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First response


Emergency personnel work to open up a minivan involved n a crash to help remove injured passengers during this simulation during a training session in Claxton on Sunday.
A key part of responding to traffic accident calls involves rescuing victims trapped in crashed vehicles, and emergency responders are required to train for this.

Every year, firefighters and other first-responders prepare for those extrications by attending a course that, in Anderson County, is hosted by the Claxton Volunteer Fire Department.

Claxton Fire Chief Dusty Sharpe joined five other instructors in teaching extrication last weekend through the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads.

Both paid and volunteer departments could join the event, which Sharpe said was a partnership with several groups across Anderson County and the surrounding region. These included the Anderson County Rescue Squad, along with fire departments in Andersonville, Medford and Briceville.

“We’re open for anyone in the general area,” he said regarding who could come and train.

This year participants practiced stabilizing vehicles and using tools to get to the trapped patients. They used 20 cars to simulate incidents at the former Crossroads Christ Fellowship site Saturday and Sunday.

“We have a lot of fatalities on Clinton Highway, so we have to be prepared for the worst,” Sharpe said.

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Rocky Top seeks grant for city ballfield upgrades


Plans are to replace the bleachers at the George Templin Memorial Field in Rocky Top with seating that is accessible to disabled people, using grant money and matching local funds. The Lake City Middle School baseball team plays here. - G. Chambers Williams III
Rocky Top hopes to get a state recreation grant of up to $750,000 to help pay for a new press box and bleachers at the city-owned ballfield next to the Community Center.

Councilman Zack Green, who also serves as chairman of the city’s Recreation Committee, said the seating area and other facilities, including restrooms, at the George Templin Memorial Field are in need of upgrades that would make them “ADA-compliant.”

“We haven’t done anything with the bleachers to make them ADA-compliant, and in fact, not much has been done at the ballfield to meet ADA standards,” he said, referring to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires most public facilities to be made accessible to people with disabilities.

“The bleachers must be torn down and replaced,” he said. “This field gets a lot of use. We have Little League football there, and the [Lake City] Middle School uses it for baseball. There are also some slow-pitch softball leagues that use the field.”

Green was able to get the City Council’s approval at the Feb. 15 meeting to move forward with the grant application of up to $750,000 from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to help pay for the improvements.

The catch, though, Green told The Courier News on Monday, is that these particular state grants require a dollar-for-dollar match from the city, and he’s not sure where the city would be able to find enough money to pay its share.

He said he’s not in favor of raising property taxes to pay for the ballpark upgrades, so “I don’t know where the money is going to come from.”

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‘Chicken’ ordinance clears first hurdle

There was “fowl play” at Monday evening’s meeting of the Clinton City Council as council members took action to legalize the raising of chickens in the city limits.

Mayor Scott Burton asked if any “chicken people” wanted to speak.

Delaney Davis, the “chicken crusader,” spoke in favor of chickens as she said “go chickens.”

On a more serious note, Carl McMurray told the council, “Thank you for considering this ordinance.”

The council passed on first reading Ordinance 684, which would amend the Clinton Municipal Code section on animal control. It establishes a $25 annual permit for the keeping of up to six hens, but no roosters, on a single family lot.

Requirements are outlined for a hen house and fenced enclosure, which would require a building permit to construct.

The ordinance also regulates animals in general, prohibiting the owners from allowing them to run at large or become a public nuisance.

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County looking for opinions on opioid settlement funds

With opioid-recovery related funds rolling in from multiple settlements and bankruptcy, Anderson County is looking for ideas on how to spend the money.

The county Opioid Task Force is meeting from 6:30 until 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 29) at the Clinton Community Center at 101 South Hicks St.

County Commissioner Shelly Vandagriff, who chairs the task force, said that people can voice their thoughts on how the county can spend the funds, which come with restrictions.

She and county law director Jay Yeager said the county must spend them on programs for abatement, education, rehabilitation or treatment.

“Our hope is to be able to use this to impact people’s lives,” Vandagriff said.

She talked about possibly using some of the money to help people recovering from opioid addiction to get help with work skills.

She said it could also fund recovery houses or even help schoolage children of people suffering from addiction, among other options. Nonprofits can receive the funds for related programs.

The county has about $650,000 in the fund Vandagriff said.

