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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Council work session Tuesday to talk sidewalks and possible road closing changes.

The Crossville city council meets for their monthly work session Tuesday May 2 at Crossville city hall and will discuss a number of items expected on the regular agenda coming up on May 9. The meeting starts at 5 PM and will be held in the third floor conference room at city hall.

Council plans to discuss downtown sidewalks during the work session once again and will hear from Crossville resident Ed Daszkiewicz who is blind and will discuss with the council what it is like to walk around Crossville.

The City of Crossville gets so many request for road closings for events and 5K races that they are looking at setting a standard 5K route that will reduce the time by city employees and cost to the city. If organizers use that rout there would be no charge but if they choose a different route they would need to reimburse the city for expenses. The council also plans to discuss the possibility of moving the cruise ins and other events to the block behind the courthouse and around the amphitheater.

Council will also discuss action on contracts for the Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant on the redevelopment of Garrison Park. Environmental work has been completed and certified by the state. The contracts under consideration are with the grant administrator Community Development Partners and Lose and Associates for final design and bidding services. The agenda points out that a number of public meetings were held on the project and public hearings on the adoption of the recreation master plan.
Plan for Garrison Park redevelopment

Garrison Park

The lease on the Crossville depot is up for renewal later this year and the city has been notified that the C. A. T. S. group that has operated the depot for the past 3 years will not be renewing or extending the lease. Council will discuss what to do next. The lease expires August 31.

Council will discuss a request from Cumberland Co. mayor Kenneth Carey on the work on the animal shelter. Carey is requesting that the city waive permit fees and city crews install sewer line from the tap to the location of the new building along with providing a grinder pump to the contractor. All material costs would be deducted from the city share of the cost of the building.

Council will discuss the city's capital improvement plan that is required by the charter to be approved by council. A draft of the plan is available on the city website here.

Tornado Watch issued for the area until 7 PM tonight.

NOAA National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch effective now through 7 PM for Cumberland Co Putnam, White, Fentress and others In Middle Tennessee.  A Tornado Watch is issued when weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms called a Supercell that are capable of producing tornadoes.  A tornado watch therefore implies that it is also a severe thunderstorm watch. A tornado watch must not be confused with a tornado warning. In most cases, the potential exists for large hail and/or damaging winds in addition to tornadoes.

Tornado Watch

Today and Tonight
Widespread thunderstorms are expected to move across middle
Tennessee this afternoon and evening. Some storms may be strong to
severe...with damaging winds...hail...and a possible tornado...especially
west of interstate 65. Storms could also contain heavy
rainfall...especially across southern middle Tennessee with the
additional threat of isolated flash flooding.

In addition to thunderstorms, the front will bring strong gusty

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Crossville council continues whittling on 2017-18 fiscal year budget but work remains.

After two lengthy budget work sessions, Crossville city council has reduced the 2017-18 fiscal year budget by about $500,000.  The difference between estimated revenue and expenses currently stands at $1.9 million in the red.

The Council still has to go through the water and sewer fund budgets but those are separate accounts and those changes have no effect on the general fund budget numbers.  According to city finance director Fred Houston, those funds are in the black as they currently stand.

Council has made no decision on non-profit donations and plans to put off a decision until they see how the budget numbers end up.

Council appears to be unwilling to add the 3 additional firefighters requested by fire chief Mike Turner to enable the department to use smaller trucks to respond to medical calls.  The council has expressed concern that the $133,000 cost for salary, benefits and training would continue annually and increase over time.

The city's 2016-17 for the current year budget was originally approved with a $2.2 million deficit but is now on track to end the year with a $900,000 estimated surplus.  And the previous year for 2015-16 ended with an almost $2.9 million surplus.  The city also has a rainy day fund that tops $10 million.

One proposal discussed would pay off some of the city's short term loans using the fund balance and that would further reduce the expenses for next years budget by some $800,000.  These loans paid for the fleet of police cars, some paving and the city's new radio system in partnership with the county.  Reports are that the radio system is working very well.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NOAA Hazardous Weather Outlook affects Crossville through the weekend.

A line of showers and thunderstorms will move across Middle
Tennessee from around midnight through Thursday morning. A few
storms could be strong to possibly severe, with damaging winds
the main threat.

DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...Thursday through Tuesday

Friday evening into Friday night...scattered to numerous showers
and strong to severe thunderstorms are expected across mainly the
northwest half of Middle Tennessee. Some storms will be strong to
severe, with damaging winds, large hail, heavy rainfall, localized
flooding, and a couple of tornadoes all possible.

Sunday into Sunday night...widespread showers and thunderstorms
are expected to move west to east across Middle Tennessee. Some
storms will be strong to severe, with damaging winds, large hail,
heavy rainfall, localized flooding, and a couple of tornadoes all

Jeremy Mangas recognized as Crossville firefighter of the quarter.

Firefighter/Paramedic Jeremy Mangas was recognized as the Crossville Fire Department (CFD) firefighter of the quarter during the April Crossville city council meeting.

Under the recognition program, firefighters are nominated by their peers then those nominations evaluated by a panel and then presented to the fire chief Mike Turner.

Firefighter Mangas excels in all aspects of the job and has been instrumental in mentoring recruit firefighters. Mangas has a passion for fire prevention and has been invaluable in the smoke detector campaign as well as teaching fire prevention.

In addition to Mangas' work for the Crossville Fire Department, his brother is a policeman and his wife Bethany is a paramedic for the Cumberland County EMS.  Chief Turner described Mangas as "an asset to the fire department and to the county."

Jeremy Mangas, center, was recognized as the CFD firefighter
of the quarter.  L-R are Jeremy's mother, his wife Bethany, Mangas,
Fire Chief Mike Turner and Mayor James Mayberry.

