MADD needs support to keep specialty plates

By Bethany Anderson

There are many specialty license plates available in the state of Tennessee which people use them to show their support for various causes or to show their status as a veteran for example. Specialty plates cost an extra $35.00 each year in Tennessee. The money collected from the additional costs of these plates goes towards each of the causes represented on them. Each plate must have enough interest and support represented in their purchases to remain available though.
In 2016, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Tennessee lost their specialty license plates after drivers failed to purchase the required minimum number to keep the plates in circulation.
However, Senator Paul Bailey has granted MADD Tennessee another chance. If MADD can pre-sell 1000 plates before June 30, 2019, the design will be back in circulation. It is a daunting challenge, but more is at stake than just a decorative license plate.
“Our plates serve as rolling billboards to bring awareness to the issue drunk and/or drugged driving, and what better place to have a message regarding highway safety?” said Norris Skelley, MADD Tennessee State Board member. Not only do these license plates raise awareness, but the proceeds MADD receives from each plate helps fund their Victim Services Program–which provides help to those that have been affected by impaired driving–at no cost to the victims and their families. It is a critical source of funding that was lost when the plates were discontinued.
Anyone interested in pre-ordering a MADD plate should visit tnmaddplates.com and sign up. When the minimum of 1,000 pre-orders has been reached, then the $35.00 per plate will be due.
“Our plates are used to raised awareness about drunk/drugged driving, raise the necessary funding for victim services and to honor victims of impaired driving crashes, Skelley said
While there is currently no Johnson County Chapter of MADD, several locals have been working on starting one for quite some time, but have not gotten the needed support to do so.
Jeanie Linton, the mother of Jadey Dunn who was tragically killed by a drunk driver in Mountain City 20 years ago, has been trying since then to start a local chapter for Johnson County.
“We never could get the support we needed to have enough people to commit to it for MADD to let us have a chapter here,” said Linton. “I’m not ready to give up though.”
For more information regarding MADD Tennessee specialty license plates, contact Norris Skelley at norrisskelley@gmail.com or 931-261-4168.
For more information about starting a Johnson County MADD chapter, please contact the Tennessee State Office at tn.state@madd.org or 615-360-8055.

Sentenced: Davis gets 20 years for aggravated robbery on Cold Springs Road

By Tamas Mondovics

One of the defendants following the incident on December 28, 2018, where a victim in the Cold Springs community had her home broken into by two individuals and was locked in a room of her house, has pled guilty.
According to law enforcement officials, Willie Davis, 41 of Bristol Tennessee, pled guilty in Johnson County Criminal Court on Friday, March 29, 2019.
Not mincing any words, Judge Lisa Rice sentenced Davis to 20 years to be served at 100 percent.
The incident was investigated by Johnson County Investigators, assisted by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.
Initial reports stated that two suspects including Willie Davis and Jennifer Jenkins, 42, of Sullivan County were involved in an armed robbery and aggravated kidnapping in Johnson County, which ended after a pursuit, assisted by deputies from Sullivan County.
According to police reports, the victim was locked inside one of the rooms of the home but was eventually able to escape and flee to a residence nearby to call for assistance. The victim was then treated at an area hospital for minor injuries
Davis and Jenkins were apprehended on January 1, 2019.
“We would like to thank the Sullivan County Sheriffs Office for their time, efforts and assistance in the apprehension of these two subjects,” said JC Sheriff Eddie Tester following the suspects’ arrest. “All deputies involved did an excellent job.”
With more charges pending, Davis and Jenkins were arraigned on Wednesday morning, January 2, 2019, in Johnson County.
Davis and Jenkins were charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and false reporting.

Three Tennesseans die by suicide everyday

New status report reveals 24.4 percent increase in suicide deaths among children ages 10-17.

