explained that he could not present a balanced budget with the
mandatory increases to offset last year’s deficit without once again
dipping into the county’s fund balance reserves.
“So you admit you can
give us a balanced budget!” Jennings
Morton again pointed out that the commission has an
August 31 deadline from the state to finalize a budget and tax levy.
Marlow then offered to meet with him and go over all of the separate
county funds to identify how much would need to be deducted from the
fund balance in each fund to meet a zero increase budget and present
that information to the commission.
Morton agreed to meet
on Wednesday with the man he had just tried to fire and with that,
recessed the commission until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 27.
(08/25/2015 - 6:00 AM)
Tourism is a
$54 million business in
Grows by 7.5 percent in 2014
By Susan Sharp
number one industry is growing.
According to numbers
released last week by Tennessee Department of Tourism Development,
vacation industry grew 7.5 percent in 2014. That places the county tied
for third in terms of economic growth, as it relates to tourism.
“I am not surprised we
had growth, but I am pleasantly surprised with where we placed,” said
Cindi Reynolds, director of tourism and retirement for Campbell County.
shares the number three position with Marion
County (Jasper - near Chattanooga).
Last year, over $54 million was pumped into the
county from visitors at marinas, festivals, fishing tournaments and the
mountains. This was just over $4 million more than in 2013.
“Our tourism is growing. We have good things
happening here,” Reynolds said. Among those good things is the 441
tourism related jobs the county can lay claim to.
(Cookeville) was in second place with 7.6 percent growth while Nashville
came in first with 8.7 percent.
To put things in
perspective, Reynolds pointed to Nashville’s
growth rate. The town brings in over $5 billion a year in tourism dollar
and only saw a 1.2 percent growth over
"This increase in tourism across the board is a
result of the strategic work of Tourist Development, the Tourism
Committee, and the entire tourism and hospitality industry,” Gov. Bill
Haslam said last week when the figures were announced.
represent the hard work and dedication of the entire industry across the
state: lodging partners, attractions, convention and visitors bureaus
and destination marketing organizations, restaurants, local governments,
and of course, the great work of the Department of Tourist Development.
We applaud the efforts of our industry and thank the Governor and the
legislature for their commitment to tourism as demonstrated through
their increased funding for and support of the Department of Tourism's
strategic plan developed in conjunction with the Tourism Committee.
It is obvious from these figures that the investments made by our
industry and by the state are yielding an incredible return for
said Tennessee Hospitality and
Tourism Association (TnHTA) 2015 Chair, Ken Maples.
Reynolds in optimistic next year’s numbers will
show growth in tourism in the county as well.
The county will host three fishing tournaments as
opposed to the one it did this year, a new ATV festival and the growth
of the annual Louie Bluie Festival will be included in the next set of
“I want people to come and see what we have,”
(08/25/2015 - 6:00 AM)
County commission rejects attempt to fire
Finance Director Jeff Marlow
Meetings of the county’s Financial
Management Committee are usually conducted in front of an empty
courtroom but such was not the case Monday evening, as a standing room
crowd packed the house to watch the FMS Committee’s announced purpose,
to consider replacing the county’s longtime Finance Director Jeff
Commissioner Ralph Davis made the motion, to “go in
a different direction and replace Jeff Marlow as Director.” Davis, who
has been accused in a lawsuit by fired maintenance supervisor Stan
Marlow of carrying out a personal vendetta against both himself and the
Director of Finance, offered no reason for his motion.
Mayor E. L. Morton, however, launched into a
lengthy explanation about having researched the Financial Management Act
of 1981 and needing “eight votes from the county commission to concur
with a business model for the Finance Department.”
Morton continued to mention the county’s insurance
coverage represented by Deborah Cole, the contract with Norris Lake
Internet for computer services and a reference to possible
“impermissible purchases” related to a press box project for the school
department, but gave no concrete information that there was anything
irregular about any of those contracts.
Marlow responded only
to the press box question when Davis
pushed the issue, pointing out that he had stopped the project when it
became clear that two purchase orders had been submitted to the
Department of Education from the same contractor for work totaling over
“Once it became clear that a possibility existed
that the contractor may have split his work to avoid a bidding process,
I alerted school officials and they pursued other bids. The control
mechanism worked,” Marlow pointed out.
After a few more exchanges, Cliff Jennings, who is
not a member of the FMS Committee, commented, “We can discuss this all
night. There’s a motion on the floor and we need to vote and let it
Morton then called for
a vote on Davis’
motion, which was seconded by Whit Goins. Davis, Goins, Charles Baird
and Morton all voted “yes” while Lonnie Weldon voted “no.” The two
non-commission members of the FMS Committee, Road Superintendent Ron
Dilbeck and Director of Schools Larry Niddifer, both failed to attend
the meeting and Morton declared the motion approved 4-1.
then offered a motion to have an audit conducted of the Department of
Finance by an auditor other than the State Comptroller’s Office.
Joe Coker, however, advised Morton that such a motion was invalid since
it was not on the published agenda of the called meeting, and would have
to be made at a seperate meeting.
