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.  

County School Board Business Routine

October 14, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-14) The October meeting of the Scott County School Board was brief Thursday night; however, the body tackled a litany of routine items. In a meeting which lastly just slightly more than 30 minutes, the Scott County Board of Education address a variety of business items on it agenda, everything from making committee appointments to joining a virtual school program for expelled students. By unanimous vote Thursday night, the Board of Education opted to participate in a joint effort to establish a Virtual School, which will be operated and maintained by the Clinch-Powell Educational Cooperative.  The Virtual School will be a valuable resource for the Scott County School System, allowing them to provide an alternative form of education for certain groups of students, particularly those who are facing long-term expulsions from the school system.  While the school will be available free to the five local education agencies of the Clinch-Powell region (Scott, Claiborne, Union, Grainger and Hancock Counties), the schools must share the cost of attorney fees to write the guidelines, policies and procedures for the school, which must be submitted and approved by the Tennessee Department of Education. In other business Thursday night, the Board: Established a textbook committee for the 2010-2011 school year.  Persons named to the K-8 committee were:  Tonja Crabtree, Burchfield Elementary; Gretchen Stephens, Fairview Elementary; Denise Roberts, Huntsville Elementary and Middle; Debbie Beagle, Robbins Elementary; and Susan Vaden, Winfield Elementary.  At the high school, teachers Jessica Chambers, Tony Duncan and Dacy Williams were appointed; Created a 2010-2011 School Calendar Committee.  Named to the committee were:  Tonja Crabtree, Burchfield Elementary; Lounicia Hughett, Fairview Elementary; Sherry Trammell, Huntsville Elementary; Debbie Cross, Huntsville Middle School; Amanda Overton, Robbins Elementary; Melissa Rector, Scott High School; and Angie King, Winfield Elementary School; Renewed its Business Trip Accidental Death Coverage Insurance policy for accidental death coverage for employees on official school business.  Full-time employees and board members received $100,000 in coverage, while bus drivers and substitute bus drivers received $20,000 and $10,000 respectively.  The policy cost the district $765.00; Name members to its Disciplinary Hearing Authority Committee.  Persons placed on the committee were:  John Blakley, Chairman; Joe Carver; Tonja Crabtree, Angie King; Amanda Overton; Melissa Rector; and Kenny Vann. Approved membership in the Clinch Powell Educational Cooperative for the 2010-2011 school year.  The annual cost of membership is $2,500; Entered into a agreement with Steve and Sherry Lambert to locate a school zone flashing traffic signal on the Lambert’s property west of BurchfieldElementary School; Approved an eleven day study tour of France in June 2012 for a maximum of fifteen students in Instructor Kathy Obrusanzki’s French class at ScottHigh School.  The trip will cost $2,950 per student.  All expenses will be the responsibility of the individual students; Bid cameras for school buses, which will paid for through funds from the Safe and Drug Free Grant and Safe Schools Grant; Approved a trip for the Scott High School Student Council to attend the 2010 East Tennessee Leadership Workshop in Chattanooga on November 3-4, 2010; Approved three new staff positions for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years.  Through funding provided through the federal Education Jobs Bill, the county will hire a reading coach at Winfield Elementary; an attendance monitor at Huntsville Elementary; and a countywide maintenance worker for the Schools’ Maintenance Department; and, Recognized volunteers of the month for their contribution to the school system.  Honored were:  Teresa Smith, Burchfield Elementary; Brent Williams, Fairview Elementary; Larry and Kelly Hutson, Huntsville Elementary; Jenny West, Huntsville Middle; Richard Selby, RobbinsElementary School; Mike and Denise Keeton, ScottHigh School; and Bonnie Martin, Winfield Elemetary.

Early Voting For November General Election Underway

October 13, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-13) Early Voting for the November General Election is underway across the State.  In Scott County, about 150 people have already cast ballots. According to Administrator of Elections Gabe Lowe, 69 persons cast votes by personal appearance on Wednesday, the first day of the 14-day Early Voting period in Tennessee.  With 78 ballots already cast by either mail or paper, including 45 ballots cast by residents of area nursing homes, the total number of persons officially voting at the end of the first day was 151. 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.

