Day 92 in the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty 

 

NHUNmMANPhoto from home:  Dogwood blooms - Dogwood winter. (04/15/2014thout an administrator since the fall of 2013, the city says it will soon be seeking to fill

 

 

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Photo from home 

     Has it really been 50-years?  These young ladies are pictured at West La Follette School in 1965.   

BOE meets in special called session this afternoon

     The Campbell County Board of Education was to meet in a Special Called meeting on Tuesday, February 24, 5:30 p.m., at the Central Office lower level conference room.  This meeting was rescheduled due to inclement weather on Thursday, February 19th.  Now.  The second postponement date for the meeting is Tuesday, March 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Central Office lower level conference room.  The main focus of the meeting is to further discuss the process the board will take as it begins the search to replace retiring Director of Schools Donnie Poston.  Poston’s last official day on the job is June 30. (03/03/2015 - 6:00 AM)

BOE helping displaced A & S workers get GEDs

By Charlotte Underwood

The Campbell County Board of Education signed an executive order to provide over $1,500 in funds for 21 displaced A & S Steel workers to take the GED test and better their employment opportunities.  It costs $75 per person to take the test. Total testing costs will come to $1,575. GED pre-testing courses are being provided through the Department of Education and Workforce Development in order to prepare the workers for the test. The GED classes began Monday afternoon and will continue to be held from 3:30-6:30 p.m. each Monday at the Campbell County Career Center.

“In this day and age, jobs call for a high school diploma or a GED; the workforce of yesterday didn’t necessarily require that and some of these workers have been employed by A & S for over 20 years. This gives them an opportunity to train, earn their GED and better their chances of finding work,” said Board of Education Supervisor Rita Goins, who was a driving force behind securing funds for the program.

“It’s backed by the full board’s support,” said BOE chairman Mike Orick, who said he personally felt that perhaps these employees “slipped through the school system’s cracks in the past” and this is an opportunity to make it up to them.

“With employers now, passing the GED will definitely enhance their chances of employment,” Orick said.

Workers will first take a GED pre-test to see what areas they will need assistance. Classes will be based on each individual’s pace.  W.L. Grimes and another instructor will be teaching the courses at the career center.

“The school board is happy to be able to provide this opportunity that will better both our workforce and our community,” Goins said. (03/03/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Train derailment overnight

     Word from E-911 Dispatch is that a train derailed around 1:00 a.m. this morning here in Campbell County.  Details are sketchy, but we do know that crews are still working in the area of track at Titus Hollow Road at this hour.  Minor injuries are reported.  The accident site is not far from the Howard Baker Highway at Exit 141 of I-75.(03/03/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Commission passes last obstacle to open new jail, to choose Road Super on 03/16

In a marathon meeting lasting well over three hours, county commissioners Monday night finally voted to approve the final dollars needed to complete the long-delayed opening of the Campbell County Justice Center.

By meeting the projected opening date of April 28, the new jail facility can again begin to house state prisoners, a revenue source that is expected to pump $40,000 a month into the county budget to help offset the cost of operating the jail and expanded personnel needs.

The deal was nearly sidetracked, however, by controversy over the final change orders that added $132,527 in additional costs to the nearly thirteen million-dollar construction project.

After negotiations with the architects and contractors, the county’s share of the added cost was only going to be $32,000 but that modest sum was enough to stir negative responses and opposition from several commissioners.

Cliff Jennings was adamant that the architects and contractors should bear all of the expense of correcting problems in the original design while Ralph Davis’ major complaint involved the process of approving change orders that added costs to original construction low bids.

Finance Director Jeff Marlow attempted to defend the agreement, pointing out that one of the major changes was not a design error but a change requested by the Campbell County Sheriff.

Originally, former Sheriff Gary Perkins had called for tinted windows in both the guard tower and cells, but Sheriff Robbie Goins complained that this would make it difficult for guards to monitor the prisoners and endanger his jailers. He asked that the tinted windows be changed to clear windows in the cell areas at a cost of over $54,000 and another $30,000 to modify lighting fixtures, Marlow explained.

The conversation between Davis and Marlow grew testy at times with Davis accusing Marlow of “covering up” while Jennings finally proclaimed, “I think we’re getting ripped off bad.”

Finally, after much more debate along the same lines, Mayor E. L. Morton was able to call for a vote on the budget amendment approving the additional $32,000. The amendment passed 11-4 with only Davis, Jennings, Scott Stanfield and Lonnie Weldon voting “no.”

A second vote was needed to approve the actual change order agreement and Whit Goins added his vote to the “no” side on that motion, which also passed by a vote of 10-5.

Davis then jumped the gun on the next topic of discussion, nominating Ron Dilbeck to be appointed as a permanent Road Superintendent until the next election. Johnny Bruce then nominated James Scott Evans before Mayor Morton and County Attorney Joe Coker could restore some order to the proceedings, which had taken a giant step outside the law.

“I thought at the workshop we agreed to interview the candidates,” Jennings observed, with Carl Douglas agreeing that was part of the discussion.

Coker pointed out that a certain procedure needed to be followed that would include giving adequate public notice before an actual vote on a new Road Superintendent can be held. Morton ruled the nominations seemed out of order until a formal process could be agreed upon and Jennings then made a motion to withdraw all nominations until the March 16 commission meeting. After Jennings’ motion passed 15-0, the commission spent some time discussing the procedure to be followed, including public notice in the local newspapers and an invitation to all candidates to attend the meeting and address the commission.

The commission agreed that the first nominee to receive eight votes will be appointed and voting would cease, but there was major disagreement on the order in which the three remaining candidates (Jimmy Arnold has withdrawn his application) would be voted upon.

One proposal, to allow Mayor Morton to flip a coin to determine the order of voting, was shot down because there are more than two candidates. Finally, Marie Ayers moved that the candidates be voted upon in alphabetical order, which would mean John Daugherty, who did not receive a nomination, would be first, followed by Dilbeck, and Evans last if nobody had received a majority of votes.

Ayers’ motion passed 10-5, with Bruce, Jennings, Weldon, Higginbotham and Rusty Orick voting “no.”  Finally, Mayor Morton agreed to a proposal that the Road Superintendent vote be taken up first at the March 16 meeting so that supporters of the various candidates would not have to wait through an entire meeting before knowing the outcome.

The commission then proceeded with more routine matters, including a unanimous vote to approve application for a $40,000 federal historic preservation grant for a county-wide architectural survey, with no cost to the county.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a lease agreement for half of the county-owned industrial building on McGhee Lane to Indian River Marina, Inc. for use of the facility to construct docks to replace boat stalls and docks that were damaged at several marinas on Norris Lake by the recent ice and snow storms.

The lease agreement will be month to month for the amount of $2,000 per month, with an option to extend the lease as necessary. Indian River president Debbie Samples told commissioners that Indian River has already hired twelve employees including several workers who were recently laid off by the closing of TrailManor, Inc.

The commission voted 14-1 to formally request TDOT to conduct a study of the need for a possible traffic light at the intersection of Davis Chapel Road and old Highway 63.  Lonnie Weldon asked for the vote, explaining that TDOT would not agree to conduct the traffic study without a formal request from the county.  Sue Nance voted “no” on the motion.

Finally, the subject of change orders came up again, as Davis offered a motion to require all future change orders to construction contracts to be approved by the commission.

Marlow repeated his often-stated position that the commission has authority to approve or reject change orders on projects involving county property, meaning projects controlled by the mayor’s office or commission, but is limited in oversight of projects controlled by the Board of Education, Highway Department or other elected officials as long as there is no increase in the money appropriated by the commission.

“If the school board approves a change order, say, on a school building project that requires no additional money into their budget, I have no choice but to approve it,” Marlow explained.

Jennings protested, insisting that any change order “should have to be approved by this body.”

Instead of voting on a motion likely to land the commission and school board in court, however, the final motion was amended to involve only projects under the fiscal control of the county governing body or any change orders requiring an additional appropriation of funds. That motion was finally approved 15-0.

Finally, Marie Ayers brought up the subject of selling property that the county has been forced to bid on itself at delinquent tax sales when there were no bidders.

Over the past ten years or so, a number of properties have been offered at delinquent tax sales but remained unsold, usually because of title problems, difficulty in locating the property or in some cases because the minimum required bid to pay taxes was more than the property was worth.

Ayers explained that a potential buyer has approached the county about one or two properties and she thought the county should expedite a sale while there was still interest from a potential buyer. Coker explained that a legal process must be followed that includes advertising the property for sale, setting a minimum bid and making public the winning bids to give any other interested parties ten days to submit a counter bid that is at least ten percent higher.

“Don’t expect any great windfall from the sale of this property. If the county sells it all, you may see $30,000 or so,” Coker advised.

A motion by Ayers passed 15-0 to expedite the sale of all delinquent property that is currently in county ownership, with the FMS Committee charged with determining a fair minimum bid on each tract to be offered for sale.  (03/03/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Getting back to normal; if there is such a thing

WLAF thanks its staff, listeners, corporate partners

     Special thanks today go out to the WLAF staff for their long hours of work (several 12, 14, and 16-hour days), driving through the snow and ice each day, and answering all those phone calls of “is there school tomorrow?”  We all have adjustments to make and challenges to face on the snowy, cold, icy days we’ve all endured these past two weeks, and I want the WLAF staff to know just how much I appreciate their efforts, not only the past two weeks, but everyday of the year.  Today marks some sense of normalcy for us here at the old radio station on North 5th Street in that we can just go about our daily routines, hopefully.  This is also a special thanks to all those of you who called in your cancellations. postponements, and the like these past couple of weeks and for those of you who read 1450wlaf.com each day, listened to the radio, watched WLAF-TV 12 or followed us on Facebook and Twitter.  Extra special appreciation goes out to our corporate partners.  You are the ones who keep us doing what we do everyday, and we are most grateful for your belief and support of WLAF.  (03/02/2015 - 6:00AM)

Campbell County may have to petition for relief on snow/sick days

     Twelve days have been used so far by Campbell County Schools for snow and ice days.  That leaves only one day left in the “snow day” bank.  However, Director of Schools Donnie Poston explains to WLAF that three days, in addition to the 12 snow days, have already been used for sick days.  He says he will petition the commissioner of education for relief.  Poston adds that Campbell will likely be one of several school systems that will be making the same type petition.  (03/02/2015-6:00 AM)

CCHS JROTC competes in Thomas Walker Pine Mountain League Competition

 By: C/SFC Jared Franzmann

      Saturday 31 January, saw CCHS JROTC cadets traveling to Thomas Walker High School in Ewing, Virginia, for a six event Pine Mountain League (PML) Competition.   Events were the One mile Relay, a Secret Event, Rope Bridge, Obstacle Course, an Academic Test, and the Tug-Of-War.

