Firefighters put out car fire on Manhattan Avenue

Manhattan Avenue Car Fire

The Oak Ridge Fire Department extinguishes a car fire on Manhattan Avenue on Monday afternoon.


The Oak Ridge Fire Department extinguished a car fire on Manhattan Avenue during a busy Monday afternoon this week.

There were no reports of injuries in the car fire, which appeared to destroy the interior of the car.

Oak Ridge Today has requested more information from the Fire Department, and we will update this story with new information as it becomes available.

Fatal crash reported on East Wolf Valley Road on Wednesday

There was a fatal two-car crash on East Wolf Valley Road in Anderson County on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

The driver of one car died, and the other driver had minor injuries, Anderson County Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said.

The road was closed for about three hours while the Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated the crash.

Lucas said the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department assisted the Tennessee Highway Patrol at the crash site. Oak Ridge Today has requested additional information from the THP and will update this story as new information becomes available.

Sheriff candidates clash over jail food

Anderson County Jail Sandwich Lunch

A hand-picked crew of nine inmates prepares peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches on white bread for lunch at the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on Wednesday. Oak Ridge Today was allowed to take pictures of the kitchen, food storage area, and coolers and freezers, but not the inmates.


Sheriff: Despite campaign claims, jail menu conservative, with average meal $1.10

Challenger stands by his pie, ice cream claims

CLINTON—The menu at the Anderson County jail at lunchtime Wednesday was simple and spartan: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich and milk.

It doesn’t appear to be an unusual meal at the jail. The menu this week includes three similar lunches with 1/4 cup of peanut butter and jelly mix, two slices of bread, and 8 oz. of milk or chocolate milk.

Anthony Lay

Anthony Lay

Other meals on the menu this week—the jail can serve up to 8,000 per week—also call for small portions of meat and bread, fruits and vegetables, and beans and milk.

But Anthony Lay, a Republican candidate for Anderson County sheriff, has raised questions about what inmates are eating. He has suggested they’re eating luxuriously, enjoying pies, cobblers, cookies, and cake. Lay has said the jail appears to be operating a bakery, and taxpayers are footing the bill.

“Fresh baked (double chunk) cookies; cherry, blackberry, and blueberry cobbler; pumpkin and apple pie with Cool Whip—these are all delicious,” Lay said in a June 26 press release. “But at the end of the day, taxpayers foot the bill, and they don’t expect us to offer luxuries to folks who, let’s face it, are in jail for a reason.”

Paul White

Paul White

Sheriff Paul White, a Democrat seeking his third term in the August 7 election, has dismissed Lay’s claims as inaccurate and misleading.

“The jail does not operate a bakery,” White said in a July 1 statement.

He said the jail menus are quite conservative. They include a cold sandwich for lunch. The average meal costs $1.10, White said. [Read more...]

Sheriff candidate suspended by THP in May says he’s a political target

Anthony Lay

Anthony Lay

Note: This story was last updated at 8:15 p.m. July 23.

A candidate for Anderson County sheriff suspended by the Tennessee Highway Patrol in May said he has been the target of political attacks.

THP Trooper Anthony Lay was suspended for five days in May for unsatisfactory job performance, a spokesperson said Monday. The suspension was based on several factors, including insubordination, neglect of duty, failure to perform the duties of his job, non-compliance with an internal database system, and having an unsecured patrol unit in a populated area, said Dalya Qualls, public information officer for the Tennessee Department of Safety.

The administrative review that led to Lay’s suspension was received in April 2014.

Lay said he had been off work for five months because of back surgery, and Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark reported that Lay had not turned in some requested case file documents. Lay said he did not receive the letter requesting the documents, and the request letters were apparently sent to a Knoxville office.

“I have received no documentation requests on it whatsoever,” Lay said. [Read more...]

Search for Corwin continues, investigation not classified as criminal

Erin Corwin

Erin Corwin (Photos courtesy San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department)

Three weeks after she disappeared, the search for an Oak Ridge woman living in southern California continues, but it has not been classified as a criminal investigation, authorities said Friday.

No suspects or “persons of interest” have been identified in the search for Erin Corwin, who is 20 and three months pregnant, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said. And no information is being released about possible witnesses, witness statements, or investigative techniques used during the search, the department said.

The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, California, has reported that the Naval Criminal Investigative Services is assisting in the search by helping with the military aspects of the investigation. The newspaper said four search warrants have been served, and they have been used to search two vehicles, including Corwin’s car, and two apartments on the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, where Corwin lives with her husband, Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, who is also from Oak Ridge.

Authorities have said Corwin’s disappearance is suspicious and does not appear to be voluntary. So far, though, they have not announced finding any signs of her. [Read more...]

Honors: Oak Ridge firefighter receives national accreditation

Kerry Osborne

Kerry Osborne

The Center for Public Safety Excellence has notified Captain Kerry Osborne of the Oak Ridge Fire Department that he has received national accreditation as a fire officer.

The Center for Public Safety Excellence Inc., or CPSE, is a nonprofit organization that, for more than a decade, has helped local public safety agencies around the world streamline and improve the services they provide their communities, a press release said. Through its individual commissions, CPSE provides programs that include accreditation for fire and emergency service agencies and professional designations for senior-level fire and emergency service officers.

The press release said Osborne has worked in the emergency services field for more than 21 years and has been with the ORFD since 2007, serving as a captain since 2012. [Read more...]

Atlanta burglary suspect jailed after high-speed police chase, CPD says

Victor Allen Webb

Victor Allen Webb

A 26-year-old Georgia man remained in jail on Saturday after a high-speed police chase on Friday that started in Clinton and ended between Oak Ridge and Oliver Springs, authorities said.

