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Carson takes plea deal

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A man has agreed to a plea deal after being accused of running into people with his car while intoxicated at the May 2015, Trace Adkins Concert.

Billy Jason Carson accepted a plea deal last Friday December 15, in the Trails End Campground case where he had previously facing murder charges. From Clevlend,TN, Carson was a food vendor at the concert, who witnesses say was intoxicated and threatened people with his revolver before hitting an ATV, another car, and then driving into a crowd of around fifty people. During the rampage four people were injured.

Tony Farrell and his family were patrons at the concert, and victims of Carson’s rampage. 52 year old Farrell was a former monster truck driver, from North Vernon, Indiana, who was officially pronounced dead at Scott County Hospital shortly after the incident. Three others were transported to UT Medical Center, including Ferrell’s son Ethan. Farrell’s wife, Cheryl, and other son witnessed the tragedy.

Farrell’s widow later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Carson and The Trail’s End Campground requesting a jury trial and judgement that covers compensatory damages in an amount sufficient to reasonably compensate the injuries sustained.

According to that suit, Carson was angry due to his friend, Josh Baulcom, being punched to stop him from harassing and touching women without their consent. In his anger, he began the rampage with Baulcom in the passenger seat, allegedly firing his weapon near patrons. The suit claims Farrell acted in a heroic manner attempting to get the keys from the ignition of Carson’s vehicle. While in the attempt, Carson is alleged to have sped off with Farrell hanging from the window. The high rate of speed caused him to fall to the ground and get trampled beneath the heavy Toyota SUV driven by Carson.

Carson had previously claimed to Scott County Sherriff’s office Detectives that he had been drinking alcohol during the events of that night, however a blood test revealed a sedating antianxiety medication, Xanax, but no alcohol.

Carson was formerly indicted on 15 charges including criminal homicide that could have landed him life in prison, but pled out to six lesser charges of vehicular assault and vehicular homicide. Vehicular homicide carries a minimum prison sentence of eight years with a maximum of twenty years. Sentencing will be on April 5, 2018.

Santa Letter winner, Lily

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Santa letter winner, Dylan!

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Sherriff’s office hands out gift cards, not tickets.

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Nikita Branstetter

nikita@scnoneida.net

On December 15, unexpected blue lights brought holiday cheer to several motorists, as the Scott County Sherriff’s Office initiated traffic stops throughout the area handing out unexpected surprises.

As most can relate, it’s never a great feeling to realize you’re being pulled over by the police, especially during the holiday season when money’s tight. However, a few drivers breathed a deep sigh of relief on Friday as they realized they weren’t being cited for any offenses, but rather given gift cards or turkeys by Sherriff Ronnie Phillips and members of the Scott County Sherriff’s Office.

“People have gotten the wrong perception of the police,” Phillips said. “We want to change that, and maybe spread some Christmas cheer also.”

Amanda Duncan was one of the 18 lucky people that benefited from the traffic stops. While Duncan believed she must have been speeding due to distractions, including worrying about the high cost of medication for her son, she was shocked to hear Drug Agent Kris Lewallen tell her he was stopping her for no violation, but to give her a gift card from Sherriff Phillips.

“I was so shocked! We were on the way to the doctor again with my son Orick, and I figured I had been speeding because I was so distracted worrying about the cost of his medicine,” Duncan stated. “It was truly a blessing, because I had been in a Grinch Christmas mood, and it really humbled me to think that the Scott County Sherriff was thinking of citizens and taking the extra initiative to spread Christmas cheer.”

As the gifts continued to pour out, Christmas cheer filled the air. Drivers continued to show their appreciation and excitement for the gifts given to them, and several asked for hugs and pictures.

Kristina Garner was another lucky motorist who recalls seeing the blue lights and having the disappointing feeling that she was getting a ticket. However, as Lewallen presented her with the gift card, her frown turned to a gleaming smile. A sincere thank you wasn’t enough for this driver, as she felt a hug of appreciation was in order.

“I felt relieved I wasn’t getting a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt, but I was speechless about the gift card,” Garner said. “I have been pulled over a few times before, and never had any problems with them. They are here to protect and serve the community, but they also have to protect themselves. I think they are very brave for putting their lives on the line for others. It was heartwarming to know that our Sherriff was so thoughtful of other people.”

Although the drivers may be considered the lucky ones being the recipients, it’s long been said that giving is better than receiving. One officer reports being blessed having the opportunity to give back.

“This was awesome,” Lewallen stated. “It felt great to have so many people ask me for a hug. That’s what we should be doing protecting and serving.”

Toys for Joy 2017

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Nikita Branstetter

nikita@scnoneida.net

The event Toys for joy is sure to bring big smiles to the faces of many children this Christmas serving over three hundred families though out Scott County.