      The first event of the day was the Mile Relay. It required a team of four cadets (2 males and 2 females), sprinting around the high school from checkpoint to checkpoint handing off a baton to one another.  In total, their time of 2:22 for one mile was respectable.

Jacob Jones, Carrie Ferra, Lindsey Jones and Brennan Adkins study a question on the Academic Test. 

     Second came the Secret Event.  This turned out to be archery, and it proved to be a challenging event for CCHS cadets shooting at targets from 5ft to 20ft away.  CCHS had no real practice except half a lunch period.  It was a SECRET EVENT.  However, CCHS archers hit all but one of their targets. Not bad for a first time.

      Rope Bridge, the third event, had an eight-member team constructing a one-rope bridge, crossing all members, and then dismantling it.  CCHS had a great bridge time of 1:56.

      The fourth event was the Obstacle Course. A team of 6 cadets, 4 males and 2 females completed two litter carries, and ten different obstacles for fastest time with fewest penalties. CCHS had an extremely fast time of 9:27, but they had 3 penalties.

Zack Holstein, Damien Guder, Hunter Madron, Robert Kennedy, and Hank Hamblin load up at the Rope Bridge.    

     The next event was an Academic Test. Four cadets took a 65 question test on JROTC training areas.  The CCHS Academic team answered 54 of the 65 questions correctly.

      Last was the tug of war event.  The lack of weigh heavy cadets got the CCHS Tug-O-War team eliminated on their first pull.  Guess nutrition classes helped, but cost them a trophy.

CCHS cadets pose in front of the bus after the TWHS Pine Mountain     

     Overall, CCHS came home with a first place trophy in Rope Bridge and a second place trophy in Academics.  They missed the first place trophy in Academics by one question.  The three penalties in Obstacle Course, along with shortfalls in Archery and the Relay cost CCHS trophies in those events as well. (03/02/2015 - 6:00 AM)

On Saturday, Campbell Cougar Dakota Dossett placed 4th in the state high jump (5’ 8”) at the Tennessee High School Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Mini-Dome at East Tennessee State University at Johnson City.

Bartley’s probation officer misquoted by press; wants to set record straight

By Charlotte Underwood

Kenneth S. Bartley’s Parole officer Sabrina Marsee said she was misquoted in Thursday’s La Follette Press article regarding Bartley’s plea agreement and his soon move to Fairfax, Va.   According to Marsee, she was directly misquoted, even though she confirmed the details twice with the press reporter. A probation officer and deputized by the sheriff’s department, Marsee’s credibility and integrity is everything and she said she feels it has been violated by the newspaper‘s “desperation to prove a rumor and get a story.”

“My credibility is in question because of yellow journalism; my integrity has to be intact, because of the job that I do and the testimony I am often required to give in the courtroom.”

Marsee said there were several things that were wrong in the press’s article and that she wanted to set the record straight.

The main issue she said is that she was misquoted in the paragraph stating that both Kenneth Bartley Sr. and young Kenneth Bartley had been or were romantically involved with the counselor that young Kenneth will be moving in with in Virginia as part of his release agreement.

Marsee said the press’s quote that Bartley Sr. and young Kenneth Bartley had both advised her of their romantic relationship with Counselor Erin Tepaske was “incorrect, false or misquoted.”

What is true, according to Marsee, is that during Bartley’s plea agreement, she testified that Kenneth Bartley Sr. had in the past told her that he and Tepaske had been in a relationship and that Tepaske herself had even told her that they had been in a past relationship, but were “now just friends.”  Tepaske, who lives in Virginia is close with the Bartley family and has visited often in the past, according to Marsee, who testified to this in court because she said she felt Tepaske’s close current and past relationship with the family could possibly be a conflict of interest. She said, however, she never said that young Kenneth S. Bartley had told her he was in a relationship with Tepaske.

“When the reporter asked me that, my direct quote to him was that I have no information concerning that. I never stated a confirmation of a relationship between them. I even called the reporter to confirm that he had the correct Kenneth, with them both having the same name,” Marsee said.

According to Marsee, the press article also incorrectly stated that Grace Probation was in charge of providing the SCRAM alcohol bracelet monitor.

“Bartley’s attorney was allowed to coordinate the placement of the bracelet as a requirement of his release,” Marsee said. If there is an incident of alcohol or if Bartley tampers with the bracelet, Marsee is at the top of the list to be notified by the monitoring agency in Virginia.

She also said she had repeatedly attempted to contact the editor of the press and the press in general to take issue with the article and set it straight, but they did not return her calls.
“I am insisting on a retraction, this is my livelihood and my career; if I am misquoted it opens me up to be liable for libeling someone else. I was directly misquoted and the press needs to validate that.”
(02/27/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Closings, on-schedules, postponements, time changes (02/27/2015 – 5:00 PM)

Jellico Elementary School’s Food Drive is re-set for Saturday, March 21

Special called school board meeting is reset for Tuesday, 03/03, 5:30 PM

Monday's County Commission meeting is reset for Monday, March 2

Jellico Community Hospital makes a big announcement. 

     Jellico Hospital, a member of Adventist Health System, and the City of Jellico have finalized a new relationship with Community Hospital Corporation of Plano, Texas, to lease and operate the hospital.  Agreements were signed last week to make the transfer.  A new long-term lease has also been negotiated to lease the hospital facility from the City of Jellico.  Jimm Bunch is the chairman of the board of the Jellico Community Hospital.  Bunch tells WLAF that he is pleased that Community Hospital Corporation will embrace and further our mission in this community.(02/27/2015 - 6:00AM)

Caryville discusses hiring police chief; filling other positions

By Charlotte Underwood

Filling the police chief position in Caryville was discussed during Tuesday evening’s Mayor and Aldermen meeting.  Without a chief since the end of December, the town has been taking applications and plans on opening them sometime next week.  A review committee comprised of six individuals will meet and look over the applicants during a special-called meeting. The review committee is made up of individuals chosen by the council members. Each council member chose someone from their ward to sit on the committee.  About 9 people have applied for the position so far.

Other business discussed included Powell Clinch Utility District running gas lines into the Bear Wallow Community. About six to eight families live in the community and would benefit from the project. The board voted in approval, to show its support.

A library assistant will soon be hired in Caryville. Board members voted to bring the top two candidates in for interviews for the 32-hour part-time position. Beginning the application process for a part-time street department position was also approved, as was the $650 repair to the bleachers in Asbury Park. (02/26/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Gray Insurance has the coverage you need

By Charlotte Underwood

If knowledge and experience in an insurance agent is important to you, then Gary Gray at Gray Insurance is the man to see. With over 180 years of combined experience in his office, Gray, can match the right policy to fit your insurance needs. Nationwide Insurance has a policy for just about everything imaginable.

“We have the most experience in Campbell County and are one of the most experienced in East Tennessee,” Gray said. He has worked with Nationwide insurance for the past 36 years.

If knowledge and experience in an insurance agent is important to you, then Gary Gray at Gray Insurance is the man to see.

You could say insurance is in his blood. His father, C.E. Jack Gray signed a business contract with Nationwide Insurance in 1955. The first insurance office was located in downtown LaFollette and moved to its current location around 1960. Gary’s brother Eddie followed in their dad’s footsteps first, with Gary coming on board later after first selling computers for several years. After getting into the insurance profession, Gary worked in insurance management for Nationwide for 26 years, before coming back to the LaFollette office after his brother retired 10 years ago.

Gray invited the public to check out the Nationwide Insurance difference.

“We can find you the best policy at the best price. More experience results in less hassle when emergencies do happen,” Gray said.

For more information or to set up an appointment or consultation, call 423-562-3346.

Gray Insurance is located at 1210 Jacksboro Pike. The office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to set up an appointment or consultation, call 423-562-3346.  (02/26/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Rocky Top man remains behind bars tonight on a $100K bond

     A young man from Rocky Top turned himself in to authorities late Monday afternoon at the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at Jacksboro.  In a release from the La Follette Police Department, 24-year old Marcus Harley was indicted by the grand jury on charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident.  Officials outline for WLAF that on December 1, Marsha Neland was struck by a vehicle in La Follette and died about a month later from injuries sustained in the incident. 

Marcus Aaron Harley (COURTESY OF THE CAMPBELL COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT)

Neland was a passenger in a truck that was being driven by her son Juden Neland.  The report goes on to state that Harley and the Nelands came into contact with each other at the Pleasant Ridge Apartments on the southeast side of town, and according to witness statements, Harley was attempting to make contact with the Nelands by following their truck with his vehicle.  On East Hill Street, Marsha Neland jumped out of the passenger side of the truck and into the street where she was struck by Harley’s vehicle.  Harley fled the scene but was located a couple of days later by detectives with LPD.  Harley is in the county jail tonight under a $100,000 bond with a March 10 court date set.(02/24/2015 - 6:00 PM)

Administrator position, time clocks, pays raises & fire department business discussed

By Charlotte Underwood

Re-advertising the city administrator position for La Follette and the installation of time clocks in all departments topped the agenda at Monday evening’s city council workshop.

The city has been without an administrator for well over a year now.  According to Mayor Mike Stanfield, re-advertising the position will be on next week’s agenda for the council to vote on. Council members want to take a look at the nine applicants that have already applied and see if anyone else is interested in the position before moving forward. Of the nine that have applied, most were local, according to Stanfield, who said the ones that were not local were from Knox County.

The installation of time clocks in all the city employee departments was also discussed and could be on next week’s agenda for a vote. According to the mayor, some of the employees feel that if the city is closed due to inclement weather, then they should be paid even though they don’t come in.

“It states in the employee handbook that if an employee can’t make it in to work due to the weather, then they have to take a vacation or personal day and if the weather clears up, they have to come in. Some of them don’t like this and think if the city is closed, they should get a day off with pay and have fudged some on their time cards; the time clocks will fix this problem,” Stanfield said.

Another issue that needs fixed and was discussed by the council regarded recent pay raises city employees received. During the budget planning process, the council had voted to raise employees that were below $10.10, up to $10.10 and all other employees that were already paid above $10.10 would get a 3-percent raise.  According to Stanfield, when Councilman Bob Fannon made the motion, it stated that all employees would get the 3-percent raise, which is not what budget planning and discussions reflected.  The council now has to vote to rescind Fannon’s motion to correct the mistake that gave some of the employees two raises.

Fire department topics that will be on the agenda include the discussion of purchasing a new ladder truck. The city’s ladder truck is a 1971 model that is out of commission.  For insurance purposes, the city is required to have a ladder truck.  According to the mayor, the city has been looking at purchasing a used ladder truck at a good price, but the purchase will have to be put out for bid. The installation and purchase of a new gas card system for the fire department will also be on the agenda.  The current gas card system used by the fire department is obsolete and the city will have to switch to a new laser key system. The estimated cost for the new system is around $12,000. Other entities such as the La Follette Utilities that use the gas system would be required to pay part of cost of the new system.