Morton immediately convened a recessed meeting of
the full county commission, announcing that the purpose was to vote on
the “dismissal of Jeff Marlow as Director of Finance.”
repeated his motion, seconded by Scott Stanfield, but received little
support from the other commissioners. Baird, Davis and Goins repeated
their earlier votes to fire Marlow, joined by Stanfield and Jennings,
but that was it. Johnny Bruce, Forster Baird, Marie Ayers, Rusty Orick,
Butch Kohlmeyer, Dwayne Kitts, Robert Higginbotham and Weldon all voted
“no” on the motion and Morton announced, “Jeff Marlow is still the
Director of Finance.”
Most of the people in the audience, which ranged
from county officials and employees to citizens from the Fifth District
attending to protest higher taxes, erupted in applause on hearing the
seemingly responding to the outpouring of support for Marlow, stated
that he wished to change his vote, but Morton ruled that the vote was
then tried to offer a second motion, presumably for a vote of confidence
in Marlow, but was overruled as the Mayor adjourned the meeting.
(08/25/2015 - 6:00 AM)
Finance Director remains in place on 8 – 5 vote
It wasn’t a Donnie Poston
pep rally, but Jeff Marlow did receive a large and loud round of
applause when the Campbell County Commission voted 8 – 5 to let him keep
his job. Although the FMS Committee, on a 4 – 1 vote, sent its
recommendation to the commission this evening to terminate Marlow.
The four no votes came from Mayor E.L. Morton,
Commissioners Charles “Goat” Baird, Ralph Davis, and Whit Goins.
The only yes vote was cast by Commissioner Lonnie Weldon.
Look for Charles “Boomer” Winfrey’s very detailed story on the events of
tonight’s meetings right here first thing Tuesday morning.
(08/24/2015 - 6:30 PM)
More of what was on display Saturday night
at the ELBC Car Show
Firing Jeff Marlow will
be a wrong turn down a rocky path
Ego, power, & retaliation are driving our
One man’s opinion by Jim Freeman
Back in my sports
casting days, I thought I was doing something really good when I drove
my broadcast crew from our campus near Cincinnati,
and back in the same day. It only cost us gas from the campus gas
station. And the van was a loaner from a car dealer. One full meal for
each crew member and a bag full of snacks later, and I’d saved my budget
two hotel rooms, more meals, and the cost of a rental car.
Then when I submitted
receipts for the meals, I was denied. Ohio
state policy is that unless you stay over at least one night, you are
not eligible for meal money. That wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear.
Although, I did learn there was a way to make that happen, but it was
going to cost my budget, and I either had to follow the law or stay in a
constant battle with the athletic department’s finance manager trying to
make my own rules.
Much the same can be
said of Campbell County Director of Finance Jeff Marlow in dealing with
the county mayor, county commission, and department heads. When someone
goes to Marlow for a request, and they haven’t followed proper
state procedure, it gets turned down. But at the same time, he will
instruct that person how to properly go about filing the request.
In 1991, the county
mayor resigned followed by the resignation of the director of finance.
By the summer of 1992, Campbell County
was in the ditch financially- as in the county was so broke it could not
even afford to buy new text books.
What changed? The first thing was Tommy
Stiner was elected county executive in August 1992. The next change came
when Stiner and the Financial Management Services (FMS) committee, that
included a banker and a CPA, hired a young man from Tackett Creek to
head up the county’s finances. His first day on the job was Sept. 28,
Jeff Marlow, Jellico
High’s valedictorian in 1982 and a 1986 Summa Cum Laude graduate from
via an academic scholarship, was that young man. And he inherited a
literal mess. One example of that mess is the aforementioned problem
with the text books.
could not buy new books, because it owed the Tennessee Book Company
hundreds of thousands of dollars. Marlow earned the trust of the company
enough to allow books to be bought for the 1992 school year and set up a
plan, once property tax money began coming in, to pay $100,000 a month
until all was square.
Fast forward 23 years. Some of our county leaders
don’t want to play by the financial rules. So Marlow is labeled as an
obstructionist. And a lot worse.
Ladies and gentlemen, do you really want to return
to the pre-Marlow days?
Just click here and
here to see the what numbers were like then compared to now.
That’s what I thought.
“good ole boy” reckless abandon with your money sent the county straight
for the ditch in the summer of 1992. Marlow came onboard that fall,
served as guard dog over your money, and continues to receive backlash
regularly because he’s not a member of the “good ole boy” system.
In order to keep his
job, stay out of jail, and safe guard our money, Marlow must follow
state and federal guidelines. When a county fails to do it by the book,
it is breaking the law. To the best of its ability, Campbell County
properly follows state and federal rules and regulations.
Marlow serves at the pleasure of the county
commission and the FMS committee. He does not have a vote on commission,
and he runs only one department, Finance.
Marlow has someone
checking up on him every year to make sure he and
finances are above board, the state comptroller and auditors from the
state department of education reviewing the federal school projects.
is also audited annually by a multitude of other state and/or federal
agencies in regards to program specific grants the county receives such
as TDEC, TEMA and FEMA. The county is not audited annually by the
IRS. IRS audits are less frequent, maybe every three years.