Staff Report

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Each day we lose three Tennesseans to suicide, now the ninth leading cause of death in Tennessee. In 2017, there were 142 youth deaths by suicide, representing the twenty-four (10-24) age group, with 51 of these representing children between the ages of ten to seventeen (10-17). Suicide by children increased by
24.4 percent from 2016 to 2017; and more alarmingly, suicide by children increased by 54.5 percent from 2015 to 2017.
“One death by suicide is one death too many,” said Scott Ridgway, Executive Director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN). “Given the stark increase in death by suicide among children, we are working with Governor-elect Bill Lee’s transition team to impress the importance of saving all lives in Tennessee and improving our prevention efforts.”
The Tennessee Department of Health’s Office of Health Statistics reports there were 1,163 recorded suicide
deaths in Tennessee in 2017, up from 1,110 the previous year. The suicide rate increased from 16.7 to 17.3 per 100,000. Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in Tennessee during 2014 – 2016.
The “2019 Status of Suicide in Tennessee” report provides state legislators, mental health professionals, and the general public with information on the problem of suicide in our state and what is being done to prevent it. Each year’s edition includes a detailed report on suicide trends within Tennessee, both overall and by age, race, gender, and geography. The complete report is available on the TSPN website at http://tspn.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/TSPN-Status-of-Suicide-2019.pdf.
As TSPN staff, its many volunteers, and the innumerable suicide prevention advocates across the state know, Tennessee is a national model with our efforts for suicide prevention. With that said, we must, as a state, increase our efforts to combat this public health crisis. For every number and rate that is provided in the “2019 Status of Suicide in Tennessee” report, a family member, loved one, neighbor, co-worker, and friend suffers an unimaginable loss. To learn how to get involved with TSPN or to request a suicide prevention training visit our website, http://tspn.org/.

Governor signs executive order addressing public safety

The order establishes Tennessee Criminal Justice Investment Task Force.

By Tamas Mondovics

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order last month to establish the Tennessee Criminal Justice Investment Task Force as promised during his State of the State address on Monday evening.
According to a release from the Governor’s office, the sixth executive order issued under his leadership comes after he outlined comprehensive plans to address public safety in Tennessee amid higher rates of violent crime and recidivism.
“There is a high cost to crime in our state and we need to consider who is paying the price for this – victims pay the price, families pay the price and taxpayers pay the price,” said Lee. “Our task force is committed to building smart solutions that make our neighborhoods safer.”
Lee’s office stated that the incarcerated population of Tennessee has grown by 34 percent since 2000, despite six consecutive years of reduced admissions to the criminal justice system.
The task force will be chaired with appointments including crime victims and their families, members of the General Assembly, state agencies, law enforcement, community and faith-based programs, and formerly incarcerated individuals by former judge Brandon Gibson of Crockett County.
The task force is promising to develop legislative and budgetary recommendations regarding the following public safety issues:

•Crime prevention and recidivism reduction
•Punishing violent crime promptly and effectively
•Supporting crime victims and their families
•Addressing mental health and substance abuse among the incarcerated
•Revising sentencing guidelines and parole/probation standards
•Addressing the rising fiscal and social costs of incarceration
•Preparing inmates to re-enter society and find pathways outside of crime through education and technical job training
•Equipping inmates’ families and communities with tools to help inmates become productive members of society

Lee has proposed measures to crack down on fentanyl traffickers, increase pay for corrections officers and law enforcement, reduce expungement fees and increase educational opportunities for incarcerated individuals.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office notifies the public of a recent scam

The Scam: Citizens are being advised that the call is from Mountain Electric Co-op and that their meter is expiring. Citizens are then be directed to go to Stores such as Rite Aid to purchase phone cards and to call them back with the numbers from the cards. Failing to do so will result in a disruption of their service.

These calls, which appear to come from a local phone number, are not legit. Mountain Electric will never ask you to purchase any type of card, that will have anything to do with your service.
If you should receive any kind of call representing Mountain Electric that you are unsure of, please call the local office to confirm. If still suspicious, please notify the Sheriff’s Office as well.

Tennessee’s seat belt usage rate reaches above 90 percent in 2018

By Tamas Mondovics

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) a division of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security advocating for traffic safety was pleased to announce in a release last week a significant increase in the state’s overall seat belt usage rate, compared to previous years.
According to THSO officials, the usage rate rose from 88.5 percent in 2017 to 90.9 percent in 2018, which they said marks the first year Tennessee’s usage rate surpassed 90 percent. Tennessee’s 2018 usage rate also exceeded the national usage rate of 90.1 percent, the release said.
“Tennessee is the 24th state to achieve 90 percent seat belt usage,” said THSO Director Vic Donoho. “We appreciate the substantial efforts made by the legislature, law enforcement, and local communities to reach this milestone. Moving forward, we will continue striving to achieve 100 percent.”
Highlights from Tennessee’s 2018 seat belt survey are as follows.
• Research data was collected at 190 pre-identified roadway locations across the State of Tennessee.
• Researchers observed more than 27,000 front-seat vehicle occupants.
• Vehicles observed included cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs.
• Overall, female occupants displayed a higher usage rate (94.8 percent) than males (88.3 percent).
• Pickup trucks displayed the lowest usage rate (84.24 percent).
The above data was collected through an annual roadside observational survey conducted by the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s Center for Transportation Research.
Tennessee’s seat belt usage rate is certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. THSO’s mission is to effectively develop, implement, and evaluate these programs. To learn more, please visit www.tntrafficsafety.org.
For more information, please contact Arriale Tabson at 615-767-3242 or arriale.tabson@tn.gov.