Storytelling Festival at Palace Theatre this Saturday April 29 features tall tales, history and more

Storytelling fills the Historic Palace Theatre this Saturday April 29 starting at 11 AM and featuring locals, music, youth and story tellers from East Tennessee State University just up the road from Jonesborough Tennessee, the storytelling capital of the USA.  At ETSU, you can even earn a Master's Degree with a concentration in storytelling.

As the 9th annual Cumberland Mountain Storytelling Festival the tales you will hear run from originals, folk tales and legends to true history, and stories in music.  The even is sponsored by the Cumberland Mountain Storyteller Guild.

Admission is just $5 for all day and you can come and go as you like.  Students and children admission is just $2.

The schedule below breaks up the festival into topics and you can come for all day or come for the area you are interested in.

Crossville Palace Theatre is on Main Street in Crossville and tickets are available at the door.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Corbin Seiber recognized as Martin student of the month

Martin Elementary School Fifth grader Corbin Seiber was recognized as the student of the month at the April Crossville city council meeting.

Corbin was recognized for the character trait of citizenship and recognized by his teacher Kim Smith because " he sets a fine example, handles the responsibility of raising the flag and lowering it each day and is always mannerly."

Crossville Mayor James Mayberry, left, presents April
student of the month Corbin Seiber, right, with his award.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rhea County Woman Arrested, Charged in Husband’s Murder

From the TBI:
CHATTANOOGA – Special Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have arrested and charged a Rhea County woman in connection to the death of her husband.

At the request of 12th District Attorney General Mike Taylor, TBI Special Agents began investigating the death of Thomas Richard Wilkey, Jr. today, shortly after deputies from the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department found the body of the man (DOB 12-9-65) in his home in the 1200 block of Walkerton Road in Dayton. During the course of the investigation, Agents, working alongside investigators from Rhea County, developed information leading to Wilkey’s wife, Patricia Kaye Wilkey, as the individual responsible for the crime.
Patricia Kaye Wilkey

This evening, Agents arrested Wilkey (DOB 4-4-67) and charged her with one count of Criminal Homicide. At the time of this release, she was being held without bond in the Rhea County Jail.

Crossville city council plans 2nd budget work session Tuesday

After spending over 2 hours on the city's 20017-18 budget last week, they will continue those discussions Tuesday April 25 at 5 PM.

The initial budget was over $2.4 million in the red and council heard about some of the changes and item in the current budget.  Employees would get a 2.5% raise if council leaves the money for that in the budget.  In addition, time was spent discussing the fire department's budget that is requesting 3 new employees for medical response but again puts off a new fire station proposed for Sparta Highway. 
Council talks 2017-18 budget.

The new budget goes into effect July 1, 2017.

Glenn McDonald defines a Crossville tourist as "someone who comes here and spends money.

Meadow Park Lake, a tourism "secret" no more.

While the main thrust of economic development efforts currently surround industry and manufacturing jobs, Cumberland County continues to maintain a strong tourism economy – something it’s had success with for decades.
While Cumberland County is known as the “Golf Capital of Tennessee,” the great outdoors is making a big comeback, too. It’s even a good place for a “social brew.”
One man who knows a lot about area tourism – the present as well as the past – is Glenn McDonald. McDonald has served for many years on the Convention and Visitors Bureau and as vice chair of the tourism/retiree relocation committee.
Link to Upper Cumberland Business Journal Story

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Crossville council approves policy making hiring previous retirees more difficult.

Crossville city council approved a policy concerning the rehiring of previously retired city employees based on several meetings of discussion and input and recommendations from new city manager Greg Wood.

Mayor James Mayberry moved to approve the policy presented at the council previous meeting. Action on that policy was delayed pending additional information. A second to the motion came from councilman Scot Shanks.

The recommendation from Mr. Wood is that as a rule to not allow these employees to return unless there were extraordinary circumstances necessitating their return. In those cases, if they received a retirement buyout, that buyout would have to be paid back over whatever period of time they had to serve to reach the 30 year threshold or five (5) years, whichever is greater. Any other retirement non-buyout incentives received would be deducted from incentives received upon the subsequent separation.
City manager Greg Wood and members of the city council
discuss policy on rehiring previous retirees.

Additionally, their pay should be reduced by 5% to put them on equal footing with other employees who now have to pay in 5% to ICMA when the retirees would not be paying that amount. This is the only way I can see to keep the employee from “double dipping” and maintaining some equity with
employees now under ICMA. Employees of Police or Fire could have knowledge based testing waived but would still need to pass the physical testing requirements of new hires.

With no additional discussion, Mayberry called for a vote. Councilman J. H. Graham voted in favor reiterating that extraordinary circumstances could bring a decision back to the council. Councilman Danny Wyatt voted no saying he did not want to tie the city manager's hands. Councilwoman Pamala Harris also voted yes saying she felt as Mr. Graham did. Mr. Shanks and Mr Mayberry voted yes.

The motion was approved with a four to one vote.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Crossville council remains stymied over sidewalks, votes to request TDOT pave Main St.

Crossville city council could not come to a consensus on downtown sidewalks again, leaving the project where it stood from a motion last July to do piecemeal repairs as the street department can get to it. 

A motion to follow a recommendation from city manager Greg Wood and engineer Tim Begley received 3 votes but failed as changing a previous action it required 4 votes to pass.  That recommendation was to bring all the corners downtown up to ADA standards and install new LED street lights including conduit.  Because the plan would include some "bump outs" into side streets and a few in Main St. that project would have to be done prior to TDOT paving the road through downtown. 
City engineer Tim Begley, standing, explains the
sidewalk plan to members of the city council.
Manager Wood said he hoped he was working on an objective that the council can all agree on.  Wood explained that for the last week he, Tim Begley and Kevin Dean had been working on "What will it take to get everything prepared to get the corners to ADA standards so that we can go ahead and get TDOT to get 127 paved."  For that plan to work, the city would have to do all of the corners, run the conduit and because in several places the existing street lights interfere with the proposed plan, installing the new LED street lights is included in the plan with street light material expected to cost $270,000.  
Looking over plans that did not pass.