When the commission
votes on a property tax or wheel tax increase, Marlow does not have a
vote. The same goes for the new justice center and the solar panel
project. No vote. Just like when the commission votes to pass the
annual budget, he does not get to vote on it. Marlow’s job is to make
the numbers work for the budget the commission wants. He pretty
much acts as sort of a regulator valve.
And a note about Marlow’s staff of 13 (Marlow
counted), they are all under one roof. Of present staff, two of
the staff members could be placed in a separate purchasing department,
two could be placed in a separate Human Resources Department, and one
could be placed in the Ambulance Service. That is what some surrounding
counties do, and it makes that main office number smaller, but they
still have those other employees housed at the respective departments
and on staff.
Folks, here’s what
you’re going to get tonight. If Jeff Marlow is fired, he’ll be gone by
the morning and snatched up by another firm being paid bigger dollars by
will then back pedal until it can find someone to take over the
finances. That person will either be a Marlow clone, doing business by
the book and hated by many, or a yes man that will answer to any whim or
request, right or wrong, and soon have you, me, and Campbell County back
in the financial ditch.
There is more financial aid available for
Tennessee Achieves needs mentors
By Susan Sharp
Attending a two year
school or vocational school continues to get financially easier in
Thanks to the Tennessee Achieves program, students
who elect to attend one of these schools can do so without being left
holding the financial bag.
“It is a last dollar
scholarship,” said Katherine Ayers, senior counselor at
While most scholarships are based on grades and ACT scores, the
Tennessee Achieves is strictly a need based allotment.
According to Ayers, if a student qualifies for 90
percent of their tuition through academic achievement, Tennessee
Achieves will step in and pay the remaining 10 percent. It also will
step in when a student hasn’t received any academic scholarships and
will pay the tuition for the student. The only thing the program will
not cover is text books, she said.
However, a student must have signed up for the
program and be meeting the eligibility guidelines in order to qualify.
Ayers is in the process of meeting with students to
enroll them in the program.
Once the students are active in Tennessee Achieves,
they must remain a full-time student, complete the FASA (the federal
student aid forms) and complete eight hours of community service a year
for a charitable organization.
The second tier of the program includes the
students being assigned a mentor. “This is critical to the success of
the program,” Ayers said of the mentors.
Mentors are given a group of students who they
guide through the college application process as they offer support
along the way. The mentors usually meet with the students twice and then
send them reminders via texts as deadlines approach. Ayers said the
encouragement the mentors provide is especially valuable to first
generation college and vocational students.
Ayers said she also needs mentors at the local
level. Currently, she has 29 as opposed to last year’s 52.
For those interested in
being a mentor, they can apply through Tennessee Achieves at
began in Knoxville
and by 2012 was a statewide program.
In its first year, there were 493 applicants. The
class of 2015, saw 54,896 applications filed for financial assistance.
the number of applicants has grown from 189, in 2012, to 386 in 2015.
“This program has been an incredible difference,”
To enroll in the program students need to see Ayers
(08/24/2015 - 6:00 AM)
Here’s some county history for you
November 27, 1991, David G. Young resigned as
county executive (now known as county mayor). Director of Finance Randy
Kidd stepped down on January 17, 1992. Ray Burns stepped in as interim
county executive while CPA Raymond McGhee, without pay, served as
interim finance director through the remainder of the fiscal year.
The state’s review of
audit findings and recommendations for fiscal year July 1, 1991 through
June 30, 1992, is 19-pages
(CLICK HERE). The examination disclosed numerous deficiencies in
procedures, controls, and, records for all funds of Campbell County,
with the exception of the Highway/Public Works Fund. The County General
Fund was $921 in the red. Fast forward to the same report for the fiscal
year of July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, and that -$900 is now
AND HERE TO SEE THE NUMBERS.
has not had any natural growth since 2008-09. The county’s cash grew
from a couple of million dollars to more than 13-million dollars from
1992 to 2002. Since 2002, that amount has struggled to increase to a tad
more than $15 million dollars.
CLICK HERE to see the growth years’ numbers.
The property tax increase last year and the one
looming this year are a by-product of the recent past and present
decisions our county leaders have made, not made, wish they’d made, etc.
It all cannot be laid at the feet of the current mayor and commission.
They just ended up being the ones holding the bag.
(08/24/2015 - 6:00 AM)
The process to fire Jeff
County has come close three times
The process to
Director of Finance is two-fold. First the FMS Committee, comprised of
Mayor E.L. Morton, Road Superintendent Ron Dilbeck, Director of Schools
Larry Nidiffer, County Commissioners Charlie “Goat” Baird, Ralph Davis,
Whit Goins, and Lonnie Weldon, needs four votes. If they succeed, the
matter is taken before the county commission. Its members must cast at
least eight votes.
This is the fourth time Director of Finance Jeff
Marlow has come under fire. He was fired twice before by the FMS
Committee, but commission could not muster enough votes to complete the
termination. The other time, commission had enough votes to let him go,
but the FMS Committee did not.
- 6:00 AM)
WLAF reader Jerry
Chadwell offers some thoughts
Jerry Chadwell, host of Straight
Talk Live over WLAF-TV 12 Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m., took time to do some
Click here to read what he’s come up with, in particular, the cost
of health insurance benefits and who is receiving them and who is not.
