News Briefs:

Larry Graves, Alcoa Fire Chief, to retire
Longtime Alcoa Fire Chief Larry Graves will retire in early February, according to a City of Alcoa press release issued Tuesday. The city announced Graves would retire on Feb. 9.

Graves began his career with the City of Alcoa Fire Department June 12, 1965. He left the department in April 1966 to serve in the U.S. Army after being drafted and returned in April 1968.

When Graves joined the fire department, the City had only one fire station and six fulltime firefighters who worked 48-hour shifts with 48 hours off. Since then, the fire department has gone from responding to not only fires to providing emergency services for vehicle accidents and extraction, hazardous material incidents, and technical and confined space rescues.

During his tenure, emergency calls have increased from an average of 200 per year to over 1,200 per year.

Graves earned associate degrees in criminal justice and fire science from Walter State Community College. He also completed the Municipal Specialist in Public Safety program at University of Tennessee Municipal Training Program. Graves received additional certifications as a Firefighter III, Fire Instructor I, First Responder in Emergency Medical Service (EMS),
and Hazmat Tech.

In 1986, after progressing through the ranks, Graves was named as the City’s first Assistant Chief/Training Officer. In 1992, Graves was promoted to chief following the retirement of Chief Clifford Freeman. Graves also performed the duties as the City’s Safety Director. Under Graves’ direction, the City’s EMS First Responder Program was implemented in 1994.

Chief Graves was instrumental in coordinating the construction of two fire stations and the City’s Public Safety Building, which houses both the City’s Fire Administration and Police Departments.

Graves has been married to Sue Walker since 1969. Graves said, "I have made good friends that have retired and will miss the staff that I work with now in addition to all City employees."

His future plans include continuing to be involved with the fire service. "I will continue to be an Assessment Team Member for the Commission on Fire Accreditation International traveling across the country accrediting fire departments, " he said in the press release.

City Manager Mark Johnson said, "The City is greatly indebted to Chief Graves for his fierce loyalty to the City and his dedication to the safety of its citizens. He has been a rock solid member of the City’s management team and we will all miss his wisdom and counsel in all areas of city government."

Deputy Chief Roger Robinson will serve as interim chief until a replacement is named.

Sheriff’s Office names Boling as officer of the year
Blount County Sheriff James Berrong has announced that Officer Melissa Boling has been selected as the Sheriff’s Office Officer of the Year for 2006.

Boling is a 13 year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office Corrections Division. Boling was selected as the Corrections Officer of the Month for November.

Boling was chosen as the Sheriff’s Office Officer of the Year because of her contribution to solving the murder of 16-year-old Tamir Shereef on Nov. 14 in Alcoa. Renwick Andre Earls Jr., 16, was a suspect in the homicide. At the time, Earls’ mother, Tina Earls, was in custody in Blount County’s correction’s facility. Boling noticed that Earls was acting strangely.

Boling contacted Alcoa Police Detective Sgt. Ronnie Sellers. She also assisted Alcoa in gathering pertinent information that helped in Renwick Earls being charged with the criminal homicide.

"Officer Boling has proven herself time and time again as an outstanding officer," Sheriff Berrong said. "This is just one example of her hard work, and her desire to go the extra mile to assist."

Boling began her employment with the Sheriff’s Office in 1993. She and husband Larry have three childrer. Boling is a
lifelong resident of Blount County and a graduate of Heritage High School.

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