Rescuers locate trio stranded overnight on Windrock Mountain trail

Rescuers have located three people stranded overnight on Windrock Mountain near Oliver Springs.

The trio—ages 19, 22, and 24 years old—were stuck in vehicles on a trail and called Anderson County 911, authorities said.

“Our dispatch mapped the coordinates and forwarded the information to the rescue squad,” Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said.

He said all three were located. The two men were checked out by EMS at the scene, and the woman was taken to Methodist Medical Center as a precaution. [Read more...]

Fairly quiet during last week’s snow, but 911 calls spike in Anderson County

911 calls to the communications center at the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department increased significantly during last week’s snow.

The Sheriff’s Department said the communications center received 429 telephone calls from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 7 p.m. Friday, and 77 of those were 911 calls. That compares to 390 calls, with 51 of those on 911 lines, during the same time period a week earlier. [Read more...]

Most snow in about 15 years, Weather Service says

Snowman at Blankenship Field

Kids build a snowman at Blankenship Field on Thursday morning after more than eight inches of snow fell in Oak Ridge. From left are Killian Fillmore, Andrew Bivens, Gavin Hensley, and Liam Hensley.

Note: This story was last updated at 5:02 p.m. with more photos.

More than eight inches of snow fell in parts of Oak Ridge between Wednesday night and Thursday morning as a major winter storm hit the Southeast, and there were reports of as much as 10 to 12 inches in parts of Anderson County. A meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Morristown said it’s the most snow in East Tennessee in more than a decade.

“It’s been about 15 years since we’ve had a snow like this,” NWS Meteorologist David Hotz said. “This is definitely one of the best ones we’ve had in quite a while.”

The last snowfall of a similar magnitude that he could recall was in either 1998 or 1999.

Other big snowfalls include the historic 1993 storm and a winter storm in 1996 that dumped 15 to 17 inches.

More than eight inches of snow fell in parts of Oak Ridge between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and there were reports of as much as 10 to 12 inches in parts of Anderson County. A meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Morristown said it's the most snow in East Tennessee in more than a decade.  "It's been about 15 years since we've had a snow like this," NWS Meteorologist David Hotz said. “This is definitely one of the best ones we’ve had in quite a while.”  The last snowfall of a similar magnitude that he could recall was in either 1998 or 1999.  Other big snowfalls include the historic 1993 storm and a 1996 storm that dumped 15 to 17 inches.  The wet, heavy snow that started falling in Oak Ridge at about 7 p.m. Wednesday—it was the second round of snow that day—continued into Thursday morning. But with temperatures rising Thursday morning and the sun coming out, much of the snow was quickly melting.  Still, many roads, particularly side streets, still had slush on them, and there were a few slippery spots.  Crews from the Oak Ridge Public Works Department worked all day Wednesday, through the night, and into Thursday morning. They put down two layers of brine, or highly salted water, before the snow started and switched to salt trucks and snow plows once the snow started falling.  Public Works Department Gary Cinder said there were no major problems.  “It’s been a calm event," Cinder said. "It was a heavy snow. It was deep enough that we could push it, and it was wet enough that it would slide easily. It wasn’t sticking because of the brine.”  It might have helped that many people stayed off the roads as many offices, schools, and businesses closed early on Wednesday—if they hadn't already been closed for the day—and remained closed on Thursday.  Cinder said the Public Works Department was able to keep the main streets relatively clear. At times, the snow was heavy enough, though, that the snow was recovering roads that crews had already plowed.  “A lot of times, they just had to go back and forth," Cinder said.  Cinder said there were a few trees down and a few isolated power outages.  In Anderson County, Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Anderson County Highway Department were working to clear the snow, but roads remained hazardous.  "Travel is not advised," Lucas said in a Thursday morning e-mail. "We had several reports of minor accidents with cars off in the ditch or stuck in the snow, but since the snow didn't begin to fall until the evening hours, traffic was light. There also have been a few trees down as well."  Lucas said there were also some power outages overnight, but it appeared that the Clinton Utilities Board had most of those restored except for a few isolated areas.  He advised residents to check with CUB for details and said power outages can be viewed at http://outage.clintonub.com.  Deputies went to their "snow plan" Wednesday evening and are patrolling the county in four-wheel-drive vehicles.  "We are responding only to accidents with injury or those that are a significant traffic hazard," Lucas said.  Cinder said Oak Ridge has eight trucks outfitted with snow plows in the front and salt spreaders in the back. The city has two bins that, when fully loaded, can store 2,400 tons of salt. Oak Ridge has plenty of salt for the rest of the winter, he said.  There about 220 miles of roads in Oak Ridge and crews focus first on main streets and state routes such as Illinois Avenue and Oak Ridge Turnpike, then collector city streets such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Florida avenues, and then neighborhood side—if the snow lasts long enough and is heavy enough. The number of lane miles that crews have to take care of is double the road mileage because crews have to go up streets in one lane and then back down them in another.  Hotz, the meteorologist, said water on East Tennessee roads could re-freeze tonight as the temperature drops into the 20s and that could cause problems, including black ice, especially on secondary streets that still have slush. Drivers should use caution when driving tonight, especially on secondary streets, although well-traveled roads and interstates should be in good shape, Hotz said.  He said there could be another smaller storm system late Friday and Friday night. It could start with rain that changes over to snow, and there could be some light accumulations in East Tennessee valleys, but more snow is expected in the mountains, Hotz said.  The temperature is expected to warm back up into the 50s and lower 60s next week, Hotz said.