The total project would cost about $1 million and according to Wood "would get this thing off of dead center."  Additional work on sidewalks that need repair between the corners could be done after the paving as well as paving work on the side streets that need paved due to the water line work done last year. 

Mr. Begley went over design items with council including bump outs into Main Street and side roads in order to make the ramps compliant.  The bump outs seemed to confuse some of the council.  WHen asked about the staff to allow the city to do the work, Mr. Wood said that the two part-time positions approved by council for the street department would have to be full time.  Wood said the city was not getting applicants for the part-time positions anyway.  
Mr. Begley, center, discusses plans with council members 
Wyatt, left and Harris, right.

Wood continued that once the current light poles were removed, they would be adapted and used to replace wooding light poles at Warner Park that have been attacked by woodpeckers.  Mr. Begley also said that the city would do the curb and gutter around any new bump outs that were built. 

"It's not going to be Nirvana but it's going to get us down the road and get the road paved," quipped Wood. 

The matter of budgets came up next with councilman Danny Wyatt asking about the 2017-18 budget.  Wood explained that $800,000 would be budgeted for the coming year and the balance in the following budget year.  A question from Mayor James Mayberry drew clarification for Wood that that was the cost of materials and the work would be done by city crews but that costs was not part of the estimated costs.  Mayberry also asked about the timeline and the discussion began to break down.  

The length of time to complete the work was not something anyone could estimate precisely.  Council spent some time discussing the project and other work that the street department has to do.  

Mayor Mayberry said that the recent report on Crossville from the Austin Group on how site locating companies look at the area and the report specifically said that the downtown area is vita to the impression companies get of Crossville.  Mayberry also shared a survey of 450 people by the Chamber, a high percentage who felt downtown revitalization was important.  
Cracked and worn downtown sidewalks and a
problem streetlight base near a corner. 

Councilwoman Pamala Harris asked Mayberry how many of them were in favor of a tax increase saying the original plan for sidewalks could have meant a 9 or 10 cent tax increase.  Harris talked about her own survey and was interrupted by Mayberry.

Is that how you got the answers to your survey?  Telling people it would be a 9 or 10 cent tax increase? Harris said "That's what it would be." Mayberry said, "That's what I thought."  Mr. Wyatt said it could even be higher.  "I've got three businesses (car washes) without sidewalks.   I'd love to have sidewalks in front of them."  Wyatt suggested a way to settle the matter was with a referendum.  

Mayberry responded, "How long have we been talking about this?  How long do you want to kick this down the road?  Vote your conscience people, that's all that I can say."

Councilman J. H. Graham moved that the recommendation as discussed be approved.  Ms. Harris supported the motion.  Because the action superseded another previous action by the council 4 votes would be required for the motion to pass.  Voting in favor was Graham, Harris and Wyatt.  Councilman Scot Shanks and Mayor Mayberry voted no and the motion failed. 

As council tried to figure out their next move, councilman Wyatt moved that manager Wood contact TDOT and tell them to come pave Highway 127.  Sidewalks would then be dealt with after that.  Graham gave a second.  The motion was approved with Wyatt, Graham, Harris and Mayberry voted in favor and Shanks voted no.  

It is estimated that TDOT would not do that work until sometime in 2018.

FLASH FLOOD WATCH ISSUED FOR Cumberland Co. Through Saturday night.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Cumberland and Middle Tennessee counties.  The watch is in effect from 3:00 AM Saturday April 22 through late Saturday night.

Previous rainfall accumulations have left most of Middle Tennessee with saturated ground conditions. Periods of moderate showers and thunderstorms will become more pronounced late tonight through late Saturday night, resulting in additional one to three inches of rainfall that could lead to flash flooding across the mid state.

The following areas are withing the watch, Bedford, Cannon, Cheatham, Clay, Coffee, Cumberland, Davidson, De Kalb, Dickson, Fentress, Giles, Grundy, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lawrence, Lewis, Macon, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Overton, Perry, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren, Wayne, White, Williamson, and Wilson.

One, to locally around three inches of rainfall especially across northwest and northern portions of Middle Tennessee.

A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to quick flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fentress Co sheriff admits to federal charges.

Chucky S. Cravens, who previously announced his resignation as sheriff in Fentress County, was charged and pleaded guilty to the counts Thursday in federal court in Nashville.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Crossville city council holds called meeting and work session Thursday evening

Crossville city council has a busy night Thursday with a special called meeting and a work session all starting at 5 PM at Crossville city hall.
Crossville city hall

The called meeting includes discussion and possible action on the city's downtown sidewalk project. The sidewalk project has been discussed as far back as 14 years when a complete makeover of downtown first was discussed. As the years went by and the costs grew, the council dropped much of the downtown improvement program leaving waterlines and sidewalks. Plans to bid out sidewalk work was changed and now appears to be most likely done by the city street department over a 2 year period.
Downtown sidewalk

Tied to the sidewalk project is a new traffic signal installation at the intersection of Main Street and Lantana Road at the bottom of water tank hill. The changes are needed to level out the corners to make ADA accessible sidewalks through the area. The city is seeking grant money for that part of the project.

Also on the called agenda is approval of a memorandum of understanding related to a grant from the Tennessee Fire Chiefs Association to assist with recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters and several budget amendments.

The work session to follow the called meeting is on the city's capital plan and the 2016-17 operating budget.   

