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     Ray Burns, (center), turned 90-years-old on Dec. 13. A surprise birthday celebration was held in his honor. He is surrounded by two of his good friends and former co-workers, Jerry Sharp, right and Jim Wallace, left. All three worked for nearly five decades together at Oak Ridge Laboratories.  Burns is a former county mayor, former school board and county commission member and has been very active in the community over the years. Happy Birthday Ray from all of us at WLAF! (CHARLOTTE UNDERWOOD PIX)

Search for Daugherty continues by land, air and boat

Missing for two-weeks now, the search for Rhonda Daugherty continues on the lake today in the Sugar Hollow vicinity. Law enforcement was searching in that area yesterday as well. A Knox County Special Operations unit, believed to be a dive team, was seen driving through town and later parked in the Sugar Hollow parking lot. According to officials the search will continue by boat, land and air.

According to reports, Daugherty was last seen by her husband Charles on Dec. 2. When he returned home from work, she was gone and the door to their home was open.

Law enforcement, community members and other volunteers have searched daily for the 49-year-old Coolidge woman.

If you have any information on where Rhonda Daugherty may be you’re asked to call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446. There is a $10,000 reward in this case. (12/17/2014 - 12:30 PM)

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Bowlin blows past the Bobcats Tuesday night at Lindsay Gym.  Senior Justin Bowlin led Jellico to victory last night over Oliver Springs in a 67-65 squeaker. (DAVID GRAHAM PIX - 12/17/2014 - 10:00 AM)

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Search continues for missing Coolidge woman

By Charlotte Underwood

No new details have emerged in the case of the missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2.  Those in the Sugar Hollow area may have noticed law enforcement and search teams checking the lake yesterday as the search continues for the missing 49-year old woman who seems to have vanished without a trace.  According to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, they will continue to search any and all areas in reference to Rhonda and no areas are off limit.

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

For two weeks and a day now, officers and members of the community have been searching tirelessly.  Local churches are offering up prayer and missing posters can be seen all over the county, but still no word on her whereabouts and no new leads to follow.

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

The community has been abuzz with suspicion of a connection between Daugherty’s case and that of Lonnie Vann, who was arrested on Friday in Myrtle Beach in connection with an armed robbery that occurred in the Deerfield community on Dec. 6.  Vann is currently being held in South Carolina on charges for crimes he committed there as well as a fugitive from justice warrant regarding the robbery he allegedly committed here in Campbell County.

No connection between the two cases has been officially acknowledged by law enforcement. According to officials, both cases are still under open and active investigation.  Related stories and pictures are found further down this page.  (12/17/2014 - 6:00 AM)

    

The Hobbit is now showing at the Carmike Movies II behind Woodson Shell

Caryville boat ramp named after Ray Wilson

Dedication and unveiling held on Tuesday

By Charlotte Underwood

An unveiling and dedication of a boat ramp named after long-time county commissioner Ray Wilson was unveiled in Caryville on Dec. 16.

Representative Dennis Powers, County Mayor E.L. Morton, members of Campbell Outdoor Recreation Association and some of Wilson’s family were at the unveiling which honored Wilson’s efforts in making the boat ramp access point come to fruition.

From left to right:  County and state officials and members of Wilson’s family attended the boat ramp dedication held on Tuesday in Caryville. Pictured from left to right is Ray Wilson’s daughter Mitzi Wilson Booth, his nephew Joey Russell, State Representative Dennis Powers, County Mayor E.L. Morton, CORA Vice President Glen Massengill, and CORA members Clarence Ward and Robert Burden.

Wilson passed away in July of last year.  Afterwards, CORA Vice President Glen Massengill approached Powers and suggested naming the boat ramp after Wilson.  Six months later in December, Powers spoke to the Campbell County Commission, who voted unanimously in approval of the dedication and to pay for the dedication sign.

Wilson was a long time resident of Campbell County and was on the county commission for 16 years. He was also an original member of the founding team of the CORA.  During his time with CORA, Wilson was instrumental in getting the boat ramp project built on the lake.  According to Powers, Wilson made many trips to Nashville to meet with Legislative and Park Agency officials to promote various properties in Campbell County and promote developing the Caryville access ramp.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation also participated in the project.

The ramp is located off of Queener Road in Caryville.  (12/17/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Let Eric Robbins and his crew at Robbins Guttering make your home brand new again.  Call Eric today at 423.566.5461.  Siding, gutters, windows, & more.

Sheriff and police reports

By Charlotte Underwood

Couple arrested on drug and DUI charges

A La Follette couple was arrested on drug charges on Dec. 11, after La Follette Police received a report of someone driving a red van drinking a beer in the parking lot of a local business. After pulling the van over, officers noted that Timothy Lues Henderson,50, had a strong odor of marijuana and alcohol coming from his person. He also had blood shot eyes and performed poorly on several field sobriety tests. Officers found one empty beer can and another half full still in the vehicle. A small part of a marijuana cigarette was also found in his pocket.  Hollie Melinda Henderson, 40, who was a passenger in the van, was also searched.  When officers checked her purse, they found one blue pill bottle with a Suboxone wrapper in side and a small pink strip believed to be Suboxone.  One round blue pill was also found.  Hollie Henderson was charged with possession of a schedule III controlled substance and possession of a legend drug.  Timothy Henderson was charged with DUI, seatbelt violation, violation of the financial responsibility law, possession of marijuana, violation of the open container law and driving on a revoked license. Both were transported to the county jail.

Glade Springs man arrested for aggravated assault and other charges

A Glade Springs man was arrested on Dec. 12, on charges of aggravated assault by domestic violence, as well as possession of a handgun while under the influence and possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the domestic violence scene on the report that Roger L. Moses, 57, was armed with a handgun and a machete. When officers arrived at the scene, Moses was just pulling into the residence and when he got out of his vehicle, he appeared to be “highly intoxicated, had slurred speech, was unsteady on his feet and had a strong odor of alcohol coming from his person. According to the sheriff’s report, Moses had a lot of blood on his hands, clothes and face.  At this time, Moses was placed under arrest.  Deputies asked him where the weapons were and he replied in the passenger seat of his vehicle.  Deputies retrieved a Smith and Wesson handgun loaded with four bullets.  After speaking to the victim, they learned that Moses had been swinging the machete in her direction and had accidentally cut his finger.  When the victim attempted to provide aid to Moses, another altercation occurred and Moses held the victim down and smeared his blood on her. She was able to grab the handgun and run outside.  Moses allegedly chased her, tackled her and took the handgun again.  The victim was able to free herself once more and flee in her vehicle, at which point Moses also left the residence and returned after deputies had already arrived. Moses was arrested, transported to Tennova Medical Center for care and then transported to jail where he was held on a $60,000 bond.

Jellico man arrested for burglary and theft

Jason John Dople, 25, of Jellico, was arrested by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department on charges of burglary, theft of property $1,000 to $9,999, as well as on a hold for another agency warrant.

La Follette man arrested on DUI, other charges

La Follette man James Alan McCulley, 44, was arrested on DUI charges after sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a single vehicle accident on Highway 116.  After arriving, deputies found McCulley outside of the vehicle.  At first, McCulley told officers he was not driving when the accident occurred and that it was his wife.  Deputies called the spouse who said she was not driving.  McCulley then admitted to officers he was driving the vehicle when the wreck occurred.  He performed poorly on several field sobriety tests and admitted he had drunk a “few beers.”  According to the police report, McCulley has three prior driving while intoxicated convictions in the past.  McCulley also did not have a driver’s license.  He was also charged as a habitual motor vehicle offender.  (12/17/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Ray Burns, left, turned 90-years-old on Dec. 13. He and Jerry Sharp, right, have been friends for about 72 years. They owned R & J TV Service and repaired area businesses televisions before going on to work together at Oak Ridge National Laboratories for about 50 years.  "He is one of my best friends and there's none better than him," Sharp said of Burns.  Burns was possibly the first HAM radio operator in the area and has spread that love to the younger generations.

Services from FBC are now online

     Click here to see the Sunday morning services (12/14/2014) from First Baptist Church of La Follette with Dr. Duane Mills.  The FBC Christmas Musical is available by clicking here.  (12/16/2014 – 6:00 AM)

Potter resigns as Road Superintendent, appoints Ron Dilbeck as interim chief

A standing room-only crowd packed the courtroom Monday night as Road Superintendent Dennis Potter submitted his formal resignation to the Campbell County Commission.

Potter’s resignation will become effective January 1 as he assumes the office of Clerk & Master to replace the retiring Bill Archer. The crowd, mostly made up of highway department employees, attended the meeting to show their support for long-time department supervisor Ron Dilbeck, who Potter named as interim superintendent for 120 days or until the commission appoints a successor.

At times becoming emotional as he recounted the progress the department has made under his tenure and thanked the people of Campbell County for their support. Potter also interjected a little humor when he told commissioners, “I’ve made 100 percent of the people of Campbell County happy, the 75 percent who voted for me by serving and the 25 percent who voted against me by resigning.”

Potter urged the commission to support his decision and hopefully to appoint Dilbeck to the office of Road Superintendent until the next election in 2016. Loud applause from the audience followed his statements as he asked Rodney Carmichael, director of the Tennessee County Highway Officials’ Association to explain the process for appointing a permanent replacement.

Carmichael explained that under state law, all applicants for the position must be certified by a state board to meet certain minimum standards, including either a high school education or equivalent GED and four years of verifiable experience in a supervisory role involving highway maintenance or construction, or a degree in engineering and minimum of two years of experience.

Carmichael added that the county must advertise the position, set a timetable for applicants and submit all applications to the state board for certification before appointing a full-time superintendent, hopefully within the 120-day deadline.

The commission then suspended the rules to vote on a motion by Ralph Davis that will allow Dilbeck to receive the salary of the Road Superintendent during his interim appointment. The law does not require an interim superintendent to receive the full salary of the office set by state law, but the commission voted unanimously to pay Dilbeck the same amount that Potter is currently being paid.

In an earlier meeting, the Financial Management Committee voted to reject the construction bid for a county services building in the Oswego Industrial Park that was planned to house the Jellico operations of the Campbell County Ambulance Service along with Jellico offices for the County Clerk and Property Assessor.

The commission then voted 14-1 at the full meeting to postpone further action on the building until Fifth District commissioners can meet with Jellico officials and determine if a more suitable location can be found for the facility. Ralph Davis objected to the Oswego location, arguing that the Highway 297 access road floods on occasion, which could force an ambulance to take a roundabout route to answer an emergency call.

Davis found himself at odds with Finance Director Jeff Marlow on more than one occasion during the meeting, Marlow pointing out that the decision to move the project from Oswego will cost the county $72,000 from an ARC grant that cannot be utilized at another location.

Davis also made a motion to require that all departments, including schools, provide commissioners with copies of all contracts with vendors, persons or firms doing business with the county. When Marlow pointed out that the commission has no power to make decisions on school department contracts that are the responsibility of the Board of Education, Davis replied, “If we ask for something and you’re reluctant to give it to me, I think you’ve got something to hide.”

The motion to provide the commissioners with copies of “everything” passed 13-2 with only Johnny Bruce and Butch Kohlmeyer voting “no.”

The commissioners also approved a budget amendment that may enable them to retain their $36,000 in discretionary funds that are reserved for individual commissioners to support charitable organizations, school programs, volunteer fire departments and other tax-exempt programs in their districts.