Last Sunday, December 17, parents lined up and waited for hours to get their turn to go through the line to receive free toys and additional free wrapping. Nothing more required from them than the patience to wait, a food stamp card, and an ID, most are very grateful for the assistance. Volunteers assist the participants as they go through the line to pick out the toys they want for their children. This year several pageant winners were in attendance to help with the event. Gracie Cox, Miss Scott County Fairest of the Fair, assisted many families during the five-hour long event.

“If feels awesome to be able to help people,” Cox said. “I’ve just never realized how many families need assistance until I came here. It’s great though because parents get to pick out something their kids want for Christmas, and as Miss Scott County I want to be here to help my community in any way that I can.”

For each child in the family, parents will collect one large toy, two smaller toys, and five stocking stuffers. Several lucky families were able to give their child an even larger toy such as a new bicycle or a life size dollhouse. Kristina Winnie is a mother of two and pregnant with her third child. Winnie is grateful for the assistance, and thankful she will be able to provide her daughter Cadee with her first bicycle this Christmas because of Toy’s for Joy.

“It’s all she(Cadee) wanted this Christmas,” Winnie said. “If it wasn’t for this event, it would be really hard to give anything.”

Although bicycles and big toys can be given out now, it wasn’t always possible. The success comes from collaborative efforts of; The Unicorn Fund, Morgan Scott Project, Alqui, The Boys and Girls Club of The Upper Cumberland, Scott County, and surrounding communities. Before coming together six years ago, the organizations provided separate contributions

Joining forces allowed the organizations to provide all individuals in need with equal benefits. Verhonda Hembree, Vice Chairman for the Unicorn Fund, helped to organize the combination of the non-for profit organizations, creating Toys for Joy.

“Before we joined together some were getting a lot and some were getting a little,” Hembree said. “When we join, everyone benefits equally.”

Although the event is a grand combined effort today, it hasn’t always been. The Unicorn Fund began 35 years ago with the death of Patty Thomas, a Morgan County Resident who drove to work at the Department of Human Services in Scott County. Her death left Morgan and Scott Counties at a loss. Memorial donations purchased Christmas presents for many children the first year of her death, and later became the non-for profit organization. Each year after Thomas’s death the Unicorn Fund would continue to help care for the children by providing children with as much as could be collected for Christmas, but most things were used.

Now, nearly everything provided to participants is new or gently used, and more expensive items can be given. It’s a community wide effort, and Christmas wouldn’t be possible for many children without the event.

“It takes the entire community working together to achieve anything,” Hembree said. “A great amount of thanks to everyone who has helped make this event possible, because we couldn’t do it without them.”

An Angel on Earth

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Vickie Jones is known by most as a giver and a woman who cares. Regardless of the situation, no matter if it’s day or night, whether it be shoes for your feet, lights in your home, or Christmas presents for your children, Jones desires to do the right thing, and not because she wants to be a hero, but because she loves God.

Through Michael’s Missions and Michael’s Christmas, she hopes to take care of, and make Scott County a better place for everyone, especially the children.

A parent never dreams they will see the day they lose their child, but that day came for Vickie Jones in 2001 when she lost her youngest son, Michael Jones. Although her son was gone, Vickie carried on. She continued to help others, and smile through her tears. The year was difficult and Jones found herself angry at times, but she never stopped giving.

In 2002 a woman from Dixson, TN gave Jones a special packet. Little did she know this packet would better the lives of so many in the community, and most of all, the packet would restore her joy.

The information found inside described a thrift store that took care of its community. Jones went right to work, praying, organizing, and consulting others on how to get a place like this going in Scott County. Financial issues were an obvious aversion, but a friend reminded Jones that donations from Michaels’s death had been stored in an account.  The money would be used to get this thrift store assail.

After praying with her mother over a building for the store, her mother reminded her of an important detail. This was Michael’s Mission.

Before his passing Michael had lost his job due to the closing of Wabash. Jones remembered her son’s caring heart, and how he never worried for the well-being of himself, but only for others. He had expressed his concern with her on several occasions about his worry for the people losing their jobs and mainly for their children.

She remembers reassuring him that they would be taken care of. From that moment on, Jones knew this was, in fact, her son’s mission, and the store received its name as Michael’s Mission.

The store opened in 2003, and since then the mission of the store has been to make Scott County better and allow people to purchase clothing and other items easier. The proceeds from purchases go towards paying bills in emergency situations and helps with The Michaels Christmas program.

In the beginning, Jones admits it wasn’t easy, it was painful. Through her pain, the mission has grown into something she never dreamed it would.

“Little did I know that losing our little boy would do all the things it has,” Jones said. “It helps to pay people’s bills, help buy back-to-school clothes for kids, buy Christmas presents, and just make life a little easier, especially for the children.”