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Personnel board hears complaint from Lt. Eckleson, recommends review by new city manager, previous decision upheld

Two new members of the Crossville personnel board took their seats at a meeting called to handle the appeal of a grievance filed by Crossville Police Lt. Brian Eckleson.

The two new members, former city councilman Pete Souza and former city employee Larry Dyer were both elected by city employees. In addition to the two members elected by the employees, the personnel board includes two members are appointed by city council and one by the city manager. Other members of the personnel board at the April meeting included Beth Davis, chair and Tom Isham. Member Lou Morrison was absent.

The board voted to recommend that the new city manager Greg Wood review the investigation. Wood released a memo on his review that upheld the decisions of interim city manager Lee Lawson putting the ball back in Eckleson's hands for a possible return to the personnel board to appeal Wood's action.
City manager Greg Wood's memo

Lieutenant Brian Eckleson 

Members of the personnel board and attendees
at the meeting

Mr. Souza had a statement to make at the start of the meeting saying that he had been told that the personnel board was only advisory in nature. Souza added, “That verbiage diminishes our standing. Were here to bring the conscience to the city, of what is right and what is not right. After that it is up to the city manager or the court system to take whatever action seems necessary.” Souza concluded, “We can recommend, but it's up to them to execute the corrective action necessary.”

The meeting got underway with Lt. Eckleson describing the incident that led to the grievance and action taken by interim city manager Lee Lawson in response to Eckleson's grievance. The appeal to the Personnel Board is over the action of Mr. Lawson.

According to Eclkeson's statement, the harassment was related to his race, national origin and association with the Jewish religion and the investigation of that complaint by Mr. Lawson. Eckleson said he felt he couldn't address the issue of the investigation without describing the original incident.

The original incident took place in a professional promotion interview with then newly rehired police chief David Beaty. “It was one of the most unprofessional interviews I've had while sitting on a promotion interview,” stated Eckleson. According to Eckleson, chief Beaty said his birthday was on April 20 and asked if Lt. Ecklson knew the significance of that date? Eckleson continued, “He smiled and said he shared his birthday with Adolph Hitler. He continued to tell me that he should shave off part of his mustache to look more like (Hitler.)”

Ecklseson related that he did not remember much f the interview after that. He added that according to human resources director Leah Crockett he was the only one such a statement was made to and he said he was the only member of the department with a Jewish background.

After the harassment complaint was filed, Lt. Eckleson was interviewed by both HR director Crockett and interim manager Lawson. According to Eckleson, at that time Lawson stated to him he was “shocked and appalled those comments were made.” Eckleson said he asked about Beaty's supervision during his probationary period but said he got no answer as to whether Beaty was under the city's mandatory 6 to 12 month probationary period.

Lawson's response to the complaint stated that he was no longer shocked and appalled, but felt the comment might be intimidating or even benign. The letter continued that no derogatory remarks were made about Lt. Eckleson or any ethnic or religious group.

In addition, Eckleson said that the HR director no longer remembered what Beaty said exactly. Lawson offered to take back the letter and let the new city manager Greg Wood take over the investigation. After the new city manager started work he declined to reopen the already concluded investigation.

Additional actions taken by Beaty toward Eckleson include lack of inclusion in staff meetings, no interaction with the chief without going through chain of command though others do not have the same requirement. Eckleson also said Beaty had institued a non-paid hour lunch break though offices are required to remain on-call. Eckleson said that action appeared to be in violation of the state's labor law. Eckleson concluded that some of those actions could be considered retaliation.

Mr Lawson's response in the hearing said that he began an immediate investigation into the matter and spoke to all three who were present and the descriptions given where different or not completely recalled. Said Lawson, “Based on the information and evidence available to me at the time, it was my opinion that no version of the statement targeted Lt. Eckleson.” Lawson added that he reviewed chief Beaty's personnel file and found no evidence of similar conduct.

Chief Beaty said that the matter came up during one of the questions they used in the interviews and stemmed from an earlier conversation about a training Lt. Eckleson showed Beaty on his computer. In reference to a school shooting Beaty referenced Columbine, national pot day on April 20. The date was also Hitler's and Beaty's birthdays and Beaty said he commented that he was not going to shave his mustache like that. “That was the gist of the conversation,” Beaty explained.

Questions from Mr. Souza sought clarification from Beaty who said he didn't believe Eckleson was lying but that Beaty disagreed with his account of the interview.

Souza said he had not spoken to anyone involved in the complaint before the meeting but did say he had calls from three officers that he did not solicit and only listened to the comments that expressed concern over possible anger and retribution. “That's not an accusation,” added Souza.

Souza asked Ms. Crockett about the number of people on the panel and she said when the city was interviewing new police hires there were 6 on the panel. Souza expressed concern about the small number involved in the promotion interviews. Crockett admitted that there were no scores on the ranking list of candidates and that there should have been as part of the personnel procedure.

After some discussion on possible action, Mr Souza commented before offering a motion. “Lt. Eckleson's complaint has merit,” said Souza, “because part of this conversation never should have occurred. I've not found any evidence of malice but it can be construed as malice because of sensitivity.” Souza also said that he did not blame Lee Lawson for any gaps in his investigation as he had his hands full with running the city.

Souza moved saying, “There is sufficient merit in Lt. Eckleson's complaint to warrant the current city manager to re-investigate the situation.” Souza also sought to have the city manager look into the pay question on unpaid but on call lunch and procedures for filling vacant positions. No member supported Souza's motion and the motion of member Tom Isham to have the new city manager review the matter received a second from Larry Dyer. Souza said that Isham's motion was good enough and the matter was approved by voice vote of the 4 members of the board who were present.  