What to do about a fire department employee who has been suspended will be discussed at next week’s meeting.  Full-time fire fighter Bo Byrge has been suspended by the fire chief for insubordination until March 3.

The appointment of the vice-mayor will also be on the agenda.  Joe Bolinger is currently the vice-mayor.

The next meeting will be at La Follette City Hall on Tuesday, March 3 at 6 p.m.(02/25/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Fire chief says thank you for oil spill cleanup and snow removal

La Follette Fire Chief Gary Byrd said he wanted to extend a big thanks to all who helped with the cleanup of the oil spill across from Sonic, as well as a thank you for the snow removal around the fire department and gas pumps.

“I would like to thank Campbell County EMA Jay Muncy, Dixie Concrete Raymond Henson, the La Follette Fire Department, the LaFollette Police Department, the LaFollette Public Works Department, Rice Oil Company, Sonic Drive-In, Mayor Mike Stanfield and Chris Arnold for snow removal around the fire department and gas pumps.”(02/25/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Bartley’s pleads guilty in assault case; Sentenced to 2.5 years monitored probation

Leaving Campbell County for Virginia

By Charlotte Underwood

Former school shooter Kenneth S. Bartley pleaded guilty to charges of assault by domestic violence/ offensive touching in criminal court Monday morning. The class B misdemeanor conviction resulted from an Oct. 16 incident with his mother Rita Broyles. He was sentenced to 2.5 years monitored probation, in which he is required to wear a Secure Continuous Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) bracelet. The SCRAM ankle bracelet is a device used by judges and probation officers to determine if an individual has been drinking alcohol. The SCRAM is permanently affixed to a person’s lower leg, above their ankle. It is designed to detect alcohol consumption on a continuous basis, 24 hours a day. The data is stored in the device until it is downloaded, collected and reported in a graph to be analyzed by an employee trained to properly do so to determine if the graph represents an alcohol consumption event and violation to be referred to the judge or probation officer.

It was also revealed during court that he will be moving to Virginia and will be monitored by Virginia’s probation program. He will stay in jail until the SCRAM monitoring bracelet is in place. According to court documents, reports have to be done by Virginia’s probation every 45 days.  Local probation will stay involved, but only in a “monitoring manner.”

Bartley had his assault case bound over to the grand jury, which indicted him on the assault charges on Feb. 13. 

During the general session’s court hearing which led to the indictment, Broyles said that Bartley and she had a “disagreement” that day and evening about him wanting money for a cab to go to the liquor store in Knoxville. Broyles testified that the argument was never really physical and that Bartley only placed his hands on her neck one time.

The police report states that Bartley placed his hands on her neck and told her “he could choke her and she knew that he could.”

This was Bartley’s third arrest since being freed in February of 2014 after a new trial regarding the death of Campbell County Assistant Principal Ken Bruce and the wounding of two other school administrators. Bartley was arrested twice last summer in alcohol or drug related domestic assault incidents involving his father.  (02/24/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Vann arraigned on new charges; next court appearance is April

By Charlotte Underwood

Accused murderer and kidnapper, Lonnie Lee Vann was arraigned in criminal court this morning on the additional charges of aggravated robbery, kidnapping and especially aggravated kidnapping.  His next court appearance will be on April 13 when he will have a status hearing regarding all charges. The new charges stem from a Dec. 5 robbery in Deerfield.  On Feb. 13, Vann was indicted on the new charges by a Campbell County Grand Jury.  In January, he was indicted for the kidnapping and murder of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who had been missing from her Coolidge area home since Dec. 2, 2014. After Daugherty’s disappearance and the robbery in Deerfield, Vann fled to South Carolina where he was apprehended after committing aggravated robbery in a Myrtle Beach Hotel.  In January, he was extradited to Campbell County to face the more serious charges that are levied against him here.

Vann will also be in court in April regarding his initial charges of sexual misconduct with a minor, which stem from a 2013 incident in which he is alleged to have taken a 13-year-old girl to Coolidge Baptist Church where he attempted to hug and kiss her. The former middle school teacher was indicted by a grand jury on those charges in July of 2014.

Vann is currently being represented by appointed counsel through the public defender’s office.

For security and safety purposes, Vann is being held in the Knox County Detention Center on a $1 million bond.  (02/23/2015 - 2:30 PM)

Hunters run upon body at Tackett Creek

     It was a frightening sight Sunday afternoon at Tackett Creek.  That’s when hunters discovered a body way back in the woods.  Soon after 1:00 p.m., is when the body of 32-year old Kenneth “Matt” Mozingo of Duff was noticed in a wooded area several miles off Tackett Creek Road; closer to White Oak than Highway 90.  Investigators say that preliminary reports indicate that exposure to extreme weather was the cause of Mozingo’s death.  An autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon at the University of Tennessee Forensics Center.(02/23/15-3:30 PM)

CLICK HERE to see the February 15 service from FBC La Follette

Winter weather plays havoc with businesses, schools and roads

By Charlotte Underwood

Last week’s winter storm created chaos in Campbell County, closing schools, affecting businesses and making for dangerous travel conditions.

Schools were closed and secondary roads remained slick throughout the week. Many local businesses were affected and had to adjust their hours accordingly or operate on skeleton crews since employees had a hard time making it to work.

Terry’s Pharmacy owner Rissa Pryse described the week as chaotic. The pharmacy operated on adjusted hours, as did many businesses, due to the weather.

“It has been crazy – we’ve been operating on skeleton crews and going out and delivering medications to elderly people who can’t get out or who live on the outskirts,” Pryse said, adding that she had also been worried about patrons traveling the slick roads and parking lots.

Another business affected was Gary Gray’s Nationwide Insurance office. Gray described the week as perhaps the slowest business week he could remember and said that they too had adjusted their hours slightly, but had maintained a business presence.

“Everything has been so slick, we have not had much foot traffic in the office and even phone calls have been down this week,” Gray said.

Marvin Minton with Community Trust Bank reported much the same. For part of the week, the bank operated with the drive-through only due to employees being unable to drive to work. Hours were also adjusted.

“Our biggest concern was our customers getting out during the weather,” Minton said, adding that the state and the county had been doing a decent job of clearing the roads.

On Friday night into Saturday, the second winter storm of the week, melting snow and ice coupled with strong winds and heavy rainfall caused damage to several marinas.  (02/23/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Nature and 687 road miles versus 28-men and 14 trucks

Disaster exceeds what local areas can handle

     When a road superintendent is elected, he traditionally takes over in September; not the dead of winter.  Less than two-months in, interim Road Superintendent Ron Dilbeck was baptized by possibly the worst week of winter weather since the blizzard of ’93 or January of 1978.  When Dennis Potter accepted the clerk and masters post, Dilbeck stepped-in as interim super back on January 1.  Since Sunday night, the 15th, he and his crew have worked from daylight to dark and well in to the nights and wee hours of the mornings going on limited sleep clearing Campbell County’s roads.  With a crew of 28-men and 14-trucks, it comes out to 50 miles for each truck and 25 miles for every man to cover the 687 miles of county roads.

 Dilbeck has also been on the road everyday and every night scraping and salting

Last Monday’s storm laid down a layer of ice before the snow and sleet hit.  Then more snow arrived later in the week before Friday night’s snow was followed by freezing rain and rain.  As a result, Governor Bill Haslam elevated Tennessee to a Level II State of Emergency on Saturday afternoon.  Level II means a major disaster has exceeded what local areas can handle and state and federal assistance will be required.  Temps dipped below freezing Saturday night the 14th and did not rise past 32-degrees until Saturday the 21st.  Maybe the last week of February will be a little friendlier to all of us.  Even though it’s not September.  (02/23/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Greetings from the Mayor's Office

Message from County Mayor E. L. Morton

With the 2015 version of cabin fever setting in we face a slushy, wintery and challenging few weeks ahead.  As always, we will emerge from it and continue life in this special place.  Until a complete thaw however, there are some things we can do to cope and help ourselves and each other.  Today in particular, drivers should assume every puddle is 6 inches deep.  Most are and we are in a pre-flood stage.  The frozen ground is filling every low spot quickly and the ground may not absorb any water for another day or two....which may well see freezing temps again.  The weather service is advising of continued winter systems with snow and ice challenges.  We are fortunate our power grid is holding with LaFollette Utilities, Jellico Utilities and the Campbell County Highway department doing a tremendous job over the last week.

I know some roads remain slick like Lakemont Lane, Duff, Ivydell Road, Stony Fork and others however, our road department is treating these roads and all the others.  Resources are stressed in the region with Scott, Cumberland, Loudon and Fentress Counties suffering widespread power outages.  That puts a premium on salt supplies to access downed trees and power lines, but so far stocks are holding for the county.   Ron Dilbeck and his team will continue to do so as long as the need remains I am continuing to advise him of your concerns when I or your Commissioners hear about them.  City Street departments are managing very well too and my thanks go out to Mayors Baird, Cannon, Stanley and Stanfield.

Our County Ambulance Service remains operational responding to "Emergency Calls Only" until weather is better.   That means we will travel to an emergency and transport patients to the medical facility, but cannot guarantee the ride back home.  Having worked additionally hard these past few days, our ambulances, (in some cases ATV Ambulances) have met the need for our Citizens.  I also understand that some dialysis patients may have delayed treatment because of weather and that we are approaching a tighter window for required treatment, so we will make every effort to provide for these folks before they become emergent.  We had some body dings to one of our units yesterday but it remains in service and all life saving systems remain "Full Go".  I have been very glad to see our Campbell County Rural Fire Fighters helping out and working with our ambulance service to reach our patients.  I've also seen White Oak Firefighters out in the 5th District helping where they can and I am glad to know all our firefighters are trained, ready and active across the county. 

Special thanks to Red Cross Volunteers for providing Emergency Shelters. With the few Red Cross Volunteers we have, our shelters are on an as needed basis for now, but we will activate them if power systems go off line.  Special thanks also to Jellico's Beech Tree Manor Staff for some very timely cooperation to help a neighbor get their heating system back to working order Friday.  These are just a couple of examples of excellent Campbell County cooperation this winter. It makes me proud to serve the generous people who call this place home.

Trash is accumulating at your homes, as it is at mine. While slushy, our Towe String Road Convenience Center remains open and we are working to staff the outlying centers as best we can under these conditions. It may take you two trips, but please bring your trash to us.  It will take some time to reduce the pile, but please keep your trash in our system for the health of us all.