Pair Arrested In Meth-Making Probe

October 11, 2010

Helenwood, TN (2010-10-11) A local man and an acquaintance from Indiana have been arrested by the Scott County Sheriff’s Department for allegedly making methamphetamine. Carl Edward Phillips, 66, of Helenwood and Donald L. Nevil, 55, of Indiana were arrested last Friday following a probe by the Scott County Sheriff’s Department into a possible meth lab at Phillips’ home on Helenwood Loop Road.  On Friday, narcotics officers from the Scott County Sheriff’s Department, acting on information received by the department, went to Phillips’ home and allegedly found several items commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.  Furthermore, officers reported smelling a strong chemical odor coming from the home, which was also attributed to meth making process. After being questioned, Phillips reportedly told authorities that Nevil had taken the unfinished product to another residence to complete the “cooking” process.  Scott County Sheriff Mike Cross and county officers went to a home on Windsong Drive, where Nevil was reportedly found “finishing” the product. Phillips and Nevil were charged with the manufacture of methamphetamine, possession of a schedule III controlled substance, possession of a legend drug without a prescription and promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine.  Bond for both was set at $10,000. Drug Agents with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, who are certified meth lab technicians, along with the Huntsville Fire Department, Eagle Hazmat and the Tennessee Meth Task Force performed the cleanup and processing of both labs. For more information on methamphetamine and the process used to make methamphetamine visit www.rid-meth.org.

Trio Charged With Copper Theft From Unoccupied Mobile Home

October 11, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-11) Three men have been charged in connection with the theft of electric wire from an unoccupied mobile home in Oneida. Eddie Wayne Chadwell, Jr., 20, Gary Wayne Chadwell Mullins, , and Lloyd Isaac Lamb, 25, of Jellico were arrested last week in connection with the theft of copper from an unoccupied mobile home in Oneida last month. According to an arrest warrant filed by Detective Randy Lewallen of the Scott County Sheriff’s Department, evidence of the crime was allegedly found inside a recreational vehicle occupied by Eddie Chadwell near the vandalize mobile home on Raccoon Loop Road.  Authorities, stated the warrant, found insulation from wiring taken from the home inside the RV. During questioning, Chadwell allegedly admitted to his role in the crime, further implicating Mullins and Lamb.   The home reportedly sustained significant damage, as the wiring was reportedly ripped through the drywall. Chadwell and Lamb were charged with burglary (two counts), theft of more than $10,000, theft of more than $1,000, vandalism of more than $1,000 and less than $10,000 (two counts), possession of burglary tools, and criminal trespassing.  In addition to the aforementioned charges, Chadwell was also charged with possession of a schedule VI controlled substance.  Lamb was also charged with possession of schedule IV controlled substance, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Bond for Lamb was set at $100,000.  Mullins was charged with burglary, theft of more than $1,000 and vandalism of over $10,000.

Final Week For Candidates To Apply For Open Commission Seat

October 11, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-11) Persons interested in making application for vacant fourth district seat on the county legislative body have until Friday to submit a candidacy form and resume to the County Mayor. Persons residing in the fourth district of Scott County who are interested in filling the vacant seat on the Scott County Board of County Commissioners have until 12:00 p.m. (noon) Friday to submit their “Offer of Candidacy” form and resume to the County Mayor’s office.  The vacancy was created by the departure of Commissioner Alan Reed, who resigned on October 1, 2010 after accepting a job and moving to Nashville. On Monday, October 18, 2010, the County Commission will vote on Reed’s replacement.  While all potential candidates are urged to submit the requested documentation by Friday, persons will have the opportunity to “apply for” the position by making a personal appearance at the Commission’s October 18, 2010 meeting, which will begin at 6:00 p.m. The person selected will represent the fourth district until the next general election.