Through the store, Jones had always purchased Christmas presents for families, however, in 2006 the giving went to another level with the official creation of Michael’s Christmas.

It began with applications from deserving families who were unable to give their child presents under the tree. On average 100 families per year are part of the program. Each child gets a full Christmas with toys and clothes straight from their wish list. A critical component of the program is the parents give the presents to their children, and none of the gifts are wrapped. Jones’s husband, John Jones, was adamant about not wrapping the presents, but instead allowing the parents to be a part of their child’s Christmas by wrapping them, and placing them under the tree.

“When we started this, I was so excited about wrapping the presents,” Jones said. “John was adamant that we not wrap the presents, and give the parents that opportunity. After he said that, I thought, that’s a great idea.”

In 2014, the organization paired with the Angel Tree Foundation to help provide for more families. The children on the Angel Tree are provided for by whoever choses them, and the siblings of that child are provided for by the organization. Now not only is there an Angel Tree in Wal-Mart, the employees of Tennier also put one up. With 100 families to provide for, community involvement is a must, and although it’s called Michael’s Christmas, Jones believes it’s the people who help that make it such a success.

“This is a community project, it’s the people who donate, who buy items from the store, and those who need the items,” Jones said. “I am not a hero for doing this. I’m just so thankful God has allowed us to do it.”

When Jones isn’t paying bills to help people in the community, organizing gifts for Michael’s Christmas, or working with the Youth Service Learning Program through stand, she spends time with her two grandchildren, Cordell and Violet, which she admits they are the joy of her life. Although they are the joy of her life, Jones doesn’t put them before others in need. When an event is planned and the need arises, the need is attended to first. Jones educates her grandchildren all the way through the process.

“They wanted to go to Kentucky Splash, but we had to pay a bill first,” Jones said. “They weren’t happy at first, but I just explained to them that We have to do what’s right first, and paying someone’s rent is a priority. I also let them know that we aren’t heroes for doing it. We are only doing what’s right, because that’s how it should be.”

Jones doesn’t consider herself a hero for helping the people of Scott County. She only wants to make it a better place, so that there are no families left suffering, regardless of the need. Her son Michael worried for the less fortunate of the community, and now the store named after him, has made life a little easier for the people of Scott County.

“I will carry the pain of losing my baby until the day I get to Heaven, but through this God has allowed me to find my joy,” Jones stated. “I am so grateful for the opportunity Scott County has given me to serve. I really feel like this has saved my life. I am so blessed.”

Sex offender charged with rape of a minor

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Derrick Slaven

A locally registered sex offender has been charged with multiple sex-related crimes including rape of a minor and found to be in violation of the sex offender registry.

Derrick Slaven, 33, has been on the Tennessee Sex offender registry since April 29,2005, when he was convicted of attempted rape of a child and rape of a child.  According to an arrest warrant filed by Detective Abby Duncan, Scott County Sherriff’s Department, the victim is a minor female, therefore was sent to The Children’s Center of the Cumberland’s to discuss the incident occurring between herself and Slaven on December 4. According to the forensic report, the minor was at her grandmother’s home on December 4 while Slaven was also there. Allegedly, Slaven came into the same room with the minor asking to borrow her phone. When the minor explained to Slaven she had no minutes, or money to get the minutes, he asked her what she would do to get the money. Thereafter, Slaven kissed her and made her hug him. The victim then recalls her perpetrator becoming aggressive, touching her in inappropriate places and revealing himself to her. The minor attempted to get away several times, but Slaven repeatedly pulled her back into the room where more inappropriate behavior occurred. The victim further elaborates that the severity of Slaven’s behavior increased as the incident went on until the minor’s cell phone rang and she was able to get away.

Slaven was arrested on December 6, 2017, and charged with Rape, four counts of sexual battery, solicitation of a minor, indecent exposure, and false imprisonment. In addition to the alleged behavior, three warrants were filed by Rachel Newport, Tennessee Department of Corrections, for violations of Slaven’s sex offender laws. According to the warrants, Slaven failed to report a change in residence and knowingly established living accommodations within 1000 ft. of a public school. Slaven was arraigned on these charges Monday, December 11, and is scheduled to be in court December 13.

Could we see a White Christmas?

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Home of Nancy Duncan Chambers in Robbins, TN

As displayed in the picture of Nancy Duncan Chambers home in Robbins, TN, Scott County has officially seen it’s first snowfall of the season.

As the first snow of the year dusted the ground last Saturday, December 9, 2017. With less than two weeks until Christmas, the flurry of snow in the air left many wondering if the county will see a white Christmas. Temperatures barely got above freezing, and wind chills were blisteringly cold as the precipitation continued throughout the night. Despite the cold temperatures, the precipitation failed to accumulate to more than a light dusting.