Steve Rains, CEO of Progressive Bank died Monday, services Friday

Services for Steve Rains, 54 of Jamestown will be held in the gym of York Institute on Friday April 21 at 7 PM with visitation to take place from 5 to 7 PM also at the gym.

Rains was the CEO of Progressive Bank located in Fentress, Cumberland, Putnam and Morgan Counties.

Rains is survived by his Wife, Emily (Phillips) Rains; Son, Jack Phillips Rains and Daughter, Lyndon Katherine "Kate" Rains.

Rains is reported to have died at his home in Fentress Co. and his cause of death has not been released.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mayor Mayberry calls special meeting Thursday at 5 PM on downtown sidewalks

After discussing the long proposed Downtown Crossville sidewalk improvements earlier this month, without taking any action, the Crossville city council planned to move the topic to a work session for further discussion .  

Still set for Thursday April 20 is a work session on the city's 2017-2018 budget and capital improvement plan, but even before that agenda was released, a special called meeting has been set by Mayor James Mayberry for the same evening.

Special Meeting Call

The called agenda includes several consent agenda items as well as an item for discussion and possible action on downtown sidewalks.  One of the first things that needs to be done is work on the traffic signals at the bottom of Water Tank Hill.  Without that done the sidewalk project would have to stop at the Main St. and Lantana Rd. intersection. 

Council is hoping to get recommendations from new city manager Greg Wood and city staff. 

Bad sidewalks on Main St.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Crossville Young Marines program provides Color Guard for city council meetings

The Crossville Young Marines Program works with boys and girls to promote education, patriotism and respect.  They are a frequent part of the Crossville city council meeting by acting as Color Guard for the posting of the Colors and leading the Pledge of Allegiance before the meeting.

Young Marines present Colors at April 2017
Crossville city council meeting.

Palace Theatre hosts Storytelling Festival April 29.

Everyone has a story.  

Come hear some of the best at the Ninth Annual Cumberland Mountain Storytelling Festival Saturday April 29 at Crossville historic Palace Theatre.  Tellers from East Tennessee State University, ETSU in Johnson City TN where you can earn a degree in storytelling will be this years featured tellers.  You will also hear from other guests tellers and members of the Cumberland Storytelling Guild.  

This year's festival is set up by story categories and admission allows you to come and go as you like.  Hear Children's stories and Fairy Tales from 11-12:20.  Variety including original stories, tall tales, folk tales, legends and whoppers from 12:20 to 2:00 and Historic Stories from 3:25 to 5:30.  

ETSU tellers are featured from 2:00 to 3:20 PM and 6:30 to 8:30 PM.  

Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Downtown sidewalk improvement project planned for 14 years but can't seem get to started

Downtown Crossville sidewalks and street light supports
These photos are from July 2016

In some places the roadway is as high as the sidewalk 
creating potential water flow problems for businesses 

Sidewalk discussion by city council

Sidewalk improvements in Downtown Crossville have been under discussion for over 14 years now and the latest plan was to have city crews repair and redo parts of the sidewalk depending on the condition they are in but a discussion on the project lead nowhere but to a work session for more discussion during Crossville city council's April regular meeting.

The sidewalk project has also been holding up the resurfacing project of Main Street through Downtown that remains full of patches following the work to install water lines last year.

After over 25 minutes of discussion including talk about possible new LED streets lights and where the work should start, the discussion was pushed to an upcoming work session after a motion was made and then withdrawn to begin work. The city has gotten the necessary permit to work on the sidewalks from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and also plans to redo the traffic lights at Main Street and Lantana Road at the bottom of Water Tank Hill.

The traffic light project will be done to allow the sidewalks to be fixed around that intersection as the elevations of the current traffic light poles and sidewalks are not compatible now. An environmental study is being completed before the traffic light work moves forward.

New city manager Greg Wood talked to the council about installing LED street lights because of the cost savings of operating the more efficient lights. The current lights are operated by Volunteer Electric at an annual cost of $751 per light. According to Wood, the cost for LED is substantially lower plus the bulbs last 20 to 30 years before needing replaced.

The project would require installation of conduit in the sidewalk for the new street lights and that slowed the discussion again as the council could not decide whether to start with just sidewalks or both projects together.

Councilman J. H. Graham said he thought the city should begin the sidewalk program immediately at Lantana Road and start down one side of Main Street putting in conduit if necessary. Councilwoman Pamala Harris agreed saying, “People were worn out with it.”

Councilman Danny Wyatt asked finance director Fred Houston about funds budgeted for the work by city crews and Houston said some $250,000 was added to the street department's budget and additional equipment as well.
Crossville city engineer Tim Begley, right talks to council
members about sidewalks. L-R behind desk are
Mayor James Mayberry, council memebers Pam Harris
and Scot Shanks and city clerk Sally Oglesby.

Graham's comment became a motion with the second made by Mr Wyatt. Councilman Scot Shanks asked what was the recommendation of engineer Tim Begley and street department supervisor Kevin Music. Begley recommended that the city complete each of the four corners of the intersection at the bottom of Water Tank Hill when the new traffic light goes in or some of the sidewalk would be impassable.

After some additional discussion, Mr. Graham withdrew his motion.

Crossville Street Department supervisor Music said that his sidewalk crew was currently working along Industrial Drive at Centennial Park and since the council had directed them to move forward with phase 2 and they needed to come to a stopping point before they could move to Downtown. Music also said that 2 part time positions he is trying to add would be more helpful if they were full time positions instead. Music explained he is having trouble filling those part-time positions.

Music said that if the sidewalks are done and then the lights later would mean new concrete would have to be taken up. “I would rather see this done right, block by block, even if it takes 2 years,” added Music. Councilman Wyatt asked about the paving of Main Street by TDOT. Music said they could come and pave anytime as far as he was concerned. Graham told the council he was getting a lot of phone calls about the condition of Main Street.