The commission had earlier voted to freeze the discretionary fund and put it aside to meet the costs of a possible sales tax referendum. However, Marlow told the commission Monday night that the TVA in-lieu-of-tax payments have increased over previous years and suggested a budget amendment to designate that revenue source for the costs of the referendum if commissioners vote to hold it. The commission then approved the budget amendments unanimously.

Mayor E. L. Morton explained to commissioners his approach to holiday schedules for county offices that will avoid the costs of declaring an official county holiday on the Fridays following Christmas and New Years’ Day.

Morton proposes to grant a “floating holiday” to all county employees, to be granted at the discretion of elected office holders and department heads. Under that plan, county offices will be open on the days following the holidays but supervisors will have the option to grant employees an extra annual leave day if they desire to have the time with their families or to enable employees to travel for the holiday.

“Somebody will have to work to keep the office open,” Morton pointed out, “But the county won’t declare an official holiday which would require deputies, emergency workers and other critical personnel to be paid holiday wages.”  (12/16/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Vann remains in a S.C. jail.  Daugherty’s still missing after two weeks.

     There’s nothing new to report this morning in the two stories that may or may not be connected surrounding  Campbell Countians Lonnie Vann and Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  The 44-year old Vann is yet to be brought back to Campbell County from a South Carolina jail.  He is wanted on multiple charges in South Carolina and Tennessee and was caught by Myrtle Beach Police last Friday night after being on the run for a week after fleeing an armed robbery scene at Deerfield.  Daugherty, age 49, has been missing for two weeks as of today when she was last seen at her home in the Coolidge community.  Authorities say she just “vanished.”  No one involved in the investigation is willing to say  the two disturbing events are connected even though Vann and Daugherty knew each other and attended the same church, Coolidge First Baptist Church.  More related stories and pictures are further down this page.(12/16/2014 - 6:00 AM)

King’s memory lives on through his championship team\

     The late Coach Vic King’s Christian Academy Warriors claimed the county crown.  Again.  For a second-straight season, King’s Warriors take the title.  This time, they won it without their coach, who passed away last month after a brief battle with cancer. 

CACC defeated the Wynn Bulldogs to claim the small division championship.(12/16/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Vann held on fugitive from justice warrant; new charges filed by S.C. authorities

By Charlotte Underwood

New charges were filed against former teacher Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, who is currently being held on a fugitive from justice warrant in South Carolina until he can be extradited back to Tennessee, according to Myrtle Beach Police. Vann is being held in South Carolina by law enforcement on charges of armed robbery, burglary, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, weapons law violation and being a fugitive from justice. Vann garnered these additional charges after Myrtle Beach authorities connected him to an armed robbery at a Marriott Hotel that occurred on Dec. 10. According to the incident report, Vann followed two people onto an elevator at the hotel. He then followed them off the elevator and to their room, appearing to be on the cell phone. When they opened their room, Vann pushed them in and then demanded their wallets, brandishing a black firearm. The victim managed to remove most of his belongings from his wallet without Vann seeing before handing it over to him. Vann then fled the scene. He was later picked up by Myrtle Beach Police who had the description of his Chevy Captiva as being driven by a fugitive from justice wanted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Vann is being held in the Myrtle Beach Jail without bond until he has a hearing before a judge, according to Joey Crosby, Myrtle Beach Police Department’s Public Information Officer.

Crosby said after the hearing regarding the crimes Vann committed in South Carolina, Vann could be brought back to Tennessee fairly quickly if he waived extradition. If he however, does not waive extradition, there will be a separate hearing regarding that.

After becoming a suspect in an armed robbery which occurred in Deerfield on Dec. 6, Vann spent a little over a week on the run and on the TBI’s top ten most wanted list. He was apprehended in South Carolina by Myrtle Beach Police on Highway 501 after they recognized him and the cream-colored Chevy Captiva he was last reported driving. Vann was taken into custody around 7 p.m. Friday night.

In July, Vann was indicted by a grand jury for inappropriate conduct with a student after he was charged with solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault. 

Vann taught at La Follette Middle School and was placed on suspension without pay in October 2013 after allegations of the inappropriate conduct came to light.

According to the TBI, on Oct. 22, Vann took a 13-year-old student off school property to Coolidge First Baptist Church. While in the building, Vann allegedly hugged the female student and tried to kiss her, both without consent.

Vann also allegedly tampered with evidence by altering images on a recording device at the church. Vann turned himself into the Campbell County Sheriff. He was later released on $10,000 bond. He has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding the inappropriate misconduct charges. (12/15/2014 - 2:30 PM)

And the winner is....Brooklynn!

La Follette Middle School Principal Robbie Heatherly, Brooklynn Williams, and Assistant LMS Principal Joey St. John (L-R) (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

     It’s “spelling bee” time at La Follette Middle School.  And the winner is Brooklynn Williams.  The sixth grader claimed the LMS crown this morning correctly spelling the winning word t-e-s-t-i-f-y.  She will represent LMS at the News Sentinel Southern Appalachian Regional Spelling Bee on March 14 at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  Brooklynn is the daughter of Russell and Tara Williams. (12/15/2014 - 11:00 AM)

Family, fellow church members, and friends scoured Coolidge Saturday looking for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty

Area churches lift up special prayers for Rhonda

     Lonnie Vann’s been captured (story is further down this page).  Authorities tell WLAF News that it may be a while before he is brought back to the county jail at Jacksboro.  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Police spotted the 44-year old man from Jacksboro on Friday night and took him into custody.  Vann is wanted in connection to an armed robbery on December 5 at Deerfield.  But what about Rhonda Kitts Daugherty? 

A prayer was lifted up for Rhonda Duagherty Sunday morning at area churches.  Among them was First Baptist Church of La Follette.

Area churches lifted up prayers for Rhonda and her family on Sunday morning.  Today marks Day 13 in the search for the woman who police say “vanished” on Tuesday, December 2, from her hilltop home at Coolidge. 

Coolidge First Baptist Church serves as the command post in the hunt for Rhonda

The sheriff’s department and the rescue squad led the search for Daugherty on Saturday morning.

Daugherty’s family, fellow church members from Coolidge First Baptist Church, and neighbors, with support from the sheriff's department and the rescue squad, searched for her on Saturday.  Still no Rhonda.  The search continues this morning. (12/15/2014 - 6:00 AM)

If you’re a Mickey Carter & Son customer, you’ve been paid a visit by Elf Mickey.  Merry Christmas from Mickey & Son Lawn Care.

Retiring DOS recommends Nidiffer as replacement

By Charlotte Underwood

After more than 40 years in the education business, Director of Schools Donnie Poston has announced his retirement come July.  Poston had retired once already, but came out of retirement to accept the director of schools position in 2010.  With his official last day less than six months away, he said he has mixed feelings about it, but after 40 years in education administration, he is ready to pass the torch on and hopefully to his “right-hand-man”, Larry Nidiffer.  CTE Director and Secondary Supervisor, Nidiffer has about 40 years in the education business himself and said if the board approved Poston’s recommendation, then he would certainly be willing to accept the position of DOS.  Click here to see Poston's exclusive interview with WLAF.

Larry Nidiffer is endorsed by retiring DOS Donnie Poston to succeed him at DOS

Poston said he planned on making the recommendation to the school board and would like to see Nidiffer get the position and also see the current administration staff stay the same since he knew they would do it “for the right reasons,” especially Nidiffer.

“His heart, mind and soul are in helping the children of Campbell County,” Poston said.

 DOS Donnie Poston is retiring on June 30, 2015

As far as his own retirement, Poston said he looked forward to being able to help the kids in a position other than administrative. When he first began his education career, he taught school for three years at Pinecrest. It was the only time he really got be the teacher, rather than on the administrative side of the desk, and he remembers those years at Pinecrest fondly.

“It’s been a great time, and I have loved working to serve the children of our county,” Poston said, adding that just because he was retiring did not mean he would not remain active in the schools throughout the county.

“As long as my health holds up, I plan to stay active in the schools; you may see me helping in the cafeteria or tutoring the kids,” Poston said.

The position for director of schools has to be filled by July 1.

Lonnie Vann arrested in South Carolina

By Charlotte Underwood

After a little over a week on the run and on the TBI’s top ten most wanted list, armed robbery suspect Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, was apprehended in South Carolina by Myrtle Beach Police. Vann was picked up by Myrtle Beach authorities after they recognized him and the cream-colored Chevy Captiva he had last been seen driving in Campbell County. Vann was taken into custody around 7 p.m. last night (Friday). It is unknown at this time how long Vann will be held in South Carolina. According to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, “there are a lot of logistics that have to be worked out, before he is extradited back to Campbell County.”

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

According to Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins, it was a multi-agency and state law enforcement cooperation that led to Vann’s arrest.

“Today we can announce, along with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, that Campbell County armed robbery suspect Lonnie Lee Vann was taken into custody without incident and is being held at this time in connection with an armed robbery that occurred at a residence in the Deerfield Community,” Goins said in a press release.

Despite Vann’s arrest, there is no new evidence in the missing person case of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2. For more than a week now, 10-20 officers have been searching hourly for the missing 49-year old Coolidge woman.  No connection between the two cases has been officially acknowledged by law enforcement, though rumors and suspicions have been running rampant in the community. According to law enforcement, both cases are still under open and active investigation.

A former Campbell County teacher, Vann was wanted in connection to an armed robbery which occurred around 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 6 in the Deerfield Resort Community. On the day of the robbery, sources told WLAF that Vann was a very strong person of interest in connection with the robbery, which occurred at the residence of Jim Fields.  By the end of the day, Vann had been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations top ten most wanted list. According to the police report, Vann was at the residence to speak to Fields about working on a website for his business.  Fields told deputies he had bent over to pick something up off the floor and when he looked up, Vann had a gun in his hand. Vann then demanded they open their safe. He stole three handguns as well as $900 in cash before leaving in a cream-colored 2013 Chevrolet Captiva, which Vann had rented on Dec. 3 from La Follette Enterprise. Vann zip-tied Fields and his wife to the stair railing and told them to wait at least 30 minutes before calling the police.  Jim Fields was able to free himself in about five minutes and called the police. The vehicle Vann left in has a Maryland tag with the numbers 2BC-6411. The case was then turned over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

In July, Vann was indicted by a grand jury for inappropriate conduct with a student after he was charged with solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault. 

Vann taught at La Follette Middle School and was placed on suspension without pay in October 2013 after allegations of the inappropriate conduct came to light.

In November of 2013, the case was handed over to the District Attorney General and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to the TBI, on Oct. 22, Vann took a 13-year-old student off school property to Coolidge First Baptist Church. While in the building, Vann allegedly hugged the female student and tried to kiss her, both without consent.

Vann also allegedly tampered with evidence by altering images on a recording device at the church. Vann turned himself into the Campbell County Sheriff. He was later released on $10,000 bond. He has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding the inappropriate misconduct charges. (12/13/2014 - 1:00 PM)

Couple indicted for child abuse in burn case

By Charlotte Underwood

Eric and Nakita Morton were both indicted by a Campbell County Grand Jury for child abuse and neglect in the burn case involving Zander Brown.

File photo by Charlotte Underwood

The couple accused of child abuse in the burn case of four-year-old Zander Brown was indicted by a Campbell County Grand Jury today.  Eric Morton, 32, and Nakita Morton, 22, were both indicted for two counts of aggravated child neglect, while Nakita Morton is charged additionally with two counts of child endangerment. Eric Morton is charged additionally with two counts of aggravated child abuse. Both have an arraignment slated for January 12, at 8:30 a.m. in criminal court.