I want to ask residents and businesses alike to take a precautionary look at your homes and buildings to see if the snow and ice load may have damaged dwelling or workspace. I am delaying the work day to 10am tomorrow at the Courthouse in order to assess our buildings before our workers enter. Your safety is worth the extra effort so please take a look.  I spent yesterday afternoon and evening traveling with our Emergency Management Director Jay Muncie along Cove Creek and Powell River assessing damage and recovering stuck workboats that had been working to limit damage related to the roof collapses. The slip collapses while destructive (7 or more properties suffering losses of 50-200 slips each), fortunately caused no injuries.  Recovery for these business and boat owners will take significant assessment and mechanical work for certain. Jay has remained in contact with the Homeland Security Operations Center and I have spoken with State Representative Dennis Powers who coordinated directly with Tennessee Homeland Security Director, David Purkey.  Mr. Purkey advised that his agency remains in emergency response mode for now, but has already identified Campbell County damage for assessment as soon as life and limb emergencies reduce across the state. State Senator Ken Yager also called to pledge his support for our needs and safety, so state officials and your Commissioners remain engaged.  I have received many calls from Commissioners from all five Districts advising of your needs.  With the Governor declaring the emergency earlier this week, we could potentially see some special resources in coming days, weeks and months. I will ensure we ask for every available resource to get homes and businesses back in productive working order.  Please continue to use caution and take time for safety. Thank you for your cooperation and patience!     (02/22/2015 - 3:00 PM)           

Weather continues wreaking havoc; docks damaged

By Charlotte Underwood and Jim Freeman 

Reports coming in to WLAF are that at least five Campbell County marinas have suffered damage from the wind and the weight of rain, ice, and snow.  It appears that Twin Cove has suffered the most damage with damage reports coming in from Indian River and Springs.  An employee at Sugar Hollow Marina confirmed to WLAF News that they have lost about 20 boats and 30 slips. 

This photo, submitted by Nick & Ann Thompson, is of Norris Dam Marina where there are collapsed boats under water

She goes on to say that when metal roofs take on a large amount of snow and ice, the metal twists and down it goes.  Sugar Hollow is actively moving boats to try to prevent more from going down.  She said Mountain Lake is in same situation, and that Springs Dock appears to have lost its new slip area that it built a couple of years ago when the old one was lost to fire. 

Dispatchers at 9-1-1 say that getting ambulances around this afternoon has been tough in some situations.  One ambulance slipped off in a ditch near Sugar Hollow Marina.  No injuries were reported.  However, the ambulance suffered damage. (02/21/2015 - 4:00 PM)

Tourism dollars result in fewer taxes for Campbell County citizens

By Charlotte Underwood

According to a recent presentation by the County Mayor’s office, tourism dollars spent in the county have a direct result on the amount of tax dollars that area citizens pay. Olivia Robbins with the county mayor’s office provided numbers of tourism tax relief per household from the 2013 year. In 2013, tourists spent $50.44 million dollars in Campbell County. This resulted in the 20,126 households in the county paying $268 less in state and local taxes as a result of taxes generated by tourist spending in the county.

“It’s plain to see what tourism can do for our county and how well it goes with economic development,” Robbins said, adding that the county mayor’s office was also working on other projects to boost tourism in the area.(02/20/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Possible Dog Park in the works

An Interstate 75 Dog Park could be in the works, according to County Mayor E.L. Morton. The park’s location would be across from the Shoney’s restaurant in Caryville and it would act as a draw for those with pets needing a pit stop.

“If they stop at the dog park for their pet, they are going to come on in and stop at our restaurants and gas stations. For not very much cost, we could have a real asset and draw for those traveling right past us on the interstate,” Morton said.

If the project is pursued, the park would be modeled somewhat after the dog park in Knoxville.(02/20/2015 - 6:00 AM)

 

WLAF’s Charlie Hutson caught a shot of the old radio station around sunset on Monday

 

WLAF’s Charlie Hutson was out and about with his camera just before sunset Monday

WLAF’s David Graham and his “snow” cam caught these pix for us on Monday

An icy windshield

 

 At the moment, we had no idea that this would be the last time we would snap a photo of our friend Jerry Sharp.  On this day, Saturday, September 27, 2014, at the Louie Bluie Festival, WLAF’s Charlotte Underwood caught Jerry in action as the LB Ambassador.  Jerry passed away over the weekend. 

La Follette’s lost a treasure

His smile was contagious.  His laugh was hearty.  His friendship was tops.  But boy do we miss him.  And he’s only been gone two days.  Longtime WLAF friend Jerry Sharp left us on Saturday, and instead of him reading 1450wlaf.com right about now, as he did daily, we’re, sadly, writing about him.  Jerry was one of the original listeners to WLAF Radio.  He was tuned-in to 1450 that Sunday afternoon way back on May 17, 1953.  And he often reminded us of that, and we were proud when he did. 

We’re not sure, but this picture taken by WLAF’s Charlotte Underwood might have been snapped on Jerry’s 80th birthday.

In his working days, he worked for NOAA at Oak Ridge.  Before that he graduated from La Follette High School and served in the U.S. Army.  Since his retirement, he’s been a volunteer helping all over the community most notably as the curator of the local museum.  Jerry Sharp was 82-years old.(02/16/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Sheriff offers winter storm tips

A message from Sheriff Robbie K. Goins: Your life or someone else's is most important. Icy and snow covered roadways increase property damage  and injury related crashes.  Use common sense and stay home. We have found nothing that is worth risking injury or death. 

If you have to travel in an emergency please remember

Wait for conditions to improve.  The best way to avoid an accident on an icy road is to simply stay off the roads until the threat passes. Nothing can inconvenience you more than a wreck!

Take it slow!

High speeds make it easy to lose control on ice and snow. Slowing down to below 45mph when icy roads are a threat is the second best way to avoid an accident.

You don't have the skill to drive at normal speeds on icy roads

A factor in many of the serious and fatal crashes is overconfidence in one's abilities and/or equipment (traction control, antilock brakes, stability control, good tires). Some feel that they have sufficient experience in winter driving, and can therefore continue normally (at or above the speed limit). But a fishtail on ice that occurs at highway speeds is usually unrecoverable by even the most quick-witted and experienced drivers. Practicing slow-speed slides in parking lots is useless for what happens to a vehicle at highway speed. A person who enters a high-speed slide will quickly learn that it is something they can't handle - but all too late.

Wear your seat belt!

Even though wearing your seat belt should already be a no-brainer at all times, during the winter it's even more critical. An alarming number of road ice fatalities occur with minor accidents where the vehicle occupants were not wearing seat belts.

Pay attention to the weather

Make the weather forecast part of your daily routine during the winter. Awareness of conditions will help you be more prepared. Read more about warning signs to watch for.

Go easy on your brakes

Brake application is a common trigger of slides that result in a loss of vehicle control. ABS (antilock brakes) do not work well on ice and snow, and often will lock up your wheels regardless. Sliding wheels are uncontrollable, that is, steering input will not change the vehicle's direction if the wheels are sliding.

Turn into a slide

Turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding. It helps to look with your eyes where you want the car to go, and turn the steering wheel in that direction. It is easy to steer too far, causing the car to slide in the other direction. If this happens (called overcorrecting), you'll need to turn in the opposite direction. Read more about correcting a slide.

Icy road accidents happen in multiples

Your own accident is sometimes not the greatest threat to you - additional out-of-control vehicles often are. Read about what to do if you are in an accident on an icy road.

Don't stop for accidents or stranded vehicles along an icy roadway

Being a Good Samaritan is a noble thing, but on an icy road, it can cause more problems than it solves. Parking on the side of an icy highway can cause passing drivers to brake and lose control, putting the lives of everyone involved in danger. Unless the stranded driver is in immediate danger, the best thing you can do is contact the authorities (call 911), who are equipped to safely block the road or divert traffic while a tow truck can do the job properly.  (01/15/2015 - 5:30 PM)

Bartley indicted for domestic assault

By Charlotte Underwood

Former school shooter Kenneth S. Bartley was indicted for domestic assault against his mother by a Campbell County Grand Jury today. Bartley has an arraignment scheduled in criminal court for the charges on Feb. 23. He is represented once again by attorney Greg Isaacs.

His case was bound over to the grand jury after an hour long hearing in General Session’s Court on Jan., 27 when Judge Amanda Sammons denied his attorney’s motion to have the case dismissed. The charges stem from an Oct. 16 incident where he allegedly threatened and placed his hands on his mother Rita Broyles.

 During the hearing in general session’s court, Broyles had testified that Bartley and she had a “disagreement” that day and evening about him wanting money for a cab to go to the liquor store in Knoxville. Broyles testified that the argument was never really physical and that Bartley only placed his hands on her neck one time and that when she asked him to remove them he did.

Broyles did say that her son had been drinking and that she had even given him a water bottle with some bourbon in it because he was so insistent upon drinking and going to the liquor store.

Once again represented by Greg Isaacs, Bartley appeared calm as he watched his mother on the witness stand. When prosecutors asked Broyles if she could point out who Bartley was, she described him as “the handsome man sitting on the left.”

He has an additional court date on Feb. 23 for violation of probation stemming from other charges.(02/13/2015 - 6:00 PM)

Vann garners additional charges after grand jury meets

By Charlotte Underwood

Accused murderer and kidnapper Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, was indicted on additional charges after a Campbell County Grand Jury met today. New charges include two counts aggravated robbery, two counts aggravated kidnapping and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. The new charges related to the armed robbery Vann committed in Deerfield, shortly after Rhonda Daugherty’s disappearance in early December.

Vann, a former middle school teacher, was indicted for the murder and kidnapping of Daugherty after a special called grand jury convened on Jan. 10. Afterwards, he was extradited from Myrtle Beach where he had fled to. At that time, he was also charged with armed robbery from the Dec. 5 crime he committed in Deerfield when he held a couple at gunpoint and stole firearms and cash. Vann has been indicted on a total of nine criminal counts total.

Search efforts continue to locate Daugherty’s remains, with investigators diving and searching Norris Lake by sonar and with robots.

For safety reasons and conflict, Vann is being held at the Knox County Detention Facility. He has an April 13 court appearance scheduled on the murder charges and a Feb. 23 arraignment scheduled on the two counts of aggravated kidnapping , especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery charges.  (02/13/2015 - 6:00 PM)

Industry growth discussed at Joint Economic Community Development meeting

By Charlotte Underwood

How to attract and grow industry was the main discussion at the Joint Economic Community Development Board meeting Thursday night at the courthouse at Jacksboro.  A lengthy brainstorming session reflected county concerns with recruiting industry, especially on the heels of several businesses leaving the area.

 The possibility of hiring a full-time industry recruiter and whether or not to get several county industrial sites “certified” were among topic discussions. Certification is a state process and basically shows off the industrial site’s credentials, what it has to offer and what the county has invested. Though not a requirement, the certification process shows potential industries that the county is serious about maintaining and investing in its industrial parks. It costs $10,000 per site to get each one certified as a Tennessee Select Industrial Site.

Hiring a full-time industry recruiter is of definite interest to County Mayor E.L. Morton and members of the joint committee, but the overall feel of the meeting was that no-one wants to rush into anything.

County Commissioner Rusty Orick attended the meeting and gave his opinion that Campbell County needed to be looking at some of the successful surrounding counties and their industrial plans, as well as team up with surrounding counties in order to be able to offer more.

