By Lance Coleman

Commissioner counters flier distributed to constituents

Blount County commissioner Joe McCulley believes someone tried to discredit him by placing copies of an anonymous flier in newspaper tubes on the day he left for vacation.

The flier read as follows: "Your commissioner, Joe McCulley, voted against the sheriff’s deputies getting a raise and needed equipment. However, he voted for his wife to get a substantial raise who works for the school department."

McCulley recently returned from his vacation and said it appeared many residents received the letter. "I believe about everyone in the district I represent has gotten it. I don’t know who put it out. It started the day I went on vacation," he said. "We were about three or four hours late leaving, and I came back home, and it was in my paper box."

McCulley said he was sure that the person or persons who distributed the flier put it everywhere they could in his district. "By the content of it, I have a pretty good idea which group put it out," he said. The commissioner would not elaborate on his suspicions.

"When I first saw it, I kind of got upset someone would do something like that. It’s an old dirty trick of politics. That’s part of the games people play. I got over it when I got back," he said. "I don’t know who it is that would do something like that except they’re trying to discredit me for some reason. I don’t know why."

McCulley said he voted against the appropriation resolution that required a property tax increase, and the property tax increase itself. Any raise for teachers, he said, came from state funds. The commissioner said he also voted against supplemental pay for elected officials if paying those supplements required a tax increase.

McCulley said that if anyone took the time to check the facts, they would have known the information in the flier was false. "So many people don’t know that. So many people accept the information in fliers without verifying it," he said. "I want (residents) to know the information was false information, and I did not vote the way the flier says I voted. I voted against the entire appropriation and the tax increase."

Foothills Bank team mourns McGuire, leaders take new positions
Mark Loudermilk and Dr. Dick Evans recently assumed new roles with Foothills Bank and Trust following the death of CEO J.N. (Nick) McGuire, Jr.

McGuire died of a stroke at his home on the evening of June 29. Bank president Rick Shepard said the team of the recently organized bank is recovering following the death of a friend and respected citizen who had a long career in the banking industry.

"The team is pulling together and moving forward like Nick would have wanted us to," said Shepard. "We’ve had tremendous results in the first 36 days we’ve been open."

Shepard said the team McGuire assembled has gotten plenty of support from organizers to make the bank’s first days a success. "Just like Nick would have wanted us to do, we’re continuing his dream of having an outstanding community bank in
Blount County serving people in the community," he said.

Shepard said Loudermilk will serve as interim chief executive officer and Dr. Samuel D. Evans will come on as chairman of the board. Both men helped organize the bank, and Loudermilk also was chief financial and operating officer.

Shepard said he will continue on as president of the bank, as well as chief lending and business development officer. Melissa Hodges will continue on as chief compliance and human resources officer.

"Nick was a mentor of many people and just an outstanding individual. He’ll be sadly missed by the staff. We’re all personally hurt. We’ve lost a good friend and good business partner," Shepard said. "We’re going to have our shareholder’s meeting on the 18th like Nick would want us to do,"

This will be the first meeting of the bank’s shareholders.

McGuire is survived by his wife, Jane, and children, Nicholas and Stacey. "At this time, with our staff and organizers, our biggest concern is with the family," Shepard said. "We’re here to support his family."

Alcoa Fire wraps FreedomFest investigation
The individuals who sustained minor injuries during FreedomFest fireworks display were hit by bombettes which apparently failed to explode as designed.

The City of Alcoa on July 10 released its findings surrounding injuries to spectators during its annual FreedomFest fireworks presentation on June 30. Immediately following the end of the fireworks display, Fire Chief Roger Robinson initiated an investigation into an event that resulted in minor injuries to three people.

The investigation discovered numerous shell fallout fragments found approximately 25 feet outside the established safety zone. After examining the debris and consulting with Pyro Shows’ Lansden Hill, it was determined that the resulting fallout was from one of the shows 8-inch diameter "Blooming Silvery" shells which contains approximately 30 pieces of 1-inch diameter "bombettes."

The investigation found that during the"1812 Overture," one of the 8-inch "Blooming Silvery" shells was fired to a proper altitude, but some of the 1-inch bombettes apparently failed to explode in the air as they were designed to do. Some of the bombettes fell to the ground. A change in wind direction contributed to the fallout landing outside of the safety zone near the Springbrook Road bridge.

As a result of the investigation, additional safety options to protect spectators are under review to include deletion of this type of firework in the future and moving the firing line of the 8-inch shells back an additional 50 feet.

Robinson said that for 31 years the city has put on FreedomFest as a festive community event that the whole family can attend with piece of mind regarding safety. "It is our intent to continue to provide this atmosphere of safety and we deeply regret that injuries occurred," he said.

Those filing a report with the Alcoa Police Department reporting an injury have been contacted by city officials.

Louisville, Topside intersection becomes 3-way stop
Congestion at the intersection of Louisville and Topside roads may soon be eased as the state recently made the intersection a three-way stop.

A flashing stoplight was installed at the intersection to help with traffic control.
Tennessee Department of Transportation made the change last week.

Alcoa mayor elected to ETDD board
Alcoa City Mayor Don Mull was recently named vice chairman of the East Tennessee Development District board of directors.

The ETDD board installed Mull to serve as vice chairman of the ETDD board of directors for fiscal year 2007-08 at the 40th annual awards banquet held at the Rothchild Conference Center in Knoxville, June 15.

Mayor Mull has been a member of the ETDD board since he took office as mayor of Alcoa in 1983. He also served as
secretary in 2006-07 and treasurer in 2005-06.

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