- 6:00 AM)
Jim Slusher shares
thoughts with you today
CITIZENS AND TAXPAYERS OF CAMPBELL
will have three meetings. The first meeting will be the Financial
Management System (FMS) Committee at 5:00 p.m. This meeting
concerns the Director of Finance. The second meeting at 6 pm is a
special called meeting to deal with actions of the FMS. The third
meeting after the 6 pm meeting, is the continuation of a meeting
recessed last Monday. The budget for 2015-16 and resulting
property tax will be discussed. The budget and property tax rate
may be set at this meeting.
The mayor took full control of the budget
development at last week’s meeting. He took charge of the budget
process when the commission refused to act on the budget. He
stated publicly that he was working his way to a $1.99 tax rate.
He has listened to the people. He gave them, the commission, their
chance and they failed. We must support him in his efforts
to help the citizens and taxpayers of our county.
On a positive note, the commission voted to abolish
their “gold plated Cadillac” health care plan. I did not know such
a plan existed. Some of the policies cost over $18,000 annually.
Please note that commissioners only earn approximately $6,500 a year.
Being a commissioner is considered a public service commitment to the
citizens of the county and should not be regarded as employment.
In addition, the commissioners eliminated their discretionary accounts
(often referred to as their reelection fund). The cumulative
effect of the two actions has cut 2 to 3 cents off a 49-cent (25%)
property tax increase. Through his actions, Mayor Morton now has
the tax rate down to approximately $2.24. We also have a $45 wheel
tax that equates to 22.5 cents in property tax. This will stop new
residents from moving to our county.
After months in budget meetings the commission
appeared surprised that we have approximately $14.5 million in a fund
balance. One commissioner asked, “Where did that come from?”
Another commissioner said in essence, if you don’t want more taxes “buy
more tires”. This demonstrates the insensitivity of some
commissioners towards our citizens. There will be no social
security increase next year and a 25% cut in Social Security disability
payments is looming. This is on top of a $13,000 per capita
income, one of the lowest in the nation.
Our attendance at the
meetings has been standing room only. Your continued attendance at
meetings is critical. A victory for
the citizens, small businesses, and future of our county is at hand.
The increase of 13.1% last year is more than enough.
(08/24/2015 - 6:00 AM)
NO MORE TAXES
Your fellow citizen,
WLAF welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Carson’s calling it a career today
Finish line for 43-year run is 5:00 p.m.
Her smile and warm
personality. Her knowledge of banking. Her patience to help
you through your transaction. For 43-years, Linda Carson has been
with the same bank serving countless customers with those special
qualities. However, today is the last day Community Trust Bank and
its customers will have the luxury
has provided since she was a teenager in her early days at the bank.
Linda Carson completes a rare career feat, especially these days.
She wraps up a 43-year career with the same bank.
After all the cake,
punch, and well wishers are gone this afternoon,
will leave the bank one final time as her retirement officially begins
at 5:00 p.m. But in the meantime, you’re invited to stop by the
bank for cake, punch, and a chance to help Carson
make this most meaningful milestone a day to remember.
Quittin’ time today is also retirement time
for Linda Carson. She’s leaving the bank after 43-years.
Everyone here at WLAF says thank you, Linda.
You’ve been so kind and helpful to us over all these years, and we will
certainly miss you.
(08/21/2015 - 6:00 AM)
“Breakfast of Champions” was a success
After sending explicit pictures, Albertelli
is jailed; given probation
By Susan Sharp
A man will spend the next four years on probation
after he allegedly sent explicit pictures of himself to a 12 –year-old
On Monday, Kurt J. Albertelli, Jr., plead guilty in
Campbell County Criminal Court to two counts of exploitation of minor by
electronic means. The class E felony put him behind bars for 111 days
and on probation for four years. Along with this, Albertelli must
register as a sex offender.
As a registered sex offender, Albertelli is not
allowed to live, work or seek treatment within 1,000 feet of a school,
daycare facility, public park, playground, recreation center or field,
according to state law. He is also barred from being on those grounds
and is not allowed to loiter near them.
Albertelli stepped out of line when he allegedly
“sent inappropriate pictures of his private parts” to a 12- year- old
girl via a cell phone, according to Campbell County Sheriff’s
Department Det. Ricky Jeffers. Once the child received the images, she
“immediately gave the phone to her grandfather,” according to Jeffers.
“She absolutely did the right thing in this case,”
Albertelli told authorities he was a friend of the
family and had known the victim since she was born, police said. Once
confronted with his actions, Albertelli reportedly told the authorities
he was high at the time he sent the pictures, Jeffers said.
“The young lady who reported these appalling acts
to her family is to be applauded,” said Sheriff Robbie Goins. “Because
she came forward, she quite possibly stopped this from happening to
Per the terms of his plea, Albertelli is not to
have contact with the victim.
The following cases were resolved in
Campbell County Criminal Court on Monday through plea agreements:
Jarred Asbury- attempted burglary; 35 days spilt
confinement, judicial diversion, two years supervised probation, court
costs, complete an alcohol and drug assessment, remain in jail until a
rehabilitation facility is located.
