News in Brief:

Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation asks for board nominations
The Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation is requesting nominations for two positions on the advisory board.

The Blount County commission in April voted to give more than $300,000 to help build the first portion of the facility on county owned property.

Foundation president Chris Protzman said that during the Blount County Animal Control Committee meeting on May 8, committee members requested a public announcement of nominations for the advisory board for the animal care facility.

Protzman said the two positions on the board will be a Blount County animal welfare community representative and one position will be for a practicing Blount County veterinarian.

"Those people interested can go to smokymountainanimalcare.org and go to the programs page and fill out an application," Protzman said. "We’re asking all folks get everything signed and faxed by June 1."

Protzman said members on the board will have an important job. "This would be a critical board that will oversee funding, contractor selection and staff. They’ll have hiring and firing responsibility and oversight of funds. It will have representatives from the county and participating municipalities," he said.

County and municipal leaders talk planning at May 11 breakfast
Next time they want country ham.

That was one of the suggestions made by attendees to the Cities and County Planning Commission Breakfast held May 11 at the Blount County Courthouse.

Other suggestions included meeting once every three months, having government and municipal representatives give updates and, of course, having food.

"If you can feed them, that is a good perk to have so you get together and talk and a lot of times you talk better after you’ve eaten," Blount County Planning director John Lamb said. "The breakfast worked well, and they missed just a little of their day. We had a good turnout."

County Mayor Jerry Cunningham sponsored the event and introduced Blount County Planning director John Lamb, who then moderated the conversation.

"I’ve wanted to do this for some period of time," Cunningham said. "The purpose this morning is to share ideas."

Lamb jotted down ideas for the planning meetings, why they’re important and how often they should meet.

"Planning is an important function of local government," he said. "We need to start looking at what each other is doing. We need to talk about getting together and communicating and coordinating."

Scott Poland, city planner with Maryville said there is much planned for the U.S. 411 South/West Broadway Avenue route.

The new Wal-Mart opened recently on that thoroughfare is proof of coming development. "We encourage you to spend your time and money at our new Wal-Mart," he said before Alcoa city manager Mark Johnson drew laughter with his quick response.

"Them’s fighting words," said Johnson. Until recently the only Wal-Mart in the community has been the one located in Alcoa.

Chris Hamby, Alcoa director of planning and codes, said the city has new subdivision and zoning regulations. "We don’t have a new Wal-Mart, but we do have new businesses," Hamby said, referring to new businesses opening at the Hamilton Crossing retail center off Louisville Road.

Officials from other municipalities throughout the county also were on hand. Elizabeth Trail represented the town of Friendsville, community planner Midge Jessiman represented Townsend and Karen Tominey was there from Louisville.

Blount County planning commission member Rick Brownlee said the meetings were a good idea because no municipality within the county acts in a vacuum. "You can’t do anything in one part (of the county) without it affecting another," he said. "I think it only makes good sense."

Cunningham suggested the group meet every quarter. Alcoa Mayor Don Mull suggested each government represented give a brief run down of their activities for each quarter during each meeting. "That way we better understand what is going on in each municipality," he said.

Maryville Planning Commission member Carl McDonald said what municipalities inside the county do affects the county’s infrastructure, such as the sheriff’s office, schools and roads. "When Friendsville or Louisville subdivide, it affects schools and roads. If we don’t have an understanding of what the infrastructure of the county can hold, we’re planning in the dark," he said.

McDonald said that when Maryville and Alcoa plan, they have the authority through their planning commissions to regulate subdivisions being built in the urban growth boundaries extending out from their borders into the county. This is done because theoretically those subdivisions could be annexed within 20 years.

"We’re affecting schools and we’re affecting county roads because that’s where the subdivisions are," he said.

County commissioner Gary Farmer said when cities like Maryville or Alcoa annex, they can affect the schools in the county because annexed students then have to go to the city schools.

