A $4 million plane has been added to the fleet of aircraft used to fly Gov. Bill Haslam and members of his cabinet around the state, reports WTVF-TV. The King Air 350, a 2007 twin-engine turboprop purchased back in December, is now the lead plane in the fleet operated by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
“The governor is always the first priority for this aircraft,” said Lyle Monroe, the state’s chief pilot.
Monroe said the aircraft has lots of advantages over the 1985 model King Air that Tennessee’s governors have flown for years, including more powerful, more efficient engines.
“We can burn the same amount of fuel and get further with this aircraft because of the increased speed,” he said.
Inside the cockpit, it’s got more advanced systems to make the pilots’ jobs easier — including conflict-avoidance systems to help then steer clear of other aircraft.
“If an aircraft encroaches within a certain limit of the airspace, it’ll tell us pull up, turn left, turn right — and it’ll keep telling us to do that until we’ve actually gotten out of the conflict area,” he added.
Inside the cabin, the aircraft provides comfortable seating for nine people, not counting the two-member flight crew.
“It’s not something that we started and did quickly. We’ve been looking at this for several years,” the chief pilot added.
News release from TBI (dated Friday, Feb. 8):
Chattanooga, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today arrested a former employee of the Monroe County Circuit Court Clerk’s office after he was indicted by the Monroe County grand jury earlier this week on theft and misconduct charges.
Norman Bruce Arp, 49, of Sweetwater, Tenn. was indicted on one count of theft over $1,000 and one count of official misconduct.
Between February 2012 and September 2012, while working as an administrative assistant to the Monroe County Circuit Court Clerk, Arp embezzled funds by withholding cash deposits from fees collected in the offices of the Circuit and General Sessions Court Clerk’s. Arp kept deposit slips to record amounts for repayment purposes. A state audit conducted by the Comptroller’s office discovered the theft. The 10th Judicial District Attorney General requested TBI to investigate in September 2012. Arp stated he took the money because he had fallen on hard financial times. He has since repaid the funds.
Arp was booked tonight into the Monroe County Jail and released on $10,000 bond.
MADISONVILLE, Tenn. — Jessica Kennedy may not have killed Jim Miller, but she helped someone else do it.
That was the decision a jury reached Monday night in the case of the 2010 slaying of the 60-year-old chairman of the Monroe County Election Commission.
More from the News Sentinel: The jury deliberated for a little more than seven hours before returning verdicts of facilitation of felony murder, facilitation of aggravated robbery, facilitation of arson and facilitation of abuse of a corpse, all lesser included offenses of the original charges against her.
Miller was shot in the head three times, and his body stuffed into the trunk of his car, which was then set ablaze. The verdicts mean that Kennedy will not be facing life in prison, which she would have been had she been convicted of felony murder. The murder facilitation conviction carries a sentence of 15 to 25 years.
Kennedy burst into tears and hugged her attorney, John Eldridge, and other members of her defense team.
“Those were tears of relief,” Eldridge said.
Senior Judge Walter Kurtz set sentencing for Oct. 3 at 9 a.m.
Miller’s widow, Vickie Miller, left the courtroom without comment.
“This is not everything we wanted, but I feel they came back with as fair a verdict as they could,” said Miller’s daughter by a previous marriage, Mechelle Miller. “We want everybody responsible in this to pay, and we also want the truth.”
Authorities say other people were involved in the crime.
“Maybe this will give us an opportunity to find out who,” prosecutor Jim Stutts said.
The Ten Commandments, which were taken off display at the Monroe County Courthouse seven years ago, are coming back, reports WBIR-TV. The removal came after the Supreme Court ruled in a McCreary County, Kentucky case that such acts endorsed religion. Monroe County Mayor Tim Yates has decided to put the documents back on display due to a new state law Governor Bill Haslam signed in April. The legislation made it legal for the 10 Commandments to be placed in public so long as they were presented in a historical context, alongside other historical documents.
Yates said Monroe County will put the Ten Commandments next to other documents like the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.
“What we’re doing is displaying these as historical documents,” Yates said.
He said the commandments will be placed on the wall next to his office on the courthouse’s first floor. He said they will likely unveil all of the documents by the end of next week.
While some Monroe County residents said they were excited to hear the Ten Commandments would return, not everyone was happy. The Wisconsin-based group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation [FFRF], said the new state law violates the constitution and that the Ten Commandments are not a historical document.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A former Georgia militia member testified Friday at his trial in a bizarre attempted courthouse takeover case, fighting back tears and saying “my government has called me a potential domestic terrorist.”
Prosecutors contend Darren Wesley Huff of Dallas, Ga., drove to East Tennessee with a handgun and an AK-47 on April 20, 2010, after threatening to use force and to sacrifice his life if necessary to take over the city of Madisonville and the Monroe County Courthouse.
