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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Friday at the Crossroads for Christmas/Winter Wonderland

The very popular Friday at the Crossroads event will celebrate Winter Wonderland and the Christmas Holiday this Friday December 2.

With Christmas decorations on Main Street and most of the downtown businesses staying open late, this will be the last downtown event until April as the program will take February off.

The event starts at 4 PM and Main Street will be closed for the safety of the crowd.  Families are invited to see Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Spirit Amphitheater and get a free photo sponsored by the Rotary Club.  There will be lots of food and fun for everyone.

The downtown merchants will be giving away 5 Gift Bags filled with goodies from local merchants and Downtown Crossville is adding $50 in Downtown Dollars to each of the 5 bags.

Events this week in Crossville

Events this week in Crossville.

December 1: 
The Christmas tree at the Crossville Depot will be lit by Crossville Mayor James Mayberry at 5 pm tomorrow . . . December 1st. but gather before then to meet Santa Claus and hear the Three Good Looking Guys Quartet performing  There will be also cloggers and the Crossville Center of Dance will feature their dancers and the Depot will be serving Apple Cider.  Boston’s will be open at 4:30 for supper / dinner. As will Social Brew and Grinder House.

December 2:

Public invited to a Christmas Party, December 2 at the Crossville Housing Authority meeting room at First St. and Irwin Avenue at 6 PM. It is sponsored by the Cumberland County Democratic Women's Committee. We would love to have anyone who wants to become involved in our Democracy come and meet us. Bring a dish to share or not. Anyone needing more information can contact Judy Barnett at 931-287-5618.
December 3:
Angels: God’s Helpers & Our Friends Who are they? What do they do? Do they matter?
Presenter: Rev. Andrew Abraham, Pastor Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church
When: Saturday, Dec 3rd, at 11 AM-12:30 PM
Where: The Crossville Depot
Cost: FREE!!
Light refreshments will be available

New council members will be sworn in Monday followed by a work session putting them straight to work.

Within an hour of being sworn in, the two new Crossville city council members will go to work with a work session set for December 5th following the swearing in ceremony.

New Council members Scot Shanks and J. H. Graham III will be sworn in at Crossville city hall  Monday December 5 at 5:30 PM and the work session will follow at 6:30 PM. It will be a busy week for the council with their regular December meeting following on Thursday December 8.

The council has not held regular work sessions for several months but returning to the work sessions is one of the items to be discussed during the Monday work session. In addition council will look at possibly returning their meeting to Tuesday evenings after moving them to Thursday at the request of one of the council members who did not seek reelection.

Other subjects to be discussed on the work session and most likely decided at the Thursday regular council meeting include how to proceed with interview for the city manager candidates and put together a plan for interviews.

Council will discuss the proposed application for a site development grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic Development to be used toward construction of a pad ready for the construction of a 200,000 square foot industrial building on property in the city's industrial park at 127-N and I-40. The maximum grant is $500,000 and would require a minimum $217,000 match from the city. The estimated cost for the work currently is $914,000 but a geotechnical study could change those numbers. After the study is complete the city could adjust the project at that time to control the total spending.

A the possibility of adding the city attorney and city judge to the city's health insurance program will also be discussed. The insurance company requires that the independent contractor work a minimum of 30 hours a week just to be eligible. The coverage must be offered to any other similar employees if the request moves forward.

New council member J. H. Graham is proposing the city consider a special census once again. The city has done this several times between the federal census counts and gained additional state shared revenue.

Graham is alos proposing a property tax freeze for senior citizens under a certain annual income that would freeze property taxes at the rate when they turn 65 as long as they apply each year. The program is allowed under state law and has been discussed previously but never put in place in Crossville.

City attorney Will Ridley will have a preliminary discussion on required changes to the city's sign ordinance with the council and also seek the council's direction on several properties that have been through the city's administrative hearing process.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Genesis Road reopened and work on sign moving forward.

Crossville interim police chief Mark Rosser reports that Genesis Road has been reopened and a crew is onsite working on the sign that was damaged in the strong winds yesterday.

The winds caused the tall sign to lean toward Genesis Road and large power lines through the area causing the road in front of the business to be closed off to protect the public.

Large crane steadies the damaged sign as crews work on the damage.

 A crew from the firm that erected the sign originally is reportedly onsite to stabilize or rework the sign.

This was the scene yesterday just off of the Genesis Road exit of I-40 with the sign
leaning toward the road.  Traffic was redirected starting yesterday afternoon. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fire situation in Gatlinburg critical. Evacuation of Gatlinburg and parts of Pigeon Forge.

Fires are continuing to cause major problems in East Tennessee and evacuations have been ordered for Gatlinburg.  Fires have taken out cell service and land lines and reports that the fire fighting effort command center is closed and evacuated.  Rain is expected to move through the area tonight and will hopefully help knock down some of the the fires. 

Reports are that some Crossville area firefighters are headed east to provide assistance. 

Majority of Crossville city council turn down Dunn Ave. sidewalk proposal.