Mary Elizabeth Albright- possession of drug
paraphernalia; 44 days of spilt confinement, 11 months, 29 days
unsupervised probation, court costs.
James Riley Moore- aggravated burglary; 30 days
spilt confinement, four years supervised probation, court costs, and
James Enoch Sanders, Jr.- reckless endangerment; 1
day spilt confinement, 11 months, 29 days unsupervised probation, court
costs, $500 restitution.
Tammy Nash Young-filing a false report; 11 days
spilt confinement, two years supervised probation, court costs.
Angel D. Gonzales- assault; sentencing delayed
until Feb. 2016, court costs.
Kara Beth Birchfield- domestic assault; 22 days
spilt confinement, 11 months, 29 days unsupervised probation, court
costs, complete alcohol and drug assessment, random drug screens and no
contact with victim.
Daniel Wayne Drummond- aggravated burglary; 50 days
spilt confinement, four years supervised probation, court costs, $52
restitution, complete alcohol and drug assessment and follow
Robert A. Muse- violation of the sexual offender
registry; 90 days spilt confinement, two years supervised
probation, court costs, $350 fine.
Recil M. Morris- theft of property $1,000- $10,000;
two years to serve with 25 day jail credit.
Clyde Junior Daugherty- reckless driving,
disorderly conduct; sentencing delayed until Feb. 2016.
Steven Daniel Lyttle- theft over $1,000, failure to
appear; 81 days spilt confinement, five years supervised probation,
court costs, $75 fine, $7,000 restitution.
Tommy Gene Worley- vandalism over $1,000; two years
supervised probation, court costs, $525 restitution.
Kristofor Emala- assault; 11 months, 29 days
unsupervised probation, court costs, complete Batter’s Intervention
Tommy Gene Worley- three counts sale of a schedule
II controlled substance; 10 years supervised probation, court costs,
Lou Ann Roberts- first offense DUI; 2 days spilt
confinement, one year supervised probation, courts costs, $350 fine,
loss of driver’s license for one year, attend one MADD Victim Impact
Bradley Earl Sweat- fourth offense DUI; two years
to serve with jail credit of 255 days, loss of driver’s license for
eight years, attend one MADD Victim Impact Panel.
(08/21/2015 - 6:00 AM)
Shears enters plea-
By Susan Sharp
Kenneth Shears has been on a legal rollercoaster.
After robbing the West End Marathon Station and
pleading guilty to aggravated robbery, Shears was sentenced to 271 days
in jail, with credit for time served. Afterwards, he was to spend eight
years on supervised probation. Any financial matters such as court
costs, fines and restitution were to be settled last month.
During that restitution hearing, it was learned
that Shears’ plea was invalid.
Under state sentencing guidelines, aggravated
robbery is not an offense where the offender can receive probation.
“It was an illegal plea,” said Eighth Judicial
District Attorney General Jared Effler said at the time.
Not only did this mean Shears still had outstanding
charges, it also meant he was headed to jail on a probation violation,
which is not a bondable offense.
On Monday, it was back
to the bench
This time, his plea agreement allowed him to plead
to robbery, not aggravated robbery, which made him eligible for
Initially charged with aggravated robbery, simple
possession of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug
paraphernalia, resisting arrest and tampering with evidence, Shears new
plea included the lesser charge of robbery and tampering with evidence,
according to court records.
The other charges were dismissed.
The plea put him back on probation for eight years.
Restitution was also settled at Monday’s hearing.
Shears is responsible for repaying the gas station owner $800. Along
with this, he is to have no contact with the station owner or the clerk
who was on duty at the time of the robbery.
Shears must also obtain an alcohol and drug
assessment, following any recommendations it yields.
In Sept. 2014, he was
arrested and charged with robbing the West End Marathon Station on
West Central Avenue
in La Follette after witnesses identified him by name as the masked
His trouble began when he walked into the La
Follette gas station with a bandana covering his face and told the
cashier he wanted what was in the register. Standing there with “a large
knife” Shears allegedly advised the clerk to “hurry and she wouldn’t get
hurt,” La Follette Police Officer Charles Duff’s report said. Taking a
handful of cash, Shears turned and ran for the door, as he removed the
bandana. This is when the clerk recognized him as a regular customer.
Two witnesses outside the store also knew who the
now unmasked man was, according to the LPD report.
Tracking down the evidence, Duff was soon able to
locate Shears at his home, where he was laying on the couch.
During a search of the apartment, Duff located the
clothes Shears was believed to have been wearing during the robbery.
Inside the pocket of the shorts, Duff discovered what was later
confirmed to be a schedule II controlled substance, opana.
Faced with the proof of his crimes, Shears
allegedly admitted the drugs were his and that he robbed the store. He
even agreed to show the police where he stashed the loot, the report
said. Walking towards the kitchen, Duff allegedly told Shears not to
touch anything. The police would take care of it. But it wasn’t
the money, Shears was after. As Shears “lunged into the cabinet” a
“burnt spoon wet with melted opana” was what he appeared to be after,
the report said.
