The Mountain Press ■ Sevier County’s Daily Newspaper ■ Vol. 26, No. 169 ■ June 18, 2010 ■ www.themountainpress.com ■ 50 Cents
Zlobec may consider plea deal
Charged in multicar Labor Day accident that injured 18 By JEFF FARRELL Staff Writer
5On the tube this fall Jason Ritter to star in NBC’s “The Event” inside
SEVIERVILLE — With his trial date weeks away, a South Carolina man is once again considering a plea agreement on charges he caused a multicar wreck last Labor Day that caused several injuries. Randy D. Zlobec, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., is scheduled to face a Sevier County jury Aug. 25 on charges including DUI, vehicu-
lar assault, failure to stop and render aid, reckless driving, criminal impersonation, failure to wear a seat belt and four counts of aggravated assault. Zlobec Last month, Public Defender Amber Haas told Rex Henry Ogle that Zlobec was standing by his not guilty plea and was
set to move to trial. Thursday, Zlobec was back in court, asking Ogle to assign him a new attorney. His basis: He said he didn’t have enough time to consider the plea agreement before the plea date. However, the district attorney prosecuting the case told Ogle that he was not able to provide the plea agreement to Haas until shortly before the plea date, because he found new information showing
Zlobec should be sentenced as a Range II offender based on earlier convictions. That would mean he could face longer sentences if he pleads guilty or is convicted. After hearing that, Ogle left Haas on the case, and scheduled another plea date for July 27, giving Zlobec another opportunity to consider an agreement with prosecutors. He reminded Zlobec that Haas couldn’t necSee Zlobec, Page A5
Oh, baby, they’re home! 5All-State Bear will be an Eagle Flynn commits to play ball for TTU Sports, Page A8
Commissioners get good/bad news Five pump stations may be eliminated; renovations may be delayed Page A2
Weather Today Partly Cloudy
Photos by Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press
278th guardsman Joshua McClain holds his 8-week-old son Eli after reuniting with his family at the Maryville Armory Thursday.
Tonight Partly Cloudy
Sevier guardsmen among 278th members returning early By ELLEN BROWN Staff Writer
Low: 64° DETAILS, Page A6
Obituaries Doris Terry, 66 James Turner Billie Dix, 70 Lloyd Dasher, 82 Connie Gibson, 64 Bridgette Dixon, 34 DETAILS, Page A4
Index Local & State . . . . . A1-6 Nation . . . . . . . . . . . A3-5 Money . . . . . . . . . . . . A5 Opinion . . . . . . . . . . . . . A7 Sports . . . . . . . . . . . A8-12 Calendar . . . . . . . . . . B5 Classifieds . . . . . . B7-B10 Advice . . . . . . . . . . . B11 Comics . . . . . . . . . . . . B11
Corrections The Mountain Press is committed to accuracy. Please report factual errors by calling 428-0748 Ext. 214.
MARYVILLE — More than 50 members of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment — many from Sevier County — have returned to East Tennessee. Members of the unit arrived at the National Guard Armory in Maryville on Thursday afternoon after flying into Smyrna on Wednesday. Their return came nearly six months early after completing a year’s worth of work ahead of schedule. Many more members of the Pigeon Forge unit are still in Iraq, but are expected to return by Sept. 1. “It’s amazing,” Guardsman Joshua McClain said of See 278th, Page A5
Above, Sgt. Patrick Parton and wife Stacie talk about vacation plans now that they are together again. At right, Sgt. Mike Huskey and fiancee Shelly Morgan enjoy each other’s company and a bite to eat before heading back to Sevier County.
Full VHA hospital unlikely for former medical center Committee discusses Fort Sanders Sevier fate By DEREK HODGES Staff Writer SEVIERVILLE — Some county officials got a look at what the future might hold for the old Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center, which is likely in for a major slimming-down and a
makeover now that it’s no longer taking patients after more than half a century. The County Commission’s Intergovernmental Committee has been given the charge of making a recommendation about what will happen to the 141,000-square-foot facility. The option it seems to be favoring calls for the demolition of 69,770 of those feet, while leaving 71,636.