Crossville city council once again turned down a request to build a sidewalk along Dunn Avenue near Walmart and between Interstate Drive and Matherly Drive.

Property owners in the area have offered to pay half the cost of materials to build the sidewalk with the city funding the other half and the construction labor using city crews. This proposal had been originally made two years ago by the property owners and had been discussed at least twice before. At one point previous city manager David Rutherford had recommended that the property owners pay the full material cost and the project be ranked along with other sidewalk projects in the city.

As the item was put back on the November agenda, councilman Danny Wyatt took the lead on discussion and reviewed the history of the proposal. Wyatt moved to approve the project under the original proposal that the property owners pay 50 percent. Councilman Jesse Kerley supported the motion.

Councilwoman Pamala Harris described the matter as a valid request, but she added, “There are many, many other places in Crossville that need sidewalks.” Harris mentioned the lack of sidewalks along part of Webb Avenue from the Methodist Church to the Library as a place she would like to see fixed. She said that she wanted to look at all the sidewalk projects to be ranked and planned.

Councilman Pete Souza pointed out that the proposal was one that had been previously turned down by the council. According to his estimates, Souza believes that the property owners paying half the material would mean they only pay about one-fourth of the total cost. Souza added that he felt the property owners could do better and pay about half the cost.

The motion failed with council members Wyatt and Kerley in favor and members Harris, Souza and Mayor James Mayberry opposed.   

Genesis Rd. closed. Officials fear Speedway sign could fall

Traffic is backing up in both directions on Genesis Rd. at Interstate drive as the large sign at Speedway fuel station is leaning toward the road from today's high wind. 

Speedway sign leaning toward Genesis Road.

If you don't have to travel in the area, you are encouraged to avoid the area.


Monday, November 28, 2016

On Tuesday, November 15, 2016 the Crossville Police Department continued its mission to protect our community and families from the dangers of illicit narcotics. Crossville Police Department’s Narcotics Unit served an outstanding Grand Jury indictment on Cumberland Drive resident, 39 year old, Terry J. Manis. 

The indictment, which was served without incident, charged two counts of Sale of Schedule II Narcotic (Oxycodone) in a Drug-Free school zone, two counts of Delivery of Schedule II Narcotic (Oxycodone) in a Drug-Free school zone and possession of a weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony. These felony charges were presented to the Cumberland County Grand Jury, following in-depth undercover operations, within the City of Crossville.

Manis’ bond was set at $40,000 for the above offenses. Assisting with the operation were Crossville Police Department, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, 13th Judicial Drug Task Force, and the HIDTA / TBI Drug Task Force.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Second grader Andrew Dennis MES student of the month for November

Andrew Dennis, a second grader at Martin Elementary School was recognized at the Crossville city council meeting as the student of the month.  Andrew was recognized for his manners.  His teacher, Mrs. Gilbert said he uses manners on a regular basis and sets a great example for his peers everyday.

Crossville mayor James Mayberry, right, congratulates Andrew Dennis, second from right, on his recognition as student of the month from Martin Elementary school.  Andrew's parents joined him to receive the award.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Stone Memorial high school Criminal Justice students participate in mock trial

The Stone Memorial High School Criminal Justice 2 class participated in a mock trial after observing Judge Larry Warner's General Sessions Court Monday.  The class is currently working on court procedures.

The class, taught by Kylee Johnson participated in a mock murder trial with the assistance of several local lawyers helping guide the students.  Lawyers who assisted included Randall Boston and Jeff Vires assisting the defense and Assistant DA Phillip Hatch and Bruce MacLeod.

The case included testimony form witnesses and experts involving a charge of murder involving a college student and the Greek organization they were trying to join.  Evidence on drinking, hazing and other issues were included as part of the trial testimony.

Members of the SMHS Criminal Justice class and the Crossville Bar prepare for the mock trial.
The trial was held in the training courtroom at the Cumberland Co. Justice Center. 

Prosecutor Hannah Turner just right of center addresses the jury

Assistant DA Philip Hatch, standing, consults with a member of the student prosecuting team.
Assistant DA Bruce MacLeod was guiding "Judge" Elmer Estrada.  

Crossville Christmas lights going up.

City of Crossville employees have been busy today pitting up Christmas lights on the light poles on Main Street.  The lights always go up around Thanksgiving each year and will remain up until early January.

VIntage Cumberland County Fair poster from the 60's

I got this Cumberland County Fair poster from a garage in the Homesteads.  I've tried to figure out the year but since they have changed the schedule of the fair I don't know when they started (day of the week back in those days.  If anyone can help date this, let me know.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Do you have an event or information to share? Send it to

We want to share your information with our growing audience.

If you have an event of interest to the Crossville area send details to us at and we will share it with our readers.  An image or photo will always make an item more interesting and attract more eyes.

If you have a press release for your business or organization we will accept those as well.

If you have any questions contact us as the emails too.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Construction site across from Rocky Top 10 to be a large Dollar Tree store.