“We need to put some planning to it before we hire someone; we want to do it the right way.  An industrial recruiter should definitely be a part of a long-range plan, Orick said.

Morton agreed, saying the county needed to do some “dedicated” planning to decide what its needs where and what type of person would best fit the position.

“This is a great start, and I am very excited the commission is resourcing this,” Morton said of the possibility of hiring an industrial recruiter.

Challenges that face the county when it comes to recruiting industry and businesses were also discussed. A need for better educated and qualified workers was at the top of the list. Visiting businesses and having a clear avenue of communication between the county and industry in the county was also mentioned.

Bottom-line - Campbell County needs industry to provide jobs. How to go about the process of attracting businesses will continue to be discussed at length as the board develops a long-term plan for industrial growth.

The next Joint Economic Community Development Board meeting will be April 9 at 6 p.m. in the downstairs courtroom at the Campbell County Courthouse. The public is welcome to attend. (02/13/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Anderson County comes to Campbell’s aid

     Don’t be surprised when you see an ambulance labeled “Anderson County” running emergency traffic through Campbell County.  Recently, Unit 8 of the Campbell County Ambulance Service was damaged during a call and is in the shop.  County Mayor E.L. Morton explains to WLAF News that while Unit 8 is on the mend, the Anderson County Ambulance Service kindly loaned one of its units to the Campbell Ambulance Service. (02/12/2015 - 7:00 AM)

Potter's Home Center relocates

By Charlotte Underwood

Potter’s Home Center has moved to a new location in La Follette and is bigger and better than ever. Now open, the business has a larger selection of tools, hardware, lawn and garden supplies and building materials. The store was previously located on 175 County Road in Jacksboro, but moved to 2251 Jacksboro Pike into the old Tindell's building next to Wendy’s.

Potters Home Center has moved to 2251 Jacksboro Pike into the old Tindell's building next to Wendy’s.

According to owner Brandon Smith, the business was at its previous location for nearly 15 years.

From power tools to lawn and garden supplies to lumber and building supplies, Potters Home Center has it all.

“We had the opportunity to purchase the old Tindell's building so we did and have now moved into this new location which is much more visible and better accessible for our customers,” Smith said, adding that the new location was one of 20 that his family owns and operates in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky.

Potter’s Home Center offers in store credit, free estimates, and free delivery. For more information, call 423-562-1011.  

Thanks to the move, the business is able to offer a broader range and better selection of products now that it has a bigger sales floor.  

Potter’s Home Center has knowledgeable folks who are ready to assist customers on their next home improvement project.

According to Smith, for years, Potters has been Campbell County's number one choice when it comes to lumber and building material needs and now folks can take advantage of the store’s newly reset Paint, Tools, Electrical, Plumbing, Hardware, and Lawn & Garden departments.  

Cold this winter? Come down to Potter’s Home Store and check out their selection of wood burning stoves.

“We stock everything you would expect to find at a local hardware store with a complete selection of lumber, building materials, windows & doors and more. Our knowledgeable folks are ready to assist our customers on their next home improvement project.”

Potter’s Home Center offers in store credit, free estimates, and free delivery.

Business hours are Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is closed on Sunday.  For more information, call 423-562-1011.  

Visit Potters Home Center on the web at www.pottershc.com for more information. (02/12/2015 - 6:00 AM)

School Board 02/10/2015

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It’s official.  LMS gym floor is now King Court.

     Vic King was a La Follette Owl from start to finish.  He grew up in La Follette, played for the Owls, was team captain, and came straight back out of college and coached the La Follette Middle School Owls basketball team to hundreds of wins and several championships.  The man who loved the Owls so much passed away last fall after a brief battle with cancer, and Tuesday night, the Campbell County School Board unanimously voted to name the basketball court at LMS King Court.  The gym was named Irwin Gym back in the 1980s, when King was head coach, after late school board member Jerry Irwin.(02/11/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Mike Starrett Motorcade 02/05/2015

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Over a thousand attend visitation for detective Mike Starrett

By Charlotte Underwood

Tennessee Highway Patrol State Troopers took turns on the casket watch, standing guard over Mike Starrett during the viewing yesterday.  The duty of those who have the high honor of casket watch is to stand vigil during the wake or viewing.  CORRECTION:  It was deputies with the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department that took turns on the casket watch.

Honor guard on Wednesday night at Indiana Avenue Baptist Church.(PHOTO BY CHARLOTTE UNDERWOOD WITH PERMISSION OF JERRI STARRETT)

Endless streams of law enforcement officers, family, friends and community members filled Indiana Avenue Baptist Church to pay their last respects to Starrett, who died on Jan. 30. Severely injured in a head-on collision while in the line of duty traveling to the scene of a fatal car accident on Jan. 23, Starrett survived for a week before a blood clot took his life.

 Detective Mike Starrett is shown here in his signature cowboy hat

David Muse, the driver of the vehicle that collided with Starrett, was charged with failure to exercise due care and failure to maintain control. According to Tennessee Highway Patrol officials, the wreck is still under investigation, and it is unknown at this time if additional charges are pending.

Starrett’s funeral begins at 11 a.m. today at Indiana Avenue Baptist Church and is expected to last around an hour and a half. A police escorted motorcade will then travel to Jacksboro before ending with the burial at Woodlawn Cemetery in La Follette.  Details of the motorcade route and timing of today’s services are found further down this page.(02/05/2015 - 6:00 AM)

       Hill is this year’s Boy Scouts honoree

Logan Hickman, chairman of the eighth annual 2015 Boy Scouts of America’s Campbell County Good Scout Award Dinner, is pleased to announce the 2015 honoree is long time Campbell County resident Lansden E. Hill.  This yearly ceremony and dinner will occur at the Ball Farm Event Center, 2107 General Carl W. Stiner Highway, LaFollette on Tuesday March 10, 2015 at 6:00 PM.  The money raised at the event will support Campbell County scouting in 2015. 

Lansden Hill

Lansden Hill has always loved fireworks. In 1969 he began to pursue his love as a career when he established Lansden Hill Enterprises.  This first company consisting of a consumer fireworks store and a fledgling fireworks display operation eventually evolved into Pyro Shows. Today Pyro Shows proudly stands as one of the largest fireworks companies in the southeastern United States and presents some of the most prestigious shows in America. Under Lansden’s leadership and vision, Pyro Shows produces some of the most creatively choreographed programs you will see anywhere. The staff of trained musical directors, pyro technicians, and multi-media choreographers has combined their talents to produce programs that are innovative, spectacular, and safe.  Mr. Hill is a 1969 graduate of LaFollette High School and a 1974 graduate of the University of Tennessee.  He is a US Army veteran.  Lansden served in the US Army Reserves from 1971 to 1977.  He is also the owner and operator of the E. E. Hill and Son Insurance Company.

Boomsday 2013

Voice of the Tennessee Titans, Mike Keith, will serve as the guest speaker.   Mike Keith completed his 17th season with the Tennessee Titans in 2014.  Keith began his broadcasting career as a high school junior in 1984, calling games and hosting a talk show on a local cable-access TV station. In 1986, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee, where he immediately became part of the student radio station, WUTK. Keith parlayed that experience into posts with the Vol Radio Network, WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV.

Peoples Bank of the South is proud to underwrite the dinner’s expense for the eighth year.  The bank is also excited to renew its partnership with the WLAF and WTNQ-FM.  These three partners will only make the event stronger.  This yearly dinner has evolved into Campbell County’s premier recognition banquet. 

The previous award recipients are Mr. Edward Balloff, Mrs. Juanita Baird, Colonel Tommy C. Stiner, the five Baird brothers, General Carl W. Stiner, the Campbell County Honor Guard, and the Campbell County High School football team coaching staff.  For more information about the event, please contact Logan Hickman of Peoples Bank of the South at 423-562-4921 or loganh@pbsouth.com.  (01/28/2015 - 6:00 AM)

 

La Follette legend Coach Ron Murray was honored at halftime of Thursday’s Campbell Cougar-Fulton Falcon basketball game at John Brown Gym.  (CIRCA 1961)

A night of memory making for Murray

The old coach is honored

     Fans, former players, and friends came to John Brown Gym Thursday night to honor a Campbell County Basketball legend, Coach Ron Murray.  CLICK HERE TO SEE THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW WITH COACH RON MURRAY.

Former CCHS Basketball Coach Len Pierce (L) visits with his high school coach, Ron Murray, during Thursday night’s Cougar-Fulton game.

Murray was one of John R.W. Brown’s stars on his first-ever basketball team, the 1947 La Follette Owls.  The newly constructed film and hospitality room was officially named the Ron Murray Room at halftime of the Cougars game with Fulton

Fulton coach and Campbell County native Jody Wright catches up with Coach Ron Murray before Thursday’s CCHS-Fulton game.  Wright’s father, Gene, the former coach at Jacksboro and Lake City High Schools, coached against Murray when he was with the La Follette Owls.

He was also recognized with plaques from Director of Schools Donnie Poston and County Mayor E.L. Morton.  Murray, who turns 85 in April, arrived early, driving himself to the gym named after his old coach. 

He wanted to make sure he made it in time for the Cougar JV tip-off.  And he did.  Murray’s only regret on a night etched forever in his memory and CCHS basketball history, is that his late wife Billie was not there among the fans, former players, and friends. (01/23/2015 - 6:00 AM)

From left-to-right, Bo Perkins (Broadway Carpets), Travis Thompson (Farmers Insurance), Chris White (White’s Flooring), and Tony Poteet, not pictured, (Wrap It Up Construction) were instrumental in constructing the new Ron Murray Room that serves as a hospitality and film room.  The room is located on the upper level of John Brown Gym in the southeast corner.

Murray to be honored tonight

At halftime of Cougars game with Fulton

     The Ron Murray Room will be dedicated tonight at John Brown Gym during halftime of the Cougars game.  Murray, who played for the legendary Brown at La Follettte High, was later the head coach of the LHS Owls.  Current Campbell Coach Matt Housley tells WLAF Sports that he and his team are super excited about the new film room and the dedication for Coach Murray.  He explains that over the past four-years, the Cougars have been able to update their facilities to catch up to most of the schools in Knoxville

Coach Ron Murray is pictured here in the shadow of his coach’s picture, John Brown.  This photo was taken in June 2014.

The coach says that what the new film room does is set CCHS apart from most of them (Knoxville schools).  Coach Murray, who turns 85 in April, explains to WLAF Sports that he is humbled by this honor and is proud to be a part of Campbell County High School Basketball especially in John Brown Gym.  It’s perhaps only fitting that tonight’s opponent’s coach, Jody Wright of Fulton, is connected to the Brown-Murray coaching tree. 