Despite the lack of depth, the snowfall has a way of getting people in the Christmas spirit, and having a white Christmas is what most folks dream of here.

The Farmer’s Almanac has been used since 1818 to predict long-range weather conditions. Shocking enough, their methods have been known to be strangely accurate. Unlike, the National Weather Service with satellites and radar systems, the Almanac has a top-secret mathematical and astrological formula that relies on sunspot activity, tidal action, planetary position and a number of other unknown factors.

For this year the almanac is predicting a bitterly cold and wet winter for East TN, with snowfall to be seen as early as the first week in December. Although, the first dusting didn’t quite make the first week in December it was frighteningly close.

As of Tuesday, December 12, the weather service forecasted a 50 percent chance of some sort of precipitation on Christmas Day with Possible high temperatures extending into the mid 40’s and lows slightly below freezing.

Despite the cold and wet prediction, forecasts have been known to be wrong and the weather in East Tennessee has a mind of its own.

It’s up in the air as to whether the county will have a white holiday this year, but there are several indications that the weather will at least be wet and cold.

County violates state statute

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An audit report released December 12, 2017 by the Tennessee Comptroller’s office found county commissioner, Trent Cross serving as a compensated medical examiner. The findings were in violation of a state statute, and contrary to an attorney general’s opinion

After the passing of Scott County’s medical examiner, Dr. Maxwell Huff in early 2015, Scott County Mayor Dale Perdue sent letters to local physicians asking them to attend a meeting to discuss the position of county medical examiner. The meeting took place in early February of 2015, and two doctors attended; Evelyn Silver and Trent Cross. According to Perdue, only Cross had interest in accepting the position. Later that same month, The Scott County Commission voted to approve a resolution that allowed Scott County Mayor Dale Perdue to appoint Commissioner, Trent Cross as the county’s new medical examiner. In order to remain in compliance with state statutes, Cross agreed to hold the office without compensation.

Prior to the approval and submission date of June 30, 2016 for the final budget of 2017, Cross approached the commission requesting medical examiner compensation be reinstated to him for the next year’s budget.  Cross, who is also  Chairperson for the budget committee addressed the same issue, and a motion was made that compensation be reinstated to him with the next year’s budget. The motion received a unanimous vote by budget committee commissioners; Mike Slaven, Robin McBroom, Rick Russ, and Patti Brown. In August of the same year Cross began receiving compensation and Tennessee Consolidated Retirement Service benefits for his services as the county’s examiner.

According to the release, The State Attorney General’s office opined that “A county medical examiner in whom the county comission has vested the duties of county coroner may not serve as county commissioner.” That opinion coming from Tennessee law that says, no person elected or appointed to fill the office of county mayor, sheriff, trustee, register, county clerk, assessor of property, or any other county-wide office filled by vote of the people or the county legislative body shall be nominated for or elected to membership in the county legislative body.

It is unclear as to why the compensation was reinstated when a stipulation of the position was the opposite to avoid a conflict of interest. According to Perdue, he was unaware of the issue due to heart surgery in June 2016 that kept him absent from meetings for an entire month.

“I was unaware that he was given his compensation back,” Perdue stated. “I was absent during the time the budget passed, because I had to have heart surgery and was out for a month. I have had other commissioners approach me, and say they were unaware also.”

The Comptroller’s office has given Perdue and the county commission full responsibility of correcting the issue and complying with state law, with an anticipated corrective action date of January 31, 2018.

Perdue has expressed his discontent with the report and vowed to repair the issue. He also gave an anticipated compliance date of January 30, 2018; however, the issue could be resolved before that date.

“I’m here to try to do the right thing for the people,” Perdue stated. “Something will be resolved by January 30,2018.”

Shoplifting call turns into drug arrest

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Three people have been arrested following an alleged shoplifting incident that led to the recovery of suspected methamphetamine.

On December 2, the Oneida Police Department recieved information from Wal-Mart’s loss prevention staff that three people were seen taking items from the store without paying for them. Amber Rehg,18, Jason Phelps, 45, and Jean Morgan,47 were found in the parking lot of the store as Skylar Chambers and other Officers from the Oneida Police Department descended upon them. Items recovered that had been stolen from the store were two compound bows, six arrows, field points, pliers, and two knives, found inside the purse of Rehg. The amount of stolen merchadice was estimated at 847 dollars.

During the search for stolen goods, officers additionally found, two sets of digital scales, needles, resale baggies, one meth pipe, and 20 grams of suspected methamphetamine.

Rehg and Phelps were charged with Theft under one thousand dollars, violation of the drug free school zone act, possession of schedule two for resale, and false information to an officer. Morgan was considered a fugitive from justice.