As he struggled with Duff, Shears attempted to get
the spoon in his mouth, the report said. The melted narcotic ended up in
the floor. Police later found the cash believed to have been taken from
the store in Shears’ wallet.
Another response from a WLAF reader on Jeff
Miller endorses move to terminate Marlow
In a letter to www.1450wlaf.com
Citizens, I applaud the actions taken last
night by Mayor Morton. He finally rose to the occassion and offered cuts
to this budget and looked like a leader ready to make tough choices. I
strongly urge the commission to take a long hard look before raising
taxes. Raising taxes hurts growth and we do not need to do this. I fully
support Mayor Morton asking for cuts to the FINANCE DEPARTMEMT. The
Finance department is overstaffed and needs a long hard look at. And I
take it a step further and with the mess our county is in Finacially
maybe its time for a real change in this department. I support Raplh
Davis's motion to fire Director Marlow. There comes a time when change
is needed and with our current state financially its time for The
Director of Finance to change hands. I encourage Mayor Morton to be bold
and continue to lead and all commissioners especially my First dist
commissioners Goins, Higginbotham and Ayers to support Mr davis motion
the finance director. Make a change folks its time.
(08/19/2015 - 6:00 AM)
Jeff Miller Jr
WLAF welcomes your comments to
Comer and Orton appear in
State seeks death penalty for Comer
By Susan Sharp
A couple legally linked by the death of a child has
seen their cases inch forward.
Josh Comer and Amber Orton appeared in criminal
court Monday to determine the status of their cases.
Comer is charged with felony first degree murder in
the death of Orton’s three-year-old daughter Gabriella Orton. Amber
Orton is facing aggravated child abuse and neglect.
The case has lingered on the docket for more than a
Last June, the child was pronounced dead at the
local emergency room. A preliminary autopsy report cited severe child
abuse as the cause of death.
Comer’s appointed attorney Dale Potter told the
court he was still waiting on information relating to the case from
Assistant District Attorney Tom Barclay said the
state intended to share what it had, but there would be several motions
filed in the case as well. Barclay suggested the case have a date set
for both sides to argue motions.
Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton agreed to a Nov.
“Is this going to be a consolidated trial,” Sexton
He received a resounding yes from all of the
“Is there a chance it will not be,” the judge
Again, all of the attorneys said “yes.”
The state is seeking the death penalty for Comer.
He remains in jail on a $1 million bond. Orton is also still in jail
on a $750,000 bond.
(08/18/2015 - 8:00
Fleming set for 2016
Blood analysis not
back from lab
By Susan Sharp
With both sides giving justified reasons to have
their way in the Kevin Fleming case, Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton
ended up setting the case for trial on Monday.
Fleming, who is charged with three counts of
vehicular homicide, was on Monday’s docket for what was termed as a
final status call. This meant it was time for the parties to resolve
the matter or set a trial date.
However, James Bell,
Fleming’s attorney, wasn’t quite ready to do either. Bell
said he had filed a motion to delay yesterday’s proceedings, because
Fleming’s blood analysis wasn’t back from the lab. Noting the case
“totally turned” on the analysis Bell
said he would prefer to wait on those results before moving forward.
“The bottom line is I
don’t have a report,” Bell
Prosecutors in the case
said it was time to set a trial, because a speedy trial was needed on
behalf of the victims. Pushing for a trial date, the state noted
had previously agreed to the final call date.
“I will not make a
decision about this man’s life until I have all the facts,”
shot back with Fleming standing to his left. “I will not be pushed by
the state or federal government.”
Continuing to advocate
for his client, Bell
added a “footnote.”
Mentioning that he
agreed the victims do rights, Bell
noted “all of the victims had filed a civil action.”
This is when Sexton said he was not going to start
“leapfrogging cases” but that both sides did have a right to a speedy
Urging for the state to
slow down, Bell
said the blood test could bring a “reasonable and sensible solution to
When Sexton asked if
was hinting at a plea,
declined a direct answer.
Sexton determined it would be prudent to set a
trial date at this juncture.
Allowing a week of the court’s calendar, the judge
scheduled the case for trial the week of Feb. 9, 2016.
(08/18/2015 - 8:00 AM)
makes motion to fire Finance Director Marlow
Vote to take motion to commission set for Monday
At Monday afternoon’s FMS Committee meeting, County Commissioner Ralph
Davis made a motion to fire Campbell County Finance Director Jeff
Marlow. However, that item of business was not on the agenda.
Joe Coker told the members of the committee that they could not vote on
firing Marlow without public notice. The FMS meeting was then
re-scheduled to 5:00 p.m. Monday, August 24, at the courthouse at
Jacksboro, when presumably
will repeat his motion to terminate Marlow. When
moved to suspend the rules to bring up his motion, six of the seven
members voted “yes” to suspend the rules. Now that doesn’t mean
all six would vote to fire Marlow, but it should give him reason to
wonder just what is in the works. Davis, who was recently named in
a lawsuit over the firing of Stan Marlow, the overseer of the county’s
construction projects, needs eight votes from the county commission to
affirm the FMS Committee if members voted Jeff Marlow out. WLAF’s
Susan Sharp outlines the lawsuit further down this page.