Zander Brown, who was three at the time of incident, received second-degree burns while in Eric Morton’s care on Sept. 16th. According to the sheriff’s office, the child’s mother, Nakita Morton, left the child in the care of Eric Morton at the home where they were living with Nakita Morton’s parents.

According to statements made to law enforcement by Eric Morton and Nakita Morton, the burns were accidental. Eric Morton’s statement said that he had placed Zander Brown in the bathtub, in ankle deep water that was not too hot. He then heard the washer beep and turned the shower head on so the tub would not fill up too quickly, before going to check on the laundry. While he was gone, he heard Zander yell, then a few seconds later, he began to scream hysterically. Eric Morton stated to police that he ran into the bathroom and saw steam rising from the tub. Eric Morton told law enforcement that Zander was running in circles and just as he was about to reach him in the tub, Zander fell and struck his face on the tub. His statement says it was an accident and that he never should have left Zander alone in the tub. Testimony from state witnesses, however, refute that the burns could have happened as a result of an accident. The case was bound over to the Campbell County Grand Jury after General Sessions Judge Amanda Sammons heard testimony from an expert pediatric child abuse witness from Vanderbilt Burn Center in Nashville.

Dr. Debra Lowen, who is head of Child Abuse Pediatrics at Vanderbilt, testified on the prosecution’s behalf, stating that in her medical opinion, the burns on Zander Brown were a result of child abuse and that his burns were not consistent with the series of events described by Eric Morton as to how the burns happened.

Lowen said if Zander had turned the water on himself and was suddenly confronted with hot water, he would have retreated first to the back of the tub to get away from the burning water and if that had not worked, would have climbed out. According to testimony from Zander’s grandfather, the child could climb in and out of the tub on his own and had done so in the past. Lowen said she also based her view that the injuries were abusive in nature by the fact that Zander had bruising on both temples and other parts of his body, which according to her were not in correlation with a fall in the bath tub. Lowen also said the two and a half hour delay in medical attention caused Zander’s injuries to be worse, which was indicated in the lab work done on his internal organs, which were adversely affected.

“He needed emergency medical care and when he was not given that care immediately, it was medical neglect,” Lowen said. She also said an MRI done on Zander showed several small areas of old blood in his brain that is indicative of prior injury.

According to Lowen, Zander has second and third degree burns 60-percent of his body and he has already undergone seven surgeries. After he went through the second surgery, he “coded” and had to be resuscitated with CPR.

Zander has multiple surgeries ahead of him and the greatest risk he faces now is from infections. He is being treated by a specialized burn team and remains in a lot of pain and on a lot of pain medication, according to medical officials.

The Mortons remain in custody each on a $750,000 bond. (12/12/14 3:40PM)

Campbell County woman indicted for murder by grand jury

By Charlotte Underwood

Monica Briggs was indicted by a Campbell County Grand Jury for the first degree murder of Knoxville man Kenneth Koster. She is shown here conferring with her public defenders.  File photo by Charlotte Underwood

The woman who was involved in the murder of Knoxville man Kenneth G. Koster was indicted by a Campbell County Grand Jury today. Monica Leigh-Ann Briggs, 36, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. She has an arraignment slated for January 12, at 8:30 a.m. in criminal court. Koster’s body was found on Enix Lane in Campbell County on Sept. 8. He had been shot to death.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had been looking for Briggs and another person, 43-year-old James Bradley Phillips, for questioning in relation to the case. After a brief manhunt, Phillps was shot and killed by police at the Wendy's on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge at around 9:40 on Sept. 14.

Briggs, who was with Phillips at the time, was arrested on charges of public intoxication. According to court documents, her family had reported her missing.

Briggs was returned to Campbell County and charged with premeditated felony murder in court on Monday, September 15 where she pleaded not guilty via her court-appointed lawyer. Her bail was set at $750,000.

According to the TBI statement during her arraignment, Briggs told police she assisted in planning and carrying out Koster's murder.

In an interview with investigators she stated that she put a firearm in Koster's left ear and pulled the trigger.

An Enix Lane resident found Koster's body wrapped in plastic - when police got there they also found cleaning supplies, a rifle, a handgun and a crime scene.

The report says Briggs fled in pick-up truck, later Koster's bloody clothes, his wallet and Brigg's wallet were found in that truck by an Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputy.  

Testimony in Brigg’s preliminary hearing revealed the murder allegedly occurred because Briggs and her boyfriend James Bradley Phillips had borrowed a car from the victim, as well as his bank-card and had taken it to Kentucky for what appeared to be a drug deal. The car was left in Louisville, Kentucky. When Koster demanded his car back, along with his bank card and threatened to tell the police if they were not returned, Phillips began to plan his murder, according to a statement Briggs made to law enforcement. Her statement also painted the picture of a drug-induced state of paranoia the night the murder occurred, with her, Phillips and Koster using meth repeatedly after they had picked Koster up on the pretense of taking him to retrieve his car. Instead, the three went back to the shed located at a residence on Enix Lane where they snorted meth and Phillips allegedly “shot up” with it, according to Brigg’s statement to law enforcement.

“He (Phillips) kept doing more meth to work up the nerve to kill Ken,” Briggs said in her statement to the TBI. Her statement described that she was sitting on the floor in front of Ken, when Phillips first shot him.

“He slumped forward onto my back and Bradley came over and offered me a hand up. Ken had blood coming from everywhere on his face.” Her statement also described that Phillips shot him twice and that one of “Ken’s eye’s was still open” and that Phillips gave her the gun and told her she “had to get her finger prints on it and pull the trigger to take responsibility in the crime.” She placed her hands on the gun, inserted the barrel into Koster’s ear and pulled the trigger.

“There wasn’t even blood from it, just gun powder,” Brigg’s statement reads.

Multiple blood-stains were found throughout the shed, along with a 12 to 15-foot long reddish brown stain, showing that it appeared a body had been “drug or moved.” A .22 caliber rifle, as well as a .25 caliber handgun was also recovered from the shed.

Briggs will remain in custody on $750,000 bond. (Updated 12/12/14 3:40PM)

Vann’s been on the run a week.  Daugherty’s search is now on day 10.

No matter where you go.  No matter the company.  Talk soon turns to the bizarre stories that developed here in Campbell County last week.  On Tuesday, December 2, 49-year old Rhonda Kitts Daugherty went missing from her hill top home at Coolidge.  Police say she just vanished.  Though reward money for her safe return doubled to $10,000 on Thursday afternoon, she is still missing, and clues are few and far between. 

As the WLAF crew was setting up to broadcast the Campbell basketball games at Corryton last Friday is when word came in that 44-year old Lonnie Vann had just robbed a couple at gunpoint at their Deerfield home.  Within hours, the like-able Vann, who was already free on bond from a charge involving his improper association with a student when he was a teacher at La Follette Middle School, was placed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Top Ten Most Wanted List.  One-week later, Vann remains on the run and on the wanted list.  More stories and pictures related to this story are found further down this page.  (12/12/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Roane State to host “powerful teaching event”

    On the last day of February, Roane State Community College hosts an event on powerful teaching.  It’s for K-12 teachers, guidance counselors, and media specialists in RSCC’s nine-county service area and is classified as a professional development day.  The $15.00 cost includes lunch and materials.  Roane State’s 2015 Symposium for Powerful Teaching is Saturday, February 28, 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at RSCC’s Harriman campus.  You can register online at www.roanestate.edu/symposium or by calling 1.865.354.3000, X-5312.  (12/12/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Santa’s “photo for charity day” pays dividends

     Thursday at Woodson Mall, Studio C’s “Santa’s photo for charity” event came full circle.  Cora Willis-King of Studio C presented a $500 check to the Shepherd’s Home Ministries.  The check is from Willis-King’s annual charity photo shoot that goes to a local charity.  The event was held on November 29, and Willis-King calls it an amazing day of philanthropy! 

She tells WLAF that because of her clients generosity, she exceeded her goal with 17 sessions and raised $500 for this charity.  Willis-King gives thanks to her very generous clients, partners, employees, and the community for helping her not only to achieve - but exceed her goal and make it a great success.  (12/12/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Dollars doubled for Daugherty’s safe return

     The reward for any information regarding the disappearance of missing La Follette woman Rhonda Daugherty has been doubled.  It’s been increased to $10,000.00.(12/11/2104 - 3:00 PM)

No changes in the missing person search and the manhunt

     You want to know.  And so do we.  But there is nothing new to report to you this morning in the case of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  She went missing on Tuesday, December 2.  Investigators say she just vanished from her Coolidge home.  Word on the other case, that many say is connected, remains the same, and that is the case of Lonnie Vann, who is wanted in connection with a December 5 armed robbery of a Deerfield community family.  Vann has not been seen since the robbery.  Pictures and more stories surrounding these two disturbing events are found further down this page.  (12/11/2014 - 6:00 AM)

La Follette Medical Center named to National Top Performer’s list

By Charlotte Underwood

Whether it’s emergency care, outpatient procedures, or specialty medicine, La Follette Medical Center is your local hospital choice. All the hard work of the staff and positive developments culminated in the hospital recently being named to the 2013 list of Top Performers on Key Quality Measures, marking the hospital as in the top percentile of the nation, with 1,124 eligible hospitals receiving this award. The hospital was designated for the award by the Joint Commission, which is the national accrediting agency for health care.

“It’s just one more reason to get your health care locally,” said Jerry Askew, Vice President of External Relations for Tennova.

“This means that the work of our medical staff and employees is being nationally recognized for best practices in patient care, based on the 2013 data,” explained hospital CEO Mark Cain. The Joint Commission collects and analyzes data from thousands of hospitals, assessing compliance for clinical processes related to perinatal and surgical care, heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, stroke, immunizations, inpatient psychiatric services, children’s asthma and more.

La Follette Medical Center is also being specifically honored for its excellence in Pneumonia Care.

“We are really proud that one of our hospitals was selected as a top performer in the nation; the people of LaFollette can be proud of their hospital,” Askew said. With a 66 bed hospital facility and a 98 bed health and rehab center, La Follette Medical Center employs over 20 physicians and 450 employees locally. Each year, Tennova Healthcare also serves the community by providing $13.4 million in uncompensated necessary medical care for those who are unable to pay.

The hospital also has two rural health clinics, one located on campus in La Follette and the other one is in Jacksboro in front of the middle school. The hospital also has an outpatient therapy clinic as well.

Over the past year, the La Follette Medical Center has expanded in many exciting ways to better serve the people of the community.

Some of these positive additions included the medical office renovation at the local hospital campus. The renovations were done to house the fairly recent La Follette Foot and Ankle medical office which is staffed by Dr. Chris Bowlin and Dr. Harrison. Specializing in podiatry and more, the medical building also saw renovations to the specialty clinic as well. Another expansion came in the form of internal medicine specialist Dr. Nithya Dhamotharan who is on staff at the rural health clinic located in front of Jacksboro Middle School

Tennova Healthcare also runs the Irene and Howard Baker Cancer Treatment Center in Harrogate, which recently underwent a $3.3 million renovation as well as chemo therapy infusion treatment center located at the north campus in Knoxville.

“We are just really proud to be a part of the Campbell County Community,” Askew said.

For more information or to make an appointment, contact Tennova locally at 423-907-1200 or call toll-free at 1-855-836-6682.   (12/11/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Remember the La Follette Community Hospital?

