Woman escapes injury, drives away from fake officer with knife

Anderson County Sheriff Logo

A 49-year-old woman escaped injury on Monday night when she drove away from a man who pretended to be a police officer but pulled a knife after stopping her on Yarnell Road near Clinton, authorities said.

It’s the second report of a police impersonator in Anderson County this month.

The woman was pulled over by the man at about 9:45 p.m. Monday on Yarnell Road off East Wolf Valley Road, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said.

“He approached the victim and asked for her driver’s license,” Lucas said. “He then pulled a knife, and she immediately drove away and called 911.”

In this case, the descriptions of both the suspect and his car are different from the previous incident. The suspect in the Monday night incident was described as a white male in his mid- or late-20s to mid-30s, six feet tall, 200 pounds, clean-shaven, with a muscular build and short dark brown hair. He reportedly spoke with a soft voice. The suspect was well-dressed wearing dark civilian clothing (not a uniform) and had a badge on his belt. The victim did not see a firearm, Lucas said. [Read more...]

Erin Corwin’s body found in Calif. mine shaft; suspect arrested in Alaska

Erin Corwin with Horse

Erin Corwin, who was from Oak Ridge, was an animal lover who volunteered at a horse rescue near Twentynine Palms, California.

 

The body of Erin Corwin, a pregnant 19-year-old Oak Ridge native who had been missing in southern California since late June, was found 140 feet down a mine shaft on Saturday, authorities said Monday.

Corwin’s body, found with the help of video equipment at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, was identified at 9:30 p.m. Sunday using dental records, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.

A half-hour later, at 10 p.m. Sunday, Christopher Brandon Lee was arrested in Anchorage, Alaska, for the murder of Corwin, the Sheriff’s Department said. An autopsy has determined the death was a homicide.

The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, California, said Lee is a 24-year-old ex-Marine who lived next to Erin and her husband, Marine Corporal Jonathan Corwin, who is also from Oak Ridge, at a desert base in Twentynine Palms, California. Detectives believe that Lee and Erin Corwin were having an affair, and that Lee may have been afraid that his wife Nichole would discover his infidelity, the newspaper said.

Corwin vanished June 28 after telling her husband that she was going to Joshua Tree National Park south of Twentynine Palms. [Read more...]

Miller, mayor pro tem, won’t seek re-election in November

Jane Miller

Jane Miller

She’s been on the Oak Ridge City Council for more than a decade, and on Sunday, Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller said she will not seek re-election in November.

Miller was appointed to City Council in October 2003. She successfully ran for the office in a special election in August 2004 and was re-elected in 2005 and 2009.

Miller was elected by the City Council to first serve as mayor pro tem in July 2007, presiding over meetings when the mayor is absent, and she has continued since, having been re-elected by Council in 2009, 2011, and 2013.

“It has been a great honor and privilege to work with and for the citizens of Oak Ridge as a member of City Council and mayor pro tem,” Miller said in a press release. “I have been humbled to represent you as a common sense, pro-business leader and to work for responsible solutions to improve our city and pursue a better, brighter future for our citizens. This is a bittersweet decision, but after much discussion with my family over the last few weeks, it is time for me to pass this responsibility to others.”

Eleven years is enough, Miller said. [Read more...]

Anderson County Commission to consider pay raise proposal tonight

Chuck Fritts

Chuck Fritts

They haven’t had a raise in more than two decades, and on Monday night, Anderson County commissioners will consider whether to approve a salary increase for the new commission that starts in September.

Commissioners now receive $537.59 per month, or $6,451 each year. That’s what they’ve earned since Fiscal Year 1995-96.

Commissioners last received a salary increase in FY 1992-93, when their pay was raised 1.5 percent to $599 per month, or $7,199 each year.

But their monthly salary was then cut to the current level of $537.59 a few years later, in FY 95-96. There has been no change since.

