News Briefs:

Blount Red Cross settles into new digs
The Blount County Chapter of the American Red Cross has moved to a new location in West Maryville from its downtown headquarters on Church Avenue.

Executive director Betty Hale said the new offices are on Triangle Park just off Robert C. Jackson Drive. Sealed bids for the Church Avenue building are currently being accepted and the Blount Chapter hopes to buy the building they are working in now, Hale said.

The new offices are different than the older building they were in earlier. "It certainly doesn’t have the ambiance of the beautiful building we were in, but it gives us more space to provide services to this community," she said. "We are open for business at this location, we are still very much filled with boxes though."

Hale said the former location had 4,000 square feet and this new facility offers about 11,000 square feet. "We have individual offices for the various service areas, we have storage for our disaster preparedness items like cots, blankets and pills and things we use to respond to disasters or set up shelters," she said. "We also have adequate space for manikins that we use to teach CPR and first aid."

Hale said they also have more classroom space and now are able to hold multiple classes at the same time or use the facility as a family service center during a disaster if needed.

Hale said they planned to close on the new building in the next few weeks. The Blount Chapter had been looking for property to build or for a existing structure to relocate to for 10 years. "This was an opportunity that presented itself that was just the right fit. It’s not a fancy place, but it’s very utilitarian, but meets our needs and the needs of our community," she said.

According to Hale, the Church Avenue building is owned by the American Red Cross and is for sale. "We’ve had a good bit of interest expressed in the building," she said. "We are accepting sealed bids."

For information about the Church Avenue building, call American Red Cross Blount County Chapter board chairman Dale Huddleston 865-567-1151. The new mailing address is 1741 Triangle Park Drive, PO Box 4939, Maryville Tennessee, 37802-4939.

Bennett assumes assistant county mayor role again
County Mayor Jerry Cunningham confirmed Oct. 3 that Blount County Finance Director Dave Bennett is fulfilling the dual responsibility of being assistant county mayor.

According to Cunningham, the move became effective the first day of Cunningham’s administration Sept. 1. "He wears two hats. He’s has served in that capacity under (county mayors) Bill Crisp and under Beverley Woodruff," Cunningham said. "He is definitely my right hand man, and he will continue as he has in the past."

Bennett said honored by the job title. "I just I feel words can’t express the feeling of being able to work with Jerry and do good things for this community," he said. "I don’t know I’m worthy of that honor but I’m going to work hard every day to make Blount County a better place to live."

Maryville man found dead in car fire
A Maryville man was found dead in a vehicle that burned Oct. 1.

The Sheriff’s Office, along with the Blount County Fire Department, responded to a residence on Mountain View Avenue at around 6:15 a.m., Oct. 1, to the report of a vehicle fire. When they arrived, they found the vehicle in the driveway fully engulfed in flames. After extinguishing the fire, the body of Jeffrey Dale Zehner, 45, of Mountain Circle, Maryville, was found in the driver’s seat.

An autopsy performed at the University of Tennessee Medical Center confirmed that Zehner was the victim. The preliminary cause of death was ruled as carbon monoxide intoxication due to the inhalation of smoke and soot from the fire.

The investigation into the cause and origin of the fire is ongoing.

Sheriff’s Office looking for armed robbery suspect
The Blount County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the community’s assistance in finding the individual who robbed a convenience store Sunday evening, Oct. 1.

The Sheriff’s Office responded to the Foothills Food Mart on Morganton Road at around 8:45 p.m. Sunday. When deputies arrived, the store clerk said that a man came into the store and placed a lighter on the counter that he said he wanted to purchase. When the clerk opened the cash register drawer, the man displayed a knife, grabbed the cash drawer, and took an undisclosed amount of money. He then walked back out the front door and headed east toward Foothills Mall Drive.

The suspect is described as a white male, 6 feet tall, wearing a black shirt and a black silk bandana pulled lower over his forehead.

If anyone has any information regarding this robbery suspect, please contact the Blount County Sheriff’s Office 24-hour Crime Hotline at 273-5200.

Accident victims identified
Three men killed in an automobile accident on Sept. 23 have been positively identified, according to a Sept. 29 Blount County Sheriff’s Office press release.

Odilon Carrillo, 30, Jose Esteban Morales Hernandez, 18, and Silva Moradillo Victor Adrian, 19, all of Tupelo Way, Louisville, were killed Sept. 23 when they were broadsided by a City of Alcoa sanitation truck driven by Michael Gregory, 45, on Alcoa Highway near the Green Acres Flea Market. Gregory was traveling north on Alcoa Highway when a 1986 Nissan pickup truck driven by Carillo pulled out of Hillside Drive and attempted to turn south onto Alcoa Highway.

The men were positively identified following completion of the autopsy report. The three men have been released to family members.

After a thorough investigation, accident reconstructionists with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office determined that speed was not a factor in the collision. Contrary to an earlier unverified report that claimed that the roadway was wet when the accident occurred, the roadway was dry at the time of the collision.

Gregory was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital for observation after the accident, but he was not injured.

BCSO officers graduate from basic police academy
Three deputies with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office graduated from the East Tennessee Regional Law Enforcement Academy at Walters State Community College Sept. 27 and two deputies were honored with special awards.

Deputies Robert Berkley, Sam Hall, and Paige Craig received Technical Certificates in Basic Law Enforcement Officer Education at a graduation ceremony held at Walters State Community College in Morristown. Berkley began his career at the Sheriff’s Office earlier this year as a reserve deputy candidate. Berkley graduated from high school in Cleveland,
Tennessee. He is married to wife, Cheryl, and they have an 8-year-old daughter, Cameron.

Hall began his career with the Sheriff’s Office as an intern in 2003. Hall is a 2002 graduate of Alcoa High School. He resides in Maryville. Hall was honored with the Best Athlete Award during the graduation ceremony.

Craig began her career at the Sheriff’s Office in August. Craig is a 2001 graduate of Maryville High School. She is married to husband, Matt, and they reside in Maryville. Craig was honored with the Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association.

Following a 12-week field training program, deputies Hall, Craig, and Berkley will serve as patrolmen with the Sheriff’s Office.

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