I've gotten several questions about the construction going on at the corner of Interstate Drive and Old Jamestown Highway across from the movie theater.

CIty records show that a new dollar tree store will be built on the site and it will be larger then the current store on 127-N.

Site of new Dollar Tree store. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday at the Crossroads Winter Wonderland coming December 2!

Plans are being finalized for the next Friday at the Crossroads event on Friday December 2 from 4 to 8 PM.

Bring the kids and stop by the Spirit Amphitheater to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and get a free photo taken.  There will be Christmas lights through out town, with food, music, shopping and more.

Christmas on the Mountain will be taking donations of toys for underprivileged kids so get into the sprint of the season!  If you've been before you know what a great event these are so bring someone along with you who has never been.  If you've never been, you owe it to yourself to see what all the excitement is about.

Could Crossville employees who took early retirement return to work after taking buyout? Answer appears to be yes.

After some 19 long-time Crossville city employees took early retirement last year, talk that some of those employees are seeking to be employees again has raised some questions.

We got some answers from former Crossville city manager David Rutherford who originally proposed the early retirement buyout and we got some financial information from city finance director Fred Houston.

City council approved the plan in September 2014 offering eligible employees a lump sum payment of 50 percent of their annual salary and a bridge insurance program that would have provided health insurance until the employee was medicare eligible. If the employee was already medicare eligible they would receive a monthly payment to cover additional parts of medicare coverage for two years.
Nineteen city employees took advantage of the program.

The question has been raised whether employees who took the early retirement could come back at a later date to again work for the city. According to Rutherford, the program as approved by the council did not include a prohibition or any agreement that an employee would stay retired. All employees who took the early buyout had to leave employment by the end of January 2015.

“We didn't think anyone would want to come back,” explained Rutherford. All the retirees who participated in the Tennessee Comprehensive Retirement System (TCRS) could receive full retirement benefits at age 60 with 5 years at the city, after 30 years of service, or at age 55 with 25 years of service they could receive a reduced monthly payment.

One recent change by the city has made coming back to work for the city easier for those retirees. Since the city has dropped the more expensive TCRS retirement system and opted for a match retirement savings plan, similar to a 401k, employees who return can work now and keep receiving their retirement payment while they work. If the city was still with TCRS, the employee would have to suspend their retirement pay to return to work under the TRCS plan.

The employees who took early retirement received a total payout of $465,250 for their half year's salary. At the September 2014 council meeting where the plan was approved by council, it was estimated some 10 employees would take the buyout and according to Rutherford at that meeting the savings to the city would come when all those who left were not replaced.

Insurance costs expected for the retirees totals $543,252.49 but any retirees who return to work would be switched over to regular employee insurance benefit. Interim city manager Steve Hill took the early retirement and received a lump sum payment of $34,374 plus insurance until 2022.

Another retiree that has been mentioned as possibly wanting to return to work is former police officer Darrell Sherrill who sought to apply for the regular Crossville police chief's position earlier this year at the time the city was requesting internal applications only. It was ruled that as a retiree, Sherrill could not apply as a current employee.

With the city now seeking applications for a full time chief, another possible hire that previously took early retirement could be former police chief David Beaty.  Between Hill, Sherrill and Beaty the three received a total cash buy out of $101,688.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Crossville seeking Chief of Police applications.

The City of Crossville has posted a notice on the city's website seeking applications for the position of Police Chief.  The Chief position has been in the news often this year as interim chief Rod Shoap resigned and then Mark Rosser was then appointed as interim chief.  

The city will take applications through December 7.  A copy of the listing is below.



The City of Crossville (population 11,246) is seeking resumes for the position of Chief of Police. Under the executive direction of the City Manager, the Chief of Police is responsible for planning, directing, implementing and evaluating the activities of the Police Department. Responsibilities include recruitment and selection of personnel, formulation of policies and procedures, and preparation of an annual budget. The ideal candidate must be P.O.S.T. certified and possess a Bachelor’s degree in Police Science, Public Administration, Criminal Justice, or related field. Candidate will have served as Chief, or Assistant Chief, a minimum of seven (7) years. Any equivalent combination of education and experience which provides the person with the knowledge and abilities required to perform the job may substitute for the above, at the discretion of the City. Consideration will be given for FBI National Academy and/or Southern Police Institutes and FBI Leeds graduate. Salary will be a minimum of $57,057.53 and negotiable DOQ/DOE. Position will also include a comprehensive benefit package. Other requirements include:
  • Must possess a valid Tennessee operator’s license or obtain such
  • Must reside within Cumberland County, or move into Cumberland County within 90 days of employment
  • Meet annual P.O.S.T. in-service requirements
  • Must have completed P.O.S.T. Law Enforcement Management and Administration training
  • Evidence of continuing professional development
  • Must be examined by a City designated physician to make a determination if applicant will be able to meet the physical standards of law enforcement personnel
A complete job description is available upon request. Resume and cover letter is to be mailed to: Leah Crockett, Human Resources Administrator, 392 N. Main Street, Crossville, TN 38555 or via email at Resumes will be accepted until 4:00PM CST on December 7, 2016.

