The Mountain Press ■ Sevier County’s Daily Newspaper ■ Vol. 26, No. 58 ■ February 27, 2010 ■ www.themountainpress.com ■ 50 Cents
Shooting victim details incident
By JEFF FARRELL Staff Writer
5Postseason continues Lady Tigers, Bearettes play to stay alive in region tournament Sports, Page A8
Michael Mundy said he knew something wasn’t right when he pulled his car to a stop behind the O’Charley’s restaurant on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. Jan. 27 for what he said was an illegal drug deal that turned into an armed robbery and almost cost him his life.
“It just didn’t feel right,” he said during a preliminary hearing Friday for the three people charged with attempted especially aggravated robbery in relation to the incident. There was only one other car in the parking lot, for one thing, and the restaurant appeared to be closed. Still, he turned off the ignition of his car when Amanda Abrams — whom he said arranged
By DEREK HODGES Staff Writer
Native American musician performs for Walters State Local, Page A2
Election-year side effect
the window and demanded he open the door, but Mundy said as soon as he saw the man he turned on the engine and locked the door. “I put the vehicle in drive, and that’s the last thing I remember,” he said. As it turned out, that’s because he’d been shot in the back of the See Shooting, Page A4
Incentives ‘Spur’ work Rockslide repairs ahead of schedule so far
5Going back to his roots
the transaction — told him the buyer was finishing work inside the restaurant and would be out shortly. Mundy was there to sell 20 pills of Oxycontin, the powerful prescription painkiller that is used illicitly has a narcotic. Not long after that, he said, Lee Franklin Morton charged from some nearby woods brandishing a handgun. Morton banged on
PIGEON FORGE — Crews working on clearing up and stabilizing the area of a Jan. 25 rockslide are running far ahead of schedule so far, but officials haven’t yet set a new completion date as they keep a leery eye on the weather. The contractors at the site have already cleared the debris and installed a retaining wall to support the hillside that collapsed into the southbound lanes of the Spur just beyond the Pigeon Forge city limits. While it seems likely they’ll beat both the March 12 deadline to open both lanes of traffic and the April 30 mark for wrapping all work on the project, they’re not yet confident enough to say that’s a certain. “The work has gone well. We’ve been
working a lot of hours,” project superintendent Dale Dockery said Thursday. “Hopefully we’ll be able to wrap it up early.” Already the workers, who have spent 15 to 18 hour shifts at the site under the emergency contract given to Sevierville’s Charles Blalock & Sons Construction, have cleared the debris, stabilized the Dockery rock face and built a 115foot long, 20-foot high retaining wall. Behind that fortification they have filled the gap between the earth and the woodand-metal barrier with jagged-cut rock. On Friday’s chilly morning, crews were using propane heaters to raise the temperature of the air around the rocks to at least 35 degrees, the minimum temperature required for pouring cement, which will fill in the gaps between the stone and further reinforce the wall. The heating Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press effort is another sign of just how hard Crews use propane heaters to raise the temperature of the air around the rocks above the See Spur, Page A4 retaining wall to be able to pour cement.
Election season influences legislative pace Page A6
Weather Today Mostly cloudy High: 43
Tonight Cloudy Low: 28°
DETAILS, Page A6
Obituaries Donna Brown, 48 Frank B. Clabo, 88 Arnold L. McCarter, 66 Leroy Mitchell, Jr., 38 Johnnie M. Shults, 68 Mildred H. Teaster, 76 Harry L. Vann, 56 DETAILS, Page A4
Index Local & State . . . . . A1-6 Calendar . . . . . . . . . . A3 Opinion . . . . . . . . . . . . . A7 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . A8-10 Money . . . . . . . . . . . . A5 Advice . . . . . . . . . . . A15 Comics . . . . . . . . . . . . A15 Classifieds . . . . . . A12-14 Nation . . . . . . . . . . . . A5 World . . . . . . . . . . . . A11
Corrections The Mountain Press is committed to accuracy. Please report factual errors by calling 428-0748 Ext. 214.
Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press
Crews, using jagged rock and cement, fill in behind the retaining wall along the Spur.
Walker grateful for ‘Idol’ experience
Briscoe case headed to grand jury
By ELLEN BROWN Staff Writer Sevierville police officer Bryan Walker is still trying to wrap his head around becoming an overnight celebrity. If you’re an “American Idol” fan — and by now, even if you’re not — you’ve probably heard that the Sevier County resident was a finalist on the hit TV show. He was in living rooms across the country every Tuesday and Wednesday night from January until last week, when the finalists were narrowed to 24 singers. “The whole experience was mind-boggling,” he said. “I knew it had the possibility to be that big — but I didn’t know it would get that big that quick.” Walker had actually worked full-time as a gospel singer before he joined the Sevierville Police Department, wanting a job that wouldn’t require him to be on the road all the time. He credits his parents and a friend for encouraging him to audition for “American Idol” last summer. See Walker, Page A4
By JEFF FARRELL Staff Writer
Bryan Walker auditions for “American Idol” in Atlanta.
SEVIERVILLE — A former University of Tennessee wide receiver and Pigeon Forge coach waived his preliminary hearing Friday on charges he sent an inappropriate text to a Pigeon Forge High School student while he was coaching at the school. Josh Briscoe appeared briefly in general sessions court as his attorney, Joe Baker, told Judge Dwight Stokes they would waive the hearing. That means the charges against Briscoe will See Briscoe, Page A4
A2 â—† Local
The Mountain Press â—† Saturday, February 27, 2010
Financial aid available for fall Submitted Report
Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press
Native American musician Arvel Bird educates and entertains students, faculty and visitors with his blend of Native American/ Celtic music during a performance at WSCC.
Native American musician performs By ELLEN BROWN Staff Writer Native American musician Arvel Bird performed at Walters State Community College Wednesday, an event sponsored by the collegeâ€™s International Fee Oversight Committee. â€œArvel is one of many musicians that has visited our campus over the past couple of years,â€? said Eileen Bowers, WSCC international educational specialist. â€œWeâ€™ve had groups from Zambia and Nigeria, and weâ€™ve also had a lot of academic speakers. Itâ€™s an initiative to make students more aware of the global society we live in, to help them understand the world outside of East Tennessee. Itâ€™s great to have the community here, too.â€? Bird is a classically-trained violinist who was born in Idaho and raised in Utah and Arizona. He developed an interest in both his Native American Paiute heritage and Appalachian and bluegrass music, and later developed his own music style and a loyal following when he settled in Fort Wayne, Ind. He has toured with Glenn Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Louise Mandrell, Clay Walker and other performing artists, as well as record-
Bird was accompanied by Native American dancers. ed his own music with the violin as lead instrument. According to his Web site (www.arvelbird.com), his Celtic and Native American roots are â€œintricately woven into his songs.â€? â€œI love to play at colleges,â€? Bird said. â€œWhat I do is entertainment, and I like to teach the history of Native American heroes, fiddling and spirituality. I didnâ€™t become interested in my heritage until I was an adult â€” as a youth, I was concerned with blending in. I had heard about the â€˜power and medicine within,â€™ but
I didnâ€™t have it. I started reading Deepak Chopra and Abraham Hicks...and realized it was all about walking in balance and harmony with all living things.â€? His latest album, â€œRide Indian Ride,â€? is a departure from his more traditional cultural music, â€œwith an edgier blues/rock sound that blends his Native American/Celtic roots with a stronger, more soulful sound,â€? according to his Web site. In WSCCâ€™s Conner-Short Center, he shared the history of his heritage in between
Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press
performances, which were also accompanied by dancers in Native American costumes. Sevierville residents Charlene Sargent and Judy Clark were happy that they took the time to attend the performance. â€œIt was beautiful, absolutely stunning,â€? Sargent said. â€œAnd I learned a lot through his stories.â€? For more information on WSCCâ€™s international events, visit www.ws.edu.