Begley said he was concerned if TDOT went ahead and paved that there would be problems with storm water drainage creating what he called “bird baths” at some of the corners. He added that in order to be ADA complaint, some of the corners will require bump outs that could complicate the project. Because Main Street has been repaved several times, TDOT plans to mill down the road several lawyers before repaving but Begley said if that was done before the sidewalks are complete then they would have to match up with the current levels and again create problems.

Wyatt asked how soon TDOT could start on paving and Begley said he didn't know but thought it would probably be sometime in 2018 before it could be done. As the decision became less and less clear, Mr. Shanks said it sounded like a work session was needed. With a budget work session tentatively scheduled for April 20 the sidewalk topic will be added to the budget meeting when ever it is set.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Second fatality reported in Cookeville Ficosa shooting from Tuesday

Cookeville police say the man who was shot in yesterday's domestic related shooting has died from his injuries.

Tyler Wayne Stults was shot by 30 year old Angelique Deplae.  The two are lasted as "in a relationship" according to both of their facebook pages though other reports say they were no longer together.
Tyler Stults from his Facebook page

Angelique Deplae from her Facebook page

Rebecca Crowley was sitting in a car with Stults when the shooting took place and she was also wounded in the attack.  Following the shooting, Deplae allegedly took her own life.

Names of those involved in Ficosa shooting released.

From Cookeville Police Department

Names Released in Domestic-Related Shooting

Cookeville, TN – A shooting occurred in the parking lot of a local factory earlier today while 35-year-old Rebecca Ann Louise Marion Crowley and 20-year-old Tyler Wayne Stults (both employees of the factory) were seated in a vehicle in the parking lot.

According to witnesses, the vehicle was approached by 30-year-old Angelique Elizabeth Deplae who opened the driver’s door and began firing a revolver. Ms. Deplae then apparently walked toward the front of the vehicle and took her own life.

The investigation revealed that Mr. Stults and Ms. Deplae had been in a prior domestic relationship.

The shooter, Deplae killed herself at the scene and Stultz and Crowley were hospitalized.  Crowley was flown to Erlanger while Stultz was taken to a Cookevlle hospital and then transferred to Nashville.  Both Mr. Stults and Ms. Deplae list the other as being in a relationship on their facebook pages.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cumberland Co. Sheriff issues "All Clear" on I-40 shooting incident "No active shooter" involved.

It appears that this afternoon's shooting incident at the I-40 rest area is not a threat to the public

A press release
was issued by Cumberland Co. Sheriff Casey Cox Tuesday evening.

Shooting reported at I-40 eastbound rest area in Cumberland Co.

Law enforcement officers are investigating a shooting at the rest area on eastbound I -40 this evening.  According to officials, one victim was shot twice and is being helicoptered to a hospital.  The shooter is reportedly on foot and authorities are looking for them now.

Shooter described as 6 feet, bald and wearing a dark shirt.

Federal investigation of Fentress Co. Sheriff's Office, FBI and TBI assisting.

Fox 17 News story

FBI, TBI investigating Fentress County Sheriff, seize truck, computer files, records

Agents said they are investigating Fentress County Sheriff Chucky Cravens.

Cravens is a lifetime resident of Fentress County and a former sheriff and police officer before being reelected in 2014.

Three shot outside Cookeville FICOSA plant. UPDATED INFO

Statement from Cookeville Police Department Major Carl Sells 12:10 PM:

3 People Shot Outside of FICOSA Plant

Cookeville, TN – At approximately 10:37 am, we received information that a shooting occurred in the parking lot of the FICOSA building located on Highlands Park Boulevard.

Three people were shot: 1 male and 2 females. The female shooter is deceased. One of the victims was flown to Erlanger Hospital, and the other victim was taken to Cookeville Regional Medical Center for treatment.

We are investigating this as an isolated domestic violence incident.

The area is secure, and there is no outside threat to the community.

If you have any information about this incident, please contact the Cookeville Police Department at 931-526-2125.
Statement from Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton posted at 11:30 AM on Facebook:

 At approximately 10:37 am, CPD received a call that there was a shooting at the FICOSA plant on Highlands Park Boulevard. The shooting took place outside of the building. Three people were shot, 2 female and 1 male. 1 person is deceased and 2 others have been flown to hospitals. The scene is secured, and there is no danger to the community. We will have a more detailed press release later today. Please pray for those involved!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Shooting Park property sale closed on Thursday.

The sale of property for use by the nonprofit group Crossville Shooting Park, Inc. that was approved by the Crossville city council last Tuesday has taken place and the closing on the sale was held last Thursday.

The sale included 147.63 acres of property between Albert Frye Road and Interstate 40, part of a property the City of Crossville purchased and used 37 acres of for a landfill some 20 years ago.

The use of the property as a shooting sports park with funding from TWRA had been considered for over 18 months and turned controversial after neighboring property owners realized the project would affect their property.  After the council initially approved the sale, they reversed that decision leading to additional meetings and a test shooting to see how loud the operation might be.  Following that test, a portion of the property was restricted to archery and air gun use creating a buffer between the firearm shooting area and neighboring property.

The sale would revert to the city should funding for the park not be received by December 31, 2017 and could also revert if the park is not operated as a shooting park for 180 days once it starts operation.  The city will have 2 member appointments to the organization's board and the police department will be allowed to use the facility for training and practice.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tuesday Council agenda looks at rehiring retirees, solid waste contract and a report on downtown sidewalks

The April Crossville city council meeting is set for Tuesday April 11 and includes mostly items the council has discussed before.