The City of Crossville is an EEO/Affirmative action employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, sex, religion, color, disability or national origin.

Previous stories:

Jerry Kerley and William Harwell agree to pre-trial diversion in sign theft case

In the case involving theft charges related to signs taken from a Mockingbird Drive property on September 30, the 2 defendants, Crossville water resources director Jerry Kerley and William Harwell both took pre-trial diversion on the misdemeanor theft charges. 

Both men will serve 6 months on probation.

According to the state of Tennessee's website, "Pretrial Diversion is governed by TCA 40-15-105 and is also referred to as a suspended prosecution. It is important to note that the individual has not pled guilty or been found guilty yet. A person may be granted Pretrial Diversion if the requirements as stated in the statute are met. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is entered into by the District Attorney and the Defendant. The Defendant must meet the terms of the MOU. If the terms are not met, the prosecution is no longer suspended and the District Attorney is allowed to proceed with the case. If the Defendant chooses to, there can be a trial. When the diversion period is successfully completed, the Defendant asks the court to submit an Order of Expungement to TBI marked Suspension of Prosecution TCA 40-15-105."

Still image from neighbor's video

Mockingbird Drive yard signs

Previous stories:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Crossville Police PRESS RELEASE
November 16, 2016

On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, at approximately 6 am City of Crossville Police Officer Scott Van Ruden responded to the report of a traffic crash on US Hwy 127 North, at The Cracker Barrel Restaurant. Upon the officer’s arrival, one of the parties involved in the crash was unable to be located. After the arrival of a K-9 unit, a check of the abandoned vehicle’s exterior was made. The K-9 alerted to the presence of narcotics inside the 2007 Dodge Charger, with Texas tags. Following a search of the vehicle, 9 large shrink wrapped bundles, of what is believed to be vacuum sealed marijuana, weighing approximately 22lbs each, were recovered. The street value of the bundles is estimated at approximately $22,000.00 each.

According to witness reports and video surveillance, the driver was a dark skinned, possibly Hispanic, male, 25-35 years old, medium build, wearing a blue/white striped baggy shirt and blue jeans. The suspect was carrying a brown bag/back pack, and is believed to have left in a late model, White, Hyundai 4 door car, possibly a Sonata. 

Congratulations to the officers involved. This seizure ensures that over 200 pounds of illicit narcotics will never hit our streets.  It also serves to solidify the Crossville Police Department’s resolve to keep the citizens and visitors of our community safe. Job well done!

Anyone with information on the identity or location of the driver is asked to contact the Crossville Police Department at 931-484-7231 or call the Crossville-Cumberland County Crime Stoppers 24 hour tip hot line at 931-200-1173. 

Each bundles estimated street value is $22,000

Suspect and car


MTAS Returns ranked list of Crossville city manager candidates.

Municipal Technical Advisory Service consultant Warren Nevad has sent the City of Crossville information on the his recommendations for the top ranked candidates for the position of city manager.  The list has been distributed to the council members and the council could select candidates to interview by phone of video conference according to Nevad's email.  

The candidates were ranked on thier cover letter, education/experience, Resume and similarity to position.  A perfect score would be 16 with a 4 in each category.  The highest score was a 12 recieved by 3 of the candidates.

A timeline for hiring a new manager has not yet been established. 

The candidates and their scores are listed below:

Cary Colaianni of Eagle Idaho holds a masters in public administration as well as a Doctor of Jurisprudence (Law degree). Mr. Colaianni has 20 years of experience in municipal government including from 2004 to 2014 as the city attorney and law department director for Bosie Idaho. The department had 51 employees. From 1991 to 2004, he served as the Ada County prosecuting attorney in Bosie Idaho.  Score 12

Harry Staven of Richland WA most recently worked as the finance director of Bandon OR and before that as city administrator/planner of Hoona AK.  He worked in municipal management since 1989 at various levels.  He served 6 years on the board of the Richland WA housing authority.  He holds a Masters of Public Administration.  Score 12

Greg Wood of Baker Florida has a masters of public administration from the University of Florida. From 2013 to 2016 Mr. Wood has served as the county administrator of Harris County Georgia. From 2010 to 2012 he served as the county manager for Jasper County Georgia and from 2007 to 2009 as the county administrator of Holmes Co. Florida and similar experience back to 1984.  Score 12

Terence Arrington of Greenville SC whose last job is county administrator for Darlignton Co. South Carolina. Arrignton served in that position from 1-2015 through 8-2016. Arrington has a Masters of Public Administration and is working toward and MBA. He has government experience since 2011 including deputy city administrator of Salisbury MD from 1-2014 to 1-2015.  Score 11

James Hubbard of Bedford Texas currently serves and the assistant to the city manager at Colleyville Texas. Hubbard has held that position since January 2016 and prior to that served as the city's parks manager and a management analyst. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. Score 11