A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition to host first quarterly Community ACTION meeting

By Tamas Mondovics

A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition, a local organization that works to create a positive environment for young people by providing positive youth development activities, will be hosting its first evening Community ACTION meeting.
The event is scheduled for Tuesday, March 26, will be the first quarterly evening community meeting, at the First Christian Church Life Center from 6-8p.m to provide the community with information.
“Our goal is to get more parents and students and community members involved in the work of the coalition and to gain their insight and input as to how we can best serve our community needs in regard to Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and the ongoing fight against the opioids crisis in our region,” said A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition, Executive Director Trish Burchette.
The Rural Opioids Response Program grantees from Ballad Heath are partnering with ACTION for this first meeting, which is said to begin by providing some general information about how ACTION, located at 138 East Main Street in Mountain City, TN is working in the community at this time and the services we are offering for Johnson County.
“This is a great opportunity for the community to meet with the Rural Communities Opioids Response Program grantees as they seek input from our community as to how this grant funding could help as outlined below,” Burchette said.
Attendees will enjoy some refreshments, and we will have time for questions and concerns to address.
The Rural Communities Opioids Response Program grantees are promising a well-rounded discussion during its portion of the informative meeting for the entire community with the goal of accomplishing a number of main objectives.

Such objectives include:
1. Gain community input on the opioids crisis and identify opportunities and gaps in Opioids Use Disorder (OUD) prevention, treatment (including Medication Assisted Treatment, MAT), and or recovery workforce, services, and access to care.
2. Use the information gained from these meetings to determine what existing federal, state, and local Opioids Use Disorder (OUD) resources could be leveraged within the rural community along with what new ones should be evaluated in the strategic planning process.
3. Overview of the project, a summary of why community input is being sought, education on some statistics of the opioids problem in this area, and education concerning common myths around Opioids Use Disorder (OUD).
4. Identify two goals to combat the morbidity and mortality of opioids use disorder in Johnson County/identify two initiatives per goal/identify 2 action items per initiative/identify resources needed/identify general feelings surrounding MAT
All community members who are interested in the opioids epidemic are urged to attend.
“ACTION Coalition and members of the Rural Communities Opioids Response Program grantees want to learn from the community,” Burchette said. “Any level of participation is appreciated and voluntary.”
For more information, please visit www.actioncoalition.org.

Sheriff’s K9 Rico receives body armor

Johnson County’s bullet and stab protective vest recipient, Rico and his Handler, T.J. Brown pose for a photo in Mountain City. Rico received the protective gear from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. a 501c(3) charity organization located in East Taunton, MA. The vest was donated to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in memory of K9 Josey of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, TN.” Submitted photo.

By Tamas Mondovics

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office K9 Rico and his deputy handler JCSO Deputy T.J. Brown is ready to face the next chase, thanks to a brand new addition to Rico’s protective gear.
Rico received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a generous donation from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. a 501c(3) charity organization located in East Taunton, MA,
With respect and honor of K9 units across the nation, the vest is embroidered with the sentiment, “In memory of K9 Josey, Union County Sheriff’s Office, TN”.
“I am very grateful for the donation and appreciate what Vested Interest is doing for our K9 deputy-partners,” Brown said.
Brown, a longtime law enforcement veteran, who has been with Rico for more than three years emphasized that a lot of smaller departments do not have the funds to provide such protective gear. “Receiving this vest is a priceless piece of armor we need and shows the great support on behalf of our K9s.”
As referenced by Brown, such armor is by no means cheap and for a good reason as it saves lives. That is a K9 officer’s lives. There is an estimated 30,000-law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.
The donation to provide one protective vest for law enforcement K9 is $950.00. Each vest reportedly has a value between $1,744 – $2,283, and a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 lbs.
“K9s are trained to wear harnesses so this vest does not hinder Rico to get the job done,” Brown said.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc’s mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.
The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., provided more than 3,300 protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $5.7 million.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.
“Our K9 team here at Johnson County continues to work very hard to keep our community safe and protected as they are a huge asset to the department,” said Johnson County Sheriff, Eddie Tester.
Tester added that along with the department’s K9 recipient Rico and his handler T.J. Brown, the whole K9 team and department at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Vested Interest in K9’s, for the opportunity to be selected for the bullet and stab protective vest. “We are grateful for the donation made in memory of K9 Josey.”
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.