A resolution to be considered by commissioners tonight (Monday, August 18) would give the new commission that starts in September the same pay raises awarded to all other elected officials, Commission Chair Chuck Fritts said. It would put commissioners on the same “playing field” as other elected officials, said Fritts, who made the proposal. He said commissioners ought to be included when those elected officials receive a raise. [Read more...]

Wildcats need to play tougher, more aggressively, Gaddis says

Oak Ridge and South-Doyle Scrimmage

Sophomore Damarea Whitt of the Oak Ridge Wildcats, right, breaks up a pass intended for senior Chad Barksdale of the South-Doyle Cherokees during a pre-season scrimmage at Oak Ridge High School on Thursday.

The regular season starts in two weeks, and the Oak Ridge Wildcats need to play tougher and more aggressively, Coach Joe Gaddis said after the team’s second pre-season scrimmage on Thursday.

The Wildcats played the South-Doyle Cherokees at Ben Martin Track at Oak Ridge High School. It was also the second scrimmage for the Cherokees.

The South-Doyle varsity team scored three times to Oak Ridge’s two. The Wildcats played better as the scrimmage progressed and the team made adjustments, but the Cherokees “drove down the throat” on their first two possessions, Gaddis said.

“That’s not good,” he said. “We’ve got to play tougher, more aggressively, more physical.” [Read more...]

Thursday deadline to qualify for municipal elections across Anderson County

Vote Logo

Thursday is the deadline to qualify for municipal elections across Anderson County, and so far, there appears to be a mix of incumbents and newcomers in Oak Ridge, Clinton, Rocky Top (Lake City), Norris, and Oliver Springs.

Eleven people, including the four incumbents, have expressed an interest in running for four seats on Oak Ridge City Council in November, and seven candidates have qualified so far.

Meanwhile, three people, including one incumbent, have qualified to run for three seats on the Oak Ridge Board of Education. A total of nine potential candidates, including the three who have qualified, have picked up petitions to run for Oak Ridge school board.

The November 4 election is the last in a series of three elections this year. The deadline to qualify is noon Thursday, August 21. A candidate needs 25 verified signatures on a nomination petition to qualify.

Those who have qualified to run for Oak Ridge City Council are: [Read more...]

After two days in hospital, toddler dies from drowning, CPD says

Anthony Hampton

Anthony Hampton (Photo courtesy Brenda Hood)

The two-year-old boy who apparently fell into a swimming pool at his grandparents’ home in Clinton on Tuesday morning died Thursday morning at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, authorities said.

Anthony Hampton had been in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, the Clinton Police Department said.

The CPD and Clinton Fire Department responded to the near-drowning on Melton Hill Circle in Clinton at about 8:40 a.m. Tuesday. Hampton was first taken to Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge and then transported to Children’s Hospital. He died at about 4 a.m. Thursday. [Read more...]

President declares disaster for Tennessee, including Anderson, Roane

Passtime Garage Storm Damage

Passtime Garage on South Main Street in Clinton was damaged by a fast-moving storm and severe winds in early June. (Photo courtesy WYSH Radio/WGAP Radio)

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday that federal disaster aid has been made available to the state of Tennessee to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding from June 5-10.

The action by President Barack Obama makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding in Anderson, Bledsoe, Carroll, Decatur, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Lawrence, Lewis, Madison, Marion, Maury, McNairy, Moore, Perry, Roane, Sequatchie, and Tipton counties, officials said.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide, FEMA said in a press release.

W. Michael Moore has been named as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Moore said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. [Read more...]

Motorcyclist dies in four-vehicle crash on Edgemoor Road

Fatal Crash on Edgemoor Road

Edgemoor Road was closed for several hours near the Bull Run Fossil Plant on Wednesday evening as authorities investigated a four-vehicle crash that killed a motorcyclist.

 

CLAXTON—A Powell motorcyclist died Wednesday afternoon in a four-vehicle crash on Edgemoor Road in front of the Bull Run Fossil Plant, authorities said.