     As I read Charlotte Underwood’s weekly business feature on the La Follette Medical Center this morning, it stirred a favorite memory, a life changing memory.  It was October 15, 1959, and my family and I had just moved to La Follette a few months earlier, and early on this morning, my dad was handing me out the window of the car to our new neighbors.  Mom was about to have a baby! And later that day she did at the La Follette Community Hospital.  But it wasn’t just any baby.  It was my new baby brother.  Youngsters were not allowed beyond the waiting area in those days.  But Mamow and Papaw Leinart took me around the backside of the hospital, and I was able to see brother Dan, and his full head of jet black hair, through the window.  What a fun memory!  (12/11/2014 - 6:30 AM)

A request from the sheriff

     The sheriff’s office, TBI, and others are continually and feverishly working around the clock and have dedicated all resources available to the search and safe return of Rhonda Daugherty. No boundaries exist, no resource is turned away, and no tip is dismissed into the search and safe return of Rhonda.  We ask every Campbell County citizen, every person in our area, and every person able to read this message.  Rhonda, her family, and everyone involved need all of our prayers and continued support.  We ask all of you, regardless of your faith, beliefs, and denomination to please pray, pray, and pray specifically for Rhonda, her safe return, and pray that the hands of the investigators involved are blessed and favored –Sheriff Robbie K. Goins(12/10/2014 - 3:00 PM)

Exhausting search for Daugherty continues

     So far, everyday’s hope for finding Rhonda Kitts Daugherty safe and alive has been dashed by day’s end.  For more than a week now, 10-20 officers have been searching hourly for the missing 49-year old Coolidge woman. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

Authorities say she just “vanished” last Tuesday, and so far, there are no solid tips or leads in the case.  More stories on Daugherty are found further down this page. (12/10/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Vann wanted by TBI in connection with robbery; police report details released

Vann remains on the loose this morning

By Charlotte Underwood

Former Campbell County teacher Lonnie Vann, 44, of Jacksboro, is still wanted in connection to an armed robbery which occurred around 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 6 in the Deerfield Resort Community. On the day of the robbery, sources told WLAF that Vann was a very strong person of interest in connection with the robbery, which occurred at the residence of Jim Fields.  By the end of the day, Vann had been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations top ten most wanted list. According to the police report, Vann was at the residence to speak to Fields about working on a website for his business.  Fields told deputies he had bent over to pick something up off the floor and when he looked up, Vann had a gun in his hand. Vann then demanded they open their safe. He stole three handguns as well as $900 in cash before leaving in a cream-colored 2013 Chevrolet Captiva, which Vann had rented on Dec. 3 from La Follette Enterprise. Vann zip-tied Fields and his wife to the stair railing and told them to wait at least 30 minutes before calling the police.  Jim Fields was able to free himself in about five minutes and called the police. The vehicle Vann left in has a Maryland tag with the numbers 2BC-6411. The case has been turned over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to law enforcement, Vann is considered armed and dangerous and is actively being sought for questioning regarding the armed robbery. Anyone who has seen him or has any information to his whereabouts is asked to contact the TBI at 1-800-824-3463, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department at 423-562-7446 or 911. Vann’s home was also searched in connection with the robbery. Vann has brown hair and a goatee and is somewhat stocky of build. He was last seen driving the cream colored Chevy Captiva.

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

In July, Vann was indicted by a grand jury for inappropriate conduct with a student after he was charged with solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault. 

Vann taught at La Follette Middle School and was placed on suspension without pay in October 2013 after allegations of the inappropriate conduct came to light.

In November of 2013, the case was handed over to the District Attorney General and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to the TBI, on Oct. 22, Vann took a 13-year-old student off school property to Coolidge First Baptist Church. While in the building, Vann allegedly hugged the female student and tried to kiss her, both without consent.

Vann also allegedly tampered with evidence by altering images on a recording device at the church. Vann turned himself into the Campbell County Sheriff. He was later released on $10,000 bond. He has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding the inappropriate misconduct charges.  (12/10/2014 - 6:00 AM)

La Follette switches to HRA insurance plan

By Charlotte Underwood

City Council members in La Follette held a special-called meeting to discuss changes to the city’s employee insurance program in an effort to save the city and the employees some money. Council members discussed and voted to switch to a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) plan. Switching to the new plan will save the city around $95,000 a year on its premium.

A possible $12,000 increase to the employee policy spawned the meeting, causing the council to seek to negotiate a better deal with its current carrier Blue-cross Blue Shield.

The city already pays around $89,000 a month on employee insurance, according to Stanfield.

One of the possibilities to save money on the insurance premium is to switch and combine with the La Follette Utility employees as a bigger body of employees usually equals less premium costs. That will be looked at for next year, according to Stanfield.

The switch-over to the HRA plan could save the city around $50,000 according to board member Bob Fannon.

According to the mayor, the new plan will not cost city employees any additional money and will actually provide better insurance coverage.  (12/10/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Poston urges school board to look within system for his replacement 

Director of Schools Donnie Poston hinted, without naming anyone, that he has a preference of who will replace him as Director when he retires at the end of the year.

“My days are short,” Poston told the school board Tuesday night. “We have people in the system that I hope you will consider to carry on when you conduct your search.”

Poston made that comment after delivering his “Christmas letter” at the board meeting, urging Campbell County parents and school personnel alike to “keep the spirit of Christmas all year long.” He then promised to continue serving the children of Campbell County, concluding, “Even when the term of service ends, I’ll be around.”

“I’ve not given up on the fact you’re leaving yet, Chairman Mike Orick told Poston.

Other board members echoed that sentiment at the end of the meeting, Crystal Creekmore adding to her Christmas wish list “to talk Mr. Poston into staying another year.”

Most business at the meeting was routine as the board approved reports and budget amendments, including adjustment of school board secretary Gail Parks’ part time salary from $10,000 to $10,400 annually. Parks retired from her full time position and now works ten hours a week.

Sharon Ridenour urged the board to establish a date for a workshop after the beginning of the year to discuss board goals and a long-term vision. “We need a workshop to look at where we want to be and where we are now,” Ridenour pointed out.

Johnny Byrge asked about having an outside agency conduct a transportation survey to determine whether any bus routes need to be adjusted.  Assistant Director Larry Niddifer replied that he would contact one or two agencies that can provide the service.

“The school system has seen a significant population shift from La Follette toward Caryville,” Niddifer pointed out. “Jellico and that part of the county is not an issue at this time.”

At the beginning of the meeting, Orick announced that board member Homer Rutherford is again in the hospital. Orick asked everyone to remember him in their prayers and circulated a get well card around the room for everyone who wished to sign.   (12/10/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Synthetic turf replacement for the Pat Kerr football field discussed

By Charlotte Underwood

Replacing Campbell County High School’s football field with synthetic turf was discussed by local coaches, county officials and community members yesterday evening.

Mercer West with EnviroTurf Services out of Jackson, Mississippi, attended the meeting to explain the benefits of Astroturf and information regarding the proposed project.  The company has been in business about ten years and according to West, the company has completed over 100 projects in 12 states.

Pat Kerr Field will be green year round if it goes to synthetic turf.

According to CCHS Coach Dewayne Baird, benefits of synthetic turf are huge and it would be more for the county rather than just for the high school and for football.

“Playing on natural grass limits your options, especially when it comes to weather-related issues,” Baird said, explaining that soccer, little league and many other county sports would benefit from the switch.

The big question on everyone’s mind is how to pay for it. The costs could be anywhere from $530,000 or more.

“We partner with schools and school districts to help them get the money to get these projects done,” West said.

La Follette Parks and Recreation Director and school board member Johnny Byrge displays what the end zone at Pat Kerr Field will look like should the move to turf be made.

One of the ways of suggested funding is sideline panels and field naming rights, as well as in-kind-sponsors, and packages for additional sponsors. According to West, rock donations, excavation work and other in-kind-services are what make these projects doable for communities. Advertisement panels can also be sold and implemented on the field side-lines.

Cougar Head Football Coach Justin Price said it would benefit the little league program, the soccer program, and the high school.

“The soccer kids, the football kids, the junior high kids, the little league kids – they are all going to benefit from this,” West said.

The field at the high school is about 75,000 to 95,000 square feet depending on how much of the field is covered with synthetic turf.

Budget numbers to do the field is $7 per square foot for a total of about $530,000 to $630,000. If gravel was donated and excavation work, then the cost would come down. Leasing of the field is also a possibility so the cost can be budgeted over a five to seven year period. It would take five to six weeks to build the field.

Fields are reinforced with rubber made from recycled tires. The life-span on the field is 12 to 13 years, with an industry-standard warranty of 8 years. When you go the lifecycle of the field, the second time around is only about half because most of the cost comes from the installment of the drainage system that must be in place beneath the synthetic turf. According to West, there is virtually no maintenance on the synthetic turf field.  According to Baird, it currently costs $10,000 to $15,000 per year to maintain the field.

The EnviroTurf representative will be back in January to continue discussion on switching to synthetic turf on the football field.  (12/10/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Sheriff and police reports

By Charlotte Underwood

Jacksboro man arrested for manufacturing meth

An anonymous tip led to the arrest of a Jacksboro man who was charged with manufacturing meth on Dec. 4. According to a Campbell County Sheriff’s Department report, Stephen Lynn Kidwell, 41, was arrested after deputies arrived at his Rockwaller Lane residence in Jacksboro and located several small meth labs.

Stephen Lynn Kidwell

Deputies found two pot meth labs as well as four HCI gas generators along with several other components used to manufacture meth. Six hypodermic needles were also found. All items were found in a garage on the property. All items were turned over to the Tennessee Meth Task Force. Kidwell was charged with intent of producing and manufacturing meth as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. He was taken to jail and held on a $10,000 bond.

Jacksboro man arrested on drug charges and destruction of evidence

Gary Lowell Bunch, 52, was charged with possession of a schedule II controlled substance and destruction of evidence after deputies stopped him in connection with a bar fight and discovered he had cocaine.

Gary Lowell Bunch

According to the arrest report, deputies were dispatched to Dry Dock Bar on Dec. 7 in reference to a fight that involved multiple individuals who were armed with handguns. After arriving on the scene, deputies advised other deputies to be on the lookout for Bunch’s vehicle. After stopping Bunch, deputies noted he had blood on his person. A total of five other people were removed from the vehicle during the investigation into the fight. When the deputy turned to speak to Bunch, he witnessed him kick a small baggy of white powder under the vehicle. After speaking with him, Bunch admitted the cocaine belonged to him. He was transported to the county jail and detained on a $1,000 bond. He has a court date set for Dec. 23.  (12/10/2014 - 7:00 AM)

Jacksboro resident arrested for DUI after crashing in front of police

Joshua M. Anderson, 33, was arrested on Dec. 6, on DUI charges after he crashed into the bridge on Beech Street, according to an arrest report. The officer was at the Big Creek Market when he heard a loud crash come from nearby at the Beech Street Bridge Anderson had crashed into the bridge’s guardrail. When the officer responded to the scene, he found Anderson lying sideways in the floorboard and could smell a strong odor of alcohol coming from his person. 

Joshua M. Anderson

Anderson admitted to officers he had drunk two pitches of beer, plus an additional six to seven beers and six or seven shots of tequila. He also admitted to snorting a Xanax with a friend, but said he could not remember anything else. Police also found two blue pills in Anderson’s possession. He was charged with DUI, seat belt violation, violation of the financial responsibility law, possession of schedule IV, no driver’s license and failure to exercise due care.   (12/10/2014 - 7:00 AM)

Couple charged with DUI and filing a false police report

A La Follette couple was charged with DUI and filing a false police report after they were stopped and attempted to switch drivers, according to the La Follette Police Report. On Dec. 6, officers were dispatched to an accident on Jacksboro Pike near the high school.