Despite a push by a local group to have the entire space used for a veterans hospital or a post traumatic stress disorder treatment center, it seems there’s no chance the space will host anything more than a clinic. That’s a decision being made by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), not county officials. “We started off talking about a full hospital here for the VHA
and we were told absolutely they were not interested,” County Mayor Larry Waters said. “They told us there is not another VHA hospital planned for Tennessee. We’ve offered them every scenario we could think of and they weren’t interested.” Everything from giving the full hospital to the VHA to tearSee vha, Page A4
A2 â—† Local
The Mountain Press â—† Friday, June 18, 2010
PF commissioners get good, bad sewer news By DEREK HODGES Staff Writer PIGEON FORGE â€” For member of the City Commission, Monday eveningâ€™s work session brought good news and bad news, with the surprise twist that the pleasant report came out of a sewer pipe. The good news is they may be able to eliminate five pump stations â€” two private and three public, including some that are near the end of their lives â€” with a plan to install a new sewer line in the Dry Fork and Kings Hills areas. The bad, and likely more momentous, news is that they may be forced to delay by several months improvements on Birds Creek Road thanks to an apparent oversight by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. During the session, Public Works Director Mark Miller presented a plan for the new Dry Fork pipe that city officials agree could be a boon for the area off Wears Valley Road. It calls for laying a new line that would flow downhill from Kings Hills through a valley that leads right to a main. Because the system would now be losing elevation all the way to the main, it could rely on gravity to get the wastewater out of the area, eliminating the need for those pump stations. Those facilities use machinery to force the sewage through the lines in areas where gravity canâ€™t do the work. The possibility of completing the project was broached last year by Commissioner Randal Robinson during another board work session. Robinson told the group he has spoken to property owners in Kings Hills who have committed to allowing the line to cross their properties if it means eliminating an offending pump station in their area. That facility has backed up so many times in the last year that itâ€™s pushed the area near a development moratorium.
While Robinson may be confident thereâ€™s access for the pipe in Kings Hills, Miller isnâ€™t so sure theyâ€™ll find it farther down in the Dry Fork area. â€œWe may have some problems getting the signatures down there,â€? he warned the board. The city is required to get permission from property owners whose land will be crossed before laying the line. Miller said he thinks many will sign off on the proposal, but he isnâ€™t certain all of them will agree. Early discussions with residents in the area have shown some resistance, he said. If the signatures canâ€™t be acquired, the city might have to resort to condemning land to move ahead with the project, money for which was included in the budget for the coming fiscal year. â€œTo me this Dry Fork think is the best thing Iâ€™ve seen since I started on here,â€? Robinson said. Unfortunately, not all the sewer news came up smelling like roses Monday. Miller told the group the city will have to pay for moving an 8-inch water line it owns that runs down Upper Middle Creek to Birds Creek and on to Catons Chapel Elementary School. State law requires the owner of such a utility to cover its relocation if improvement work is done on the road. With a surge of cash from the federal stimulus bill, state leaders, after years of pleading from local officials, finally moved forward with a plan to improve Birds Creek that includes straightening out and widening some sections. Those efforts will put the asphalt directly over Pigeon Forgeâ€™s water line in a few areas, something that canâ€™t happen because a rupture in the pipe could run the new road. As a result, the city has been told it will have to move the line, though that notification apparently didnâ€™t come until after work had already started on the road.