Steve Foote of Dunwoody Georgia serves that community as the Director of Economic and Community Development. He has served in that capacity as the employee of a contractor starting in 2014 and now as a direct employee of the city. Previously Foote served as director of planning for Mt. Juliet Tennessee from 2009 to 2014. Foote's education includes a BS in Geography and Biology and graduate work toward an Masters in Geography. Score 10

Sammy J. Ragsdale of Dodge City, Kansas is the assistant county administrator of Ford County Kansas and from September 2015 to March 2016 he was the chief financial officer of the High Country Council of Governments at Boone County North Carolina. Previous positions incude a city management consultant in Burlington Colorado, City manager of Clifton Texas and a US Navy veteran. He has a BS degree and graduate work toward an MBA.  Score 10

Dennis Sparks of Hopewell Virginia has experience as various city/village managers from 1999 to 2005 in several different states. Sparks is currently a management and aviation consultant as well as a pilot and flight instruction. Sparks has an MBA. Score 10

Steven Hicks of Orlando Florida who previously worked as chief compliance officer for MasterCorp, Inc. Score 9

Rod Shoap of Crossville TN has a Masters in Public Administration and is a graduate of the FBI Academy.  He served as interim Crossville police chief until July 2016.  Previously Mr. Shoap served as Maury County magistrate, director of planning for the Williamson County sheriff's department and sheriff of Lee County Florida after many years working for that department.  Score 9

Tina Tuggle of Kingston Tennessee is currently a municipal finance trainer and previously served as the city manager of Oliver Springs Tennessee from June 2012 to November 2014. She also served as Oliver Springs' city recorder from 2010 to 2012. She holds an associate degree in legal science. Score 9

In addition, the current interim city manager Steve Hill made the list with a score of 9.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Souza email comments on numerous issues including phone harassment and ugly political sign incident.

(Editor's note: This email was sent to the city this morning from councilman Pete Souza.  It is a public record.)

Before I begin I would like to remind the council that there is a EEOC complaint among other things listing a violation of the whistle blower act. That being persons reporting violations are protected from acts of retaliation, I am sure Mr Ridley can clarify that.

For some time now a person or persons has been harassing citizens of the city and county with phone calls who list other people's numbers as the source. This similar to the 2012 Robo Calls erroneously listing the city phone number as the source. Last Thursday this harassment level increased significantly. Phone numbers erroneously listed were mine, Rodney Shoap, and others. In the past this action was reported To the CPD and the DA. That's fine this child like behavior can be expected,
but the people being harassed can of course seek civil action which well may be the case. Where I am concerned Sally in your capacity as city clerk I am informing you that my phone number will be discontinued this date and will be unlisted as result of this abuse.

You are all aware of last weeks signs commonly referred to as the Methberry signs. On the signs it states the mayor as corrupt, incompetent, can not Pass a drug test is Pete Souzas Bitch, ect... That's fine but here is some thing to think about. Shortly the person responsible will be identified and let it be known that person caused harm to innocent people.

Normal procedure for sign complaints is Vulgar or unlawful signs are picked up by the street department to be recovered by the owner. Signage Is governed by a city ordinance.

Here is what happened in this case, reports of the sign was called into the city (Sally Oglesby) who in turn called Chief Rosser. Chief Rosser called the city manager Steve Hill. Steve alleges he called the city attorney Will Ridley who told him to tape over the sign portion with the word bitch and leave it up. I spoke with Chief Rosser who confirmed this story yesterday. Once again I remind all parties of the whistle blower Act..

I'll let Mr Ridley make what ever comments he may on this since it is Steve Hills assertion that he was following instructions from the city attorney.  Although it is a given the city attorney only has the power to advise so I would be skeptical to the authentication of the facts. I am not skeptical
of the honesty of Chief Rosser who works directly for Steve Hill.

It was also reported that early that morning in Billy Loggins' office the city manager and Mr Loggins' and the city manager were having a good laugh about the signs.

I wonder what recourse is going to come to the originator of the sign, Mr Hill who's primary responsibility is to enforce city ordinances and safeguard the city from wrongful litigation. The parties injured were children and I assure you the parents are taking this serious.

By the way Mr Hill all city employees have to take a drug test. The last time I checked you were the only city employee not in compliance.

Ms Oglesby please insure that the council elects and Chief Rosser gets a copy of this E Mail.

Pete Souza

51 East and Middle Tennessee Counties placed under regional burn ban by Gov. Haslam

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issued a proclamation declaring a regional ban on burning in 51 counties in response to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires throughout Middle and East Tennessee.

Effective immediately, residents in counties covered by the regional ban are not permitted to conduct any open-air burning. The ban includes campfires, and burning of brush, vegetation, household waste or construction debris. The ban will remain in effect until December 15. The counties under the ban are listed below.

Currently the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) Division of Forestry is fighting 67 wildfires across nearly 16,000 acres in the Cumberland and East Tennessee districts.