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of a schedule II substance and a misdemeanor warrant from general sessions court. He was being held in lieu of $60,000 bond. u Michael Lee Miller, 36, of Gatlinburg, was charged Feb. 25 with vandalism. He was released. u Aimee J. Ogden, 34, of 228 Summer Meadow Apt. 21 in Sevierville, was charged Feb. 26 with worthless checks. She was released. u Charles Lucky Pierce, 33, of 2079 Maple Branch Road in Sevierville, was charged Feb. 26 with a misdemeanor warrant from general sessions court. He
was being held. u Bahman PlaseyedFarrokhza, 26, of 2546 Big River Overlook in Sevierville, was charged Feb. 26 with DUI and driving on a suspended license. He was released on $2,500 bond. u Fred Arthur Poston, 27, of Dandridge, was charged Feb. 25 with theft: credit card $500 to $1,000. He was being held in lieu of $2,500 bond. u Kelly Denton Rayfield, 20, of 416 Eastgatge Road in Sevierville, was charged Feb. 26 with a misdemeanor warrant from general sessions court. He was
Matthew Hunter, associate director of financial aid at Walters State Community College, meets with student Amy Johnson. Hunter encourages students planning to enter college this fall to apply for financial aid and scholarships now.
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A rre s t s Editorâ€™s Note: The following information was taken from the intake reports at the Sevier County Jail. All people listed within this report are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. u Danny Joe Adams, 44, of 4354 Bruce Ogle Way in Pigeon Forge, was charged Feb. 25 with violation of probation. He was released on $3,500 bond. u Jeffrey Lee Blackwell, 33, of Pamplico, S.C., was charged Feb. 25 with being a fugitive from justice. He was being held. u Tracy Diane Blackwell, 32, of Pamplico, S.C., was charged Feb. 25 with being a fugitive from justice. She was being held. u Jamie Lee Carr, 21, of Newport, was charged Feb. 25 with driving on a suspended license. He was released on $500 bond. u Gary Lee Hamm, 53, of 932 Sycamore Drive in Sevierville, was charged Feb. 26 with allowing dogs to roam at large. He was released. u Molly Amanda Howard, 33, of 2330 Jones Cove Road in Sevierville, was charged Feb. 26 with theft. She was released on $250 bond. u Loyd McGraw, 44, of 202 Harden Lane Apt. 42 in Sevierville, was charged Feb. 25 with possession
Interested in attending Walters State in the fall? Financial aid administrators are encouraging prospective students to complete the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid Assistance (FAFSA) now in order to receive financial aid by the time fall semester starts in August. While the FAFSA determines need-based aid from federal and state sources, Walters State is now accepting applications for scholarships. Applications are available online at www.ws.edu. (Click the Financial Aid link on the main page, then WSCC Scholarships.) The deadline to apply is March 15. â€œIf someone is considering college, I encourage them to go ahead and fill out the FAFSA. Additionally, they should also apply for the Walters
State scholarships,â€? said Matthew Hunter, associate director of financial aid at Walters State, said. For scholarships, students should also be planning to attend full-time. Preference is given to applicants in the Walters State service area, which includes Sevier, Cocke and Jefferson counties. Applying for the scholarship is free and receiving one does not commit a student to attending Walters State. Award decisions are made in May. The FAFSA also serves as an application for the Tennessee Hope Lottery Scholarship. Other common forms of aid determined by the FAFSA are Pell grants. Hunter said that the best way to complete the FAFSA is online at www. fafsa.ed.gov. For more information, contact the Financial Aid Office at (423) 585-6811 or visit the collegeâ€™s Web site at www.ws.edu.
being held. u Ben Ellis Sanchez, 40, of Strawberry Plains, was charged Feb. 25 with worthless checks. He was released. u Jeffrey Kimbrough Tarwater, 54, of 2140 Walnut Grove Way in Sevierville, was charged Feb. 25 with sex offender registration. He was being held. 0OTTERY (OUSE #AFÂŁ 'RILLE 3UN 4HURS AM PM &RI 3AT AM PM
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