News Briefs:

The Gift Garden and Café to close on Oct. 14
Gift Garden and Café co-owner Jeff Hutchison said Monday the store’s last day will be the Saturday of the 2006 Foothills Fall Festival.

The East Broadway Avenue gift shop and restaurant will close on Oct. 14. Hutchison and his wife Metry have marked down the prices on all gifts. The downtown building is for sale, and the couple also are working to sell their business. "The Gift Garden Broadway is closing on the 14th, but we hope to sell it to another restaurateur so they can keep it going at another location," he said.

Hutchison said the business has a great customer and catering base and whoever buys the business will get the Gift Garden restaurant equipment and recipes. He is asking $45,000 for the business. "We’ve got it priced right, and we’ll even do
owner-financing," he said.

Hutchison said he hopes someone steps forward to continue the operation at another location. "I really believe Gift Garden is good for town and Blount County," he said. "We hope we can get someone to take it over and do something."

Hutchison said he and his wife are looking forward to spending time working with their home remodeling outreach, Patch ministries.

Plans unveiled for new Springbrook pool building
Proposed plans were unveiled for a new bathhouse at the Springbrook pool during a meeting at the Alcoa Municipal Building Oct. 9.

The two 3,450 square feet buildings would be connected by a canopy and would replace the current 11,000 square feet structure. Bids are scheduled to be accepted Oct. 26, the structure should be completed by mid-spring in time for the normal opening of the pool. The facility is expected to cost between $850,000 to $900,000, and a state grant will cover almost half of that amount, said Joe Huff, executive director of Maryville, Alcoa, Blount County Parks and Recreation.

Huff said the idea for building a new facility came last year when they were deciding whether to replace the roof. "What started the process is the roof and soffits are about to fall in; it is leaking, the wood soffit has been rotting. We started out wanting to replace the roof," he said. "The facility was built 50 years ago and the plumbing and electricity is really outdated and we were looking at the cost to renovate and it wasn’t much less than new one. The best bang for our buck would be building a new one."

According to Huff, the new facility will utilize space better, will be more handicapped accessible, will have more modern facilities and concession area updated electrical (components) and counter space. "Everything about it will be nice for us to operate out of and for the genera public to visit," he said.

Huff said Parks and Recreation applied for a received a $400,000 grant from the state through the Local Parks and Recreation Fund. Bids open at 2 p.m. on Oct. 26 and the City of Alcoa will choose the contractor. Planners already have chosen C2RL as the engineering firm and Architects International of Knoxville as the architectural firm, Huff said.

"We want it done before we open. We need good weather to get it done, hopefully once bids are awarded in October, then hopefully by early to mid-November we would like to get going right way with out ultimate goal for the project to be completed by early to mid-May," Huff said.

Sheriff’s Office makes arrest in church burglary
A 53-year-old Knoxville man was charged with burglary of a building in connection with the theft of several Bibles from a Maryville church Monday, Oct 9.

Timothy Carl Clark, 53, of Gooseneck Drive, Knoxville, is being held on a $50,000 bond pending a hearing in Blount County General Sessions Court at 1:30 p.m. October 16.

The Sheriff’s Office took a report Monday from an employee of Broadway Baptist Church in Maryville that a man was walking around inside the church. When approached, the man stated that he was looking around, and he then left. The employee said that the man was carrying a plastic grocery bag with what looked Bibles inside. The employee obtained the vehicle description and license tag, which was traced to Clark.

Clark was arrested at his residence on Gooseneck Drive in Knoxville late Monday night. The Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation into this burglary, as well as several other church burglaries that have occurred over the past couple of weeks.

Courthouse closed Friday for Foothills Fall Festival
A lack of customer and employee parking during the Foothills Fall Festival will give Blount County Courthouse employess a long weekend.

The Blount County Courthouse will be open from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday and will be closed all day Friday.
Normal hours will resume Monday.