Brandy Perkey

Brandy Perkey told officers she was driving the vehicle, but through investigation, officers learned that Bryan Perkey was actually driving the vehicle. Bryan Perkey had trouble keeping his eyes open; his speech was slow and slurred and did not have a driver’s license. He later admitted that he was the one driving and had not meant to pull out in front of traffic. 

Bryan Perkey

He was charged with DUI, driving on a revoked license, filing a false police report, failure to yield and violation of the financial responsibility law. Brandy Perkey was charged with filing a false police report. The other vehicle which was involved in the accident had one person injured. That person was transported to the hospital and treated.   (12/10/2014 - 7:00 AM - PIX COURTESY OF THE CAMPBELL COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT)

Day Seven.  Still no Rhonda.

     Investigators are just looking for a break.  Big.  Little. No matter the size.  Just one break.  And that one break may be all they need to unravel the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of 49-year old Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  Today marks a week, a very long week, since the Coolidge woman was last seen.  From Sheriff Robbie Goins to Chief Deputy Aaron Evans to deputies, detectives, and TBI agents, there are anywhere from 10 to 20 officers looking for Daugherty everyday. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

The two words that highlight the theme of this strange and disturbing event are “vanished” and “standstill.”  It’s been said countless times that Daugherty just vanished, and that even though the search has gone 24/7 since, no clues leave the investigation at a standstill. (12/09/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Manhunt for Vann reaches Day Four

     Former La Follette Middle School teacher Lonnie Vann remains on the run this morning.  Vann is wanted by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for a Friday afternoon armed robbery on Deerfield Way in La Follette.  Vann, 44, is described as a white male with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands approximately 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighs 275 pounds. He was last seen driving a white Chevy Captiva with Maryland registration 2 B C 6 4 1 1.

 

Lonnie Vann

He is believed to be in possession of several firearms and should be considered extremely dangerous.  Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Vann is urged to call the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3463). There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.  Over the weekend, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation added Vann to the state’s Top 10 Most Wanted list. (12/09/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Caryville swears in new council member; talks fire hydrant fees & other business

  Annual Christmas Light Contest announced

By Charlotte Underwood

Newly-elected council member Dewayne Gibson was sworn into office at yesterday evening’s mayor and aldermen meeting in Caryville.  Discussion regarding the town’s fire hydrant fees took up the majority of the meeting. Town officials approved for the fire hydrant fee to be listed as a separate line item in the budget, rather than be placed in the general fund.

Newly-elected council member Dewayne Gibson was sworn into office

Board member Eric Smith brought the issue to the council, explaining that the town collected the fire hydrant fee to be used in purchasing equipment for the fire department. The fee, which was installed in 2002, brings in around $2,900 a month to the city. The money has been used over the years to make payments on a fire truck purchased by the city. The truck was paid off as of Nov. 6.  Smith said the fire hydrant fee was supposed to be a separate line item, rather than be placed in the general fund, so that way the town would know just how much money it had to use towards purchasing new fire equipment. Smith said he felt it was supposed to be a separate line item all along.

“The purchase of these new trucks and equipment is what gets our ISO rating down and decreases our cost of home insurance,” Smith said.

The board voted that beginning with this month, fire hydrant fees collected will be placed as a separate line item in the budget.

Other business included donations to the Children’s Advocacy Center, as well as Christmas lights and truck and roof repairs.

A Christmas Light Contest was also discussed. In the past, the town would do a contest and awarded money as a prize, according to board member Beth Lawson.

Council member Vickie Heatherly said she thought it was a good idea and that it supported community involvement. First place is $100, second place is $50 and third place is $25. The deadline is Dec. 19.

“We do this every year and a lot of them are already looking forward to it,” Heatherly said.

The council approved the repair of front ball joints on the town’s F550 truck at Eagle Tire Pros at a cost of $600.00. Lloyd Lawson said he had checked with three different places and that Eagle Tire Pros had the lowest price.

It was also approved to bid out for repairs on the city hall roof. Leaks in the library, the police department and one of the bathrooms, as well as other water damage were cited as the reason for repairs.

Gibson reported that the town had $20,000 budgeted for the project.  Board members discussed the pros and cons of having the roof patched like in the past or of getting the whole roof re-done.  Two separate bids will be taken, one for the library, and one for the remainder of the roof since the library’s roof is priority due to the severity of the leaks.

Purchasing new pole-mounted Christmas lights were also discussed.

The mayor had asked that the item be placed on the agenda because the old lights are old, brittle and breaking.

“Those things are expensive,” said Lawson, adding that the standard ones were around $3,700, while the LED lights cost around $4,380.50. The lights would be similar to what La Follette has. Lawson made a motion that the lights be bid out. 

The Caryville Fire Department was approved to apply for a FEMA grant. If received the grant would be used to replace air packs and worn out turn-out gear. The town applies for the grant each year.

Discussion of the town’s fire hydrant fee was added to the agenda at the suggestion of Board Member Eric Smith.

A $1,000 donation to the Children’s Center of Campbell County was also approved by the board.

Maggie Inscho with the Children’s Center spoke to the board about the great need to help local kids this Christmas.

“We are getting ready for Christmas and have 10 children that need sponsors. These kids are victims of sexual, physical or some form of abuse. The program already has sponsors for 85 children. The kids are anywhere from six months old to 17 years old. These aren’t the kids that ask for video games, they ask for plastic containers to keep the roaches out of their food.”

In Campbell County alone, the Children’s Center serves an average of 1,000 children a year.  (12/09/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Caryville police chief’s last day is Dec. 26

The recent resignation of Caryville Police Chief Stephanie Smith was briefly touched upon during Monday evening’s Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

Council member Vickie Heatherly said she wanted to applaud the Caryville Police Department and said how much she appreciated all the hard work that they did for the town. Heatherly also briefly touched on Smith’s resignation.

“Stephanie has resigned as our chief and is moving on to pursue another job and I hope to see the city get another good chief to lead the city’s officers,” Heatherly said.

Smith’s last day is set for Dec. 26. As of right now, hiring a new police chief has not been discussed and will most likely come up at a later date.   (12/09/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Commission freezes $35K gift fund to pay for possible sales tax referendum 

County commissioners voted Monday night at a Budget & Finance meeting to freeze the majority of their discretionary funds, generally used to make contributions to non-profit groups, school programs and volunteer fire departments within individual commissioner’s districts.

The money will be put aside in case commissioners decide to pursue a special referendum election on a one-fourth cent increase in the local sales tax, which would cost $35,000. That quarter of a penny increase could make up most of the deficit looming in next year’s budget due to lost state revenue and increases in insurance costs, but the decision wasn’t made without some lively debate.

The new commission voted this year to postpone the day of reckoning on the $1.2 million budget deficit by using money from the fund balance to make up the budget shortfall, but that money is a one-time solution to a recurring deficit, Finance Director Jeff Marlow pointed out.

An estimated $900,000 in revenue from a sales tax increase would make up most of the shortage. Otherwise, without deep cuts to next year’s county budget, the commission is facing a possible eighteen-cent property tax increase.

“I’m concerned that many agencies depend on these discretionary funds, while we have no assurances that a sales tax referendum would pass,” Commissioner Sue Nance noted.

Scott Stanfield voiced his reservations about asking voters to increase the sales tax, pointing out that, “Tennessee has the third highest sales tax in the country.”

Cliff Jennings argued that the county needs to look at cutting the budget before considering higher taxes, adding, “We need to get our finances in line. County government is too big for the tax base we’ve got.”

The discussion turned into a half-hour debate on the state of the county’s budget, with several commissioners rehashing the question of whether the commission can find enough savings through budget cuts to avoid another tax increase next year. Marlow pointed out that the commission has authority to cut departmental budgets of some elected officials but can’t dictate where those cuts are made.

“The only real savings is in personnel, and you can only cut their budgets without telling them where to make changes. Instead of cutting personnel, they might cut services, which would bring the public down to commission meetings to complain,” Marlow stated.

That rhetoric only stiffened the backs of some commissioners, who reacted by voicing their opposition to the idea of a sales tax increase.

Ralph Davis pointed out, “We can hold a vote but you’ve also got to get a clear idea of how to sell the tax. It’s a question of a half-cent this year or eighteen cents next year.”

Marie Ayers, who made the motion to hold the discretionary funds in case the money is needed to pay for a referendum, finally brought the discussion back on track, pointing out, “Be sure you know what you’re voting for. My motion only asks that we freeze the funds that would be needed to pay for the referendum until we decide whether to hold one or not. If we don’t, we won’t have the money to pay for a referendum if we later decide to hold it.”

Budget Chairman Johnny Bruce finally cut off the discussion, which could easily have gone on further without a resolution, and called for a vote on Ayers’ motion.

The motion passed 8-5, with Stanfield, Jennings, Davis and Whit Goins all voting “no.” Carl Douglas arrived late at the meeting just as the vote was taken and after being asked to vote, pointed out he didn’t know what the discussion was about, then voted “no” as well.

The commission unanimously passed all other budget amendments on the agenda, including one to set aside $9,000 to retain a Florida attorney in an effort to recover over $135,000 in delinquent property taxes that is tied up in a Florida bankruptcy case.

The money would be used to retain an attorney in Florida to challenge the bankruptcy filing of Donald Brandt, who owns property spread widely over Campbell County and owes between $135,000 and $145,000 in delinquent taxes to the county.

Brandt, who maintains residences in both Campbell County and Florida, filed for bankruptcy in Florida and included his Tennessee holdings in the filing. When asked why he cannot represent the county in the case. County Attorney Joe Coker explained, “I’m not licensed to practice law in the State of Florida.”

After the budget meeting ended, commissioners set the agenda for next week’s monthly meeting. Among a long list of requested agenda items from commissioners, Mayor E. L. Morton added the topic of holiday closings.

“We have two Fridays following holidays his year. It would cost the county between $3,000 and $5,000 a day to declare those two days as holidays in order to provide overtime holiday pay to all strategic personnel such as deputies and ambulance service. “I’m not inclined to do that,” Morton added.

Instead, Morton proposed in future setting up one “floating holiday” for county officials to grant to employees at their discretion if courthouse offices remain open under a similar occasion in the future.     (12/09/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Cooper, Morris take first place in inaugural Santa Trot 5K

     Campbell High Freshman Gavin Cooper continues to impress.  Cooper, from La Follette, claimed first place in Saturday’s inaugural Santa Trot 5K.  Maynardville’s Stacy Morris finished 15th overall and claimed first place in the women’s division.  Seventy-nine runners/walkers registered with 67 completing the race. 

Participants received a long sleeve T-shirt and a Christmas ornament.

Though it was a very wet day, the heavy rain held off, and participants dealt with only a light rain over the downtown La Follette course.  A 5K race covers 3.1 miles, however, this trek was just a shade longer at 3.3 miles.  Tristum Gillum finished a whisker’s length behind Cooper.  Cooper’s chip time was 20.49.88 while Gillum’s was 20.49.93.  Two-tenths of a second separated the two in gun time 20:50:10 to 20:50:12.  A little more than a minute and a half separated the top two finishers and third place’s David Winstead of Clinton who had a gun time of 22:28:82.  Click here to see all the results. (12/08/2014 - 1:00 PM)

Reward in Daugherty case increased.  Again.