â€œThey never included us on a pre-construction conference or anything,â€? City Manager Earlene Teaster said. â€œThis really should have been handled on the front-end, but they didnâ€™t even draw up a plan for relocating the utilities before they started.â€? The cityâ€™s public works staff canâ€™t handle the project, meaning an outside contractor will have to be brought in. With state law requiring the city to bid the work to get the best price, following that directive could mean pushing the work back several months. â€œWeâ€™re going to delay this project three or four months if we do that,â€? Miller worried. â€œOne problem we have with bidding this thing out is the state doesnâ€™t even have a plan for relocating the utilities. If we bid it, weâ€™ll have to pay engineers to draw up a plan before we can send it to the contractors.â€? To avoid that potential delay, state transportation officials have recommended the city use the contractor completing the road work, Sevierville-based Charles Blalock & Sons Construction. They have promised to provide the city a letter to give to the stateâ€™s auditors if they question the lack of bids explaining the situation. Still, city officials arenâ€™t convinced the move is the right one and donâ€™t like being forced by the state to not seek the cheapest price quote. â€œI donâ€™t want to hold anybody up, but we need to make sure itâ€™s done right and done in the best interests of our taxpayers,â€? Mayor Keith Whaley said. For now, the commissioners agreed to simply bide their time. Miller said he will check with the state on other potential solutions to the problem and bring those back to the board during another upcoming meeting to get its final decision on how he should proceed. n email@example.com
FamilySearch conducting workshop June 23
Three senior managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been awarded the Department of Interior Honor Award for Superior Service. From left are Deputy Superintendent Kevin FitzGerald, Cathy Cook, Superintendent Dale Ditmanson, Donna Losson and Alan Sumeriski.
National park managers earn Dept. of Interior recognition Submitted Report
Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and calls for a balanced approach that both preserves the core historic resources and restores a large amount of the previously developed area to a natural condition. Sumeriski was cited for â€œhis outstanding leadership in planning and execution of Americaâ€™s Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) projects, the 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and his exceptional contributions to the National Park Service.â€? Sumeriski developed an asset management program for the park and realigned park repair, rehabilitation and construction priorities. With the approval of stimulus money, 11 of the projects were funded, totaling $78 million â€” about 10 times the amount of funding
that the park receives in an average year. Losson was recognized for â€œoutstanding leadership of the administrative program â€Ś and her efforts in planning and executionâ€? of the federal stimulus money. Losson worked with park staff, superintendents and others to complete documents which resulted in the park exceeding Servicewide goals for project contract obligations in the first 100 days. Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said, â€œI could not be more pleased and proud that these fine employees have received this well-deserved recognition. Between the 75th Anniversary and the ARRA Program, we have asked a great deal of our staff at every level in the last two years. These three leaders, and all our people throughout the Park, have really risen to the challenge.â€?
Three senior managers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been awarded the U.S. Department of Interior Honor Award for Superior Service. Chief of Resource Education Cathleen Cook, Chief of Facilities Management and Planning Alan Sumeriski and Chief of Administration Donna Losson were recognized by National Park Service Regional Director David Vela. Vela recognized Cook for her â€œoutstanding leadership in the overall planning and execution of the Elkmont Environmental Impact Statement/ General Management Plan Amendment, the 75th Anniversary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and her exceptional contributions to the National Park Service. This was a highly controversial issue that involved stakeholder groups with divergent opinions on the best alternative for Elkmont. VILLAS PRICED Due to her leadership FROM $299,900 the process stayed on www.thebouldersatmaplebranch.com Exceptional Amenities Are Standard OPE track through intensive N review and public comDevelopers are offering a SUNHDAOYUSE ment process.â€? 1:30-4:00 The process resulted in a decision that FINANCIAL INCENTIVE FOR APPROVED BUYERS was accepted by the Call Chirs Brown , Owner/Agent C.E. Brown Properties Tennessee State Historic
projects of local and region- attendance. al interest. The East Tennessee Seating is limited. Call History Center is located at KNOXVILLE â€” FamilySearch International, (865) 215-8824 for more 601 S. Gay St. across from the largest genealogy orga- information or to confirm the Tennessee Theater. nization in the world, will be introducing a project to provide open access to Tennessee county marriage records in an meeting at 1 p.m. June 23 at the East Tennessee History Center. The Tennessee County will soon be upgrading to a new Ad Manager Marriages project is open to local volunteers who will system. Due to this process, Classified Line transcribe records to proAds will be deadlining early for : vide open online access to historical marriage records Friday, June 25th from counties across Saturday, June 26th Tennessee. Anyone interested in Sunday, June 27th local or family history or participating in this project These days will deadline at 10:00 a .m. is invited. FamilySearch will on Wed., June 23rd. also discuss Confederate NO EXCEPTIONS!!! pension records and other
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