Recovering and reducing

Assistant Mayor Dave Bennett recuperating after heart surgery

By Lance Coleman
Senior reporter
Blount Today

Dave Bennett, assistant county mayor and county finance director, has lost 25 pounds and is slowly getting his energy back after doctors replaced a valve in his heart during a surgery on Dec. 20.

"I’ve lost 25 pounds," Bennett said on Tuesday, Jan. 2. "I weighed 251 pounds when I walked in the hospital two weeks ago, and when I came out of surgery, I weighed 270 pounds with all the fluids. I weigh 226 pounds today. It’s just falling
off. I can’t believe it. I feel really good."

Bennett said he doesn’t have all his energy back yet, but he is doing his walking, and he is relaxing. He isn’t allowed to work or drive right now and is scheduled to see his cardiologist in another week. Bennett said he’s scheduled for rehabilitation at Blount Memorial Hospital in another week. The regimen will be three times a week, an hour and a half each day, for 12 weeks, he said.

"I’ll be less than 200 pounds for the first time since high school. I’m on the American Heart Association diet -- it’s a lot less fat," he said. "No steaks, and fried chicken and mashed potatoes are gone. I’m eating grilled chicken and baked fish. It’s actually been a little bit of an adjustment. My health is more important than eating that stuff."

The 38-year-old said he was surprised by the results of the surgery where doctors replaced a defective heart valve with a pig valve.

"Going in, I couldn’t have imagined it going this well," he said. "Coming home and walking a little bit in my neighborhood, I really feel good."

Bennett said the pig donors used for valve procedures are genetically raised to produce hearts for human patients. The results have been successful, he said.

"The problems I had before surgery are gone. I’m not having palpitations. My heart felt like it was missing. It felt like it wasn’t pumping right, and now I don’t have any of that," he said. "I’ve had little or no pain."

Dr. Michael Miggart was Bennett’s doctor, and Dr. Phil Hoffman is his cardiologist. Dr. David Vines is Bennett’s primary care physician who found the problem. "I went from Dr. Vines diagnosis to surgery in 32 days," he said. "It’s really unbelievable."

Bennett said doctors told him his prognosis is good. The tissue valve, as it is sometimes called, will probably have to be replaced in 10 to 20 years, he said.

"But they work wonderfully for those 10 to 20 years. The alternative is obviously very negative," he said. "My heart wasn’t working, and I was risking a heart attack."

Call is out for Leadership Blount Class of 2008
Up and coming leaders in the community are being recruited to take part in the upcoming Leadership Blount Class of 2008.
Denny Mayes, member of the Leadership Blount Class of 2002 and agency manager with Farm Bureau Insurance, is chairing the selection committee for Leadership Blount.

"I am honored to chair the selection committee for Leadership Blount, which is one of the most educational and exciting experiences in which one can partake in Blount County," he said. "Leadership Blount alumni are dedicated to leadership development in Blount County, and it is an experience one will never forget."

Nominations can come from anyone in the community, and individuals are encouraged to nominate themselves. Nominees should have a sincere commitment and motivation to serve the community, as well as an exhibited demonstration of leadership abilities. They should be individuals whose work, volunteer participation and community service indicate they have a long-term commitment to Blount County’s quality of life. All class members must also be willing to devote one full day per month (including two overnight sessions), as well as some required evening governmental meetings, and must have the full support of the organization or corporation they represent.

To insure diversity of each class, nominations are taken from the following categories: Active Retired, Agriculture, Arts, Business, Community Volunteer, Education, Government, Labor, Media, Medical and Legal Professions, Religion and Social Services.

Tuition for the program is $1,100. Of that amount, $110 must be paid by the participant personally. This payment covers all fees and course material, as well as most meals and transportation. Optional or special activities may require additional costs. A limited number of partial scholarships may be available for eligible candidates.

Nominations are being accepted throughout the month of January, and forms are available at the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, The Daily Times, Blount Today or by contacting the Leadership Blount office by phone at 865-984-9368 or by e-mail at info@leadershipblount.com. The completed nomination form must be received in the Leadership Blount office no later than Jan. 31.

Monday morning stabbing suspect arrested
A 29-year-old Miller Avenue man was arrested by Maryville police Tuesday and charged in connection with the stabbing of another man early Monday morning.

Carlos Valdivieso Lopez was charged with aggravated assault. He was held in lieu of $55,000 bond pending a 9 a.m. Jan. 5 General Sessions Court hearing, Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said.

According to a report, officers responded at 5:48 a.m. Jan. 1 to Lopez’s residence at 102 Miller Ave., regarding a stabbing. They found Antonio Crestino Jacome on a living room coach as a woman was applying pressure to his chest wounds. There was an extensive amount of blood on the living room floor and furniture.

The report said there appeared to have been a struggle, and there also was evidence of recent alcohol use. The victim had cuts to his arm and chest and Rural/Metro transported him to Blount Memorial Hospital where he was airlifted by LifeStar to the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Police found a large knife they believed was the weapon on the kitchen floor. They determined that the individual who stabbed Jacome was the brother of the woman applying pressure to Jacome wounds. They learned he had fled to a Louella Drive address. When they arrived there, police found blood on an exterior door and in a bathroom.

After questioning individuals at the address, they went to a Middlesettlements Road location where they found Lopez. He was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital for treatment of a hand wound and then to the Blount County Jail for questioning.
Jacome’s condition was not released.

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