Scott County Helps the World’s Largest Christmas Project Collect Giftsfor 8 Million Needy Kids

October 8, 2010

Oneida, TN (2010-10-08) Right now, hundreds of ScottCounty kids, families, businesses and churches are joining thousands of volunteers across America to make a difference in the lives of 8 million hurting children this Christmas. Kids and families are wrapping and packing empty shoe boxes with simple items most people take for granted, including toothpaste, toys and school supplies.  During National Collection Week, November 15-22, 2010 they will drop off their shoe box gifts at one the Boys and Girls Club of Scott County collection site.  Operation Christmas Child will then use whatever means necessary—sea containers, trucks, trains, airplanes, helicopters, boats, elephants—to hand-deliver the gifts to hurting children in more than 100 countries. “The project allows me, from right here in Winfield, to impact the lives of children in countries I may never have the opportunity to visit,” said Jessica H. Chambers, who has participated in Operation Christmas Child for 5 years.  “I hope my gift helps a child to know that they are loved—that their life is important.” Operation Christmas Child, a project of international Christian relief and evangelism organization Samaritan’s Purse, is the world’s largest Christmas project.  Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected more than 77 million shoe box gifts and hand-delivered them to needy children in more than 130 countries.   ·        If the 767 shoe boxes collected in 2009 by ScottCounty families were stacked on top of each other, they would reach 300 feet high. ·        In 2010, ScottCounty volunteers hope to collect 1200 shoe box gifts.   It’s the power of a simple gift that allows Operation Christmas Child to transcend all barriers—language, cultural, religious, geographical and political—with a message of hope and love.  For many of these children, the simple shoe box will be the first gift they have ever received. Samaritan’s Purse uses tracking technology that allows donors to “follow your box” to the destination country where it will be hand-delivered to a child in need.  Using the EZ Give donation form found at www.samaritanspurse.org, families can register their boxes and find out where in the world their box brought joy to a child. National Collection Week is November 15-22, 2010.  For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child or to volunteer at the nearest drop off, call (423) 539-1112 or email scottocc@gmail.com.  For more information about Operation Christmas Child visit www.samaritanspurse.org.

USDA Loan Grant Will Improve Oneida Water Service

October 5, 2010

Oneida, TN (2010-10-05) A loan/grant from the USDA Rural Development will improve water services to customers on the Oneida Water and Wastewater system. Bobby Goode, Tennessee Director of USDA Rural Development, Congressman Lincoln Davis, Oneida Mayor Jack E. Lay, Oneida Water and Wastewater Department Manager Johnny Acres, along with a host of other individuals gathered on the waters of Howard H. Baker, Jr. Lake on Tuesday to announce an USDA Rural Development loan/grant that will improve the delivery of water service to Oneida Water Department customers. According to Acres, proceeds from the loan/grant will be used to install an automated customer meter reading system throughout the district, along with operational improvements to the water treatment plant.  With funds from the award, the district will expand its Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, which will give plant operators greater flexibility in remotely controlling pumps and valves at storage tanks and booster pumps throughout the system.  The department will also deploy a solar-powered aeration system, which will capture energy from the sun to circulate water in Baker Lake.  The process should reduce the occurrence of blue-green algae in the town’s raw water supply, while also mitigating taste and odor problems. The loan/grant leveraged money made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The Town received $985,000 in loan proceeds, coupled with $375,000 in grant funds.    