One item not on the agenda for the first time in several weeks is the Shooting Sports Park and the sale of the land to the nonprofit is scheduled to be closed prior to this meeting.  This will also be the first real council meeting for new city manager Greg Wood who started one week before the last meeting.
New Crossville city manager Greg Wood

The Council's regular meeting starts at 6 PM and will be preceded by the monthly audit committee meeting at 5:20 PM and a brief public hearing on the annexation plan of services for two new annexations at 2496 Lantana Rd and 99 Grandview Dr in addition to a report on annexation progress for Orange Circle at 5:50 PM. The council also meets as the Solicitation Board at 5:55 PM to consider an application from the Crossville Lions Club for their annual white cane project.
Council meetings are held at city hall and open to the public.

The regular agenda includes possible action on the rehiring of retirees policy that council has been discussing for some time now. Councilman Danny Wyatt had requested some additional information on the cost and savings of the previous early retirement program. The spread sheet prepared by Leah Crockett shows an amount of annual savings totaling $282,708 for the current year looking at how much the retirees would be receiving compared to the cost of their current replacements.

The total amount of the 6 months of salary buyout for the 18 employees who took early retirement was $446,275 so it appears the city has already made back its investment in the 28 months since the program was offered.

The issues that have cropped up with the rehiring of retirees include that they must be returned to the more expensive Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System and the 6 month salary buyout and other regular retirement incentives they received. Discussion by council has included whether the buyout payment should be paid back if a previous retiree return to work.

New city manager Greg Wood has recommended that such employees not be rehired unless there were “extraordinary circumstances.”

As the deadline nears for a decision on renewal of the city solid waste collection contract with Cumberland Waste Disposal the city has been looking at its options. One option is the city's purchase of a leaf vacuum truck to allow the street department to do some or all of the leaf pickup. Such a truck is estimated to cost around $40,000.

During last weeks council work session, Manager Wood suggested that the city renew the the contract for 12 months to give him time to come up with a plan and recommendation. Council did not seem to want to do that. Council must either renew the contract, rebid the contract or take over waste collection with city employees.

Council will receive an update on the status of the downtown sidewalk project and a proposal to replace the traffic signal at the bottom of Water Tank Hill. The sidewalk project may affect the state plans to resurface Main Street through Downtown.

Council will also consider a request from the Lake Commission for additional funds to pave additional parking at the park between the playground and the large shelter. The project will require an additional $5,000 added to the almost $10,000 the park has in their budget.

Council will consider 4 appointments to the Industrial Development Board, approval of several bids including repainting the Catoosa water tank in Interchange Business Park, and proposals for the next city financial audit.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Friday at the Crossroads returned for 2017! Next set for June 2, 2017

After several successful events in 2016, Friday at the Crossroad was back April 7 for 2017 with fun for all ages, music, food information and great shopping.  While the wind was cool, it did not stop many people who cam out to enjoy historic Downtown Crossville.

Mark your calendars for the next Friday at the Crossroads on June 2, 2017.

Friday at the Crossroads brings together government, businesses and
the community. 

Kids really enjoyed the City of Crossville sponsored
bounce house on the Courthouse lawn.

Lots of sunshine early and temperatures in the 50's
seemed warm unless you got out in the wind and a
a jacket helped 

Hot dogs and other great food was available. 

With Main St. closed for the 4 hour event, visitors enjoyed
walking to the displays and shops.

Several Veteran's organizations were set up near the memorial park.

Friday, April 7, 2017

March student of the month for Martin Elementary

Calum Wilson was recognized as the Martin Elementary School student of the month at the Crossville city council's March meeting for his fairness.

Calum Wilson, left, recognized for his representation
of fairness by Crossville Mayor James Mayberry, right.

Freeze Warning tonight for Cumberland Co. and middle Tennessee. Plants may need protection

Freeze Warning Late Tonight into Early Saturday Morning for Much of
Middle Tennessee.

A cool high pressure system will move to the Mid State tonight. Clear skies and light winds will allow temperatures to drop off to the lower 30s for most areas, but sheltered locations and valleys will drop into the upper 20s. These conditions could cause damage to some plants. Action should be taken today to protect plants, including bringing small plants indoors and covering outdoor plants.

No snow expected, but tender plants could be threatened.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Crossville and Cumberland Co. accept $500,0000 ECD grant

Representatives of the City of Crossville, Cumberland County amd Chamber of Commerce receive the economic development grant to be used in the Interchange Business Park to create a construction ready pad for a 200,000 sq. Ft. Industrial building.

Pictured L-R  Jody Sliger, ECD, Chamber President Brad Allamong, County Mayor Kenneth Carey, Jr., Crossville Mayor James Mayberry, City Manager Greg Wood, TN Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Bob Rolfe, City Clerk Sally Oglesby, City Engineer Tim Begley, Assistant Commissioner of TECD Amy New

Previous story on grant.

Wind advisory with colder weather today.

A wind advisory is in effect until 10 PM this evening and colder temperatures with scattered rain are in the forecast April 6.  Low tonight around 35 degrees! Bundle up.

Wind Advisory is in effect for all of Middle Tennessee through
10 PM CDT this evening. Sustained breezy winds 15 to 25 mph, with
gusts 40 to 45 mph possible.

Short Term Forecast:
Showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 49. West wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Mostly cloudy, with a low around 35. West northwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 40 mph.
Sunny, with a high near 52. West northwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lawsuit pits family campground against neighboring nudist camp.

A lawsuit filed April 3rd in Cumberland County Chancery Court claims that a family campground and a nudist camp are incompatible next door to each other and asks that the nudist camp should be stopped from operating.

The lawsuit, “Luker Family Enterprises, LLC VS Danny Davis as owner of Cherokee Garden of Eden” says that the Luker family own and operate a 30 plus acre resort style family campground that has been open since 2014. While the lawsuit doesn't identify the name of the campground, the address listed in the suit for the plaintiffs is the location of Davy Crockett Campground located on Trails End Rd off of Plateau Road in western Cumberland County.