– 6:00 AM)
Commission is stalled on
budget as packed courtroom opposes tax increase
Cliff Jennings says “We need
elected officials to make cuts & be part of the solution.”
The Campbell County Commission meeting on Monday
night started off where the commission workshop left off last week, with
a courtroom packed with people, most of them adamantly opposed to a
proposed 25 percent property tax increase.
It was standing room only at Monday night’s county
Mayor E. L. Morton, in an effort to move the agenda
along, limited speakers from the audience to three minutes, but that did
not prevent James Slusher from again getting in his licks against the
commission and any level of a tax increase. Slusher also criticized a
proposed sales tax as “regressive,” while attacking the La Follette
Press over a political cartoon that depicted tax protesters at last
week’s workshop as a group of clowns.
On more than one occasion, Mayor Morton had to warn
Slusher that he had exceeded his time limit before the outspoken critic
of county government finally relinquished the floor to a parade of other
Those speakers did not change the message, however,
as one after another spoke out against a property tax increase. Marie
Ayers finally took it upon herself to respond to some of the critics,
pointing out that she had advocated a sales tax referendum but wants to
be assured that voters will support it “before wasting $40,000 of your
dollars on a special election.”
Viet-Nam Veteran addressed the audience and commission Monday night
speaking out against the proposed property tax increase.
Slusher again took the floor, claiming to be
speaking “by proxy” as he seemed to attack Ayers, suggesting that roads
in the area where she lives were recently paved. He then repeated his
opposition to all taxes, repeating, “We don’t want any more taxes, no
sales tax, no, no!”
A question about
whether the county can tax expensive floating houses on
brought a response from Property Assessor Brandon Partin, who explained
that because the houseboats are not attached to real property but
suspended on public water, the state Tax Assessors’ Association has
advised caution until a legal precedent is settled.
Partin added that the total revenue to be gained
from taxing the floating houses would probably not make much difference
as far as a significant new source of revenue, “possibly no more than
$15,000 or so.”
After several more speakers had their say, Mayor
Morton invited a motion on the proposed tax levy as approved in
committee. Instead, he met a wall of silence from all fifteen
commissioners. As he announced “No action,” practically every person in
the audience rose in a standing ovation.
Morton then repeated his call, announcing that the
floor was open to any proposal on the tax levy. Again, his call was met
Morton then took it upon himself to suggest some
cuts in the proposed budget that would trim the tax increase. He offered
to drop his request for $300,000 to purchase industrial land, instead
asking only for a two-cent property tax increase to hire and fund the
office of an industrial recruiter.
He then proposed cutting the requested $1.2 million
for road paving by a third, to $800,000, and cut two cents off the tax
rate, or around $130,000, from the budget of the Office of Finance, a
move strongly protested by Director Jeff Marlow.
After adding another $45,000 in savings by
eliminating one litter control officer, Morton also proposed offsetting
$300,000 in lost revenue in the Ambulance Service by dipping into the
Ambulance Service fund balance. Finally, he announced, “I’m at about
$2.25 (down from the original $2.48). It’s up to the commission.”
“I tried to get us to cut the budget two years ago,
with help from elected officials,” Cliff Jennings replied. “Then we
tried to cut commissioners’ insurance and discretionary funds.”
In response, Johnny Bruce made a motion to cut out
all of the $48,000 budgeted in the commission’s discretionary fund,
which is used to help volunteer fire departments, school programs and
other non-profit activities. This time the motion passed 14-1, with only
Butch Kohlmeyer voting “no.”
Whit Goins then made a motion to eliminate health
insurance benefits for members of the county commission. A motion that
was defeated 8-4 in an earlier committee meeting this time passed 8-7.
Finance Director Jeff Marlow was asked to calculate
a new tax rate based on the cuts that had been approved or proposed. He
announced that with all of the Mayor’s proposals along with the cuts to
commission insurance and discretionary spending, the remaining tax rate
would stand at $2.2373, still a twenty-four cent increase over the
“I don’t think you’ll
get this worked out tonight,” Jennings
commented, adding his insistence that, “We need elected officials to
make cuts and be part of the solution.”
“We need to pass a budget by August 31,” Morton
pointed out. He then called for a short break before the commission
dispensed with other business and suggested that the commission adjourn
in session until next Monday, August 24 at 6:00 p.m. when hopefully, a
budget and tax levy can finally be agreed upon.
(08/18/2015 - 6:00 AM)
School zone named for
Large crowd attends dedication
Starrett’s widow, Jerri (next to concrete pole), looks on as officials
dedicate the school zone in front of Jacksboro Middle School
“Detective Mike Starrett Memorial Highway.”
Just like the afternoon when Jacksboro Detective Mike Starrett was on
his way to a fatal car wreck when he, too, became involved in a wreck,
heavy rain fell at Monday evening’s dedication honoring the veteran law
Representative Dennis Powers, Rev. George Asbury, State Senator Ken
Yager, JPD Chief Danny Chapman, Jacksboro Mayor Jack Cannon, &
Mayor E.L. Morton
The injuries Starrett
suffered in that January 23 accident eventually took his life in early
February. The portion of Highway 25W in front of Jacksboro Middle School
was officially named Detective Mike Starrett
(08/18/2015 - 6:00 AM)
More than 100 people turned out for
the dedication of the
Detective Mike Starrett Memorial Highway.