The parking lot behind the courthouse will be closed all day Thursday and Monday. Customers who cannot find space in the circle around the courthouse should use the Maryville First Baptist Church parking lot across the street, according to a notice from the county mayor’s office.

Forum on future of Little River planned at library
A public forum on the future of the Little River Watershed will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Blount County Public Library. Titled "Little River, Big Future," this third public forum will be facilitated by the University of Tennessee Community Partnership Center and partnering state and local government agencies, environmental resource groups and community organizations concerned with sustaining local resources.

Leaders will detail the new Targeted Watershed program and create citizen-led advisory committees to guide programs related to recreation, education, urban, rural and septic storm-water management and solid-waste recycling.

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Blount County Soil Conservation District an $835,000 Targeted Watershed grant to help implement programs that address many concerns identified by residents of the community.

For more information on the Little River, Big Future program, go to www.littleriverbigfuture.org.

Blount Humane Society to meet for public input on Monday
The Blount County Humane Society will meet at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Blount County Library. The gathering will be an opportunity for people to voice their opinions regarding a new no-kill animal shelter in Blount County.

"We’re going to be getting reorganized, we’re starting a capital fundraising campaign for our no-kill shelter," Blount County Humane Society president Steve Phipps said.

The group also is starting an advisory board called the Friends of the Animals Advisory Board.

"The main request is that you have a passion to help animals and want to get involved with Blount County’s no-kill shelter effort," he said of prospective members of the advisory board. For information, call Steve Phipps at 742-3070.

Maryville man pleads ‘no contest’ to sales tax fraud
NASHVILLE -- Edward Dwayne Cunningham, owner of Beds to Go of Maryville, pleaded no contest to three counts of sales tax fraud on Oct. 5.

"Tennessee’s tax structure depends on taxpayers voluntarily complying with the laws," said Commissioner Loren L. Chumley in a press release. "Taxpayers who collect but intentionally do not remit sales tax breach the public trust. This case underscores our commitment to collecting all taxes due the state of Tennessee."

Blount County Criminal Court Judge D. Kelly Thomas granted Cunningham judicial diversion and placed him on three years supervised probation. Cunningham has already paid criminal restitution in the amount of $156,085. The Department of Revenue will seek additional civil fines and penalties from Cunningham.

Sheriff’s Office charges man in child pornography case
A 39-year-old Maryville man was charged with sexual exploitation of a child and possession of drug paraphernalia on Oct. 6.

According to a press release, Andrew Michael Getty, 39, Whites Mill Road, Maryville, was being held on bonds totaling $101,000 pending a hearing in Blount County General Sessions Court at 9 a.m. October 13.

The Sheriff’s Office HEAT (High Tech Evidence and Technology) Unit and Criminal Investigation Division, along with ICAC, have been working together on the on-line investigation concerning Getty. The investigation concluded when investigators took Getty into custody at his residence Thursday evening. A computer forensics search of Getty’s computer hard drive turned up several child pornography images and videos.

Sheriff’s Office looking for armed robbery suspect
Authorities are looking for the man who robbed an individual Oct. 4 at a church on Howard Jones Road.

Blount County Sheriff’s deputies responded to Unity Baptist Church on Howard Jones Road at around 1:45 p.m. Oct. 4 in reference to an individual who was robbed. When deputies arrived, they spoke with the victim who said that as he was working at the church, he heard a knock on the door. When he answered the door, the suspect asked him for money for gasoline. The victim reached for his wallet to give him some of his own money, and the suspect then brandished a knife and demanded all of his money. After taking an undisclosed amount of cash, the suspect then ran out the door and fled around the back of the church on foot.

The suspect is described as a white male, between 19 and 25 years old, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, 160 to 165 pounds, brown hair, and clean shaven. He was wearing a bluish-gray T-shirt, blue jeans, and a red baseball cap.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Blount County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division at 273-5001, or the 24 hour crime hotline at 273-5200.

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