Huff is charged with carrying a firearm in interstate commerce with the intent to use it in a civil disorder. He is also charged with using a firearm in relation to another felony, which on conviction carries a mandatory two-year minimum prison sentence.
After getting the case late Friday, jurors decided to begin deliberating Monday.
By Bill Poovey,Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Jurors at the federal weapons trial of a Georgia militia supporter charged with traveling into Tennessee with an AK-47 and handgun to make citizens’ arrests of judges and law officers found out quickly Tuesday from his attorney what to expect: “Downright kooky.”
Court records show Darren Wesley Huff, 41, of Dallas, Ga., traveled in April 2010 to the Monroe County Courthouse for what he said was a plan to take it over, and if necessary use force to do so, in support of serving a citizens’ arrest warrant that also named President Barack Obama.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Will Mackie said Huff and others were involved in a takeover plan that stemmed from their support of a local activist’s earlier unsuccessful attempt to arrest the Monroe County grand jury foreman.
Gary Pettway testified Tuesday as the first witness at the trial that as grand jury foreman at the time in the rural county between Knoxville and Chattanooga he refused a demand to pursue charges Obama related to questions about his American citizenship.
“Every one of you all may think he (Huff) and his ilk are kooky as all get out” Huff’s attorney, Scott Green, said in an opening statement. Green said Huff and the others “love their country.”
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A jury is to be picked in Knoxville for the federal trial of a Georgia militia supporter charged with traveling with weapons to support citizens’ arrests of judges and other officials at a Tennessee courthouse.
Records show 41-year-old Darren Wesley Huff of Dallas, Ga., traveled in April 2010 to the Monroe County Courthouse with a handgun, an AK-47 and ammunition after telling FBI agents about the plan.
Huff was supporting a Monroe County activist who in a warrant had declared the officials to be “domestic enemies.”
Huff and his attorney, Scott Green of Knoxville, have declined comment ahead of Tuesday’s trial.
Huff is charged with carrying a firearm in interstate commerce with the intent to use it in a civil disorder and using a firearm in relation to another felony.
News release from state comptroller’s office:
Community Health Network, Inc., a nonprofit with a stated mission of providing medical technology to rural communities, lost or misspent at least $1,266,395 over a three-year period, including more than $700,000 from state grant funds.
The missing funds include more than $90,000 in unauthorized salary and benefits paid to Keith Williams, the organization’s former chief executive officer, and Paul Monroe, the organization’s former assistant director.
Auditors also discovered that Williams and Monroe falsified grant invoices and grant reports and misused proceeds from a state grant to purchase unauthorized software at a cost of $597,458.
Community Health Network has managed a network of computer and video equipment that allowed doctors and nurses in remote health care facilities to transmit scans, images and test results to medical specialists in major medical centers hundreds of miles away. In 2009, Community Health Network had 17 member hospitals, clinics and other health care organizations that provided assistance to more than 100 clinics.
The Comptroller’s Division of Municipal Audit conducted an investigative audit of Community Health Network’s operations covering the 2007-2009 calendar years, with technical assistance from the Comptroller’s Division of State Audit’s Information Systems Audit Section.
Community Health Network overbilled the state for another software purchase at a cost of $131,163. And Community Health Network was unable to account for $446,712 worth of grant funds provided by the Tennessee Health Foundation.
In addition to those wasted or misspent funds, Community Health Network spent $1.47 million on a computer system that was never utilized and failed to properly process at least $749,000 worth of grant applications requested by health care providers.
While working for Community Health Network, Williams also received compensation from a vendor that provided software to the organization. After his resignation from Community Health Network, Williams went to work for the vendor as a paid consultant.
The review also uncovered other accounting and internal control issues, including failure to keep accurate records and failure to budget for recurring expenses such as software maintenance and telecommunication line fees.
“It is very unfortunate that public money intended to assist in providing health care to people in remote rural areas was wasted and abused in this fashion,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “The findings of our review are being forwarded to the State Attorney General’s office and the District Attorney General’s office.”
Note: Community Health Network is based in Savannah, Tenn., but had contracts across the state, according to the comptroller’s report.
The full report may be found HERE. An excerpt: CHN operated as a pathway for grants from the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration (TDFA) to health care groups (such as East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Physicians and Associates, Meharry Medical Group, and Cherokee Health Systems). CHN also accepted grants from federal, state, and nongovernmental sources, including the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation (THF).
This investigative audit was initiated after TDFA’s Office of Internal Audit contract review concluded that CHN failed to provide adequate documentation that it had fulfilled or satisfied the terms of the contract and as a result, owed the state reimbursement of $628,948.