News Briefs -- by Lance coleman

Attorney General: No constitutional concern with Finney’s creation question
The state attorney general of Tennessee has said there is nothing unconstitutional in Sen. Raymond Finney’s question to State Education Commission Lana Seivers on how the universe was created.

In an Associated Press report on Tuesday, March 13, State Attorney General Bob Cooper said there are no constitutional concerns with the creationism resolution posed by Finney to ask Seivers whether a supreme being created the universe.
Cooper said his opinion is based on the fact the resolution "merely requests" answers and imposes no penalties if Education Commissioner Lana Seivers declines to answer.

"While the resolution clearly appears to constitute a rhetorical device designed to advocate the teaching of creationism as an alternative to the theory of evolution, there is no indication that the resolution is intended to attack (Seivers’) qualifications for her position," Cooper wrote.

Finney is the sponsor of a resolution to ask Seivers whether the universe "has been created or has merely happened by random, unplanned, and purposeless occurrences."

Finney said he wants the department to say there’s no scientific proof for the theory of evolution, opening the doors to let schools teach creationism or intelligent design.

The resolution would not violate the U.S. Constitution because it would not create a new law in Tennessee, Cooper said. He added that the measure would not violate the state constitution, which holds that "no political or religious test" can be required as a qualification for state office.

The resolution’s request should not be interpreted as a "test," Cooper said.

Finney’s resolution would not need approval from the Democratic-controlled House or the governor.

Education Department spokeswoman Rachel Woods has said the department will work to formulate answers to Finney’s resolution if it passes the Senate.

Currently, creationism is not part of the state’s biology curriculum but schools can include it in elective religious studies, social studies and humanities courses.

The state Board of Education, not the Department of Education, oversees any changes to the curriculum, Woods said.

Airport launches website
The Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority launched a redesigned website on Monday, March 12.

The site, said Becky Huckaby director of public relations with the Airport Authority, is devoted to making travel into and out of both McGhee Tyson and Downtown Island airports more convenient and accessible.

While compiling information for the redesign, planners interviewed users of the airports and asked for suggestions on how to make the site more user-friendly. From this research, planners learned users needed a one-stop place to book flights,
monitor arriving and departing flights and learn more about facilities.

The booking engine remembers flight preferences entered by the registered user. These items include frequent flyer numbers, seat assignment preferences and other special requests. It is designed to automatically populate a user’s ticket with all of their personal travel preferences. This eliminates the need to repeatedly enter the information each new ticket purchase.

The new website,, also includes maps for easer facility navigation, the most recent airport security updates, airport documents such as the annual report and budget and fun, aviation-themed activities that can be downloaded for children.

Body found off Montvale identified, truck located
The vehicle belonging to the Townsend man who was found dead off Montvale Road on March 11 was located at a Rockford residence early on March 13.

The 1989 blue Ford Ranger pick up truck belonged to Ronald Shannon Neff, 35, of Townsend. Neff and the truck were missing for a week before a passing motorist discovered Neff’s body down an embankment off Montvale Road in Happy Valley Sunday about a quarter mile past the Foothills Parkway overpass. Then on March 13, a Sheriff’s Office patrol deputy spotted the vehicle parked at a residence while patrolling that area.

The cause of death has not been released. The preliminary autopsy report is not yet available due to pending results of the toxicology tests.

The Sheriff’s Office has interviewed witnesses who had contact with Neff last Sunday prior to his disappearance. Anyone with any information regarding Neff’s activity Since March 4 is asked to call the Criminal Investigation Division during normal business hours at 865-273-5001, or the 24-hour crime hotline at 865-273-5200.

Fall into spring with last neighborhood leaf pick up
The City of Maryville City Public Works Department will perform a spring leaf clean-up throughout the City beginning on March 19.

This is a one-time pick up, and the City’s last loose leaf pick-up until the fall. Residents are asked to separate leaves from other waste (brush or bulk) and place them in piles in the front, but not in a ditch where leaves could clog the storm drains. Leaves should be raked out to the curb and ready for collection by March 18.

For further details, call the Public Works Department at 865-273-3302.

Elliott’s Boot Co. opens store in Alcoa
The fourth location of Elliott’s Boot Company opened its doors recently in Alcoa at New Midland Plaza. The manager said proximity to the Alcoa, Inc., plant and the Denso Manufacturing facility hastened their arrival in town.

"I’ve been telling them it would do well here," said manager Rob Ergenbright, a former Maryville resident. Ergenbright moved to Maryville as a child and was enthusiastic about opening a store in Blount County.

Ergenbright said Jack Elliott started the company 25 years ago selling boots out of his truck to workers at factories such as
the ones at Alcoa, Inc. They now have stores in Knoxville off Western Avenue, in Cleveland, Morristown and now Alcoa.

"The biggest reason we moved to Alcoa is the plants. They’re our biggest customers," he said of Denso and Alcoa workers.
While industrial boots are their best sellers, the store also boasts a full line of hunting, hiking, Western and motorcycle boots, casual shoes, as well as Carhartt clothing.

The manager said his store opened Feb. 16 and is in the midst of a "soft" opening before the grand opening on April 1.

Preview ‘Foolies’ March 22; show is March 31
Get a preview of the March 31 April Foolies at Sullivan’s Downtown at 6 p.m., Thursday, March 22, with a preview party featuring Pistol Creek Catch of the Day.

The event is free, but tickets will be available that night for the show. Show tickets are $10.

April Foolies is scheduled for Saturday, March 31, at Wilson Chapel on the Maryville College Campus. A $5 dinner is available beginning at 5:30 p.m. Dinner includes a hamburger or hotdog, a drink and chips.

Senior dance goes ‘live’
The Senior Dance Group at Everett Senior Center dance every Wednesday afternoon and Friday evening, but once a month, they go "live."

The first Friday of each month, a live band is featured at the dance, which is open to any seniors. The band on April 6 will be "Millie’s Jive 5."

Wednesday dances are from 1 to 3 p.m., and Friday’s entertainment begins at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The group is hoping to attract more dancers. The dances are open to the public, and seniors are encouraged to come by and join in the fun.

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