The suspect, Victor Allen Webb of Atlanta, is facing charges in connection with at least two local home burglaries, the Clinton Police Department said in a press release.

On Friday morning, a CPD officer on special neighborhood patrol spotted the suspect vehicle near the scene of burglaries this week, the release said.

“I had asked Patrolman Brian Galloway to keep an eye on homes in the western end of Clinton between Charles G. Seivers Boulevard and the river, due to recent burglaries,” Clinton Police Chief Rick Scarbrough said. “When officer Galloway attempted to stop the white Kia, instead of stopping, the suspect continued on.”

Reports indicate that the pursuit continued through parts of Oak Ridge, finally ending on Oliver Springs Highway (Highway 61), the CPD said. [Read more...]

Sheriff: Eighteen arrested of 26 indicted on drug-related charges

Paul White

Paul White

Eighteen of the 26 people indicted on drug-related charges by an Anderson County grand jury in June and July have been arrested, Sheriff Paul White said Thursday. Four were arrested in June after the indictments were returned, and the other 14 have been arrested since Monday, the sheriff said in a press release.

The arrests are the result of long hours of hard work by investigators of the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit, White said. The agencies that cooperated in the investigations were the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, the Clinton Police Department, the Oak Ridge Police Department, the Rocky Top (Lake City) Police Department, the 7th Judicial District Crime Task Force, and the District Attorney General’s Office.

“Our thanks for the teamwork from all the law enforcement agencies involved in these investigations,” which are ongoing, White said.

Here is the list of those arrested and their charges, as reported by the Sheriff’s Department: [Read more...]

Seventeen arrested, 26 indicted on drug-related charges, sheriff says

Paul White

Paul White

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department arrested 17 people on drug-related charges on Monday and Tuesday following drug investigations during the last few months, Sheriff Paul White said Wednesday.

These charges are mostly result from the sale or possession for resale of prescription or legend drugs, as well as marijuana- and methamphetamine-related offenses, White said. The charges were included in 35 indictments against 26 people returned by an Anderson County Grand Jury in June and July after investigations by the Sheriff’s Special Operations Unit.

White said deputies started making arrests on the indictments and related drug-activity investigations on Monday.

He said those indicted for the manufacture, sales, delivery, or possession either sold to undercover agents or were in possession of illegal drugs for resale. Of the 26 people indicted, 19 were charged with prescription narcotics offenses, three were charged with cocaine offenses, three were marijuana-related, and one was on methamphetamine charges. [Read more...]

Guest column: PSI offers reading program

PSI Reading Program

From left to right are General Sessions Judge Don Layton, Tammy Garner, Daniel Hamby, and Chad McNabb. (Submitted photos)

The greatest challenge people can face is themselves. Two people, Tammy Garner and Daniel Hamby, have accepted and conquered that challenge. These two individuals under the voluntary instruction of Betty McCarty and Peggy Tiner have been learning to read.

PSI and General Sessions Judge Don Layton have partnered to provide an opportunity to instruct basic reading skills to probationers.

“The ability to read is essential to acquiring a better job and quality of life,” Layton said. “It is our hope that courageous example of Tammy and Daniel will cause others to seek the ability to read, notwithstanding their age or life conditions.” [Read more...]

Bullets for blanks negligent, but rounds not put into guns during police training, attorney says

Oak Ridge Today

KNOXVILLE—The Oak Ridge police lieutenant who sent deactivated .38-caliber pistol ammunition and live .223-caliber rifle rounds rather than blanks for use in a training session three years ago was negligent, an attorney said Thursday.

But the mistake was detected before the live rounds were put into guns, and there was no imminent danger or harm to anyone, said Benjamin K. Lauderback, who represented the City of Oak Ridge in oral arguments before the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Knoxville on Thursday.

The police officer who detected the error, former Oak Ridge Police Department Sgt. Mark Coffey, filed a formal complaint two days after the August 20, 2011, training session, known as an “active shooter” response. He resigned a few months later in October, and in August 2012, he filed a lawsuit in Anderson County Circuit Court alleging retaliation and wrongful discharge.

In the lawsuit, Coffey said other ORPD employees retaliated against him after he filed the complaint against Lt. Brad Jenkins, who supplied the ammunition. Coffey said he had been forced to resign and was “constructively discharged.” Before he left the job, Coffey said, he had been re-assigned to work under Jenkins, and he resigned because of the alleged retaliation and fears for his personal safety. He sought $600,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

The city won a summary judgement, which is like a dismissal, in August 2013. Anderson County Circuit Court Judge Don Elledge did not find that Coffey’s working conditions were bad enough that an ordinary person couldn’t tolerate them, Lauderback said. [Read more...]

Investigators search 200 miles of desert for pregnant Oak Ridge woman missing in California

Erin Corwin

Erin Corwin (Photos courtesy San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department)

Investigators searching for an Oak Ridge woman who now lives in California and disappeared under suspicious circumstances two weeks ago have covered more than 200 square miles of remote desert, authorities said Friday.

The search for Erin Corwin, who is 19 years old and pregnant, has been concentrated around the Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. The vast high desert reserve is east of Los Angeles and just south of the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base, where Corwin lives with her husband, U.S. Marine Cpl. Jonathan Wayne Corwin, who is also from Oak Ridge.

The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said the search has found no sign of Corwin, and her disappearance does not appear to be voluntary.

The search will continue as necessary throughout the weekend using search and rescue volunteers from the San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, and Kern County Sheriff’s Departments, and Joshua Tree National Park Service rangers, authorities said.

Investigators said they haven’t released much information about Corwin’s disappearance because of its suspicious nature. [Read more...]