News Briefs

Beloved Alcoa High teacher, ‘Mr. P,’ found dead at home

Dennis K. "Mr. P." Pershing, 51, of Alcoa died at his home on Monday, Dec. 18.

Pershing taught in the Alcoa City School System for 28 years and was a member of First United Methodist Church of Alcoa.
Pershing’s pastor, the Rev. Joseph Green, talked to Blount Today about the longtime teacher who touched many lives in the community.

"He was as good and godly a man as they come," Green said.

According to Green, Pershing suffered from some serious medical problems several years ago that would have incapacitated others, yet he was a survivor. The pastor said that while others often come through troubles and were worse off because of the circumstances, Pershing handled his tough circumstances differently.

"Life didn’t happen to Dennis, life happened through Dennis," Green said.

Green said often Pershing helped youngsters who came to school hungry by giving them food, crackers or something to drink. "He took young people, many no one else believed in, and gave them hope and a direction," Green said.

The veteran teacher helped many people and families by providing them with Christmas presents. "He would take people shopping and not just at Christmas. This was something that happened all year," Green said. "He was a guy who really made an impact, especially on young people in Alcoa High School."

Green said a former student of Pershing said that when he was in school everyone had given up on and told him to quit, but Pershing believed and supported him. "Today he’s a graduate and owns his own business," Green said the day after Pershing died. "He (the student) sat in here for an hour and half. Tears flowed when he talked about Mr. P. and all he meant to him."

The pastor said Pershing was a tremendous Christian and was more than someone who talked about his faith, he lived it. "He is going to be missed. A lot of people die, and you hardly notice they’re gone," Green said. "He really made a difference. He was a personification of the words (the apostle) Paul heard, ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’ That was Dennis. He was awesome."

Alexander named to Senate’s appropriations committee

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will become the first Tennessee Republican ever to serve on the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, widely considered to be its most powerful committee because of its jurisdiction over federal spending, according to press releases.

Newly-elected Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who named Alexander to the Appropriations Committee, said, "This appointment demonstrates the respect our caucus has for the extraordinary contribution Lamar has made during his first four years in the Senate, and it is intended to make it possible for him to be even more effective during his next term."

McConnell also appointed Alexander to the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee which has jurisdiction over Tennessee Valley Authority, clean air and transportation issues. Alexander will also be the third ranking Republican member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Alexander said, "These appointments could not have been better for Tennessee. The appropriations appointment gives me the best possible opportunity to help control spending and to help Tennesseans receive our fair share of federal funding. The other committee assignments allow me to work for Tennesseans on the issues I care most about: education, energy, the environment, job creation and helping the new TVA board of directors keep electric power reliable and reasonably priced. I am grateful to Sen. McConnell for this show of confidence after just four years in the Senate."

City of Maryville reorganizes Finance Department

Maryville City Manager Greg McClain on Dec. 14 announced the restructuring of the City of Maryville’s Finance Department. The city’s Finance Department will now be known as the Financial Services Department, he said.

In addition, McClain said that 28 year veteran Debbie Caughron will head the department as Director of the Financial Services. "The decision to promote Assistant Finance Director and city recorder Debbie Caughron to the position of director is a perfect fit for the city," he said. "She has a wealth of knowledge not only in the operations end but also is outstanding in handling the wide variety of financial issues within the department."

Caughron’s responsibilities will be to oversee the operation of the Financial Services Department including the finance manager, collections, purchasing, accounting, property and business taxes, and beer and liquor licenses. In addition, she will continue in her role as city recorder.

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