Joe Snodderly (L), Coach Murray, and Carl Rutherford (R).  Murray coached La Follette to 33 wins in the 1962-63 season and upset the Knoxville South Rockets, led by the state’s leading scorer, Jay Cole, in the region tourney 34-30.  Cole was averaging 40-points a game.  (CIRCA 1963)

The Falcons’ head coach, Jody Wright, grew up in Caryville, and his first basketball coach was Len Pierce at Caryville Elementary School.  Pierce, the winningest coach through 40 seasons of CCHS Basketball, played for Murray at La Follette High in the 1960s. 

Wright is the winningest high school basketball coach in Knoxville history.  Housley adds that he studies film with his players a ton, they study film on their own as well, and this new resource will be used on a daily basis.  The Ron Murray Room is located on the upper level of John Brown Gym in the southeast corner.(01/22/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Searchers looking in Heatherly’s Point area for Daugherty

Missing since December 2

By Charlotte Underwood

On Monday, investigators set up a Mobile Command Center at Heatherly’s Point as the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty continues. It’s been 50 days since the Coolidge woman disappeared from her home.

Heatherly's Point is about a 20 minute boat ride from Sugar Hollow Boat Dock, where the search has previously been centered. Investigators say they are still searching Sugar Hollow, but are also looking at all the surrounding areas as well.

According to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, investigators have been searching the Heatherly’s Point area for the past couple days.  It is about a 20-minute boat ride from Sugar Hollow Boat Dock, where the search had previously been centered.  Investigators say they are still searching all areas of the lake.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, members of the Campbell County Sheriff's Department, the Rescue Squad and investigators from other agencies were busy searching in the Heatherly's Point area of Norris Lake.

Divers, sonar, cameras and all resources continue to be used in the hunt for Daugherty’s body.

Lonnie Vann, who has been indicted for her kidnapping and murder, has a court date set for April 13.

More stories can be found further down the page.  (01/20/2015 - 6:00 AM)

                  Good weather days for Daughtery search-but still no Rhonda.

     It was a rare mild and dry January weekend.  And investigators made the most of it in the hunt for missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Daugherty.  Searchers scoured land and lake from daylight until dusk Saturday and Sunday.  Officials tell WLAF News that the weekend search on Norris Lake was centered on an area of the lake that's about a 20-minute boat ride from the Sugar Hollow Marina, where the search has been focused for weeks.  Sonar, camera, and robot were used.  The R-O-V, an under water robot, from the Carter County, Tennessee, Rescue Squad was used.  The search is in a part of the lake where the depths range from eighty to 150-feet with tree tops around 120-feet.  At these depths, specialized dive teams are required.  More than 70 search team members from around the county and the region took part in Sunday's search effort.  Today begins Day 49 in the hunt for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  Related stories and pictures are found further down this page.(01/19/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Vann arraigned on murder and kidnapping charges; next court date in April

By Charlotte Underwood

Accused kidnapper and murderer Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, appeared in Campbell County Criminal Court this morning to be arraigned on those charges. He is accused in the death of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2. Investigators still have not found her body.

Vann’s court appointed public defender pleaded not guilty on his behalf and his next court appearance will be on April 13 for a preliminary hearing.

Lonnie Lee Vann appeared in Criminal Court this morning to be arraigned for the murder and kidnapping of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2. Vann pleaded not guilty via a public defender and had his court date reset for spring.

Vann appeared slightly disheveled as he stood in front of Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton and seemed uncertain about having a public defender appointed or hiring his own lawyer. After he ascertained that he could still hire private council after a public defender was appointed, Vann filled out paperwork and asked for appointed council.

Members of Daugherty’s family filled several pews in the courtroom as they silently watched the man who allegedly kidnapped and killed their loved one.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Brandon Elkins, left, takes a moment to confer with District Attorney Jared Effler during Lonnie Lee Vann’s arraignment this morning in criminal court.

Vann was indicted by a Campbell County Grand Jury for the kidnapping and murder of Daugherty on Jan. 7. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as kidnapping. He is currently being held on a $1 million dollar bond at the Knox County Detention Facility.

Lonnie Lee Vann was recently extradited from Myrtle Beach South Carolina on charges of murder and kidnapping. He is currently being held at the Knoxville Detention Center on a $1 million dollar bond.

Vann, who is a former La Follette Middle school teacher, has been an un-named suspect in the case since he robbed a couple at gunpoint in Deerfield three days after Daugherty’s disappearance in early December.  Shortly after the Deerfield robbery occurred, investigators began concentrating search efforts for Daugherty in the Sugar Hollow area, where Vann has a family member with a house boat and where he reportedly grew up.  After about a week on the run, Vann was apprehended in South Carolina by Myrtle Beach authorities on armed robbery charges.

During his arraignment for the murder of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, Lonnie Lee Vann hustled in and out of the courtroom, taking a brief moment to fill out paperwork for an appointed attorney before being swept out of the courtroom to be transported back to Knoxville where he is being held.

Vann also has a Feb. 2 court date set for inappropriate conduct with a minor, stemming from a 2013 incident in which he took a 13-year-old student off campus to Coolidge Church and attempted to hug and kiss her. He was indicted on those charges in July of 2014.  (01/12/2015 - 12:30 PM)

Day 42 in the search for Rhonda

     Today marks day 42 in the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  The 49-year old woman from Coolidge been missing since December 2.  Searchers continue concentrating efforts in the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake.  (01/12/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Lonnie Vann extradited back to Campbell County; being held in Knoxville

By Charlotte Underwood

A short two days after he was indicted for the murder and kidnapping of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, former La Follette Middle School teacher Lonnie Lee Vann was extradited to Campbell County and booked on those charges. According to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department, Vann was extradited from Myrtle Beach, S.C., late Friday evening. Once at the Campbell County Jail, he was booked and processed for two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping. Vann was also charged with armed robbery from a Dec. 5 crime he committed in Deerfield when he held a couple at gunpoint and stole firearms and cash.

Lonnie Lee Vann (PIX COURTESY CAMPBELL COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT)

Campbell County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Aaron Evans said the extradition was sped along by South Carolina Authorities who “worked with us all so graciously.”

On Wednesday, a Campbell County Grand Jury indicted Vann for these crimes regarding the Dec. 2 disappearance of Daugherty. A massive search effort has been underway for the past six weeks to locate her body, with investigators concentrating in the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake.

Rhonda’s mother Nancy Kitts said it is some small relief that he has been charged with the crime, but no closure will come until Rhonda is found.

“We need to know where she is at – and we need to understand why she was taken.” Nancy Kitts said.

For safety reasons and conflict, Vann will be held at the Knox County Detention Facility.

According to the sheriff’s department, a court date for Vann’s arraignment is not known at this time.

For related stories see further down the page. (01/09/2015 - 10:00 PM)

 Grand Jury indicts Lonnie Vann for murder of Rhonda Daugherty

By Charlotte Underwood

After more than a month of no breaks in the missing person case of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, a Campbell County Grand Jury has handed down an indictment on Lonnie Lee Vann for the kidnapping and murder of the Coolidge woman who has been missing from her home since Dec. 2. Vann, 44, is charged with one count of first-degree murder, as well as kidnapping. His bond has been set at $1 million dollars.

The Campbell County Sheriff's Office, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the 8th Judicial District Attorney General's Office held a press conference at 3 p.m. today at the sheriff’s department to announce the grand jury’s findings on the case.

Vann, who is a former La Follette Middle school teacher, has been an un-named suspect in the case since he robbed a couple at gunpoint in Deerfield three days after Daugherty’s disappearance. Shortly after the Deerfield robbery occurred, investigators began concentrating search efforts for Daugherty in the Sugar Hollow area, where Vann has a family member with a house boat. Much of the investigation seemed to center on that houseboat and in the general vicinity of the boat dock. After about a week on the run, Vann was apprehended in South Carolina by Myrtle Beach authorities on armed robbery charges there. He is currently jailed in the Horry County Detention Center.

After the grand jury handed down the indictment, Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton ordered a capias for the arrest of Vann. The warrant has been served on Vann.

TBI Director Mark Gwyn (L), District Attorney General Jared Effler (C), & Sheriff Robbie Goins (R)

According to investigators, Vann will be extradited back to Campbell County on these charges as soon as possible, though no definite time of his return has been announced. Once returned to Tennessee, Vann will be housed at a detention center in a different county, according to officials.

“We have started working on the extradition process, but there is no definite time yet when he will be brought back,” said District Attorney Jared Effler. Effler also said he wanted to thank all of the agencies involved in this case for their “tireless and professional efforts.”

TBI Director Mark Gwyn said investigator’s work was not over and that the TBI was "fully committed to this investigation for the sake of pursuing justice for friends and family of Rhonda Daugherty."

Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins said he wanted to thank the many volunteers who have helped in the search for Daugherty.

Goins also asked the public to respect the Daugherty family's privacy now that Vann has been charged in her killing.

Vann has a February 2 court appearance scheduled in Campbell County on sexual misconduct charges with a minor, stemming from a 2013 incident in which he allegedly took a 13-year-old off campus and to Coolidge Baptist Church where he touched her inappropriately. Vann was indicted on those charges in July of 2014. It is unknown at this time if that court date still stands.

According to the District Attorney and investigators, the case is ongoing as searchers continue to look for Daugherty. A $10,000 reward remains in effect.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911, 423-562-7446 or 1-800-TBI FIND.   (01/07/2015)

Father of missing woman dies from battle with cancer; family prays for search to continue

By Charlotte Underwood

After spending the last five weeks of his life without his daughter, Boyd Wayne Kitts, 71, passed away yesterday, Jan. 6, from a long-term battle with cancer.

Family and friends grieve his loss, and continue to hope for their loved one Rhonda Kitts Daugherty to be found. She has been missing since Dec. 2.

Rhonda’s mother Nancy Kitts said the past month had been hard on her husband and the disappearance of their only child had taken its toll.

“He missed her so much; he would cry for her and ask for her,” Nancy said, adding that Rhonda had been close with both her and her father.

“She was just such a blessing to have around and she helped me so much; I was leaning on her through his sickness I guess and not knowing where she is at is killing us.”

Nancy described Rhonda and her three children as her and her husband’s pride and joy.

She said the family is leaning on prayers and the hope that Rhonda will be found.

“We want her to stay on everyone’s mind until something gives and she is found. Someone out there knows something or has seen something and we just ask that person to please help us find Rhonda.”

There is still a $10,000 reward offered in this case and anyone with information is asked to call 911 or to call the sheriff’s department at 423-562-7446.

Cross-Smith Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be given online at http://www.cross-smithfuneralhome.com. (01/07/2015)

Divers continue to search Sugar Hollow; debris & cold weather making it difficult

By Charlotte Underwood

Divers continue to search the Sugar Hollow area and Cedar Creek area of Norris Lake for missing woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty who has been gone for over a month now. Houseboat cables and other debris such as televisions and grills mar the clarity of the water. The cold water requires the majority of the divers to wear what is called “dry suits”, which are more suitable to the winter temperatures.