Liquor store ordinance draft under review

By Jill Penley

The Mountain City Town Council plans to review a package store ordinance draft during a special called work session Feb 26.
City Attorney George Wright delivered a draft of an alcoholic beverage ordinance to City Recorder Sheila Shaw last week for the council’s consideration.
“The city council needs to establish a regulatory structure for the new ordinance,” explained Attorney Wright, “ensuring it is compliant with a state law that stipulates reasonable access to package stores.”
Items contained within the proposed ordinance include liquor store licensing, fees, store locations, store size, signage, record keeping, enforcement, and penalties.
The liquor store referendum passed on Nov. 6, with 3,183 or 54.27 percent of the votes cast in support of the referendum and 2,628 or 45.21 percent of the votes cast in opposition.
Highlights of the proposed liquor store ordinance include:
• “No establishment selling alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises shall be located within three hundred (300) feet of any active school or active church. The distances provided for herein shall be measured in a straight line by beginning at the front door of the business location and going from that point to the front door of any active church house or active school.”
• “All retail package stores will be located on the ground floor of the premises. Each package store will have one (1) main entrance unless the store is located on the corner of two (2) streets, in which instance such store may maintain a door opening on each such street. Additionally, all retail package stores shall be of a permanent type of construction. No package store shall be located in a prefabricated/movable manner of building. All retail package stores will be equipped with lights surrounding the premises and a functioning burglar alarm system. Full and unobstructed vision shall be afforded to and from any public streets to the package store, and, to the maximum practicable extent, to the sides of the building containing the package store. The retail package store shall be a minimum of twelve-hundred (1,200) square feet. Finally, all retail package stores shall be subject to applicable zoning, land use, building and safety regulations by the Town of Mountain City.“
• “No radios, television sets, arcade/pinball machines or other such devices
which cause people to congregate or loiter shall be prohibited in a retail package store. In a retail package store, seating shall only be provided for employees. This section does not preclude the owner or employees from having a television set or a radio solely for their use, which is located out of the public view.”
• “It shall be unlawful for any person to drink any alcoholic beverages or physically and openly possess, display, exhibit, or show
an unsealed bottle containing any alcoholic beverage in
the parking area of any drive-in restaurant, shopping center, or parking area of any business premises, or on any public street or sidewalk, or in any public park, playground, theater, stadium, school, or school ground within the corporate limits of the Town of Mountain City, title 8, alcoholic beverages section, or a person, has been issued a permit by the State of Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.”

ACTION Coalition commends establishments on passing alcohol compliance checks

By Tamas Mondovics and Denise Woods

The Johnson County Sherriff’s Department in collaboration with Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition Inc., conducted alcohol compliance checks among seven businesses licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in the region.
Compliance checks of licensed establishments are conducted on a regular basis. To prevent underage sales of alcoholic beverages, TABC law enforcement agents use minor decoys who attempt to purchase alcohol from TABC licensed establishments including restaurants, bars, liquor stores, and retail stores.
Minor compliance checks are an integral part of protecting our youth against underage drinking by ensuring that licensed establishments comply with the state laws against sales of alcohol to minors.

“The goal is to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors before
tragedy strikes.”Chief Law
Enforcement Officer,
Bond Tubbs.

ACTION Coalition would like to commend local businesses including Big Louis’, Doe Valley Food Mart, Dollar General (Butler) who demonstrated responsible alcohol sales during the recent compliance checks.
“Compliance checks are an effective environmental strategy in reducing underage drinking,” said Denise Woods, with ACTION Coalition. “Underage drinking contributes to car crashes, injuries, vandalism, unwanted sexual encounters, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and death by alcohol poisoning as well as a risk of developing alcohol use disorders. By themselves, compliance checks will not eliminate youth access to alcohol. However, when combined with a comprehensive community approach, they can help keep alcohol out of the hands of kids.”
Statistics have shown that compliance checks help to reduce the percentages on non-compliant retailers statewide.
According to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, 1663 compliance checks in 2015 showed a 22 percent non-compliance rate, while in 2018 the 1696 compliance checks showed a drop to a 13 percent non-compliance rate.
The Tennessee Highway safety commission awarded a $125,000 grant to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission in December 2018 to prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries by addressing the illegal sale of alcohol to minors (under 21 years of age).
“The goal is to prevent the sales of alcohol to minors before tragedy strikes,” said Chief Law Enforcement Officer Bond Tubbs. “These funds from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office allow us to allocate more resources to the prevention of sales to minors, and in turn, help prevent traffic collisions and traffic-related deaths that might result from underage drinking.”
TABC will use grant funds to deploy law enforcement personnel to areas of the state that have experienced a significant number of DUI related arrests and collisions. It will also assign agents to work at high profile events such as festivals, sporting events, and concerts.
Selling alcohol to a minor not only affects the minor and the clerk but also the business. The Sheriff’s Department and Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission initiated citations to one business notifying them of failing to comply with TN laws regarding the sale of alcohol to minors. Retailers who sell to an underage buyer are referred to the Johnson County Beer Board for failing to comply with the state’s alcohol laws.
Responsible Beverage Server Training is available through the A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition to any outlet or individual that serves or sells alcohol. The five-hour training goes into depth about behavior cues and intoxication rate factors of intoxication, Dram Shop Liability, and Common Negligence laws, B.A.C, tolerance, alcohol proof amounts, and proper ID checking.
Responsible Beverage Server Training can also reduce insurance costs for the outlet and possibility reduces fines imposed through the courts.
For more information, please call 423-727-0780. Denise Woods is the Prevention Coordinator at A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition, Inc. in Mountain City.