A violation of a burn ban is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months, 29 days in jail.

Robertson and Sumner counties continue to be under a burn ban issued by TDA Commissioner Jai Templeton. A governor’s ban includes municipalities, whereas a commissioner’s ban is superseded by municipal ordinances.

Residents in counties not included under any of the current bans must obtain a safe debris burning permit to burn brush, vegetation, household waste or construction waste. The TDA Division of Forestry, however, does not expect to issue any permits until the state receives substantial precipitation. A violation of burning without a permit is punishable as a Class C misdemeanor which carries a fine of $50 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Daily updates on the wildfire situation, active burn bans and tips to protect your home and property can be found at

Counties under a regional burn ban:
















































Van Buren




Monday, November 14, 2016

Super Moon full and orange.

Tonight is the full moon and super moon.  The color comes from all the smoke in the air from drought induced wild fires.

The next super moon of this magnitude is not until 2034.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Joint city council planning commission work session to look at traffic study conclusions.

A joint work session for the Crossville city council and the Crossville regional planning commission is scheduled for Tuesday November 15 at 5:30 PM in the third floor conference room to receive information on the recently completed traffic study.

The study was paid for through a Tennessee Department of Transportation traffic planning grant and looks at future traffic growth out 5, 10 and 25 years.

Several items were looked at in the study including traffic signal coordination, diverting trucks onto the Miller Bypass, as well as pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

Representatives of the engineer firm Parsons Brinckerhoff that prepared the study will be on hand to review the results and present their recommendations to the current council, council elect and the planning commission.   

Souza issues response to lack of any council action on ethics complaints at November regular city council meeting.

(Councilman Pete Souza sent out the following email early Sunday morning in response to the November regular city council meeting.)

Given the events of the last council meeting on subject agenda items it is noted that none of the agenda items I placed on the agenda were presented.  The meeting was adjourned before those agenda items were discussed, additionally it is noted at this time that the opportunity to produce all
evidence and witnesses were denied. 

Effectively all ethics charges remain pending resolution by the city council. It is further noted that the fiduciary responsibility rest with the council to resolve this issue and the serious nature of many of these charges can not be resolved by walking out. The failure of the council to perform its responsibility in light of ethical, criminal, and city policies is arguably both a conflict of the charter and gross negligence.  

Mr Ridley you may want to take care in the response to this, I feel that your response will have a far reaching impact on the city. Such request as you may reasonably request for additional legal opinions should include all data provided to you and the council.

It is further noted that a campaign of harassment on witnesses was conducted following the meeting.

Pete Souza

Ms Oglesby please place a hard copy of this in my box and I suggest that you place a copy in the the ethics file. Also please forward a copy of this to the DA s office.

Burn ban issued for Cumberland County--absolutely no outdoor burning allowed.

State Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton has issued a burn ban for Clairborne, Cumberland, Hamilton, Jefferson, Loudon, Marion, Monroe, Robertson and Sevier Counties. The burn ban is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice.

The ban applies to all open-air burning including leaf and woody debris and construction burning, campfires, outdoor grills and other fire activity in areas outside of municipalities where local ordinances apply.

“Due to dry conditions and little prospect for rain, firefighters are seeing an increase in fire activity across the state,” Commissioner Templeton said. “The public should use good judgment and avoid situations that cause fire and put citizens, property and emergency workers at risk.”

Under state law, the Commissioner of Agriculture, in consultation with the state forester, has the authority to issue burn bans at the request of county mayors under certain weather conditions. Requests for a burn ban are considered based on a number of factors including weather, climate, fire danger, fire occurrence and resource availability.

A violation of a burn ban issued by the Commissioner is considered reckless burning and is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months 29 days in jail.

The ban includes ALL of the following:
  • leaves
  • brush
  • fence rows
  • ditch banks
  • construction debris
  • boards, plywood, decking, etc.
  • fields
  • gardens
  • wooded areas
  • grassland
  • campfires
  • cooking fires
  • grills, charcoal or wood fired (but not natural or propane gas fired)
  • burn barrels
  • household waste
  • cardboard
  • air curtain destructors

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Editorial: Kerley threats made against this reporter completely inappropriate.

In 30 years of covering local news and politics, I have occasionally sparked the ire of those I have written about. Sometimes it is been about things people would prefer the public not know, sometimes things hidden in the public records or actions that someone took and later regretted.

Usually those have been irate phone calls but rarely are they the kind of phone calls like the one I received from Crossville councilman Jesse Kerley on November 9. The phone call came in and Mr. Kerley said, “You've sure got some gall telling people a bunch of lies on me.”

He preceded to complain about comments I had made on the radio the evening of the election. I had been asked about Kerley's non-attendance at the October city council meeting and I commented that while Kerley did not attend the meeting, I'd had two eyewitnesses tell me they had seen his GMC-SUV that he drives for Swisher, the company he works for, in the parking lot of the law office across from city hall. One witness also reported that Kerley was in the vehicle.

