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Local News

  • GUEST OPINION: Duke, Muslims and the politics of intimidation

    By CHARLES C. HAYNES

    First Amendment Center

    What began as a gesture of interfaith hospitality ended badly recently when Duke University suddenly canceled plans to begin broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer from the bell tower of Duke Chapel every Friday afternoon.

    The first “call to prayer” was scheduled for Jan. 16 — which, as it happens, was also Religious Freedom Day in America.

    Duke officials cited “security concerns” as the reason for canceling the prayer call, but declined to elaborate.

  • Balancing act of governing

    By RON WOODY

    Roane County Executive

    We hope through a series of articles that we can help explain programs offered by Roane County, why we offer these programs, and the costs and benefits of these programs to the citizens of Roane County. This article discusses the taxpayers’ investment in The Roane Alliance.

    The Alliance was formed by a group of Roane County leaders in 2000. The goal was to consolidate the leadership in not only direction and focus, but also to achieve efficiency of administration.

  • Who’s going to clean up sludgy mess?

    In addition to wanting to know who was responsible for dumping gray sludge that ended up in the lake, Kingston officials also have questions about who will be responsible for cleaning up the mess.

    “Is that something TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) will do and then go for reimbursement from the company?” City Manager David Bolling asked during a Jan. 20 meeting.

  • Schools needing $3.5 million to balance budget

    The Roane County Board of Education heard another gloomy finan-cial report earlier this month.

    Eric Harbin, the school system’s business manager, said the budget is out of balance by $3.5 million.

    “We need $3.5 million more of revenue or $3.5 million less expenditures,” he said.

    Harbin suggested the board start having budget work sessions to discuss the issue.

    “This budget will not work,” he said. “We can’t use this budget, so we got a lot of work to do.”

  • Rockwood officials to ponder various permit fees today

    Rockwood leaders will consider several ordinances on first reading today — Monday — that may lead to establishing new fees or updating old ones related to construction and property maintenance.  

    During the City Council’s monthly meeting at 6 p.m., Council members will consider and possibly take action on an ordinance establishing a permit fee for temporary occupancy of a single-wide mobile home or travel trailer.

  • CONTROL FREAKS: LEGOs put Cherokee kids in math, science frame of mind

    Several Cherokee Middle School students are taking a traditional children’s toy and learning important aspects of math and science.

    The team, the Control Freaks, are competing on Valentine’s Day in the 2014 FIRST LEGO League East Tennessee Championship at Tennessee Technological University.

    The team qualified for the competition after a robotics competition at a qualifier tournament in Knoxville.

    “These guys have really done a great job coming together as a team,” said Jill Hudson, Cherokee’s FIRST LEGO League instructor.

  • Rockwood teacher still in classroom after arrest

    Matthew R. Jones, a science teacher at Rockwood Middle School, is char-
    ged with felony aggravated stalking in the Middle Tennessee city of Dickson.

    Roane County Director of Schools Gary Aytes is aware of the allegations and expressed confidence that Jones will be exonerated.  

    “It happened to be filed by the husband of his ex-wife,” Aytes said.

    “Matt’s been to work for us every day,” the school director added, “so we feel pretty certain that it will be dismissed.”

  • Assessor employee terminated

    Cheryl Laxton said she knew it was only a matter of time after her husband confronted Roane County Property Assessor David Morgan.

    Laxton had been Morgan’s chief of staff until he abruptly fired her on Thursday.

    “We know why he fired me,” she said Friday. “There’s no doubt.”

    The termination came eight days after Charles Laxton went in Morgan’s office to confront him about the treatment of his wife and other female employees.

  • Do the crime, be ready to do the time

    Eva Hallene McNelley wasn’t a passive participant in the Roane County drug conspiracy that netted more than 200,000 oxycodone pills.

    The Rockwood woman had such a key role that the feds listed her second on the 23-person indictment that led to the pill ring’s demise.

    “She actively participated in the conspiracy on her own accord, and did so for a length of time,” Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan said at McNelley’s sentencing hearing last week at the federal courthouse in Knoxville.

  • Wanted-woman picked up after Kingston police call

    A woman who Kingston police say is wanted by the U.S. Marshals was arrested on Wednesday at 533.5 Greenwood St. The call came in as burglary in progress.

    Megan Nicole Lowe, 25, was found inside the residence when police showed up.

    “She was trying to unlock the door and couldn’t get it open, so we made entry,” Police Chief Jim Washam said. “The homeowner’s son had dropped her off. Supposedly this is the homeowner’s son’s girlfriend.”