Crews from the Oak Ridge Public Works Department worked all day Wednesday and through the night into Thursday to clear roads, including South Illinois Avenue, as more than eight inches of snow fell in parts of the city.

The wet, heavy snow that started falling in Oak Ridge at about 7 p.m. Wednesday—it was the second round of snow that day—continued into Thursday morning. But with temperatures rising Thursday morning and the sun coming out, much of the snow was quickly melting.

Still, many roads, particularly side streets, still had slush on them, and there were a few slippery spots.

Crews from the Oak Ridge Public Works Department worked all day Wednesday, through the night, and into Thursday morning. They put down two layers of brine, or highly salted water, before the snow started and switched to salt trucks and snow plows once the snow started falling.

Public Works Department Gary Cinder said there were no major problems. [Read more...]

Back roads still have ice and snow, so Anderson schools closed again Friday

Many Anderson County back roads are still covered with ice and snow, so the school system will be closed again Friday, officials said.

The closure is for the safety of the students, the Anderson County school system said in a statement. The schools closed early Tuesday and have been closed since as snow, ice, and cold temperatures wreaked havoc across the Southeast, particularly in Atlanta.

Many other school systems in East Tennessee, including Oak Ridge, also closed early on Tuesday when it started snowing and remained closed on Wednesday. Oak Ridge students returned to classes on Thursday, although there was a two-hour delay. [Read more...]

Not many weather-related issues in Anderson County, sheriff’s department says

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department said it has not had many weather-related issues during the past few days as snow fell in East Tennessee and temperatures dipped again into the teens—and even lower.

“A few reports of traffic-related incidents such as cars in the ditch, but only one accident that had minor injuries,” Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said in an e-mail to reporters.

Lucas said most primary roads and state routes are clear, but many rural roads are still icy and snow-covered. [Read more...]

Mayor, sheriff reach agreement on salary suit, but war of words follows

Anderson County Detention Facility Expansion

The salary dispute between the Anderson County mayor and sheriff focused on the spending to hire up to 36 new jailers to staff a 212-bed expansion that is still under construction at the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton.

CLINTON—The Anderson County mayor and sheriff reached an agreement Friday that could end their five-month-old legal dispute over an annual salary agreement, possibly closing one expensive and contentious chapter in local government even as it opened a new war of words between top officials.

Knox County Circuit Court Judge Dale C. Workman could sign the agreement Monday morning.

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and Sheriff Paul White said the agreement allows the sheriff to hire 15 full-time permanent deputies and additional temporary deputies when the sheriff deems appropriate as he prepares to open a 212-bed jail expansion. But the hiring must stay within the spending limit approved by the Anderson County Commission this year, and the temporary employees cannot work more than six months.

Terry Frank

Terry Frank

Frank and White announced the agreement in a one-page press release distributed Friday. The case had been scheduled to be heard in Knox County Circuit Court on Monday morning. [Read more...]

