The Mountain Press ■ Sevier County’s Daily Newspaper ■ Vol. 26, No. 288 ■ October 15, 2010 ■ www.themountainpress.com ■ 75 Cents
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
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
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
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
A2 â—† Local
The Mountain Press â—† Friday, October 15, 2010
State-or-art Forge Cinemas officially open doors today
Trula Lawson student food-drive
By DEREK HODGES Staff Writer
Curt Habraken/The Mountain Press
Sevier County Food Ministries Director Steve Streibig poses with students at the Trula Lawson Early Childhood Center before picking up the results of a food drive at the school. Students, parents and staff at the school got together and pitched in to help after hearing about a recent shortage at the ministries. The boxes will remain and the school will continue to help.
10th national park superintendent Dave Beal dies in Oregon at age 84 Submitted Report NATIONAL PARK â€” Great Smoky Mountains National Parkâ€™s 10th superintendent, Merrill D. (Dave) Beal, 84, died at home in Eugene, Ore. Bealâ€™s final National Park Service (NPS) assignment was as Smokies superintendent from December 1978 to 1983. He also served as assistant superintendent from 1969-1972. â€œOne of Daveâ€™s major accomplishments during his tenure at the Smokies was his involvement in completing the parkâ€™s general management plan, a core planning document that continues to guide Park managers in balancing visitor use and facility development with preservation,â€? said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. The document described the future operations of the Park after the major work was done in completing construction of the parkâ€™s facilities, i.e., roads, trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, for visitor use. A draft of the document, which took several years under previous administrations to develop, was released to the public for comment one year after he took the parkâ€™s top job. A major undertaking in its time, the planning initiative received intensive public comments on a number of controversial issues and was finalized and released in 1982, setting the parkâ€™s direction. Beal was also known for work that he did to
improve the parkâ€™s u t i l ity infrastructure, r o a d s , t r a i l s , backcountry use, Beal and development of new interpretive guides, handbooks, and exhibits to serve park visitors. In addition, he worked with neighboring tourism communities on regional planning for the 1982 Knoxville Worldâ€™s Fair and felt the pressures to provide improved services to accommodate the predictions of higher park use due to the influx of national and international tourists to the area. Beal believed strongly in cooperative relationships with surrounding communities. In a News Record & Press article dated June 15, 1981, he was quoted as saying, â€œWe do need to work togetherâ€”all of usâ€”to provide visitors to this region a satisfying and rewarding experience,â€? stressing the statistically proven fact that tourism here is a â€˜regionalâ€™ thing.
â€œThey donâ€™t come in ever increasing numbers just to visit the park or to see Gatlinburg and explore the varied attractions in Pigeon Forge ... They come to do all these things.â€? A biographical sketch filed in Park archives stated that Beal began his association with NPS at age 17 as a seasonal employee at Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. While holding the chief naturalist position at Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., he wrote a popular book entitled, â€œStory Behind the Scenery.â€? During his 34 year career, he served in several top management positions that included Deputy Regional Director and Regional Director of the NPSâ€™s Midwest Region. â€œDave will be remembered for his effective leadership skills and his positive approach in dealing with Park neighbors and stakeholders,â€? said Ditmanson.