     Through anonymous funds and sheriff's funds, Campbell County Sheriff Robbie K. Goins announces a reward increase to a $5,000 reward for any information regarding missing Campbell Countian Rhonda Daugherty.  That’s up from Saturday’s increase to $4,500.  More stories and her picture are found further down this page.   (12/07/2014 - 7:00 PM)

Public says what police won’t in hunt for missing woman

     Was Friday’s home robbery at Deerfield a clue or coincidence in the mysterious disappearance of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty?  Police won’t say.  But the popular belief circulating on the street is that there is a connection between the home burglary authorities say Lonnie Vann committed and the woman from Coolidge who went missing last Tuesday (12/02/2014).  If these two disturbing stories are connected, Vann’s late afternoon hold-up on Friday (12/05/2014) is a gigantic clue and the first big break toward solving Daughtery’s disappearance. 

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

WLAF has confirmed that the two know each other and that each attended the same church, Coolidge First Baptist.  Daugherty vanished almost a week ago from her hilltop home at Coolidge while Vann remains on the run this morning.  Vann is free on a $10,000 bond and has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding inappropriate misconduct charges that involve a student from La Follette Middle School. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

The 44-year old Vann was a teacher at the school and is currently suspended without pay.  More stories on Vann, who is now on the TBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List, and Daugherty are found further down this page.  (12/08/2014 6:00 AM)

Reward in Daugherty case increased

     The reward for a missing Campbell County woman, Rhonda Daugherty, has been increased to $4,500 for information regarding her whereabouts.  More stories and her picture are found further down this page.   (12/06/2014 - 9:00 PM)

Parade stirs Christmas spirit on a damp-n-chilly night

     What else could bring out a few thousand  people on a chilly, damp night to downtown La Follette other than the annual Christmas Parade?  Pyro Shows lit the dark December night and was an extra special addition to this year’s parade.  Fireworks were launched from the Pyro Shows float several times over the parade route highlighted by the big fireworks show in the heart of town.  The triple shoot saw fireworks lift from the roof of Peoples Bank of the South, across the street from the top of Russell Towers, and the Pyro Shows float.  The 2014 parade may well have featured the most participants and had the most monetary contributions to date.  Hats off from WLAF to Kelli Jo Wright, the parade committee, all the volunteers and participants, contributors, and everyone who had a hand in pulling off another fun Christmas Parade.  Terry's Pharmacy is this year's "platinum sponsor."  Thank you!  (12/06/2014 - 9:00 PM)

Christmas Parade Grand Marshal Frankie Bacon and her husband Ab attended a celebration event in Frankie’s honor at the old Post Office on Thursday evening.  (CHARLOTTE UNDERWOOD PIX)

The 2014 Christmas Parade from David Graham's camera

Charlie Hutson snapped these pix from the Christmas Parade and the Santa Trot 5K

Vann makes TBI's Top Ten Most Wanted List

 

Lonnie Vann

TBI NAMES JACKSBORO MAN TO TOP 10 MOST WANTED

NASHVILLE The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has a new addition to the state’s Top 10 Most Wanted list, Lonnie Lee Vann of Jacksboro, TN.

Vann is wanted by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for a Friday afternoon armed robbery on Deerfield Way in La Follette.

Vann, 44, is described as a white male with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands approximately 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighs 275 pounds. He was last seen driving a white Chevy Captiva with Maryland registration 2 B C 6 4 1 1. He is believed to be in possession of several firearms and should be considered extremely dangerous.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Vann is urged to call the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3463). There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.  (12/06/2014 - 9:30 AM)

Breaking news

Former teacher indicted for misconduct is wanted in connection with armed robbery

Investigation turned over to the TBI

By Charlotte Underwood

Former Campbell County teacher Lonnie Vann, 43, of Jacksboro, is wanted in connection to an armed robbery which occurred around 3:45 this afternoon in the Deerfield Resort Community. Sources tell WLAF that Vann is a very strong person of interest in connection with the robbery, which occurred at the residence of Jim Fields. According to sources, Vann tied up residence members, robbed them and then left in a cream-colored 2013 Chevrolet Captiva, which Vann had rented on Dec. 3 from LaFollette Enterprise. The vehicle has a Maryland tag with the numbers 2BC-6411. The case has been turned over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to law enforcement, Vann is considered armed and dangerous and is actively being sought for questioning regarding the armed robbery. Anyone who has seen him or has any information to his whereabouts is asked to contact the TBI at 1-800-824-3463, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department at 423-562-7446 or 911. WLAF is also hearing from sources that Vann’s home is being searched in connection with the robbery. Vann has brown hair and a goatee and is somewhat stocky of build. He was last seen driving the cream colored Chevy Captiva.

In July, Vann was indicted by a grand jury for inappropriate conduct with a student after he was charged with solicitation of a minor, sexual battery by an authority figure, tampering with evidence and assault.

Vann taught at LaFollette Middle School and was placed on suspension without pay in October 2013 after allegations of the inappropriate conduct came to light.

In November of 2013, the case was handed over to the District Attorney General and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. According to the TBI, on Oct. 22, Vann took a 13-year-old student off school property to Coolidge First Baptist Church. While in the building, Vann allegedly hugged the female student and tried to kiss her, both without consent.

Vann also allegedly tampered with evidence by altering images on a recording device at the church. Vann turned himself into the Campbell County Sheriff. He was later released on $10,000 bond. He has a February court date in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding the inappropriate misconduct charges. (12/5/14 - 6:10 PM)

Reward offered in Daugherty disappearance

     Through anonymous funds and sheriff's funds, Campbell County Sheriff Robbie K. Goins has announced a $3,500 reward for any information regarding missing Campbell County female Rhonda Daugherty, as previously reported.  To contact the sheriff, please call 423.562.7446.  (12/05/2014 - 1:00 PM)

It’s also shopping season for scammers

     “The IRS is filing a lawsuit against you.”  Shock effect comments like that are bound to catch most anyone’s attention.  A Jacksboro woman received a phone call just like that on Tuesday.  It was on here answering machine when she came home that morning.  The same call also came in just a few hours later. 

The entire call goes like this:  “Hello.  We have been trying to reach you.  This call is officially a final notice from IRS, Internal Revenue Services.  The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing lawsuit against you.  To get more information about this case file, please call immediately on our department number 202.407.9896.  Thank you.” 

This is the Washington, D.C. area code.  However, a different telephone number shows up on the caller ID.  The elderly woman who alerted WLAF of this scam says she doesn’t answer a call from a number she’s not familiar with and cautions others to do the same.  One report on scams notes that telemarketing scams have, in some case, become more profitable than drug trafficking.  (12/05/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Community-wide search for Daugherty is Saturday

     The search continues for the Coolidge woman who went missing earlier this week.  Authorities say that 49-year old Rhonda Kitts Daugherty just vanished on Tuesday and hasn’t been seen or heard from since. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

A community-wide search led by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department and the La Follette Rescue Squad with efforts from members of the Coolidge First Baptist Church and the community is set for Saturday.  It begins at the church at 10:00 a.m.  Authorities encourage anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Daugherty to please call Sheriff Robbie Goins at 423.562.7446.  (12/05/2014 - 6:00 AM)

See Channel 10’s feature “Remembering Coach King” right here

     WBIR’s Courtney Lyle and her production crew were in La Follette earlier this week for a story on the late coach, Vic King. 

"Coach" or "Vic" depending on how you knew Coach Vic King (CHARLIE HUTSON PIX)

Click here to see her tribute to the legendary coach who passed away last week after a brief battle with cancer.  (12/05/2014 - 7:00 AM)

Frankie Bacon chosen as Christmas Parade Grand Marshal

 By Charlotte Underwood

La Follette favorite Fankie Bacon was chosen as this year’s Christmas Parade Grand Marshal and according to those who know her, it couldn’t have happened to a better person. A celebration to honor Bacon took place at the old Post Office in La Follette yesterday evening at 6:30 p.m.

Freeman Park is all lit up for Christmas!

“There’s none better than Frankie,” said Tabatha Smith, who works with Bacon at State Farm Insurance.

La Follette Mayor Mike Stanfield said he had known Bacon for years and that “you couldn’t ask for a better person than Frankie.”

It’s Christmas time in La Follette!  Mayor Mike Stanfield and others gathered together yesterday evening to light the Christmas tree in Freeman Park.

“She is an all-around good person and the city of La Follette is honored to have her as this year’s parade grand marshal,” Stanfield said.

According to parade chairwoman Kelli Jo Wright, Frankie was nominated to be marshal by several people.

“She was chosen because of her spirit and her dedication to the community; her spirit makes everyone smile when they come across her,” Wright said.

As far as Frankie is concerned though, she said the nomination came as a complete shock and surprise.

Ryan Evans with LUB was a part of the crew helping stir the Christmas spirit in La Follette as the Christmas lights were hung this week.

“I still don’t believe it; but I am humbled and honored,” Bacon said during her celebration event.  (12/05/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Pastor’s daughter wants clarification regarding church lawsuit

Rumors and allegations have flown in the past few months regarding the Old Pathway Church in La Follette in an argument that has pitted church member against church member and family member against family member. Linda Mock, the pastor’s daughter said she wanted to set some statements straight and make some clarifications regarding misunderstandings surrounding the church and a recent lawsuit and court ruling.

Pastor James Leach, along with assistant pastor Alcie Jones, as well as Jewell Leach, Sharon Jones and Jean Leach were named in the lawsuit which was filed by Richard and Alma Pack and Martha Wells. The lawsuit alleged a theft of $42,000 and also contained an amendment that the Packs and Wells felt their religious freedom had been stifled. On Nov. 25 Chancellor Elizabeth Asbury ruled the restraining order could be lifted and the church could reopen. The amendment issue regarding the violation of religious freedom will not be ruled upon until Dec. 9 in Asbury’s court.

According to Mock, the issue arose after church secretary/clerk Alma Pack was asked to step down and return her key by the church council. Lawsuit plaintiff Alma Pack is the pastor’s sister and Richard Pack is the pastor’s brother-in-law. According to Mock, the pastor gave the associate pastor a $100 a month raise and that did not sit well with the plaintiffs. After “discord”, Alma Pack was asked to step down from her position of church secretary and clerk.

“She was also asked to return the check book and the CD valued at $10, 000,” Mock said. According to Mock, there was never a theft of church funds, but rather the funds were moved to a different account on advice from the church’s bank.

“The pastor and the trustee were told by bank officials to just open another account since she would not return the check book and that’s what they did. No money was ever stolen from the church by the pastor,” Mock said. She said the locks were not changed to lock anyone out, but rather to secure the church.

According to court documents, a dismissal was filed by the church and both parties are due back in court December 9th.

Church open again after judge’s ruling

By Charlotte Underwood

After more than two months of locked doors, church leaders of the Old Pathway Gospel Church in La Follette were finally allowed back inside after a judge’s decision on Tuesday.  Since September 18, church members have been fighting in court regarding accusations of missing money against the pastor, assistant pastor and others. The church was shut down after a voluntary restraining order, according to court documents.

On Tuesday, the pastor and the members who filed the lawsuit were back before a judge in Chancery Court when the order was lifted, allowing church leaders back inside.

Upon returning to the church, they found someone had broken in and changed the locks, according to Associate Pastor Acie Jones.

The lawsuit was filed by church member, Richard Pack and former member, Martha Wells, against the pastors and church leaders.

According to Rev. James Leach, the lawsuit was filed on the accusation that they “neglected the bylaws.”  The lawsuit listed Rev. Leach, Associate Pastor Jones, as well as Jewell Leach, Sharon Jones and Jean Leach. The original lawsuit from September also claims church leaders changed the locks, barred church members from services and removed approximately $42,000 from the church’s account.