Mr. Kerley said that I needed to get my 'damn eyes checked” because he claimed he was in Indiana all that week.

Then the conversation soon took a darker tone and Kerley made comments that I considered threatening.  After a short time I simply hung up on Mr. Kerley.

In addition to the phone call, there was the outrageous accusation that Kerley had made against me in an email to Crossville police on October 5 concerning the allegations of sign theft related to signs put up by council candidate J. J. Brownstead.

The story at the link mentions that Kerley had emailed a list of “suspects” to Crossville police officer O'Neal even though the alleged theft occurred in the county. I will not share other names on the list at this time, but one of the “suspects and known accomplices” in Kerley's email was listed as “Jim Young Reporter.”  At the time I wrote the story at the link above I had not seen the list of "suspects."  Kerley's email also states that the theft was done to provoke him and the signs posted in public to "boast."

Of course the signs were returned to Mr. Brownstead after proof was presented that the signs were never Mr. Kerley's property nor did the signs in question come from his father's shed as he falsely claimed. 

The point of this editorial is to shine the light into the backroom of local politics and hopefully citizens can see that there are issues that still need to be addressed in a way that takes the city forward in a professional direction and not continue to make it a laughing stock.

In addition, I wanted to let readers know that I do not bow to intimidation and will continue to report the news as I always have, truthfully. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Crossville city council meeting adjourns early after heated discussion of Souza's ethics complaints.

In what was likely the final attempt by outgoing Crossville city councilman Pete Souza to try and expose the corruption he sees in the city of Crossville's operation, it ended with two council members walking out of the meeting during the discussion followed by Mayor James Mayberry adjourning the meeting before the agenda was completed.

The council chambers were mostly full of observers including councilman elect Scot Shanks who also got up and left as the discussion on Souza's ethics complaints started to go badly. At one point, Mayor Mayberry said about the audience, “Half the people here are probably looking for a fight and the other half are hoping this would all go away.”

Final regular council meeting for council members Pete Souza, left, 
and Jesse Kerley, right. 

This is the first time in the history of Crossville that an ethics complainant has been filed under the city's charter and in addition to the charter its self, city attorney Will Ridley had requested an opinion from the Municipal Technical Advisory Service to help guide the process.

Mayberry began by explaining the process saying that the council could decide if the complaint did or did not have merit or if it had merit and warranted additional investigation. Since the city attorney could not investigate one member of the council as he represents the council as a whole, an outside person would have to be called in according to Mayberry and that could be very expensive.

Mayberry then put forth a motion that stated that the complaints were determined to have merit but added, “I do not want to spend taxpayer's money on a long extended investigation on these items.”

Councilman Souza asked city attorney Will Ridely about what would happen next and he said that the remedy for finding the complaint has merit is public censure by the council. Souza continued saying that he saw a problem with lumping all the 13 complaints together since there were different scales of action. Ridley responded that it was the council's prerogative on how to handle the ethics complaints.

Outgoing Councilman Pete Souza

After several comments including councilman Danny Wyatt asking how the items got on the agenda and Mr. Souza saying he put them on the agenda and Souza questioning the putting forth of a germane motion before he was able to make his first motion, Mayor Mayberry then withdrew his motion that had not received a second.

Souza said he had a motion but first requested clarification from Mr. Ridley about the Charter requirement that the council hear the ethics charges but the standing rules that limited discussion to three minutes that was not adequate time to present. Souza said he felt it was not lawful for the standing rules to block the charter.

Ridley stated that the council could suspend the rules temporarily but otherwise the rules were put on the council by itself and was lawful. Souza then moved to suspend the standing rules for the discussion of the items but no second was received. Souza then attempted to speak on the topic without a motion and councilman Wyatt called point of order. Mayberry ruled in favor of Wyatt and he moved to table the matter to a special called meeting and a second was given by councilwoman Pamala Harris.

Harris then read from an email by Mayor Mayberry dated October 18 concerning the cancelling of the called meeting in October saying a meeting in the current political climate could do more harm then good. Mayberry proposed to hold the meeting after the election. Harris then added it didn't make sense to her that the accuser and the accusee were both members of the ethics board and that it would make more sense to her to wait until the new council members are seated. Souza then said, “Oh shit.”  

Council members Harris, Wyatt and Jesse Kerley objected to the language.

Souza took the floor and said the proposal to delay the matter was “hogwash.” He continued saying that an EEOC complaint had been filed against the city. Souza said, You can laugh Jerry Kerley, but you will be subpoenaed before it is over.” Souza was interrupted again by Mr. Wyatt and Jesse Kerley.

Jesse Kelrey said to Mayor Mayberry, “You've got a councilman attacking a city employee in a public meeting Mayor, and you're allowing it to happen.” Souza responded, “and it's your dad, right?”

Outgoing Councilman Jesse Kerley

“Please! Let's bring this meeting to order,” said Ms. Harris, “and please conduct yourself like good citizens.