Trio Indicted in Connection with String of Home Burglaries

October 5, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-05) Ten people were indicted last week by a Scott County Grand Jury, including three people charged in connection with a rash of home burglaries earlier this year. Christopher Lee Lalonde, 28, was indicted on eight counts of aggravated burglary.  Lalonde was charged in connection with a string of burglaries in and around the Winfield community between May 26, 2010 and June 17, 2010.  Authorities claim that Lalonde entered the dwellings, and was allegedly involved with the taking of items from them; thefts of jewelry, guns, and other items. James Lester McCann, II, 35, and Rebecca Joyce Cordell, 29, were indicted on separate true bills in association with Lalonde.  Authorities allege that many of the items taken from the homes burglarized by Lalonde were recovered from a Winfield mobile home occupied by McCann and Cordell.  The pair was charged with theft of more than $10,000. Gary Tyler Stephens, 22, was indicted on three counts, including burglary of a building, theft of less than $500, and vandalism of less than $500.  Stephens was accused of entering the office of a local orthodontist on August 6, 2010. Byron David Burress, 32, was indicted for the promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine.  Burress was arrested on July 28, 2010. Troy Allen Phillips, 40, and Brandon Neil Wiseman, 24, were indicted on a joint true bill.  The pair was charged with:  Possession of more than 0.5 grams of meth with intent to deliver or sell, possession of a schedule II controlled substance (oxycodone) with intent to deliver or sell, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Phillips was additionally charged with violation of the light law, driving on suspended license, and violation of the financial responsibility law.  Wiseman was also charged with criminal impersonation.  Phillips and Wiseman were arrested on August 21, 2010. Gregory Allen Phillips, 21, was indicted on four counts, including sale of a schedule II controlled substance (methamphetamine), failure to appear, possession of a prohibited weapon, and criminal impersonation.  The alleged incident occurred on July 24, 2009. Timothy Wayne Nash, 32, was indicted on a single count of attempted especially aggravated kidnapping.  Nash allegedly attempted to abduct a female juvenile under the age of 13 on or about July 5, 2010; and, Anthony Dean Byrd, 43, was indicted on charges of domestic assault and aggravated kidnapping.  Byrd is accused of assaulting his spouse on or about August 24, 2010. An indictment is a formal written document that is drawn up by a prosecutor accusing a designated person of having committed a felony or misdemeanor and which is presented to a Grand Jury so that it may take action upon it.  The potential for persons with similar or the same name in the community exists.  All persons are innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Health Insurance Premiums Rise For County Employees

October 4, 2010

Huntsville, TN (2010-10-04) Effective October 1, 2010, health insurance premiums for all employees of Scott County, except for employees of the Scott County School System, increased dramatically. The Intergovernmental Committee has recommended the County pick up the tab for the increased premium for the next 60 days, giving the County the opportunity to explore other options. Last December, Humana assumed Cariten Healthcare, the health insurance provider for Scott County employees since 2005.  In July, Humana notified Ken Coffey, the County’s Account Executive from Barnes Insurance Brokers, of a 33% increase in the county’s premiums.  A subsequent renewal was adjusted downward because of a change in the employee pool, resulting in an average net increase of around 24%, or about $88,000 annually.  Given the sharp increase, Coffey began working with the County Finance Department to find alternative coverage.  During the marketing phase, requests for quotes were sought from other carriers, including Blue Cross, United Healthcare and CIGNA.  Because of the demographic of the county employee pool, United and CIGNA declined to quote coverage.  In a last minute effort to stave off the majority of the increase, Coffey requested quotes from Humana for various benefit packages.  Ultimately, Coffey recommended the County temporarily move all current employees to one healthcare plan with Humana, a plan with a $5,000 per individual deductible.  Then, in a move designed to buy down the high deductible, Coffey suggested the purchase of a supplementary insurance or Gap Insurance product designed to lower the deductible to as little as $1,000 (individual).  Furthermore, employees could lower premiums by another $500 by participating in a Humana sponsored web-based wellness program.  Based on a $2,500 deductible, the premium would be comparable to the employee’s current expenditures. Dissatisfied with the options, the Intergovernmental Committee tentatively authorized the expenditure of up to $14,600 over the next 60-days to pay the increase in the healthcare premiums.  “This will buy us time to look for other options,” stated County Mayor Jeff Tibbals. The County has already begun working on collecting information from all employees to have a better representation of its candidate pool.  At present, the County has about 70 persons on its benefit packages, meaning insurance carriers look at the medical history of individual members.  “With pools under 100 people, they look at just individual histories. If we can get this information, we can show the total claims history,” said Coffey.  The County has about 140 employees that are eligible to take the coverage, meaning it could quality as a “large” employer, a company with over 100 employees.  Most carriers base premiums for large employers on the claims experience for the entire pool, instead of the medical history of individual applicants. Currently, Scott County contributes $192.41 per month toward each employee’s individual health insurance premium, a benefit that has not changed in many years.

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