Over 2300 Vote Early; Election Day November 2

October 28, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-28) The final day of early voting in Scott County for the November General Election was extremely busy, resulting in a larger than expected number of ballots cast in the 14-day period.  November 2, 2010 is Election Day in Tennessee. According to Administrator of Elections Gabe Lowe, 441 persons voted by personal appearance on Thursday; the final day of early voting in Tennessee.  Thursday was by far the busiest day of the early voting period, outpacing the nearest day by nearly two to one. In addition to those casting ballots in person, another 12 ballots were received in the mail, making the daily total 453.  Until Thursday, the largest daily turnout had been Friday, October 22, 2010, with 231 persons voting in person. While Thursday’s strong vote resulted in a unexpected spike in the early turnout, the total number of votes cast during the early voting period, 2321, is still less than those cast in 2006, when 2,891 voted.  Ultimately, 5,554 persons voted in the 2006 November mid-term election. With early voting over, the stage is set for the Election Day, November 2, 2010.  Offices on this year’s ballot include:  Governor, U.S. Representative, and State Representative.  A Constitutional question on whether or not to guarantee a citizens’ right to hunt and fish also appears on the ballot.  Locally, voters in Winfield are selecting a new mayor, along with two new aldermen.  Huntsville voters are deciding whether or not to allow the sale of liquor by the drink inside the municipality. With Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen term limited, Republican nominee Bill Haslam, Democratic nominee Mike WcWherter, and a host of independent candidates are vying for the open office.  Independent candidates for the office include:  Bayron Binkley, Brandon Dodds, Samuel David Duck, David Gatchell, June Griffin, Toni K. Hall, Mike Knois, Boyce T. McCall, Donald Ray McFolin, Linda Kay Perry, James Reesor, Thomas Smith, II, Howard M. Switzer, and Carl Two Feathers Whitaker. In the 4th Congressional District House of Representatives race incumbent Lincoln Davis (D-Pall Mall) is being challenged by Republican nominee Dr. Scott Dasjarlais.  Independents on the ticket include:  Paul H. Curtis, James Gray, Richard S. Johnson, and Gerald York. 38th District State Representative Les Winningham (D-Huntsville) is being challenged by businessman, Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown). In Winfield, town residents will be voting for a new mayor.  Current Vice-Mayor Virgil David Cecil is going head-to-head with former Mayor Bob Strunk.  One of the two will fill the seat left vacant by current Mayor Kenneth L. (Kenny) Burchfield, who opted not to run for office.  Additionally, voters will be selecting two new aldermen.  Candidates for the open seats are:  Chad Jones, Jeffery B. King, Kelvin King and Joe Stephens.  Current Aldermen Verscle (Bert) Burchfield and John Sexton likewise, chose not to seek reelection.  

Scott Jobless Rate Remains Highest In State

October 28, 2010

Nashville, TN (2010-10-28) Since February, Scott County has had the highest jobless rate in the state.  September wasn’t any different, as the county posted a slight increase in joblessness and, for the seventh straight month, the highest unemployment rate in Tennessee. According to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the jobless rate in Scott County for September was 19.9 percent, up 0.1 percentage point over the month.  Of the county’s labor force of 8,020, 6,430 were employed, leaving 1600 people without a job.  A year ago, the unemployment rate was 18.4 percent. In four of the five surrounding counties, the jobless rate improved.  In Anderson County, the unemployment rate for September was 8.2 percent, down 0.5 percentage point from August.  Campbell County reported a 0.1 percentage point decrease, down to 11.3 percent.  The jobless rate dropped 0.5 percentage point in Fentress County, which reported a September rate of 10.8 percent.  Morgan County also experienced a decrease in unemployment, a 0.5 percentage point decrease to 10.4 percent.  Pickett County was the only contiguous county to report an increase in unemployment, a 0.2 percentage point jump to 13.0 percent. Across the state, the county non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased in 85 counties, increased in seven counties and remained the same in three counties. Lincoln County registered the state’s lowest county unemployment rate at 6.0 percent, down from the August rate of 6.3 percent. Scott County had the state’s highest unemployment, followed by Marshall County at 15.6 percent, down from the August rate of 15.9 percent. Lauderdale County was third highest with a jobless rate of 14.3 percent.  Henderson County and Maury County followed both reporting unemployment rates of 14.0 percent.  Rounding out the top ten were:  Hancock County, 13.9 percent; Carroll County, 13.7 percent; Haywood County, 13.4 percent; Lawrence County, 13.4 percent; and Lewis County, 13.2 percent. Knox County had the state’s lowest major metropolitan rate of 7.1 percent, down from 7.6 percent in August. Hamilton County was 7.8 percent, down from 8.7 from the previous month. Davidson County was 9.1 percent, down from 9.5 percent, and Shelby County was 9.8 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from August.