The Luker family purchased their property from the defendant, Danny Davis and the suit states there was a verbal agreement between the parties that no nudist campground or any other type of campground would be located anywhere on the defendant's adjoining properties. The boundary between the two properties includes a lake that both parties share, open air fence and wooded area. The parties also share an entrance road to the properties.

According to the suit, “campers and minor children are at risk of of being exposed to naked adults” who could be visible across the lake or through the wooded area. In addition, sharing the lake could lead to exposure as well.

“The mere existence of a nudist campground next to the family campground will destroy the plaintiff's business and cause customers and campers to never return,” claims the suit. The suit seeks a temporary restraining order to close the nudist camp and require the owners to remove all internet and all forms of advertising including signage.

The suit, filed by Crossville attorney Will Ridley,  seeks a permanent order prohibiting the opening of a nudist camp on the adjourning property as well as damages, court costs and expenses to be determined by the court.

The nudist camp's Facebook page is no longer accessible though other internet information remains on the web.   

Tornado Watch issued 4-5-17 for parts of Tennessee including Cumberland Co. until 9 PM

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for parts of Middle 
and East Tennessee effective until 9 PM Central time.

A Tornado watch means that conditions are favorable that could lead to severe 
thunderstorms that could generate a possible tornado.


ANDERSON             BEDFORD             BLEDSOE
CAMPBELL             CANNON              CHEATHAM
CLAY                 COFFEE              CUMBERLAND
DAVIDSON             DE KALB             DICKSON
FENTRESS             FRANKLIN            GILES
GRUNDY               HAMILTON            HICKMAN
JACKSON              LAWRENCE            LEWIS
LINCOLN              MACON               MARION
MARSHALL             MAURY               MEIGS
MOORE                MORGAN              OVERTON
PICKETT              PUTNAM              RHEA
ROANE                ROBERTSON           RUTHERFORD
SCOTT                SEQUATCHIE          SMITH
SUMNER               TROUSDALE           VAN BUREN
WARREN               WAYNE               WHITE

On again, off again shooting park is back on again after Crossville city council approval

The Crossville city council reversed its stance on selling property for use as a shooting sports park and the controversial project is back moving forward following a special called meeting Tuesday evening.

Discussion on a proposed shooting sports park first became public 20 months ago and was discussed at city council meetings as the group trying to build the facility were seeking property to locate the park on from the city.
Mayor James Mayberry addresses called meeting

That property was a portion of land purchased over 20 years ago and used for a few years as a city run landfill. After the landfill closed the land set quietly until this project cropped up. The project was discussed, received support from the previous council and occasionally came back for discussion as funding was committed and new details emerged.

Things began moving at full speed late last year with work on a contract to sell a portion of the city's original property to a nonprofit group formed to operate the facility. A sales contract was approved by council at their February meeting and a small but vocal group of residents who lived near the proposed location began to complain about who the proposed park could effect their homes.

In March, the contract was rescinded by the council at a special called meeting shortly before the sale was to close under the original contract and additional meetings were held along with a shooting demonstration at the property this past Saturday. Sources say that additional work by new city manager Greg Wood and changes to the contract by city attorney Will Ridley moved the project back to council consideration.
Crossville city attorney WIll Ridley
explains contract changes.

One change that was made to the original deal is that the remaining portion of the property along Albert Frye Road that will only be used for quiet activities such as air guns, archery and education programs. This will create a buffer between the shooting park and the closest property beside the shooting park.

The city had already planned to retain an area along Albert Frye Road for possible future development and possible industrial use. The city also retains the portion of the property previously used as a landfill and other property along the southern edge of the original property purchased by the city.
Video of full council meeting

The discussion opened at the special called meeting Tuesday night and Mayor James Mayberry moved to approve the new contract prepared by city attorney Will Ridley with the changes. Mayberry's motion received a second from councilman Scot Shanks.

Mr. Ridley explained about the changes to the original agreement that restricted the use of the 13.86 acres in the Northwest corner of the property bordered on the north by Albert Frye Rd and on the east by private property that includes a residential cabin.

Ridley said that the property would revert to the city if funding is not secured by December 31, 2016 and that funding must be state of federal money.

Other provisions include that the city council will have the right to appoint two members of the Crossville Shooting Park, Inc. board and the city will not charge for any building or other permits required in the development of the project.

Councilman J. H. Graham said he and some of the property owners in the area of the park had concerns about the road into the site and the turn off from Peavine road and felt the road should be brought up to standards of the Crossville Regional Planning commission. Graham felt there should be a 50 foot right of way and a 3 lane mouth on the end of the road.
Councilman J. H. Graham talks about Albert Frye Rd.

Mr. Ridley said the road was a county road and and he didn't feel the city could force the county to make such improvements.

In order to hear from shooting park board representative James Wattenbarger the council had to approve a motion to waive the rules against public comment as council member Danny Wyatt had a question for him. The discussion included noise abatement by putting rubber mulch into the walls separating the shooting stations and while that was more expensive, it would help with noise. When asked about the road, Wattenbarger said the road to the Carroll Co. park was smaller and longer then Albert Frye.

Also discussed was night shooting and Wattenbarger said generally shooting ranges operate to dusk and that time varies with the calendar. He pointed out in summer that the time of dusk was later. The facility will not be set up for night shooting either.

Property owner Harold Stryker suggested making the entrance to the range come off of Chestnut Hill Road saying it was a better road and could handle more traffic but no action was taken on that suggestion.

The vote on the motion to approve the new contract was unanimous with a comment from Mr. Graham saying that he was strongly opposed to approving a contract without road improvements in it but added, I am for the shooting range and I vote aye.”