The school zone light was flashing during
Jacksboro Police Officers unveiled the sign
as rain fell.
Offer made in Vann case
Case reset for November
By Susan Sharp
It appears the wheels of justice are slowly moving
forward in Lonnie Vann’s homicide and robbery cases. When he appeared in
Campbell County Criminal Court this morning, attorneys in the case
disclosed an offer to resolve the case was on the table.
Vann, looking thinner and paler than at his last
appearance in May, remained straight faced throughout the short-lived
Clad in shackles and standard issue jail stripes,
Vann listened as the attorneys in his case batted about dates and
information regarding his future.
Dale Potter, the public defender appointed to
represent Vann, told Judge Shayne Sexton his office had received a great
deal of discovery in recent weeks but had not had time to review it.
Potter also acknowledged the state had made an
offer if Vann was willing to plead in the felony cases.
Assistant District Attorney Tom Barclay told the
court the defense had been given the discovery documents in June and
with a few exceptions, they knew the cards the state was holding.
“We recently discussed a means of resolving this
matter,” Barclay then said.
Potter didn’t comment on Barclay’s announcement to
When Sexton began suggesting dates to bring the
case back to the docket, a November date was selected.
“We will resolve the case that day or set it for
trial,” Sexton said.
The judge further reminded the parties to ensure
all of their filings went through the Claiborne County Criminal Court
Clerk’s office because the Campbell County Clerk had been excused from
Barclay added the only cases where an offer had
been made was in the homicide and robbery matters. The solicitation of a
minor was still pending.
(08/17/2015 - 10:30
Youth rally promises to be ‘extreme’
The White Bridge Park
may end up as the place to be on Labor Day weekend.
In fact, organizers of the Extreme 3:16 Youth
Rally are banking on that. Paul Bourff, who is spearheading the event,
said the annual event has grown exponentially in the last four years.
Last year, the Christian experience drew 250
participants. This year, Bourff is planning for even more.
For him, the all-day picnic and music fest is way
to reshape the echoes of past Labor Days. Bourff, a recovering addict,
remembers a time when the holiday weekend was simply an opportunity to
get stoned. “Labor Day was a big party weekend for me,” he said. And now
with five years of sobriety under his belt, Bourff wants other people to
know a good time can be had sans alcohol and drugs. Looking back on his
own life, Bourff said alcohol and drugs crept into his life.
“My mom and dad are two of the finest people in the
world,” he said noting that it wasn’t trauma or bad childhood that
pushed him into substance abuse.
The first time he smoked marijuana, Bourff was
nine. By 15 he deemed himself a “full blown” user. At 18 he left home
turning to cocaine and even harder drugs. “One thing just led to
another,” he said.
Then the back injury came. “That was the beginning
of a real bad end,” Bourff said.
For the next 10 years Bourff battled the back pain
and constant need to feed his addiction. Eventually, he became an IV
morphine user, who was committing crimes.
“I went to the very limit and God spared me,”
Bourff said of the time when he reached the bottom with his addiction.
“I didn’t know a way out.”
Yet, there was one- in the form of a judge.
Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton offered Bourff
the opportunity to take part in drug court, now called Recovery Court.
Bourff said he wasn’t sure what the court was
about, he just knew it meant not going to prison so he agreed.
It was during his days in recovery court that
Bourff began to change.
“I realized I couldn’t do it on my own,” he said.
“I gave my life completely over to Jesus Christ.”
And he never looked back.
Today, with his sobriety and a love for Christ,
Bourff is dedicated to helping others and showing them a good time minus
The idea for a youth rally was something “God
planted” in Bourff’s mind.
Bourff is happy for the opportunity to help host
the event and share his testimony.
On Sept. 4 at 10 a.m., the celebration will begin.
Bourff said an end hadn’t been established but there would be plenty to
do throughout the day.
Six Christian Bands, including the local favorite,
The Shine Effect, will perform during the event. Bounce houses and
speakers will round out the entertainment.
At 7 p.m. a church service will be held.
“Our whole objective is to get somebody saved,” he
Lifestar and the rescue squad will also be on hand
to give demonstrations as well. And there will be food- free food.
Beginning at noon, organizers will serve BBQ sandwiches, chips and soft
“The Lord makes a way,” Bourff said of feeding the
masses at no cost to them.
LPD offers handgun safety
Chief says it’s a way of giving back to the
The La Follette Police
Department is offering a “free” basic handgun safety and handling
course. LPD Chief Jimmy Jeffries tells WLAF that the course is the
first and third Thursday of every month through October beginning at
4:00 p.m. at the City of
He calls it a good service for the public and that it’s a way to give
back to the community.
Some of the material
covered in the class includes safe handling, proper loading and
unloading of the weapon, and general firearm safety. The class
concludes by firing 50 rounds at the
Participants need to bring a handgun along with 50 rounds of ammunition.
For more information and to register, Jeffries says to call
(06/11/2015 - 6:00 AM)