Over 1600 Have Voted Early; Thursday Last Day

October 26, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-26) With just two days remaining, over 1600 people have cast early ballots in the November General Election.  Thursday will be the final day of early voting in Tennessee. According to Administrator of Elections Gabe Lowe, 1652 people had voted by the close of business on Tuesday, some 1200 less than voted early in the mid-term election in 2006.  Despite hotly contested races for all state offices and a constitutional question on the ballot, along with a municipal election and a liquor by the drink question on the local ballot, it unlikely this year’s election will match or exceed the 2006 totals. Tuesday was the fourth busiest day thus far, with 138 people voting.  On Monday, 105 people went to the polls. In 2006, 2891 persons cast their preference during the early voting period for the November mid-term election.  That year, 5,554 people eventually voted, meaning the early vote accounted for 52% of the final tally. Offices on this year’s ballot include:  Governor, U.S. Representative, and State Representative.  A Constitutional question on whether or not to guarantee a citizens’ right to hunt and fish also appears on the ballot.  Locally, voters in Winfield are selecting a new mayor, along with two new aldermen.  Huntsville voters are deciding whether or not to allow the sale of liquor by the drink inside the municipality. With Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen term limited, Republican nominee Bill Haslam, Democratic nominee Mike WcWherter, and a host of independent candidates are vying for the open office.  Independent candidates for the office include:  Bayron Binkley, Brandon Dodds, Samuel David Duck, David Gatchell, June Griffin, Toni K. Hall, Mike Knois, Boyce T. McCall, Donald Ray McFolin, Linda Kay Perry, James Reesor, Thomas Smith, II, Howard M. Switzer, and Carl Two Feathers Whitaker. In the 4th Congressional District House of Representatives race incumbent Lincoln Davis (D-Pall Mall) is being challenged by Republican nominee Dr. Scott Dasjarlais.  Independents on the ticket include:  Paul H. Curtis, James Gray, Richard S. Johnson, and Gerald York. 38th District State Representative Les Winningham (D-Huntsville) is being challenged by businessman, Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown). In Winfield, town residents will be voting for a new mayor.  Current Vice-Mayor Virgil David Cecil is going head-to-head with former Mayor Bob Strunk.  One of the two will fill the seat left vacant by current Mayor Kenneth L. (Kenny) Burchfield, who opted not to run for office.  Additionally, voters will be selecting two new aldermen.  Candidates for the open seats are:  Chad Jones, Jeffery B. King, Kelvin King and Joe Stephens.  Current Aldermen Verscle (Bert) Burchfield and John Sexton likewise, chose not to seek reelection. Eligible registered voters may continue to cast early votes through October 28, 2010 at either the Oneida Municipal Building, 121 Municipal Drive in Oneida or the Scott County Office Building, 2845 Baker Highway in Huntsville.  Polling hours for both locations are 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Voters must present valid identification. Proof of identity and correct/current address may be in the form of a current voter’s registration card, valid Tennessee Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Credit Card containing the voters’ signature, or utility bill. Election Day is Tuesday, November 2, 2010.