According to Steve Hurst, the attorney representing Pack and Wells, the lawsuit stemmed from an “unauthorized expenditure of the congregation to give the associate pastor a raise.”

"The church's money had been moved from the account," Hurst said, adding that "It wasn't an allegation of theft, but nobody knew where it was."

According to Tennessee’s Ecclesiastical Doctrine, churches are protected and there is no outline regarding penalties for misconduct related to church leaders, without the involvement of property.

According to court documents, once the money was put back into the church account the restraint was lifted.

The pastors have paid for a locksmith to change the locks once again in order to have Thanksgiving services.

According to court documents, a dismissal was filed by the church and both parties are due back in court December 13th.  (11/27/2014 - 8:00 AM)

Coolidge woman still missing; search shifts

     On foot.  By ground.  On ATV and in the air.  Search crews have combed the Coolidge community and feel those means of finding 49-year old Rhonda Kitts Daugherty have pretty much been exhausted.  Chief Deputy Aaron Evans says that the search efforts today have shifted into a more investigative direction.  He explains that teams are going door-to-door, listening, and talking to as many folks in the community as possible this afternoon.  Evans adds that they’ve not received any tips or leads that you could grasp and describes the process as frustrating at times. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

He notes that everyone involved is not closed minded, and that they are exploring all options.  The woman, Evans says who just vanished, is a cancer survivor and has a grandbaby on the way.  A community-wide search led by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department and the La Follette Rescue Squad with efforts from members of the Coolidge First Baptist Church and the community is set for Saturday.  It begins at the church at 10:00 a.m.  Authorities encourage anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty to please call Sheriff Robbie Goins at 423.562.7446.  (12/04/2014 - 12:30 PM)

Crews searching for Coolidge woman

     Rhonda Kitts Daugherty has been missing for almost 24-hours.  Authorities tell WLAF that her husband, Charles, left for work at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday with her still at their Coolidge home.  Rhonda’s mother, Nancy Kitts, explains that she did not get an answer at home or on her cell phone when she tried calling her around 2:30 p.m. yesterday but didn’t think anything of it.  It was dark, misty, and foggy Tuesday night when Sheriff Robbie Goins and members of his department began searching around 8:00 p.m. 

The Daugherty home sits high on a hill looking down on Long Hollow Road where it intersects with Davis Chapel Road.  A Rescue Squad ATV searches for Rhonda Daugherty on the Daugherty property.

The search briefly broke off around 5:00 a.m. this morning when many investigators and deputies left for a couple of hours of sleep.  But they were right back at it at daybreak.  WLAF has learned that on Tuesday night, a search dog out of Roane County picked up Rhonda’s scent from the house to the road in front of the home, Long Hollow Road, and then the dog stopped at the edge of the road. 

Members of the La Follette Rescue Squad rode out on four ATVs late this morning for a ground search while awaiting air support to arrive from Knox County in the form of a helicopter.  The chopper has an estimated time of arrival of 12:30 p.m. today.  Rhonda Kitts Daugherty is 49-years old and is described as being five-feet, three-inches tall, weighing 140 pounds with hazel eyes and auburn hair. 

Officials outline that Daugherty left behind her purse, cell phone, reading glasses, and car, and that the back door to the home was left open.  Searchers have gone through the Coolidge First Baptist Church, where the command post is set up in the church parking lot, and all the vehicles around the church.  They’ve scoured the local pond, cemetery, Daugherty’s home and all the vehicles on the property.  A door-to-door search was also conducted at all the homes in Coolidge while authorities and hospitals in the region have been contacted last night and this morning.  Chief Deputy Aaron Evans says that nothing’s being ruled out, and he encourages anyone with any information to please call the sheriff at 423.562.7446. (12/03/2014 - 11:45 AM)

Campbell County woman missing.  Search continues.

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

     Rhonda Kitts Daugherty is missing.  Family members tell WLAF News that the Coolidge woman has not been seen or heard from since Tuesday.  The woman, who celebrated her 49th birthday last month, is approximately five-feet, three-inches tall, weighs about 140 pounds, has hazel eyes and brown hair.  Nancy Kitts, Daughtery’s mother, says Rhonda left behind her purse, cell phone, glasses, and car.  A command post is set up at the Coolidge First Baptist church, which is very near the Daugherty home.  Chief Deputy Aaron Evans adds that the search began in mist and fog around 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night and that search dogs were used.  If you know the where-a-bouts of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, you are encouraged to call the sheriff at 423.562.7446. (12/03/2014 - 9:30 AM)

CCHS JROTC hosts fifth “Raider Rally in the Valley”

Over the weekend of 21-23 November, Cove Lake State Park became a flurry of JROTC action as cadets from 12 teams battled to see who would be overall champion of the fifth annual “Raider Rally in the Valley.” The CCHS JROTC Department hosted the competition. They practiced six events over two weeks before the event. In afternoon and evening practices at Cove Lake State Park, CCHS cadets practiced/evaluated two to three events daily, making multiple improvements to this demanding six-event competition.

A cadet from Clarkrange crosses the one-rope bridge.

Schools arrived Friday afternoon. CCHS Operations Team “tagged’’ members with ID wristbands and teams then set up their campsites, practiced events, and received a late night briefing. The briefing on the next day’s six events was given in freezing temperatures.

A cadet competing at the knots event.

Saturday was full of action. Events ran from 8 AM to almost 5 PM. The grueling events included a Rope Bridge across a cold creek, a Cross Country Rescue Course (CCR) over the Cove Lake woods loop, a knot tying event, a brain boggling Map Reading Test, a detailed First Aid Test, and a taxing Strength Test.

Cadets from Clarkrange carrying the pole at the strength test.

Cadets attempting the map reading test.

During the competition, the CCHS cadets, cadre, and boosters stayed hard at work keeping things running efficiently. Event chiefs quickly scored the teams as they completed each event. Mr. Handler entered scores into a scoring database at the command center. CCHS boosters ran a concessions stand and sold T-shirts. Cadets also had the job of keeping park facilities clean.

Cadets attempting the first aid test.

The competition wrapped up Sunday with General (Retired) Carl W. Stiner giving a short address, and presenting awards with Principal Jamie Wheeler. Event OICs announced the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place event winners and battalion commander, Jacob Jones announced the female champion, and the 2nd, and 1st place overall winners. Afterward, teams traveled home to their various states of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Georgia.  CCHS cadets stayed until noon cleaning up the park, leaving it better than they found it. This year’s Raider Rally in the Valley was a huge success and the JROTC Department is looking forward to another great one next year.  (12/02/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Cadets from Southwestern running in the CCR event.

Gail Nance (L) with Coach King in the fall of 2013

WLAF’s “coach” has left the gym

     The former coach, who has been an integral part of WLAF for the past couple of years, passed away Wednesday night at the UT Medical Center at Knoxville.  Coach Vic King, the winningest basketball coach in Campbell County history, died Wednesday night after a brief battle with cancer. 

Over a career that spanned the better part of 40-years, King was head basketball coach at La Follette Middle School, Oneida High School, and the Christian Academy of Campbell County.  He served as assistant head coach at Union County and Jellico High Schools.  As a head coach, he won nearly 500 basketball games.  At WLAF, he led the sales team and was director of marketing.  Victor Bradley King “Coach King” was 60-years old. (11/28/2014-6:00 AM)

A special thanks to Coach King

     Ever since my first transistor radio, about age five, I always wanted to be on the radio.  In junior high, Cliff Jennings, C.J. the DJ, let me sit in once in a while on his nightly radio show.  But it wasn’t until 1971 that my first chance to be on the air came around.  And it was because of Vic King.  And Paul Wright. 

Paul was Vic’s neighbor, and he was looking for someone to keep stats for his La Follette Owl football broadcasts over WLAF Radio.  Vic told me that Paul asked him to do it, but he told him no, but that he knew someone who would do it.  Me, the Freeman boy. 

 

Paul said OK, and that Friday night, the microphone that Paul said came over on the Mayflower was handed to me.  I was finally on the air and have been ever since.  Thanks to Paul Wright and my first agent, Vic King. (11/28/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Downtown La Follette events scheduled in December

Downtown La Follette will play host to a multitude of events on Dec.6, culminating in the annual Christmas Parade, which starts at 6 p.m.  Holiday events will kick off early in the morning with the Santa Trot 5K walk/run at 9 a.m.  The race course runs along the streets of La Follette decorated for the holiday season and the Christmas parade to be held later that evening. The race starts & finishes on South Tennessee Avenue. The course will travel East Central Avenue to the hospital area; turn on East Beech back to 17th Street to Central and finish on South Tennessee Avenue. The race starts 207 South Tennessee Avenue in front of city hall.  Benefits from the race will go toward La Follette’s amphitheatre project.  Benefit checks can be made payable to the City of La Follette Amphitheatre Fund.  For more information, call 423-562-0703. 

Karen Cumorich decorates a tree as part of the Santa’s Mailroom event which will take place on Dec. 6 and again on Dec. 13 inside the old post office in downtown La Follette. The event is free and open to the public.

Other events of the day include the first ever Santa’s Mailroom.  Kids can bring their letters to Santa to the old Post Office to mail to the North Pole. They will also get the chance to see an elf village and the Polar Express train.  Kids can also go to participating local businesses on Central Avenue and collect a slip of paper, which will be made into a link for a paper chain garland to hang on the Children’s Christmas Tree in the lobby of the old post office. Participating merchants begin with Community Trust Bank to Terry’s Pharmacy on one side of Central Avenue and from People’s Bank to Ideal Florist on the other side of the road.

Part of the Elf Village which will be featured during the Santa’s Mailroom event, which is taking place Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 in downtown La Follette.

Santa’s Mailroom will be open from 1 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 and from 2 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 13.  It is being hosted by the Campbell Culture Coalition (CCC), with the help of local volunteers and businesses. The event is free and open to the public and will have lots of fun activities for the kids to do. There will also be lots of photo opportunities so don’t forget to bring the cameras.

“One of the main purposes of the event is to get people into the old post office so they can see and appreciate this beautiful building,” said Jo Ann Myers with the CCC. Myers also said the CCC wanted to extend a big thank you to all the businesses and individuals who were making Santa’s Mailroom possible.

The event is still in the works and the CCC could really use some help with funding and volunteers. For more information, contact the CCC by calling 423-566-3641.(11/24/2014 )

LMS getting head start for Relay

     Relay for Life is not be until next spring.  However, La Follette Middle School Principal Robbie Heatherly, staff, and students are making an early push to help raise funds. 

LMS Principal Robbie Heatherly shows off the quilt being raffled for Relay for Life

One-dollar chances are being sold to have a chance at winning this beautiful hand made quilt.  Tickets may be purchased at the school.  (11/17/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Terry’s Pharmacy hosts healthcare answer sessions on Mondays

If you have questions about Medicare and healthcare, then Terry’s Pharmacy is the place to be on Monday mornings. With the Affordable Healthcare Act being implemented, lots of people have questions about what’s going on. From 9:30 a.m. to noon on Mondays, there will be a representative of a multi-company insurance group on hand to answer those questions.

You have questions about Medicare and healthcare?  Miranda Ford has answers every Monday at Terry's Pharmacy.

“Plans will go away and new plans will become available; patients really need to come talk to this woman because she can hopefully answer their questions and help them select the right plan. She is non-biased and not representing any particular company,” said Raewyn Snodderly of Terry’s Pharmacy. Those that are new to Medicare or are turning 65 and those who need extra help on prescription drug co-pays are encouraged to attend. Those who receive Medicaid/TennCare, QMB or SLMB are also encouraged to attend.