However, the County Commission at its Feb. 22 meeting approved funds from a national opioid settlement with Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Allergan, and Teva totaling $207,216.

The county also voted to approve a bankruptcy agreement with the company Endo, which will also go to the Opioid Task Force’s fund.

However, Yeager said he did not know the amount of money the county would get from the bankruptcy.

The document shared by Yeager also stated the city of Oak Ridge will receive $164,870 from the Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Allergan and Teva settlement.

It does not list any other entities within Anderson County as recipients other than the Anderson County and Oak Ridge governments.

Rocky Top eyes water tank restoration


This 500,000-gallon steel water tank off Summit Lane in Rocky Top, unused in several years, is being restored to service and will be back online by June, the city says. It will give the city additional water storage to back up the city’s only other tank, a 300,000-gallon steel structure on Banks Street. - G. Chambers Williams III
The recent fatal fire that destroyed a nearly century-old building in downtown Rocky Top has given the city the motivation to upgrade its water system by bringing an unused 500,000-gallon water tank back into service.

Mayor Kerry Templin said that the city now has only one water storage tank servicing the entire community – a 300,000-gallon structure on Banks Street, on a ridge overlooking downtown from behind the Vols Diner.

The second tank, on Summit Lane, sits on a ridge opposite from there on the other side of Main Street, and has been out of service for several years, he said.

“We want to get it back in service so we would have 800,000 gallons of water in reserve with both tanks full,” Templin said. “That would give us a little more cushion, especially if there was a problem and Anderson County Water Authority would have to cut us off temporarily.”

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Norris entrance signs need further study

Plans for new signs at the original entrances to Norris that had been proposed by the city’s Community Development Board have been sent back to the board by the City Council for further study, with the idea that the project could be bigger than what was originally suggested.

While there already is about $15,000 in the city’s budget that would pay for the two signs the development board had proposed, Mayor Chris Mitchell said during a recent council workshop on the signs and at the Feb. 12 council meeting that the city should consider expanding the sign project.

He said special tourism sales tax proceeds the city expects to receive from the soon-to-be-opened Appalachia Ridge Campground next to the Museum of Appalachia could be used to pay for the signs, allowing for the project to have a “larger scale.”

“I’m excited about the campground at the museum and about the hotel-motel taxes that will be generated,” Mitchell said at the council meeting. “They are meant to be used for tourism-related activities, which would encompass everything you’re hearing [about new signs].

“The money is coming” to support a larger-scale sign project, the mayor said, referring to the plans that Community Development Board Chair George Miceli had presented during a Feb. 5 council workshop on the signs.

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Mavericks soar, top Eagles


Daylen Cole had four points against the Eagles in the opening round of region play. - Tony Cox
Anderson County High School’s boys basketball team saw its success continue last week as it earned a pair of postseason victories.

The two-time defending District 4-AAA Tournament Champion Mavericks opened regional play Saturday night with an easy 85-68 victory over Seymour in the Region 2-AAA Tournament at ACHS.

Anderson County (22-9) put this one away early as it had a 43-24 advantage at halftime on its way to eliminating the Eagles and ending their Cinderella postseason run, despite a game-high 33 points from Cameron Soulages, who dropped 27 points in the second half.

But Seymour (4-25) was never really in this game.

Offensively, Brandon Dake led the Mavs with 31 points and Ryan McGhee added 11 for ACHS, which led, 25-8, at the end of the first quarter.

Anderson County, which edged crosstown rival Clinton,62-61, on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at Scott High School in Huntsville. Hayden Craig made a game-winning shot as time expired.

It was the Mavs’ second consecutive district championship victory over the Dragons.

In his two seasons as Anderson County’s head coach, Jordan Jeffers has guided the team to two consecutive district tournament championships. But he said he’s really enjoyed coaching the 2023-24 edition of the Mavericks

“This team has really been fun to coach,” Jeffers said prior to the District 4-AAA Championship Game. “This team is more complete than we were last year.”

Anderson County, which will host the remainder of the Region 2-AAA Tournament, was set to play league rival Union County Tuesday. Results were not available at press time.

ACHS defeated the Patriots twice during the regular season, both times by 15 points.

A win over Union County would earn the Mavs a berth in Thursday’s region championship game for the first time in more than four decades. Should it beat the Patriots, Anderson County would qualify for Monday’s state sectionals with a state tournament bid hanging in the balance.