Over 1200 Have Already Voted; Early Vote Ends October 28

October 22, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-22) With just a few days left in the 14-day early voting period, over 1200 persons have already voted in the November 2, 2010 General Election.  The last day to vote early is October 28, 2010. According to Administrator of Elections Gabe Lowe, a total of 1283 persons have cast early ballots in the November 2, 2010 General Election.  Thus far, 1138 people have voted by personal appearance, along with another 145 persons by either paper ballot or mail. As the end of early voting nears, the activity at the polls has increased.  Friday was the busiest day of the period, with 231 persons casting ballots. In 2006, 2891 persons cast their preference during the early voting period for the November mid-term election.  That year, 5,554 people eventually voted, meaning the early vote accounted for 52% of the final tally. Offices on this year’s ballot include:  Governor, U.S. Representative, and State Representative.  A Constitutional question on whether or not to guarantee a citizens’ right to hunt and fish also appears on the ballot.  Locally, voters in Winfield are selecting a new mayor, along with two new aldermen.  Huntsville voters are deciding whether or not to allow the sale of liquor by the drink inside the municipality. With Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen term limited, Republican nominee Bill Haslam, Democratic nominee Mike WcWherter, and a host of independent candidates are vying for the open office.  Independent candidates for the office include:  Bayron Binkley, Brandon Dodds, Samuel David Duck, David Gatchell, June Griffin, Toni K. Hall, Mike Knois, Boyce T. McCall, Donald Ray McFolin, Linda Kay Perry, James Reesor, Thomas Smith, II, Howard M. Switzer, and Carl Two Feathers Whitaker. In the 4th Congressional District House of Representatives race incumbent Lincoln Davis (D-Pall Mall) is being challenged by Republican nominee Dr. Scott Dasjarlais.  Independents on the ticket include:  Paul H. Curtis, James Gray, Richard S. Johnson, and Gerald York. 38th District State Representative Les Winningham (D-Huntsville) is being challenged by businessman, Kelly Keisling (R-Byrdstown). In Winfield, town residents will be voting for a new mayor.  Current Vice-Mayor Virgil David Cecil is going head-to-head with former Mayor Bob Strunk.  One of the two will fill the seat left vacant by current Mayor Kenneth L. (Kenny) Burchfield, who opted not to run for office.  Additionally, voters will be selecting two new aldermen.  Candidates for the open seats are:  Chad Jones, Jeffery B. King, Kelvin King and Joe Stephens.  Current Aldermen Verscle (Bert) Burchfield and John Sexton likewise, chose not to seek reelection. Eligible registered voters may continue to cast early votes through October 28, 2010 at either the Oneida Municipal Building, 121 Municipal Drive in Oneida or the Scott County Office Building, 2845 Baker Highway in Huntsville.  Polling hours for both locations are:  Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Voters must present valid identification. Proof of identity and correct/current address may be in the form of a current voter’s registration card, valid Tennessee Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Credit Card containing the voters’ signature, or utility bill. Election Day is Tuesday, November 2, 2010.  

Armstrong Replaces Reed On County Commission

October 18, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-18) Brian Armstrong was unanimously chosen to replace former 4th District Commissioner Alan Reed, who resigned to take a job in and move to Nashville. Armstrong will hold the post until the next General Election, which will come in 2012. Brian Armstrong, who finished a narrow third in the Fourth District Commissioners race in August, was chosen by each sitting Commissioner in turn to replace Reed, whose resignation took effect on October 1. Armstrong finished just two votes behind Commissioner Dennis Sexton in the election. While the body could have chosen anyone from a field of five names placed into nomination, the Commission continued its tradition of choosing the person that finished closest to the incumbent in the previous election as the replacement for an outgoing Commissioner.  Other persons seeking the seat included Paul Honse and Terry Yancey (both who ran in the August 2010 election), Eric Green, and James (Jimmy) Hill. Armstrong will not fill the entire four-year term left by Reed. According to State statute, the appointment would be good until the next scheduled countywide General Election, which will come in August 2012. In other business Monday night, the Commission; ·        Appointed Shonda Crabtree, the Mayor’s Office Manager, as the county’s Title VI Coordinator and OSHA Director for ScottCounty, appointments that were required to comply with federal regulations; ·        Appointed County Mayor Jeff Tibbals, newly hired Finance Director Carol Lowe, County Clerk Patricia Phillips and County Trustee Jimmy D. Byrd as reimbursement signatories on various grants administered by the Mayor’s Office; ·        And approved a resolution supporting legislation at the State level that would require all future ethic laws apply to both State and Local governments. Several ethics laws passed by the state bind local governments, while not applying to State agencies.