“She will look at the medication list and how much they are prescribed and will then help choose the best health care plan for each patient,” Snodderly explained.

For more information, call Terry’s Pharmacy at 423-562-4928. It is located at 310 E. Central Avenue in La Follette. (11/17/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Election brings change; alcohol approved in La Follette

By Charlotte Underwood

La Follette

It’s official; La Follette residents will soon be able to stop by the grocery store and buy a bottle of wine or consume alcoholic beverages at restaurants.  La Follette citizens voted in favor of the referendum on the ballot legalizing the sale of alcohol. In a fairly close turnout, 514 voted for alcohol sales, while 456 voted against it. Other than that, La Follette saw little change from the election, with Vice Mayor Joe Bolinger and current councilwoman Ann Thompson garnering top votes and remaining on the council.

Thompson led the race with 687 votes, while Bolinger garnered 549. Perennial challenger Virgil Kidwell received 286 votes. Kidwell also challenged and lost to Dennis Powers in the state representative race.

Jellico

Jellico will see somewhat of a return to the way things used to be with Forrester Baird winning the mayoral ticket with 453 votes. Forrester was mayor before Les Stiers, who received 147 votes in this election. Larry Meadors received 61 votes. Thirteen other candidates battled it out for six alderman seats. Jellico’s board of aldermen will be mostly made up of women.

Winners: Elsie Bates Crawford won a seat on the council with 336 votes; Incumbent Coach Alvin Evans will also be back on the council with a total of 356 votes. Jammie M. Lawson won with 308 votes, while Charlotte Lindsay also earned a place with 330 votes.  Sarah Beth McQueen won with 328 votes and Gail P. Sharp will also be on the council with 297 votes. CORRECTION:  Louise Walden received 323 votes in Tuesday's election.  Which means that Gail P. Sharp actually finished outside the top six vote getters, and that Walden is among the top six and will serve on Jellico's board of aldermen.

Incumbents Pam Jo Carbaugh garnered 117, while Charles Vermillion received 151. William Michael Bridges had117 votes, Novella Brooks received 168, Wanda Perkins, received 260, Ranee’ Voyles 127, and Louise Walden had 323 votes.

Caryville

Caryville will see change as well, with ward 3 aldermen Mark Stanley being replaced by challenger Beth Lawson. Stanley received 174 votes, while Lawson won with 287 total votes. In ward 1, Jerry Chadwell lost to incumbent DeWayne Gibson, who was appointed this year to finish an unexpired term.  Gibson won with a total of 267 votes, while Chadwell garnered 181 votes. Eric Smith ran unopposed in Ward 2 and received a total of 352 votes. 

Governor, Senate, Congress and amendment results for Campbell County

In the governor’s race, Campbell County voted overwhelmingly for Republican Governor and incumbent Bill Haslam, who received 4,981 votes over Democratic candidate Charlie Brown, who only garnered 1,145 votes. In the U.S. Senate race, Republican candidate Lamar Alexander won by a large margin with 4,522 votes against Democrat Gordon Ball received 1,549. In the second congressional district House of Representatives, John J. Duncan Jr., won in the county with 741 votes over Bob Scott’s 235 votes. The third congressional district saw Republican incumbent Chuck Fleischmann win with 3,791 votes over Democratic challenger Mary Headrick, who garnered 1,378 votes. Incumbent and Republican Dennis Powers won over Democratic challenger Virgil Kidwell. Powers received 4,903 votes to Kidwell’s 1,409 votes.

Voters in the county chose yes to constitutional amendment 1, relating to abortion laws in the state. 4,008 voted yes, while 2,442 voted no to amendment 1. On amendment 2, 4,279 voted yes, while 2,063 voted no. On amendment 3, 3,944 voted yes, while 1,987 voted no and on amendment 4, 4,041 voted yes, while 1,706 voted no.

A total of 6,909 Campbell County voters flocked to the polls to cast their ballot in the election.

Early voting totals 2,568

Early voting ended last Thursday.  Turnout was, as most expected, very, very light.  A total of 2,568 cast early votes here in Campbell County.  (11/04/2014)

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Campbell County’s most followed medium, WLAF, reaches a milestone

     Thanks to you, our listeners, viewers, readers, and corporate partners, WLAF’s media platforms continue expanding and reaching more Campbell Countians everyday.  Whether it’s AM 1450, FM 100.9, WLAF-TV 12, or 1450wlaf.com, we’re glad you connect with us.  This morning, WLAF’s “dotcom” surpassed the one-million visitor mark!  It took a tad more than one-year, but we did it.  (10/28/2014 - 2:30 PM)

Medicare questions?  Healthcare questions?  Terry’s Pharmacy has answers.

Beginning next week, Tuesdays and Fridays are the days to ask Medicare and healthcare questions.  The person to ask is Grey Stooksbury.  He’s at the Terry’s Pharmacy La Follette location twice weekly, Tuesdays and Fridays, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Stooksbury of the Gray Insurance Agency may be reached at 423.562.3346.(10/212/2014 - 9:00 AM)

 

 WLAF Editorial Page Click Here

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to Keith Hatfield`s “Show Cause” 

     Keith Hatfield`s Sports talk show called “Show Cause” is heard here on WLAF each Friday following Tony Basilio from 1 pm to 3 pm. Keith will break down the Vols opening football game while also interviewing new Tennessee basketball coach Donnie Tyndall in this weeks show which is archived on the WLAF Archive page and currently can be heard by clicking the player below.  Hatfield who is from LaFollette is a member of and broadcasts out of the Tony Basilio Sports Network from the “Ray Mears” Studio in Knoxville.


Check this out on Chirbit 

Precinct-by-precinct.  District-by-district.  WLAF has all the final numbers.

     You asked.  WLAF delivered.  WLAF's Coach Vic King has taken all 184 pages of the election numbers and posted them right here.  Just CLICK.  (08/12/2014 - 8:00 PM)

 

Election results bring change

By Charlotte Underwood

      Campbell County has a new mayor.  E.L. Morton won in a run-away race for the county mayor’s office, easily outstripping incumbent William Baird and other candidates.  Morton received 4,022 votes, while Jack Lynch came in second with 2,346 and Baird came in third with 2,186.  Fred Cole garnered 748 while Marvin Rutherford finished with 194.

     Morton, members of his family, friends and old school mates gathered at the Holiday Inn Express to celebrate the big win before heading down to WLAF to give a big thanks to all his supporters.

     Morton said he was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support.  “Tonight’s a blessing and an affirmation.  I feared letting people down and not being able to deliver, but the people supporting our campaign came through and didn’t let that happen. I am really proud to represent the people that voted for us and look forward to being the mayor of Campbell County for everyone.  Morton said he had prayed long and hard about running for office.

     “I prayed not to do it, but I got a different answer and win lose or draw, I was responsible for doing that much at least.  I am relieved it’s over, but I look forward to building the community we want in the future.  We deserve only what we earn, but I believe the people of Campbell County are willing to work hard to earn it,” Morton said. 

Morton said he looked forward to going to work for the people of the county.

     Incumbent Sheriff Robbie Goins is going to enjoy another four years in office as he swept the polls against Gary Perkins and Pete Hatfield.  Votes for Goins totaled an amazing 6,986 while Perkins had 1,752 and Hatfield finished with 882.

     Goins said he was honored to receive the vote of confidence from the people of the county.  “I am so thankful to the voters; I think the people liked what we have been doing for the past four years and they showed that in support at the polls,” Goins said, adding that while he had felt good about the turnout, he did not know how overwhelming the support would be.

     “Everyone has been so positive these past four years about what we have been doing; we are all excited to get back to work for another four years,” Goins said, adding that he was “thankful and blessed.”
     Amanda Sammons ousted incumbent Joe Ayers for Sessions Court Judge in a fairly close race with a total of 3,698 votes. Ayers received 3,296. Challenger Kathy Parrott had a showing of 2,495 votes.

      Sammons said she felt excited and was still in shock over winning.  She said she wanted to thank the voters who put her in office.  “Thank you so much for entrusting me with your vote and your support,” Sammons said, adding that she looked forward to taking office and getting started.

     In Campbell County, Jared Effler is receiving more votes for the district attorney general’s office with 4,189 votes over Lori Phillips-Jones who had 3,992. Effler was declared the winner not long before midnight Thursday.

     In Campbell County, Leif Jeffers received 4,552 for the public defender’s office while Mark Eric Blakely garnered 3,612. Jeffers also won the other counties in the district to become the new public defender.

    In the Chancellor race, Elizabeth Asbury won with 6,743 votes to Andy Tillman’s 2,507 here and was victorious overall to earn the right to be the next chanellor.  Dormas Miller won the Register of Deeds office with 5,288, while Beverly Hall had 2,782 and Danny E. Wilson had 297.1

     The new county clerk is Alene Baird with 3,262. Lynn Letner received 703, while Todd Nance had 2,948 and incumbent Debbie Wilson had 2,721.

     First District County commissioners are N. Marie Ayers who received 677, while Whit Goins received 721 and Robert Higginbotham received 675.

     Second District County commissioners are Dewayne “Mailman” Kitts with 1,039, Cliff Kohlymeyer with 641 and Lonnie Weldon with 696.

      Kitts said he wanted to thank the voters for everything.

      “Well it’s an honor to win; I want to thank the voters.  The people in the district really showed me their support,” Kitts said, saying he sensed the people in his district wanted a change.

     “I made a lot of friends in the second district; really honored and thankful for everyone who voted. I am going to be a committed commissioner and do what I can for the people,” Kitts said, adding that he never thought he would be doing this.

     “I want to make a positive influence on the community and I invite the public to come and sit down with me if they need to talk,” Kitts said.

     County commission third district winners are Cliff Jennings with 627, Rusty Orick with 786 and Scott Stanfield with 886. 

     Fourth district county commissioners for the fourth district are Charles Goat Baird with 1,028, Johnny Coach Bruce with 1,098 and Sue Nance with 1,075,

     County commission fifth district representatives are Forster Baird with 709, Ralph Davis with 840 and Carl B. Douglas with 714.

     School board first district member is Wallace Goins with 1,289 against Rector Miller’s 666.

     Second district school board saw Sharon Ridenour win with 815 against Randy Comer’s 764.

     Third district school board member is Faye Heatherly who won a close race with 797 votes against Scott Hill’s 774 and Virgil Kidwell’s 185.

     In the school board district four, Clint Bane won with 748 against Tim Woods with 526 and Eugene Lawson’s 682.

     School Board District five saw Crystal Creekmore winning with 586 while Elsie Bates Crawford garnered 505, Johnny Creekmore had 402 and Ned Smiddy received 346.

     Congress third district sees Weston Wamp beat Chuck Fleischmann in the third district congressman race with 2464 against Wamp’s 2357 in Campbell County.  Fleischmann was eventually able to win and keep his seat in Congress.  (08/08/2014 - 2:30 AM)

FM is now a part of the WLAF media platforms 

     Who would have thought that WLAF would have a television station before it was able to secure an FM signal?  But that’s how it’s played out.  WLAF signed on as an AM radio station in 1953, added WLAF-TV 12 in 1990, and, as of this morning, now has an FM signal.  It is FM 100.9.  The new FM is a simulcast of 1450 WLAF.  The website, www.1450wlaf.com, is also one of the WLAF’s mediums.(08/07/2014-6:00 AM)

Click the cap to watch the 2014 CCHS Graduation Ceremonies

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