Souza continued saying that the council would see at least three lawsuits and began to talk about a letter sent to the council on June 1 about the serious problems. As Souza was talking, councilwoman Harris gathered her papers and got up to leave. Councilman Wyatt followed her out.

Council member Pam Harris leaves the meeting early,
and followed shortly by council member Wyatt. 

One member of the audience shouted out that the next meeting would be the new council members and a cheer went up from part of the audience.

The motion on the floor was restated and the clerk said there was still a quorum present. Mr. Souza said it was a non-functional quorum because one of the members was deeply involved and it involves his father and his best friend, referring to Jesse Kerley and Steve Hill.

Councilman Kerley took the floor and thanked the citizens of Crossville for giving him the opportunity to serve and then began to attck Mr. Souza.

With that Mayor Mayberry said, I think we've heard from both sides, “This meeting is adjourned.”

A number of items were left on the agenda including the city attorney's and city manager's report as well as time for public comments.

Souza's closing comment was, “I'll see you all in court.”  

After 2 wrecks and 3 fatalities, I-40 a parking lot Friday afternoon.

Initial reports of a truck explosion at the 320 exit of I-40 on the westbound side tide put traffic at a standstill and backed up for miles.  A second accident was reported a short time later at around the 317 mile mark.  UT's Lifestar medical chopper was dispatched and landed at the 320 exit before taking off to transport one patient to Knoxville hospital.

Initial reports say that a semi truck without a trailer crossed the median and struck a truck in the westbound side head on at around 1:30 PM central time.  The two truck cabs were totally destroyed and numerous cars that were on the trailer were thrown into the side of the exit.  Billows of black smoke came from the fuel tanks on the two cabs that caught fire.  Three fatalities were reported in the accident.

Traffic through Crossville was becoming very heavy as I-40 traffic was getting off at Peavine Road and going through town.

All photos (c) 2016 by Jim Young Reporter.
Accident site from the bridge at Cook Rd.

Lifestar coming in for a landing

Lifestar waiting to load.

Part of the truck in the initial accident

Destroyed truck cab left of center.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Crossville city council adjourn after discussions on ethics complaints got out of hand

As the council began discussion of the ethics complaints filed by councilman Pete Souza the meeting was quickly adjourned after two council members left city hall.

Court date on sign theft charges against Jerry Kerley and William Harwell moved to November 17

Though it appeared the case would be settled through pre-trial diversion, that offer turned into a request for a hearing by the defendants and to give time for preparation, the case was moved out an additional week.

Kerely and Harwell were in court for a while this morning and returned later in the afternoon where the continuance was agreed to by the DA's office and thier attorney Jimmy Smith.

Signs at the Mockingbird Drive property before the theft

Still from neighbor's video shot of the suspects preparing to 
leave the driveway of the property.

Political signs only get uglier after the election is over.

This sign was photographed Thursday morning in front of Kroger. Reports of at least one additional sign on Lantana Rd. has been reported.

Even though the election is over, the politics apparently are not.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New sidewalk request for Dunn Ave to be considered by City Council

Property owners on the north side of Dunn Avenue have requested the city to construct a side walk for the three commercial lots between Walmart and Interstate Drive.  

The request letter goes back to 2014 when the proposal was made for the property owners dentist Johnny Shanks, David Rose and Bruce Wyatt to pay half the cost of material for sidewalks, curb and gutter with the city paying the other half and the labor.  The previous requests have been discussed but no action ever taken,  One city manager suggested the property owners pay all the material costs and the project be ranked with other sidewalk projects.  

Request letter from property owners on Dunn Ave. 

The city of Crossville has numerous sidewalk projects in its capital improvement plan that appear to have priority over the Dunn Ave project.  As late as a June 2016 work session, the project was again reviewed and then deferred. 

Dunn Ave. on the right, behind East Tn Dodge--Walmart is in the distance and 
Good Times liquor store is to the left

Jerry Kerley and Bill Harwell face sign theft charges in court Thursday November 10.

Jerry Lee Kerley and William Frank Harwell are both on the docket for General Session Court on Thursday November 10.

Both men face a single count of theft up to $500 each for the incident that occurred on September 30, 2016. The charges stem from the report of a theft of political signs from a house on Mockingbird Drive where a neighbor captured video of the two men leaving the house and then followed them long enough to get a license tag showing the truck involved was registered to Jesse Kerley's father Jerry, the city's director of water resources.

Still from the neighbor's video of the alleged theft. 

The signs were part of an ongoing feud between councilman Kerley and J. R. Blankenship. Some of the signs accused Councilman Jesse Kerley of lying and abuse of office.

Political signs are Mockingbird Drive location before theft.

The charges were filed by District Attorney investigator Randal Slayton. The missing signs were recovered at the Crossville airport according to District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway. Airport security video showed the two men leaving the airport just prior to the incident and then returning a short time after and immediately driving out of camera range.

Both men are represented by attorney Jimmy Smith.