Sheriff’s Department Canine Program Retooled

October 18, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-18) The Scott County Sheriff’s Department canine program will see a reduction in force in the immediate future, going from three dogs to just one. At the urging of Scott County Sheriff Mike Cross, the Scott County Commission Monday night cleared the way for two of the county’s three canines be sold to other police or sheriff’s departments.  According to Cross, by reducing the canine force from three to one, the department will cut operating expenses for the program. Monday night’s action will not eliminate the county’s K-9 program.  In the near future, Cross plans to obtain a multi-purpose canine cross-trained in drug interdiction, tracking, suspect apprehension, and other tasks. Currently, the three canines on the force, J.J., Gigi, and Halo, are trained only for drug interdiction. Since he took office, Sheriff Cross has had all three canines, housed in a third-party kennel for their daily care, pending a decision on the future of the canine program. Monday night, the Commission passed a resolution declaring two of the three canines, Gigi and Halo, surplus County property, opening the way for the pair to be sold to another government agency to continue their law enforcement career elsewhere. Sheriff Cross will retain J.J., and will return the canine to active duty sometime in the next month. The canine was donated to the Department in memory of slain officer Hubert “John-John” Yancey, who was killed in the line of duty. Once a suitable replacement that is cross-trained can be found, J.J. will be honorably retired from service. In other emergency services business Monday night, the Commission: ·        Approved the renewal of the contract with the State of Tennessee to house juvenile inmates at the JuvenileDetentionCenter. The State will reimburse the County $132.38 per day per inmate, with a maximum State liability of $43,318.70; ·        Awarded full-time status to three employees of the Scott County Ambulance Service, including Jason Terry, Tara Jeffers Sexton, and Stephen West; ·        And approved a request from the Pine Hill Fire Department to hold a roadblock at the intersections of Buffalo Road and Pine Hill Road, and W.J. Jeffers Road and Dexter Laxton Road on November 6, 2010.  In the event of inclement weather, it will be held November 13, 2010.

Airport Authority Gets Complete Makeover

October 18, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-18) After months of discussions regarding vacancies on the Scott County Airport Authority, the Scott County Commission passed a sweeping reform Monday night to completely reorganize the committee. The Scott County Commission overhauled the Scott County Airport Authority Monday night, reappointing all eleven positions on the board. Since expanding the membership of the Authority to eleven members in 2004, and the creation of a staggered term system in 2005, the lack of appointments and late appointments had led to vacancies on the Authority and improperly staggered terms. The resolution vacated all the seats on the Authority, and reestablished the desired staggering of terms so that no more than two seats would require reappointment in any given year. Persons appointed, area represented and term of office were:  Paul Lay, 1st District, 2012; Roger Wright, 2nd District, 2014; Eric Farris, 3rd District, 2011; Palm T. Phillips, 4th District, 2012; Wayne King, 5th District, 2015; Brom Shoemaker, 6th District, 2011; George Taylor, 7th District, 2015; Wayne Hughes, At-Large, 2013; Chuck Losey, At-Large, 2014; and Mike Douglas, At-Large, 2013.  Each appointee’s term began on October 1, 2010 and will end on September 30th of the aforementioned year(s).  Subsequent appointments or reappointments will be five year terms. In addition, one person from the Scott County Commission is also appointed to the Authority.  Unlike the other members, the Commission representative will only serve during his or her tenure on the county legislative body.  From October 1, 2010 to August 31, 2014, Chairman Pro-Tem Paul C. Strunk will serve in that capacity.  

Lost BSF Hiker Found

October 18, 2010

Oneida, TN (2010-10-18) A 25-year old Knoxville man that got separated from his companions has been found safe in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Juan Narvaez, 25, of Knoxville was located at approximately 1:20 p.m. on Sunday, October 17, 2010 afternoon, after spending the night lost in Big South Fork NRRA.  Narvaez’ ordeal began on Saturday afternoon, when he became separated from other family members. On Saturday, October 16, BSF Ranger Kristy Slaven received a call from Scott County dispatch that family members had reported Narvaez was lost.  Narvaez, stated the caller, and his family had hiked the Leatherwood Loop trail to the “river overlook” around 4:30 p.m.  On the return trip, Narvaez reportedly went ahead of the other hikers.  When family members returned to their vehicle, Mr. Narvaez was not there.  Family members and park employees hiked trails in the vicinity, but did not immediately locate him.  Search and rescue members were called in and looked for Mr. Narvaez until 2:30 a.m., when searcher fatigue became a factor. The search resumed Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m., employing additional personnel.  A Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter was deployed and unsuccessfully searched the river gorge.  Searchers contacted park visitors who had seen Mr. Narvaez and followed his apparent route.  At 1:20 p.m. on Sunday, October 17, Mr. Narvaez was located approximately five miles from where he had started. Mr. Narvaez was hungry and thirsty, but was examined by a park medic and appeared in good health.  He told rescuers he had crossed the river 3 or 4 times Saturday night. The Tennessee Highway Patrol, Interagency Rescue Squad, Scott County Rescue Squad, Fentress County Rescue Squad, Scott and Fentress Fire Departments, Big South Fork NRRA staff, and Obed National Scenic River staff, and volunteers participated in the search and rescue mission.