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PIGEON FORGE â€” There may be a bushel of theaters in Pigeon Forge, but the folks behind the one thatâ€™s opening today say theirs is one of a kind in the area and even in rarefied company nationwide. The first shows at The Forge Cinemas will start at 11:15 a.m. today after years of planning and months of construction. Those who take them in will be among the first to enjoy the $3.8 million addition to Waldens Landing that introduces all-digital projection and sound, as well as 3-D capabilities to the area. The management of Holrob Investments, which owns the center, and Phoenix Big Cinemas, which is managing the theater, literally rolled out the red carpet Thursday night at a celebration of the premiere of Forge Cinemas that drew local officials and plenty of curious onlookers. Phoenix Big Cinemas President Phil Zacheretti told the crowd heâ€™s excited to finally be to the point of turning on the popcorn makers and projectors. â€œWeâ€™re awfully glad to be here,â€? Zacheretti said. â€œWeâ€™ve wanted to build in Sevier County and weâ€™ve finally accomplished it.â€? Phoenix has looked at other opportunities to build in the area, but none of those worked out, he told The Mountain Press on Thursday. That the partnership with Vickers has produced the state-of-the-art facility that is among only a handful in the nation like it is a testament to Vickersâ€™ perseverance. The developer says he has dreamed of opening a theater at the center
for about five years, but was really pushed into it when the economy took its downturn and the shops at Waldens Landing started to feel the effects. Thatâ€™s when he knew the time was right to remake some of the facade at the complex for the five-screen, 623-seat cinema. â€œIâ€™m excited to be able to open this great new theater,â€? Vickers said Thursday. â€œWe always felt like this would be a good addition here. It makes Waldens Landing now just an ideal place to spend the evening.â€? With candy and nearing 100 types of popcorn, Crowley believes heâ€™s found it. Heâ€™s betting on the theater driving traffic through the complex and, while they canâ€™t take his offerings to the shows, heâ€™s hoping at least some of the movie-goers find themselves hungry for more than one flavor of popcorn. It seems likely Crowley made a good decision locating in Waldens Landing. Though the theater wasnâ€™t event open yet, countless browsers at the center paused to check out the new addition over recent weeks. Among those are Roger and Carol Oram, a pair of Michiganders who say they come to the area often. While they conceded they donâ€™t go to a lot of movies, they said the the-
ater might be an option on future visits. â€œIf itâ€™s raining or something outside, we might check it out,â€? Carol Oram said. While thatâ€™s less than a ringing endorsement, thatâ€™s OK for Vickers and Zacheretti. Theyâ€™re betting on locals to drive the business at the theater, where matinee tickets will be $7, admission after 6 p.m. will be $9 and almost every show will be $6 each Tuesday. Like Crowley, it seems theyâ€™ve made a good wager. Theater staff, who were involved in last-minute preparations like training and setting up balloon replicas of the Oscars, had to frequently step into the ticket booth to sell passes for todayâ€™s shows to folks like Sevierville resident Bob McMillon. â€œI got two tickets to see â€˜Redâ€™ at 5:30,â€? McMillon said. â€œWeâ€™re really looking forward to it.â€? McMillon has apparently been anticipating the opening for quite some time and believes plenty of other local residents have been, too. â€œI think everyone is really looking forward to a new, modern theater,â€? he said. â€œI think itâ€™s very good for Pigeon Forge and the area here. Itâ€™s a really nice addition.â€? n firstname.lastname@example.org
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Local â—† A3
Friday, October 15, 2010 â—† The Mountain Press
Roe to address Tea Party on Monday Submitted Report SEVIERVILLE â€” The Sevier County Tea Party will feature U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) at its next meeting, 6:30 p.m. Monday. Roe, elected to his first term in 2008, represents House District 1 in East Tennessee. He will be speaking on several topics, centered around returning the government to constitutional, fiscally responsible poli-
Service academy deadline is Oct. 31
cies and values. Roe represents 12 counties in East Tennessee, including a large portion of Sevier County. A native of Tennessee, he earned a degree in biology with a minor in bhemistry from Austin Peay in 1967 and went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Tennessee in 1970.Â Upon graduation, he served two years in the United States Army Medical Corps. Â He serves on three
committees that allow him to address and influence the many issues that are important to the First District farmers, students, teachers, veterans and workers: agriculture.house.gov/ or veterans.house.gov/ Veteran Affairs and edlabor.house.gov/ Education and Labor. Â Roe has been an active, conservative voice on taxes, government spending, energy, transportation and protecting our
values.Â As a physician, Congressman Roe has become an active player in the effort to reform our nationâ€™s health care system and is a member of the Physiciansâ€™ Caucus and the Health Caucus.Â Â For more information on the Sevier County Tea Party, visit their Web site at www.seviercoteaparty. org, join their Facebook group at â€œSevier County, TN Tea Partyâ€? or e-mail them at email@example.com.