Cunningham said this was the first of many planning sessions he hoped to have with other leaders. "Although we may differ in what is best, we all have the best interest of Blount County at heart," he said.

Lamb said the event went well. "I thought it was good and lively. There are a lot of people who have opinions of what we ought to be doing," he said. "That’s why we wanted to get together and talk. It will pay off in the long run. I want to make county planning as inclusive as possible."

Blount Today staffers win five SPJ honors
Two Blount Today writers and a Blount Today designer won five honors during the Society of Professional Journalists Gold Press Card Awards banquet at the University Club in Knoxville.

Stefan Cooper swept his category with the top Award of Excellence in sports for weekly newspaers for "Ride of Silence: Area Cyclists, co-workers offer tributes to Jeff Roth." Second place went to Cooper for "She’s going in: McMahan makes emotional UT debut." He also took third place for "Surviving the Game: Recruiting process showers area stars with attention, pressure."

Tessa Bright, lead graphic artist, won the top Award of Excellence for weekly newspapers for her covers for the Blount Today "Three-Peat" football championship tab following the 2006-07 state playoffs as well as for her cover for the feature story "Consolidation: Will coming together tear us apart?"

Lance Coleman won honorable mention for his story "Service and Struggles." The story was about former Blount County Mayor Beverley Woodruff’s struggle with Parkinson’s disease.

This year 149 entrants placed either print or broadcast material to be judged for the contest. The overall winner, the Golden Press Card, was News Sentinel staff writer J.J. Stambaugh for his stories on homelessness in Knoxville. The series was entitled Homeless, not Helpless."

Blount deputies honored for saving teen’s life
Four Blount County Sheriff’s deputies were honored Tuesday, May 15, for their part in pulling a man out from under his vehicle which had overturned and landed in a creek.

Sheriff James Berrong gave Lifesaving Awards to deputies Ronnie Reagan, Brian Ailey, Ron Blair and Wayne Irwin for their response to a wreck that occurred at 1:43 a.m. April 7. Ailey responded to the call and found a truck lying on its top in a creek, and he could hear someone gasping for breath. As he approached the driver, Michael Wine of Eagleton, Blair arrived and they both talked to Wine to keep him conscious under the truck bed.

When it appeared the 19-year-old wasn’t going to be able to survive because he couldn’t breath with the truck on him, the four deputies lifted the vehicle while standing in the frigid water. As Irwin and Blair held the truck up, Ailey and Reagan pulled him from underneath the truck. He was flown by Lifestar helicopter to University of Tennessee Medical Center.

"I’m very proud of you," Berrong said. "You’re a good representative of this community and this department."

Wine said he planned to resume welding classes at Tennessee Technological Institute in about two to three months. His mouth was wired shut, and he walked on crutches because of injuries from the wreck.

"I’m lucky, real lucky. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be alive. I had hypothermia. I wouldn’t have made it much longer," Wine said. "I owe my life to them."

Wine’s grandmother Mary Hitson thanked the deputies and gave credit to God for helping them help her grandson. "He’s a walking miracle. ‘Thank you’ is not enough," she said.

Chief deputy Ron Dunn said deputies each day work to save lives or ease suffering. "That’s the name of the game," he said.

Rockford woman killed in house fire
A 44-year-old Rockford woman was killed in a house fire early on May 9.

Angela Bauman Collins, 44, Self Hollow Road, Rockford, was dead on the scene, Blount County Sheriff’s Office said.

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office responded along with Blount County Fire Department to the call of a fire on Self Hollow Road at around 9 a.m. When firefighters arrived, there was smoke coming from the attic. Firefighters entered the residence through the front door into the living room through heavy smoke. Collins’ body was found in the far corner of that room.

Sheriff’s deputies had responded to the residence earlier in the day to assist Rural/Metro Ambulance Service on a medical call at the residence, but Collins refused transport to the hospital.

The cause and origin of the fire is still under investigation, however, foul play is not suspected.

This is the fifth fire fatality in 2007 in Blount County.

© 2007 blounttoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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