Early Voting Nearing 450 In First Three Days

October 15, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-15) The first three days of early voting in Scott County were brisk, as nearly 450 ballots were cast between Wednesday and Friday. According to Administrator of Elections Gabe Lowe, 442 people cast ballots in the first three days of Early Voting, including 348 people who cast votes by personal appearance.  The balance, 94, was cast by paper, either by mail or at one of the area nursing homes. Friday was the busiest day thus far at the polls, as 174 people voted at one of the county’s two early voting locations.  On the first day, 69 people voted, while 105 cast ballots on Thursday. Eligible registered voters may continue to cast early votes through October 28, 2010 at either the Oneida Municipal Building, 121 Municipal Drive in Oneida or the Scott County Office Building, 2845 Baker Highway in Huntsville.  Polling hours for both locations are:  Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Voters must present valid identification. Proof of identity and correct/current address may be in the form of a current voter’s registration card, valid Tennessee Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Credit Card containing the voters’ signature, or utility bill.  

Commission Meets With Potential Hospital Operator

October 14, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-14) Officials from the company that has signed a letter of intent with Mercy Health to take over operations of the Scott County Hospital introduced themselves in a presentation to Commissioners Thursday night, taking questions from the body on how they intend to turn around the struggling facility. Members of the Scott County Commission gathered at a Huntsville residence to take in a presentation given by Rural Healthcare Developers, Inc. (RHD), a Tupelo, Mississippi based healthcare company. According to Linda Webb, Vice President of Human Resources, RHD is a healthcare management and development company that specializes in the operation of rural hospitals, and has been successful is operating Critical Access Hospitals similar to the local facility. RHD also boasts a record of turning around troubled facilities. “There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in this area,” noted Ray Shoemaker, CEO of Rural Healthcare. RHD currently owns or manages six hospitals, including three in Mississippi, two in Louisiana, and one facility in Erin, Tennessee. One of the first changes likely to occur after the potential takeover would be to revive the Geriatric Psychology service at the Hospital. Shoemaker detailed that program as one of the most successful at all of RHD’s hospitals. While Mercy Health had such a program in the past, they were forced to cease offering the service. “We feel like the problem was we had the wrong psychologist at the time,” said Jack Bryan, Chief Operating Officer of the Community Hospital Division of Mercy Health. “This is something we feel we are very good at, and can help make this facility successful,” said Shoemaker. When asked by Community Development Committee Chairman Paul C. Strunk what the vision would be for the first three to six months of operation, Shoemaker noted that the first key would be to develop relationships. “I believe relationships with the local physicians, hospital employees, local government, and the community are key to making the Hospital a success,” Shoemaker said. In speaking of Hospital employees, Strunk asked how their accrued benefits, including sick and vacation time, would be handled through the transition. “We are bound by law to have a uniform benefits system across our system,” Shoemaker said. RHD policy caps banked sick time at 240 hours; however, employees with more than that amount of time would not lose those hours, but they would not accrue more time. “Each case like that would be looked at on an individual basis,” Shoemaker noted. Shoemaker made note that if RHD is to assume the lease from Mercy, they would likely continue to offer most services that are currently being offered at the facility. We want to determine what services are needed in the area, then we hope to find those services that would be profitable, and necessary,” said Shoemaker. Representatives from RHD will be meeting with local physicians in the near future to begin to develop a working relationship. One of the avenues to success outlined by Webb was to develop a network of rural clinics in the area. “We aren’t coming in here in a spirit of competition with local physicians,” stated Shoemaker, who went on to detail a hope to partner with local physicians through the hospital. “We feel this would be a win-win for all parties involved,” said Shoemaker. Both Bryan and Shoemaker stated that no timetable for RHD making a final decision on whether to assume the lease. “We are prepared to begin moving people here to start our final phase of due diligence, to check under the hood, so to speak,” Shoemaker said. Bryan stated that Mercy was comfortable with the choice of RHD. “We hope to maintain a good, continuing relationship with ScottCounty and RHD well into the future,” Bryan said.  

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