Kenneth Lubthisophon, 55, was riding east on Edgemoor Road at about 4:41 p.m. Wednesday when he hit the left rear of a car driven by a 54-year-old Knoxville woman who was slowing down for stopped traffic, the Tennessee Highway Patrol said.

Lubthisophon’s 1989 Honda G15 was then hit from behind by a pickup truck driven by a 25-year-old Clinton man, and Lubthisophon was thrown from the motorcycle into the westbound traffic lane, where he was hit by a second pickup truck driven by a 70-year-old Clinton man, according to a preliminary THP report.

Lubthisophon was wearing a helmet, the report said. [Read more...]

Special judge appointed in ouster suit

Don R. Ash

Don R. Ash

A special judge has been appointed to hear the ouster suit filed against the Anderson County law director in May, and hearing dates will be discussed with attorneys in the case during an August 19 telephone conference, officials said.

Senior Judge Don R. Ash of Murfreesboro was appointed to hear the case by Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, said Michele Wojciechowski, communications director for the Tennessee State Courts.

Ash is a former judge in Rutherford County, and he is assigned to cases throughout the state that need a special judge. [Read more...]

School board restores bus service this year

Oak Ridge School Bus Protest

A small group of parents and students protest the expanded “parent responsibility zone,” where bus service is not provided, before an Oak Ridge Board of Education meeting on Monday. The board agreed during the meeting to restore bus service to last year’s levels. Pictured above from left are Michelle Doka, Melanie Heiberg, Oak Ridge City Council member Trina Baughn, protest organizer Laurie Paine, and her daughter Kaitlan Paine.

 

Note: This story was last updated at 11:15 a.m. August 12.

After hearing impassioned pleas from parents and grandparents, the Oak Ridge school board on Monday temporarily restored bus service to about 1,300 students who had been affected by an expanded but controversial “parent responsibility zone.” Parents of students who lived within that zone were responsible for getting their children to and from schools; bus service was not provided.

The parent responsibility zone, or PRZ, was expanded to 1.5 miles in June as part of a move to reduce a $1.25 million budget deficit. But parents of elementary and middle school students, in particular, objected to having students as young as five years old cross busy four-lane roadways like Oak Ridge Turnpike or Illinois Avenue to get to school, or walk past the homes of registered sex offenders or down roads with no sidewalks.

Parents, including single mothers, also expressed concerns about losing their jobs because they have to leave work early to pick up their children. They also said the expanded parent responsibility zone, which some call a “walk zone,” had a disproportionate impact on low-income families and elementary school children. They were disappointed by a lack of crossing guards near their schools, where their children or grandchildren cross busy roads. (City officials say they are accepting applications for crossing guards.)

“This is too dangerous,” resident Regina Wood said. “The safest way to get these kids to school is a bus,” resident Bill Dodge said.

On Monday, after a series of protests that started in July, the Oak Ridge Board of Education agreed in a 4-1 vote to use $300,000 in one-time money from the school system’s fund balance to restore the bus routes this year and then study the issue comprehensively before the next school year—or try to obtain more funding. The Monday night vote essentially reverses the June decision.

The bus routes likely won’t be restored immediately however, and possibly not until October. Among other things, up to three school bus drivers might need to be hired for an additional six routes, and buses will have to be made “road ready.” Still, advocates of restoring bus service were pleased for now. [Read more...]

New Circuit Court clerk winner after Roane recount

On Thursday, it looked like candidate Sarah E. Stewart had won the election for Roane County Circuit Court clerk.

But there was a new winner after a Friday recount: candidate Ann Goldston, who is now a deputy clerk.

Roane County election officials recounted every vote in Thursday’s state primary and county general election after an early voting memory card that had stored about 1,300 votes was not turned in. Election officials called it a human error.

The recount showed Goldston won 4,876 votes (41.5 percent) to Stewart’s 4,538 (38.6 percent). The earlier results, before the recount, showed a narrow win for Stewart.

Finishing in third in that race in both counts was Marty Miles, who had 2,349 votes (20 percent) in the recount. [Read more...]