CLINTON, Tenn. (AP) — A move to place the motto “In God We Trust” on the Anderson County Courthouse has won final approval.
The Oak Ridger reported 14 of the 16 Anderson County Commission members voted Monday to place the national motto over the doors of the courthouse in Clinton. Two commissioners abstained.
Approval came at a third meeting at which the issue was discussed.
Commissioner Jerry Creasy tried to amend the motion to include well-known slogans be placed above three courthouse entrances and “In God We Trust” be placed about the fourth one, but it died for lack of a second.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported a local businessman and a group of ministers had advanced the idea.
Commissioners initially voted 12-4 in February to put up the slogan
Anderson County officials Wednesday were continuing to ponder the consequences of an emotional 12-4 vote Tuesday night to put the country’s motto, ‘In God We Trust,” on the exterior of the courthouse, according to the News Sentinel.
The executive director of the Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, meanwhile, criticized the move.
“People of all faiths, as well as non-believers, should feel welcome in their government buildings,” ACLU official Hedy Weinberg said in a statement.
“The County Commission should focus on doing real work that represents the interests of all residents, not sowing the seeds of religious divisiveness in the community by challenging the fundamental founding principle that government must remain neutral when it comes to matters of faith,” Weinberg wrote.
Commissioners, after hearing impassioned arguments from a standing-room-only audience, voted to proceed with the proposal but asked the law director and the panel’s operations committee to look into possible legal roadblocks and liability issues.
Robin Biloski, committee chair, was one of four Oak Ridge commissioners that voted against the measure. She said the committee is scheduled to meet March 11. “This was such a quick vote,” she said of Tuesday’s decision. “Will we have people to come (to the operations committee) to voice their opinion on the direction we’re going?”
Biloski said the full commission “didn’t follow the rules,” which normally require such proposals to go before committee before advancing to the full 16-member panel. “We’re jumping into something not knowing the ramifications, the liability,” she said.
Two elected officials in Anderson County with Republican ties were sent letters by the GOP’s executive committee asking why they should not be banned from partisan activities and voting in Republican primaries as a result of supporting Democrat Warren Gooch for county mayor in the August election, reports Georgiana Vines.. The two are Robin Biloski, vice chair of the Anderson County Commission, and Angi Agle, treasurer of the Oak Ridge school board, both nonpartisan positions. Agle is a former GOP Anderson County chair. Biloski is known as a Republican who frequently supports Democrats.
Alex Moseley, Anderson County Republican Party chairman, said Friday the executive committee voted in the summer to send letters banning the two from party activities or party-reorganizational meetings, seeking any local office as a Republican and voting in Republican primaries.
“It is not the position of the party that we should force our members to vote for any candidate, but activities that are designed to split party vote are clearly unacceptable,” Moseley said in the letter.
The letter was not sent until after the November elections because Agle was in a re-election campaign, Moseley said.
The August county mayor’s race was won by Terry Frank, whose mother, Ann Phillips, and chief of staff, Richard Burroughs, are on the GOP Executive Committee. Moseley said the two were not on the committee at the time of the vote on the letter.
Originally, Biloski and Agle were asked to meet with the committee next Tuesday, but Moseley sent a second letter canceling the meeting and asking that they send letters with their explanations.
“I am so flabbergasted that I would be reprimanded by any group for supporting my candidate, which is my personal choice and to me the best person to lead Anderson County,” Biloski said Friday.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam rolled into this small city Tuesday with four poster-sized, ceremonial “big checks” to hand out, and Oliver Springs took home the lion’s share of those awards, reports The News Sentinel. “Anderson County, Clinton and Oliver Springs have hit the jackpot today,” Haslam said during his brief visit. He handed out grants worth $961,000.
Haslam has made it a policy when possible to visit cities and counties for grant announcements.
“We’re really on the initial leg of announcing some CDBG grants across the state,” he said. “We get a lot of applications for this money,” he said of Community Development Block Grants, “and we can’t fulfill nearly as many requests as we have.”
Haslam said the CDBG grants — federal money funneled through the state — are focused on smaller communities and their infrastructure needs.
“They are for the real nuts and bolts of what cities and counties do.” Oliver Springs received a $500,000 CDBG grant for improvements to its water system and water treatment plant, along with a $100,000 Local Parks and Recreation Fund award.