Teacher Supply Closet donation
Submitted Report U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, says Tennessee students interested in being nominated to one of the four U.S. service academies should apply by Oct. 31. Tennessee residents between the ages of 17 and 23 may apply if they meet eligibility requirements. The four service academies are the Military Academy at West Point; the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.; the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs; and the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. â€œOur nationâ€™s service academies provide an excellent education to qualified young men and women who want to serve their country,â€? said Roe. â€œIt is inspiring each year to see young people in our state who want to serve our country, and I encourage those interested to apply. I look forward to recommending some of our stateâ€™s best and brightest students this year.â€? Roe will make nominations by Jan. 31. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications to his office as well as the offices of Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker. The academies will make the final decisions next spring. Interested applicants can contact Roeâ€™s office at (423) 247-8161.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Company donated the proceeds from the October GHA luncheon to the Gatlinburg Chamberâ€™s Teacher Supply Closet in the amount of $200. Area teachers are welcome to come by the Chamber during regular business hours to pick up items they need in their classrooms. From left, Kelly Mott and Roland Gilfour of Bubba Gump Shrimp and Gatlinburg Chamber staff member Erin Moran.
arrests 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 Winstin Andrews Cartwright, 19, of 275 Beech Branch Road in Gatlinburg, was charged Oct. 13 with a misdemeanor warrant from general sessions court. He was being held. u Carlton Joseph Fait, 40, of 3506 Wyley Noland Drive in Sevierville, was charged Oct. 13 with domestic violence assault and contempt of court. He was being held. u Lauren Rahe Free, 22, of Alcoa, was charged Oct. 13 with violation of probation. She was released on $1,000 bond. u Wilford Jeremiah Gartin, 21, of 930 Janolla Road in Sevierville, was charged Oct. 13 with violation of probation. He was being held in lieu of $1,500 bond., u Tyson Lee Kennedy, 24, of Louisville, Tenn., was charged Oct. 13 with wildlife violations. He was released. u Charles Dennis King, 41, of 3005 Lona Drive in Sevierville, was charged Oct. 13 with DUI, driving without a license, unlawful possession of a weapon, carrying a weapon while under the influence and carrying a prohibited weapon. He was released on $4,500 bond. u Heather Louise Maggard, 27, of 1207 River Divide Lot 10 in Sevierville, was charged Oct. 13 with aggravated burglary. She was released on $6,500 bond. u James Christopher McCown Jr., 24, of Knoxville, was charged Oct. 13 with violation of probation. He was being held. u Paul Anthony Murray, 34, of 2253 Old Newport Highway in Sevierville, was charged Oct. 14 with a misdemeanor warrant from general sessions court and two counts of violation of probation. He was being held. u Hannah Elizabeth Richardson, 19, of 1025 Center St. #5 in Sevierville, was charged Oct. 14 with domestic violence assault. She was being held in lieu of $3,200 bond. u Jeffrey Allen Shults, 39, of 1103 Cedar Lane in Gatlinburg, was charged Oct. 14 with theft of property worth $500 to $1,000. He was being held. u Presley Ann Tarr, 18, of 1520 Bluebird Cove Lane in Sevierville, was charged Oct. 13 with assault. He was released on $1,000 bond. u Arturo Vasquez, 28, of 1105 Blue Bonnet in Sevierville, was charged Oct. 13 with driving without a license and traffic violations. He was released on $500 bond. u William Lee Wheatley, 36, of 2036 Breanna Lee Lane in Sevierville, was charged Oct. 13 with aggravated assault and worthless checks. He was being held.
State wants bike ridersâ€™ input Submitted Report NASHVILLE â€” As bicyclists across Tennessee prepare to hit the roads to enjoy the fall scenery, the Tennessee Department of Transportation is asking bike riders to rate their experiences peddling on the stateâ€™s highways. The new online survey will be used as TDOT officials work to update the state bike route network. Input from the survey will help guide the department in developing a comprehensive bicycling network, assess state routes with respect to bicycle suitability, and determine future action items relevant to furthering the goals of TDOTâ€™s Bicycle and Pedestrian plan. In order to provide con-
nections to cyclistsâ€™ destinations, TDOT invites the public to participate in the online survey by Oct. 30. The survey is available at www.tn.gov/tdot/ bikeped/default.htm. In 2005 TDOTâ€™s 25-year plan recommended a statewide bicycle system. Since that time, the department recognized that changes call for an update to the existing bicycle route network. The state has made major improvements since that time. This year, Tennessee jumped 19 positions in the annual ranking of Bicycle Friendly States by the League of American Cyclists, from 43rd to 24th.
Knoxville was named a Bicycle Friendly Community at the Bronze level by the League of American Bicyclists, joining Chattanooga.
Richard Montgomery State Representative
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