Sheriff’s Report

2/01/2019

01/25/2019 Jeffersson A Antonio, Jackson St, Driving Under The Influence, Driving Without A Drivers License
01/25/2019 Stacy T Leonard, Waddell Rd, Theft Of Property U/$1,000, Theft O/$10,000 X 2, Aggravated Burglary
01/25/2019 Brittany C Matheson, Village Square Ln, Aggravated Child Abuse And Neglect X 2
01/25/2019 Kaleb N Mcwhorter, Burley Shoun Ln, Failure To Appear
01/25/2019 Matthew V Pennington, Gentry Creek Rd, Capias
01/25/2019 Blake E Phillippi, Cross Mountain Rd, Assault As Domestic Violence
01/25/2019 Bradley R Price, W Main St, Violation Of Community Corrections X 2
01/26/2019 Zachary G Eastridge, Grover Reece Rd, Failure To Appear X 2
01/27/2019 Charissa A Blevins, Brinkley Rd, Simple Possession, Driving Under The Influence, Violation Of Open Container Law In A Vehicle, Driving On Suspended Drivers License
01/27/2019 Dallas T Ferguson, Trout Run Rd, Violation Of Probation
01/27/2019 Douglas Z Mcmillan, Eller Rd, Assault As Domestic Violence
01/27/2019 Matthew L Widner, Forge Rd, Violation Of Probation
01/28/2019 Wendy L Hansen, Crackers Neck Rd, Driving Under The Influence
01/28/2019 Penny S Lipford, Hampton Tn, Violation Of Probation
01/28/2019 Laurel A Miller, Bulldog Rd, Aggravated Assault With A Vehcile As Domestic Violence, Assault
01/28/2019 Bobbie M Perry, Noah Snyder Rd, Worthless Checks
01/28/2019 Tracy S Proffitt, Hillcrest Rd, Felony False Report
01/29/2019 Elizabeth A Carr, Morefield Rd, Driving Under The Influence
01/29/2019 Wayne C Cook Jr, Pine Orchard, Failure To Appear For Booking And Processing
01/29/2019 Brandon L Hicks, Village Square Ln, Criminal Trespassing, Felony Failure To Appear, Violation Of Bond Conditions
01/29/2019 William M Oxentine, Hwy 421 N, Violation Of Probation
01/30/2019 Karan M Calloway, Lenoir Nc, Possession Of Schedule Iv Drugs For Resale, Simple Possession Of Schedule Vi Drugs, Possession Of Legend Drugs X 2
01/30/2019 Yolande Hartley, Dry Stone Branch Rd, Simple Possession Of Schedule Vi Drugs, Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia
01/30/2019 Zara L Mcneal, Crackers Neck Rd, Violation Of Community Corrections, Attachment – Failure To Pay Child Support
01/30/2019 Ryan A Miller, Harbin Hill Rd, Driving Under The Influence
01/30/2019 Kevin J Roberts, Hampton Tn, Failure To Appear
01/31/2019 Nickey R Gentry, Gentry Cemetary Rd, Driving Left Of Center, Felony Reckless Endangerment, Resisting Arrest, Evading Arrest By Motor Vehcile, Driving On Revoked Drivers License, Driving Under The Influence
01/31/2019 Alex M Casto, Rainbow Rd, Violation Of Probation
01/31/2019 Addie E Mahala, Damascus Va, Possession Of Scheudle Ii Drugs, Driving On Suspended Drivers License
01/31/2019 Delza D Noble, Reece Hill Rd, Dogs Not Allowed At Large
01/31/2019 Jonthan M Shelton, Johnson Hollow Rd, Resisting Arrest, Evading Arrest, Possession Of Schedule Ii Drugs, Violation Of Probation, Possession Of Legend Drugs, Attachment – Failure To Pay Child Support