According to the sheriff’s department, divers and dogs have searched the lake as far away as Anderson County and plan to continue to search.  For the past couple of weeks, the search has continued to focus on Sugar Hollow, with multiple agencies converging on the boat dock and taking to the waters each day.

Divers even reported that an entire houseboat was sunk in Sugar Hollow, along with various parts of cars and trucks. Otherwise, the water is clear, partially thanks to the cold temperatures and also due to a certain type of mussel that has been introduced to the lake by northern tourists visiting the area.

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, the Zebra Mussel is an invasive species that is becoming more of a nuisance in Tennessee waterways. The tiny organism is reproducing and attaching themselves to anything underwater. The mussels are not native to Tennessee, or the United States, but continue to spread to lakes and rivers.

The mussels will attach themselves to boats, pipes, docks and one mussel can produce up to a million offspring in a year.  Divers have reported the mussels are attached to the underwater houseboat cables.

Investigators report that logs and other underwater debris in the area are covered with the tiny mussels.

Zebra mussels also destroy the ecosystem by eating microscopic particles in the water, which is why the water becomes clearer once zebra mussels begin to grow in number.

According to a local fishing guide, the mussel can live out of water for days and is brought to the area by tourist’s boats from the Great Lakes.  The Zebra Mussel can be found in the Sugar Hollow, Deerfield, Springs Dock and Shanghai areas of the lake, but is not as wide-spread when you head towards the Norris Dam or towards Flat Hollow. They have become more prevalent over the past four years.  (01/06/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Sorting through facts, fiction, and rumors is a challenge

The search for Rhonda Daugherty resumes at daybreak

     "They've found something at Sugar Hollow."  That's what the caller reported to us late Friday afternoon.  WLAF's Charlotte Underwood immediately hustled over to the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake only to meet searchers calling it a day, as darkness was settling-in, and confirm that it was just a rumor. 

Divers from Blount County and Campbell County continued to search the waters of Sugar Hollow on Friday.  They are pictured here on a platform by an unidentified houseboat at Sugar Hollow on Norris Lake.

WLAF has done its best to bring you the latest in the hunt for Rhonda Daugherty who went missing more than a month ago, and that includes gathering facts, which have been few and far between for all concerned, and sorting through the fiction and rumors. 

 

This sign was erected recently in front of Rhonda's Coolidge home at the bottom of the driveway at Long Hollow Road.

As Week Six begins, this will be the most challenging week for investigators, searchers, and especially divers where the weather is concerned.  A four, possibly five, day stretch of subfreezing temperatures is ahead including single-digit readings Wednesday night into Thursday.  (01/05/2015 - 6:00 AM - CHARLOTTE UNDERWOOD PIX)

Search continues by boat, land and air for missing woman

By Charlotte Underwood

New Year’s Day came and went without any new information in the case of missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty. The 49-year-old vanished from her home on Long Hollow Road on Dec. 2. Investigators and searchers continued to look in the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake yesterday and plan to continue the search today on water and land. The search seems to be concentrated from the Cedar Creek area back into Sugar Hollow.  Divers from Blount County and the La Follette Rescue Squad will be busy using underwater cameras and sonar in an attempt to locate Daugherty or a clue.

Yesterday, searchers moved house boats around in order to make searching under the water easier due to the amount of anchoring cables.  Divers report a vast amount of debris under the water that also makes the search more difficult.  Law enforcement has already searched the majority of the houseboats in the Sugar Hollow area.

Investigators have yet to name a suspect in the missing person’s case, but public opinion remains that armed robbery suspect Lonnie Vann could be a person of interest. Vann robbed a couple at gunpoint in Deerfield three days after Daugherty disappeared.  After the Dec. 5 robbery, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation quickly added Vann their top ten most wanted list.

He also has a family member who owns a house boat in the area that the search is concentrated. Vann was later apprehended in South Carolina, after he robbed a couple down there as well and was arrested at a traffic check point. Vann, a former La Follette Middle School teacher, has an early February court date in Campbell County regarding a sexual misconduct charge with a minor. He also has a February 20 court date in South Carolina for the robbery he committed in the Myrtle Beach area.

According to an article in the Christian Journal Leader, Vann had allegedly purchased duct tape, rope, and boots at the Wal-Mart in Clinton around the time of Daugherty’s disappearance. The Campbell County Sheriff’s Department said they could not comment on whether or not this is true.

Citizens on social media sites say they wish the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies involved in the case would say concretely if there is a suspect. People report locking their doors more and checking dark parking lots due to the uneasiness of not knowing whether there is a suspect and whether or not that suspect is currently locked up.

According to Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins, searchers will continue to use every resource available to them and will not give up on finding Daugherty.

“The searchers are tired but they are not giving up. They had some rest over the holidays and are motivated by the family’s hope and by finding Rhonda,” Goins said.

A $10,000 reward remains active in this case. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department at 423-562-7446.(01/02/2015 - 6:00 AM)

New month.  New year.  Daugherty search continues.

     As the calendar turns to 2015, Day 31 in the search for a missing Campbell County woman continues.  There are no new developments to report this morning in the hunt for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  The 49-year old mother and grandmother was last seen at her home on December 2 and as investigators describe, she just “vanished.”  Pictures and more stories are found further down this page.(01/01/2015 - 6:00 AM)

Family frustrated by lack of answers; prays for searchers to not give up

By Charlotte Underwood

A month without answers is taking its toll on family members and searchers alike in the case of missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty. The family continues to pray for the return of their loved one and answers in what has become a baffling mystery in our county.

Daugherty’s mother Nancy Kitts continues to make pleas for the return of her daughter and information as to what happened on Dec. 2 when Rhonda disappeared.

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty has been missing since December 2

“She was the type of person that would make you smile. She would help anyone and was just a joy to be around. She is missed so much and we need her back home,” Nancy Kitts said, adding that she could see no reason why someone would take her daughter.

“She was a homebody –very family dedicated and church oriented; I just can’t understand why this has happened.”

Frustrated and wearing thin by a lack of answers in the case, Nancy said she will not give up hope that searchers will find Rhonda and bring her home.

“Even if it’s not good news; we need to know, we need to have her back and we need to know what happened to her and why,” Nancy said, adding that she knew in her heart that Rhonda did not leave of her own free will on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Nancy Kitts said the last time she spoke to her daughter was the day before she disappeared when Rhonda was visiting her at their Pleasant Ridge home.

“She was always good to come help me and check on her father who has been sick and she came and spent several hours with us that Monday,” Kitts said. She also said that her daughter seemed to be her normal self.

“Rhonda wasn’t depressed, she wasn’t on the verge of a nervous breakdown – there was nothing out of the ordinary.”

Daugherty usually called to check in with her mom by noon each day and when Nancy had not heard from her by 2:30, she began calling her.

Rhonda Daugherty and her husband Charles

“I kept calling her. Around dusky-dark, her husband came home and he called me right away to see if she was here. He said he had looked everywhere and that the back door to the house had been partially open when he came home,” Nancy Kitts said, adding that was not like her daughter at all.

There was no sign of forced entry or a struggle inside the home. All of Daugherty’s belongings were left at the home and so was her car. When Rhonda’s husband told Nancy that the door was open and that Rhonda’s car and belongings were still at home, she said her heart dropped.

“I knew something had happened to her. She was the type of woman who always kept her door locked. Whoever came to that back door had to have been someone she knew or she would not have opened that door,” Nancy said.

“I wake up every day and think that we will have an answer and that she will be found today.”

On behalf of the family, Nancy said she wanted to thank everyone for all they have done and asked that the search continue and that Rhonda stay at the forefront of people’s thoughts.

Investigators have been very reluctant to provide information about the case and whether or not there is a connection between Daugherty’s disappearance and the arrest of Lonnie Lee Vann, who after robbing a couple at gunpoint in Deerfield on Dec. 5, was added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Top Ten Most Wanted list and eventually apprehended in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  He has a February 20 court date scheduled in Horry County for armed robbery crimes he committed down there.

According to the incident report, when Vann robbed the Deerfield couple, he told them he would not harm them, but that he needed money because he was “in big trouble.”

TBI agents, sheriff’s department deputies, rescue squad members and divers continue to focus the search in the Sugar Hollow area of Norris Lake, which is where Vann has family and was previously known to frequent. Sugar Hollow is about three to four miles away from Daugherty’s home on Long Hollow Road. Investigators began looking in the Sugar Hollow area several weeks ago and were spotted searching houseboats with dogs.

The question on everyone’s mind is why is the search concentrated there?  Law enforcement is certainly not saying anything.

A $10,000 reward is still active in this case and anyone with information is asked to please call the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446. (12/21/2014 - 6:00 AM)

The search for Daugherty began four-weeks ago today

     There are no new developments to report in the search for missing Campbell Countian Rhonda Kitts Daugherty this morning.  Today marks the 29th day of searching which began four-weeks ago this evening.  The 49-year old woman was last seen on Tuesday morning, December 2, at her home on Long Hollow Road in Coolidge. 

Rhonda Kitts Daugherty (L)

Teams have been searching for her ever since her husband returned from work that evening and discovered she was missing.  A $10,000 reward is being offered, and Sheriff Robbie Goins asks that if you have any information to please call him at 423.562.7446.  More stories and pictures of the Rhonda Daugherty case are found further down this page.(12/30/14 - 6:00 AM)

Today begins Day 28 in the hunt for missing Coolidge woman

     About a square mile of Norris Lake.  In water 30 to 50-feet deep.  Through rain and cold.  After investigators searched Saturday and Sunday at Sugar Hollow Marina and surrounding area, still no Rhonda.  Authorities continue moving forward in the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty this morning on Day 28.  Divers, camera, and sonar are all being used to cover what is described by officials as a “large area.”  Sheriff Robbie Goins tells WLAF that he and every member of his department, and other agencies as well, believe in their hearts everyday that they will find her.  More stories and pictures are found further down this page.(12/29/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Family says no money needed; just searchers

The family of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty wants to say a big thank you to everyone who has been praying and searching for their loved one. They also wanted to let everyone know that they don’t want or need money, but rather people to continue searching and praying for Rhonda.

“Everyone has been so wonderful through all this and we appreciate it so much; but we don’t need money raised, we just need people to search and keep praying until she is found,” said Rhonda’s mother Nancy Kitts. The family also wanted to clarify that there are currently several outdoor “tournaments” taking place to raise funds and that the family is not associated with these events. A fishing tournament and a coon hunting tournament have both been organized.

“We would like the tournaments to be stopped because we have not asked anyone to do anything to raise any money – we just want people to search for Rhonda. It’s not that we don’t deeply appreciate what everyone is doing and trying to do; but we really don’t need money; just Rhonda.”  (12/26/2014 - 2:00 PM)

Day 25.  Investigators continue trying to solve Daugherty's disappearance.

