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The Mountain Press ■ Sevier County’s Daily Newspaper ■ Vol. 26, No. 288 ■ October 15, 2010 ■ ■ 75 Cents Friday INSIDE Spotlight October 15 - 21, 2010 On Smoky Mountain Entertainment Wheatley faces more problems Attorney arrested for bad checks On the tube By JEFF FARRELL Staff Writer Holly Robinson Peete, Sharon Osbourne, Julie Chen, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Sara Gilbert and Leah Remini (clockwise from top left) co-host “The Talk” weekdays on CBS. 5On the tube this week CBS debuts new show “The Talk” starting Monday SEVIERVILLE — A local attorney whose license was recently suspended is now facing legal woes of his own after he allegedly threatened a restaurant employee who wouldn’t accept his check, and then struck the man as he tried to leave. William Lee Wheatley is also facing charges for allegedly passing bad checks. The Tennessee Supreme Court suspended Wheatley’s license Sept. 10. He cannot currently represent clients. Wheatley’s actions at El Primo restaurant led to his arrest, and to a lockdown at Pigeon Forge Primary School, where his daughter is a student. “It was strictly precautionary,” Director of Schools Jack Parton said concerning the lockdown. “Our resource officer in the city of Pigeon Forge took into account the situation, (and) they did a very commendable job. I’m extremely pleased with the contingency plan they have in place there.” Wheatley was later arrested without incident at a residence in Sevier County. The search started at about noon Wednesday, when an employee at El Primo called dispatchers. The employee said Wheatley had tried to pass a check at the restaurant, and was refused. Records show he is accused of having passed two bad checks at the restaurant. Wheatley allegedly threatened the man at some point during the confrontation, before striking him as he tired to leave. “The suspect allegedly brandished a wooden nightstick and threatened the complainant,” said Bob Stahlke, public information See wheatley, Page A4 inside Text message Exercise teaches students about focusing on driving 5A Novel Approach Author, artist join forces to help Friends in Need By ELLEN BROWN Staff Writer Mountain life, Page B1 Sports Ready for revenge? Highlanders face A-E team that booted them from 2009 playoffs Page A8 Weather Today Partly Cloudy High: 66° Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press Tonight Partly Cloudy Lesson learned as Lindsey Vaught runs into the back of Kelsey Spangler during a texting while driving exercise by selected Pigeon Forge High School students. The program, “The Great Hang Up,” gave students a chance to see and feel the consequences of taking your eyes off the road. PIGEON FORGE — Thirteen Pigeon Forge High School students had the opportunity on Wednesday to learn just how dangerous texting while driving can be. It was an activity that Pigeon Forge firefighters Kevin Nunn and Matt Lovitt coordinated at The Track, after Nunn had seen an anti-texting program featured on the news. “This program came out of Canada — I saw it on CNN one day. They had kids drive around in go-carts, once while texting and once while not texting, and timed them. It hit me that we could do this here — Pigeon Forge is a haven for go-karts,” Nunn said with a laugh. And so Nunn and Lovitt enlisted the aid of the Pigeon Forge Police Department and AAA East Tennessee and invited a PFHS government class to make it happen. “It was a good joint venture,” Nunn said. “We told (the students), ‘You’re going to text just a simple phrase — like ‘Row, row your boat’ — to another driver, and they’ll text the same thing back to you.’ “We also had policemen and firemen out there trying to throw things off course by driving and suddenly coming to a stop. We timed them going around without texting, and then timed them while they were texting. The second time around, they were 30 seconds slower.” And even though the students were driving only 14 miles per hour (the fastest the go-karts would allow them to go), it still wasn’t slow enough to prevent collisions. “The guys were great — they already had so much planned,” Stephanie Shipley Milani, AAA East Tennessee See driving, Page A4 Low: 37° DETAILS, Page A6 Obituaries Neal Soutra, 73 Mary Whaley, 70 Lester Householder Sr., 74 Lynn Davis, 76 DETAILS, Page A4 Index Local & State . . . . . A1-6 Nation . . . . . . . . . . A5-14 World . . . . . . . . . . . A5-15 Money . . . . . . . . . . . . A5 Opinion . . . . . . . . . . . . . A7 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . A8-12 Advice . . . . . . . . . . . . B9 Comics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B9 Calendar . . . . . . . . . B10 Classifieds . . . . . B10-B14 PF commissioners skeptical of treatment plant By DEREK HODGES Staff Writer PIGEON FORGE — City officials may have been impressed with wastewater technology in use in Murfreesboro during a recent visit to the Middle Tennessee city, but that doesn’t mean they’re all convinced it could work here. During a work session Wednesday, four City Commission members expressed reservations about a proposal to locate such a plant here, while only one admitted to being completely sold on the idea. Concerns ranged from cost to the potential for bad publicity, while Commissioner David “I don’t like the idea of the reuse. I don’t like it at all. If word gets around that we’re spraying sewer water all over town, think how that would hurt us.” — Commissioner Randal Robinson Wear insisted he’s certain the new direction is the right one for Pigeon Forge. Engineers from Smith Seckman Reid Inc. (SSR) presented two options to the group, which has vowed to make some decisions on Gatlinburg United Way luncheon Corrections the city’s critical sewage situation, which threatens the potential for a development moratorium in the coming years. Both of them are shaped by a state requirement that the city dump no more than its current amount of treated Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press Gatlinburg city employees package lunches during their annual lunch Thursday for Sevier County United Way. They were set to serve more than 300 lunches at $5 a pop benefitting the United Way. See plant, Page A4 Newman confident United Way ready to face difficult challenges By DEREK HODGES Staff Writer The Mountain Press is committed to accuracy. Please report factual errors by calling 428-0748 Ext. 214. wastewater into the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The first calls for piping the effluent to the French Broad River, with plans made for sites either in the city or one on Chapman Highway. If the plant remains in the municipal limits, the treated water would make the whole 12-mile trip to the river. If the property on Chapman hosts the facility, raw sewage would be pumped through force mains to the treatment center, then the conditioned water would be sent to the river from there. However, there are concerns about that option, as SSR Senior PIGEON FORGE — Tom Newman talks excitedly standing below a lazily spinning ceiling fan in a back room of Mama’s Farmhouse. He’s battling platters of fried chicken and bowls of beans to keep his audience’s attention as he stresses the importance of United Way of Sevier County having a better year in 2010. “The last few years have not been pretty. We all know that,” Newman concedes. “A lot of nonprofits are taking serious hits. When we’re asking people to give money, we better have a compelling reason because a lot of folks are struggling.” Newman, United Way of Sevier County’s executive director, describes the effort to stem that tide of tough years as a “challenge. A big challenge.” But he’s telling groups like this one, made up mostly of people who have never been involved with United Way, it can be done. “We’ve got our house in order. We know exactly where we want to go and how to get there,” Newman insists. “I have no doubts about the years to come because, whatever we do this year, we’re going to build upon that every year ahead.” See united way, Page A4

October 15, 2010

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