News Briefs:

Alcoa begins work on new service center
An Alcoa landmark came tumbling down Monday, March 26, when a demolition crew destroyed the smoke stack at the former Veach-May-Wiland Burruss Lumber Companies site off Wright Road.

The smoke stack came down as personnel began site preparation at the new the city’s new Service Center. Before construction can begin, several buildings must be razed to make way for the new construction, according to a press release. Demolition of the boilerhouse was started on Friday, March 9, by Burnett Demolition & Salvage.

The most visible structure on the site, the smoke stack was destroyed because trying to salvage the stack as a landmark proved futile when it was found to be structurally unsound.

Two other buildings on site will be saved and used for warehousing and storage by the City’s Electric and Public Works Departments. Demolition work should be completed by May 1.

Blaine Construction Corp. is the City’s general contractor for the project. APAC Harrison, Blaine’s grading subcontractor, will start staking and grading of the site this week. Construction of the entire project is expected to be complete by Spring 2008.

The Service Center will bring together and centralizing departments that are now housed in four different locations throughout Alcoa. The new center will house the Street, Sanitation, Water and Wastewater, and Engineering and Administration Divisions of the Public Works and Engineering. The Electric Department and the Purchasing, Warehousing, and Fleet Maintenance operations will also move to the new facility. C2RL Engineers located in Alcoa, and Architect’s International, Knoxville, designed the Center.

Finney seeks to extend tax holiday to food
State Senator Raymond Finney wants the "sales tax holiday" that was begun in August of 2006 to be a monthly break.

Finney recently proposed a sales tax holiday on the first full weekend of each month for food purchases.

The state has added a second "sales tax holiday," which will be April 27-29.

"The state has been over-collecting taxes from residents for years," said Finney. "Many legislators, including me, are trying to return some of this money to hard-working Tennesseans. We have established sales tax holidays for certain clothing items, school supplies, and computers for the first full weekend of each August. For the year 2007, we have added a tax holiday for one weekend in April."

Finney said the idea behind the sales tax holiday is to extend the purchasing power of families. "Purchases of essential school supplies for students become more affordable with this sales tax holiday," he said.

Finney said he has introduced Senate Bill 97, which would create a sales tax holiday on food (grocery) purchases on the first full weekend of every month. Tennessee is one of the few states which still charges sales tax on food purchases," he said. "It is shameful that we charge a nearly 10 percent sales tax on something as essential to life as food."

Finney said the General Assembly has resisted eliminating or reducing the food sales tax in the past. "I am trying to get my fellow legislators to grant our citizens tax relief for just three days of each month," he said. "Families could buy food staples on this holiday and extend the purchasing power of their paychecks."

More information on the current sales tax holiday, including a guide to eligible purchases and answers to frequently asked questions, may be obtained by accessing www.tennessee.gov/revenue, or by calling 1-800-342-1003.

Norvell presents cyber-networking talk
Dr. John Norvell will conclude the spring 2007 Community Conversations series with the talk "Faces and Friends: Twenty-Odd Years of Online Communities," scheduled for April 3 in the Music Hall of the College’s Fine Arts Center.

This spring’s series is entitled "Millennial Media." Keith Knight, award winning cartoonist and rapper, opened this semester’s series Feb. 15 with a presentation entitled "Gentleman Cartoonist," and Greg Sandoval, noted technology and sports journalist, continued on March 13 with his lecture on the revolution of YouTube.

Norvell’s talk at the college will relate to online communities, including blogging, chatting and online networking. Norvell earned his PhD from Cornell University and is also a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award.

Community Conversations events begin at 7 p.m. and are free of charge and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Maria Siopsis, chairperson of the Community Conversations Series committee, at 865.981.8163 or
maria.siopsis@maryvillecollege.edu.

Finney receives honor from Development District
State Sen. Raymond Finney recently was selected as the 2007 State Legislator of the Year by the East Tennessee Development District (ETDD).

He was presented the award at the annual Tennessee Development District Association luncheon on Wednesday, March 21.

"I am truly humbled by receiving this honor," Finney said. "I consider it an enormous privilege to serve in the state Senate,
and I will continue to work with the East Tennessee Development District to make Tennessee a great place to live."

Tennessee’s Development Districts serve local governments by assisting with development, planning and advocacy. They focus on assisting communities with economic development while carrying out all plans for physical, economic and resource development.

BCSO deputies graduate from police academy
Four Blount County Sheriff’s Office deputies recently graduated from the East Tennessee Regional Law Enforcement Academy at Walters State Community College.

Deputies Rick Aycocke, Reggie Lawrence, Joe McCarter, and Brandon Hall, received Technical Certificates in Basic Law Enforcement Officer Education at a graduation ceremony held March 23 at Walters State Community College in Morristown.

Aycocke began his career with the Sheriff’s Office in November 1999 as a corrections officer. He will serve in the Court Support Division.

Lawrence began his career as a corrections officer with the Sheriff’s Office in March 1999. He will serve as a transport officer in the Corrections Division.

McCarter came to work for the Sheriff’s Office in September 2003 in the Juvenile Corrections Division. He will serve as a patrolman in the Patrol Division.

Hall has been with the Sheriff’s Office since October 2005 as a corrections officer. He will serve as a patrolman in the Patrol Division.

The deputies attended the intensive eight week, 461 hours course of instruction on basic law enforcement, and are now entitled to receive certification through the Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.). Forty-one other cadets from across Tennessee also received certificates.

Three charged in Friendsville home invasion
Three Blount County residents were charged March 23 in connection with the home invasion of an elderly Friendsville couple early in the day on March 22.

Phillip Michael Patterson, 28, Forest Avenue, Maryville; Veric Dean Osgood, 34, Triple Oak Street, Rockford; and Shelley Anne Curlee, 31, also of Triple Oak Street, Rockford, were all charged with two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, and one count of aggravated burglary.

In addition, Patterson, was also charged with theft of property over $1,000. Patterson is being held on bonds totaling $285,000, and Osgood and Curlee are being held on bonds totaling $275,000. They are all being held at the Blount County Adult Detention Facility pending hearings in Blount County General Sessions Court at 9 a.m. March 28.

According to a sheriff’s office press release, a motorist was traveling southbound on I-75 in Loudon County when he heard the news story on WIVK radio regarding the March 22 home invasion. The news story included information about the vehicle that was stolen along with the tag number. The Knoxville motorist spotted that vehicle traveling in front of him, and called 911 to report that he had the vehicle in sight. The man stayed on the line with the dispatcher until the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office had the 1996 white Ford Explorer identified and stopped.

The three people in the stolen vehicle were Patterson, Osgood, and Curlee. Two Blount County Sheriff’s deputies traveled to the scene of the traffic stop and transported the three back to Blount County.

According to the press release, during interviews, Patterson, Osgood, and Curlee all confessed to the robbery. They also stated that they were on their way to Florida prior to being arrested.

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