     Christmas has come and gone.  Still no Rhonda.  The emotional, physical, and mental grind continues to weigh heavily on her family, community, and investigative team as the search goes on for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.  It's Day 25.  Investigators, working tirelessly, going on a month, are back looking for the 49-year old Daugherty this morning still concentrating efforts on Norris Lake at Sugar Hollow Marina.  On the morning of December 2, investigators say she just vanished from her hilltop home at Coolidge.  Daugherty's mother, Nancy Kitts, made this plea to WLAF viewers, listeners, and followers last Tuesday - CLICK HERE.  More stories and pictures surrounding Rhonda Daugherty are found further down this page.  (12/26/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Daugherty's mother makes plea

     Today, during the noon hour, Nancy Kitts, the mother of missing Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, made a plea outside her Pleasant Ridge home for the return of her daughter or information that could lead to her whereabouts. CLICK HERE to view Kitts' comments.  The Coolidge woman disappeared from her home on Long Hollow Road on Dec. 2. Searchers and investigators continue to look for the missing woman. There is a $10,000 reward in this case. Anyone with information is asked to please call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446. (12/23/2014 - 5:00 PM)

Family seeks answers in Daugherty case

Today marks Week Three – Search Day 22

By Charlotte Underwood

All one Campbell County family wants for Christmas is the return of their loved one and maybe some answers as to what happened.

With the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty in week number three, this holiday season is filled with emptiness and questions for her family members. Her mother, Nancy Kitts, said she has not given up hope of searchers finding her daughter and that she is still praying for a Christmas miracle.

Nancy Kitts, mother of Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, takes time to visit with WLAF’s Charlotte Underwood.

“I am hoping and praying that whoever did this will break down and tell the truth. I want this person to know how empty our lives and our hearts have become.  We need to know where she is at; we need closure. Please find it in your heart to help us get her back and if it’s not good, then tell us where we can find her so we can have closure.”

It’s the waiting and not knowing that is so hard. It’s all they can think about.

“Every time the phone rings I hope it’s about her; I believe it will be the call I have been waiting on.  It’s hard on all of us,” Nancy said, adding that her son-in-law, Rhonda’s husband was devastated.

“He won’t eat, he won’t sleep; it has simply destroyed him.”  Rhonda’s father, who is terminally ill, is devastated as well and often gets distraught over his missing daughter. Through the devastation, the family continues to pray and search for answers.

“The Lord is working on this and all the prayers help; we just want Rhonda back,” Nancy said.  She also said she wants to keep it fresh on people’s minds to keep the hope, prayers and search alive.

Daugherty, 49, went missing on Dec. 2 from her home on Long Hollow Road. Her parents live about a mile and a half away. Nancy described her daughter as friendly, outgoing and always with a smile for others. She also described her as family oriented very active in their lives.

“I have a wonderful daughter; until I hear otherwise, I will continue to believe she is okay.”

Rhonda is her only daughter. When she went missing, her own daughter was expecting her first child.

“She was so looking forward to the birth of that grandchild.  She did not leave voluntarily, someone is responsible,” Nancy said, adding that she knew investigators had been looking in the Sugar Hollow vicinity of Norris Lake for her daughter or clues that could lead to her.

Divers and various search and rescue teams from Campbell and surrounding counties have been searching alongside deputies and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents for the past week and a half.

“I want them to search everywhere. I have to keep believing and trusting in the Lord that something will give and we will find her.”

She also wants to say a big thank you to the High Knob Church for all that they have done for the family, as well as a thank you to all the churches and everyone in the community praying and searching.

She gave one final plea to anyone who may have knowledge of her daughter’s whereabouts or what happened to her.

“If anyone has any information that could help us, please come forward – we miss her so much and we need help finding her- and to whoever is responsible, I pray they cannot eat or sleep until they tell what they know- our house is so empty without her; please help us bring her home.”

Anyone with information is asked to please call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446.  More stories and pictures surrounding Rhonda Kitts Daugherty are found further down this page.  (12/23/2014 - 6:00 AM)                      

Searchers continue to look for Daugherty over the weekend

By Charlotte Underwood

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents, Campbell County Sheriff’s Detectives and members of Knox County and La Follette Rescue Squads continued to search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty over the weekend. The search still appears to be concentrated in the Sugar Hollow vicinity of Norris Lake, with around a dozen officials manning three boats on Saturday.  Sunday saw the Anderson and Campbell County Sheriff’s Departments searching, along with the TBI.

The search for Rhonda Daugherty continued over the weekend.

According to witnesses, the search seemed to begin in the area over a week ago, when law enforcement officials were spotted searching house boats with dogs.

A Knoxville Search and Rescue boat equipped with sonar went back and forth on the lake on Saturday, attempting to get what law enforcement call at “hit” on an object under the water.

Investigators continued searching around Sugar Hollow Marina Saturday & Sunday.

According to Campbell County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Aaron Evans, several types of sonar have been used in the search for Daugherty. The lake around the Sugar Hollow area is quite “polluted” with house boat cables, and lots of other debris such as grills and other garbage.

Divers will possibly continue with the search this week.

Investigators have also been searching along the bank and from the air in efforts to locate her.

Sunday saw the Anderson and Campbell County Sheriff’s Departments searching, along with the TBI, for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty.

Searchers say they will continue to look for Daugherty.  Local churches and community members also vow to keep praying for the missing woman and her family.  Daugherty has been missing since Dec. 2, when she disappeared from her home on Long Hollow Road at Coolidge.

A $10,000 reward is being offered and anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at 423.562.7446.  (12/22/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Vann's bond set in some S.C. charges, denied bond on other; waives extradition

By Charlotte Underwood

Accused armed robber Lonnie Lee Vann, 44, has waived extradition and had his bond set at $110,000 in South Carolina, where he is currently being held in the Horry County Jail. However, he was denied bond on one particular charge in South Carolina, which will essentially keep him there until his February 20 court date scheduled at the Horry County Judicial Center.

Lonnie Vann (PIX COURTESY OF THE TBI)

Vann, who had been wanted in connection to an armed robbery which occurred in the Deerfield community on Dec. 5, also committed armed robbery in Myrtle Beach at a Marriott Hotel. In South Carolina, Vann is charged with armed robbery, burglary in the first, possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, weapons law violation and being a fugitive from justice for his crimes in Tennessee. He was denied bond for the burglary in the first charge due to the severity of the crime, according to Horry County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Jeff Benton.

“He was given the $110,000 cash bond on the other charges, but because they denied him bond on the burglary in the first, it is technically like his bond was denied,” Benton said, going on to further explain that Vann would not be extradited to Tennessee until he either made bond or his charges in South Carolina are disposed of via a trial or hearing.

Vann had initially signed an extradition waiver at the Myrtle Beach Police Department, but due to it not being notarized, Vann had to sign an official waiver in front of a notary of the public. According to Benton, that did not occur until around 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 18.

Vann, a former middle school teacher has a February 2 hearing in Campbell County Criminal Court regarding sexual misconduct charges stemming from a 2013 incident in which he is accused of touching a 13-year-old girl inappropriately.

According to the Horry County Sheriff’s Department, it is up to the Campbell County District Attorney and sheriff’s department to contact South Carolina authorities and make arrangements to come pick Vann up and transport him to Campbell County for that court date, just as it is Horry County officials responsibility to make transportation arrangements to get him back for his Feb. 20 court date.

Vann is charged with two-counts of armed robbery for the Dec. 5 Deerfield incident.  If penalized to the max, he could face up to 30 years in prison for his armed robbery crimes in Campbell County, and he could face up to life in prison for the South Carolina charge.

Investigators have yet to publically acknowledge a connection between Vann and missing Campbell County woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty, who has been missing since Dec. 2. (12/19/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Day 18 of search for missing woman; still nothing new to report

Day 18 of the search for Rhonda Kitts Daugherty and still nothing new to report in what has become one of Campbell County’s biggest mysteries.

The search was concentrated once again in the Sugar Hollow vicinity yesterday.  Divers from Campbell County and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department spent the day in the waters of Norris Lake once more, but had nothing new to report by day’s end. According to officials, water visibility remains clear, but house boat cables still hinder the divers.

The search continues this morning in the same area, with searchers vowing not to give up.

A $10,000 reward is being offered and anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446.(12/19/2014 - 6:00 AM)

Search for missing woman continues on Norris Lake; sheriff vows to not give up

By Charlotte Underwood

There is still nothing new in the case of missing Coolidge woman Rhonda Kitts Daugherty. Around 15 to 20 law enforcement officials searched all day in the Sugar Hollow vicinity of Norris Lake yesterday and plan to continue the search today.  A two-member dive team from the Knox County Sheriff Special Operations Unit participated in the search.  According to officials close to the scene, the water temperature is 48-degrees and visibility under the water is good, but there is still no sign or clues in Daugherty’s disappearance.  Massive amounts of underwater cables anchoring the houseboats in the area are making it difficult on divers.  A brief bit of excitement was when a gun was sighted underwater, but it turned out to be an air rifle and was not relevant.

Yellow ribbons, like the one pictured above, adorn businesses and homes in honor and memory of Daugherty as local churches continue to pray and community members and officials continue to search.

No connection between former La Follette Middle School teacher Lonnie Vann and Daugherty has been announced by law enforcement.  Vann has a February court date for inappropriate conduct with a student and is currently being held in South Carolina on criminal charges before he will be extradited back to Campbell County for allegedly committing a Dec. 6 armed robbery in Deerfield.

The spirit among investigators, though not verbally validated, is that there is a connection in the two cases.  A WLAF source close to the investigation said the search for Daugherty had been concentrated in the Sugar Hollow area because that is near where Vann grew up and that he also had a family member in the area with a house boat that he had frequented.

Members of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Campbell County Sheriff’s Department and the Knox County Sheriff’s Department searched all day yesterday on the lake for the missing Coolidge woman.

Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins said they will not give up the search and will do whatever it takes to find her.  According to Goins, there has never been a body put into the lake or a drowning that did not result in the recovery of the person.

An un-named diver from the Knox County Sheriff’s Department climbs out of Norris Lake late Wednesday evening after spending the day in the water searching for Rhonda Daugherty. A two-member dive team came from Knoxville to help with the search.

“We will continue to search and do whatever it takes,” Goins said.

The Knox County Special Operations Unit was in Campbell County yesterday searching in the Sugar Hollow vicinity for Rhonda Daugherty.

A $10,000 reward is being offered and anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office at (423) 562-7446.(12/18/2014 - 6:00 AM)

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)

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.

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)

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)

 

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)

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)

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)

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)

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.  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)

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)

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. 

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. 

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)

Vann makes TBI's Top Ten Most Wanted List

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)

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)

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. 

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 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)

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)

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)

 

 WLAF Editorial Page Click Here

 

 

 

 


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)

 

                                                         

        

           

          

 

 


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