Chris Anderson, a Chattanooga City Council candidate, publicly told the media Wednesday that he is gay, reports the Times-Free Press. “I’m not really coming out because I’ve been open for years,” he said.
Anderson, the first openly gay candidate to run for elected office in Chattanooga history, said he wants his campaign to be transparent and he wants the contest set for March 2013 to be honest. Anderson is running against current City Councilman Manny Rico.
He said he expects some amount of backlash due to his sexual preference.
“I’m sure there will be people to use it as such,” he said. “But I think the voters are smart enough to see through that.”
The sisters of Joyce Hall, who died after a bout with pain pill addiction ended her career as a nurse, were on hand Friday when Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law a bill aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse at the Anderson County Courthouse, reports Matt Lakin. Nall and Judy Bensey, shook the governor’s hand Friday when he signed a bill aimed at tightening restrictions on doctor-shopping and other forms of prescription-drug abuse in Tennessee.
“In prescriptions per capita in Tennessee, we’re the second leading state in the nation,” Haslam said. “Obviously some of those are for valid reasons, but too many of them aren’t. With this legislation, we intend to change that. This is one step, but to think it will solve the problem would be naive.”
The new law expands the required use of the state’s prescription-drug database — once intended only as a research tool — and elevates some types of doctor-shopping to a felony. Police and the families of drug abusers called the legislation a decent first step.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state has fined an Anderson County coal company $50,000 for improperly discharging 1 million gallons of untreated water and coal waste into the New River in January.
According to an order by Commissioner Robert J. Martineau Jr. of the Department of Environment and Conservation, Premium Coal Co. faces $146,000 in further fines for non-compliance of regulations.
The company has told investigators that the discharge occurred for 12 hours Jan. 3. State officials have said drinking water was not affected.
Premium owns and operates the Baldwin coal preparation plant and Gum Branch slurry impoundment in Anderson County. It has 30 days to appeal the order, which was signed March 21.
An after-hours phone call Tuesday evening seeking comment from the company went unanswered
Lifted from the News-Sentinel:
A potential rematch may be brewing in Anderson County in a state representative race.
Both incumbent John Ragan, a Republican from Oak Ridge and the man he defeated two years ago, Democrat Jim Hackworth of Clinton, say they intend to run for the 33rd House District seat.
Both men have taken out qualifying petitions, but there may be other candidates for the parties’ respective primaries in August, Anderson County Administrator of Elections Mark Stephens said.
The deadline to file is April 5. The general election coincides with the Nov. 6 presidential vote.
The 33rd House District encompasses most of Anderson County. Under redistricting, areas of the county northeast of Interstate 75 have been placed in the 36th House District, which also includes Campbell County and part of Union County. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, now represents that district.
Ragan in his first run for office in 2010 unseated four-term incumbent Hackworth, 8,569 votes to 7,270.
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Lee S. Anderson, who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press for 70 years, has announced his retirement.
Anderson is associate publisher and editor of the newspaper’s opinion page. He will retire on April 18, according to the newspaper (http://bit.ly/yGoH0Y ).
Anderson is 86 years old and said of his career that he wouldn’t change a thing. He said he was 16 when the paper hired him. When the surprised youth asked when they wanted him to start, the answer was “immediately.”
Walter E. Hussman Jr., publisher and chairman of the Times Free Press, said Anderson has been inspirational because of his dedication, loyalty, work ethic and passion for newspapers.
Jason Taylor, president and general manager of the Times Free Press, called Anderson’s career “nothing short of legendary.”
CLINTON, Tenn. (AP) — An Anderson County grand jury has indicted the former interim president of a utility district on a felony theft charge.
A charge of theft over $1,000 was returned Dec. 6 against 60-year-old Richard McIntosh. He posted a $25,000 bond and was released from the Anderson County Jail, according to The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/sn02Ei).
McIntosh headed the Powell-Clinch Valley Utility District between May 2010 and February 2011.
A state audit alleged McIntosh used more than $95,000 in utility funds to pay for such personal expenses as an oral surgeon’s bill.
The utility district said its own investigation in November found no wrongdoing.
McIntosh remains a vice president of the utility, which is a gas distributor.
Prosecutor Dave Clark said there’s an ongoing investigation into district operations.