Legal fees add up as officials try to ‘stop the bleeding’ in dispute between mayor, sheriff

Anderson County Detention Facility

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and Sheriff Paul White are engaged in a legal fight over a two-page salary agreement that includes, among other things, six months’ worth of funding for 36 new employees at a new jail pod at the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton. (Photo courtesy Anderson County Sheriff’s Department)

CLINTON—The legal fees might already exceed $20,000, and they could continue to mount in a bitter dispute between the mayor and sheriff over a $7.7 million salary agreement for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department.

Efforts to “stop the bleeding”—and avoid extra expenses for Anderson County residents—were unsuccessful after a lengthy, heated debate on Monday night. During that debate, Anderson County commissioners rejected several proposals to cover some legal fees of Mayor Terry Frank in her response to a salary suit filed in July by Sheriff Paul White. Among the rejected options were proposals to pay Frank’s fees so far but no more, capping them at $40,000, or covering all expenses until the matter is resolved.

Frank has refused to sign the salary agreement, saying it includes about $1 million more for salaries and overtime than was approved by commission in June. But the Sheriff’s Department has said the salary agreement is routine and was drafted according to state law, and actual spending will be closer to the $6.6 million approved by the commission as part of this year’s budget. [Read more...]

Anderson Commission unable to resolve salary dispute between sheriff, mayor

Terry Frank

Terry Frank

Note: This story was updated at 1:45 a.m. July 16.

CLINTON—The Anderson County Commission on Monday was unable to resolve a dispute between the county mayor and the sheriff over an annual salary agreement, meaning a judge could be asked to intervene.

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank has refused to sign the proposed salary agreement for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. She said it includes about $7.66 million for salaries, which is roughly $1 million more than the $6.63 million approved by commission in June as part of this year’s budget.

“I cannot do anything more than what was passed,” Frank told commissioners Monday morning. “The only way I can sign that is if you go ahead and approve that new $1 million.” [Read more...]

Lake City man dies, wife injured after Saturday motorcycle crash

A Lake City motorcyclist died and his wife was injured after a Saturday morning collision with a sports utility vehicle on Lake City Highway, authorities said.

The crash happened at about 10:45 a.m. Saturday on Lake City Highway, also known as US 25W, at Old Lake City Highway between Clinton and Lake City. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department said William Ferrell, 71, of Old Lake City Highway in Clinton, was driving a Mercury Mountaineer SUV and turned into the path of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle operated by Gregory McNelley, 53, of Longfield Road in Lake City. His wife, Julie McNelley, 49, was a passenger on the motorcycle. [Read more...]

More than 300 pounds of unused medicine collected

Information from WYSH Radio

Local law enforcement agencies teamed up to host Operation Medicine Cabinet at four locations across the county on Saturday, and more than 300 pounds of medicine were collected.

That amount far surpassed the weight from any previous event held in the county since law enforcement agencies began collecting and disposing medicine in 2010. In all, 314.6 pounds of medicine were collected at sites in Clinton, Oak Ridge, and Oliver Springs, said Stephanie Strutner, executive director for Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention. The medications were disposed by DEA. [Read more...]

Kentucky duo arrested after alleged burglary, homeowner confrontation, police chase

Timothy Shane Petrey

Timothy Shane Petrey

Elizabeth Jane North

Elizabeth Jane North

A Kentucky man and woman were arrested after an alleged confrontation with a homeowner during a burglary on Andersonville Highway on Saturday morning and a short police chase, authorities said.

The alleged burglary at the Andersonville Highway home was discovered by the owner and a friend at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, according to a press release from Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas.

“The homeowner confronted the male suspect as he was exiting her home after the female suspect, who was sitting in a truck in the driveway, sounded the horn and yelled to the male,” Lucas said. “The male suspect and the homeowner struggled over some items that were being taken, and then he and the female suspect fled in the truck.” [Read more...]

Man has possible life-threatening injury after Friday shooting

A 28-year-old man was flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center with a potentially life-threatening wound after a Friday morning shooting on Johnson Gap Road in Anderson County, authorities said.

The condition of Jeffery Allen Lowe was not available, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said in a brief statement Friday afternoon.

The shooting occurred at about 10:42 a.m. Friday at 154 Johnson Gap Road, and Lowe was flown to the UT hospital by a Lifestar helicopter, Lucas said.

[Read more...]